Solving religious violence: Humanizing our highest ideal and authority- deity. Slay the real monster, the Master Terrorist.

Contact: wkrossa@shaw.ca (site is copyrighted material)

“You become just like the God that you believe in”, Bob Brinsmead.

Much religious reform continues to protect “bad religious ideas” (Sam Harris’ term) at the core of religion. The humanizing project (making more humane) that has impacted much of the rest of thought and life must be taken to the very heart of religion- to deity. Religious gods must be fully humanized if we are to properly solve violence for the long term future. Anything inhumane or subhuman must be purged from humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity. Pathological views of God have long been used as the ultimate validation for pathological human behavior- to incite, inspire, guide, and validate such behavior. See comment on the belief/behavior relationship below.

This site is a project to combat alarmism in all its perverse forms- religious or secular. Alarmism generates fear and fear plays a central role inciting aggression and even violence (i.e. defense against perceived “threat”). Note carefully the role that theology has historically played in religious violence. This is one critical element to explore when trying to resolve the problem of religious violence.

Quote from below: “A central project on this page is to fully humanize theology (as in human perception of greater ideals and authorities); to purge deity of subhuman features such as animal-like vengeance, tribal exclusion and opposition, payback punishment, or violent destruction of outsiders. We already have the stunning discovery that points us in the right direction- the radical redefinition of deity with the ideal of absolutely no conditions love. A discovery that liberates entirely from the pathology of so much past mythology and religion.”

See Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas in next section just below, “Site Project: Conquering metaphysical monsters”. Also note how these bad ideas descend down through history in “The Big Picture: Historical descent of mythical/religious pathology”, following “Site Project…”. This helps to understand the never-ending eruption of religious violence across history.

I refer repeatedly on this site to the contradiction between Historical Jesus and Paul because this contradiction illustrates well the overall human story. It illustrates our emergence out of an animal past defined very much by attack and defense responses, later refined in the offense and retaliate responses of human existence and human views of justice as payback punishment. Contrast this with our struggle to become more human, more loving. Here we find people (i.e. Akkadian Father, circa 2200 BCE) advocating that we should respond to offense by forgiving offenders (“Do not return evil to your adversary, requite with kindness the one who does evil to you… be friendly to your enemy”). This new ethic of non-retaliation was further refined in the no revenge teaching of Historical Jesus (no more eye for eye), and people like Nelson Mandela.

To calm religious nerves- yes, I appear to go after Paul a lot, and especially his Christ myth, or Christian religion. Remember, we have Christ-ianity, not Jesus-ianity. Christianity is Paul’s religion, not a religion centered on the main message of Jesus. My complaint with Paul is that he rejected and buried the central unconditional discovery of Historical Jesus. He rejected Jesus’ view of a non-retaliating God (Matthew 5:38-48) and opted instead for the primitive retaliating God of all previous mythology and religion (note his theology in Romans 12- “Vengeance is mine, I will repay”). Paul then became the single most dominant influence on Western consciousness and society (noted by James Tabor, among others). For example, his views have shaped our justice systems as more punitive than restorative (see comment below by Mennonites).

My challenge to Paul’s retaliation theology is not intended as an “attack” on Christianity. It is more about pointing to the best thing in that tradition- the unconditional discovery of Jesus. He was the first person in history to fully humanize God with “absolutely no conditions love”. Recover that central theme of Jesus and you have the best of the Christian tradition. And yes, that discovery overturns entirely the atonement theology of Paul (i.e. meeting the supreme condition of sacrifice to appease a God that demands retaliation, payment, punishment- see Romans 1-5). but if you radically reframe Christianity around Jesus’ discovery that God is absolutely no conditions Love (no payment, no punishment, no sacrifice) that would be too disorienting for most Christians to embrace.

