See “Two best things happening on Earth today” just below.
Post from discussion group:
Slapping down a straw god (i.e. a reality that has never existed except in the imaginations of people across history). Threat of punitive justice usually through nature- i.e. flood/drought/earthquake, disease, or human cruelty- has been a prominent feature of deity from the beginning of human myth-making.
First, my intention behind the comments below (i.e. “Thanks Fergie for the opportunity to make a point” in regard to the article included just below- “Sarah Ferguson Tweets That Coronavirus Is Mother Nature’s Punishment of Feckless Mankind”). My comments relate to my life-long struggle with a personal monster from my previous religious tradition.
My intention? Yes, intention matters… Across human history, this most fundamental theme of world religions- i.e. that God is a judging, condemning, punitive, and destroying reality- has added an entirely unnecessary psychic burden to already horrific human suffering. That pathological mythology adds the elements of fear/anxiety, shame/guilt, and more that unnecessarily distress and torment people who are already suffering enough from some natural disaster, disease, or human cruelty. Shame on all those across history for pushing such mythically-based mental/emotional torture on fellow human beings.
To advocate any form of “Threat theology” is to add an unnecessary burden to already intolerable human suffering. My intention: Liberate people from such unnecessary added suffering by offering “a stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory deity” (James Robinson).
This has always been my point in going after this mythology of punitive, destroying deity. It misrepresents entirely the Ultimate Reality behind all else (Ultimate Mind, Consciousness, Spirit, Mystery) that humanity has long called deity or God. That Reality has always and only been Love, Love of a kind that is inexpressibly and scandalously universal, unlimited, unconditional.
How do I know Ultimate Reality or deity is non-retaliatory? I reason from the best in humanity- i.e. the common experience of parents, spouses, friends, that no conditions love is the best way to treat imperfect others. No conditions (unconditional) love is simply the best form of love that we have discovered. I then project that insight out to define Ultimate Goodness or Love. If we imperfect humans can get this right, then Ultimate Consciousness or deity can also get it right, even more so than our imperfect understanding and practice. Just sayin, eh.
No religion has ever communicated this wondrous reality to humanity. All religion by its very nature is conditional and cannot communicate an unconditional reality. Religion as a social institution exists to communicate conditions- i.e. right beliefs, correct religious rituals (offerings, sacrifices), and necessary lifestyle to appease and please the religious deities. You have to discover the wonder of an unconditional Ultimate Reality aside from religion.
Example of natural disaster viewed as divine punishment: A Japanese lady standing amidst the devastation after the 2011 tsunami and facing a TV camera, asked rhetorically, “Are we being punished for enjoying life too much?” She summarized and vocalized the ancient and historically persistent mythical theme of some core punitive, destroying reality.
Insert note: We do better to understand the suffering that arises from the imperfections of this world in terms of “natural consequences”. We all suffer the natural consequences from living in a world of natural disasters, disease, and human cruelty. We all suffer the consequences of our choices, notably our bad choices. Such consequences are not punishment from greater Forces or Spirits.
Qualifier re unconditional: I affirm with Tolstoy that there are no circumstances in which we can treat others without love (he was speaking to the criminal justice system). All failing humans deserve our unlimited forgiveness, our universal inclusion and love. This does not contradict the need to restrain violent people and hold all responsible for their behavior, within the approach of restorative justice.
(See also Bob Brinsmead’s comments to a discussion group on this issue, included below)
OK, now the recent post to a discussion group: “Run kiddies, we are being punished”.
“Fergie is sounding like Jerry Falwell after hurricane Katrina (i.e. blaming that on human “sin”). Thanks Fergie for the opportunity to once again make a point regarding the stunning and profound difference between the theology of Historical Jesus and Paul’s Christianity- his Christ myth. This is about a worldview that defines Ultimate Reality (Ultimate Ideal and Authority) in terms of non-retaliation, non-punitive Love, versus a worldview that defines its Ultimate Ideal/Authority in terms of retaliation, punishment. This is about the core orientation that we embrace, whether in religious or secular versions, and its outcomes in our lives.
“The author of the article below suggests that Fergie is a nut-case extremist: “Sarah Ferguson Tweets That Coronavirus Is Mother Nature’s Punishment of Feckless Mankind”. No, this primitive outlook that there is some punitive, destroying Reality behind natural disaster, disease, or other forms of suffering, is as old as humanity. It is still one of the most widespread and dominant myths that have been deeply lodged in the common consciousness of the human family. Christianity has long advocated this myth (i.e. Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians that their sickness and death was divine punishment for their sins). So also the other world religions embrace this pathological mythology along with many “secular” ideologies like environmental alarmism.
