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Theory of Knowledge (TOK) talk: The influence of Christianity on western development

In a recent Theory of Knowledge (TOK) talk, Old Edwardian Rev. Charlie Butler explored a thought-provoking question: Did Christianity play a key role in the development and success of the Western world? Year 12 pupil, Edward shares a summary of the talk.

This term we were fortunate enough to have Old Ed Rev. Charlie Butler lead a Theory of Knowledge talk which he presented to the Divisions, in the wonderful Ruddock Performing Arts Centre. He boldly proposed that the Western world has Christianity to thank for its widespread success and dominion, but this raises a few questions. With the West being the most advanced group of nations in the world, how did we get to this point of prosperity? What differentiates us? What makes us western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic? Well, let me tell you.

According to Rev. Charlie Butler (OE) and Joseph Henrich, it might not just be the firearms we bear which helped us to establish dominion nor the sheer luck of the roll of the dice. Rather, they propose the idea that Christianity and the Roman Catholic church were responsible for shaping the foundations for success, which are still prevalent today (no matter how veiled).

The author argues that the church (with its effects amplified with conquest) took a hold of Western Europe, and therefore influenced the Western World. They looked to break the kinship structures on which the world was formed, and encouraged a closer bond to religion, emphasising loyalty to the church and diminishing any challenges to their leadership.

This newly found cohesion allowed the Western World to excel, enabling collective action and cooperation on a larger scale. The Christian moral foundation formed a level playing field for everyone to exchange ideas and promote economic growth and conquest. But the question is, what is so different about Christianity compared to other beliefs in separate societies? Did we really find the perfect foundations to outrival other nations, or is there something we are missing? We were lucky enough to be lectured by this distinguished guest, who hopefully opened many of our eyes to the ways in which the societies we live in were formed.

Edward Grimmett (Divs)

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