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In the UK, when a jury has a verdict the judge asks them what the verdict is and they say it out loud. In the 'States, once a jury reaches a verdict, they write it down on a piece of paper and hand it to the judge, He or she reads it and then hands it back and someone in the jury reads it out.
Why do they hand it to the judge first? What does this achieve?
So I've spent pretty much the whole weekend working on the spreadsheets and finding out how TrustMe did it, but now I've got everything I need to become (temporary) TD and with Geofram's help get this thing back up and running.
I say a Lack of Education: It was with more education we got out of the Stone Ages and into the Greco-Roman era...and then when education made a comeback, we had the Renaissance...and then the Englightenment...and then Civil Rights/Suffrage movements...cured diseases, more production...but currently my home state is 48th in education and the West is most of my doctors ARE from India...what's your take? Biggest threat is...what?
Probably not new game play idea, maybe for tourneys
Is there a tourney here that we could do a Triple vs Triple deal with a rogue Italy? I think if we have enough players that would be a fun thing to do. I think best would be 7 players or 49. Could be fun. Let me know if anyone is interested or has a way to make it a better idea.
So, I've been having a little trouble with my car and I'm trying to fix it myself without going to a shop. So far, my attempts haven't been successful and my internet searches have been less than helpful. I thought someone here may be able to give me some tips. Details inside.
Pretty self-explanatory...if you want to try and rank your picks, bonus points. I WILL give one caveat--all of my picks ARE slanted towards the West, that's just my bias...don't know enough Eastern Theatre battles to really include many, and those that do make my list are because the West drove back the East...so you can include Eastern battles--please do!--but I don't known them, so can't include them. Let the War of the Words begin! :)
Many foolish individuals in these forums post positive rights ideology. What a worthless, destructive point of view. Look at what it has done to Europe since the end of WWII. God help us save American from this lunacy.
Hey everybody. I just came across this site when looking for diplomacy tactics...I have to say it might definitely be worth my time. Since I'm a new guy at this site, how do I start playing a game with other people?
I know most here are not Australian, nor football supporters, but the Sky Blues had a most fantastic and heroic victory tonight over Gold Coast United. 3-2 at the death. Karol Kisel scores a penalty at 90+3mins! Brilliant! Discuss.....lol
The allegory excuse, has a perfectly valid reason for existing. While I'm too lazy to hunt down more Averroes quotes. I'll paraphrase for you.
People are stupid. -They shouldn't be trusted with Allegory, and should just learn the lessons by way of what the scripture says. Because the important lessons are there. Some people are less stupid - They get to learn by understanding what they read is imagery. Man isn't actually like god. That's imagery. Some people are actually kinda smart. - They get to interpret the text allegorically.
The reason that the text is written in such a fashion is religion is supposed to be able to teaches the masses. Given that the masses are primarily the first category scripture needs to be written in the fashion it is. The allegorical interpretations, aren't making it say 'whatever you need it to say' they are instead distilling the message that was already there from the text.
The entire all religious books are totally saying exactly what they mean. Is an invention of the modern world, and like all things from the past, they need to be considered in the context of their era. Your decision to deride religious philosophy because you have chosen this modern understanding, is in this sense a very foolish one.
Religious philosophy is as much real knowledge as anything else, the discourse that occurs about ethics in particular, by religious scholars is one of the most beneficial aspects. Because there are lessons to be had there even if you throw out the religious elements.
Religion fictional story or not has the potential to teach important lessons. In the same way that any piece of literature can teach you a lesson. Ignoring that is the height of ignorance.
There are no ethical lessons in (Abrahamic) religious texts. It's not about ethics, it's about gaining adherents vs rival religions. What is the "lesson" of the slaughter of the Ethiopians? The Midianites? The enslavement of Midianite virgin girls?
Religion and knowledge are mutually exclusive, just like religion and ethics are mutually exclusive. With god, all things are permissible.
How very unenlightened Putin. Yes there has been an exorbitant amount of crime, and sin committed in gods name.
Doesn't mean there are no lessons to be learned from the bible and other religious texts. Sure the desire to be more widespread is also present. But devoid of ethics and knowledge. Not at all. A large variety of theologians have written on what it means to live a practical life, the nature of virtue, and on what is present in the world. Just like Jack you are examining this with a modern perspective on religion, ignoring the situation at that time.
In modern era, sure it seems like Religion and knowledge are exclusive. In medieval europe however, religion was the only reason knowledge was passed down.
