Christianity and Medieval Slavery

Following on from the article on Christianity and the ancient world, I thought I would examine the relationship between Christianity and slavery in the Middle Ages. For many non-Christians, the perception of the Middle Ages was a period of superstition and feudal oppression, when the great lords exploited their serfs, aided by the Church, which justified their subordination. The most blatant example of this image of the Middle Ages recently was in the Hollywood film, King Arthur of about four years ago. In one scene, Arthur is shown freeing the oppressed peasants on a Roman villa from oppression and physical torture by Roman Catholic priests.

Ecclesiastical Ownership of Slaves

Now there is clearly some truth in the charicature. The social structure of the Middle Ages was very hierarchical, with most of the population living in some kind of bondage, either as slaves or serfs – individuals with more rights than slaves, but still tied to their masters. Christian churches and the clergy often possessed slaves, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of them on a single ecclesiastical estate. 1 Pope Gregory I (590-604) barred slaves from marrying free Christians, while Gregory XI in the 14th century would sometimes order the enslavement of an opponent after excommunicating them. Christian theologians also used Biblical authority to support slavery as an institution. 2 Nevertheless, Christian theology also viewed slavery as unnatural and demanded slaves’ humane treatment. 3 It also sought to reform and abolish certain aspects of the slave trade, while some theologians even challenged the legitimacy of slavery altogether.

Church Opposition to Slavery and the Slave Trade

Serfdom and slavery certainly existed in ancient Celtic society. A set of four slave neck rings, dating from the 1st century BC, were recovered from Llyn Cerrig Bach in Anglesey in 1942/3. 4 Ancient Irish law recognised the existence of seven types of serf, including those who were unable to pay their honour price, enech, as free men and so sold themselves to a master. 5 Nevertheless, the founder of Christianity in Ireland, St. Patrick, had rejected all forms of slavery ‘apparently the first public person in history to adopt such a categorical stance’. 6 Indeed slavery was gradually suppressed in Europe from the fourth century AD to the High Middle Ages, when it was virtually unknown in northern Europe. 7 Some of this decline can be traced to the influence of Chistianity and the church’s intention of protecting Christians from enslavement. Canon Law prevented non-Christians in Europe from owning Christian slaves. 8 This prohibition was eventually extended to include Christians, so that although slaves were bought and sold as late as the 10th century, this was increasingly rare and expensive, partly through the Church’s prohibition on the enslavement of Christians. 9

Church Encouragement of Manumission

The Church also had strong moral objections to certain forms of slavery, and encouraged their manumission as a pious act. In Anglo-Saxon England, the Council of Chelsea of 816 stipulated that penal slaves should be freed on the death of a bishop, and secular lords also included provisions in their wills freeing their slaves. 10 The earliest known English manumission was by the Bishop Wilfred on his estate in Selsey c. 681-6. 11 As Wilfred’s overlord, king Ethelwealh, had given him the inhabitants as well as the land, Wilfrid freed the slaves there after he had baptised them. ‘Among them [the inhabitants] were two hundred and fifty male and female slaves, all of whom he released from the slavery of Satan by baptism and by granting them their freedom released them fom the yoke of human slavery as well.’ 12 Most surviving Anglo-Saxon wills contain instructions for the manumission of slaves, and in total there are about 120 manumission documents for the period. 13 Sometimes this was in general terms, such as ‘and all my men are to be free, and each is to have his homestead and his cow and his corn for food’. 14 Other wills specifically name the individuals who were to be freed. Thus the Anglo-Saxon lady, Wynflaed, instructed that a number of her slaves should be specifically freed in her will of c.950.

‘And they are to free Wulfwaru, to follow whom she pleases; [and …]ttryth also; and hey are to free Wulfflaed on condition that she follow Aethelflaed and Eadgifu … And thy are to free Gerburg and Miscin an Hi[…] and the daughter of Burhulf at Chinnock, and Aelfsige and his wife and his older daughter, and Ceolstan’s wife. And a Charlton they are to Pifus and Edwin […] and […]’s wife. An at Paccombe they are to free Eadhelm, and Man, and Johanna, and Sprow and his wife, and enefaet, and Gersand, and snell. And a Coleshill they are to free Aethelgyth, and Bic’s wife, and Aeffa, and Beda, and Gurhan’s wife; and they are to free Wulfwaru’s sister, Brihtsige’s wife, and […] the wright, and Aelfwith’s daughter Wulfgyth. An if there be any pernally enslaved person besies these whom she enslaved, she trusts to herchildren that thy wil release them for her soul[‘s sake].’ 15

