Site project and themes- Combating alarmism (i.e. exaggerated threat, metaphysical monsters, and resulting unnecessary fear). Purging the monster of threat mythology/theology, in all its variations, from human narratives- i.e. violent, punishing religious gods, revenge of Gaia, karma, or angry planet. Threat theology has long been the central theme of conditional Salvationism religion with its burdensome demands for required sacrifices, obligated beliefs, rituals, and a religious lifestyle to appease and please the divine threat.
Threat theology has also been central to religious violence, and is evident in supposedly more “secular” ideologies like 19th Century Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism. There is enough to fear in life without the added psychic burden of some great Threat behind life. Remember the Japanese lady after the tsunami, saying, “Are we being punished?” Threat theology has generated far too much unnecessary fear, anxiety (i.e. “eco-anxiety”), despair, and depression.
This site explores the single most profound and liberating shift in human consciousness- to abandon the idea of some great Threat and to embrace the discovery of a “no conditions Love” at the core of reality. No conditions love presents an authentically humane definition of ultimate reality for the foundation of a new human narrative. Explore this ultimate liberation movement with us.
See new summary “The Science of Climate” (basic climate facts) further below in this opening section. Also at the bottom of this section, “The Ultimate Battle for Freedom (it takes place in our heads)”. And up from the basement- Joseph Campbell on human story (placing unconditional in Campbell’s story framework). “Love is all” is at the bottom of this section. See also material on religious violence in sections further below. The real battle of ideas takes place in the arena of theology, not just ideology. Julia Tyack also sparked some thoughts on what it might mean to practice unconditional in an imperfect world. Further, see new comment on “Making God Horizontal” (vertical/horizontal forms of relating).
Campbell offers the central discovery that enables the transition to mature adulthood- the centering of life on love. I reframe his story framework with “unconditional” in order to focus and clarify his point more. He uses “universal” and “unlimited” love.
The two most basic things…
The following two insights/discoveries offer a simple but potent anti-dote to an entire suite of “bad religious ideas” (see Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas below). These two are good for inoculating children against pathologies of thought, emotion, and spirit. They are drawn from varied spiritual traditions, both ancient and modern (detail throughout site).
The single most profound and liberating shift in human consciousness occurs when we abandon the idea of some great Threat behind life (i.e. divine retaliation, punishment, destruction) and when we embrace the truth of an absolutely no conditions Love at the core of reality and life (all ultimately safe, all included). And this is not a religious recognition. To the contrary, this insight overturns the very foundations of most historical religion, as a social institution promoting conditional salvation schemes to appease and please the angry, threatening, punishing gods. There is no need to appease or please authentic unconditional Love.
The second greatest shift in consciousness is to reject the related myth that humanity is corrupted and fallen (essentially sinful), and to embrace our authentic human self as the very same Love that is the core of reality. We are never separated from that Love. We are that.
And yes, we do have inherited animal brains with their base drives (i.e. the impulses to small band or tribal thinking, to domination of others, and the impulse to exclude and destroy competing others). But we “are not our brains”, to borrow and paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz’s term, and title of his book- “You Are Not Your Brain”.
How can I establish the above two discoveries as “the most profound or greatest” shifts in human consciousness? I set them against the background of the entire history of human mythology and religion (including contemporary ideology) that has endlessly told humanity that there is some ultimate Threat against imperfect humanity (i.e. angry gods, Greek core Retribution, angry planet/Gaia, or karma). Most human awareness over history has been oriented to the myth that something or Someone is pissed at the imperfection in humanity and life, and intends to punish imperfection (i.e. gods obsessed with imperfection in reality, in life, and in humanity). This is the greatest fraud ever beaten into human consciousness. Endless salvation schemes have been based on this lie, including contemporary Green religion salvation schemes.
I am particularly interested in the behavioral and social outcomes of bad religious ideas- for instance, how bad ideas validate religious violence.
When I trace the ancient historical roots of alarmist themes throughout this site, my intention is to expose the primitive nature of alarmist thinking. Apocalyptic alarmism can try to dress itself in contemporary science but it is still very much mythical-like thinking, and bad mythology at that.
From previous title: “We discover ultimate meaning and liberation in absolutely no conditions reality and existence. No conditions love defines the authentic human self or person. It is the fundamental human impulse”. Examples- Nelson Mandela, Charleston church shooting and response of church members, the movie Railway Man, and the other recent movie- Ben Hur. There are many more- for example, your average parent responding to imperfect children. Yes, unconditional love is everywhere.
My paraphrase of Joseph Campbell: “We discover the meaning of our lives by centering our lives in love. There we find rest” (Myths to Live By). And not just love as in common tribal love- love for family, friends, and members of our group. But universal, unconditional, unlimited love- love even for “enemies”. As a wisdom sage said, if you love just those who love you in return, then how are you any better than those with a primitive tribal mentality?
Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl argued that the primary human impulse was the impulse for meaning. I would take that further to suggest that the primary human impulse is for meaning that is found in love. And even more- our fundamental impulse for meaning is found in “unconditional” love, the highest expression of the ideal of love. We are only ultimately satisfied with an infinite unconditional Love. Anything less will not meet the fundamental human impulse for love.
Quote from below: “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 accidents, disease, and other forms of imperfection and suffering in life, are not punishment from some greater force or spirit…”
(Note: The recognition of a core Reality- God- that is absolutely Unconditional Love is the most potent means of resolving the age-old human fear of death.)
New summary comment:
Unconditional love is the ultimate definition of what it means to be authentically human or humane. We then reason from the best in humanity, out to define ultimate realities or deity/God (Bob Brinsmead). My summary of this reasoning process- “What is most humane is most true, and most real”. No conditions love is the highest reach of human imagination as to the nature of true goodness or love. Therefore it would be true of ultimate Goodness or God.
Another related line of thought also noted just above (a theological assumption): Unconditional informs humanity’s two most important and liberating discoveries. (1) That there is an incomprehensible unconditional Love at the core of reality (emphasis on the scandal and wonder of the “no conditions” adjective). And (2) that we are that same unconditional love, we are never separated from it and it defines our essential self. These two historical insights/discoveries potently counter millennia of “bad religious ideas” that have always posited a core Threat (i.e. vengeful, judging, punishing, destroying gods), and devalued humanity as fallen and essentially evil or ”sinful” (i.e. deserving punishment/destruction).
Unconditional is disturbing and disorienting to many people because it blows the foundations of historical religion- i.e. Salvationism- completely away. Religion has generally served as a social institution that presents the required conditions to appease and please the gods. In this regard, see comment below on the profound contradiction between the core message of historical Jesus (no conditions, no retaliation- i.e. no eye for eye) and the entirely contrary teaching of Paul, the creator of Christianity (i.e. the supreme condition of a divine sacrifice, supreme retaliation for refusal to meet the condition of believing).
Historical Jesus introduced a stunning new view of a God that overthrew all past religious belief. His God did not retaliate, punish, or destroy but, instead, included all- both good and bad- in God’s love and generosity. The love of God was entirely unconditional for all (see Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36). Paul rejected the God of Jesus and retreated to the retaliating, punishing, and destroying God of all primitive mythology and religion. He embraced the old deity that demanded conditions be met first (i.e. sacrifice) before he would forgive or include anyone. See Romans 12:19. This is the great contradiction at the heart of Christianity.
Appetizer for material below: There is no ultimate divine judgment, punishment, exclusion of anyone, or destruction. There is no ‘revenge of Gaia’, angry planet, or punishing karma. There is no great metaphysical Threat behind reality or life. Ultimately, there is only Love. Absolutely no conditions Love, at the core of reality and life.
The recognition of a core Love is essential to the ultimate liberation of consciousness. It involves the single most profound shift in consciousness and understanding, ever. But it potently counters millennia of unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt, despair, depression, and the “defensive aggression” (i.e. religious violence) that fear of metaphysical threat arouses.
(Other scattered notes: Too many subhuman themes remain embedded in the foundations of our great religious traditions and continue to serve as ultimate ideals and authorities for large segments of the human population. This fact informs my argument that all religion/theology must be confronted and fully humanized because it has played such a prominent role across history inciting alarmism, with its damaging outcomes for humanity, including violence. The project to radically reform theology/religion is central to resolving the pathology of alarmism and its harmful outcomes.)
(Further note on religious violence and its causes: We have inherited animal drives to retaliate, to tribally exclude others, to dominate others, and to destroy enemies/outsiders. Religious myths have long been used to incite and validate these base impulses by embodying them in ideas such as divine retaliation, divine exclusion (i.e. true believers versus unbelievers), divine domination, and divine destruction of the enemy/unbeliever. While it may be disorienting for religious people to contemplate, we see this sacred/animal relationship across history in our major religious traditions. People have always appealed to greater ideals and authorities to validate their lives and behavior. Hence, the importance of making sure that those ideals and authorities are authentically humane. We must take all of the animal out of God.)
This site explores the foundational themes behind alarmism. Alarmism is the highly irresponsible terrorizing of the public with tales of looming collapse, catastrophe, and the end of life. A central assumption behind this catastrophism mythology (i.e. apocalyptic) is the utter nonsense that “corrupt and greedy” humanity will be punished by some greater force or spirit. This primitive fallacy of punishing forces or gods that are pissed at human imperfection, emerged in the earliest human writing (e.g. the Sumerian Flood myth) and is still darkening and enslaving human consciousness today.
The threat of divine punishment is expressed most intensely in the horribly pathological and primitive myth of coming apocalyptic destruction.
We see apocalyptic alarmism most commonly in contemporary environmental alarmism, specifically climate change alarmism. Note that alarmist-in-chief James Hansen- the original promoter of modern climate hysteria, beginning around 1988- predicted over 5 years ago (2008) that it would “be all over in 5 years”. The list of his failed predictions is already long, and continues to grow. He joins other failed apocalyptic prophets like Paul Ehrlich.
Alarmists like Al Gore and James Hansen are doing just what the Evangelical fringe pastor Harold Camping did when he predicted the end of the world for December 15, 2013. These environmental alarmists keep setting dates for the big, final collapse toward catastrophe. They often use the scientific-sounding term “tipping point”, a secular version of religious “end of days” terminology. But what they are expressing is not science. It is primitive mythology. It would be more accurate for them to wear sandwich boards with the inscription “Repent, the end is nigh. The apocalypse is imminent”. And then, just like the religious extremists, keep setting new dates that will never arrive.