Section content: Why they Hate us (Fareed Zakaria documentary); Nowhere left to hide; What we are trying to do; Rethinking justice as unconditional; Tolstoy and Jefferson on the contradiction between Jesus and the gospels; Attack? Nah; Changing our thinking; Religion and violence; Sam Harris on bad religious ideas; The Jesus/Paul contradiction; Complaint re conditional religion; Pathology of Alarmism; Wealth creation enables environmental improvement; Sanders on climate hoax; Chronology argument for Christian contradiction; New comment from Bob Brinsmead; Notes on love (Can we find a better term than unconditional?); Large Hadron Collider documentary.

“Why They Hate Us” (Fareed Zakaria, CNN, May 24, 2016)

Fareed Zakaria took a look at what might be behind Islamic violence across the world today. Some of the participants in his documentary rightly cautioned that Islamic violence comes from a minority in the Muslim world and does not represent the attitudes of most Muslims, who are moderates. I would add to this caution that any discussion of Islamic violence needs to be placed within the larger context of Western religion. The bad religious ideas (Sam Harris’ term) that promote Islamic violence today have descended down from Zoroastrianism, to Judaism (see Old Testament), to Christianity, and from there into Islam. And of course, we can trace bad religious ideas back even further to the very first human literature (i.e. the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian mythologies).

I have traced this line of descent of bad ideas below in other sections (see, for instance, “Islamic violence”). There is startling evidence- i.e. The Priest and the Prophet, Joseph Azzi- that Muhammad’s mentor was a Jewish Christian priest (Ebionite). The mentor, Waraqa, taught Muhammad from the “Gospel to the Hebrews” which was roughly similar to the Christian Gospel of Matthew. He filled Muhammad’s head with ideas of a violent God, threatening violent punishment for unbelievers. Note the repetition in the Quran of an ever-watching and threatening God who will send people to Hell, just as Matthew repeatedly warns people of being “cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Consider also the fear/aggression link noted in psychological research)

Also, Muhammad affirms throughout the Quran that he accepted and absorbed the “other scriptures” (i.e. the Jewish scriptures and the gospel to the Hebrews). Islam is very much the direct offspring of Jewish religion and Christianity.

So yes, let’s not just point the finger at Islam.

But Zakaria appears hesitant to fully embrace the influence of this violent deity mythology. At the end of Why They Hate Us, he said that the root of the Islamic problem was not the theology but that it was political. And of course, the political element is present. So are the elements of economics, the claim of “Western social corruption”, and the personal histories of Islamic extremists (i.e. the criminal pasts of many jihadists). But do not dismiss the critical theological issue in this mix. We are talking about the myth of a violent, punishing God that is used to incite, inspire, guide, and validate violence toward unbelievers. You find the very same theological influence and violent outcomes throughout the histories of Judaism and Christianity. Read the rest of the opening comment here

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Site Project: Conquering metaphysical monsters… Finding ultimate liberation in absolutely no conditions reality and existence.

List of contents for this section: Getting to the point; Fighting Monsters; Bad Religious Ideas; The Big Picture (Historical descent of mythical/religious pathology); Defending unconditional; Islamic violence; Introduction; Herman on Declinism; The Christian Contradiction (brief version); Page Content Lists; Terror in Mumbai; Ancient Alarmism; Calming religious concerns; It Stands on Its Own (Who needs Jesus?); Muhammad affirms Jewish/Christian influence; The real battle against terror, and more.

Contact: wkrossa@shaw.ca Copyright @ Wendell Krossa

It is the single most profound shift in human consciousness- to reject the myth of some ultimate Threat behind life (i.e. the punishing gods of mythology and religion, the core retribution of Greek thought, or contemporary “secular” Threat mythologies- the revenge of Gaia, angry planet, or payback Karma), and to embrace the view that there is only an “absolutely no conditions Love” behind all. Unconditional takes our supreme ideal of love to its highest expression. It is the ultimate definition of authentic humanity.