The law code promulgated in 695 of King Wihtraed of Kent stipulated that manumissions should be performed in church, though slaves were also manumitted at the crossroads in Devon and Camridgeshire. 16 Even there slaves were commonly manumitted in front of members of the clergy. ‘Eadgifu freed Wulfric at the cross-roads, three weks before midsummer, in the witness of Brihstan the priest and of Cynestan and of the cleric who wrote this.’ 17 Slaves could be freed at the tombs of saints, and most manumissions stated that they were performed for the good of the soul of the person granting the slave their freedom. 18 Manumissions were not only recorded in wills. They were also written in gospel books and service books, such as in the Welsh Lichfield Gospels, written before 840. This ‘gave sacred authority to and permanent, written public recognition of the act whil also acknowledging the manumittor’s charity.’ 19 Thus it’s true to say that the redemption of captives and the manumitting of slaves were Christian acts of mercy much encouraged by the Church.’ 20 In the words of the act of manumission for an eleventh century serf, ‘whoever, in the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, moved by charity, permits anyone of his servile dependents to rise from the yoke of servitude to the honour of liberty, may surely trust that in the Last Day, he himself will be endued with everlasting and celestial liberty.’ 21

Church Protection of Slaves and their Rights 

Slaves in Anglo-Saxon society, like the later serfs, possessed rights, which the Church actively protected. The Church was well aware of the hardship of the slave’s life. The Colloquy on the Professions, written by Aelfric, abbot of Cerne Abbas c. 987-1002 for the children in the monastic school, contains the lines on the work of the ploughman

‘Teacher: Oh! Oh! The labour must be great!

Ploughman: It is indeed great drudgery, because I am not free.’ 22

Stories of the saints included episodes where the saint intervened to prevent the harsh treatment of slaves. 23 In Roman Gaul during the later Roman Empire, aristocratic bishops such as St. Germanus of Auxerre travelled on missions to secure relief from oppressive taxes for peoples as far afield as Armorica (Brittany) and Britain. There were also revolts from the peasants themselves, such as that of the Bagaudae, against heavy imperial taxation and oppression by the authorities between 417 and 454. These revolts were eventually suppressed by the imperial army and, in the 440s, by the Visigoths. While they failed, bishops like St. Germanus succeeded. These bishops in turn Christianised the memory of the earlier peasant rebels, and turned them into something similar to Christian martyrs. 24 Bishop Wulfstan in his Sermon of the Wolf to the English stated that it was because people were being enslaved and the slaves deprived of their rights that had made God send the Vikings to raid and invade them. 25 He lamented that, amongst other crimes,

‘ poor men are wretchedly deceived and cruelly cheated and wholly innocent, sold out of this land far and wide into the possession of foreigners; and through cruel injustice children in the cradle are enslaved for petty theft widely throughout this nation; and the rights of freemen suppressed and the rights of thralls curtailed and the rights of charity neglected; and, to speak most briefly, God’s laws are hated and his commands despised. And therefore through the anger of God we all suffer frequent insults, let him acknowledge it who may; and this harm will become common, though one may not think so, to all this nation unless God will save us.’ 26

People Selling themselves into Slavery for Food 

One of the reasons some people became enslaved was because they had sold themselves in order to be fed during a famine. 27 Such people were freed on the deaths of their masters. Thus the late 10th century will of Geatfleda, a benefactress of Durham cathedral, states that she ‘has given freedom for the love of God and for the need of her soul: namely Ecceard teh smith and Aelfstan and his wife and all their offspring, born and unborn, and Arcil and Cole and Ecgferth [and] Ealdhun’s duaghter, and all those people whose heads shed took for their food in the evil days.’ 28

In England, slavery ended in the 12th century after the Norman Conquest. Norman control of the sea made it impossible for English people to be exported as slaves. 29 This was reinforced by the preaching of Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester, who travelled regularly to Bristol, the main slave port in his see, to preach against the trade. In his Life of Saint Wulstan, the 12th century historian William of Malmesbury expressed absolute horror of the trade:

‘You might well groan to see the long rows of young men adn maidesn whose beauty and youth might move the pity of a savage, bound together with cords, and brought to market to be sold. It was a damnable sin, a piteous reproach, that men, worse than brute beasts, should sell into slavery their own lemans, nay, their own blood.’ 30 Eventually the saint’s preaching was so successful that not only did the people of Bristol abandon the trade and become ‘an example to all England’, but they blinded and drove one slave trader who entered the city. 31

Decline of Medieval Slavery

Eventually slavery declined in northern Europe, transformed into serfdom. While the serf was still unfree, they nevertheless enjoyed certain rights denied the slave. Nevertheless, the view contained in Christian theology that human inequality was a result of the Fall inspired radical Christian groups, such as the English Lollards, the followers of the theology of John Wyclif, to challenge feudalism itself. One Lollard verse ran

‘By Heaven’s high law all men are free,

but human law knows slavery.’ 32

Although Lollardy was eventually the suppressed, the medieval period had seen the development of Christian theological opposition to slavery based on the arguments of the ancient Greek and Roman theologians, an opposition that would be revived in the West in the campaign against Atlantic slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Notes

1. James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (London, Longman 1995), p. 14; Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett, Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry (San Francisco, Encounter Books 2002), p. 29.

2. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 29.

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

4.Francis Pryor, Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans (London, HarperCollins 2003), p. 424.

5. Michael Richter, Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition (Basingstoke, MacMillan 1988), p. 20.

6. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 26. 

7. Carroll and Shiflett, Christianity on Trial, p. 29.

8. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law, p. 16.

9. R.H.C. Davis, A History of Medieval Europe – From Constantine to Saint Louis (London, Longman 1988), p. 188.

10. Dorothy Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society (London, Penguin Books 1974), p. 112.

11. David A.C. Pelteret, ‘Manumission’, in Michael Lapdige, John Blair, Simon Keynes and Donald Scragg, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford, Blackwell 2001), p. 301.

12. Leo Shirley-Price and R.E. Latham, Bede: A History of the English Church and People (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1968), p. 229.

13. Whitelock, English Society, p. 112; Pelteret, ‘Manumission’, in Lapidge, Blair and Scragg, eds., Anglo-Saxon England, p. 301.

14. Whitelock, English Society, p. 112.

15. ‘The Will of Wynflaed, c.950’ in Michael Swanton, trans., Anglo-Saxon Prose (London, J.M. Dent 1993), p. 53.

16. Pelteret, ‘Manumission’, in Lapidge, Blair and Scragg, eds., Anglo-Saxon England, p. 301.

17. Whitelock, English Society, p. 113.

18. Pelteret, ‘Manumission’, in Lapidge, Blair and Scragg, eds., Anglo-Saxon England, p. 302.

19. Pelteret, ‘Manumission’, in Lapidge, Blair and Scragg, eds., Anglo-Saxon England, p. 301.

20. Whitelock, English Society, p. 112.

21. R.W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (London, Century Hutchinson 1987), p. 103.

22. ‘Aelfric’s Colloquy’ in Swanton, Anglo-Saxon Prose, p. 169; ‘A Colloquy’, in Kevin Crossley-Holland, ed. and trans., The Anglo-Saxon World (Woodbridge, the Boydell Press 1982), p. 199.

23. Whitelock, English Society, p. 109.

24. Patrick J. Geary, Before France and Germany: The Creation & Transformation of the Merovingian World (Oxford, OUP 1988), p. 37.

25. Whitelock, English Society, p. 109.

26. ‘The Sermon of the Wolf to the English’ in Crossley-Holland, Anglo-Saxon World, p. 266.

27. Whitelock, English Society, p. 112.

28. ‘A Manumission’, in Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World, p. 234.

29. David A.E. Pelteret, ‘Slavery’ in Lapidge, Blair and Scragg, eds., Anglo-Saxon England, p. 423.

30. J.H.F. Peile, William of Malmesbury’s Life of Saint Wulstan (Felinfach, Llanerch facsimile reprint of 1934 edition, 1996), p. 65.

31. Peile, Life of Saint Wulstan, p. 65.

32. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 103.

