The Bible, Christianity and Ancient Slavery

One of the most common objections to Judaism and Christianity comes from the legal recognition of slavery in the Bible. Slavery was known and recognised in ancient Israel, and the Mosaic Law permitted extremely harsh punishment of slaves, even allowing their eventual death from beatings administered by their masters as long as they did not die immediately. If God is truly loving and just, it is argued, then He would not allow such brutal exploitation of humans by other humans. This is really just argumentum ad verecundiam, an argument from outrage. Now it is true that the Bible does indeed recognise slavery, and that slavery persisted in the West in the Roman Empire even after the establishment of Christianity as the official religion. Contemporary Christian theologians are well aware of the evils of slavery, and are certainly not complacent about the continued persistence of it around the world today, in the form of debt slavery in parts of asia and Brazil, or real slavery in Mauretania and the Sudan. Despite its recognition of slavery, the laws governing it in the Bible provided for its humane regulation and eventual abolition. Understanding the Bible’s attitude to slavery, and how it managed to achieve this, requires understanding the nature of slavery and law within ancient near eastern and Roman society.

Biblical Laws on Slaves 

The Mosaic Law itself limited slavery only to gentiles, and outlawed it completely for Jews. Leviticus 25: 39-55 stipulated that poor Israelites who sold themselves to other Jews should be treated as hired servants, and given their freedom in the year of Jubilee, that is, after seven years’ service. Only the neighbouring peoples and the foreigners who lived in Israel could be owned as slaves. Additionally, the Israelites were commanded to buy out of slavery those Jews who had, through poverty, sold themselves to gentiles. These slaves were to be treated as hired servants, and were either to receive their freedom after seven year’s service, or be allowed to purchase their freedom from their fellow Jew. That part of Law stressed that while the former slave was serving his Jewish master, he should be treated leniently – in the words of Leviticus 25: 53,  ‘the other shall not rule wtih rigour over him in thy sight’. Thus for Jews, slavery in ancient Israel was commuted to indentured servitude. Indeed, the enslavement of Jews was a capital offence. Deuteronomy 24:7 commands that ‘If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that theif shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.’ Hebrew slaves could only be retained if he had been given a wife by his master, and did not wish to leave to her and his children. As for female Hebrew slaves who had been purchased as wives Exodus 21:7-11 stated that they had to be freed if they did not please their masters. If their owner subsequently married, they had to be supported. If their master failed to do this, they were to be given their freedom. Female slaves given to the master’s son were to be treated as daughters. While the law stated that the owner whose slave died a day or two after being beaten by his master would not be punished, ‘for he is his money’ (Exodus 21:21), in other words, because he had lost his property, nevertheless the master who beat his slave to death was to be punished. Leviticus 21:26-27 further provided that masters who struck out their slaves’ eyes or teeth had to free them. Furthermore, legislation existed to protect slaves from goring by livestock. Exodus 21:32 stated that if an ox pushed a male or female slave, it was to be put to death and the slave’s master given thirty shekels of silver. Moreover, the death penalty for adultery was commuted to scourging for the female partner, if she was a slave and betrothed to another man, while the man had to make a trespass offering. This was ‘because she was not free’, according to Leviticus 19:20. Furthermore, Hebrew slaves freed after six years’ service were to be liberally provided from their master’s flocks, grain and wine stores, according to the provisions of Leviticus 15:13-14. Furthermore, female prisoners of war who had been captured for a wife, was to be freed and not to be sold as a slave if she displeased her new husband, according Deuteronomy 21:14, because he had humiliated her. Runaway slaves were not to be returned to their masters. Deuteronomy 23:15-16 states that ‘though shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto the: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.’ This effectively granted runaway slaves their freedom.

Archaeological Evidence for Manumission by Jews 

There is archaeological evidence for the manumission of slaves by their Jewish masters surviving from the ancient world. An inscription from Panticapaeum in the Crimea records the manumission of the slave Heraclas by his mistress, Chreste, the widow of Nicias, son of Sotas, at the local synagogue in January, 81 AD. 1Thus slavery in ancient Israel was subject to legislation ameliorating it and guaranteeing some protection to slaves and protecting those vulnerable to enslavement.

Slavery and Ancient Society 

Despite this relatively humane regulation and transformation of slavery, there is still the objection that slavery nevertheless existed, and that rather than regulating it, God should have removed it completely. In practice it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to abolish slavery completely in the ancient world. Slavery was such a part of ancient political theory and society that they found it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine an alternative system. Contemporary society is built around wage labour, and it’s taken for granted that the workers’ ability to leave their jobs and seek employment elsewhere doesn’t wreck the economy, but instead is a pillar and a major motivating force for economic and social progress. Yet this was not how it was seen in the ancient world. ‘In the context of universal history, free labour, wage labour, not slavery, is the peculiar institution. for most of the millennia of human history in most parts of the world, labour power was not a commodity which could be bought and sold apart from, abstracted from, the person of the labourer.’ 2 Indeed, it has been noted that ‘in early societies, free hired labour (though widely documented) was spasmodic, casual, marginal. significantly, in neither Greek nor Latin was there a word with which to express the general notion of ‘labour’ or the concept of labour ‘as a general social function’. 3 It has been estimated that 2/3 of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves, who could not have been freed without severe disruption of the economy and social structure. Ancient society was profoundly conservative, and to the ancients, slavery was a necessary evil as there was no conceivable alternative.