Getting to the point… a project to counter alarmism of all forms, religious and secular. Alarm/fear is often at the root of “defensive” aggression and violence. Add this to your understanding of movements like ISIS. Bad ideas incite, inspire, guide, and validate bad behavior.

Explanatory note… This site assumes the following basic relationship between belief and behavior: that people look to ultimate ideals and authorities- i.e. gods- for inspiration, guidance, and validation of their actions and lives. They have done this since the beginning. Unfortunately, over history some of the most inhumane features have been projected onto our gods- things like tribal exclusion (the “us versus them” perspective- opposition toward outsiders, enemies), hatred and vengeance toward outsiders, the punishment of human imperfection, and the destruction of the enemy.

The outcome of projecting these base features onto our highest ideals and authorities is the creation of ultimate Monsters that validate the same inhuman features and behavior in people. We see this in religious violence across history, and still today. Violent, vengeful gods validating violence toward others. Therefore, you have to bring down the core metaphysical Monster in order to properly bring down the brood of related features that are validated by the core Ideal- religiously inspired hatred, tribal exclusion, vengeance, and the punishing spirit. In more positive terms- its not just “bringing down” something, but more about the full “humanization” of our highest ideals and authorities.

This site goes to the foundation of much alarmism over history- the myth of some ultimate Threat.

There has never been some great metaphysical Threat behind life. There have never been angry, punishing gods, and there is no vengeful Gaia, angry planet, or payback Karma- some greater metaphysical intention behind the common natural consequences of life. The idea of some great retributive force or punitive spirit behind life has been the greatest fraud ever beaten into human consciousness.

The result of this pathology has been millennia of wasted human endeavor on Salvationism, whether religious or secular. Think of the blood that has been shed in the sacrifice industry starting in prehistory, and the endless time wasted in religious ritual to appease threatening gods. Also include modern anti-development appeasement efforts and the trillions that this has cost humanity in hindered, blocked, or abandoned development projects- i.e. Earth goddess or Gaia appeasement. Add the emotional distress and despair from this mental pathology, and more. Salvationist responses have wasted immense amounts of human time, effort, thought, emotion, and resources that could have been better spent on improving the human condition from the healthy standpoint of “rational optimism”. Read the rest of the opening comment here

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The Christian Contradiction…and its chronology.

Note especially the comment in the next section below- “Irresponsible environmental alarmism”, and “Climate deniers”.

Content in this section: The Chronology (unconditional was first, Paul rejected it); The Christian Contradiction- arguably history’s greatest religious scandal; Bob Brinsmead comment from discussion group.

I’ve brought this comment up from the basement because it may be the most important material on this site. If you can get the central insight of Historical Jesus clear, in contrast to the entirely contradictory message of Paul/Christianity, then you have gained some real ground on understanding the greater human story, what went wrong and how it can be made right.

The Christian contradiction (Jesus versus Paul) intensely focuses the struggle between the unconditional treatment of all people (i.e. “love your enemies”) and the traditional payback justice approach toward others (justice as getting even, or punishment). The Christian contradiction illustrates how these two approaches have struggled to shape human ethics over history.

Our treatment of others is very much based on how we view others. Do we embrace the tribal dualism view of humanity as divided into opposing groups of good versus bad. Or do we hold the view that all people are equal members of one human family, all “magnificent beings”, despite our differing imperfections (see “What are we, really?” in next section below). Read the rest of the opening comment here

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A journey towards no conditions reality and existence… the journey starts hot.

Comment in this section: The journey starts hot; The “stunning” new view of ultimate reality (also- evaluating the NDE movement); Reframing Campbell’s outline of human story (the Hero’s journey); What are we, really?; The humanizing project; News cycles; Christ myth; Embracing Imperfection; Irresponsible environmental alarmism; Scattered Notes; Climate deniers.