31 Responses to “Christianity and Medieval Slavery”

  1. Feyd Says:

    Excellent stuff Beast. Another example of the Church being against slavery even at the highest levels was when Pope Paul III issued the Papal bull Sublimes Deus in 1537. It stated that all people on earth had a right to their freedom and property and must not be robbed or made slaves; and that they should be brought to the faith by persuasion not force. Sadly the most powerful secular leader of the day, Emperor Charles V, argued against the bull so it had little effect in improving the lot of those currently being enslaved in the Americas. The world had to wait till the early 19th century until secular power was brought into line with Christian thinking on the slavery issue.

    As we’ve discussed before this achievement has been undone in recent decades. Numerous authorities assert there are now more slaves than ever before. Our ever so moral friends the secular humanists are doing their bit to help the slavers. Some of them persist in defending prostitution as a natural activity, even once they’ve been told that a practical consequence of more men feeling its okay to pay for sex will be an increase in people traffic.

    Vox Day describes how the humanists aren’t necessarily being inconsistent with their morals, the misery of those enslaved might be outweighed by the happiness they bring to their much more numerous clients.

    Atheism delenda est (per amour)

  2. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the appreciation, Feyd. Actually, the Church’s condemnation of slavery and the slave trade, and the leading role taken by the Roman Catholic church in regulating it to try to make it more humane, and the campaign by Protestants in Great Britain and America, particularly the Quakers, Methodists, Baptists, evangelical Anglicans, Moravians and Presbyterians, is definitely something I’m planning to cover.

  3. beastrabban Says:

    As for the secular humanists demanding the legalisation of prostitution, we’ve been here before. Way back at the end of the 17th century-beginning of the 19th century the writer Bernard Mandeville pretty much argued the same. He argued that it was vice, not virtue, that made society stable and prosperous, and urged the creation of publicly funded brothels that would have the advantage of regulating the sex trade and keeping decent women safe. I can remember at the beginning of the 80s there was a brief flurry of debate about whether prostitution should be legalised over here in Britain. Those suggesting it should used exactly the same arguments. Now one can argue that legalised prostitution as practised on the Continent has cut down on the dangerous back street prostitution, but I also suspect that despite the permissive attitude to sexuality in some European countries there’s also a very conservative attitude to sex as well that acts against the problems we have in Britain with unmarried teen parents and rising levels of STDs amongst young people.

  4. ptet Says:

    Hey beastrabban

    Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

    “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

    Societies worse off ‘when they have God on their side’
    The Times, September 27, 2005

    Of course there are serious issues with family and social cohesion in the West. The evidence, however, is that more religion is not the answer.

    Unless of course you are advocating a theocracy and mandatory belief. That seems to work very well in parts of the Middle East.

    Ahem.

  5. Feyd Says:

    PTET , the study you cite was seriously flawed, it was debunked a few months after being published in the same journal.
    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2006/2006-1.html

    The overwhelming balance of peer reviewed literature found that religiosity correlates positively with higher ethical behaviour. You can find links to much of it here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality#Religiosity_and_morality

    The scientific and historical evidence is very clear – more religion is the answer and the happily best available analysis suggests that is going to happen, despite the recent decline in attendance we’ve suffered in the West.

    Faith PTET – its all that matters!

  6. ptet Says:

    Hi Feyd

    The conclusion in the first article you link to says:

    What one can state with certainty is that one cannot in any way be certain as to the effects of religiosity and secularism upon prosperous democracies at least as based upon the methods and data of Paul’s study.

    That’s not debunking.

    Feyd: The overwhelming balance of peer reviewed literature found that religiosity correlates positively with higher ethical behaviour.

    The wikipedia article you cite does not support your statement. Amusingly, it says that strong belief in heaven and hell (dualism) seems to correlate to increased murder rates.

    There is a ample evidence that abortion and STD rates are lower in secular Western Europe than they are in religious America

    Faith PTET – its all that matters!

    That attitude is making you delusional, which is a pity, ’cause you seem like a good bloke.

  7. ptet Says:

    (Oops no edit button… Re the “Paul” Study, my argument is that Beast Rabben’s position is wrong – and it’s still unsupported even if the “Paul” study was flawed).

  8. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Howdy again:

    I knew I had come across that “Paul” study somewhere in the not too distant past. My oh my…..

    My Skeptic Friend, who calls himself after the monieker of American Revolutionary “Reason” advocate/doubter “Tom Paine”, who for some reason placed a link to my blog on his, wanted my input on this He doesn’t like what I say but for some reason likes me personally. So I offered to field a few things.