The concept of slavery profoundly affected ancient views of the very nature of power and the structure of authority. Even kings and potentates saw themselves, or presented themselves, as the slaves of superior kings. Thus, Abdi-Heba, the mayor of Jerusalem, began his letter to his overlord, the Egyptian pharoah Amenhotep III or IV, with the phrase ‘[To the king]my lord, [speak: Message of] Abdi-Heba, [your]servant. [At the feet of the king], my lord, sevenfold [seven times I fall].’ 4 

Professional Opportunities and Status of Slaves

In the Roman world, slaves also had the opportunity for social advancement and the ability to perform a range of what would now be considered professional and managerial jobs. In ancient Athens, some slaves were allowed by their masters to live on their own with their families and pursue a trade. ‘These slaves, to all intents and purposes, lived like free men.’ 5 In Rome, the medical profession was dominated by slaves and freedmen, mostly from the Hellenistic east and particularly Egypt. Harpocras, the doctor who treated the younger Pliny, was a freedman –  a former slave who still owed some service to his former masters. In return for his treatment, Pliny requested the emperorer to grant him Roman citizenship. 6 Thus ‘members of the Roman elite, in sum, went to slaves and freedmen for medical treatment, and paid for it. Escape from payment was possible only if the doctor was on’es own freedman or the freedman of a friend.’ 7 They also acted as businessmen and agents on behalf of their masters, through a peculium system that regarded the property the slaves managed as that of their masters while a complex system of legislation developed which recognised the fact that it was the slave managing the business, not the master. 8 There exist numerous business contracts from the Roman world documenting the renting and management of property by slaves and other commercial transactions. One such contract, of July 2, AD 37, by Diogenes, the slave of Gaius Novius Cypaerus, records the rental of a warehouse in Puteoli, full of Alexandrian rice-wheat, by Hesicus, the slave of a freedman, Evenus. The rice-wheat was a security advanced to Hesicus, along with 200 sacks of beans. 9 Furthermore, it was possible for the descendent of a slave to reach positions of respect and high office. The father of the Roman poet, Horace, was a freedman, a business agent and broker, who was able to finance his son’s definitely aristocratic eduction. 10 The great Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, a slave belonging to the freedman Epaphroditus, was aware of the upward mobility of certain slaves, whose children joined the ranks of the senatorial aristocracy. He used the possibility of slave social advancement, and possible slave ancestry even for the most aristocratic, in his works to challenge conventional assumptions by the leading citizens that they were metaphysically free.

 ‘”How can I be a slave?” he says; ” my father is free, my mother is free, no one has bought me; nay, I am a senator, and a friend of Caesar, I have been consul and have many slaves.”

In the first place, most excellent senator, perhaps your father too was a slave of the same kind as you, yes and your mother and your grandfather and the whole line of your ancestors.’ 11

Masters and their slaves would also end up working together on certain tasks. For example, during the construction of the Erechtheum, the temple in the Athenian Acropolis in the fifth century BC, of the 86 craftsmen working on the site, 24 were Athenian citizens, 42 non-citizens and 20 slaves. All of the workmen who were paid a daily wage received the same rate of pay, regardless of whether they were slave or free. Most of the slaves were working alongside their masters in the same trade on the same particular task, so that, for example, the craftsman Simias had five of his slaves working with him. 12 Now the slaves would have paid their masters a percentage of their wages, but nevertheless the fact that the Athenian state gave them the same rates of pay as free workmen is interesting.

Community of Interest between Slaves and Poor Free

The result of this seems to be that rather than be wholly identified as a self-conscious, separate class, Roman slaves and the free poor strongly identified with each other. Thus, when all the slaves in the household of Pedanius Secundus were ordered to be executed after the murder of their master by a few of the household slaves, there were demonstrations by the plebs, which eventually turned into a riot when the senate confirmed the order. 13 While the existence of slavery was unquestioned, there does seem to have been a real sense of community between the free poor and the slaves. Many of the plebs were freedmen or the descendents of slaves, and associated with slaves in their daily lives. 14 In the third century, a slave businessman, Callistus, even became pope. 15

Canon Law and Slavery

Christian canon law, when it emerged, did not attempt to abolish slavery because of its perceived indispensability to the society and economy. Nevertheless, Christian attitudes to slavery differed from traditional pagan Roman attitudes. While Aristotle considered that there were indeed natural slaves, Christians, like the pagan Stoics, held that slavery was unnatural and in an ideal world all humans should be free. 16 St. Augustine held that slavery was the result of sin, citing as an example the enslavement of defeated enemies in war. 17 Canon law stipulated that masters must treat their slaves humanely and provide for their religious needs. It also differed from conventional Roman law in allowing slaves to marry legitimately. In order to protect slave families, it restricted the rights of the masters to split them up and separate married slaves from their spouses and children. 18

Challenge of Christianity to Psychological Basis of Slavery

Furthermore, Christianity also posed a challenge to one of the psychological justifications for slavery. Slavery as an institutions depends on a perceived fundamental difference between those enslaved and their masters – that slaves are somehow innately inferior, and do not deserve or are unsuited to freedom. Aristotle provided one such justification with his doctrine that there were natural slaves. Roman law linked slaves with animals, while the Greeks termed them andropoda – man-footed beings – after tetrapoda, quadrupeds, the term for that type of animal. 19 St. Paul stated in Galatians 3:28 that ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ.’ While this referred to spiritual freedom, rather than any secular liberty, nevertheless Christianity offered religious opportunities to slave that were not offered, or only offered to a limited extent, by contemporary Roman pagan religions. ‘Christianity did not offer unusual opportunities for status: what it did offer was moral and religious teaching, and shared ritual, that extended to women, slaves and the poor’. 20 Like their free fellows, slaves were active members of the congregation in their local churches, and participated in the election of bishops. While Varro stated that the slave was an implement, like oxen or ploughs, Christian writers like Clement of Alexandria and Lactantius insisted on their common humanity. Clement firmly stated that ‘slaves are men like us’ to whom the Golden Rule applied, while Lactantius stated ‘Slaves are not slaves to us. We deem them brothers after the spirit, in religion fellow servants.’ 21Although the Church certainly owned slaves, it also consecrated them as deacon, priests and bishops, and although pagan tombs mention the slave status of the deceased, this is not known from the Christian tombs in the catacombs. 22

Christianity and the Amelioration and Abolition of Slavery

Thus the Bible did not urge the abolition of slavery, as this was not considered possible in the ancient world. Indeed, so ingrained was the idea of slavery for the ancients that any legislation against it would have been extremely difficult to enforce. Despite the Biblical prohibition against the enslavement of other Jews, letters surviving from Samaria from the time of the Persian occupation showed that this was widely disregarded. Over half of the documents are deeds of ownership for Jewish slaves. Moreover, ancient slaves did have opportunities for social advancement and may have been considered part of the community with the free poor that was certainly not the case for the African chattel slaves of the 17th to 19th centuries. Revelation has to apply to the people of the time it is received, and in the ancient world, slavery was not quite the issue it became for modern moralists, theologians and politicians. Christianity did, however, demand the regulation of slavery and the humane treatment of slaves. Indeed, Christianity’s insistence of the essential humanity of the slave and the common identity with the rest of the community did lay the grounds for later ecclesiastics such as St. Gregory of Nyssa to attack slavery itself in the seventh century and the eventual abolition of slavery completely in the 19th century.