“The myth of punitive, destroying deity is the core of the apocalyptic complex of themes- that at the heart of reality there is a great punitive, destroying reality, some Force like karma, retributive Universe, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, or Paul’s apocalyptic Christ (see, for example, his Thessalonian letters, and John’s Revelation). And such a Force, Entity, or Spirit will give us what we deserve, either now in this world or in some final end up ahead.
“The primitive myth of punitive, destroying deity is still the essential core belief of most religions and hence the power of those religions to engender fear and control people, subjecting them to the salvation plans of the religion.
“A notable historical rejection of punitive, destroying deity mythology is found in the Jesus tradition…
“The Matthew 5:38-48 statement of Jesus, and the better version in Luke 6:27-36, is the main statement of his core theme. That teaching of Jesus is the central message in the Q Wisdom Sayings gospel in its earliest version- i.e. Q1, the closest that we get to what the man actually taught somewhere around 27-36 CE. When the gospel writers wrote 40-50 plus years later, they shaped their biographies according to Paul’s later Christology and basically overturned that earlier core teaching of Jesus- i.e. they distorted and buried the Jesus teaching in their larger biographical contexts with many contradictory additions.
“My argument with the Christian embrace of retributive theology is that Historical Jesus had clearly rejected the myth of punitive, destroying deity entirely and offered a “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God” (James Robinson among others). He had overturned entirely all previous human thinking on Ultimate Reality or deity. While most the gods of the ancient world were also given more humane features like mercy, forgiveness, and compassion, they all retained varied elements of punishing destruction.
“Historical Jesus stated his central theme like this: “You should not engage eye for eye justice (retaliation in kind, punishment) but instead you should love your offender/enemy because God does. How so? God does not engage eye for eye punishment or destruction but loves all the same- as evident in God giving the basic good gifts of life, sun and rain for crops, to both good and bad people”. Jesus was pointing to universal, unlimited, unconditional love. Nothing of judgment, punishment, or destruction. He also reasoned from the best of human behavior (non-retaliatory, unconditional) and related that to define the true nature of deity/God.
“But Paul, a dominating, intolerant man, successfully defeated the other branches of the early Jesus movement (i.e. Jewish Christianity, Ebionites/Nazarenes). Paul presented his Christ myth as the one true understanding of the Jesus phenomenon. He was the creator of the version of Christianity that eventually dominated all the others and descended into our Western world, helped along the way by the coercive intervention of people like Emperor Constantine (see Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll. Re “dominant, intolerant”, see Charles Freeman’s chapter on Paul in ‘The Closing of the Western Mind’).
“In his Christ religion, Paul rejected the new non-retaliatory theology of Jesus and retreated to the same old primitive theology of a retaliating, punishing, destroying God. He stated his re-affirmation of retaliatory theology in Romans 12: 17-20 in such statements as, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord”. He had already said in his first letter to the Thessalonians (circa 50 CE) that his “Lord Jesus would return in flaming fire to punish/destroy all those who did not obey his gospel”. That sort of threat is scattered throughout his letters. Note, for example, his curse on the Jewish Christianity of Peter and James in Galatians 1:8,9. And yes, Paul also made some other very good points in that Galatians letter about freedom from law.
“Paul overwhelmingly shaped the thinking of the other later gospel authors (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John) whose works were included in the New Testament. Other gospels that did not affirm the themes of Paul were excluded as heretical- i.e. gospels of Mary, Philip, James, Thomas, and others.
“Some scholars believe that Jesus may have actually belonged to the Jewish Christian movement and he would never have embraced the Christology of Paul. He did not view himself as a reigning messiah figure. Note, for example, Jesus’ teaching that the essence of true greatness was not about lording over others but serving. Yet Paul ignored that teaching and presented Jesus as a supreme dominating Lord and Master. Such points of disagreement have been noted all through the Jesus material in the New Testament.
“Paul replaced Jesus-ianity (the original non-retaliatory teaching of Jesus) with his Christ-ianity (his retaliatory Christ myth). That is why scholars like James Tabor say the Historical Jesus has been buried and lost to us.
“Note: Sources for my conclusions regarding the stunning contradiction between Jesus and Paul? Three centuries of “Search for the Historical Jesus” (latest stage- the Jesus Seminar). Notably- Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel research. However, while drawing on Historical Jesus research, my conclusions above are my own.