Religion was the biggest obstacle to the spread of knowledge. It boggles the mind how advanced Mediterranean civilization was prior to the fall of the western Roman empire, and how it took 1000 years before Europe really got off the ground again. In Rome there was indoor plumbing, in 1000 AD people were throwing human waste out of the window. There's a reason why Europe's population was decimated by the Black Plague. Literacy was rare in the Middle Ages, being monopolized by religious 'professionals'. Even the clergy barely knew Latin well enough to conduct services. Greek was completely forgotten. Observation based study of nature, which was widespread under the Hellenistic and Roman period, was completely lost. Instead the focus was on "knowing God", a complete waste of time. Pagan schools of philosophy and learning were closed. Greek philosophy was deemed subversive to the church. The whole history of Christianity is one of unbounded irrationality and hostility to the advancement of knowledge.
You know, except in the entire eastern branch of the roman empire, and the following Muslim empire by which they were preserved.
The actual reason cannot be ascribed to the spread of religion, as the eastern roman empire was still very religious, as was the following muslim civilization.
Instead the loss of learning in the west was a result of the collapse of the city, and increased ruralization, a direct result of a loss of order and safety, roads could no longer be patrolled, thus trade collapsed. While in the east there was a great deal more order, and they were able to continue to hold the roads so to city as a way of life remained viable.
Christianity, throughout the early middle ages and into the high middle ages, did there best to learn from the texts that were translated by the west. Finally when cities began to arise again, order was re-established by powerful monarchs, it was the churches that founded the institutions on learning, universities. Literacy was rare in the middle ages, because the city was practically a non-being. The only places were it was remotely preserved was the church.
The latin translation of Timeaus by the Jewish population in the Muslim world was the only way it was available to the Latin west. Additionally, the Muslim west, another Abrahamic religion, translated practically the entire base of Greek, Philosophy, Math, Science, and Medicine into Arabic.
Okay, seriously - I, unfortunately, agree with Krellin that the OWS protestors are primarily a bunch of whiny, overprivileged kids whose mommies and daddies failed to teach them about hard work, respect, and the true meaning of self-worth. I think they need to go home, work at the bottom for a year, learn that fulfillment and reward are a RESULT of hard work and reliability (not the cause of), and THEN they can talk about how "unfair" the system is.
That being said, I didn't even get to the end of the first page of this thread before his obscenities and vulgarity turned me off. I'm sure that there is a great deal of intelligent, reasoned debate here. I'm sure that there are a number of well-thought out arguments on both sides of the issue that I would be better off reading and knowing about. But I refuse to wade through such childishness in order to get to them. I won't mute him, because he has the right to have his say, but *I* have the right to refuse to listen, and so I will not read any more of this thread, so that I can avoid his words.
Sorry everyone, but I'm out.
Also, Krellin: Grow up. Your vituperation gives a bad name to those of us who believe in individual initiative over government mandates, and, frankly, I feel ashamed that we share a philosophy. As my dad told me once when I was a kid, "Obscenity is the crutch of the inarticulate."
Also, I read one of the posts just above me saying that religion and knowledge are mutually exclusive.
1) I read a sci-fi novel where history was changed becuase Judaism/Christianity never appeared. The author goes on to describe a modern world (our time) where science nearly does not exist. He proposes that the existence of one God who created the world and everything in it provided the foundation for early scientists thinking that order/rules (Physical laws) governed the universe, as why would God, who proscribed so many rules for them to follow, not have done the same with the world that He created? This isn't hard fact of course, only speculative, but an interesting thought - after all, if you believe that the universe is essentially chaotic, why would you bother trying to make sense of out the chaos via scientific study. But, if you believe that God created an ordered universe, it might behoove you to figure out the rules governing that order so that you can better survive in that universe.
2) One of my best friends is receiving his PhD on Monday and he is a very devout Catholic who goes to church every week and can discuss polymer physics as readily as papal doctrine.
Putin33 said, "The whole history of Christianity is one of unbounded irrationality and hostility to the advancement of knowledge." Nonsense. The flowering of European Civilization could only take place under Christianity, certainly not under Islam. The "Dark Ages" was a phrase coined by Voltaire, who first advanced the idea that Christianity somehow supressed technology for 1000 years, which is complete poppy-cock. This new phrase "Dark Ages" has taken root, not because of any well established Christian attempt to supress knoweldge, but because of it being embraced by secular institutions who want to minimize the controbutions of Christianity to Western Civilization. If the Dark Ages are indeed as dark as you claim, then why did technology blossom out of Eruope, instead of the "enlightened" and well learned Muslim states during the Crusades? You have Da Vinci, and Michael Angelo because of Christian patronage. Christianity made technology flourish, not supressed it as you claim.
Uh, check your history -- until the Mongols absolutely ravaged and devastated the Middle East, the Muslim states actually *were* the font of knowledge for the Mediterranean/European world. All the specific details you're naming -- da Vinci, Michelangelo -- occurred a couple hundred years after the Mongolian devastation of the Middle East. And, interestingly enough, these folks showed up during the Renaissance, which was a rejection of the Christian theocracy of the medieval period and a return to Greece and pre-Christian Rome.