Notes

1. C.K. Barrett, The New Testament Background: Selected Documents (Nw York, Harper & Row 1961), p. 53.

2. Moses I. Finley, ed. Brent. D. Shaw, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology (Princeton, Markus Wieners Publishers 1998), p. 299.

3. Finley, ed. Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 136.

4. Eva von Dassow and Kyle Greenwood, ‘Correspondence from El-Amarna in Egypt’ in Mark. W. Chavalas, ed., The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing 2006), p. 209.

5. Esmond Wright, ed., History of the World: Prehistory to the Renaissance (Feltham, W.H. Smith/ Newnes Books 1985), p. 159.

6. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 174.

7. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 175.

8. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 176.

9. Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold, Roman Civilization: Selected Readings – The Empire (New York, Columbia University Press 1990), p. 109.

10. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 166.

11. Epictetus, Discourses IV, in Barrett, New Testament Background, p. 68.

12 Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 169.

13. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 171.

14. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 171.

15. Gillian Clark, Christianity and Roman Society (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2004), p. 36.

16. James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (London, Longman 1995), p. 14.

17. Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy (Oxford, Clarendon 2005), p. 258.

18. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law, p. 14.

19. Finley and Shaw, Ancient Slavery, p. 167.

20. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 30.

21. Herbert B. Workman, Persecution in the Early Church (Oxford, Oxford University Press 1980), p. 61.

22. Workman, Persecution, p. 61.

39 Responses to “The Bible, Christianity and Ancient Slavery”

  1. Pierre Says:

    The funny thing is, when anyone mentions slavery and the ‘woes of brutality’, they’re generally ignorant that the Old Testament laws were there to protect the slaves, unlike, say, todays common conception of slavery thanks to the era of black racism.

  2. PTET Says:

    “One of the most common objections to Judaism and Christianity comes from the legal recognition of slavery in the Bible.”

    I’ve never heard that as an objection to Christianity or Judaism. Do you have a reference for that? It is commonly raised as an argument against the idea of the Bible being some sort of absolute standard or morality. But that’s different.

  3. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PTET said:

    I’ve never heard that as an objection to Christianity or Judaism. Do you have a reference for that? It is commonly raised as an argument against the idea of the Bible being some sort of absolute standard or morality. But that’s different.

    It’s also used an an OVERALL argument to claim that since no “absolutes” exist, therefore we have one of two things going for us if we wish to have sin without guilt.

    1) It is not an authority on such matters, not absolute, and therefore not in line with an absolute good moral curator like God, and that…

    2) Therefore if God does exist in some form, His existence is therefore irrelevent to human problems.

    This usually falls neatly into place with the defintion of the soft atheist types, who shy from dogmatic statements about God existing but simply proclaim that it need not matter so therefore what’s the point of the positing. Etc.

    Meanwhile: Does your browser malfunction all THAT much, really?

    http://www.evilbible.com/

    I found this in less than 12 seconds.

    (It’s always easy to find the liars. Like most disreputable people , they sorta hang out together in the same side of town, so to speak.)

    Additionally, beyond these kinds of sites (and entire books of this sort, BTW), more than a few people have this general notion that along with many other items ripped out of context (describing an event is not the same as ADVOCACY).

    Elsewhere many people of the secularist stripe cling to such things as evidence that God is not around or doesen’t care about the kind of modernist angst we place in our minds about events in the distant past, a phenomenon that more than one social commentator has criticized as a questionable form of argumentation in the first place.

  4. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Beast Rabban said,

    This is really just argumentum ad verecundiam, an argument from outrage.

    All very common, BR.

    And for an individualist social environment like yours and mine (UK and USA) , this is even more problematic. It seems I even here that God MUST answer all prayers, even if Scripture tells us this is not always on the agenda for reasons we don’t even understand.

    Thus the fact that my sister’s new puppy has worms means God does not exist, as does the fact that my bank account is not as large as Bill Gates’.

    Thus the world is unfair, thus God is a big meanie who rules the sandbox by fiat and whim and the fact that “baddy bad bad things” happen means He does not exist or is in a perpetual bad mood and need not concern us any more than a jealous Zeus.

    And so on….

    I agree that it is VERY dangerous to read into the past our own human angst about modernist notions of justice, and then be told by these samje fretters that we need some change on the social front that laughably almost always involved government agency of some type.

  5. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for comment, Pierre. What strikes me reading the Bible’s laws regulating slavery is that the humane treatment – for the time – of the slaves is accompanied by the statement ‘for you were slaves in Egypt’. The oppression of the Hebrew people in Egypt is presented to the Israelites to show that they are not to be oppressive in their turn.

    Thanks for the two posts, Wakefield, and the link to EvilBible . PTET – it’s been my experience that the Old Testament’s recognition of slavery is used by atheists to argue against the existence of God as part of an attitude of ‘protest atheism’, whereby the evils of the world and the supposed immorality of the Bible is used to argue that God doesn’t exist.

  6. JOR Says:

    “Elsewhere many people of the secularist stripe cling to such things as evidence that God is not around or doesen’t care about the kind of modernist angst we place in our minds about events in the distant past, a phenomenon that more than one social commentator has criticized as a questionable form of argumentation in the first place.”

    Cultural relativism. If people in the past were every bit as human as we are – were moral agents as we are – then we have some duty to make judgments about their actions. If some purported moral authority endorsed or permitted activities in the past which our moral commitments tell us are evil or impermissible, then either that moral authority is no authority (or at least not an inerrant authority) at all or our commitments are mistaken. And the judgment is by no means automatically in favor of the authority; principia essendi are not necessarily epistemologically prior to principia congnoscendi. Now, arguments like Beast’s above seek to transcend the dichotomy, so to speak, by showing that we’re wrong to take the purported authority as endorsing or sanctioning, say, slavery; and that’s a perfectly fair thing to attempt, whether he turns out to be right or wrong. Muttering darkly about those crazy Leftists/modernists/whatever is unhelpful, in any case.

  7. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Cultural relativism.

    IN those days the issue for secular and SOME religiour and pagan authorities was settled. For people to take action against such would be the equivalent of saying that since the Romans were evil let us now overthrow the Roman scourge and thusly end pederastry and pagan worship.

