Western culture is often portrayed as the brash newcomer in the rise of culture, and this interpretation is often the framework for an explanation of its impatience with established fact and its drive for innovation. But far from being the brash newcomer, Western culture is the oldest continuous cultural tradition on the planet, and has affected in significant ways every other world culture. Its cultural traditions – logical analysis, empirical investigation, the triumph of individualism and a spirituality rooted in reason – are not the recent innovations of a relative newcomer to the world stage, but the settled convictions and traditions of a culture of great antiquity.
Borrowing from ancient Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, by 1250 B.C. Greek civilization was already advanced enough in the art of warfare, not to mention the associated skills of weapons manufacture and boat building to take on the reigning regional power, Troy. Whatever spin both Greek mythology and the Greek writer Homer put on the origins of the conflict, it is far more likely that Troy simply stood in the way of the expansion of the Greek sphere of influence into the Aegean and Asia Minor. The second important thread of Western culture, the Judeo-Christian heritage with its emphasis on the synthesis of divine revelation and human reason arose even earlier in around 2050 B.C.
It is the foundational marriage of the these two traditions, the Greek thought of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras Eratosthenes, Euripides, Sophocles, and many others, and the Biblical writings and traditions of both the Old and New Testament writers, both of which can be traced in an almost continuous line for nearly four thousand years, that forms the foundation of Western culture. Far from being the brash newcomer to the world stage, it is a culture of great antiquity, predating both Chinese and Indian culture by a millennium at least and seeding all the world’s cultures with its scientific, philosophical and theological thought.