Many thanks Dario for a good summary and for the various thought-points you offer at the end of your essay. If it’s not too presumptuous, I can also note that treating (Western) Europe as relatively homogeneous is an error: the gap between northern Europe and southern Europe remains wide, and is very illustrative. In fact, most of what we ascribe to Europe is better ascribed to northern European countries. This may well be because the protestant version of Christian mythology fragmented rapidly into a great many sub-sects. This prevented the development of a centralized authority, and therefore meant that the protestant version of Christianity could not impose by force and coercion its attempts to stifle scientific inquiry. Meanwhile in the south, the Catholic Church remained powerful (we need think only of the burning of Giordano Bruno and the threatening of Galileo). This meant that southern Europe contributed little to the astonishing wave of scientific and cultural developments that led to our present technological age. Even today, with a much-diminished Catholic Church, the south still lags the north to an astonishing degree. So another key factor in material and intellectual progress would appear to be the disappearance of a central myth-based institution capable of imposing itself on the general population.