I will post this comment on a blog that deals with science in ancient Rome:
Attributing the decline of science (or rather the failure to start) in
Rome to Christianity is a game started by Gibbon, but he had an axe to
grind: he didn't like Christianity. Hardly objective.
The reason that
science was lame in Rome
and even lamer in Islam is not due strictly to society not being ready,
but to society being incapable of being ready because of its religious
framework. If your basic beliefs make science impossible, it stalls.
Christianity's basic beliefs made modern science
possible because it conceptualizes a creation that is separate from the
creator, a reasonable creator making a reasonable creation and our
minds being communicably congruent with the mind of the
creator, and thus his creation being in principle
understandable. This was aided by what's called the 'creation
mandate' that is in Genesis man being told to take care of the creation
as his own.