“The Sixties duo of Peter and Gordon sang that classic “A world without love”, harmonizing that they would not want to live in a world without love. I would affirm that sentiment and I would not want to live or exist in any reality that was not ultimate Love as in universal, unlimited, or unconditional love in the most transcendent sense… something only a deity that is authentic love could be (gooder than good, infinitely beyond good or love as we imagine it from our limited perspectives). A stunning no conditions love that is something offensive to retributive/retaliatory justice and apocalyptic-oriented minds (i.e. the bad guys eventually getting their just deserts somewhere, somehow). A generous love that is something scandalous just as Jesus tried to portray in some of his parables and actions (e.g. the Prodigal Father, the vineyard owner, or inviting hookers, local scoundrels, and what not to neighbourhood parties and meals). Letting the lady caught with her panties down go without punishment as demanded by Jewish law (but a caution to treat herself better). And on and on… giving sun and rain to all alike, to both good and bad.
“And yes, in the New Testament you have to pick out the good stuff from a larger context of a lot of subhuman material that contradicts the better stuff. Just as Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy argued- we must pick “the diamonds out of the dung.” I embrace their perspective on how to view religious holy books like the Christian bible. Pick and choose the good stuff from what Jefferson said was a larger context of material created by “lesser minds”. Ouch, eh.
“You see, the “reform of religion” that I propose is much more than peripheral tinkering around the edges. I go directly to the core of the problem- the monstrous deity that threatens to punish and destroy. Is my project just whimsical, Don Quixotish adventurism? Yes, in the sense that a punitive, destroying God has always been just a straw God, a mythical reality, just like those windmill monsters that Quixote went after with his lance. But that monster God has always been very real to true believers.”
Now the article on Fergie’s comments…
From The Daily Beast: “Sarah Ferguson Tweets That Coronavirus Is Mother Nature’s Punishment of Feckless Mankind”, Tom Sykes
“In this uncertain world, one thing we can always trust to be a constant is unerring ability of Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, to say utterly bizarre things.
“On Tuesday (March 24, 2020) she was at it again, tweeting a pair of extraordinary messages suggesting that “Mother Nature” had unleashed the coronavirus on humankind to punish us for not looking after the planet.
“Little did she know at the time of her social media fusillade, her former brother-in-law Prince Charles was already suffering from the virus. Charles had seen the Queen two weeks earlier prompting fears that the virus could spread within the royal household.
“One of Fergie’s tweets was accompanied by a charming picture of a cherry tree in full blossom that looks like it was taken at the massive private estate, Royal Lodge, where she lives rent free with her ex-husband.
“We have embedded the tweets below, but, just in case the Duchess (as she still insists on calling herself) wakes up this morning with a furry tongue, and a crashing case of tweeter’s regret once she sees that her host family is among the victims, and hastens to hit the delete button, fear not, we have the screenshots for posterity.
“Mother Nature has sent us to our rooms, like the spoilt children we are. She gave us time and she gave us warnings. She was so patient with us. She gave us fire and floods, she tried to warn us but in the end she took back control.
“She has sent us to our rooms and when she is finished clearing up our mess. She will let us out to play again. How will we use this time?
“Of course, these kind of rambling theories about how the coronavirus is actually good for the world have become something of a fad on social media in the past few days.
“But there is a pretty clear line between remarking on silver linings (We can hear the birdsong in cities! Pollution is down! I don’t need to charge my phone every night!) and feeling out the path for a Gaia death cult which believes that a killer virus is a good thing that’s going to “clean up” the planet.
‘These remarks, Sarah, are best saved for your creepy, ultra-right wing crystal therapist.”
Bob Brinsmead comment to discussion group re this topic of divine punishment through the natural world: “OK ____, show us how to do it. What is your theodicy? What do you make, for instance, of this Covid-19 pandemic? What might it teach us about man’s relationship to Mother Nature? Where is the real remedy going to be found? If you can address that question correctly, you will be on your way toward a good theodicy.
“Stroke was so named because it was thought to be a finger of God’s illness. (But) the main causes of dying prematurely seem to be Mother Nature at work, that ‘wicked old witch’ causing nature’s horrors that are inflicted on humanity, as well as human causes (bad habits, accidents, inhumanity). How much is the “finger of God”? In the Old Testament journey of the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan you have God directly executing at least 30,000 Israelites. That puts God in the category of a celestial Pol Pot, eh? But in my reckoning, suffering is brought about either by what nature does or what humans do.