@President eden- that statement about the Renaissance being a rejection of the christian theocracy is a falsehood so bald I cannot let it stand. The Renaissance was in fact driven by the church- the return of the papacy to rome paid for much of the rennaissance artwork. Michelangelo, da Vinci, and others created numbers of works for the church. The subject matter of a large number of the works created during the rennaissance remained biblical.
lol. Okay, sure. Because, you know, the Renaissance didn't see a shift away from the absolute dominion of feudal estates fundamentally built on peasant farmers' God-inspired fear of superiors and toward freer societies rooted in a revival of Greco-Roman era culture and the rise of humanism.
I didn't say it was a rejection of Christianity. I said it was a rejection of the absolute Christian theocratic dominions that dominated the Middle Ages. The Renaissance's erosion of medieval era absolute Christian theocracy destroyed the ridiculously static state of European society and actually allowed society to progress. Interestingly enough, around that time there was a massive jump in technological and intellectual development in Europe that put the West ahead of the rest to the present day.
True that the Mongols "ravaged and devastated the Middle East", but they never touched the heart of Islam or Christianity, which were Mecca and central Europe respectively. This left the "core" of each religious system intact. So to claim the distruction of the educational instutitions of Islam at the hands of the Mongols is something of a stretch. It also greatly exagerates the state of Islamic learning. If we grant that educated Arabs knew more of classical authors, and even had better mathematicians and astronomers, it must also be accepted that Islamic technology laged far behind the West. Saddles, sturrups, horseshoes, wagons, carts, draft horses, harneses, effective plows, crossbows, Greek fire, ship building, productive agriculture, and effective body armor all highly refined by Muslim standards. So if indeed we accept that Muslim states were the "font of knowledge for the Mediterranean/European world," then we must ask the critical question, why did Islamic countries fall drastically behind the West following the Crusades? This claim at a sophisticaled Muslim culture is simply the Islamic "inheritance" of their conquored, subject people. From the conquest of the Coptics (a Christian reretical group) their remarkable learning, the mathematical achievements of the Hindu, medicine from Nastorians, the list goes on and on. So to claim the superiority of Islamic culture, in light of the facts is to ignore reality. The technological development of the West has at its core a Judeo-Christian Center, even if this is not widely accepted today.
You should add to your account, the centre of learning for the Islamic world was Baghdad, which was a result of policies that promoted learning and policies that allowed for education. Truly the basis of all technology is past discoveries that are then co-opted. Following the fall of the Islamic civilization it is true that Christian civilization led the charge for technological advances, however in the period before this, the Islamic world was the font of knowledge. Denying that is an unfair denial, of credit were credit is due.
Uberpenpal, I don't buy the thesis that Muslims preserved Greek knowledge. Neither of the Abrahamic conqueror religions were friends of science. And I grant that European advancement was indigenous to Europe. Most of the translations of Greek texts were not, in fact, translated into Arabic.
But the Renaissance was the era of the Babylonian captivity and the great western schism. As Eden rightly points out, ecclesiastical authority was forever shaken, and soon the princes of Europe became independent sovereign states with paramount power over religious authority. It was in this era that Renaissance humanism flourished. And I might add, when the Church was under assault, Renaissance humanism was repressed in favor of reimposing the medieval Scholasticism of old. Great Catholic thinkers like Erasmus were deemed heretical reformers. And many of the scientists of the age that Christians now take credit for were heavily influenced by things like occultism, hermiticism, and Neo-Platonism. Indeed, Newton was a student of the occult.
Erasmus's condemnation of religious authorities in "In Praise of Folly" I think is particularly prescient for this conversation, it speaks to the culture of Christianity at the time.
"Perhaps it would be wise to pass over the theologians in silence. That short-tempered and supercilious crew is unpleasant to deal with. . . . They will proclaim me a heretic. With this thunderbolt they terrify the people they don't like. Their opinion of themselves is so great that they behave as if they were already in heaven; they look down pityingly on other men as so many worms. A wall of imposing definitions, conclusions, corollaries, and explicit and implicit propositions protects them. They are full of big words and newly-invented terms. . . .
. . . Next to the theologians in happiness are those who commonly call themselves the religious and monks. Both are complete misnomers, since most of them stay as far away from religion as possible, and no people are seen more often in public. They are so detested that it is considered bad luck if one crosses your path, and yet they are highly pleased with themselves. They cannot read, and so they consider it the height of piety to have no contact with literature.."
Uberpenpal, I don't buy the thesis that Muslims preserved Greek knowledge. Neither of the Abrahamic conqueror religions were friends of science. And I grant that European advancement was indigenous to Europe. Most of the translations of Greek texts were not, in fact, translated into Arabic.
