Friday, May 12, 2017

Geopolitical Consequences of A World in Which the Reformation Never Happened

This year is the 500th year (meaning October 31 will be the 500th anniversary) of the Protestant Reformation, dated to the posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses, whether nailed or mailed. It's fitting to reflect on how history may have played out differently if the rapid re-printing of his theses had not galvanized support for what eventually led to the Reformation of the church.

Absent Luther's actions:

​German nobles would not have had as strong a uniting force which to rally around in order to throw off the yoke of the Papacy, so Germany would have remained Roman Catholic longer. England would not have become Protestant, so Spain would not have launched the Armada, so Spain would have remained the naval superpower of the 1500s-1700s, and Spanish Catholics, rather than English Puritans, would have colonized America. Consequently, there would have been no American Revolution, and thus, no great democratic experiment with a Constitutional Republic built on principles of religious liberty. America may today instead be a Roman Catholic monarchy, with the primary language being Spanish. The world would have fewer, if not NO democracies, and worldwide, women would still not have the right to vote, slaves would still be publicly owned in the West, and it's quite probable that the "Enlightenment" of atheism/humanism would not have taken place, so evolutionary theory would never have become a prominent belief. Consequently, even if we had television, cinema would be much more boring, without movies like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

Because Darwin is the single most important direct influence on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust would not have happened, neither would WWI (also strongly influenced by propaganda about reclaiming the 'Holy Roman Empire' which was when Germany and the Papacy were closely tied as a single religio-political entity) or WWII, so the British would never have conquered Palestine and Israel would never have been given to the Jews. Jewish settlement would still have occurred, because that was organic, due to antisemitism. However, the likelihood that Israel would have been recognized as a country by the international community would be much lower. Nor is it likely that the state would have been a democracy if it were created in this alternate timeline.

The 'enlightenment' was, together with sects and heresies, one of those necessarily possible but unintended/unwanted consequences of the greater religious liberty Luther et al created by making faith much more individualistic by giving everyone access to the Bible.  Instead of facing secular politics as our biggest internal frustration, we'd still be seeing roman catholicism as the greatest threat to peace and liberty on earth. There would not have been an American Civil War because the Protestant abolitionist movement would never have been a big enough influence to elevate it to the level of national politics. Consequently, there would have been no civil rights movement. Ironically, racial tensions might be perceived to be less strenuous, if only because the disparity in treatment of the "races" would never have confronted the nation's conscience, because there would have been no one to advocate for the oppressed. Since technological innovation of the industrial/post-industrial era was almost entirely a product of American ingenuity, enabled by our political liberty and economic prosperity, in a Roman Catholic America, the inventions like the cotton gin, tractor etc which made the necessity of manual labor obsolete would not have been invented, so slavery would still be seen as a practical necessity with a strong economic incentive for maintaining.

Is your mind blown?

-W

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