    In point of fact this was not even possible, and thus not on God’s agenda. He did not always act out to destroy evil for the same reason he does not simply use some giant hand from the sky to wipe Bin Laden in one fell move.

    Some of the the Zealots got antsy about the lack of movement against Rome and all her evils and and ended up with their heads perched on sticks.

    Likewise the old USSR was destined to fall to other means. Not merely by own hand. And even at that only in the economic realm. The United States has had the ability to methodically destroy the known world. But we have not taken action against the communist scourges even where our moral outrage at their actions and abject brutality would seem to dictate something stronger than pitiful Chamberlainesque words. The reality is that it is a rough call to kill billions on behalf of freeing millions.

    As with slavery as an institution, we cannot read our own angst (and also the false analogy of the horric situation in the Antebellum South as compared to indentured servitude). God allowed this, by Mosaic Law, due to the hardness of their hearts.

    He could. He does not. LIkewise an absoloute statement on the wrongness of something, whether cross-culturally connected or hip or PCd out or not, does not necessarily, in and of itself, dictate what can be done to ameliorate the problem.

    God is also not a marionette dancer.

    Perhaps His many detractors would like it better if mankind were mindless automatons who had no input on such matters at all and were forced to good or in His likeness?

  8. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    JOR:

    If some purported moral authority endorsed or permitted activities in the past which our moral commitments tell us are evil or impermissible, then either that moral authority is no authority (or at least not an inerrant authority) at all or our commitments are mistaken.

    There have been rape victims who’ve thanked the police for NOT interfering in the rape itself–due to the very real possibility that it is easier to subdue the perp later than when his knife as right at the victim’s jugular vein. Yes, evil is evil, across all bounds of time and in every possible context. But certain situations dictate other measures. Slavery is found even today for millions of human beings suffering under socialistic regimes that use them as human milk cows for their processes who live desperate lives. Freeing them is another matter. If God had stepped down on this bad (but not the worst by far) matter of human frailty and cruelty then by default and extension he’d have to take care of about 50 thousands other sins also, many of far greater magnitude.

    Again, we have the argument from “moral outrage.”
    The equivalent of saying that since life is not all roses and I’m not hitting the fabulous golf links at age 25—–therefore God does not exist.

    We are told over and over by secularists and non-traditionalists that morals are not absolute. I’d like to ask feminists if using gals as sex meat and other forms of laughable objectification is allowable in some campuses. Not likely I’ll get warm reception.

    But this one issue–slavery—seems to ring everyone’s bell for some reason. Even from people who advocate social policies that for all but the term itself are basically akin to human social enslavement on behalf of some putative ‘higher social surplus’ or forced “altruism” usage to what one writer called “Society: the Disembodied Gargoyle of Tribal Horror.”

  9. PTET Says:

    Hi Wakefield Tolbert

    What a fabulous name you have : )

    The endorsement of slavery is indeed used as an argument against a literal or moral interpretation of the Bible… That was my point… But I see EvilBible.com has the strapline “Fighting Against Immorality In Religion”.. That’s surely not a war on religion itself… Are they really “liars” at EvilBible.com? Crikey.

    And surely you are not saying that if your belief in God faltered that would run off and “sin”? Steal? Fornicate? Murder?

    “Elsewhere many people of the secularist stripe cling to such things as evidence that God is not around or doesen’t care about the kind of modernist angst we place in our minds about events in the distant past, a phenomenon that more than one social commentator has criticized as a questionable form of argumentation in the first place.”

    I rather think the point is that the Bible is a poor role model for objective or absolute morality, and that that the “god” it portrays seems, to many, to be an all-too-human construct.

    But hey. We can agree to differ.

    Slavery as mandated in the BIble was of course a regulated process. Much more interesting, I think, are some elements of the New Testament. 1 Cor 11:5, for example, seems to be widely ignored.

  10. IrishFarmer Says:

    Thanks for posting this, Beast! I’ve been getting into some scrapes with atheists, and while asking, “What standard are you using to judge the Bible?” points out that their own atheistic beliefs don’t allow them to make valid moral judgements that transcend subjectivism, that response isn’t very satisfying in the end. Because inherently we all know that taking advantage of people is wrong.

    Which is why its nice to have people like you, Glenn Miller, and J.P. Holding explaining, in a way that satisfies the moral law on our heart, why these things do not reflect negatively on God.

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to put this post into a list of websites to refer atheists to when they bring up the same old tired arguments.

    Thanks again.

  11. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Let me update the post to correct the horrid spelling. This laptop is a monstrosity to use.

    BR–please delete the one I have above this one 🙂

    Greetings, PTET.

    You said, in part:

    But I see EvilBible.com has the strapline “Fighting Against Immorality In Religion”.. That’s surely not a war on religion itself… Are they really “liars” at EvilBible.com? Crikey.

    If you follow their other links, it is painfully obvious where their stance would probably be on the question of the big G–God.
    What they most likely mean by this is that in this “fighting” they mean to say that religion is evil, per se, unless one constructs something more PC and rather vague, like the Wiccan Rede. Miss Poppy Dixon likewise claims to have a site run by apostate Christians but Christians nonetheless. but I find this sorta droll.

    If one is not going to follow any Biblical ordinance and then have links to atheist resources as a kind of “failsafe” to any other argument, then for all practical purposes you have what Darek Barefoot has called “provisional atheism”—-in other words a situation where many people MIGHT posit some kind of vague notion or faith in a higher power but God is not part of their regular lives outside of Chapel at Easter and so they might as well join the other camp, especially if mockery is their forte’ and modus operandi for 99% of all conversations about religion.

    And surely you are not saying that if your belief in God faltered that would run off and “sin”? Steal? Fornicate? Murder?

    Not likely. Though to be sure there are a couple of irritants from my past that should they show up I COULD feel better about making sure they have a very unfortunate situation that in turn I’ll never be held liable for if I cover my tracks. And herein lies a problem. I won’t do that due my upbringing. But if I did no secular philosophy could say I’m a bad person for any deed. Only that certain things are UNPLEASANT. From an purely physicalist or evolutionary point of view there is no such beast as “good” or “evil”—only those items deemed socially pragmatic, convenient, or miserably offensive or deleterious to the human species. Good and Evil are transcendent concepts that cannot have evolved biologically or socially, else they merely mean higher egg production or human fecundity. Nothing more. Nothing less. There are 6 billion plus humans on the planet, so killing is not in and of itself more than an annoyance, and certainly from a purely materialistic view I am doing little to harm the commonweal of human DNA.

