Those who are ignorant of history and in contempt of religion find the historical moral case against the Catholic Church much stronger than it is. One of the cases that many believe to be made very easily is that after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Church became a controlling evil hoarder of knowledge and kept the world in ignorance as long as possible. A quick visit to Wikipedia can prove this view to be far too simplistic and foolish (as can half-witted reflection on the fact that the Church has built and run the largest university system ever), but two recent books speak more fully to the truth of the matter.
The first, God’s Philosophers, was recently reviewed by an atheist who doesn’t pull punches on his fellow believers. You can find it here.
The second, The Genesis of Science, has been written up in brief on the blog of a presumably hostile peer-reviewed journal. You can find it here.
Elsewhere, Mike Flynn notes some of the inventions by Catholic monks and laity at the same time:
watermills, windmills, camshafts, toothed wheels, transmission shafts, mechanical clocks, pendant clocks, eye glasses, four-wheeled wagons, wheeled moldboard plows with shares and coulters, three-field crop rotation, blast furnaces, laws of magnetism, steam blowers, treadles, stirrups, armored cavalry, the elliptical arch, the fraction and arithmetic of fractions, the plus sign, preservation of antiquity, “Gresham’s” law, the mean speed theorem, “Newton’s” first law, distilled liquor, use of letters to indicate quantities in al jabr, discovery of the Canary Islands, the Vivaldi expedition, cranks, overhead springs, latitudo et longitudo, coiled springs, laws of war and non-combatants, modal logic, capital letters and punctuation marks, hydraulic hammers, definition of uniform motion, of uniformly accelerated motion, of instantaneous motion, explanation of the rainbow, counterpoint and harmony, screw-jacks, screw-presses, horse collars, gunpowder and pots de fer, that there may be a vacuum, that there may be other Worlds, that the earth may turn in a diurnal motion, that to overthrow a tyrant is the right of the multitude, the two-masted cog, infinitesimals, open and closed sets, verge-and-foliot escapements, magnetic compasses, portolan charts, the true keel, natural law, human rights, international law, universities, corporations, freedom of inquiry, separation of church and state, “Smith’s” law of marketplaces, fossilization, geological erosion and uplift, anaerobic salting of fatty fish (“pickled herring”), double entry bookkeeping, and… the printing press.
This myth is driven by anti-religious bias, nothing more. It should be relegated to the dustbin of history as soon as possible, lest the promoter prove himself a total idiot in public. The Church has done many evil things in its 2000 year history. There is no need to make up additional moral outrage fodder.