(Note: For more examples see … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/10/08/the-guardians-100-months-to-save-the-planet-was-always-just-a-fa/)
Exposing “Chicken Little” alarmism (buk, buk, buk, “the sky is falling”) is not to deny that there are real problems in life, and legitimate things to fear. But alarmism exaggerates and distorts such problems to unsolvable, catastrophic extremes. Alarmism expresses the spirit of denial when it refuses to recognize how well humanity has done in solving problems. See, for example, Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource for good evidence showing that life is not in decline toward some disastrous future. Evidence on the true state of the world shows continuing improvement- never utopian perfection but improvement- in all the main elements/resources of life.
(Insert: Also note, for example, the evidence of the three great emergences and trends of reality- the cosmos, life, and human civilization. All show a fundamental improvement over time. A basic trajectory from something not as good, toward something better, something more organized, more complex, and more suitable for humane existence. Human civilization reveals this most profoundly in the historical decline of violence and the growth of empathy in the human family. Detail throughout site.)
Alarmism is too often based on shoddy science that generates fear-based policy responses that have a track record of harming humanity and the environment- e.g. the bio-fuels fiasco that harmed the poorest people and led to more deforestation for palm oil plantations. Remember also Rachel Carson’s fear-mongering that led to the unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of people- mostly children- in the decades following the ban on DDT. Further, anti-GMO activism (i.e. opposing Golden Rice) has also caused millions of unnecessary deaths of children and related blindness (Vitamin A deficiency- see Bjorn Lomborg’s “A Golden Opportunity”). Lomborg rightly concludes that alarmism and its policy responses are not just irresponsible but immoral.
This site confronts the basic themes behind all forms of alarmism, whether religious or secular. These themes have remained the same since the beginning of human history. They have been deeply embedded in human worldviews across history and they still shape prominent public narratives today. I have detailed these themes below in comment such as “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas”. We will never experience the full liberation of consciousness and life until we confront and purge these primitive themes from human worldviews.
See buttons on top right for detailed lists of the content of all sections. Tolstoy’s quote on the need to clear away “garbage” in order to see truth, is just below. A central intention of this site is to open the way (i.e. purge “bad religious ideas”, and secular versions of the same ideas) in order to clearly see the core ideal and reality of no conditions love. It is all about liberation from fear, anxiety, and despair to fully embrace the truth that “love is all”.
Yes, I am intentionally introducing theology because it was foundational to the original errors (i.e. bad religious ideas) that incited ancient alarmism. Religious views of God have to be fully humanized- made fully humane- because theology is still vital to solving contemporary alarmism that continues to embrace mythological assumptions (i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry planet, punishing karma).
Getting to the point… This site engages the project to counter alarmism of all forms, religious and secular. Alarm/fear is often at the root of “defensive” aggression and violence- the “anger is an expression of fear” relationship. Add this to your understanding of movements like ISIS. Bad ideas incite, inspire, guide, and validate bad behavior. (See the full version of this comment in a section further below)
Explanatory note… This site assumes the following basic relationship between belief and behavior: that people look to ultimate ideals and authorities- i.e. God- 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” of tribal thinking- opposition toward outsiders, enemies), hatred and vengeance toward outsiders, the condemnation and punishment of human imperfection, and the destruction of the enemy or the “unbeliever”.
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 human violence toward others. Therefore, we have to bring down the core metaphysical Monster- the Master Terrorist- in order to properly bring down the brood of related features that are validated by the core Ideal- religiously inspired hatred, tribal exclusion of unbelievers, 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, and purging “bad religious ideas” from those ideals and authorities.
This site goes to the foundation of much alarmism over history- the myth of some ultimate Threat.
I’ll get right to the point now (again, this is from a longer section below)…
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 accidents, disease, and other forms of imperfection and suffering in life, are not punishment from some greater force or spirit.
The result of this threat 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”.
(Note: An economic study has estimated that excess government regulation since WW2 has slowed US economic growth over the past decades. The result is that average US incomes are only at $55,000, where they should be at about $330,000. Rupert Murdoch also noted the slow growth of the world economy and stated that was due mainly to excessive environmental regulation. Make your own connections of the dots between these things- environmental alarmism and the harm done to humanity. Note also that only where people are increasingly wealthy do they properly protect the environment. The alarmists have this relationship all backwards- that increasing wealth creation harms the environment.)
I continue…There is no need to make a payment for human imperfection, an atonement of some sort. There has never been any “broken relationship” with Ultimate Reality/God, no separation from our creating Source. There has never been the loss of an original paradise and decline of life toward something worse. There is no such thing as fallen, sinful humanity that deserves punishment. Huh? Yes, to the contrary, we began in primitive brutality and have gradually become something better, a more humane species, over our history. See detail below for the evidence-based narrative of the human story. Our gradual progress in the ever-imperfect historical process, our slow rise toward something better, does not deserve punishment. As Julian Simon said, our gradual improvement of life over time deserves praise and celebration.
Further, there is no cosmic dualism and there should be no related oppositional dualism in the human family- i.e. true gods versus false gods, and the consequent battle of true believers versus unbelievers, the exclusion of some people as “enemies”. There is no coming apocalyptic end to history, and no future judgment or ultimate destruction. Hell is simply the most psychopathic perversion ever conceived by human minds. These things have never been located in any kind of truth or reality. They are distorting fictions derived from humanity’s original great error- that the imperfection of life was punishment from the gods, therefore the gods were punishing, destroying spirits. They embodied the ultimate Threat behind life. That was humanity’s original great fail.
Note that sages like the Historical Jesus intentionally corrected this primitive error of punishing deity. He stated that the tower that fell and killed people, and the man born blind, were not incidents of punishment for sin. Paul, the creator of Christianity, did not get this critical point in Jesus’ teaching. To the contrary, he told the Corinthians that they were sick and dying because of their “sin”. He believed the primitive myth that a punishing deity was responsible for sickness and death. The scholars are right that Paul did not pay attention to what Jesus actually taught.
(Note: I understand that biblical research challenges the above incidents as part of the original teaching of Jesus. But they are still useful to affirm his central unconditional theme.)
The above denials of pathology- no this, no that- are some of the liberating conclusions that are derived from the single greatest human discovery ever- that there is an “absolutely no conditions Love” behind all. Despite the inevitable imperfection that life hands everyone- bad things happening to good people- there is an incomprehensible Love behind reality and life. And everyone is ultimately safe. This is the foundational argument of this site and it involves the single most profound shift in human consciousness ever, from viewing some grand retribution or payback behind life, to understanding that there is a transcendent unconditional reality behind all.
(This is the central issue in theodicy- the affirmation of Ultimate Goodness and Love despite the imperfection and suffering of life. Also, this was the central theme of historical Jesus, not Christian Jesus- that God did not retaliate against human imperfection, God did not punish. There was to be no more “eye for eye” because God did not engage eye for eye. God was unconditional love toward all.)
This is about hope that is based on good evidence and the finest historical insights of humanity. Its also about the Daddy in me telling others- don’t be afraid, don’t worry, its going to be all right. And yes, for everyone. There are no ultimate monsters. Ultimately, there is only Love. Inexpressibly wondrous Love at the core of all.
My further argument here- despite centuries of good reform effort, and the moderation projects of religious traditions, these horrific ideas of ultimate Threat of punishment are still preserved at the core of our great religious traditions, in our gods, and in secular systems of thought like contemporary environmental alarmism.
While these perceptions of Ultimate Threat provide diversionary entertainment as in modern apocalyptic story-telling, it should be recognized that they are entirely false perceptions of reality. There is no evidence to support them. They have too long distorted human perception of reality and hindered the full liberation of human consciousness and the human spirit. (The rest of this comment is in “Site Project” section below)
See “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas” in next section below. Also, “Islamic terror and God”. And the third section below “Solving Religious Violence”.
Added notes on alarmism and public consciousness:
Watch carefully the intense media focus on violence and the consequent distortion in public perception that results from this. The 24/7 obsession with violence can incite unnecessary hysteria and panic in populations. Note that after the coup in Turkey (2016) some politician wailed publicly that it seemed that “the world was falling apart”. Others have stated after episodes of violence in the US that it seemed that “we could lose our country” (i.e. Trump), or “the center might not hold” (i.e. Obama). Such irresponsible exaggeration from public figures undermines hope and can weaken the impulse for goodness in populations. It can push fear to the foreground and foster defensive aggression in place of love.
(Note: In general, Pres. Obama has offered a more optimistic outlook on the overall world situation, aside from his exaggerated climate alarmism).
(Another note: Stephen Hawking has again recently (September 17, 2016) slipped off into alien alarmism, his own version of primitive apocalyptic mythology. “There is an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth”. So do not respond to little green men with big eyes when they try to contact you. Apocalyptic mythology has always made the brightest scientific minds look silly. Remember Chicken Little.)
Do just what Julian Simon did so well in Ultimate Resource and place all violent events in the larger context of life on Earth and within the long-term trends of history. The full context and long-term trends show the true state of things, and research on the true state of humanity reveals that violence has decreased remarkably across our history. Life overall has improved immensely despite remaining eruptions of violence.
(For detailed evidence see James Payne’s History of Force, and Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. Also note: Simon focused on natural resources, not violence, but he presented the best way to get to the true state of something- good science will include the full context and the long-term trends. This will help to check the all-too-common tendency toward “confirmation bias”- accepting only evidence that affirms one’s beliefs and dismissing or denying contrary evidence.)
David Altheide in his book “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis” helps us to understand that news media obsess over violence and do not present a proper context in which to understand continuing episodes of violence. The larger context and longer trends enable us to maintain the hope that love does indeed win over the long haul. Our efforts to lessen violence do work and they succeed across the long term because violence has decreased remarkably over history. Media rarely, if ever, present this larger context of improvement that affirms hope.
(Note: See report by Stephen Pinker- “The World Is Not Falling Apart”- a report on the world trends that show decreasing violence, at www.slate.com)
This also raises questions about general public story-telling with its endless emphasis on threat and fear and how this impacts the public consciousness. Note especially the continuing prominence of apocalyptic themes in contemporary public narratives. These apocalyptic themes are still central to our religious traditions. This adds to the widespread sense of living under threat and the nagging fear that such threat engenders, fear that is stirred by the punitive theology in the great background narratives or worldviews of humanity. And fear then re-enforces the primitive offense and retaliate response in people, along with the tribal impulse to defend aggressively against some enemy. Think of what this does to human consciousness and life. Apocalyptic fear-mongering has validated endless “rivers of blood” across human history.