    Woe be unto me…………

    He returned the favor by emailing this to me below. I’ll show his email momentarily.

    Now, this below is quite a story.

    SO BreastRabban, let’s play PTET’s game here from the Devil’s Advocate side and posit that Christian societies are not coming off looking and smelling rosy here.

    OK. Let the Devil speak now:

    The article below demonstrates other problems the US has compared to our Euro cousins. As far as sex issues, it might be that high abortion rates in those nations contribute to lower teen birthrates. Even so, his larger point is that the states point to more peaceable societies than the US. And those societies are indeed more SECULAR. Of course the Chinese live in relative peace too under duress of communism and so his input about handgun control and socialized healthcare might be a pitch for ideology. Of course Europe is a homogenous society and that might contribute to a more peaceful and common bond for citizenry. That is worth consideration. Also, it is probably also the case that while many Americans profess a generalized belief in God, this is not the same thing as being a believer in the full monty of Christianity and active in the faith. One person called this “provisionally atheistic”—they might believe in God but live their lives as if He is not present in life one way or another.

    But the main thing is that he charges that Faithful look inward and don’t care about their society as a whole. Europe DOES seem to have at least in economics a more communal atmosphere than the US, as PTET reminds us and in part I agree with him on this issue. There are negatives to that also. But still.

    I know this is not true across the board with all believers, and don’t know this Martin guy below but only that he defers to the “Paul Study”. Nor his full intentions here, but his main point even without some agenda on his own is that he feels that faith makes people turn inward to the point that they neglect higher social responsibilities. Of course I know this is an easy charge to make and in point of fact numerous of the faithful are positively engaged in making a better world. One supposes at this Foreman would just say why doesn’t God just make things right and why do we have to suffer, etc.

    Still, I looked up the stats on this and he seems right on the part about Europe and Japan overall. This is not to say they don’t have their own sets of problems. I’ve blogged before that Europe might be heading down a dark path of PC nanny-statism. Japan, I know little about. Certainly both Germany and Japan in their Imperial ages past were some of the most sadistic proprietors of death. But that was yesteryear.

    And of course I can attest that many people who’re professing Christians don’t show any extraordinary curiosity about science and do say some asinine and cockamamie things that they think are cute and clever but look stupid on the whole.

    I think the author might be British but not sure.

    COLUMN By MARTIN FOREMAN
    From God would be an atheist website…….
    First published Nov. 12, 2005

    Several weeks ago, a ground-breaking study on religious belief and social well-being was published in the Journal of Religion & Society. Comparing 18 prosperous democracies from the U.S. to New Zealand, author Gregory S Paul quietly demolished the myth that faith strengthens society.

    Drawing on a wide range of studies to cross-match faith – measured by belief in God and acceptance of evolution – with homicide and sexual behavior, Paul found that secular societies have lower rates of violence and teenage pregnancy than societies where many people profess belief in God.

    Top of the class, in both atheism and good behavior, come the Japanese. Over eighty percent accept evolution and fewer than ten percent are certain that God exists. Despite its size – over a hundred million people – Japan is one of the least crime-prone countries in the world. It also has the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy of any developed nation.

    (Teenage pregnancy has less tragic consequences than violence but it is usually unwanted, and it is frequently associated with deprivation among both mothers and children. In general, it is a Bad Thing.)

    Next in line are the Norwegians, British, Germans and Dutch. At least sixty percent accept evolution as a fact and fewer than one in three are convinced that there is a deity. There is little teenage pregnancy , although the Brits, with over 40 pregnancies per 1,000 girls a year, do twice as badly as the others. Homicide rates are also low — around 1-2 victims per 100,000 people a year.

    At the other end of the scale comes America. Over 50 percent of Americans believe in God, and only 40 percent accept some form of evolution (many believe it had a helping hand from the Deity). The U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and homicide rates are at least five times greater than in Europe and ten times higher than in Japan.

    All this information points to a strong correlation between faith and antisocial behavior — a correlation so strong that there is good reason to suppose that religious belief does more harm than good.

    At first glance that is a preposterous suggestion, given that religions preach non-violence and sexual restraint. However, close inspection reveals a different story. Faith tends to weaken rather than strengthen people’s ability to participate in society. That makes it less likely they will respect social customs and laws.

