History can never be an exact science in a way mathematics or physics can. History is always based on interpreting the messages that were left behind by a group of mostly very subjective writers. Documents and notes become preserved by pure chance. What is left to us is often decided by the current political ambitions of the local ruling elites.
History as we know it here in the western Europe was for hundreds of years written and interpreted by people with often very deep affiliation with the Christian faith. Inevitably they have been looking at the past trough the distorting lens of Christianity.
So we can, for example, have a very widespread notion of the inevitable victorious path of Christianity. According to this story Christianity has lifted human kind to a new level of development. Many people do really think that this idea is the result of real and unbiased history writing as these ideas have been presented for a long time as some kind of historical truth.
However, the fact remains that the chain of events that did lead to the situation where Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire which in turn led to its position as ruler of the whole of Europe was far from inevitable.
Still, somebody who has listened through some of the traditional history courses can even think that any other interpretations are simply crazy. This simplistic Christian view of our history is just often extremely deeply ingrained in people.
The dramatic change in view of vision is too simply too much for many. This is the more so, as many people simply can’t see that there could be anything wrong with the traditional Christianized view of western history.
I am not saying at all that the Christian scholars would have been deliberately skewing things to their favor or lying when they have been creating this now widely accepted view of the past. These Christian historians have just for centuries automatically picked up facts that do favor their own faith. They have simply discarded other facts. They may well done this without even noticing it.
The process is magnified over time, when the same misguided interpretations are repeated time after time. They are passed from scholar to scholar for generations. They soon form a comprehensive and convincing story. This story does tell about the victorious path of the Only True Faith, which has, in fact, been served as a historical truth for a long time in most of the Western Europe.
The followers of the traditional Christian history-writing have never been, for example, asking what were the real reasons and motivations behind the willingness of the Roman emperors to ally themselves with the Christian church.
They have been quite comfortable with the notion that the Roman emperors just did became as individuals enhanced with this new faith. They often still seem to believe that Roman emperors wanted for their private reasons Christianity to become the sole religion of this vast empire which had up to that time been a heaven for a multitude of different faiths for a millennium.
The traditional Christian view of history has slipped without noticing the things that happened after this magnificent coup d’etat was performed. It was performed by the followers of the new Christian faith at a point of history when Christians were a still a small minority in the Roman empire.
The followers of traditional history have not commonly seen any need to tell about the ensuing total suppression of older religions. They have not noticed the wholesome destruction of old literary traditions and total suppression of many of the artistic or scientific treasures of ancient Greece
The Christian version of history has skipped the dissolving of the extremely liberal Roman religious traditions. They do not want to talk about the transformation of this permissive society into a one party state where only one religion was allowed.
Christian historians have told us how this new faith stopped the disgusting gladiator games, but they have not had the time to tell about how the followers of this new religion destroyed ancient cultural heritage. They do not normally tell about the forced baptisms, the burning of temples and the mass killings of followers of older faiths.
The traditional view of history tells us that the achievements of ancient Greeks were simply somehow forgotten after the coming to power of Christianity. There were of course many other contributing factors as the Roman Empire collapsed, but a major factor undoubtedly was the fact that this new church wanted to suppress all the knowledge that could compete with it at any level of society.
It is also so easily forgotten that the early medieval societies were stark theocracies, which were much like modern Iran as theocracies always work in very similar ways. A faith which claims to be a deliverer of the only possible truth is forced to suppress all the other possible interpretations of their truth. This has to be done simply to maintain its monopoly of knowledge on which its power is based.
(This little essay was completely refurbished on 12th of April, 2012)