Western Civilization: Where Did it Originate?

On the Feast of the Epiphany, at the beginning of January, I made a statement in my homily about my opinion that it was the Catholic Church that created Western Civilization. The example I used was that of democracy.

The idea of democracy is one that evolved in Western Civilization, beginning with the ancient Greeks and Plato. The idea of democracy is not one that is part of the mindset of Asian peoples, unless they have had a significant Western influence, like India. For example, why would one billion people in China not rise up and throw off their oppressive government? Democracy is not an idea that is part of the psyche of Eastern Asia. That does not mean they are not capable of democracy, only that it is not necessarily part of their culture.

The book about which I spoke in my homily is How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, by Thomas Woods and published by Regnery Publishing, Inc. in 2005. I highly recommend it. Amazon has the paperback version for $11.28 and in Kindle format for $10.72.

This a very readable book, and Woods makes many good points. I believe he makes a particularly powerful case against anti-Catholics who downplay the role of the Church in Western Civilization. The following are two examples of Woods’ very strong and believable arguments: the origins of the University and scientific study. He very thoroughly shows how the Catholic Church brought new light to education by founding the University system and creating schools where groups in classrooms could learn effectively, rather than using the typical education of the day that was done by tutoring individuals - relatively few individuals. Second, the book effectively refutes the claims that the Catholic Church is anti-science. The fact is that the scientific method, the very principle that moved this study from sorcery to science, was invented by the Church. Many of the early, true scientists were Catholic priests. If you read this book I think you will love it, as I did. Anyone who reads this book with an open mind might find truth in what G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Catholic Church is the only thing that saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” Christians are not children of this age, in fact, the Catholic Church has always urged individuals and society to build the Kingdom of God, an eternal reality only begun on Earth.


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