Again, a clear grasp of unconditional is potent to help resolve this distortion in human perception and its harmful impacts on life.
All treatment of bad ideas on this site is an endeavor to clear away the rubbish so that we can clearly see the core Love, just as Tolstoy argued. See next sections below.
Bulletin, as religious violence continues to erupt across the world…
It is disorienting for religious people, notably Christians, to embrace this fact- that the bad ideas in their traditions play a significant role inciting, inspiring, guiding, and validating violence. Just one example- Richard Landes, in ‘Heaven On Earth’, has done an excellent historical study showing how Christian apocalyptic millennialism influenced Marxism and Nazism, along with other movements in past centuries. He states that if you dismiss someone like Hitler as just a psychopathic madman then you do not properly understand the main influences on that mass death movement and you do not prepare others to see similar movements emerging in the future. You do not then thoroughly solve such problems for the future.
Landes concludes (again, this is just one bad idea in one historical example), “The study of Nazism’s appeal, of Hitler’s charisma, belong to the field of millennial studies… (Hitler) is not so much the measure of the unthinkably, the impossibly evil, as he is the measure of how… a nation, a people, seized by, ridden by a millennial passion, can become one of the great dealers of death in human history” (p.388).
Note also how apocalyptic themes incite fear via environmental alarmism (the historical descent of these themes is through 19th Century Declinism). The outcomes of such exaggerated fear-mongering have been immensely damaging to humanity and to all life. See detail throughout this site.
This is an argument made repeatedly on this site- that bad religious ideas continue to exert a harmful influence on humanity. We see this today, for example, in Islam, just we have seen it in Christianity and Judaism over past history. And after arguing this point, we offer a potent alternative to help solve the madness of religious violence, for the long-term future. Our alternative is applied especially to the worst of all bad religious ideas- the pathology of violence and vengeance in deity.
The Science of Climate: What is the actual evidence for alarming the public over rising CO2 and rising temperatures, two of the most critically important benefits to life?
(Note: A valuable source below is the brilliant summary of the benefits of more atmospheric CO2, in Paul Driessen’s “Carbon Dioxide: The Gas of Life” at https://www.cfact.org/pdf/CO2-TheGasOfLife.pdf. Patrick Moore, formerly of Greenpeace, has done similar good research on the benefits of more CO2. Also, note that the actual “denial” in climate science is from climate alarmists. We are watching a large-scale public example of “projection” as alarmists deny good evidence to the contrary that other natural elements influence climate more than CO2 or any human influence.)
Climate alarmism continues to be exposed for exaggerating problems, using shoddy science, and even presenting outright falsehoods. For instance, recent research on the claimed devastation of coral reefs discovered that no such loss actually occurred (see recent Global Warming Policy Foundation newsletter reports at http://www.thegwpf.org/). The oceans have not risen any faster than historical rates for this interglacial. The “far more severe hurricanes” that we were told would swamp our coastlines has instead become a notable historical decline in severe hurricanes. And where are those huge temperatures increases we were terrorized about? Oh, the models were all wrong. Typical of all apocalyptic extremism, none of this alarmist exaggeration has come true. (Note: This is not to deny that Nature will continue to throw extreme natural disasters at us, just as it has always done.)
Matt Ridley notes the exaggerated claims that Arctic ice would disappear in summers. For instance, NASA scientist Jay Zwally told the Associated Press in 2007 that “The Arctic Ocean would be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012”. Al Gore predicted similar extremist scenarios for the present. Ridley then adds that the ice of the Arctic Ocean has disappeared during summer in the ancient past, roughly over the period from 10,000 to 6,000 years ago. That did not harm life or lead to some tipping point toward ever-more rapid warming, said Ridley. In fact, life flourished during that time. See http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/arctic-sea-ice/.
Yet the “war on carbon” continues. And the burden on average people increases with rising energy costs through such things as gasoline taxes. All this public policy is based on exactly what ‘settled science’?
The best science includes all evidence- the complete “big picture”- and looks at the longest term trends that affect any element of nature. Good science does not indulge “confirmation bias” that ignores, dismisses, or denies contrary evidence that challenges its views and assumptions. Good science does not embrace some “final consensus” and cease further research and discovery (see Lawrence Solomon on how the media story of a 97% consensus was reached at http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats). Remember, the church at the time of Copernicus and Galileo also held a dogmatic consensus that refused contrary evidence. We are seeing this same totalitarian impulse today in the attempt by some to use legal means to shut down scientific debate (i.e. US Attorney General trying to prosecute those presenting contrary science.)
First principle: CO2 has a “warming effect” or influence. And when a warming period is occurring, then CO2 is contributing to the warming. No one denies this. In fact, the so-called “denier” climate scientists have done some of the best research on climate physics.
But one basic climate fact- climate always changes. It is not a static system. And climate has changed far more rapidly and intensely during past events than it has in our time. Also, it is believed that the Medieval Warming Period was warmer than the recent warming of the late 20th Century (http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/10/02/review-paper-finds-global-medieval-warm-period-was-significantly-warmer-than-today-when-co2-was-safe/).
The big question in the climate debate has always been- what actually causes climate change? The claim that CO2 was dominantly or solely responsible for the warming of 1975-98 has not been supported by evidence. If CO2 was causing that slight warming (0.3- 0.5 degree Celsius), then why has the warming ceased now for almost 20 years, while CO2 continues to rise? What happened to that dogmatically asserted claim that CO2 was solely responsible for that episode of climate change? See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3624242/There-IS-a-problem-with-global-warming…-it-stopped-in-1998.html ; http://www.wsj.com/articles/matt-ridley-whatever-happened-to-global-warming-1409872855.
And yes, despite widespread denials from the alarmist community, even climate alarmist-in-chief James Hansen has admitted that the warming has stopped. Phil Jones, the former director of the Climate Research Unit in Britain, has also acknowledged the halt in warming. (Note: The strong El Nino of 2015-2016 does not define the overall trend of the past two decades.)
Natural or human?
Research over the past few decades has discovered that other natural factors influence climate and overwhelm the CO2 warming effect. For instance, the sun has been in an extended solar minimum for the past two decades. It went “dead” around the same time that the 1975-98 warming period stopped. It has now been in an extended solar minimum that scientists are comparing to the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, the intensely cold period known as the Little Ice Age. Russian, Japanese, Israeli, and other scientists are now predicting the possible onset of an extended cooling period. See https://astronomynow.com/2015/07/17/diminishing-solar-activity-may-bring-new-ice-age-by-2030/ ; http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/06/29/scientists-and-studies-predict-imminent-global-cooling-ahead-drop-in-global-temps-almost-a-slam-dunk/. See also http://www.thegwpf.com/as-cosmic-rays-intensify-new-study-suggests-sun-even-more-important-than-thought-on-earths-climate/ and http://www.dtu.dk/english/News/Nyhed?id=b759b038-66d3-4328-bbdc-0b0a82371446 both excellent summaries in the 30/08/16 issue of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s newsletter.
The relationship between cosmic rays, solar radiation, and subsequent cloud formation shows stronger correlation to recent climate changes than the CO2 influence (see, for instance, Henrik Svensmark’s ‘The Chilling Stars’). Other natural elements- the Pacific Decadal Oscillation- also show stronger correlation to climate changes over the past 150 years than CO2 (see research of Dr. Syun Okasofu and others, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/21/setting-the-record-straight-on-the-cause-of-pause-in-global-warming/ and https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/07/climate-change-is-dominated-by-the-water-cycle-not-carbon-dioxide/).
The computer models predicting a multiple-degree rise in temperature for recent and future decades have all been proven wrong by actual observed evidence (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420783/Worlds-climate-scientists-confess-Global-warming-just-QUARTER-thought–computers-got-effects-greenhouse-gases-wrong.html). The models are no longer credible. The warming of 1975-98 was only about 0.3-0.5 of a degree Centigrade. The total warming of the past century was about 1 degree Centigrade and that was part of the natural rebound from the earlier 17 to 18th Century descent into the severe cold of the Little Ice Age.
Benefits of more atmospheric CO2:
Measured since 1980, there has been a 14% increase in plant productivity across the Earth, due to the slight rise in CO2 from the pre-industrial 285 ppm to 400 plus ppm today (http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-greening-of-the-planet/). Today plants are thicker, stronger, more abundant, and have more efficient water uptake (i.e. more able to withstand drought conditions- see detailed CO2 research at http://co2science.org/). The Earth is greener and healthier today. Animal and human life has benefitted from more plant life (i.e. increased food supplies, increased crop production).
For the past millions of years we have been in an “ice age era” which has resulted in abnormally low levels of CO2 and abnormally low surface temperatures (the relationship here is that cold temperatures cause cooling of oceans that then re-absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, lowering atmospheric levels of CO2). This has stressed plant life, and all life. Previous to this ice age era, average surface temperatures ranged in the 20-25 degree Centigrade range for much of Earth’s history (http://www.lakepowell.net/sciencecenter/paleoclimate.htm). And CO2 levels were in the 1000-1500 ppm range, or much higher. Life did not suffer under such conditions but flourished (see Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth” for paleo-climate detail). There was no catastrophic warming or destruction of life. The more recent pre-industrial levels of CO2 at approx. 285 ppm were not good for plant life. Plant life was starving. Those were sub-optimal, subnormal, and unnatural conditions for life. This evidence turns the alarmist narrative on its head- rising CO2 and rising temperatures are not a threat to life. They are a return to more normal and healthy conditions for life.
Another basic climate fact:
It is embarrassing to have to say this because educated scientists should know better, but CO2 is not a pollutant or poison. CO2 is not harmful to humans till it reaches 5000 ppm or higher. More important, CO2 is the main source of food for plant life (over 90% of plant food comes from atmospheric CO2). Farmers give their greenhouse plants CO2 in the 1000-1500 ppm range and plants love such increased food supply. They respond with increased plant productivity. As noted at the top, see this excellent summary of the benefit of more CO2 at https://www.cfact.org/pdf/CO2-TheGasOfLife.pdf
More CO2 will enhance plant growth and health, increase agricultural production, consequently save wilderness, and much more. More CO2 will “save the world”. The contemporary alarmist “anti-CO2 narrative” has the science all backwards. Yet major damaging public policy continues to be based on such shoddy alarmist science.
