Another mistaken belief is that Christianity was the cause of the “Dark Ages.”
There is some truth and some untruth in that. While the church did not encourage secular learning and often punished people, sometimes rather harshly, for inventions that ran counter to its teaching, the church was directly responsible for the establishment of the ancient universities of Europe. The children of the upper classes were very well-educated. Most of them spoke, read and wrote, several languages, knew their history, and had an understanding of mathematics and some basic science, all of which, albeit biased by the teachings of the church, were taught at the universities.
Islam promoted learning in the fields of medicine, and more advanced science and Islamic teachers brought that knowledge to the West.
However, ordinary people were not given the privilege of learning before the invention of the printing press and general widespread ownership of Bibles, which ownership was not overtly forbidden, but was not encouraged, simply because it was expensive to mass produce and before the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press was handwritten by monks.
This does not mean that, even the people who were educated, or the ones who eventually owned their own Bibles, were actively encouraged to learn more than what was contained in those Bibles, because learning is not encouraged in the Bible itself. While the Middle Ages gave rise to the ancient centres of learning and produced some of the most erudite politicians in the history of the world (for example Queen Elizabeth I), that learning was encouraged only to the extent that it did not contradict the teaching of the "Holy Scripture."
In our time of global communication, and the ease with which we are now able to research whatever subject captures our interest, it appears that there is some correlation between lower levels of education and general knowledge, and the depth of the religious belief.
My comments in this website are directed towards specifically Judeo-Christian attitudes towards learning, which includes other religions which were founded on the principles of the Old Testament. This attitude tends to make people closed-minded and to base all their learning on the idea that God is all one needs to know and that the Bible explains everything, which eliminates the need to know anything else.
Deuteronomy 30:9 The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and he will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the Lord will again delight in being good to you as he was to your ancestors.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Nehemiah 2:20 …”The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build…”
It encourages humility and in that humility, allowing God give you everything you need and want:
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.
Isaiah 1:19 If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land;
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other you cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
The New Testament says that the only learning required is to be able to understand parables:
Mark 4:11 He told them, The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!
Luke 8:10 He said, The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.
In order to obtain this knowledge, it is necessary to remain forever a child. Thus obedience to God, and the acceptance of the “faith”
Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
Luke 16:15He said to them, You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
Luke 18:17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Believers are discouraged from questioning authority: any rebellion towards religion, authority and particularly parents, is worthy of death...
Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
… and knowledge of the world, i.e. secular knowledge is “foolish:”
1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified….so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
1 Corinthians 14:38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
1 Timothy 6:4:...he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1 Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.
The above verses certainly indicate that the Bible advocates leaving all responsibility in the hands of God. It appears that all the believer needs to do is to remain obedient to God (and his representatives on earth), trust that God will provide for his every need, and then spend the rest of his life (and I say “his” here because, as I pointed out in a previous post, women are insignificant) allowing God to direct his decisions which will show him how to provide for his family. In the early history of education that I referred to above, people were also discouraged from owning Bibles, even when they could afford them, simply because the ruling church hierarchy knew that reading and studying the Bible would lead to critical questioning of its validity. Thus keeping people ignorant and dependent on priests for its interpretation, kept priests employed and money rolling into the church’s coffers.
Thus the low standards of literacy and secular knowledge are explained, but then what about the believers who do enter the fields of medicine, the law, architecture and even the sciences?
Doesn’t the very fact that there are people who practice medicine (and sometimes make vast fortunes as a result of their career choice) go against the teaching of the Bible? And what about captains of industry who fight for less government control in the running of their businesses? Surely that too is against the rules of poverty, humility and “amassing wealth” on earth? How do these people justify collecting vast fortunes against what the Bible says? I can understand theologians and clerics, they’re needed to interpret the Bible, but why wealthy farmers, lawyers, company directors and so on? Isn’t it a little hypocritical to encourage people to become wealthy so that they are able to contribute more to the church?
It seems to me that the religions of the Bible have an agenda and it is this: any learning that encourages people to give up their religion is discouraged. Otherwise, learning is acceptable as long as it doesn’t detract from the main aim of the religion, and that is to keep the religion flourishing, especially its bank account. The evolution of monasteries into universities, the development of the printing press, the general distribution of Bibles to the ordinary people, and the continued education of believers only to the extent that they understand their religion, is all part of the idea of encouraging the masses to remain ignorant of anything that is not related to religion. The purpose in this is to keep dogmatic belief and religion flourishing so that the churches will continue to amass wealth, and the discouragement of learning is not with the intention of saving the souls of the world’s population. Instead it is with the direct intent to relieve people of the money they accumulate in their labour and thereby to add to the wealth of the churches and the people who control them. Ron L Hubbard, the man who formulated Scientology is known to have said “if you want to make a lot of money, start a religion!”