Were the "Dark Ages" Really Dark?

I'm being taken to task for publishing a graph depicting the Medieval Ages as the "Dark Ages" leaving a huge gaping hole in Western history, which can be seen here. What some people failed to realize is the title to the post in which Augustinian Platonism shares a large part of the blame (no, it is not totally to blame). Augustine like Plato before him placed a much greater value on the heavenly world (the realm of the eternal "forms" or ideas) over the empirical earthly world.

Christians in earlier centuries therefore destroyed many ancient manuscripts--science manuscripts--which were preserved by the Muslims. Who needs earthly wisdom? Paul basically said it was worthless. When people like Aquinas re-discovered these ancient texts it brought on a new awareness of what the ancients taught and helped bring in the Enlightenment

I remember visiting The Art Institute of Chicago and seeing a dramatic change in the art of the 1500's. Artists were now painting pictures of real people, and even ("aghast*) a bowl of fruit on a table! This came after they had thrown off the shackles of Augustinianism. This is undeniable.

And yes, it was mainly the French philosophes who labeled these centuries the "Dark Ages." That was probably due to several reasons. Of Sir Isaac Newton it was said by Alexander Pope:
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in Night;
God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.
Prior to Newton the previous centuries were considered the "Dark Ages" by comparison, and that too is undeniable.

The French philosophes also thought the atrocities committed by the church in the previous centuries, like the Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch-hunts, were a very dark period in Western history, and I agree. Superstition like that reigned. If I was being brought into the light with a new awareness of the writings of the ancients, which helped Newton to write his Principia, I would describe it that way too, for all the same legitimate reasons.

I do understand that the church made many strides during that period of history in science, literature, and so forth. And so the huge drop-off represented by the graph is not indicative of that period of time. But I have been persuaded that it was a dark period of history, even if not completely dark.

Of course, anyone who thinks otherwise can volunteer to go back in time to that period and see what you think. Good luck with that! I'll stay in my own century thank you. ;-)

For further reading on the origins of science there is no better place to look than Richard Carrier's chapter in The Christian Delusion.