“In the case of natural deaths (epidemics, pandemics, diseases, abnormalities, germs, and natural disasters) the statistics show that as mankind progresses, we progressively gain the mastery over nature. World population has greatly expanded not because humans breed like rabbits but because we no longer die like flies. For example, we have medical knowledge to protect ourselves from many diseases caused by micro-organisms, and we protect ourselves from destructive weather events more effectively now as we can afford to protect ourselves.
“God did not send us some special revelation to tell us about germs and viruses but made us responsible for finding these things out.
“As for punishment, it is like Dustin Hoffman said in a movie, ‘Blame if for god and small children’.
“The Old Testament prophets sometimes give us the same reading of natural calamity as Falwell and Robertson. Example: Israel did not observe the Law to God’s satisfaction, so he sent in alien armies to burn their cities, rape their women and carry off their children. Later in history, it was claimed that the Jews were punished as much by Antiochus Epiphanes because they would not disobey the Law of Moses…. So I would simply say that on this reading of history, the Prophets got it wrong just as Falwell and Robertson got it wrong. God did not bring about the burning of the villages of Israel by the Assyrians any more than he punished the Jews by the Holocaust. These tragic events were just part of the messiness of human history and human actions”.
The two best things happening today– rising CO2 levels and the warming of Earth’s average surface temperatures.
Basic plant food
CO2 levels have been dangerously low over the past few million years of our ice-age era and this has stressed plant life. Over the past several hundred thousand years, CO2 levels have even dipped below 200 ppm, once down to 180 ppm. Plant life dies at 150 ppm. Normal and optimal levels of CO2 over the last 500 million years were in the multiple thousands of ppm. https://www.thegwpf.com/video-of-patrick-moores-gwpf-lecture-should-we-celebrate-co2/
During the Cambrian era life exploded with CO2 levels over 5000 ppm. There was no harm to life, or catastrophic collapse, with CO2 in multiple-thousands of ppm. Instead, life flourished.
“During the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods when our most useful plants evolved, CO2 levels were about five times higher than today…Our crop plants evolved about 400 million years ago, when CO2 in the atmosphere was about 5000 parts per million! Our evergreen trees and shrubs evolved about 360 million years ago, with CO2 levels at about 4,000 ppm. When our deciduous trees evolved about 160 million years ago, the CO2 level was about 2,200 ppm – still five times the current level”, (http://co2coalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Rising_CO2__Food-Security-2-21-19-1.pdf).
Contemporary plant response to more food
With the slight rise in CO2 levels from pre-industrial 285 ppm to the 400-plus ppm of today there has been a 14% increase in green vegetation across the Earth over the past 30 years. This is the equivalent to adding green vegetation twice the size of the mainland US. https://www.thegwpf.com/matt-ridley-rejoice-in-the-lush-global-greening/. Where are the celebrating Greens, the self-proclaimed advocates for a greener world?
A warming planet is a more optimal planet
There has been only a mild 1 degree Centigrade warming over the past century. This is part of the longer warming trend that began 300 years ago when Earth began to emerge out of the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715. This longer warming trend is due to natural influences on climate, and that did not change with this past century (i.e. the same natural factors continue to overwhelmingly influence the present phase of this 300-year-long period of warming).
Our current world average surface temperature of 14.5 degrees Centigrade is still far below the normal and optimum 19.5 degrees C. average of the past hundreds of millions of years. For over 90% of the past 500 million years there has been no ice at the poles. That is a more normal and healthy Earth. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/03/earths-ice-ages/
With much higher average temperatures in the past there was no “climate catastrophe” or threat to life. To the contrary, life flourished.
A much warmer Earth will not “fry” because the planet has an efficient energy distribution system where heat rises at the tropics and is carried toward the poles. In a warming world the Equator does not become excessively hotter but rather the colder regions warm more and that benefits all life with extended habitats and less severe storminess because of less severe gradients between warm and cold regions. https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-weather-works/global-air-atmospheric-circulation.
Note also that researchers have discovered tropical tree stumps in the Arctic from past warmer eras. Remember too that cold weather kills 10-20 times more people every year than heat does. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/12/20/moderate-cold-kills/, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520193831.htm.
Plants, animals, and humans are benefiting immensely from this massive greening of our planet and the return to more normal and optimal conditions for all life. (“Average increase of 46% of crop biomass owing to increased CO2 fertilization”, Gregory Whitestone on Craig Idso research.)
Further, the actual influence of CO2 on climate warming is still not settled because many other natural factors have shown a stronger influence on climate and stronger correlations to the climate change that we have seen over the past few centuries (i.e. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere relationship).
Fact: There is no good evidence to support fear of looming catastrophe (i.e. “climate crisis”) in a much warmer planet with much higher levels of CO2. The benefits of more plant food and more warmth outweigh any potential negatives.