    The point was never made that all atheists or agnostics do revert automatically to some base and primitive level of existence or cause harm to others on principle. But as Dostoyevsky has mentioned long ago we do have a situation where removal of some or most moral restraints can lead to situations where both individuals and governing authorities take more liberty with human rights. What Harris and Dawkins like to do is to make sweeping statements about things in the Bible MERELY MENTIONED as the same thing as ADVOCACY from God but then claim that atheistic regimes are always off the hook (as with Stalin and Mao) and make statements to the effect that “we are not in the business of counting evil heads here…”

    Thus atheism as some negation of values is non-falsifiable. That’s not a good thing. It means that whatever base or stochastic or Neitczehan philosophy emanates from atheism–or could–Harris and Co. can always just say these are aberrations in history (though very hellish ones at that) and proclaim that such men are just crazy or had cults of personality, etc.

    But of course HE is above all this, no doubt.

    What Harris misses is that neither Stalin nor Mao were nuts. They were just evil as hell. There’s a difference. As Thomas Sowell points out, there are differing kinds of visions in life. Constrained and the Unconstrained are but two of them but perhaps the most important when it comes to organizing human effort.

    Christianity is for the sinners–and not just some holding tank or a repository for the saints. Nothing more is guaranteed. David murdered a man and committed adultery. So forgiveness is key in God’s plan. However if you search for perfection you need to look to something besides homo sapiens. It is not there.

    Yet it is among the “constraining visions” which means there are upper limits on what is allowed, whether for good or for ill. Atheism’s very status as a “non” philosophy, or tabula rasa (blank slate, as Aristotle might say) means that one can imprint on its “meaning” anything one likes. This opens it up to all manner of mischief without constraint. If morals merely evolved as social interaction pragmatism for better egg production, then it is a bioresponse that could easily be demonstrated to have lost social utility in most contexts and is thus easily falsifiable as being nothing more than emotional avoidance of pain. But that is an emotional response, and thus morals could not be grounded by logic or reason on such a basis.
    Thus if morals do have some physicalist or evolutionary lineage then they are unconscious at the active level and have no more reason behind “the facts of the matter” than the fact they my pet caiman lashes out to defend her nest.

    This makes her a “good mother”—it does not make her a moral being or a good creature overall. As Stephen Pinker has said, the human mind evolved for effectiveness in breeding, not objective truth or morals.

    So I find it odd people making putatively moral judgments on ancient cultures based on PC angst of modern man even with our own sets of issues and thorns and puffery, and YET secular society cannot ground its own morals in anything other than what powerful and popular people happen to say it is.

    As far as role modeling, it is important to understand that God’s perfection is unattainable by works and trying. The mere describing of horrid events in the Scripture is not indicative of His actions in some human context, but demonstrates that whether we are talking about the Amelekites or Mosaic Law, a description of what He did is not necessarily a prescription for human behavior. Funny, your take on this, as some like Pinker mentioned above for example thinks that one BIG problem with Western Society’s inheritance of rules from Christendom is not the contradictions or rules—but the fact they are TOO many and TOO strict. He advocates the removal of Christianity’s influence in areas like human dignity and the Christian concept of the self being worth protected in society (both notions not widely known until after Christianity came into the world scene) so as to make room for eugenics and death for the unfit and infanticide as a way to cleanse the human genome for …well…..undesirables………

    This is an interesting admission. You say God is all too human in vengeance and anger. Well, I for one have never interpreted any theology to claim that God does not have these traits. If we are made in His image then certain similarities are to be found. The difference here is that God governs His judiciously. We don’t. At least not much. For the “all too human” approach remember that on the other side of this coin I doubt many men having said human frailty would create a God using what atheists called the “wishful thinking” argument that at the same time was VERY stringent on rules and regulations of behavior when as you can plainsly see from all around you the desires of most people to do the exact opposite of most of the “thou shalt nots..”

    As to the name—well, Wakefield is supposedly an old English hunting term. There is actually a Wakefield, UK also, but by the time things trickled down to the States I got this from my grandfather.

    OH, as to the Corinthians….the context of that (although some like the Mennenites follow this) was that in those days men should be distinguished in certain social settings. Male prostitutes wore long hair and some female prostitutes shaved their hair so as to stand out in some parts of the old city. Paul was telling the Corinthian church to make sure that their appearance was tidy.

    This is NOT a prescription that can go much outside that context. It was limited to making sure that the genders looked respectable and didn’t follow the patterns of pagans and whores. IT is not some prescription or prohibition these days against a certain style. Though I might add that in general as God made gender differences we don’t need to be engaing in any gender benderism.

  12. ptet Says:

    “If one is not going to follow any Biblical ordinance “

    So women who pray with their heads uncovered should have their hair shaved off in shame. Kinky…

    “secular society cannot ground its own morals in anything other than what powerful and popular people happen to say it is.”

    Firstly, I don’t agree with that in the slightest.

    Secondly, by your own reckoning, doesn’t all morality just come from the most powerful and popular “person” says it is?

    Arguing that without God there is no morality is like arguing that without Santa Claus there are no presents.

    “As far as role modeling, it is important to understand that God’s perfection is unattainable by works and trying.”

    For my thoughts on all this see here.

    “Wakefield is supposedly an old English hunting term.”

    Cool! Where I live is named after an old hunting term too, strangely.

    “This is NOT a prescription that can go much outside that context.”

    Wither objective morality…

    “Though I might add that in general as God made gender differences we don’t need to be engaing in any gender benderism.”

    You have a pompous style befitting your name, Mr Wakefield Tolbert, although it does read amusingly : )

    Nice that you can speak for God so freely, though.

  13. JOR Says:

    Wakefield,

    “In point of fact this was not even possible, and thus not on God’s agenda. He did not always act out to destroy evil for the same reason he does not simply use some giant hand from the sky to wipe Bin Laden in one fell move.”

    I never said anything about God being bad, or lazy, or whatever. I made no hint of the argument from evil or any kind of argument from outrage. Atheists often do; they have been satisfactorily refuted. That’s great. Let’s move on.

