Britains decline linked to decline of Christianity?

"In his new book Biohistory: Decline and Fall of the West, Dr Penman argues that all civilisations move in cycles fuelled by environmental factors such as famine, religion and war which change the temperament of a nation.

He claims that by the 19th century Christianity had driven profound social change in Britain which altered the way families behaved, children were raised and women were treated.

Where previously children had largely been ignored, or beaten when they misbehaved, now they were schooled and instructed and childhood became an important part of life.

Dr Penman claims it was this change which allowed the great thinkers and innovators of the Industrial Revolution to thrive. Christianity also promoted the importance of chastity, marriage and the nuclear family which, coupled with growing prosperity, allowed national stress levels to drop.

This increase in national confidence fuelled the desire for the First World War, but the conflict set in motion a series of biological events which would lead to the beginnings of decline.

“Temperament has a biological basis that changes over time defining out culture and shaping our identity right down to our DNA. It is known as epigenetics.” added Dr Penman.
“The First world war had an epigenetic effect in that mothers made anxious by the way gave birth to an unusually aggressive generation which was the main cause of the Second World War.

“The Second World War in turn produced not only the Vietnam War but the militant anti-war students of the late 1960s. But now we are becoming a lot less war-like and much more reluctant to fight. People no longer want to join the army, or become engineers… And it’s not about money because these professions often pay very well. It’s because we lack the biological temperament. People would rather do arts degrees.”

Dr Penman believes Britain is now at the same point as Rome in 100BC. Despite military victories which had increased the sway of the empire throughout the western Mediterranean there was trouble brewing at home where conditions were deteriorating for the Romans.

As wealth and taxes poured into the capital, the wealthy became richer still causing social tensions, political extremism and violence. Roman generals began to fight amongst themselves and by 49BC Julius Caesar had been declared dictator setting in motion a chain of events which would see the rise of Imperial Rome.
Although the Roman Empire survived for a further 500 years, it was plague by civil war, unrest and political assassinations. Rome was eventually sacked by the Visigoths in 410AD.’

telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11562374/Britain-is-experiencing-same-decline-as-Rome-in-100BC.html

Sounds a bit like Oswald Spengler but with up-to-date linguistic flourishes.

That doesn’t sound very scientific…

by 49BC Julius Caesar had been declared dictator setting in motion a chain of events which would see the rise of Imperial Rome.
Although the Roman Empire survived for a further 500 years, it was plague by civil war, unrest and political assassinations. Rome was eventually sacked by the Visigoths in 410AD.

First, I think most societies have been plagued by civil war, unrest and political assassinations.

Second, if 49 BC is supposed to reflect how degraded Rome was, I think the author’s point is kind of undercut by its survival for another 500 years. In fact I think that imperial Rome was in many ways a higher kind of society than the original Roman Republic.

Moreover, I think imperial Rome survived for much longer than 500 years. The Eastern Roman Empire continued on after 410 A.D. for over a thousand years, and maintained ties with its former territories in the West. It accepted some of the new rulers in the West as its own consuls and co-rulers, thus keeping itself connected. A Western Emperor ended up being officially recrowned under Charlemagne and his successors, and that empire lasted even longer than the Eastern Empire did, unless I’ve misunderstood history pretty horribly.

“Unwillingness to fight” is not synonymous with decline.

One could argue that British decline began with the exhaustion of its economy and society by fighting two world wars.

ICXC NIKA

Odd, he seems to link the industrial *rise *of Britain to Chrisitanity, but the decline to “epigenetic” factors?

Maybe the decline of England is due to the lack of virtue permeating society as tye result of abandoning Christianity for scientism.

You don’t think the fact that other, including larger, more populous, countries got in on the whole industry business might have had something to do with relative decline?

Well, if we’re talking about *relative *decline… but I was talking about decline in general, which I actually see all over the West.

No doubt, I think, that Britain’s relative decline economically began in the second half of the19th C when, as you say, other countries caught up on (or in Germany’s case overtook) the lead Britain had established as the pioneer of industrialism. This was also the period of Christian expansion in Britain, so thus far the theory is awry.

No doubt also, I think, that Britain’s absolute decline economically coincided with the vast expenditure of her wealth and great indebtedness caused by two world wars, especially perhaps the second, plus the seizure and nationalisation of her very great assets in China after the revolution.

