Another idea that keeps coming up is the influence of the Greeks. Stark makes this comment which I found interesting,
“Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions.” p. xThere is no reason to think that the writers of the Old Testament lived in a vacuum and had no knowledge of Greek philosophy. The Kingdom of Israel was located on the trade routes that linked the corners of the known world. The New Testament and Christianity would be even more exposed to the thinking of the rest of the world. In the book of Acts you have an account of the apostle Paul going to Mars Hill and debating with the thinkers of his day.
But what was interesting in this comment was the second part. The polytheistic, paganism of the Greeks was not influenced by the call to reason of the Greek philosophers. My read is that the Greeks tended to keep their religion and reason in separate compartments. They did not mix. Thus these great philosophers and thinkers were able to pay allegiance to gods that moderns think are a bit silly and immature. The gods did not influence their thinking and values. It was two worlds in one community.
Although we have many pseudo-Christians and church-goers who also think that way, genuine Christianity does not accommodate that separation. Our understanding of daily life and priorities are tied intimately with our view of eternity and moral values. The two march together. They stimulate and challenge each other. We are not able to compartmentalize our lives.
Notice I am talking about those who are serious about their faith. There are many who attend church or call themselves Christian who don’t really want it to interfere with their quest for gratification. Don’t judge the Faith by the faithless and unfaithful.
In the development of the West you have had many of the great thinkers and scientists who were devote in their Christian faith. Sure, you had those on the atheist and agnostic side but being on the cutting edge did not mean walking away from the Bible. The same is true today. Believing and thinking go very well together. Thinking is necessary to reach the truth and believing is a requirement to accept it when you find it.
Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason. New York: Random House, 2005.
homo unius libri