    “The reality is that it is a rough call to kill billions on behalf of freeing millions.”

    Sure. Thank you for the clarification. And with only minimal ranting about the Principles of the Elders of Estrogen, or whatnot.

    “But this one issue–slavery—seems to ring everyone’s bell for some reason. Even from people who advocate social policies that for all but the term itself are basically akin to human social enslavement on behalf of some putative ‘higher social surplus’ or forced “altruism” usage to what one writer called ‘Society: the Disembodied Gargoyle of Tribal Horror.’”

    It rings everyone’s bell because we’re at a point where slavery is more or less recognized as evil. However not-bad you think slavery is – it contains the germ of all crimes, or at least, of all interpersonal crimes if you want to say that worshipping the wrong god(s) is a crime. And yes, most leftists and, frankly, most people are hypocrites on the matter. That’s a reason to call them out where they advocate enslavement, not to dismiss their criticisms of other peoples’ slaving.

  14. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Secondly, by your own reckoning, doesn’t all morality just come from the most powerful and popular “person” says it is?

    Arguing that without God there is no morality is like arguing that without Santa Claus there are no presents.

    God is not a person in the sense we are.

    As for Santa, well now you’re getting into some kind of argument about ultimate origins. Perhaps ontological or whatnot. Which is another issue.
    Presents are physical artifacts that might represent something.

    Morals are mental constructs only. And can only be that. Thus they are found only in mental imagery of one type or another.

  15. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    JOR said, in part:

    I never said anything about God being bad, or lazy, or whatever. I made no hint of the argument from evil or any kind of argument from outrage. Atheists often do; they have been satisfactorily refuted. That’s great. Let’s move on.


    Then your point eludes me. So what is it?

    God does not do X, or God allows X–therefore He is either untrustworhty since the ancients did not live lives of luxery and comfort free from oppression and thus He cares little about humanity from His heavenly country club perch?

    This too looks like an argument from outrage of some type.

  16. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    PTET also said, APPARENTLY in relation to the whole bruha about shaving heads for the gals:

    “This is NOT a prescription that can go much outside that context.”

    Wither objective morality…

    Well……NO.

    An ordinance is culturally specific, and it is an application for THAT particular culture.

    Objective morals would still dictate, however, that in most instances boys and girls need to have some distinguishing features. In fact almost all societies in history recognize this in one form or another.

    Though to be sure, and not to bounce too much off of JOR’s mysterious statement about the Elders of Estrogen, I might have found one. Radical feminist Kate Michaelman certainly lashed out at a reporter named John Stossel a few years back when he foolishly suggested that, golly wilkers, boys and girls and different after all. Socialization or not. Barbie dolls are not. toy trucks are not.

    Sorry, I don’t speak for God any more than I claim to speak for Stossel and Michaelman. But I am aware of what has been said….

  17. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    You have a pompous style befitting your name, Mr Wakefield Tolbert, although it does read amusingly : )

    George Orwell once said it is better to break all the rules of grammer and style than to be a boor or act like an animal in print.

    So speaking of those distinguishing marks, I figure that in a world of PZ Meyers and his backslappers, I can also have fun without cursing people out or mocking their sisters rear ends and all the other stunts he thinks are funny. And not to mention it gets on his nerves.

    Thanks.

  18. ptet Says:

    Hey Wakefield

    “Objective morals would still dictate, however, that in most instances boys and girls need to have some distinguishing features. In fact almost all societies in history recognize this in one form or another.”

    You have some very odd and obvious hang-ups. “Almost all societies”? LOL.

    Check out this by Helena Cronin of LSE, who says she’s changed her mind about the differences between men and women.

    This is what distinguishes the skeptics from the the believers, Wakefield, no matter what our other respective faults and foibles.

    Some of us can change our mind in the face of evidence. Others have to change the evidence to fit their minds.

    P

  19. JOR Says:

    “God does not do X, or God allows X–therefore He is either untrustworhty since the ancients did not live lives of luxery and comfort free from oppression and thus He cares little about humanity from His heavenly country club perch?”

    You’re attributing arguments to me that I never made, Wakefield. I never said anything about God being nonexistent or bad or untrustworthy. I never said anything about God at all.

  20. JOR Says:

    “Morals are mental constructs only. And can only be that.”

    If this be the case, God can not save us.

  21. Feyd Says:

    Objective morals would still dictate, however, that in most instances boys and girls need to have some distinguishing features. In fact almost all societies in history recognize this in one form or another.

    Ptet :You have some very odd and obvious hang-ups. “Almost all societies”? LOL.

    LOL indeed! WT was quite right , his statement is consistent with the consensus of anthropologists who have studied thousands of societies. Try googling “human universals”.

    ptet: Some of us can change our mind in the face of evidence. Others have to change the evidence to fit their minds.

    ‘fraid not pumpkin.

    Sceptics claim they do, but they do not.

    Not when it comes to the key issues like existence of the supernatural and God! There’s now very strong evidence of the supernatural backed up by testable, verifiable and repeatable science. A few sceptics have changed there mind, like Susan Blackmore who is no 3 on the list from your link. But most are not so open minded and persist in their baseless unbelief, some even going as far as to falsify the results of their own experiments when they appear to confirm a supernatural interpretation.

    pseudoScepticism – its not big and its not clever!

  22. Rich Says:

    “There’s now very strong evidence of the supernatural backed up by testable, verifiable and repeatable science.” I seen this sentiment used a lot, but have yet to see the evidence. Why isn’t woo mainstream science yet then?

  23. ptet Says:

    Hi Feyd

    LOL indeed! WT was quite right , his statement is consistent with the consensus of anthropologists who have studied thousands of societies.

    Huh? Of course there are differences between genders, and of course gender identity is an issue. I was merely amused by Wakefield’s obvious prudishness. Now I’m amused by yours.

    Not when it comes to the key issues like existence of the supernatural and God! There’s now very strong evidence of the supernatural backed up by testable, verifiable and repeatable science.

    James Randi has a million dollars waiting for you. Assuming your not full of doo-doo, of course.

    A few skeptics have changed there mind, like Susan Blackmore who is no 3 on the list from your link.

    Talk about wishful thinking : ) You may wish to read what she wrote again. Or are you incapable of changing your mind in the face of evidence?