The journey starts hot:

Dad called my sisters and I into the kitchen to stand in front of an early 1950s wood-burning stove. It had white enamel sides with a black iron surface. A pipe to vent the smoke exited the back and up through the ceiling. Dad stood beside the stove. He then tapped the tip of his finger on the hot iron surface for a micro-second and sternly warned us, “Just like that burns your finger, so your whole body will burn in Hell”. Yikes.

They say that we forget most of our experiences before six years of age. But some memories are so traumatizing that they permanently scar our consciousness. It happened when I was three or four, but that sermon-in-a-second was not forgotten. And it was supplemented in following years with repeated warnings that “God was gonna get us” for any bad behavior, for any unchristian behavior. Because we deserved to be punished.

I did not have the mental tools through my early life to think myself free of those “bad religious ideas” (Sam Harris’ term). Finding those tools took a lifetime of search and struggle. And before I scare off the religious readers, let me affirm that some version of atheism/materialism was never a serious alternative.

Sparked by those early years of religious trauma, I have spent my life trying to understand it all- religion, atheism, the spiritual, science, mythology, meaning, purpose, suffering, evil, good, love, exclusion/inclusion, domination/equality, life, and death, and more. What does it mean to be human? To be consciously human in an imperfect world? To see and feel beauty, goodness, love, but also randomness and accident, hatred and violence, sickness and suffering, and the rest that is life. Is there a better way to understand and explain all this to ourselves? Read the rest of the opening comment here

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The Humanizing Project (to make humane)

Comment in this section: Creating a Safe God- understanding roots causes of violence; Global Religious landscape quote; Further comment on Monsters of the Metaphysical; Linkages; Historical damage from alarmism; More on basic linkages; Brinsmead quote on vertical relating; Some reactions to unconditional; One more on links; The grand trajectory of the cosmos and life toward unconditional.

This humanizing project recognizes a common feature that has contributed to a similar problem in all the great religious traditions- the problem of violence in the name of God. Basic to good problem-solving is to consider all the elements that are involved in causing a problem, and then embrace the best means of solving the problem properly and thoroughly for the long-term future. This is about fully humanizing our validating ideals.

Quote from below: “Note that the suicide bombers are not shouting “Political oppression”, “Economic disparity”, or “Social corruption”. They shout “God is great”. Their motivating ideal is God, a God that affirms violence. See Terror in Mumbai in next section below.

And pay careful attention to the comment on avoiding “us versus them” tribalism over this violence issue. Note the larger Western Christian context of religious violence. It is about a shared inheritance of bad religious ideas and who passed on what to whom. In regard to this, note research on Muhammad’s Jewish Christian mentor, Waraqa, and the scriptures that he used to fill Muhammad’s mind with visions of violence (i.e. the Gospel to the Hebrews, roughly similar to the gospel of Matthew). Islam is just the latest major religion in the Western tradition that embraces violent gods promoting violence to punish and destroy unbelievers, with the inevitable consequence of promoting violence between people. Other sections below treat this in detail.

To the affirmative- despite the all-too-common outcome of violence, many in these religious traditions have learned to moderate their behavior for the better. But the core inciting feature of violent deity still remains embedded at the very foundations of these traditions, in their holy books. The pathology has not yet been properly dealt with and others advocating violence will continue to replace the current terrorist groups that we are repeatedly obligated to defeat. Read the rest of the opening comment here

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Site Comment: Section One

The true state of life- It gets better; Anti-science alarmism; CO2 alarmism; Plimer and Moore quotes on the benefits of CO2; Grappling with imperfection; Human narrative- Old story versus new story; Rethinking justice; Dogmatic meaninglessness; Defining the core of ultimate reality (some theological musing); Noble savage mythology; Authentic liberalism- its all about freedom; Alleviating irresponsible alarmism; Karma as payback myth.

What defines the overall trajectory of life and civilization- rise toward something better or decline toward something worse? Evidence on the complete picture and long-term trends shows improvement overall. There is much sound data to affirm hope. Life and civilization are rising toward a better future. Detail below. Critical to rational optimism is the evidence that humanity is in net terms creative and not destructive.

This site continues as a project to go after the foundational ideas behind all forms of alarmism, religious or secular, mythical or ideological. This is much more than some simple opposition between optimism and pessimism. It is about hard physical evidence and what this evidence shows about the complete picture of life and the long-term trends of life.

Life is story. Taking Joseph Campbell’s framework for human story (i.e. going out, fighting and conquering monsters, gaining insights to benefit others), I am going after a monster in human consciousness- the monster of vengeful, punishing, violent deity. That has been humanity’s supreme ideal and authority for most of human history. It is at the very foundation of much alarmism, past and present (note that ancient mythical themes have been given secular expression for the contemporary scientific era- see Declinism below). Read the rest of Section 1 here!

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Site Comment: Section Two

The foundational error in human thought- that there are punishing, violent forces or spirits behind life; A potent response to the original pathology- the discovery of absolutely no conditions love; Challenging the Greek view that retribution is at the core of reality; Main indicators of the true state of life- the status of forests, fisheries, soils, species; Confronting alarmism with hope based on the best available evidence; The problem of conditional religion; Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas; Theism/Atheism debate; A model of religion and violence; Countering the holiness distortion in Western theology; Inoculate children against religious pathology; Garcia on Alpha God; Pessimism as mental masturbation; Moore- celebrate CO2.

Contact: wkrossa@shaw.ca copyright Wendell Krossa

(Previous section summary: This site explores the foundational error in human thought since the beginning- the belief that there are violent and punishing forces, or spirits, behind life. That error was long ago expressed in primitive apocalyptic mythology, in the Sumerian Flood myth where the gods would punish and destroy imperfect people. The punishing deity myth then sparked the response of salvation religion- the felt obligation to appease angry, vengeful gods with sacrifice. Punitive deity is a profoundly anti-human mythology that views people as fallen, corrupt, and deserving punishment. The original error has re-emerged over history in endless new versions, both religious and secular. The Greeks stated it in their belief that retribution was at the core of reality. More recently, 19th Century Declinism, and its offspring of environmental alarmism, have expressed the punishing deity belief in angry planet mythology or the revenge of Gaia against humanity…

We have the potent response to that original pathology in the discovery that “no conditions” (unconditional love) defines the core of reality. This ideal liberates entirely from the monstrous error of punitive, threatening deity. Unconditional takes us to the heights of authentically humane understanding and existence. It purges entirely the worst features of past mythological and religious thought. It is humanity’s greatest discovery, ever. See also the comment on the mythology behind environmental alarmism. Read the rest of Section 2 here!

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Site Comment: Section Three

Violence- Getting ultimate inspiration and validation from bad religious ideas; Bad ideas promoting bad behavior; Christianity and violence in the Western tradition; Jewish Christianity shapes Islam; The great Contradiction- the unconditional theology of Historical Jesus contrasted with the supremely conditional theology of Paul/Christianity (or non-retaliation versus retaliation); The great scandal at the heart of Christianity; Chronology of the contradiction; James Robinson quotes on the contradiction.

(Note- It is understood that there are many diverse elements that are employed to incite terrorism, including political issues, economic issues, ideological or social issues, and personal issues. There is also the contributing influence of the inherited animal brain with its impulses to small band mentality, to separate and exclude the outsider, and to dominate and destroy the competitor. And there are varied critical responses to solving terrorism such as diplomacy and military action. One often neglected but important element in the mix is the religious element. This must be dealt with if solutions to violence are to be thorough and long term.)

Additional note: Someone asked me, “Are we heading for World War Three?” My response- Always maintain a view of the larger historical context and the long-term historical trend. That shows an overall decline in violence across the millennia. Violence has no long-term future. James Payne and Stephen Pinker are right that violence causes revulsion in most people and that results in more endeavor to encourage moderation and peace. The evidence affirms this optimistic view. While there will be more outbursts of violence, the trend is clearly toward lessening violence over time. The big picture and the long-term view solidly affirm hope. Read the rest of Section 3 here!