You're just wrong then. I can't offer you up a good academic source primarily because I received this information on translation second hand, however I can direct you to the wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_of_the_Classics
I'm not going to approach the renaissance, as I have yet to study the religious texts of that era. However the I can speak to the middle ages, where religion was the prime reason that the transmission of the classics took place.
Given that this discussions stems from my discussion of classic, and medieval scholars works. That is the time period that is relevant regardless.
During that time, Religion or Spirituality was synonymous with knowledge. First you had the greek gods. Then the psudeo-monothiestic one/good of Aristotle and Plato. The proto-christianity that is neo-platonism. (Which is to say, the discussion of the neo-platonists is very christian without being wholly there.) Knowledge was steeped in religion.
Somebody tell me what medieval Christian Europe produced in terms of innovation prior to the water mill. Meanwhile China, (whom nobody has even mentioned here as the center of learning and scientific innovation) invented the iron plough, the compass, paper, gun powder, printing, and numerous other inventions that Europe only acquired much later, at the end of the medieval period. But we're expected to believe that it was because of Christianity that great knowledge and innovation arose.
Also riddle me this, why were the works of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment almost universally banned by the Church? [Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Hume, Diderot, Rousseau, Kant] Why did Luther call reason "the Devil's greatest whore that ought to be trodden underfoot and destroyed?"
It's quite clear that freedom of inquiry only emerged when Christianity was weakened from within. It's quite clear that some of the so-called great Christian thinkers of the age were involved by the ancient Greeks, and was because of that open-mindedness that they became great. Had Aquinas been a slavish devotee of the Church, he would not have even considered Aristotle & Maimonides.
Not really. The Greeks were very quick in rejecting the *real* influence of gods in people's daily lives. Xenophanes was a skeptic. Anaxagoras was a skeptic. Pericles was a skeptic. Epicurus was the skeptic par excellence. Protagoras was the skeptic par excellence. And I'm hard pressed to figure out which of Archimedes many advancements had anything to do with the Olympic pantheon.
You're talking about a different Era Putin. The enlightenment is not relevant. At all. Different era. The church was different then.
My point exactly with Aquinas though. In that era considering Aristotle wasn't an abnormal thing for a learned man of the church too do. Thats why so many religious philosophers address those topics. Maimonides, you're kidding me right. He is a religious philosopher, of the exact type I'm talking about.
I already covered this, Christian Europe did not have cities, and civilization. Because it was not safe. Trade had collapsed so the city became unviable. Its a matter of circumstance more then religion. Sure religion might have had some influence. However the centres of learning in the eastern roman empire suggest otherwise.
Christianity allowed for the preservation of the old technology during a period were it could no longer be easily taught thanks to the collapse of the city. So yes I do expect you to believe it. Learning wouldn't have started again if not for the translation of the arabic to latin done by spanish monks.
Yet, Heraclitus, Aristotle, Plato. All had elements of religion. So while the natural philosophers, didn't find a god. Those who looked for the origin of thought in meaningful way found something.
Also, skeptic: As defined in that era, simply believed we can't know anything. Which is can be a very religious viewpoint to take. It suggests that either all things are beyond human comprehension. So either pure chaos, or created by a higher being.
I don't disagree that they weren't strong believers in religion, however you're using incorrect terminology. Also: Xenophanes espoused a belief that "God is one, supreme among gods and men, and not like mortals in body or in mind." He maintained there was one greatest God. Bravo.
Anaxagoras: Believed all things arose from Nous, which is to say mind. Similar terminology is often used to describe the creation of the world by God.
Pericles: Is primarily a statesman, as opposed to a Philosopher.
Epicurus: Is an idiot.
Protagoras: Sophist, Agnostic who wrote about the gods, few surviving works. Still heavily influenced by religion, wasn't sure if they were there or not, contemplated them heavily.
Archimedes: Is a mathematician, which means his work being not of an ethical/political and so forth origin isn't relevant to the topic.
Suffice to say. I was willing to gives you a kind of point, but it turns out you don't really know what you're talking about.
"You're talking about a different Era Putin. The enlightenment is not relevant. At all. Different era. The church was different then."
How is it not relevant? It points to the fact that Christianity fought to suppress the advancement of knowledge to the very last. It points to a general trend of opposition to reason and rationality.
"My point exactly with Aquinas though. In that era considering Aristotle wasn't an abnormal thing for a learned man of the church too do."
That's an odd thing to say, considering in the 1200s, before Aquinas became renowned for melding Aristotelianism & Christianity into Scholasticism, the Popes and religious authorities were condemning his teachings. Innocent III condemned Aristotle in 1210 and church authorities banned all of his work. In 1270, Siger of Brabant was condemned by the church for his Aristotelianism, basically because his brand of Aristotle was pro-reason and had no interest in theology. So, Aquinas comes to the rescue of Aristotle, and from then Aristotelianism becomes part of church doctrine which cannot be questioned. Aristotle is then used a bludgeon against any scientific deviations.