    Hey, the supernatural may well exists. The problem is that you provide absolutely no way of distinguishing between bogus claims about the supernatural and “real” claims about the supernatural. Your tinfoil hat apart…

  24. Feyd Says:

    Hello Rich,

    Before pointing you to the mainstream peer reviewed literature I want to add two warnings for readers less sceptical than your good self.

    1) Many and probably most folk selling supernatural services are fraudulent or deluded.
    2) Scripture clearly suggests that while spirits are accessible , the spirits of dead humans are not so even genuine mediums may not be able to get us in touch with dead loved ones, only other entities able to impersonate them.

    Here’s a couple of links, note that the first one is for a paper that was published in the reputable British Journal of Psychology.

    Click to access MediumBJP.pdf

    http://www.explorejournal.com/article/PIIS155083070600454X/fulltext

    The best paper isn’t available online, I guess you could find it in your university library:

    “RESULTS OF THE APPLICATION OF THE ROBERTSON–ROY PROTOCOL TO A SERIES OF EXPERIMENTS WITH MEDIUMS AND PARTICIPANTS” published in JSPR Jan 2004 (vol 68)

    This is professor Archie Roy’s 3rd paper. It describes a very robust methodology that rule out all plausible naturalistic explanations. Professor Roy has quite a high profile in this field- his first two papers were well criticised by sceptics – his earlier protocol left possibilities that allowed possible naturalistic explanations. He incorporated the feedback to create the protocol used in his bomb proof 3rd iteration. The silence of the sceptics on the 3rd paper speaks volumes – they cant criticise it as there are no longer any flaws in the methodology!

    His results have been duplicated by other scientists using very similar protocol.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B7MF9-4MV1RCD-9&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=a0d74de4c45187fefd58d01ac164ec63

    Acknowledgement of God and the Supernatural is part of main stream science Rich. In most disciplines scientists quite properly adopt methodological naturalism, but most of us are not afflicted with unbelief!

  25. Rich Says:

    Population / sample : 8! and then they give some anova. *shakes head*

    Get a copy of “how to lie with statistics”. It will explain more clearly and with more wit than I am able how you’ve been had.

  26. ptet Says:

    Hey Rich & Feyd

    8 subjects. In one unrepeated study.

    “Woo”.

    Hey Feyd – I have these magic beans you might be interested in. They’re really good! I guarantee they really work. As long as you believe enough, of course…

  27. Feyd Says:

    Rich / PTET – you little jokers you!

    PTET , first thanks for pointing out my mistake about Susan Blackmore.

    The Arizona study was small scale, but its not invalidate by having only 8 sitters!

    That’s why it wasnt not claiming its results are hugely statistically significant , e.g. the p= 0.01 result means there is a 1 chance it could have arrived by chance.

    As I say Prof Roy’s study is the strongest proof. It had over 300 participants with the odds against the results being produced by chance were close to 1 in a million.

    If you don’t want to engage substantially with the evidence that’s up to you – admitting you’ve made mistakes isn’t easy for most. But you’re going to have to do more than joke around to get the main stream to pay attention to your little unbelieving ways.

    Tactics that work on atheist web sites or biology campuses don’t work too well in the big wide world.

    There’s no laughing in heaven btw, but there is so much love you’ll never want to!

  28. ptet Says:

    Hey Feyd

    Its unfortunate the JSPR paper isn’t readily available… But if it’s results are so amazing why is no-one else talking about it? If you can post even an abstract of the conclusions we’d obviously be very interested to see it. Seems strange – especially given the ridiculous 8-sample Arizona experiment.

    And, of course, proving that something spooky is going on with some people would be amazing … But it would leave us a long way from understanding just what is going on.

    Have you read “Dead Eye Dick” (I think it is) by Kurt Vonnegut? They invent a machine which can talk to the dead… And it turns out that all the dead people are bored out of their minds there. They all start cussing away. Wakefield would be quite shocked : )

    And I’m not sure the idea of an eternal father giving lots of “love” to his children without any laughter is very appealing. Sounds creepy as heck to me. Icky. Very. In fact, jeez louise, did you have to give me that image? Ugh.

    Anyway. Be interested to see anything about that study.

    P

  29. ptet Says:

    Feyd.

    The abstract of the Robertson & Roy paper is here. But why no publicity? Why no decent-scale follow-up research? JSPR is still publishing (the latest issue discusses witchcraft) so there’s no sign on a coverup.

    My tingly spider sense tells me the “one in a million” claim turned out to be bupkis for some embarrassing or trivial reason.

    In fact, I bet you a pint that’s the case : )

    In the meantime, sorry to pug a friend’s book, but try this for loads of great stuff on how mediums sucker the gullible (and its very funny too):

    Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre

    Cheers

  30. Feyd Says:

    ptet,

    Here’s three reasons why the Roy study didn’t generate as much publicity as one might expect

    1) To an extent Roy has been a victim of its own success in creating a bullet proof protocol. Sceptics were happy to cover his earlier studies as they were able to identify flaws, even if their arguments were already a little strained to the neutral ear when reviewing his 2nd paper. The 3rd paper has now such flaws and so the pseudoskeptics best tactic is silence. They could use sophistry and outright lies to try to debunk it, but they know by now that such tactics backfire on them, see for example

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_for_Skeptical_Inquiry#Controversy_and_criticism
    or
    http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exam/Prescott_Randi.htm

    2) These studies aren’t big news for the mainstream as most of us already belief in the supernatural anyway. See this interesting study that found belief in the supernatural actually increases with more higher education:
    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/060121_paranormal_poll.html

    3) The standard Christian view is that the spirits mediums commune are possibly evil and definitely deceptive . Humans sleep after death awaiting the great resurrection when God will call us all forth for eternal life. Spirits of passed away humans are not contactable!
    (Job 14:12 ; Ecc 9.5 – 10 ; Romans 4:17 ; Luke 20:37-38; Psalm 13:3; 6:5; 146:4; Job 3:11-19; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:14. )

    For this reason from a standard Christian perspective the only conceivable good that can come out of this kind of study is evidence against atheist propaganda. Many feel that the Cons outweigh this one potential benefit. Considering the obvious mistake I made with Susan Blackmore Im no longer sure the Lord wants me pushing this angle myself.

    I could be wrong about there being no laughing in heaven.

