I love you for this post. Really.
The greeks lost writing for 600 years after the sea peoples.
Europe fell into ignorance after the fall of rome, and the despotic, forced introduction of submissive Christianity.
The world fell into verbal-mysticism, pseudo-science, and pseudo-rationalism starting with Marx, justified by the great war, and continuing until about 1995 – when again, science attempted to rescue us from pseudo-science, verbal-mysticism, and pseudo-rationalism.
The list of civilizations – social orders of institutions, property rights, languages, rituals, traditions, myths, and norms – that have disappeared is somewhere around fifty depending upon whom you refer to – and most all of them are gone and without western efforts at uncovering them – forgotten.
I think though, that whig history is still the best theory of history, because it is the most scientific explanation of history: we evolve, we adapt, or we perish – if we do not perish then we are virtuous.
Now, my response to your argument though, is quite different: why is it that civilizations fail to persist? What do they do wrong? What have we done wrong since the enlightenment that has allowed us material wealth, while committing suicide – while culturally regressing from high arts to mere vulgarity and consumption? Why are we vulnerable to whatever it is we are vulnerable?
Why did the greeks, the Romans, the Habsburgs, the Germans, and now the Anglos fall? Why was Europa easy to conquer with mysticism under rome? Why are we so comfortable with science – when no other culture appears to be? Why were we so easy to fall victim to cosmopolitan pseudo-sicence, and pseudo-philosophy, german psuedo-rationalitiy, and the anglo fallacy that all men wish to join the aristocracy?
The whig theory of history is true under the conditions that we followed throughout our history. The question is, and I think you’re posing it well, why then, at certain periods in our history, do we regress rather than continue the whig theory of history?
The answer is I think fairly simple.
(BTW: In deference to John Kersey: my position is that there is nothing good in the bible whatsoever, that is not better in the western canon than in the levantine tradition. The church formed a weak federal state selling a mystical snake oil, but it was the weak federal state and the church’s incentives as a weak federal state as opposition to the monarchy that allowed it to create value. The church could burn every reference to the levant and all its consequences, draw entirely from western people as statesmen, scholars, care-givers, generals, artists, and scientists, and beginning with natural law achieve the same ends without appealing to tyrannical authority. History well written, would be one of natural law, and misguided well intentioned fools in the church. Our god is constructed of demonstrated character of men who bring about whig history through virtuous acts. We need no other. And there is no better.)