"I already covered this, Christian Europe did not have cities, and civilization. Because it was not safe. Trade had collapsed so the city became unviable."
So what were the Italian city-states then? They weren't centers of trade and commercialism? Flanders wasn't a center of trade and commercialism? I don't know why it would have been unsafe, at least beginning in the 1000s when the Viking age ended and the Arab invasions stopped.
"However the centres of learning in the eastern roman empire suggest otherwise. "
Well it is to the credit of the Byzantines for at least preserving classical texts, which is unfairly credited to the Muslims. It was the migration of Byzantine scholars to western Europe that led to greater exposure of ancient Greek texts in the West. I should add that one of their great centers of learning, the University of Constantinople, was entirely secular.
"Yet, Heraclitus, Aristotle, Plato. All had elements of religion."
Aristotle barely talked at all about "religion". He was something of a deist, but I guess that's enough for the religious to take credit for him. That was the case for most of the classical greeks, who were not religious at all.
"Also, skeptic: As defined in that era, simply believed we can't know anything."
A more precise term is humanist, and they all in some way or another voiced opposition to religious orthodoxy and in many cases satirized religion. But you knew very well what I meant, and I did not mean Skepticism in the least.
"I don't disagree that they weren't strong believers in religion, however you're using incorrect terminology."
So this pedantic quibbling of yours is rather pointless, isn't it.
"Xenophanes espoused a belief that "God is one, supreme among gods and men, and not like mortals in body or in mind." He maintained there was one greatest God. Bravo."
He also said: "Mortals suppose that the gods are born and have clothes and voices and shapes like their own."
"But if oxen, horses, and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and fashion works as men do, horses would paint horse-like images of gods and oxen ox-like ones, and each would fashion bodies like their own."
"The Ethiopians consider the gods flat-nosed and black; the Thracians blue-eyes and red-haired."
He said that gods do not appear in mortal form or communicate with human beings. Again, another deistic depiction of a god that the religious claim credit for. In his time, these ideas were heretical, and his support for rationality and naturalism over divination and mythology have nothing in common with "religion" as we know it.
"Protagoras: Sophist, Agnostic who wrote about the gods, few surviving works. Still heavily influenced by religion, wasn't sure if they were there or not, contemplated them heavily."
Really, the guy who said "man is the source of all things" is still given the thumbs up from the religious? The guy who was exiled for rejection of the gods?
"Epicurus: Is an idiot. "
An idiot? The guy basically invented the scientific method and claimed that the fundamental units of matter were atoms. Your comments are proof positive of the religious's contempt for science and knowledge.
"Archimedes: Is a mathematician, which means his work being not of an ethical/political and so forth origin isn't relevant to the topic. "
Archimedes was a hell of a lot more than a mathematician. But now we get all of these qualifiers. Before, all knowledge is "steeped in religion". Now, we qualify and compartmentalize some of the most brilliant minds of the ancient world that have provided us so much knowledge in such a way that it's apparently irrelevant that religion was irrelevant to their discoveries.
"Believed all things arose from Nous, which is to say mind. Similar terminology is often used to describe the creation of the world by God."
Right, he just happened to be put on trial and exiled for "impiety" for denying the divinity of the gods. He also was one of the first to claim that Reason was the source of all order in the world. But again, no matter how 'skeptical' any ancient Greek figure is of religion, you'll claim the ancient Greeks for the religious.
"Pericles: Is primarily a statesman, as opposed to a Philosopher."
Right, he just happened to be the statesman who was the most influential during the time that Athens became the center of learning and philosophy in the western world. Which again, points to the fact that where science and knowledge have flourished, religion had either nothing to do with it or tried to violently obstruct its progress.
Your point was not that the world's greatest purveyors of knowledge had "elements" of religious thought, as if even the most bare bones elements of religion would do. No, you very confidently said that all knowledge in the classical world was "steeped" in religion, which is just utter nonsense. Now you're backpedaling, but you even conceded that most classical greeks were not religious so I don't even get why you're arguing.
Because believe it or not things change over time. The church started to feel threatened so it lashed out against knowledge.
I should start by saying a few things. 1. I tend to over exaggerate, to prove a point. 2. Yeah I backpedal. I can admit when what I've said wasn't perfect. Something you should learn how to do.
I'm going to ignore the entirety of your points on the enlightenment as I said things change. We're talking about the classic era, and medieval, stick to them.
You aren't very good at reading are you. Yes Byzantium maintained texts. So too did the islamic world. Both deserve credit, and fancy that both are religious. (Islam actually started very pro-knowledge and later shifted to be anti-knowledge. Averroes, who so it happens was very popular in the christian west.)
