About those "Dark" Days of the Inquisition

I am just finishing Vox Day’s book The Irrational Atheist. In the work, he argues against many of the assertions currently being offered by famous atheists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In Chapter XII, he spends some time on the Inquisition and describes its history as grossly misunderstood.

Day states that the Inquisition actually is comprised of four different inquisitions—the Medieval, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the Roman. The Spanish is the one most commonly referred to in attacks on Christianity and he cites three facts to help clarify the past of this period:

1) The Spanish Inquisition did not attempt to convert anyone to Christianity. It had no authority over professing Jews, Muslims, or atheists; its sole mission was to distinguish between genuine Christians and those who were falsely pretending to be Christians and were actually practicing another faith.

2) The inquisitors were not slobbering psychotics as portrayed by Dostoevsky and Edgar Allan Poe…

3) Torture was rarely used, and only when there was substantial evidence to indicate that the accused was lying. Torture could only be used for 15 minutes, and could not cause the loss of a limb, or shed blood; although there were occasional excesses, the main reason we know about them is because those responsible for committing them were held accountable by Church authorities.

4) The main reason there was a Spanish Inquisition in the first place is that, unlike in other European kingdoms, Ferdinand and Isabella encouraged Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity instead of simply expelling them all… Religion may have been the measure, but the motive behind the Spanish Inquisition was unmasking treason and potential rebellion against the crown…
My previous studies of periods like the Inquisition was dominated by a much different message. I wish my undergraduate history courses had done a better job of presenting multiple sides of issues rather than portraying them from one perspective—-especially since the professor I took multiple classes with was a socialist.


Expat From Hell said...

Good stuff - I'm in! I admire anyone who professes Faith and who also reads Hitchens, Harris, and the others. Keep up the good work.

Might I suggest you write on the Ryan Moats vs. the Dallas PD in the future. I have been curious to hear a police/Believer perspective.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'll think about it and see if I have anything worthwhile to say about the Moats incident.

mappchik said...

Huh. That's a side of the story I've never heard, not even in the history classes of church affiliated schools. The Inquisition was mentioned, but not really discussed in depth, beyond the growing corruption of the church at the time.

Though, I suppose that could have something to do with it being a school with a dim view of the Catholics - to put it nicely - so the generally accepted view was the one we got.