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Site Comment: Section Four

Landes on apocalyptic shaping Marxism and Nazism; Bad religious ideas; Lotufo quotes; Comment from discussion group- notes material from Nelson-Pallmeyer (Is Religion Killing Us?) and Ellens (The Destructive Power of Religion), among other comments.

Comment

Contemporary terrorism affirms again the powerful influence of theological beliefs on human behavior. This pushes us to acknowledge that some very bad features have been projected onto deity where they have long operated as validating ideals. Often validating behavior of the worst kind.

Just defending religion (theism) does not help to resolve this problem. It is important to understand exactly what ideas or features in religious systems have been helpful, and which have been harmful to human relating and existence. Recognizing such distinctions then initiates the project of eliminating the bad stuff. Religious traditions must engage fully the humanizing process that the rest of Western society has undergone over the past few centuries (transforming all ideas, beliefs, ideals, and behaviors into something more humane).

The fact that something is has long been considered “sacred” or “divine” should not prevent its transformation into something more humane.

The most destructive idea in history has been that of violent, vengeful, and punishing deity- the belief that God is engaged in a great struggle to destroy his “enemies” (Zoroastrian dualism). Is this claim of “most destructive idea” perhaps too extravagant? See evidence throughout this site. This is one of the core ideas that drives Islamic violence today. It is an idea that has long been embedded in the foundations of all three Western religions and it has also incited and validated violence throughout the histories of Judaism and Christianity. The myth of violent, punishing deity has profoundly shaped Western narratives, consciousness, justice systems, political policy, personal ethics, and more. The damage from this inhumane myth has been immense in terms of pathologies in human thought, mood, motivation, and behavior (see Lotufo below). Read the rest of Section 4 here!

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Site Comment: Section Five

Roots of alarmist/apocalyptic thinking; Quotes and summaries; A thought breakthrough; Grand narrative core themes (humanizing worldviews); Zoroastrian dualism (opposing and destroying enemies); The discovery; The futility of reforming religion (the stunning contrast between the unconditional teaching of Jesus and the conditional atonement of Paul); Standing up to the bully gods- the monsters of the metaphysical; History’s greatest Terrorist (violence in God); Getting to the root of violence.

Copyright Wendell Krossa

Note: Comments from previous years are preserved further below. They are repetitive of the main themes on this site but they also contain varied points that are not included in similar but more recent comments.

Material on religion and violence (i.e. religion inspiring or validating violence) is scattered throughout the site.

This page presents the big picture of unconditional reality and existence (no conditions, absolutely none). Unconditional offers an entirely new way to view ultimate reality, or what has long been termed the “spiritual”. Despite the secularizing trends in many societies over the past few centuries, the spiritual still plays a prominent role in shaping human perception, mood, and motivation (how we respond and act). In relation to this, unconditional offers a new humanizing ideal for human thought, behavior and existence. It is the most effective way to counter the destructive ideas or ideals at the core of much religion, ideals that have too often incited and validated the worst of human impulses.

This page also presents the developing history of unconditional reality. I note the first expressions of this discovery in some of the earliest human writing, that of the Akkadian father (2200 BCE), and then down through Buddhism, Hinduism, and other traditions. And on to the unique contribution of the historical Jesus (a person entirely different from the Christian Jesus). Historical Jesus was the first to get both the ethical and the theological dimensions of unconditional right. Read the rest of Section 5 here!

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Site Comment: Section Six

A brief history of punishment; Tackling Paul; Ethics and theology contrasted- Jesus versus Paul; Maccoby on Paul inventing his Christ myth; Ethics and theology compared; Central theme repeat; Paul’s reversal/retreat; Eliminating Zoroastrian dualism; Solving the root causes of violence; The wonder of being human; The most potent force against evil; CO2 or natural variation?; Secularized mythology- apocalyptic myth in modern ideology

New Comment

The unconditional treatment of all people presents an authentic way to peace on Earth. It goes to the root of the human tendency to violence and war- the impulse to retaliate and punish. And it challenges the foundational beliefs that have long validated retaliation and punishment.

Also, here is my review of Simon Joseph’s new book The Nonviolent Messiah read my review here . Simon argues convincingly that the new theology of Jesus- a nonviolent, non-punishing God- demands a radical rethinking of core Christian beliefs.

And here is an essay by Robert Perry on the unconditional theme of historical Jesus (Click here to read essay) . Perry expresses well the spirit of unconditional as found in the core teaching of the Palestinian sage.

New material at bottom just above the Joke Bin…includes comment on Harold Ellens’ “The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”. Ellens is helpful in pointing to the destructive impact of religious ideas but weak on the solution to this root cause of violence. He, and his contributors, get bogged down in endeavor to reform religion. My response- a conditionally oriented institution cannot properly communicate unconditional reality. New wine needs new wineskins.

See also “The Futility of Reform” that comments on the endeavor to reform Christianity and the confusion that is created by claiming that the teaching of Jesus is foundational Christianity. Not true. The teaching of Paul is original, foundational Christianity. Jesus, to the contrary, advocated a new unconditional theology that was entirely opposite to Paul’s highly conditional theology.

In my response to the Ellens material I have outlined the brief history of how our basest impulses to exclude and harm others are incited and validated by our highest ideals and authorities (often religious ideals and authorities). I note how ancient people projected their worst features onto their gods (i.e. violence as in atonement theology, us versus them tribalism, domination, and destruction of enemies), and then subsequently they used those gods to validate the inhuman treatment of others. To solve this root cause of inhumanity we need to thoroughly re-evaluate our most fundamental ideas and beliefs, especially religious ideas and beliefs, and discard those that do not fully express unconditional reality. We need to build unconditional into the very foundations of our thinking or worldviews, as the highest expression of authentic humanity. Read the rest of Section 6 here!

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Site Comment: Section Seven

The problem of deity; Defining and describing God; Reason for this page (leaving conditional religion for unconditional freedom); Former page Intro; Punishment thinking; I am a dreamer (my list of greatest things); Search for the real deal; Summary of core teaching (historical Jesus); Unconditional in the Jesus tradition; Dating the New Testament books and related sources; The great contradiction; Mandela’s example and the cost of unconditional; Unconditional is impractical?; Unconditional and the use of force (advice of Chinese sage); discussion on Mandela; Brinsmead on non-retaliation in relationships; Two essay summary; Humanity’s greatest mistake

The Problem of Deity

Over history an interesting relationship has developed between humanity and deity. People have long taken human features and projected them out to define deity, to shape their understanding of greater reality. We see this in ancient mythology- gods that fight, punish, destroy, and often in the pettiest manner and over the pettiest things. Primitive gods that were very much like the primitive people that created them.

But as we have become more humane so we have updated our conceptions of deity, making gods more humane also. We see this early on in the Pharaoh-gods beginning to exhibit kindness and mercy. We find it later in the Hebrews presenting God as compassionate. Over history we humanize our gods as we become more humane and as we come to understand better the core features of authentic humanity.

This human/god relationship has also worked in a feedback loop manner. People create their perceptions of gods and then use those gods to justify their own actions and existence. As anthropologists note (e.g. Clifford Geertz), people have long appealed to the divine to validate their own lives and societies. This can be seen in the BCE-era Israelites believing that God gave them detailed instructions on how to build their first temple, how to arrange their camps around that temple, and a vast array of other detailed instructions on things like clothing, diet, care and consumption of animals, sexuality, and more. Read the rest of Section 7 here!

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