Thursday, February 08, 2007
On this day:

Response to Alablawg #1: On whether Western Civilization and Christianity should be considered "gifts" to the New World

First off, Wheeler regurgitates his response to a post I made last Columbus Day, in which I said that "Columbus and those who followed in his wake brought the gifts of Western civilization and Christianity to formerly savage and heathen lands." He objects to my use of the word "gifts," suggesting that "our ancestors did not 'give' western values to the natives, they slaughtered the natives and then continued to live as westerners but in a new location."

Here, Wheeler sets up a straw man argument - one that I didn't make to begin with - and then proceeds to attack the straw man. He never once refutes my actual position.

I never intended to claim that Columbus, et. al., gave Western civilization and Christianity to the native American peoples. In fact, I tend to agree with Wheeler that such an assertion, were anyone to make it, would be inaccurate, to say the least. Many natives died as a result war and disease that can be directly attributed to the Western colonists. Their civilizations were eradicated and their cultures destroyed. It is hardly fair to call coercion and forced assimilation a "gift." I didn't intend to imply that it was.

My point was that Western civilization and Christianity were "gifts" that the explorers and settlers possessed before they ever set sail, and that they brought those gifts with them to the lands of the New World. It's as simple as that.

Now, I can see why some people wouldn't view Western civilization and Christianity as "gifts," but I do. Christianity, I believe, is a gift from God, while civilization is a gift that finds its origin in our human nature (which is itself a gift from God) and that passes down from generation to generation. Whether the civilization and religion of Western man have always been employed for good purposes is a different question altogether, and while it's an interesting topic, it's one that I did not address.