Christianity did the Greeks in. Christianity, however, is fundamental to the West, especially America. That's why we don't know anything about that tragedy because Christianity does not want us to know its dark beginnings, how it planned and executed the final solution for the "pagan" Greeks while delegating the Jews to a disease-like condition.
Political Christianity annihilated the Greeks because they were inseparable from their gods. Everything they did, from the epics of Homer, the dramatic theater, sowing their crops, inventing and practicing democracy, exploring the cosmos, building their beautiful temples, competing in the Olympics, which were in honor of their supreme god, Zeus, fighting wars or getting ready to expand their reach to a foreign land, involved the gods.
Thales, the natural philosopher who predicted a solar eclipse in 585 BCE, said that all things are full of gods. And Plato, the genius of Hellenic civilization, reported that the Greeks had no doubt their gods existed. At the rising of the sun and the moon, which the Greeks considered gods, Greek children saw their parents prostrate in piety. At harvest time, Greek farmers offered their first fruits to their agrarian and household divinities.
About eight centuries after Plato, in the fourth century, Christianity, assisted by its protector, the Roman Empire, ended the Olympics, forbidding the Greeks the worship of their gods, leveling Greece, uprooting Greek culture, and even importing barbarians to smash the temples, exiling reason and the sciences from the country. Even the Antikythera mechanism, the world's first computer manufactured in the 1st century BCE in Greece, nearly disappeared.
Palladas, a fifth-century Greek writer, summed up the genocide of Christianity against the Greeks this way: "We Greeks," he said, "are men who have been reduced to ashes. We cling to the buried hopes of the dead. Today everything has been turned upside down." In the sixth century, emperor Justinian rounded up the Greek genocide with shutting down the Academy of Athens founded by Plato. That school was Greece's greatest university for about 900 years.
But that Christian catastrophe also brought Rome down, throwing the world into a millennium of darkness only dissipated by the Renaissance.
However, 500 years after the Renaissance, we need another movement to get us closer to the Greeks: We need the Greeks for clarity of thought and for our survival. We have built a complex and vulnerable world verging on mayhem and global chaos.
The United States has become the new Roman Empire, threatening friend and foe alike so that its giant corporations can continue plundering the resources of a planet tottering on the brink of man-made hot ecological collapse and death.
In April 2003, the United States invaded Iraq for its petroleum. Such a blatant, Christian faith-based imperial grab for global power set the Muslims on fire, reawakening the crusades. The Muslims are now fighting a low-level holy war against both the Christian United States and the West.
In late December 2007, I watched a CNN reporter quizzing John Edwards, then a leading Democratic candidate for the presidency, on religion. The questions the reporter asked Edwards could have been those of a medieval Inquisitor. This was demoralizing for Edwards who struggled to give answers that fit the Christianity-loaded platform of American elections. This is bad for democracy, undermining the separation of church and state.
Getting closer to the Greeks - without the delusion of the one-god religions, especially Christianity and Islam -- would restore democratic values in America and may give the West the intellectual and moral tools to solve the manmade crises without reducing Greece to ashes for the second time -- and destroying the world.
After all, both the Arabs and the people of the West experienced a renewal of their culture only because they fell in love with the Greeks; the Arabs in the eighth to tenth centuries and the Westerners in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Both the Arabic and the Western Renaissance were movements of studying the Greeks. Out of those experiences, Greek thought helped created Arabic and Western culture.
The Greeks gave us democracy, philosophy and science. Being with the Greeks, it becomes easier to build bridges between us. In addition, reading the Greeks gives us valuable clues to return to ancient traditional and democratic and just institutions or create new ones not merely for living but for living well. The Greeks did the same thing.
Philipp Melanchthon, the sixteenth-century "Teacher of Germany" and great humanist of the Western Renaissance, was right: Embrace the Greeks, he said. The Greeks provide a fresh, reason-based stand from which to see the world.