Consequent to this evidence, there is no good scientific reason for people to decrease their use of fossil fuels or to ban them. It is unscientific and irrational to “decarbonize” our societies or to embrace policies such as carbon taxes. CO2 is not a pollutant or poison that must be restrained. It is the most basic food of life and it has been in desperately short supply for millions of years. We should celebrate with all plant and animal life at the greening of our planet.
The above evidence affirms that there is no climate apocalypse on the horizon.
Insert: Craig Idso, scientist with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, regarding the EPA Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases (2009) and his petition to repeal the Finding:
“Multiple observations made over the past decade confirm the projected risks and adverse consequences of rising greenhouse gases are failing to materialize. The truth is, in stark contrast to the Endangerment Finding, CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use during the Modern Era have actually enhanced life and improved humanity’s standard of living. And they will likely continue to do so as more fossil fuels are utilized”.
“Multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies show (1) there is nothing unusual about Earth’s current warmth or rate of warming, (2) historic and modern records of atmospheric CO2 and temperature violate principles of causation, (3) model-based temperature projections since 1979 artificially inflate warming (compared to observations) by a factor of 3, invalidating the models and all their ancillary claims associated with greenhouse gas-induced warming, and that (4) key adverse effects of greenhouse gas-induced warming, including extreme weather events, temperature-induced mortality and sea level rise, are not occurring despite EPA predictions they would be worsening”.
“The petition also presents compelling evidence that CO2 emissions and fossil energy use provide critical benefits that act to enhance health and welfare for humanity and the natural world… ‘Without adequate supplies of low-cost centralized energy derived from fossil fuels, few, in any, of the major technological and innovative advancements of the past two centuries that have enhanced and prolonged human life could have occurred. Additionally, without the increased CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use over the past two centuries, Earth’s terrestrial biosphere would be nowhere near as vigorous or productive as it is today. Rather, it would be devoid of the growth-enhancing, water-saving, and stress-alleviating benefits it has reaped in managed and unmanaged ecosystems from rising levels of atmospheric CO2 since the Industrial Revolution began’”.
See also the hundreds of studies on CO2 at Idso’s site- co2science.org.
Note: “What is impossible to quantify is the actual percentage of warming that is attributable to increased anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2. There is no scientific evidence or method that can determine how much of the warming we’ve had since 1900 was directly caused by us and how much can be assigned to the continuing natural drivers of climate”, Gregory Whitestone.
“Let us dispel any notion that projected higher levels of CO2 will have a direct deleterious impact on humans… According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ‘CO2 levels may reach 900 ppm’ by 2100, which is well below the minimum threshold for negative impact to humans. The United States Department of Agriculture has set a maximum exposure limit for workers at 5,000 ppm and states that even at levels of 10,000 ppm there are typically no ill effects”, Gregory Whitestone.
The 130 ppm increase since the early stages of the Industrial Revolution is not an “alarming increase”. There is no “climate crisis”.
Note: Almost 32,000 scientists, many of the best scientific minds on the planet, signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Protest Petition which states, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth”.
Environmental alarmism/climate alarmism has become the latest historical eruption of apocalyptic alarmism. These apocalyptic alarms are present in the earliest human writing- i.e. the Sumerian Flood myth, also in the Egyptian ‘Return to Chaos’ and ‘Destruction of Mankind’ myths. Little has changed across history. The same primitive themes have been repeated all across history and across all the cultures of the world. Today, environmental alarmism has taken up the apocalyptic themes to traumatize public consciousness with the same old, same old as ever before. Alarmist media thoughtlessly and obsessively push the endless “end of days” prophecies of environmentalism.
Insert post from a discussion group: Most profound words ever spoken
“Here is a summary of the most profound set of statements/aphorisms ever uttered by any human person. Most profound? Yes, because nothing else so potently counters the inherited animal in us and points us to the heights of being human, to being god-like. These best-of-all human insights/ideals enable us to tower in stature as maturely or heroically human. They enable us to maintain our humanity in our “righteous battles against evil”.
“There are much earlier versions of these in, for example, the “Akkadian Father’s advice to his son” (circa 2000 BCE), and in Hindu versions circa 600 BCE.
“Do not retaliate with eye for eye justice but instead love your enemies because God does, generously giving sun and rain to both good and bad people. Do good to them that hate you, expecting nothing in return, because God does this… Treat others as you would like them to treat you… Be merciful just as God is merciful.”