I don’t know how far the Telegraph is accurate in representing Dr Penman’s views, but on the face of it I won’t be buying the book.

You think that the population of the UK were in a better state in the 19thC?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find a criterion that would fit - even when it comes to ‘morals’, reading some of the reports on conditions in large parts of London and the industrial cities of that era would make you shudder. The veneer of the upstanding Victorian Era was pretty thin.

Looked like click-bait to me. We’re Telegraph readers but sometimes the ‘Disgusted Colonel (ret), Tunbridge Wells’ stuff can make you wince.

Yep. I’m an Independent reader and I wince sometimes over — whatever’s the opposite of the good Colonel!

No, I don’t, but if one is looking at condition only on national economy terms, then industrialization is a plus.

When you have people who are willing to work hard and in crummy jobs instead of just being on the dole [not talking about people on the dole who cannot work] and company managers who are interested in keeping the industry within England, the economy nationally goes up. This seems to have been the general criteria in the world for the state of a nation, altho now we are seeing a switch to governemnt provisions, which of course are unsustainable in the long run unless there is some sort of economy to provide funding for the provisions.

On a personal lever, I have completelt different ideas.

Since Christianity in Britain can be dated back to the 1st century I would look towards more contemporary reasons for the “…altered the way families behaved, children were raised and women were treated” instead of waiting 18 centuries to take root.

We tend to associate the arrival of Christianity in Britain with the mission of Augustine in 597 AD. But in fact Christianity arrived long before then, and in the 1st Century AD, there wasn’t* an organised attempt to convert the British.

It began when Roman artisans and traders arriving in Britain spread the story of Jesus along with stories of their Pagan deities.

Source…

  • Note: author obviously meant was instead of wasn’t.

It is an excellent argument. Do you hear a contemporary echo of history rhyming?

Perhaps you might gain from studying the results of 18thC Enclosure legislation and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 before getting too romantic about the question of ‘willingness’ and the English working poor in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

As to the rest of your post, it just might be a little more complicated than all that.

All I was doing to begin with was pointing out that the title of this thread is inaccurate and possibly shows a bias. I don’t want to get into a discussion about things I didn’t say.

It is rare to find such illogical, irrational, pretentious un-historic twaddle compacted like garbage into the one article.

DNA is not affected by culture, temperament or social mores.
“The First world war had an epigenetic effect in that mothers made anxious by the way gave birth to an unusually aggressive generation which was the main cause of the Second World War."

The main cause of WW2 was Hitler’s aggression and a small island nation’s brave rejection of Nazi’ ideological barbarity. Anxious mothers do not breed unusually aggressive children.

“The Second World War in turn produced not only the Vietnam War but the militant anti-war students of the late 1960s. But now we are becoming a lot less war-like and much more reluctant to fight. People no longer want to join the army, or become engineers… And it’s not about money because these professions often pay very well. It’s because we lack the biological temperament. People would rather do arts degrees.”

If the First World War produced more aggressive children how can two more wars produce peaceful violence- adversive children. There is no internal logic to this argument.

Have we all taken up macrame and are doing Arts degrees due to our new cultural temperament? No, the world has arguably become more violent and Britain’s decline could be more likely attributed to a nation exhausted economically from a loss of empire and two world wars. Immigration has changed Britain’s cultural DNA more than some warped reversion to Lamark in the Professor’s view of evolution.

“Dr Penman believes Britain is now at the same point as Rome in 100BC. Despite military victories which had increased the sway of the empire throughout the western Mediterranean there was trouble brewing at home where conditions were deteriorating for the Romans.”
Dr. Penman’s understanding of history has the same tinge of motley as his genetics. Britain has now lost its empire and is in the stage of decline to a second tier world power, both economically and in military force. It is likely that it would be hard pressed to maintain control of the Falklands.
Sad to see a Doctorate giving credence to such silliness.

I don’t think we should give it any credit as a sound scientific piece of writing. Taken for what is - a historical treatise - we can read it in that light.

Sounds like rubbish to me.

Granted Britain is no longer the great empire it once was and the 2 World Wars in the last century affected the population and the economy, I am not sure of their financial decline. I think the U.S. has experienced more of a financial decline than Britain. Moral decline might be more true for both Britain and America because of the decline of Christianity. That is my :twocents:

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