    All believers learn that God holds them responsible for their actions. So far so good, but for many, belief absolves them of all other responsibilities. Consciously or subconsciously, those who are “born again” or “chosen” have diminished respect for others who do not share their sect or their faith. Convinced that only the Bible offers “truth”, they lose their intellectual curiosity and their ability to reason. Their priority becomes not the world they live in but themselves.

    The more people prioritize themselves rather than those around them, the weaker society becomes and the greater the likelihood of antisocial behavior. Hence gun laws which encourage Americans to see each other not as fellow human beings who deserve protection, but as potential aggressors who deserve to die. And hence a health care system which looks after the wealthy rather than the ill.

    As for sex… Faith encourages ignorance rather than responsible behavior. In other countries, sex education includes contraception, reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies. Such an approach recognizes that young people have the right to make their own choices and helps them make decisions that benefit society as a whole. In America faith-driven abstinence programs deny them that right — “As a Christian I will only help you if you do what I say”. The result is soaring rates of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

    Abstinence programs rest on the same weak intellectual foundation as creationism and intelligent design. Faith discourages unprejudiced analysis. Reasoning is subverted to rationalization that supports rather than questions assumptions. The result is a self-contained system that maintains an internal logic, no matter how absurd to outside observers.

    The constitutional wall that theoretically separates church and state is irrelevant. Religion has overwhelmed the nation to permeate all public discussion. Look no further than Gary Bauer, a man who in any other Western nation would be dismissed as a fanatic and who in America is interviewed deferentially on prime time television.

    Despite all its fine words, religion has brought in its wake little more than violence, prejudice and sexual disease. True morality is found elsewhere. As UK Guardian columnist George Monbiot concluded in his review of Gregory Paul’s study, “if you want people to behave as Christians advocate, you should tell them that God does not exist.”

    I might express that another way. The flip side of Monbiot’s argument is that God would be an atheist…

    (Martin Foreman is the author of “God would be an atheist,” a syndicated print column an d website.)

  9. Ilíon Says:

    Ah … so what this Paul study shows is that “acceptance of evolution” combined with ‘atheism’ is a ticket to national/cultural suicide.

    For, after all, these assertedly moral examplar nations are going extinct (and Japan is already registering more deaths than births).

  10. Rich Says:

    “For, after all, these assertedly moral examplar nations are going extinct (and Japan is already registering more deaths than births).”

    Is there any concept you wont mangle? I’d say that the resource / population balance is being corrected. Consider also that Japan and the UK are “mature” countries in terms of longevity and are possibly past the optimal population / land mass balance.

  11. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Ilion–

    Actually THAT portion is correct.

    Muslims are the only ones in Europe reproducing their own numbers. The Rest of Europe DOES laughably face the Mother of all Darwinian failures–extinction.

    I had blogged on this also–but that is another issue beyond “lifestyle” and goodness of life. Though I DO need to point out the two are interrelated to the point that lifestyle can influence fertility rates, etc.
    So RICH, it seems Ilion is in the right on this one.

    You can’t demonstrate your superiority long term if you fail to reproduce or flourish and can’t even refill your own welfare coffers from younger genereations.

    No society has invented enough magic or even bribery of young couples to date to overcome the thorny issue of euros deciding that they are fine with empty maternity wards and busy old folks homes.

    See also:

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2006/03/liberals-doomed-to-extinction-darwin.html

  12. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    There is an answer to Paul–the above was just some fun.

    but i’ll let that cat out of the bag later or if PTET takes a bite at the bait.

  13. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Hey beastrabban

    Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

    “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

    Societies worse off ‘when they have God on their side’
    The Times, September 27, 2005

    Of course there are serious issues with family and social cohesion in the West. The evidence, however, is that more religion is not the answer.

    Unless of course you are advocating a theocracy and mandatory belief. That seems to work very well in parts of the Middle East.

    Ahem.

    Here:

    Clear your throat a little more, in case you got tired of my wordiness on the other thread.

    About that Paul study, which it turns out he is not a sociologist, logician, statistician, or anything remotely of this type but a jibber jabberer worse than me. Even me. YEP.

    HERE IS:

    http://www.verumserum.com/?p=25

    See also: http://www.verumserum.com/?p=120

    Then there is George Gallup, the internationally respected researcher, who has already shown the positive effects of religion on society.