Surface temperatures are also still subnormal, sub-optimal, and unnatural for life on Earth. We are still in an ice age era with average surface temperatures of about 15 degrees Centigrade, barely above the average 12 degrees Centigrade of ice age glaciations. For the past 700,000 years we have had roughly 100,000 year cycles with approximately 80- 90,000 years of glaciations punctuated by 10-20,000 years of inter-glacial warming. As noted above, past average surface temperatures have been in the higher 20 plus degrees Centigrade range for long stretches of Earth’s history. For 75% of Earth’s history there was no ice at the poles. That is a more normal and healthy condition for life on Earth. Scientists have even discovered the stumps of tropical trees in the Arctic. That is a more normal and natural Earth.
Further, Earth has a complex system for distributing heat energy across the world. More warming tends to decrease the difference between equatorial regions and the poles. That should decrease the severity of storm events such as cyclones and tornadoes that depend on more severe gradients in temperature fronts that meet from region to region. More warming also tends to decrease the difference between summers and winters, and it tends to decrease the difference between night and day temperatures.
Ian Plimer also notes that a warmer Earth, with more evaporation, means less drought conditions and events. The alarmists have this relationship all backwards.
There are also complex feedback mechanisms in climate that keep surface climate within the optimal range to support life (see, for instance, Roy Spencer’s research- i.e. “The Great Global Warming Blunder”- and this summary at http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/07/10/dr-roy-spencer-science-knows-almost-nothing-about-global-warming/).
With our current slight warming- again, part of the natural rebound to more optimal conditions from the bitterly cold Little Ice Age- there has been no increase in extreme weather events and no increase in the “rate” of sea level rise. Sea continues to rise gradually just as it has since the end of the last glacial period, and now totals some 120 meters of rise over the past 15,000 years.
Based on the best evidence that we have on climate, we cannot make the argument to engage a “war on carbon” (i.e. Richard Branson of Virgin), and decrease human emissions of CO2 in order to “save the world”. The war on carbon is anti-science irrationality gone extreme.
As one scientist said, “It is absurd to think that you can control the climate by adjusting a CO2 knob” (http://notrickszone.com/2012/05/09/the-belief-that-co2-can-regulate-climate-is-sheer-absurdity-says-prominent-german-meteorologist/#sthash.inpIvsmG.dpbs). Another scientist, putting the CO2 influence in proper relationship to other natural influences on climate, said that the CO2 effect amounted to only “a fart in a hurricane”.
The climate alarmist narrative denies the above evidence and exaggerates and distorts the CO2 effect and the human contribution to this. The result has been fear-based policies that have harmed people, burdening them with rising energy costs in places like Britain, Germany, and elsewhere (http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2013/06/Parliamentary-Briefing-Energy-Bill-Briefing.pdf).
It’s time to end the hysteria over natural climate change, to understand better the complete science of climate change, to embrace the astounding benefits of more atmospheric CO2, and quit burdening people with unnecessary additions to energy costs.
Grade one school children in the future will look back on this time of apocalyptic-like climate hysteria and shake their heads at leaders who abandoned basic science and became caught up in the Green religion madness. Climate alarmism has been more about apocalyptic mythology than good science. Responsible science should check the tendency to exaggerate and distort the actual state of things. Wendell Krossa
Additional comment from section below- “A journey towards no conditions reality and existence…”, subsection: “Irresponsible environmental alarmism”.
“Alarmism is the highly irresponsible traumatizing of public consciousness. It persistently exaggerates problems to apocalyptic scale. That is shoddy science. The problems of our world are serious but it does not help to engage exaggeration and distortion that cloud proper understanding of what exactly defines any problem. Much like James Hansen telling the public in 2009, “We have only four years to save the Earth”. Or Obama scientific advisor John Holdren stating that one billion people could die from the weather by 2020. Others have hysterically claimed that ocean fisheries would collapse by 2048, or that half of all species would be extinct by 2100. And on and on. Chicken Little squawkers claiming that the sky was falling. You can multiply examples to fill books.
“Green alarmists have become expert at crisis creation, a form of psychological terrorism. How pathetic that children today must suffer from “eco-anxiety”. Alarmists first terrorize the public with exaggerated catastrophe scenarios and then push their salvation schemes on the frightened population. Much like the priests of old, terrorizing congregations with Hell-fire, then offering salvation if people would submit to their religious systems and authority. And they laughed all the way to the bank.”
Intro to New Comment
(Note: Ayaan Hirsi Ali said that she did not find complete liberation until she rejected the belief in Hell. Then she was free from fear. But that is just one “bad religious idea” that needs to be rejected in order for anyone to find full freedom)
I have approached the theme of this page from every possible angle- noting the pathology of bad religious ideas, the religious violence that bad ideas incite or validate (i.e. violence in deity- the Master Terrorist), the damage that bad ideas cause to human consciousness and society, and the corrective to such pathology, the healing and liberating alternative of no conditions reality. We never properly solve the problem of bad ideas and bad behavior until we fully humanize (make fully humane) the highest ideal and authority of humanity- God. This is where the ultimate “battle of ideas” is fought and won.
The ultimate battle for freedom (the liberation movement that takes place in our heads)
Serious time, money, and creative effort have been invested to portray and celebrate the great military battles of human history. Many of those conflicts were battles for conquest and domination of weaker enemies, or battles for land and resources. Others were struggles for freedom from oppressors. We rightly celebrate the great human struggles for freedom.
But our greatest battle for freedom has not yet been fought and won because humanity’s greatest monster and oppressor has not yet been fully confronted, conquered, and defeated/eliminated. Our greatest monster ever was enthroned in human consciousness right at the beginning of our history in the myth of Ultimate Threat in deity (i.e. anger, vengeance/payback, punishment, exclusion, and destruction in God). This was the embedding of the idea of destructive violence in humanity’s highest ideal and authority.
Till this very day, that monster has not been slain and purged from human consciousness. The Monster of threat theology first appeared in the Sumerian Flood myth where the god Enlil planned to destroy humanity. It re-appeared in the Egyptian myth of The Destruction of Mankind. It was central to Zoroaster’s world-destroying God. We see it in the genocide-commanding God of the Hebrews, in Christianity’s apocalypse and Hell God, in Islam’s unbeliever-hating and Hell-affirming God. And that monster is still present in the “secular” mythology of the “Revenge of Gaia”, angry planet, or punishing Karma myths. Our greatest monster has always been the threat, threat, and more threat of divine condemnation, retaliation, judgment, exclusion, punishment, and destruction. What do you think this endless threat that has been epitomized in humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity- does to human consciousness? It incites the entirely unnecessary pathology of fear, anxiety, depression, despair, and even “defensive” aggression against threatening ‘enemies’.
This great metaphysical monster of ultimate divine Threat is still protected in our major religious traditions and that protection under “the canopy of the sacred” blocks the full liberation of human consciousness. Divine threat mythology continues to enslave people at the deepest levels of thought, emotion, motivation, and response.
An entire suite of related ideas have been developed around this central idea of a threatening God (see Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas below). These have infected most human worldviews across history. This religious pathology has long oppressed the human spirit and held us back from the liberating discovery that there is only “no conditions love” at the core of reality and life. This discovery is our ultimate liberation. It frees us to live as truly human.
Threat theology continues to darken the background of human consciousness and prevents our full appreciation of the liberating Love at the core of all.
Just to laser in on this…
The battle to conquer our greatest monster- divine Threat- and thereby gain ultimate liberation, takes place in the human mind and spirit, in the arena of human consciousness and thought. This “battle of ideas” has to do with all those subhuman and pathological ideas/beliefs that shape human perception, emotion, motivation, and response to life, the themes that shape human behavior and society. We have inherited these ideas mainly via mythologies and religious traditions, and now via ideological systems.
How do these bad religious ideas enslave people and hinder the proper development of humanity? Our ancestors had emerged out of animal existence to become more humane in human civilization. But they, and we, still possessed an inheritance of animal drives and responses- a core animal brain with the impulses to offense and retaliate (i.e. the attack and defend of animal existence), the impulse to tribal exclusion and opposition (small band against other small bands), to alpha domination of the weaker, and the impulse to destruction of the competing other.
These base features of animal existence were then projected out to explain and define the gods. They were projected onto early gods to create divine predators that demanded subjection (people created to serve the Alpha gods- see, for instance, Alex Garcia’s Alpha God), gods oriented to tribal exclusion and opposition (true believers versus unbelievers), gods oriented to revenge and punishment of offense (animal-like retaliation or payback), and to destruction of the outsider/unbeliever. The early gods were created with these animal-like features that then validated the very same animal drives in people. Thus the early human creation of the “sacred” served to enslave people to their animal inheritance. It prevented liberation to be fully human in emerging human civilization. And yes, other more human features were also projected onto the early gods- features like mercy, kindness, love. But the darker features remained and often distorted and buried the nicer features. Nasty too often overwhelms nice.
This animal/sacred relationship continues even today as these animal-like features are still embedded at the core of contemporary views of deity, in all our dominant world religions.
So the religious embodiment and validation of these base animal features has long affirmed the same base impulses in people and has continued to enslave us to animal-like thinking and behavior. Conquering these animal features in human mental life and worldviews is essential to our greater struggle to free ourselves from our animal past in order to live as truly human. It is especially important to purge these features from our conceptions of the divine, our highest ideals and authorities. (Pardon my blunt expression of these things. I am not a sophisticated person and as I age, I appreciate simplicity and clarity more and more. Getting right to the point.)
My argument: We have yet to fully slay the real monster and oppressor in human existence. It is not some human monster or oppressor, but the great gods of mythology and religion that have long embodied primitive features from our ancient past, inhuman ideas that validate the dark impulses that reside inside each one of us. Authentic liberation must involve slaying the real monster inside us, the sacred beliefs that have long validated our darkest impulses- the inhuman impulses to tribal exclusion, vengeance, domination of others, and destruction of outsiders/enemies. The greatest ever struggle for liberation is a struggle with deeply embedded animal impulses and similar validating ideas, often sacred ideas.
(Note: This sacred/animal relationship is how some define “archetypes” of the subconscious- i.e. themes that express deeply embedded impulses or propensities)
Summary rehash: The animal features of our ancient past were long ago projected onto early gods, and embedded in religious belief. These animal features include such things as vengeance, offense and the response of retaliatory justice (eye for eye justice), tribal opposition and exclusion (good band versus bad band), and domination and destruction of the outsider. These inhumane and enslaving animal features were embedded in “bad religious ideas” and they have remained there ever since. Again, see Alex Garcia’s “Alpha God”, among others, for evolutionary biology detail.
