Popular culture (Hollywood, Netflix, popular personalities, the media — you name it!) often trots out narratives and claims such as the Church being hostile to science in the Middle Ages, the medieval period being a period of backwardness and ignorance, the Crusades being driven by power and greed, Christmas hijacking Saturnalia, a pagan winter festival, etc. How accurate are these though? What is true and what is false?
In this post, I will list several articles by acclaimed history writer Tim O’Neill to “set the record straight” on these subjects. Although O’Neill is an atheist, he puts good history first. He is frustrated by the amount of bad history that gets promoted in atheist and skeptical circles as well as in popular culture in general. His blog, History for Atheists, communicates the findings of contemporary secular scholarship (which unfortunately, have not sufficiently penetrated popular culture) on different historical events related to Christianity. His blog has also been highly praised by scholars, with historian Tom Holland for example, calling his blog “brilliantly erudite”.
Personally, I am a big fan of O’Neill. His write-ups are very educational and a pleasure to read. I strongly recommend checking out his work!
Feel free to check out the following articles by O’Neill below.
- The Church and Science
- The Church and Science (review of God’s Philosophers)
- The Galileo Affair
- Giordano Bruno
- The Crusades 
- The Inquisition
- Christianity and Constantine
- Biblical Literalism
- Christmas and Saturnalia (O’Neill also endorses this great article by Spencer Alexander McDaniel in his blog post)
- Easter and paganism
- Is Halloween Pagan?
- Hypatia and the Library of Alexandria
- Flat earth belief in the Middle Ages
- Pope Pius XII’s response to Nazism
- See the sidebar of O’Neill’s blog for Holland’s endorsement. Retrieved from: https://historyforatheists.com/
- I took a picture of the relevant portion of the article because it is located deep within O’Neill’s article, which is long. If you want to access the article in full you may do so here.