    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-10-061-r
    Or, if you are more inclined to go with institutionally based researchers try this:

    From the Princeton Religion Research Center, we get the following conclusions about the close connection between religion and individual/ social health.

    1. Religious feelings have spurred much of the volunteerism in our nation. Members of a church or synagogue, as revealed in a Gallup Poll, tend to be much more involved in charitable activity than non-members.

    2. Seventy-four percent of adults say religion in their homes has strengthened family relationships, while 82 percent say that religion was important in their homes when they were growing up.

    3. Eight in ten Americans report that religious beliefs help them to respect and assist other people.

    4. While only 4 percent say their beliefs have little or no effect on their lives, 63 percent state that their beliefs KEEP THEM FROM DOING THINGS THEY KNOW THEY SHOULD NOT DO. (My emphasis)

    Again, from the report:

    “In sum, the religious liberty most Americans cherish and celebrate has enabled religion to flourish in many forms and to become a profound shaper of the American character.”

    Abstinence DOES work, but depends on the training and methodology

    (wow–never heard THAT one before, in relation to getting things done, like engineering and production, for example…!)

    http://health.msn.com/health-topics/sexual-health/birth-control/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100183137&page=1

  14. Rich Says:

    “So RICH, it seems Ilion is in the right on this one.”

    This is an extrapolation fallacy.

    No, it would appear your thinking is as fuzzy as his on this issue. By the same logic, one day there will be more Muslims than atoms. Or if global warming continues one day the earth will be hotter than the sun, or because each generation gets taller, one day men will be bigger than planets.

  15. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    This is an extrapolation fallacy.

    Or that all these little micro-evolutions that can turn beagles into Dachshunds have the same power to turn hydrogen bonds into DNA, then DNA goo into worms, worms into lizards, lizards into birds and mammals, and hooting monkeys into people.

    Yeah–I agree there is such a phenomenon you describe, Rich.

    But actually I was referring to the fact that only Muslims show fecundity lately. IT could end, of course, but this is unlikely.

    And while your point is taken, there IS a reason that many demographers fret over population issues.

    The bare fact is that someone has to pay the government handouts and pensions someday. It is like one of those easy-does-it car loans that scam people all the time:

    “No payments until 2009!!!”

    Barring accidental death or suicide or illness–are most people under the impression that 2009 will never get here???

  16. Rich Says:

    We don’t know about abiogenesis. Wrt to evolution, I’m very confident it happened. Anyhoo, it’s interpolation, not extrapolation. And it’s confirmed in many ways. ERV’s are my favourite, but the amazing statistical congruence between morphological and genetic clades is maybe the best?

    “beagles into Dachshunds” is a horrible example. first, them share a common ancestor, second I don’t think they’re speciated and third they are a product of artificial selection by early man.

  17. Rich Says:

    Government hand outs is correct, WT. Its basically a government Ponzi scheme. We can count on nothing.. so rapture not withstanding, get a good 401k.

  18. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    OK—let’s try amphibians to reptiles. reptiles to birds.

    Hummingbirds and ostriches sharing common ancestor. Hmmm

    The dog bit was just a joke.

    And yes, you can’t make wide claims on what humans FORCE in dogs by selective, and deleterious (that means BAD, in case PTET is watching) mutations.

  19. Rich Says:

    Are they deleterious? They enable the organisms to enjoy popularity as pets. The environment is the judge, not you.

  20. Ilíon Says:

    W.T.Actually THAT portion is correct.

    Muslims are the only ones in Europe reproducing their own numbers. The Rest of Europe DOES laughably face the Mother of all Darwinian failures–extinction.
    Yeap. The reason European countries aren’t currently registering more deaths than births, as Japan is, is due to the births to Muslims in those countries. If you looked at only the *ethnic* [insert European nationality] stats, you would (for most of those countries) see the same situation as in Japan.

  21. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    When most German Shepards have hip dysplasia, most whippets can no longer give vaginal birth and have to have a ceasearian, and many dogs have eye issues, bad folds as in the case of Sharpeis, and on and on it goes, you have an issue.

    Wolves in the wild that have these often just die. Problem solved. The domestic dog can be rescued from all this, but the Victorians bequeathed to us this notion of “house dog” that previously was confined not to little yappers that had to be taken tot he vet all the time but big dogs that would still be dangerous and eat from the castle floor.