Liberation is to be found in the truly humane ideal of unconditional love, the epitome ideal that expresses the height of authentic human thinking and existence. Unconditional love is the single most potent feature to fully liberate human mind and life from the worst features of our animal past. With its associated features of unconditional forgiveness of all, unconditional inclusion of all, and unconditional generosity toward all, unconditional love overturns the base impulses to vengeance, to tribal exclusion and opposition, to domination and destruction of the “enemy”. It frees us entirely from the inhuman or subhuman. It frees us to be fully human in thought and behavior. That is authentic freedom. Unconditional love must be the supreme definition of Ultimate Goodness (God). Nothing is comparably humane.
Our greatest battle is yet to be fully engaged and won. Unconditional is the potent weapon to slay the oppressing, enslaving monster of threat theology and win our greatest battle for freedom.
Up from the basement below, from the section- “A journey toward no conditions reality and existence… the journey starts hot”…
Heads up: I am going to reframe Joseph Campbell’s story outline in terms of unconditional love as the central issue in the transformation from human infancy to adulthood. I will suggest that this is the “something forgotten” that Campbell refers to below, the great discovery, the liberation toward something new and reviving, the life-giving boon, the critical point in the death/rebirth element of human story. The unconditional treatment of all is the highest understanding of what it means to be authentically human, to be humane, to be adult. Campbell gets close to unconditional with his references to unlimited or universal love. I am just focusing Campbell more intensely and clearly.
Joseph Campbell on personal story: From his outline of human story in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, notably chapter one- “The Monomyth” (p.1-18). Campbell draws on the long history of human mythology, across all cultures, to summarize the story of human development.
Every human being is the hero of a personal story and engages the hero’s journey or adventure. Each one of us is living a unique version of the hero’s story. This is true of the “least of people”, the most forgotten or devalued human persons in our societies.
Campbell speaks of the hero’s journey as the life-development of a human being. It is about “the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self.” He states that our journey involves a “threat to the security that we have built for ourselves, the destruction of the world that we have built”, sometimes as traumatic as a death and rebirth. But this process of development then offers “the reconstruction of a bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life”. He also details the varied subconscious drives and desires that fuel our crises of self-development (his comments on archetypes).
The hero’s adventure of development can also be viewed as confronting a Monster that must be slain.
Campbell adds that across history and human cultures a Wise Man has appeared to help the hero through the trials and terrors of “this weird adventure of self-development”. The Wise Man points to the “shining sword” that will kill the dragon-terror (i.e. the monster) and apply healing balm to the hero’s wounds, wounds suffered while battling the monster.
Most ancient societies had initiation rites to help conduct people through the periods of transformation that would change their conscious and unconscious life as they moved to adulthood, what are called “rites of passage”. These rites orient the hero away from attitudes, attachments, and patterns of the life that is left behind.
In the journey of self-development, the person is beginning to “abandon his infantile fixations and to progress into the future”. The varied rites and myths of cultures are employed to carry the human spirit forward through its stages of development. But there is intense struggle against the hero’s journey as many people remain “fixated to the unexercised images of our infancy, and hence disinclined to the necessary passages of our adulthood”.
Campbell explains that the passage from infancy to adulthood is necessary for “the individual to die to the past and be reborn to the future”. Death to the past (to the old) and rebirth to the future (to the new) are central themes of all human story. This includes the death of infantile ideas/beliefs and worldviews, and the discovery of more adult views, something more universal, more human.
During this transition from our infantile past to an adult future, we face the “tyrant-monster…this may be no more than (the hero’s) own household, his own tortured psyche… or it may amount to the extent of his civilization… (The tyrant-monster) is avid for the greedy rights of ‘my and mine’…the inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world… but within every heart (there is also) a cry for the redeeming hero, the carrier of the shining blade, whose blow, whose touch, whose existence, will (slay the monster) and liberate the land”.
Campbell says that the hero must embrace the death of this old tyrant and a rebirth to something new. This will involve some crisis to attain a higher spiritual dimension that “makes possible the resumption of the work of creation”. There must be a “death to the infantile consciousness, to all the magic of childhood, in order to bring forth the potentialities of adulthood”. Campbell says that we are looking “to experience a marvelous expansion of our powers, a vivid renewal of life. We should tower in stature”.
He expands further on this, “If we could dredge up something forgotten, not only by ourselves, but by our whole generation or our entire civilization, we should indeed become the boon-bringer, the culture hero of the day”. In his other books Campbell has also noted that in our struggle to conquer our personal monsters we gain insights that benefit ourselves and others. We can then bring some boon or blessing to others.
I have repeatedly noted throughout this site that the central discovery of the Historical Jesus was his statement that unconditional love toward all was the supreme ethic of true humanity, it was the height of what it means to be authentically humane (i.e. “love your enemy” too, not just family and friends- Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 6:27-36). Jesus added that this ethic was based upon the truth that there was only unconditional love at the core of reality (i.e. if you love your enemy then you will “be like your Father in heaven”, or you will be like God that loves everyone without conditions). That discovery of authentic humanity was later buried and forgotten in Christianity. So the Jesus discovery fits perfectly Campbell’s comment above on “something forgotten” that will refresh and revive human society. It was a discovery that, better than any other, defines the meaning of mature humanity, of adult thinking and behavior.
(Note on “buried and forgotten in Christianity”- Paul could not get beyond the infantile mythology of retaliation, punishment, and the destruction of his enemies. He embodied/epitomized these childish themes in his Christ myth. Paul buried the unconditional discovery of Jesus in his Christian religion.)
Further note: I have inserted some bracketed additions among the Campbell quotes below in order to more pointedly focus my paraphrase of Campbell’s points. I want to emphasize that, beyond Campbell’s points, embracing “the unconditional treatment of all” is the central issue in our transformation to adulthood.
I would then reframe Campbell’s comments on human infancy in terms of our inherited animal brain and its base drives that orient us to primitive tribal thinking- i.e. the tendency to favor family and friends and to exclude our “enemies”, the outsiders to our group. I would further define human infancy in terms of the drives to dominate/control others (Alpha behavior), and to retaliate and destroy the competing other. These are prominent features of animal or primitive tribal mentality, the infantile stage of humanity. These drives constitute the “monster” inside us that we must conquer and slay in order to reach the full liberation to be human, to reach human maturity.
From the earliest human writing (Sumerian), we see that people created authorities to validate this tribally-oriented infancy of humanity. They projected their primitive tribal-like features onto their gods and then used those highest authorities to validate the continuing expression of that infantile behavior (creating infancy-affirming gods or animal-affirming gods). The sacred has long been used in this manner, to retard people in the primitive behaviors of our human infancy, our tantrum stage. Note this sacred retardation, for example, in primitive and childish “offense and retaliation” response. Someone offends me, so I retaliate and hurt back, I get even, I get my tit for tat “justice”, and punish the offender, like fighting kids in a sandbox.
(Another note: Commentators have rightly stated that Donald Trump’s argument for getting even, or hitting back- i.e. “He started it”, is childish.)
(Note: I would include here Zenon Lotufo’s excellent book, Cruel God, Kind God, where he argues that bad religious ideas like atonement- punishment of wrong, demanded blood payment- inhibit proper human development. Such ideas, and the violent God that they are based on, retard people at childhood stages of development, according to Lotufo. They deform human personality.)
Campbell continues that the first work of the hero is to “retreat from the world scene of secondary effects (i.e. our outer battles with others) to those causal zones of the psyche where the difficulties really reside (i.e. our inner battles with our inherited animal brain and its base drives), and there to clarify the difficulties, eradicate them in (our) own case, give battle to the nursery demons of (our) local culture, and break through to the (unconditional treatment of all as the new adult human ethic)”. These bracketed parts are my interpretive inserts of Campbell’s points.
Campbell is arguing that the hero’s story is really about personal psychological battles, and not outward physical battles with others. The hero’s journey is about battling to overcome the infantile ego and its infantile drives and views. What he called the “nursery demons”- that I would again define in terms of those primitive religious ideas that retard people in childish stages of development. Especially, the historically childish view of violent deity (retaliating, striking out to hurt and destroy) that supports the rest of our historically infantile mythical thinking. That mythology of humanity’s childhood has been embedded deeply in the causal zones of the psyche where those ideas still shape human perspective, emotion/feeling, motivation, desire, and behavior, often for the worse.
So Campbell urges that “the difficulty must be clarified and eradicated and a break through made…”.
The hero then brings “fresh visions, ideas, and inspirations to human life and thought. This contributes to the rebirth of society.” The hero breaks through personal and cultural limitations to the authentically human, to the adult human, and to unlimited or universal love (Campbell is getting close). Think of unconditional love as the central discovery to be made by the hero on the way to adulthood. Unconditional alone takes us beyond the childishness of ancient tribal exclusion and domination of others, the endless fighting with others as “enemies” (“getting even…they started it”), the tribal mentality that prevents our transformation toward the mature inclusion of all as equal members of one human family. Our past infantile tribalism prevents our transformation into the ultimate maturity of human love as the universal, and unlimited “love of the enemy”.
Thus runs my paraphrase of Campbell, adding the more focused detail of unconditional to his more general points on human development. Unconditional is the “marvelous expansion”, the “vivid renewal”, enabling us to “tower in stature”, just as Mandela did when he set aside the infantile hatred and tribalism of his past and embraced a universal inclusion of all groups for the future of South Africa. Unconditional is the “fresh vision, idea, and inspiration”.
Two central things make up my definition of human adulthood- the unconditional treatment of all people- i.e. no conditions thinking and behavior- based on belief in an unconditional God.
Campbell also refers to the hero as the dreamer, who has chosen to follow, “not the safely marked general highways of the day, but the adventure of the special, dimly audible call that comes to those whose ears are open within as well as without”. This person passes through the dark night of the soul, through the sorrows of the pits of hell, through slime and mud to find the clear waters on the other side. The sustaining virtue of the hero is hope. He/she- the dreamer- crosses to the other shore, across the difficult, dangerous ocean of life, enduring the task of self-discovery and self-development.
(Note on Campbell’s comment that the hero breaks through “slime and mud to find the clear waters”- Leo Tolstoy also said that he found the life-giving water of non-retaliating, unconditional love in the gospels- i.e. “love your enemies”- but that it was like a pearl “buried in the slime and muck” of the larger gospel context with its themes of retaliation, exclusion of unbelievers, punishment, and destruction. Jesus’ statement on unconditional love is the forgotten thing, the buried or lost thing, that is to be rediscovered. Campbell himself may be referring to Jefferson and Tolstoy’s earlier comments on diamonds and pearls buried in slime and muck.)
Read your own personal struggles and development into this life story framework of Campbell.
And we eventually find our way to freedom by slaying the monster, our personal monster- our infantile ego, and the supporting religious beliefs that retard us at infantile stages of development. We find our way to the mature discovery of unconditional love.
So the real enemy, the real monster that we all face is our inner animal inheritance and the religious validation of that inheritance- our animal drives and the supporting animal-like features that have long been projected onto gods who then act as validation of those same drives. I have offered detail on this sacred/animal relationship all through this site.
Campbell ends with the comment that the courageous hero is full of faith that the truth that he finds will make us free. Where the hero thought to slay “another” (his enemy), instead, he slays himself, his own infantile, animal-like self. In his journey, he has come to the center of his own existence.
Try this as a thought exercise- again, think of the hero’s journey in terms of the discovery of unconditional love as humanity’s most profound insight into what it means to be authentically human, to be a mature human person. This fills out Campbell’s vision and focuses the details.
Humanity’s journey away from infancy to adult maturity is best understood in terms of our supreme understanding of love. This is the journey from the infantile ideals of tribal insularity and exclusion, from domination and destruction of the other as an enemy, to the mature inclusion of all as family, to the treating of all as equal members of one human family.
Unconditional love takes our greatest ideal- love- to new heights of maturity and adulthood, away from the infancy of tribal mentality. Note again Mandela as a good public example of someone conquering personal childishness (hatred of the other, revenge) and breaking free of personal and cultural limitations (“us versus them” tribalism) to the authentically human, to a new universal vision and civilization. Mandela maturely chose to include all in the new South Africa.
Campbell said that the journey or adventure of the hero was a journey to the deepest levels of human consciousness to fight our inner monsters and win battles there, to confront and change the deeply embedded impulses and the related ideas that shape human emotion, perception, thought, desire, and response/behavior- my take on ‘archetypes’. (Note: Campbell did not actually advocate for ‘changing’ the archetypes. That is my addition.)
Again, I would define the “tyrant-monster” that we face- what he calls the selfish, infantile inner ego- I would define that more specifically as the inner monster of our inherited animal brain with its full range of base impulses to anger, hate, retaliation/vengeance, exclusion of others, and domination, or destruction of others. These are the deeply embedded impulses along with the related ideas at the deepest levels of our consciousness that retard us in human infancy. The hero’s journey is about all of us making that profound transformation from the infant to the adult.
Our struggle is to conquer and slay this inner monster, and our shining sword to slay our monster is the discovery of no conditions love- the historically forgotten thing. This supreme understanding of love as the absolutely no conditions treatment of all, takes us beyond excluding and limiting forms of cultural love, or infantile tribal love. And in doing that, in making unconditional our new ethical center, we gain insights, none more important than to discover what it means to be truly human or humane. Unconditional enables us to achieve the highest (most mature) understanding of being human or humane. It enables us to achieve “marvelous expansion”, a “vivid renewal”, and we then “tower in stature”, and we “break through and contribute to the rebirth of ourselves and our society”. We achieve the transformation to adult maturity. Unconditional takes us out to the liberation of universal love. It is the highest reach of human imagination, spirit and life.
(Note again: When a recent- 2016- political figure said that his guiding ethic was “eye for eye”, varied commentators countered that this “getting even” was childish.)
This sword of unconditional love then slays all the features of those inherited infantile animal drives that orient us to tribal exclusion of others, to dominate, punish, and destroy the “enemy” other.
Unconditional is the truest liberation of ourselves and others. It is freedom from the real monster that resides deeply inside us, freedom from all those base animal drives, freedom to be truly and fully human. Unconditional takes us to the height of mature adulthood.
This reframes Campbell’s point that we die to the infantile past- those childish themes across history, in our cultures and in ourselves- themes that orient us to hate, retaliation, tribal exclusion (love limited to my family, my ethnic group, my nation), and to domination and destruction of the other. Embracing unconditional is our rebirth to adult maturity, with its inclusion of all, its treatment of all as equal, as intimate family. Unconditional orients us to mature restorative intent, to embracing the good of all.
So, once again, the monster that we slay consists of these features of the infantile, animal past, including the infantile religious gods that embody these same features, the “sacred” that is employed to incite, inspire, guide, and validate these same infantile features in us- rage, hate, retaliation, vengeance, exclusion, punishment, and destruction of the other. Religious gods have long embodied these very features and promoted them in people.
The real death and rebirth of the hero is to discover authentic love as universal, to die to the old tribal worldview and create an entirely new worldview and existence with unconditional at its core.
Note: I would add that the breakthrough to adult maturity is not about some other-worldly “spiritual” insight or experience. It is a breakthrough to embracing unconditional in the ordinary and mundane of daily life. It is the common discovery that “loving one’s enemies” in the details of life is to attain the height of being maturely human. This puts the hero’s journey within the reach of everyone in their daily existence.
And friends would balance this emphasis on love with the qualifier that we are not just talking about Ma Teresa-type love, but about love that is as diverse as all human endeavor. A businessman friend argues rightly that people like J. Paul Getty did a lot more good for humanity than Ma Teresa, by creating companies that created jobs for people. So also farmers growing food to feed others, or tailors stitching clothes for people to wear, or construction workers building houses for people to live in, and on and on. Love is a many-splendored thing.
More Campbell on love as the goal of human story
Campbell deals with the development of human life as a “maturing into love” in other books also, notably in Myths To Live By (roughly pages 201 to 232), and in another book on the mythological hero journey. In these accounts he details the struggle of young people to make the transition to adulthood. To explain the general development of a human life, he also uses the larger framework of the shamanic experience of breakdown/disintegration, then re-integrating around something new and life-affirming. The experience of the shaman is similar to the schizophrenic experience of collapse/separation, re-integration, and return.
To sum up our life stories in terms of Campbell’s general framework, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men”.
Campbell presents the first stage of human development in his comment on the universal archetypes of all human mythology, archetypes that are common to all mankind. He explains archetypes as the foundational layer of our consciousness, where the instincts of our species exist- the inherited biology of the animal that we all share. This archetypal layer (in the human subconscious) is about stimuli that trigger responses and actions that are common to all animal and human life. These base animal impulses and drives can foster the sense of “splitting” (disintegration), of being an outsider (us versus them tribal mentality), and can lead to a sense of regression, of slipping back to animal consciousness. This is notable in the confusion that many young men suffer in their teens from difficult to control urges and passions. Who said that the most dangerous people on earth are young men from 15 to 20 years old? Some reports suggest that up to 80% of young men fall into some form of delinquency during these years.
These instinctual responses that we all feel are expressed in diverse ways in local cultures. Every culture develops a mythology that guides people in their unique manner of controlling and expressing these instincts, to help young people to learn to live productive lives in their culture, to help them to mature into adults in their society. The myths of a society- the way people think- will guide them in expressing these instincts properly and enable them to mature to productive adulthood.
However, our cultural myths and training can also restrain us in the immaturity of our animal inheritance if they orient us to limited tribal thinking and behavior (i.e. us versus them).
Campbell then focuses on the critical discovery that helps young people to deal with their instinctual foundation and to make the successful transition to adulthood. He states that the transition is successfully accomplished when the young person reorients and centers their life in love. The culmination of the hero’s journey “will be a discovery of a center in his own heart of tenderness and of love in which he can rest. That will have been the aim and meaning of his entire… quest” (p.220). He adds, “The ultimate aim of the quest, if one is to return from disintegration and collapse (from the death of the old, the infantile), must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and power to serve others” (p.227). Love guides and helps the young person to meet the dangers of his hero’s quest, and to overcome the monster, the dangerous forces that he encounters within himself- the inherited animal instincts. Love helps him to not get sidetracked or overwhelmed by those animal instincts, to not let them destroy him, but to come out with the power to bestow boons on others.
Again, I would focus Campbell’s points more and take them further by clarifying that it is not just love in general, but more specifically unconditional love, that helps us to make the transition to adulthood successful and complete. Unconditional takes the human person to the ultimate in human thinking, feeling and existence, to the supreme expression of love, to the authentically humane and mature. It takes us to human maturity, to authentic liberation- the freedom to be truly human.
What are we, really?
It took me a lifetime to discover the “wonder of being human”. To realize that the human self, our core consciousness, consists of a pure love and light that is inseparable from the creating Source that is Love and Light. As some have suggested, we are all incarnations of Ultimate Good, or God. Evidence? Yes, it comes from a contemporary “spiritual” tradition. See below.
I had to battle through the distortion of my family religion (Evangelical Christianity) which taught that we were “sinful” creatures that deserved divine punishment and even destruction. As an Evangelical preacher from England once told us, we were “despicable worms deserving to be crushed under the foot of an angry God”.
We were taught that our ancestors had ruined a perfect world (the lost paradise, Eden), and now as fallen, corrupted beings we have since continued to ruin the world and contribute to the supposed decline of life toward something worse. Soon we would be judged and punished for our corrupting influence.
We were not taught that the imperfection of human life could be explained in terms of our inherited animal brain with its base drives to tribalism (us versus others mentality), exclusion, domination, and destruction of others. Religious traditions mistakenly call this the inherited “sinful nature” and claim that it defines our core self.
Our animal inheritance infects much of human experience, and it prompts us to do many petty things, and even inhumane things to one another. But it is not the real us. It does not define our core self. See, for instance, Jeffrey Schwartz’s ‘You Are Not Your Brain’. Our true self is something much better than we can even imagine.
I had no idea through the earlier part of my life that, in reality, we were actually magnificent beings of love and light.
Recognizing the true nature of our core self will act as a preventative check on bad behavior. It prompts the question- How can we violate what we really are? How can we engage any behavior that is less than our true status as love and light? We are most essentially good, so we ought to act accordingly. This is a more healthy and self-affirming way to deal with our current mixed status. We need to make a clear distinction between our real self and our residual animal inheritance with its continuing imperfection.
Realizing what, and who we really are, will liberate from the deforming mythology that we are fallen and corrupt creatures at core. That has resulted in endless devaluation of humanity across history. That fraudulent mythology has contributed to excessive and unnecessary fear, anxiety, self-hate, shame/guilt, depression, and despair. It is an entirely fraudulent basis on which to build human self-identity. It is simply wrong.