Look if you want to talk about knowledge being secular, then accept those who are deists as being religious. I'll grant it wasn't the religion of the era, but it is religious.
re: Epicurus My comments do no such thing, I'm not even religious. I'm expressing my contempt for a philosophy who had some really terrible ideas.
Look when I said knowledge, what I mean was philosophy. Maybe that wasn't clear. Math is not philosophy.
My point there. Look, all of them were contemplating religion. Is in a serious manner, and arrived and productive or unproductive conclusions because of it. The discussion of religion was important. It permeated all discussion of knowledge. Which is so to speak steeping it.
Statement on classic greeks, I later stuck down in the same post. That was the point I was prepared to concede and decided not too, still I will agree some of them were not religious. However their discussion of religion still brought to light important ideas.
We don't do that anymore. Knowledge back then wasn't secular.
Re: Religion as we know it. Funny because rationality and nature formed a large part of religious philosophy. Namely reconciling that with revelation.
I will concede you have some decent points however. Arguing that religion is the anti-thesis of knowledge is just wrong.
This is what I don't understand. You're not even religious yet you insist on giving credit to a worldview that has done much damage to cause of advancing science and knowledge. The classical greeks defined "god" or "nous" in such a way so that it did not interfere with progress. They were very concerned about *this* world not otherworlds. This great lessons hasn't been learned by the Abrahamics. I don't get why, despite not being religious, you believe religion has been this great font of knowledge and ethics. Whatever progress has been achieved, has been achieved in spite of religion, and when religious authority was lax or weakened, not because of it.
I admit not that all religious traditions have been completely hostile to knowledge. But Christianity and Islam sure have. Confucianism put a heavy emphasis on learning but that's more a philosophy than a religious tradition. And this is the religious milieu which we face. The old, tolerant, inclusive, pagan religions are unfortunately dead. Instead we have these nasty desert religions ruining the world.
The transfer of Greek works from the Byzantines to the Latin West took place in two main stages. The first occurred in Baghdad, when Greek works were translated into Arabic in the 8th and 9th century during Abbasid rule. The second is “the great age of translation” in the 12th and 13th centuries as Europeans conquered formerly Islamic territories in Spain and Sicily. Scholars came from all over Europe to benefit from Arab learning and culture. About the same period, after the Fourth Crusade, scholars such as William of Moerbeke gained access to the original Greek texts that had been preserved in the Byzantine empire, and translated them directly into Latin. There was a later stage when Western knowledge of Greek began to revive in Renaissance Humanism, and especially after the Fall of Constantinople when there was an influx of refugee Greek scholars in the Renaissance.  First period: Greek – Arabic translations Further information: Early Islamic philosophy An Arab's depiction of Socrates teaching his students.  Ummayyads
The first period of transmission during 8th and 9th centuries was preceded by a period of conquest, as Arabs took control of previously Hellenized areas such as Egypt and Syria in the 7th century. At this point they first began to encounter Greek ideas, though from the beginning, many Arabs were hostile to classical learning. Because of this hostility, the religious Caliphs could not support scientific translations. Translators had to seek out wealthy business patrons rather than religious ones. Until Abassid rule in the 8th century, however, there was little work in translation. Most knowledge of Greek during Umayyad rule was gained from those scholars of Greek who remained from the Hellenistic period, rather than through widespread translation and dissemination of texts. A few scholars argue that translation was more widespread than is thought during this period, but theirs remains the minority view.  Abassids
The main period of translation was during Abbasid rule. The Abbasids, who came from the Persian East, were at an advantage in this area when compared to the Umayyads because they had accepted many Greek ideas already. One of the kings of Persia in the 6th century, Noshinvan the Just, had freely invited pagan philosophers fleeing the Byzantines free refuge in his country, thus introducing many Greek ideas into his kingdom. Aided by this knowledge and juxtaposition of beliefs, the Abassids considered it valuable to look at Islam with Greek eyes, and to look at the Greeks with Islamic eyes. Abassid philosophers also pressed the idea that Islam had from the very beginning stressed the gathering of knowledge as important to the religion. These new lines of thought allowed the work of amassing and translating Greek ideas to expand as it never before had.  Syrian translations
The first stage of this process was the translation into Arabic of Greek philosophical and scientific works that had been preserved by Eastern Christians in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. The translators were mostly Nestorian and Jacobite Christians, working in the two hundred years following the Abbasid period. The most important translator of this group was the Syriac-speaking Christian Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (809-873), known to the Latins as Joannitius. The texts were first translated into Syriac, then into Arabic. Despite this process, the translations were generally accurate, aiming for a literal reading rather than elegance.
