In Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About Christianity? he documents the foundations of not just Europe, but of all of western civilization. The following is a good example. Speaking of the beginnings of Christian influence in Europe, D’Souza says
“Slowly and surely, Christianity took this backward continent and gave it learning and order, stability and dignity. The monks copied and studied the manuscripts that preserved the learning of the late antiquity. Christopher Dawson shows in Religion and the Rise of Western Culture how the monasteries became the locus of productivity and learning throughout Europe. Where there was once wasteland they produced hamlets, then towns, and eventually commonwealths and cities. Through the years the savage barbarian warrior became a chivalric Christian knight, and new ideals of civility and manners and romance were formed that shape our society to this day. If Christianity had not been born out of Judaism, Rodney Stark writes, we might still be living in the Dark Ages.”
“Christianity is responisble for the way our society is organized and for the way we currently live. So extensive is the Christian contribution to our laws, our economics, our politics, our arts, our calendar, our holidays, and our moral and culutural priorities that historian J. M. Roberts writes in The Triumph of the West, ‘We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead, and buried, and then rise again'”(p.43-44).
How true. Of course, the critic will be quick to point out the crusades and the inquisition. D’Souza covers those also. See his book for the responses. In summary, in the Crusades the Europeans were attempting to take back what the Arabs had taken over by military force 400 years earlier. And the Inquisition was a legitimate over reaction, and the church is to be blamed. But it was as much political as religious, for at that time a heretic was being treasonous to the government. It only resulted in an average of less than five deaths per year. Although any was too many, the reputation of the inquisition has far overblown the historical reality, especially when you consider the crime was as much treason as heresy.
In any case, regardless of the admitted faults of Christians as individuals, the beliefs and teachings of Christianity are responsible for most all that is good in our culture. We walk away from it at our peril.