    No–I am not the final judge. But nature is not looking kindly on a situation here unless you really need to have pets made by forced breeding that have to yield hundreds a year in vet bills.

    That’s why I have a pet caiman. They don’t get sick that often unless they get impacted from eating animal hair. Few few take them anyhow 🙂

    Having said that, one supposed that genetic tinkering to modify “custom pets” could solve the dog problem. But that is not Darwinian descent. That smacks more of Intelligent Planning. Sorta like fixing a variety of ailments using adult derived stem cells or other manipulations in tissue repair.

    –Wake

  22. Rich Says:

    “No–I am not the final judge. But nature is not looking kindly on a situation here unless you really need to have pets made by forced breeding that have to yield hundreds a year in vet bills.”

    You’ve done a great job of describing a future environment where these breeds might not do so well. Yay, go evolution.

  23. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    RICH–

    That is the situation now with many breeds of dog.

    -W

  24. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the comments on the Paul study, guys. I’ve heard of this before, and also heard some very critical comments about it. Basically, it assumes that there is a connection between religion and high crime and STD rates in the US, but doesn’t actually prove this. It’s correlation, not causation.

    As for the immense difficulties some dogs suffer because of the way they’ve been bred, I’ve heard much the same myself. Bulldogs, for example, also have problems giving birth naturally. That, however, is the fault of artificial selection and a nasty breeding policy.

  25. Samuel Skinner Says:

    I believe the corralation and causation is low education/ income lead to high levels of religious belief. Higher levels of education lead to more atheists and both people trying to justify their wealth and those trying to find a purpose, which is why there are wealthy evangelicals. For the most part religion doesn’t cause crime (except for religious crimes).

  26. Feyd Says:

    The wikipedia article you cite does not support your statement. Amusingly, it says that strong belief in heaven and hell (dualism) seems to correlate to increased murder rates.

    My statement was : The overwhelming balance of peer reviewed literature found that religiosity correlates positively with higher ethical behaviour.

    I didnt say unanimous consensus!

    Leaving aside the flawed Paul study, the one you cite was the only dissenting study. All the other studies you can get to via the wikki link find a beneficial effect from religion. Here is the whole wikki extract with some of the relevant parts bolded.

    In the scientific literature, the degree of religiosity is generally found to be associated with higher ethical attitudes.[17] Although a recent study by Gregory S. Paul published in the Journal of Religion and Society argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction,[18] an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from the research.[19] In a response [20] to the study by Paul, Gary F. Jensen builds on and refines Paul’s study. His conclusion, after carrying out elaborate multivariate statistical studies, is that there is a correlation (and perhaps a causal relationship) of higher homicide rates, not with Christianity, but with dualism in Christianity, that is to say with the proportion of the population who believe the devil and hell exist. Excerpt: “A multiple regression analysis reveals a complex relationship with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it.” Meanwhile, other studies seem to show positive links in the relationship between religiosity and moral behavior[21] [22] [23] — for example, surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism.[24] Modern research in criminology also acknowledges an inverse relationship between religion and crime,[25] with many studies establishing this beneficial connection (though some claim it is a modest one).[26] Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.

    PS – good analyses there WT!

  27. Ilíon Says:

    Here is a silly video (that I became aware of a year ago) that seems to get its “facts” from this Paul study: Does Religion Make You a Better Person?

    Now, of course, there is all sorts of faulty reasoning at play (in the video and in the Paul study). It starts with the same sort of faulty reasoning that Vox Day demolished in “The Irrational Atheist” beginning on page 121.

    I made the same point about this video that I’ve made here (i.e. that what it shows is that “acceptance of evolution” combined with ‘atheism’ is a ticket to national/cultural suicide) and my point was as warmly received then as now. ‘Atheists’ never seem to like having their own “logic” used to arrive at the “wrong” conclusion.

  28. Feyd Says:

    Too right Ilion – they dont like it up em!

  29. Rich Says:

    Still arguing to concequences, folks?

  30. beastrabban Says:

    Not at all, Rich. We’re arguing from history and context.

  31. Rich Says:

    “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.

    That’s to concequences.

    I don’t like B

    If A is true then B

    Therefore A isn’t true.

    Summin like that.

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