Almost all translators were Nestorian and Syrian Christians. Greek-speaking Christian missionaries had spread their religion to Persia, Egypt, and Syria long before Arab rule. Thus, many in these areas had kept Aristotle’s ideas alive in order to debate philosophy and increase the quality of their medical practices. They now found themselves in an Arabic-speaking world, and saw that they could be valuable as translators of Greek ideas. It was not until later that actual Muslims, rather than Christians, undertook translation on a large scale.
The first text to be translated by Syriacs was probably the New Testament. This may have been an unfortunate choice, as many Muslims, eager to point out the evils of Greek philosophy or any philosophy not truly Arab, trumpeted the fact that Greek translators were “infidels.” Oddly enough, the fact that the Greeks themselves were pagan and polytheistic was less of a problem. Most translators didn't know enough of Greek mythology to see Aphrodite, Zeus, and Apollo as anything more than mysterious names. Also, Greek references to “the gods” were often simply translated as “Allah.”
Overall, religious confusion, Christian or otherwise, did not prevent Abassid rule from lessening anti-Greek sentiment to a point that even clergymen (“Caliphs”) were permitted to support translation. In this early period, Hellenistic schools which had survived the Islamic conquest led the charge. Since Islam was born in a Hellenistic world, it was fortunate to have an affinity for the classics from the beginning, and many used Greek philosophies to give added vigor to their religion, beginning what has been called a “Renaissance of Islam.”  Baghdad's House of Wisdom
The Abassids moved their capital from Arabia to Baghdad. Here, translation work exploded within the House of Wisdom, a university of sorts created in 830 under Caliph Abdallah-al-Mamun. Al-Mamun had sent emissaries to the Byzantines to gather Greek manuscripts for his new university, making it a center for Greek translation work in the Arab world. At first only practical works, such as those on medicine and technology were sought after, but eventually works on philosophy became popular.
Most scholars agree that during this period rhetoric, poetry, histories, and dramas were not translated into Arabic, since they were viewed as serving political ends which were not to be sought after in Arab states. Instead, philosophical and scientific works were almost the entire focus of translation. This has been disputed by a minority of scholars, however, who argue that stories such as Arabian Nights carry clear parallels to Greek literature—evidence that many Arabs were familiar with Greek humanities more than is thought.  After translation: Arabic commentary on Greek works This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. See the talk page for details. WikiProject Philosophy or the Philosophy Portal may be able to help recruit an expert. (February 2009)
Al-Kindi (Alkindus), a famous logician of Baghdad, is now frequently called the first Arab philosopher. His synthesis of Greek philosophy with Islamic beliefs met with much opposition, and at one point he was flogged by those opposed to his ideas. He argued that one could accept the Koran and other sacred texts, and work from that point to determine truth. Whenever he ran into an impasse, he would abandon the Greek ideas in favor of the Islamic faith. He is considered to be largely responsible for pulling the Arab world out of a mystic and theological way of thinking into a more rationalistic mode. Previous to al-Kindi, for example, on the question of how the immaterial God of the Koran could sit on a throne in the same book, one theologist had said, “The sitting is known, its modality is unknown. Belief in it is a necessity, and raising questions regarding it is a heresy.” Few of al-Kindi's writings have survived, making it difficult to judge his work directly, but it is clear from what exists that he carefully worked to present his ideas in a way acceptable to other Muslims.
After Al-Kindi, several philosophers argued more radical views, some of whom even rejected revelation, most notably the Persian logician, Al-Razi or “Rhazes.” Considered one of the most original thinkers among the Persian philosophers[by whom?], he challenged both Islamic and Greek ideas in a rationalist manner. Also, where Al-Kindi had focused on Aristotle, Al-Rhazi focused on Plato, introducing his ideas as a contrast.
After Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi (Alpharabius) introduced Neoplatonism through his knowledge of the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria. Unlike Al-Kindi or Al-Rhazi, Al-Farabi was hesitant to express his own feelings on issues of religion and philosophy, choosing rather to speak only through the words of the various philosophies he came across.
Decades after Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) compiled the ideas of many Muslim philosophers of the previous centuries and established a new school which is known as Avicennism. After this period, Greek philosophy went into a decline in the Islamic world. Theologians such as Al-Ghazali argued that many realms of logic only worked in theory, not in reality. His ideas would later influence Western European religious ideas. In response to Al-Ghazali's The Incoherence of the Philosophers, the Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), the most famous commentator on Aristotle and founder of Averroism, wrote a refutation entitled The Incoherence of the Incoherence.
By 1200, when philosophy was again revived in the Islamic world, Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi were no longer remembered, while Ibn Sina's compilation work still was. Ibn Sina, otherwise known as Avicenna, would later heavily influence European philosophical, theological and scientific thought, becoming known as “the most famous scientist of Islam” to many historians.  Reintroduction of Greek ideas into Europe
While Greek ideas gradually permeated the Islamic world, Muslims conquests extended to the European continent. Sicily and Spain were conquered by the Arabs at around 700 AD, even reaching as far as Poitiers, France by 732 (Battle of Tours). With the aid of Greek and other ideas, Spain in particular quickly became the most heavily populated and thriving area in Europe. One of the rulers of Muslim Spain, Al-Hakam II, made an effort to gather books from all over the Arab world, creating a library which would later become a center for translation into Latin.
As books were gathered, so were many Arab scholars who had studied Greek ideas in the east. For example, Muhammud ibn 'Abdun and 'Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Ismail came to Spain and introduced many ideas about medicine as well as several of the works of Aristotle and Euclid. Ibn Bajjah (known as “Avempace”) and Ibn Rushd (known as “Averroes”) were among the other famous philosophers of Spain who furthered the expansion of Greek ideas in medicine and philosophy.
Prior to Averroes, many Arab philosophers had confused Aristotle with Plotinus, a Hellenized Egyptian who founded Neoplatonism and had mixed Aristotle's ideas with Plato's. Averroes rediscovered the “true” Aristotle by translating key texts reintroducing him to Arab Spain. He also challenged Al-Ghazali's largely anti-Greek philosophies and offered some of the best reconciliation of Islam and philosophy of the time. Key to his arguments was the idea that although there was only one truth, that truth could be expressed in many ways, including both philosophy and religion. He even used the Qur'an to back up his arguments in favor of Greek philosophy and logic, especially the passage: “It is [Muhammad] who has revealed the Book to you...some of its verses are unambiguous...and the others are ambiguous...only God and those confirmed in knowledge know its interpretation.” Averroes argued that “those confirmed in knowledge” were philosophers.
The Scholastic philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages such as Aquinas later called Averroes “The Commentator,” and Michael the Scot translated several of Averroes' works within fifty years of the Arab's death. However, Averroes' reception in Western Europe contrasted with his ultimate rejection by Arabs in Spain. Soon after Averroes, Greek ideas in the Arab world were largely opposed by those who disliked anything not “truly Arab.”
Your wikipedia article seems to confirm what I've been saying:
"rabs took control of previously Hellenized areas such as Egypt and Syria in the 7th century. At this point they first began to encounter Greek ideas, though from the beginning, many Arabs were hostile to classical learning. Because of this hostility, the religious Caliphs could not support scientific translations. Translators had to seek out wealthy business patrons rather than religious ones. Until Abassid rule in the 8th century, however, there was little work in translation. Most knowledge of Greek during Umayyad rule was gained from those scholars of Greek who remained from the Hellenistic period, rather than through widespread translation and dissemination of texts."
"The translators were mostly Nestorian and Jacobite Christians, working in the two hundred years following the Abbasid period. The most important translator of this group was the Syriac-speaking Christian Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (809-873), known to the Latins as Joannitius. The texts were first translated into Syriac, then into Arabic."
"Almost all translators were Nestorian and Syrian Christians. Greek-speaking Christian missionaries had spread their religion to Persia, Egypt, and Syria long before Arab rule. Thus, many in these areas had kept Aristotle’s ideas alive in order to debate philosophy and increase the quality of their medical practices. They now found themselves in an Arabic-speaking world, and saw that they could be valuable as translators of Greek ideas. It was not until later that actual Muslims, rather than Christians, undertook translation on a large scale."
"However, Averroes' reception in Western Europe contrasted with his ultimate rejection by Arabs in Spain. Soon after Averroes, Greek ideas in the Arab world were largely opposed by those who disliked anything not “truly Arab.”"
Christianity and Islam have both had periods where they were incredibly hostile to knowledge and periods where they were, very interested in knowledge.
So despite being an agnostic, I believe that we shouldn't discount what contributions religion has made to whatever fields it has been involved in, learn what can be taught from it. Augustine's Confessions for example had some interesting ideas within and provided a discussion on life, and fulfilment. While I might not agree with some of his conclusions. The discussion of evil certainly is interesting and worth looking at.
Dante's work too, has value for what it can teach us. Or how we can grow as a human by reading it. Even if we decide to look at in as a secular impression of how one might live. So to do I think the neo-platonists are an important thing to read for the development of knowledge.
All three of these have a core of religion, but are still valuable material to be read. I advocate for the religions so we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. I greatly prefer the religious texts of the Hindi, and of the Greeks, and the stories to be learned from there.
However I wan't to encourage you not to reject all of Abrahamic literature as being without value, because that is simply not true. While the modern a lot of the old stuff they have done is to the detriment of knowledge. A lot of old work, is quite fabulous.
An example, even if one isn't religious one can still appreciate the beauty of the pslams. They contribute positively to the human experience. So while as a whole christianity might have been harmful. (I won't argue one way or another here) You should consider some of the good things they have done too.