Every parent would love for their children to understand this early in life and thereby spare them the misery of suffering self-devaluation under distorting myth and religious belief. We would like to spare our kids from the slow and miserable process of self-discovery that many of us had to endure.
What we really are, will liberate us to value ourselves as creatures with unlimited potential to make ourselves better and to make life better. Our true nature as love will fuel hope and positive dreams to create a better future. As Freeman Dyson has said, “our future is infinite in all directions”.
Love is all
This site explores and advocates one central theme above all others- that love is everything. And not just love, but love fronted by the critical adjective “no conditions”, or unconditional. Unconditional takes us to the absolute height of this supreme human ideal of love. It takes us to the authentically humane as nothing else can.
More pointedly, this site offers the single most profound discovery ever made- that “absolutely no conditions love” is the core of reality and life. This is something far beyond scandal and wonder. It goes to the real meaning of transcendent. The entire history of mythology and religion (except for one notable exception) has missed this core reality of Love and instead given humanity the pathology of Threat at the core of reality, with angry, punishing, dominating, excluding, and destroying gods. We see this threatening and violent deity at the very beginning in the Sumerian Flood myth, in Zoroaster’s world-destroying God, then in the genocidal violence of Israel’s God, in the core retribution of Greek mythology, in Christianity’s angry deity promising apocalypse and Hell, in the unbeliever-hating and Hell-affirming God of Islam, and even in Green religion’s vengeful and anti-human Gaia, or punishing karma.
And yes, there are other more humane features attributed to these gods, but too often the nice is buried by the nasty in the larger context.
Unconditional rejects all such pathology in Ultimate Reality (God) and, instead, it points human understanding of Ultimate Reality toward incomprehensible Love. Stating such Love as the defining feature of the highest human ideal- deity- gives profound meaning and purpose to all things. One obvious conclusion- we are here, primarily, to learn how to love, to learn something about love, and to experience love.
Add here- the discovery of Love at the core, includes the corollary discovery that this very same love also defines the core of human consciousness and the human spirit. Unconditional love is the essence of the human self, it is our true nature or person. This counters millennia of religious devaluation of humanity as fallen and “sinful”. Further, embracing the human self as essentially love will provide a baseline for the recognition that when we act with less than love, we profoundly violate our true self and purpose. We violate the very reason for which we exist. If we are here to express our true self as love and to learn how to love, then any act of inhumanity (unloving) is a violation of our true nature.
(Side note: Psychology tells us that threatening, punitive approaches do not work with children or criminal offenders. Restorative, affirmative approaches work better to teach alternative human behavior. Mandela illustrated this well in South Africa- unconditionally loving one’s enemies brought out the best in others and turned enemies into friends. Is this evidence that the authentic human person responds intuitively to other expressions of authentic humanity?)
This site explores the potential for hope and liberation that flows from the discovery of Love at the core of reality and life. But to comprehend this core Love properly you need to first clear away the “muck, slime, garbage” (Leo Tolstoy) of bad religious ideas. That religious pathology has long darkened human consciousness and prevented many people from seeing the core Love clearly.
Quotes from Tolstoy on the need to clear away bad ideas in order to see buried truth: “The true Christian teaching is very simple, clear, and obvious to all…But it is simple and accessible only when man is freed from that falsehood in which we were all educated, and which is passed off upon us as God’s truth…We must first empty out what is useless…We must first understand that all the stories telling how God made the world six thousand years ago, how Adam sinned and the human race fell, and how the Son of God, a God born of a virgin, came on earth and redeemed mankind… are nothing but a gross hash of superstitions and priestly frauds. Only to someone free from this deception can the clear and simple teaching of Jesus, which needs no explanation, be accessible and comprehensible….When at the age of fifty, I first began to study the Gospels seriously, I found in them the spirit that animates all who are truly alive. But along with the flow of that pure, life-giving water, I perceived much mire and slime mingled with it, and this had prevented me from seeing the true, pure water. I found that, along with the lofty teaching of Jesus (i.e. “love your enemy unconditionally”- my explanatory insertion), there are teachings bound up which are repugnant and contrary to it. I thus felt myself in the position of a man to whom a sack of garbage is given, who, after long struggle and wearisome labor, discovers among the garbage a number of infinitely precious pearls”.
To fully appreciate the liberating potential of a core Love, consider how public consciousness has been traumatized over past millennia by threat theology. Note the harmful outcomes of such metaphysical fear-mongering in human populations- the unnecessary fear, anxiety, despair, depression, and more. Note also how fear stirs the felt need to survive against some threat, the felt need for aggressive defense against some threatening enemy. Religious fear-mongering has incited religious violence and the shedding of “rivers of blood” across history.
Mythology and religion (and more recently- “secular” ideology) have beaten this pathology of divine threat, exclusion, domination, punishment and destruction into human consciousness for millennia. That has deformed and darkened human perception and understanding. A core Unconditional Love counters this religious pathology entirely.
Consider also the scandal that unconditional love causes to conventional understanding of justice and fairness. Note how offensive unconditional love is to good people. Historical Jesus (not Christian Jesus) pointed this out in his stories of the older brother to the Prodigal and the all-day workers in the vineyard. Unconditional generosity offends good moral people who believe in proper justice as fairness and full payback (i.e. reward the good, punish the bad- known as eye for eye justice).
This does not deny the need to maintain fairness. Remember that the all-day vineyard workers were paid the amount that they contracted for, but the vineyard owner also gave the later-in-the-day workers the same amount as the early morning guys. His unconditional spirit went above and beyond conventional fairness to include the latecomers who also had families to feed. Unconditional generosity was given primary place over fairness or justice.
Advocating for this core reality of no conditions Love raises all sorts of questions. What does this ideal mean in an imperfect world and the struggle to deal with violence? It certainly does not mean pacifism or weak response in the face of evil. Love is responsible to stop violence (i.e. protect the innocent) and to hold offenders accountable, but always with restorative intent and approach- treating all with unconditional forgiveness and inclusion. See comment on the Chinese sage below (i.e. maintaining humane intent and attitude, not hating and humiliating opponents or offenders).
Nevertheless, our struggle to apply this unconditional ideal in an imperfect world does not diminish or qualify the core reality. Whatever we face in life, we do not let go of the Center that is Love- it is the core of reality and life, and also our true essence, our core spirit and personality.
Ultimate unconditional Love offers infinite potential to liberate consciousness with hope and security.
Note: Materialism/atheism offers no help here with its explanations that claim ultimate meaning is found only in natural law, random creation from the infinite tries of multi-verse mythology, Self-Organizing Principle, energy fields, and so on. Materialism misses the fundamental human impulse for meaning, the primary impulse of human consciousness that is only fully satiated in love and something ultimately humane, in ultimate Goodness. Nothing less will do. Both traditional religion and atheism/materialism have failed to answer this fundamental human impulse for absolutely no conditions Love at the core of all. They have failed to respond to our impulse to discover our true nature as love.
Julia Tyack notes that unconditional love is something in the heart and attitude of the offended person (the victim). It is the victim letting go of hate, letting go of the defiling desire for vengeance, and the lust to hurt back against an offender. Unconditional is the refusal to seek payback. Its primary impact is in the mind of victims. It is about such things as viewing offenders as equally human despite their failure to act as human. To view them as ultimately redeemable persons. And it is about humane response and treatment of offenders, again despite their inhuman actions.
Unconditional shapes our intent, our attitude toward offense and offenders, and our responses. It is about us maintaining a long term view of historical violence and how to continue the trend toward lessening violence in human society (Payne- History of Force). Unconditional orients us away from hate of the enemy and destructive payback responses, and toward more humane resolutions and approaches (i.e. restorative justice approaches, the humane treatment of criminals and prisoners of war). Unconditional intention inspired the Chinese sage to restrain from humiliating war opponents with gloating triumphalism. He sought the eventual restoration of his enemies. So McArthur took a restorative approach toward the Japanese and that enabled their rehabilitation among civilized nations.
Nelson Mandela also sought, with his uniquely unconditional approach, to “turn former enemies into friends”, and “to bring out the best in others”. He sought an inclusive society for South Africa’s future, but he had to counter the strong push of his colleagues for vengeance. The absence of this humane intent and attitude among leaders, brought horrifically different outcomes to Rwanda and Serbia around the same time. And so we see the same horrific outcomes of payback responses (eye for eye and more) currently in Syria and other places.
And unconditional treatment of others is not about fuzzy, mushy, or warm feelings toward monsters. We rightly feel intense rage at the brutal inhumanity of some people. Any feelings toward offenders are an intensely personal issue, left to each victim. So yes, I am making some fine distinctions between our feelings/reactions, and our intentions, attitudes, and approaches toward others. We are still very human in our struggle with the imperfection of humanity and life.
Julia further notes- regarding the offender, there are still the ‘natural consequences’ of their bad actions. That will fall under the laws of the land, the legal consequences of bad behavior. So also Mandela held the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to hold offenders accountable/responsible. But even these natural consequences can be conducted with restorative intent and not punitive intent. See the Mennonites and others for discussion on restorative justice versus punitive justice approaches.
Also consider what a harsh punitive intent and attitude (based on punitive religious ideas) has led to in countries like the US which now has the highest rates of incarceration anywhere in the world, or history. US leaders like Paul Ryan, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and others have recently admitted that the “increasingly punitive political attitude” of the 80s and 90s was a mistake, a pathology. That rise of punishing justice and incarceration coincided/correlated also with the 80s rise of the Religious Right. The Mennonites note that, historically, punishing justice, as in Western justice systems like the US, is based on Christian punitive theology from centuries earlier. How we think (especially theologically) influences how we act, how we treat others.
The ideas that we hold on this issue of the unconditional treatment of people, and punishment/restoration, will impact our intentions and attitudes toward offense, and that will shape the policies and approaches that we choose to employ, and that has significant outcomes for our general societies.
Another note- the discipline of psychology recognizes that punitive approaches do not work with children or criminal offenders. Punishing approaches do not teach alternative humane behaviors (see Australian Psychology Association paper on my site). Punitive eye for eye approaches have not been successful for lessening violence and establishing long term solutions.
Other factors to consider in our treatment of offenders- how do we properly establish culpability in offenders, for instance, in people born with psychopathic brain defects (unable to experience empathy), or in relation to childhood trauma (neglect, violence) and its impacts on early brain and personality development.
Aileen Wuornos, for example, behaved like a monster, but consider the horrific trauma that she experienced through her childhood and teens. Certainly, she had to be jailed to protect others but why the death penalty? What about the 17 year old teen put to death in the US decades ago for the brutal rape and murder of a woman? During his trial it was revealed that he had been beaten even before he was born, as his jealous father beat his pregnant mother’s stomach. He was thrown against walls as a baby for crying as all babies do. All he knew was hatred and violence through his developing years. It may not have been possible to rehabilitate him, and imprisonment would have been necessary to protect the public. But did he deserve the death penalty as a final rejection and humiliation?
These facts ought to temper our attitudes toward offenders. Certainly, those unable to control their worst impulses must be forcefully restrained and imprisoned where necessary. Also, war offenders like ISIS are not open to negotiation and must be stopped forcefully (irrational, religiously-inspired hate cannot be reasoned with). Love is always responsible to protect the innocent.
Making God Horizontal- (Facebook talk, some discussion on relating horizontally)
Kenny mentioned “horizontalism” in relation to God and that sparks another line of thought… love, and vertical or horizontal relating. There are a lot of angles to take here.
How does authentic love relate to others? It has been said that vertical relating is not love- especially with its elements of domination, control, coercion, and the overwhelming of another person’s freedom. Where there is no authentic freedom in relationships, there is no authentic love. Love and freedom are tightly pair-bonded.
And as with all these issues, qualifying clarifications are needed. We engage all sorts of relationships in human society- soldier/commanding officer, teacher/student, boss/worker, doctor/patient, parent/child, and so on. But we also recognize that democratic principles need to penetrate all areas of life, and that respectful treatment of others in any relationship is critical to human well-being. Even in some necessarily “vertical relationships” we still need to relate “horizontally” to all others.
Generally, treating employees coercively or in a threatening or dominating fashion (i.e. the boss from hell) fosters anger, resentment, and it undermines support for institutional programs. It also produces higher turnover with its costly training of new workers. Angry employees leave and there is the consequent loss of the expertise and efficiencies of long-term workers. New employees need to be brought up to speed. Add here that employee wages are the single largest expense in most organizations so we are talking about waste in the most costly aspect of business.
Varied situations- i.e. military conflict and other emergency situations- require responsible supervisors to make quick decisions for the welfare of all (whole group decisions). But in whatever relationships we engage in life, we should never abandon our humanity and common human decency. We should try to treat every human person as a worthy human equal. All are members of the same one human family.
And where possible, effective organizations give employees some sense of control and choice, some involvement in the decisions that affect them. That sense of personal control helps maintain good morale among employees. It creates a willingness to support decisions and the outcomes of decisions more. It creates more willingness among employees to cooperate with institutional programs.
It may not always be highly efficient- true democracy is often slow and messy- but it creates better morale among people, the sense of being heard, included, and respected.
Others- notably Israeli social scientists (this is old material that I read decades ago)- show from research that personal control in organizations is vital to mental and emotional health, and to actual physical health. People who lose personal control, as in many organizational/hierarchical settings, actually suffer physical illness. Control of personal destiny (i.e. self determination) is crucial to human well-being.
Those Israeli scientists note that there is a correlation in hierarchies with well-being. People holding positions higher up in organizations have higher levels of well-being because they have more choice and freedom, while people holding positions lower in organizational hierarchies have lower levels of well-being with less choice and freedom. Sort of common sense, eh.
Lots to wrestle with in this area of human relating in organizations. As someone said, the workplace is often the last place where democracy has yet to enter. Another has said, the worst dictators are the little dictators at work, or in the home. Most of us can escape the big state dictators who are far away.
Also add here- Bob Brinsmead has noted that children need to be taught independence and self-determination from a young age, to value themselves and not allow themselves to be dominated by adults. Too much submissiveness to authority has led to the abuse of children. While we all engage relationships with all sorts of “supervisors” throughout life, that must never mean accepting unhealthy domination or control. Children must be taught the difference from an early age.
Back to general horizontal relating among people, now from the religious perspective: Historical Jesus refused to be made a dominating messiah figure after the tradition of all such figures- i.e. messiahs who through superior violence conquer and destroy enemies. See Revelation for an example of the worst of this mythology. No wonder Luther and Calvin argued to throw Revelation out of the canon. They said it was a horrible book.
Jesus was more of the mindset of- call no one master or father or leader. There was nothing of the dominating spirit in the man. When he healed people he refused to create a sense of indebted obligation, but instead told them that their “own faith” had healed them, not him or God. He then told them to return to their former lives. He did not want to create obligated or subservient followers. He was not interested in “lordship”- lording it over others. He said that if anyone wants to lead, then they should serve others.
Here is an insert point from Bob Brinsmead, made to another discussion group, on the point that Jesus refused to be made a militant, retaliating messiah as per Paul or Revelation. Bob says,“I am hardly being radical when I say this. It has been said by a host of scholars. Here is Albert Nolan (his book Jesus Before Christianity) writing some years back:
“…We should not be surprised to discover that on no occasion and in no circumstances did Jesus ever claim, directly or indirectly, that he was the Messiah. This is admitted today by every serious scholar of the New Testament even by those who are inclined to be conservative. There are a few passages in the gospels in which Jesus appears to be referring to himself as the Messiah but these are obviously the words of the evangelists, who were all convinced that Jesus was the Messiah…It may be possible to argue that Jesus was just secretive and non-committal about his Messiahship but more fundamentally he seems to have regarded it as a temptation of Satan which must be rejected.” Albert Nolan, p.107.
This idea of required human subservience or submission to authorities, like gods, has to do with the primitive understanding of vertical authority- i.e. that the gods were ultimate authorities (exercising their authority via shaman or priests/religious leaders), and that “people were created to serve the gods” (a common belief in most myth and religion from the beginning). That was an error in ancient thought that affirmed domination/subservience forms of animal-like relating. That had nothing to do with truly human or humane forms of relating. Early people wrongly projected vertical relating onto the early gods and that distortion has not yet been fully purged from theology. The ancients did not yet understand the nature of authentic love.
Charles Templeton (now deceased, a former colleague of Billy Graham) adds this point. He says that any one demanding to be the center of attention, demanding subservient obeisance, and demanding constant praise of his greatness, on threat of punishment/death, is an Idi Amin or Kim Jong-Un monster. Now who was he referring to? Well, read your bibles.
Authentic love forgets itself and focuses on serving the other. It gets down to the ordinary, mundane level of children and the little people who pay taxes. Authentic love is not self-centered, seeking self-glory, and needing constant praise of its greatness (Kim Jong-Un again). Those are monstrous distortions of love, yet people have long projected these pathologies onto their deities.
Now here’s a shocker for any who can handle it (trigger warning- some will feel this following comment is outright blasphemy, so please do not read further). But for those who can, see Alex Garcia’s book “Alpha God” for his evolutionary biology presentation of this dominant/subservient animal-like behavior in religious traditions- that of subservient people fearfully bowing before dominating males. Garcia notes that people in churches are often doing just what submissive animals do in the presence of an alpha male- averting eyes (cast down), and bowing in submissive subjection (bended knee), seeking to appease the alpha male. That is not a relationship of authentic love.
And yes, I recognize that the above subservience is not what all religious worship is about. There are also other more humane motivations and expressions going on- like thankfulness, and so on. But watch for those other lesser motivations also in the mix.
Ah, the “fear of God” is not the beginning of wisdom. Love casts out all fear. Another of those great scriptural contradictions. Take the side of Jesus on this one. There is nothing to fear in an “Abba” deity (Daddy).
One more- We get that “God was in Jesus“, but not in a different or more special way than God is in every human spirit, and the divine element was visible in that peasant man who was humble, who washed other`s feet, and who embraced the most imperfect people of his society without conditions. There is nothing in that life about sitting on a high throne and demanding fearful bowing down with bums pointed skyward. That was all added later and it distorted entirely the life and teaching of the man. It turned him into a threatening, dominating King who would destroy any free spirits that dared not believe all that Paul taught.
Campbell also adds this note that people sitting on elevated chairs (i.e. thrones) and considering themselves superior to others, and wearing long robes with pointed head wear and other head pieces (crowns), is all “a show of clowns”. Ah, that puts all this royalty and kingship stuff in its place, eh.
So love as horizontal relating overturns entirely our concepts of deity. Think of all the past things that people have projected out to define their gods- features like judging/condemning, kingship, Warrior gods, Rulers- features that were all about domination, control, threat, and ultimate destruction. And the theology they created was about gods up in the skies, far away from the imperfection of daily human life. Again, that distortion buries the central theme of historical Jesus. To place him within such monstrosity is to distort entirely his message. Listen to his statements about the kingdom of God being “among you”, or “within you”. God is not up above or far away but in the daily struggle to make life better for all.
So yes, unconditional changes everything. It requires the single most profound shift in consciousness.
There is a very real sense where we look at common human understanding of love and then apply that to all areas of life, including theology. For instance, why do we get it, that we humans are to love our imperfect children unconditionally, and not threaten them with eternal torture in fire, but just forgive, without demanding the horrible bloody death of another to pay for their faults. We just unconditionally forgive them. Yet we think that a deity is somehow different and gets to engage horrific payback against human imperfection. No, if we get what common love is, surely any God- especially a God that is love- would get it a lot more and do a lot better (i.e. be even more loving).
And I understand that the felt need for some form of payback justice has been so deeply ingrained in human consciousness over past millennia that for most people it is impossible to conceive of forgiveness without first exacting some form of punishment on somebody, somehow, somewhere. But we need to get past that ingrained sense of payback justice (no more “eye for eye” justice according to Jesus), to embrace this unconditional love that Jesus was pointing toward. Absolutely no conditions, none. Just forgive, just include, just love. No payment is needed- if you love just those who love you back (some payback justice) then how are you better than the primitives? No, love should be entirely free. Unconditional. Look again at the prodigal and vineyard stories through this lens- the offense of those who could not understand such generosity that did not act according to conventional views of justice and fairness.
Brazilian psychotherapist Lotufo also adds good comment about dominating people who find pleasure in the suffering of others and the common religious beliefs that embody this pathology. See his Cruel God, Kind God for detail.
Ah, this unconditional diamond of Jesus was buried in a grand payback system that has buried it almost entirely. Jefferson was right. So also Tolstoy. See my quotes of them on my site.
I am with Bob Brinsmead that the best theology is not from holy scriptures (not top down) but comes from the best in humanity. We reason from the best that we find in humanity, and then project that out to deity, but we add transcendence. What is best in us, is infinitely better in God. Just sayin.
There, enough shock and awe for one day, eh. <: .x