“Nelson Mandela’s version of the above was expressed in his signature statement, “Let us surprise them (i.e. our opponents/enemies) with our generosity… (with our inclusion, forgiveness, kindness)”.
Solving life’s problems (previous comment from sections below, related to the climate alarmism movement)
How do we get to the true state of something (i.e. a problem in life)? We include all the evidence related to that thing, even evidence that is contrary to a growing public “consensus” on the problem that we are focused on. Too often, full understanding of problems is hindered by the tendency of some to shut down contrary opinions, to silence the challenges of skeptics, and to settle around a final and closed consensus that is no longer open to challenge or change. That short-circuits the learning process. Add here ‘confirmation bias’ that only includes evidence that affirm one’s beliefs and ignores or dismisses contrary evidence.
Any problem-solving project must always remain open to questioning and contrary evidence that might give us the fuller picture regarding the problem or issue that we are looking at.
We must also beware the ever-present tendency to present problems in terms of apocalyptic scenarios (worst case catastrophe outcomes) and thereby unnecessarily alarm populations. That has led to policy responses that do more harm than good in the long run. Real problems in life are frightening enough without the added apocalyptic-scale exaggeration.
Further, all problems in life should be set in longer-term historical trends that give us the proper comparative context.
This tendency to promote apocalyptic-scale alarms has been repeated many times over just the past few decades (see comment just below). Exaggeration of problems only distorts the true state of things and that does not help promote rational problem-solving approaches. It tends to result in outcomes that may harm more than help over the long run.
Over past decades alarmists have advocated policy responses that have caused more harm than good. Note the bio-fuels fiasco that resulted in rising food prices for the poorest people and further deforestation for palm oil plantations. Anti-GM foods activists (e.g. Greenpeace) have contributed to millions of deaths of children denied Golden Rice (https://nationalpost.com/opinion/bjorn-lomborg-trashing-rice-killing-children). Also notable was Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring that influenced the ban on DDT and resulted in tens of millions of unnecessary deaths in following decades (see ‘The Excellent Powder’ for the science and history of DDT).
Add also the fallacy of “presentism” noted by James Payne in ‘The History of Force’. This is the tendency to view some problem as unique and worse than all others before in history because it is happening right now and we are experiencing it firsthand.
Alarmism (previous comment from sections below on varied modern era alarms)
(Note: This comment relates to the larger historical background from which humanity has been taught to view arising problems in life- i.e. the long-term historical influence of apocalyptic mythology on human consciousness.)
Definition: Alarmism exaggerates real problems out to apocalyptic-scale thereby distorting the true state of things. Alarmism incites unwarranted fear in populations to embrace/support salvation schemes that have repeatedly caused more destruction than the imagined and exaggerated apocalypses in the original alarm.
Most critical, alarmism is fed by a desperate urgency to survive against some exaggerated threat of chaos, destruction, or death. That survival urgency then unleashes the totalitarian impulse to demand coercive purging of the threat in order to save oneself, one’s family, or to “save the world”. Alarmism incites the demand for “instantaneous transformation” as in the contemporary push for rapid decarbonization of our societies. Alarmism promotes insistent fear-driven demands that overrule freedom and undermine democratic processes (i.e. the banning of open debate, disagreement, skepticism). Alarmism tries to shut down, even criminalize, normal and healthy scientific challenge to unsettled dogmas.
Alarmism is an ideologically and mythically-driven view of life that is too often anti-science, anti-industrial society, anti-technology/chemicals/GM foods, and fundamentally anti-human (i.e. humanity as the virus/cancer on Earth that must be purged).
Over the past 70 years public consciousness has been repeatedly assaulted by apocalyptic-scale hysteria, via alarmism-oriented news media. There were global cooling and global famine alarms in the 1970s. Prophesies of the end of minerals, oil, and resources in general. Population bomb explosion and mass famine. Apocalyptic plagues such as SARS, bird and swine flu, ebola, AIDs, and mad cow disease. Environmental apocalypses in the form of ozone depletion, acid rain, chemical apocalypses (i.e. DDT and CFCs), and killer bees. Then technology-induced apocalypse via nuclear war, Artificial Intelligence, or Y2K. Then climate catastrophes and end-of-life scenarios via warming, rising oceans, extreme storms, wars, and the myriad other apocalyptic outcomes attributed to climate change.
As someone said, we have become “apocaholics”. Public story telling media- i.e. movies, TV, literature- all affirm the apocalyptic narrative. The number one dominant ideology of our modern world- Declinism- embraces the core theme of apocalyptic mythology, that life is declining toward some disastrous collapse or ending (see Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline in Western History). Just as across all past history, apocalyptic mythology continues to shape human consciousness toward excessive alarmism over the varied problems in life.
News media have become the major promoters of alarmism today. See “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis” by Sociologist David Altheide. Altheide rightly says that news media are not truth-tellers but are entertainers competing with the rest of the entertainment industry. What dominates entertainment? Apocalypse. Over recent decades more than 100 Hollywood movies had apocalypse as a central theme. So also TV, literature (notably, the “post-apocalyptic” genre).
Media promote fear by the manner in which they present real life problems- e.g. by using extremist language (e.g. catastrophe, crisis, disaster are common media favorites), by focusing on worst case scenarios, and by not providing larger contexts related to problems (i.e. alternative evidence).
World surveys also show the high levels of pessimism regarding the future that rule public consciousness. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/you’re-probably-too-pessimistic/ And we wonder why depression (i.e. fatalism, resignation, anxiety) is the world’s number one illness?
And all this in the face of overwhelming evidence that life is getting better on all fronts. See Humanprogress.org for detailed summaries, also Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment On The Earth, Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Indur Goklany’s The Improving State of the World, Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist, Ronald Bailey’s The End of Doom, Desrochers and Szurmak’s Population Bombed, and Hans Rosling’s Factfulness.
This site probes the apocalyptic myths behind alarmism that still dominate human consciousness and worldviews both religious and secular/ideological. See “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives” below.
A critical pattern to note in modern life
Watch how this pattern has played out over recent history in mass-destruction movements such as Marxism, Nazism, and now environmental alarmism.
First, there is the promotion of some public alarm, some problem in life that is exaggerated out to apocalyptic-scale. It is claimed to be the end of civilization or life, the end of days. Dates are set for the final collapse of things. Dates that have to be constantly revised forward because the end of days never arrives.
Next, the alarm- the threat of chaos, destruction, death- incites the survival impulse in populations. That leads populations to support salvation schemes that demand the coercive purging of the threat to life, and the demand for the instantaneous transformation of society. We see this today in the demand for rapid decarbonization of our societies. It is claimed that coercive purging and instantaneous transformation will restore some imagined lost paradise world.
The outcomes of these movements have repeatedly resulted in mass-death movements such as Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism. Environmentalism? Yes, just one example: Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring influenced the ban on DDT that resulted in tens of millions of deaths in subsequent decades.
The demand for coercive purging and instantaneous transformation undermines freedom and democracy with calls to silence and ban dissenters/skeptics, to shut down or even criminalize opponents to the alarmist/apocalyptic movement.
We improve life over the long-term by “gradualism”, by solving problems in life gradually through normal democratic processes that maintain the priority of individual freedom and rights against collectivist tendencies that have a history of harmful outcomes.
Project: The subhuman themes still prominent in the mix of human belief systems
Why go after the theological element in the mix, the God factor, the touchiest of touchy subjects? Well, because deity features are the most fundamental features that shape and influence all else in our belief systems. Deity is the ultimate Ideal and Authority that all else bends to in the end. Reform of religion that only deals with more peripheral elements will fail to promote fully humane outcomes over the long term if that reform endeavor does not also transform or purge the subhuman features at the core of religion. The central themes that define our gods are the themes that most potently shape our attitudes, emotions, and behaviors, more so than anything else.
Take a good close look at your own version of deity- whether you hold a religious or “secular” version (e.g. God, Gaia, Mother Earth, Planet, Universe, karma, Natural Law, Self-Organizing Principle, Natural Selection, etc.). Our deities are those things that we hold as Ultimate Ideals and Authorities. What themes define your god and how do those themes influence your thinking, feeling, and behavior? For example, the Mennonite theologians were right to note that Christian theology, with the feature of punitive deity, shaped Western justice toward a punitive orientation.
And yes, even Richard Dawkins has a god. He capitalized a reference to his deity in his book ‘The God Delusion’: “Natural Selection is the Source of All Enlightenment”. It is his ultimate explanatory entity, giving ultimate meaning to his worldview.
Quote from below: “This (the comment on the Jesus/Paul contradiction) is about a worldview that defines Ultimate Reality (Ultimate Ideal and Authority) in terms of non-retaliation, non-punitive Love, versus a worldview that defines its Ultimate Ideal/Authority in terms of retaliation, punishment. This is about the core orientation that we embrace, whether religious or secular, and its outcomes in our lives.” (From “Post from discussion group” just below)
The project here? Fully humanize your god, or Ultimate Ideal/Authority, according to what we understand today in common human rights codes and constitutions. This will involve the embrace of features such as the full inclusion of all, equal rights and freedoms of all, restorative justice approaches, and so on. Any ultimate Ideal or Authority must embrace such features of authentic humanity if it is going to help promote a more humane future.
Good basic science will include all the data available in order to fill out a complete big picture of whatever issue, problem, or thing is being looked at. Good science will take special care to include contrary data, skeptical insights, and encourage open-ended debate. It will encourage replication and falsification. It will not deny, discredit, or dismiss contrary data that does not affirm its beliefs/positions. It will not seek a final consensus, or claim “settled science”, or engage ad hominem attack against critics.
Good science will also place any issue/problem within the longest-term context possible, noting the longest possible trends regarding the issue being researched. This will help to counter the tendency to “presentism”, to view some issue only within shorter-term contexts that may distort things. That can result in wrongly concluding that our experience of some problem must be the worst ever, because we are not seeing much larger numbers over the longer-term which may reveal that our experience is normal or even milder than other states of the problem in the past.
Example: We are regularly warned that the climate change we are experiencing over past decades is the worst ever and the outcomes will be catastrophic to life, perhaps even foretelling the collapse and ending of life. But we have experienced a climate warming of only one degree over the past century. That has brought us to world surface temperatures that average about 14.5 degrees Centigrade today. We are told that a further few degrees of warming will be catastrophic.
But the long-term history of Earth shows that world surface temperatures over the past 500 million years averaged 19.5 degrees and life flourished during such times. That is fully 5 degrees Centigrade warmer than today. The link below refers to a recent discovery that affirms a similar discovery years earlier in the Arctic- i.e. evidence of an ancient tropical forest (i.e. stumps of tropical trees). That affirms the much warmer world of most of the past 500 million years, versus the colder average world surface temperatures of today- i.e. around 14.5 degrees Centigrade. A much warmer world means vastly extended habitats for life, not a “frying” world that destroys life. Keep in mind those great upwellings of heat at the tropics that carry warm air north and south to the colder areas, evening out temperature differences across the Earth. That is why for over 90 percent of the past 500 million years there has been no ice at the poles. That is a more normal, healthy world. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/04/02/traces-of-ancient-rainforest-in-antarctica-point-to-a-warmer-prehistoric-world/
So also, average levels of atmospheric CO2 were much higher over the past 500 million years (multiple thousands of ppm) and again there was no climate crisis or catastrophe. Instead, life flourished during such times. Detail below.
The ongoing project of this site: To deal thoroughly and fundamentally with the problem of alarmism and its harmful outcomes on societies (e.g. climate alarmism and its policies). In this regard this site probes a fundamental issue behind alarmist movements- i.e. those deeply embedded themes that have always been central to the human search for meaning. Consequently, this site focuses regularly on the apocalyptic complex of themes in both their religious and secular versions.
Those inherited mythical themes still dominate human belief systems in both religious and secular versions. The contemporary widespread embrace of apocalyptic mythology continues to render populations susceptible to endless public narratives of the ‘end of days’- i.e. the apocalyptic scenarios, so common, for example, from the environmental alarmism movement.
Science helps to alleviate alarmism with factual evidence but often science by itself still does not change many minds due to the deeply embedded nature of the beliefs that most fundamentally incite alarmism. Apocalyptic mythology is notable here for its persistence across history. That complex of ideas embraces, at its core, the theme of some great retaliatory, punitive, and destroying reality- whether God, Gaia, Planet/Mother Earth, Universe, or karma.
Apocalyptic distorts the nature of ultimate reality and life entirely. Embracing the apocalyptic myth influences people to exaggerate problems out to apocalyptic-scale (endless prophecies of the end of days) thereby distorting the true state of problems and pushing populations toward salvation schemes that often cause more harm (i.e. cures worse than the diseases).
Most critical, apocalyptic incites excessive fear in populations and the desperation for totalitarian responses. We see this in the demand for “coercive purging” of some imagined threat to life, the desperation for “instantaneous transformation” of society in order to “save life or the world” from threats that are always presented as imminent, with dates repeatedly set for the end of the world.
Despite the natural consequences of living in an imperfect world (i.e. natural disaster, disease, human cruelty) there has never been and never will be a punishing apocalypse in the sense of a final collapse and end of all things brought on by some greater destroying Force or Spirit. The evidence of our long-term history affirms that we will continue to succeed in improving the long-term trajectory of life by “gradualism” in cooperative democracy that respects the freedom of individuals. (Sources of evidence listed in material below- e.g. Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’.)