    Your friends books looks good, I hope any readers thinking about looking for personal experience with the occult check it out. I agree there are a lot of quacks out there!

  31. Wakefield TOlbert Says:

    JOR SAID:

    “Morals are mental constructs only. And can only be that.”

    If this be the case, God can not save us.

    I’ll tell you what, JOR, as with the issue of slavery being a way to make sure young people got fed in desperate times, I;ll just make this easy and make sure (or at least put in a petition) that from here on out there shall be no such word as “context” to bother us. Period. The term will no longer exist or have any meaning.

    On a serious note—-it would seem that all morals hinge on intentionality. ONly. Whether we like it or not the idea of describing all actions in purely mechanistic terms is unintelligable.

    Morals being mental contructs is certainly helpful..

    Unless you have no mind.

    Assuming the best for you and some of your cohorts, the point is that physical representations and actions alone mean little.

    In a physical sense we can desbribe HOW water boils at the physical level.

    This does not tell us—here again, intentionality—about why the water is boiling. It might be for tea or to pour on the head of an annoying dog outside the window, etc.

    Morals are always about intentionaliy.

  32. Wakefield TOlbert Says:

    JOR:

    You’re attributing arguments to me that I never made, Wakefield. I never said anything about God being nonexistent or bad or untrustworthy. I never said anything about God at all.

    Then you need to say what you mean and describe why the context from BR about slavery is falsified according to modernist notions.

  33. Wakefield TOlbert Says:

    PTET Said:

    Hey Wakefield

    “Objective morals would still dictate, however, that in most instances boys and girls need to have some distinguishing features. In fact almost all societies in history recognize this in one form or another.”

    You have some very odd and obvious hang-ups. “Almost all societies”? LOL.

    Check out this by Helena Cronin of LSE, who says she’s changed her mind about the differences between men and women.

    This is what distinguishes the skeptics from the the believers, Wakefield, no matter what our other respective faults and foibles.

    Some of us can change our mind in the face of evidence. Others have to change the evidence to fit their minds.

    AS with JOR, I have little notion of what you’re talking about, and you seem to be oblivous to the word “context” and “ordinance.”

    An ordinance is an application—-not an absolute. They can be very local or cultural. They are mentioned in the Bible by Paul and others to demonstate the need for THAT society for particulars BUT are built on other foundations. LIke the separation of gender identity.

    Else the planet would look more like San Francisco’s Castro street cafes.

    OK…hang on…..let’s try another one…….

    Chain link fences are prohibited in some residential areas for reasons of property value and aesthetics. This is not the same thing as saying behold chain link fences are bad per se.

    See how context works?

  34. Wakefield TOlbert Says:

    Mister PTET.

    I am anything but some prude. Don’t know how that got into your noggin here. But is absurdist on its face.

    I merely pointed out what anthropologists the world over have made in numerous observations in that almost universally the genders are separate in some form or distinction..

    I did NOT remember prescribing all behavior or making absolute claims about what appearances should come about. Just that this was the CONTEXT (there’s that word again!) for THAT Jewish society but not necessarily applicable to us.

  35. JOR Says:

    “Then you need to say what you mean and describe why the context from BR about slavery is falsified according to modernist notions.”

    Did you even read my original comment? I never said anything about BR’s post being falsified by modernist notions. (And what do you mean by modernist notions here, are you saying you disagree with us ‘modernists’ about the legitimacy of slavery? If not, what is the point of the attempted slur?). I merely cleaned the emotionalist nonsense out of the usual atheist arguments and presented them in a non-fallacious form directed at the purported revelation, not at God.

  36. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    JOR:

    I understand that, but was merely adding an addendum here, and you took that to mean I was speaking darkly of conspiratorial modernist minds. I mentioned them only to demonstrate the usual stripes on this and their modern social interreactions and advocacies:

    BRs take on this is usually cast aside as I wrote above by this observation (per them) that surely a loving God would not (in their opinion) allows such things as slvery in the first place, or argue He should have knocked it off the map once around. Thus they have no patience with the context as he mentioned for the stipulations of Mosaic law being around to modify behavior.

    For some, the issue of God using Mosaic Law to box the ears of the Jews is not good enough even for its description as being against the “hardness of their hearts”

    It is thus scandalous that slavery so much as even existed.

    BR pointed out in turn that this is the Argument of Outrage.

    Bad things happen. Kids die, wars happen, innocent people are murded by men with crosses in the Amazon, slavery happened, my bank account is thin—–thus God cannot exist or is missing His moral compass.

    I was saying this in general, not necessarily pointed at you, unless per chance you have a guilty millstone of your own to carry.

  37. ptet Says:

    Hey Feyd… Belief does not make things true. The Roy study looks very unconvincing from the very small amount I’ve seen of it. 10 mediums doing 23 readings? One million to one odd from that group? O’Rly… When Roy (or anyone else) collects their million dollars from the Randi people or their successors, I’ll be there cheering alongside you. Until then, try not to buy any bridges.

  38. Rich Says:

    We’ve already seen a bad misuse of stats from the sample of 8…

  39. beastrabban Says:

    Right, regarding the Roy study, my own feeling is that it’s actually sound. Possibly one reason why it hasn’t been followed up is because parapsychology is very much a fringe science, derided by a lot of mainstream scientists. They don’t have a lot of funding, and despite the flourishing of parapsychology laboratories around the world recently, it’s still very definitely viewed with extreme suspicion and hostility. Interestingly, there are a number of meta-analyses that do back up Roy’s findings. As for why you haven’t come across this kind of stuff before, the BBC’s Horizon science programme last night showed Dean Radin’s experiments with premonition studies. He has statistically significant galvanic skin response from subjects shown disturbing images 3-4 seconds before they see them, skin responses that don’t occur when the subjects are shown, or about to be shown, pleasant images.

    However, I have to say that I agree with Feyd and you, to a large extent, in that there are an awful lot of fake mediums about. Shows like the British Most Haunted are entertainment, not a serious investigation, and no, I don’t think they’ve given any proof of the existence of ghosts. However, a lot of the debunking of fraudulent mediusm was done by the Spiritualists themselves, rather than the sceptics. I’ve got a feeling that there is something genuinely paranormal going on with the remainder, but believe for the same reasons Feyd has put forward that mediumship is spiritually dangerous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: