Monday, December 08, 2003

In the mid '90s agnostic scholar Charles Murray (LOSING GROUND, THE BELL CURVE, WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LIBERTARIAN) sought to lay bare the first cause of human achievement in history and found something surprising: the role of Christianity in great accomplishment. His study is now complete and the book is called HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT: THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS AND SCIENCES 800 B.C. TO 1950 and was excerpted in the October/November issues of The American Enterprise magazine. He writes, "The conclusions I came to are far from original with me, but they have not been fashionable for some decades, so I should state them explicitly: The Greeks laid the foundation for Western achievement in the arts and sciences. But it was the transmutation of that intellectual foundation by Christianity that gave modern Europe its impetus and that pushed European accomplishment so far ahead of all other cultures around the world. I will add that I reach this conclusion not out of personal religious conviction but as an agnostic who became persuaded by Christianity's transforming role by my reading of the historical record...Christianity empowers and energizes individuals as no other philosophy or religion ever did before."

Thomas Sowell agrees with his thesis and praises his work, while this UPI interview soberly probes Mr. Murray's intent and conclusions. What follows are links to two full-length essays no longer available online, preserved here for posterity:

Charles Murray’s All-Stars by Terry Teachout from Commentary magazine
A Cultural Scorecard Says West Is Ahead By Emily Eakin from The New York Times

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