How theology impacts human consciousness and life:
“Sick Gods make for sick people… Sick Gods provide sick models which produce sick persons and sick communities… Any God is a monster if he cannot behave at least as well as the average human behaves in his or her better moments. Monster gods make monster people”, psychotherapist J. Harold Ellens.
“Religion that is built around the assumption… that God is cruel or even sadistic… from this resulted wars, religious oppression, the Crusades, and the Holy Inquisition. In the psychological domain, its consequences are fear, guilt, shame, and impoverished personalities. All these things are fully coherent with and dependent on a cruel and vengeful God image… an angry God, who cannot forgive unless appeased by a bloody sacrifice, has been right at the center of the Master Story of the Western world for the last 2000 years… The suffering of the sacrificed victim is seen as something that gratifies God, something that calms anger… emotional gratification is obtained by inflicting suffering on others, from the execution of revenge… this is sadism… these ideas permeate Western culture and inevitably influence those who live in the interior of this culture”, Zenon Lotufo in Cruel God, Kind God, with quotes from J. Harold Ellens.
“You become just like the God that you believe in”, Bob Brinsmead.
“It’s the theology, stupid”, (paraphrase of Bill Clinton).
The fundamental human impulse for meaning (Victor Frankl) inspired early people to get busy creating myths to explain greater realities- the gods. But they made a consciousness-deforming error regarding ultimate reality. They created the single worst idea ever- that “angry, vengeful gods punished bad people”. And that idea was then embedded at the core of human worldviews (mythologies, religions, ideologies). It has not been purged since. It has been the single most dominant and damaging idea across history.
The myth of angry gods punishing bad people became the core of the apocalyptic template of ideas with its threat of a great final punishment and destruction of the world (see Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas below). The myth of threatening apocalyptic deity has aroused endless unnecessary fear in humanity and incited far too much bad behavior, whether the religious violence of groups like ISIS, or the devastatingly harmful salvation schemes of environmental alarmism (see comment on the mass-death outcome of Rachel Carsons’ apocalyptic alarmism, below).
People frightened by the threat of some form of Ultimate Harm, whether from God, Gaia, angry planet, or karma, will embrace damaging salvation schemes, often unaware of the death and destruction that Salvationism produces. In their panic to save something- themselves, their group, the environment, or the world- people will even embrace “coercive purification” to eliminate threatening enemies. Remember Hitler’s violent response to the apocalyptic threat of his time and his sincere belief that he had to “save Germany” (see Richard Landes Heaven On Earth for detail on the “apocalyptic millennialism” that shaped Nazism).
The mass-death totals from all forms of apocalyptic alarmism- religious and secular- are astounding to tally up (see Jeffrey Foss’s Beyond Environmentalism). Where is the news media on this story?
I have detailed on this site the good scientific evidence available to counter alarmism over the natural world (Simon, Lomborg, Goklany, and others). But the primary human impulse for meaning also demands a spiritual answer to the original religious error regarding ultimate reality. There are foundational issues at play behind alarmism. This site is about calming the primal human fear. The material below responds to the basic human impulse for meaning in terms of spiritual reality.
The linkages and correlations are simple. How we think and feel then influences how we act and treat others. The belief/behavior relationship. Look at societies across the planet and the beliefs that many people hold, and then wonder why so much unhealthy stuff is still going on in our societies.
Main site theme:
The central project of this site is to make clear the single greatest discovery ever- the “spiritual” insight that at the core of all reality there is a stunning inexpressible “no conditions Love”. That is the ultimate discovery and definition of what people across history have called God. Unconditional makes God fully humane as nothing else can.
The discovery of a core unconditional love overturns the worst idea ever- the primitive belief that deity was a punitive reality that threatened to destroy humanity in an apocalypse and Hell. Again, that pathology remains deeply embedded as the core belief of the world’s religions. And yes, it has also found expression in “secular” systems of thought, in ideologies like 19th Century Declinism and its offspring- environmentalism.
Think of how the myth of threatening deity has impacted human consciousness and emotion over the millennia. Consider what it does to human mind, spirit, and emotion to believe that humanity’s ultimate reality and authority- God- will reject, punish and destroy people. This pathology continues in contemporary myth-making- that vengeful Gaia, angry planet or karma will get us with something nasty. Always some threat looming just over the horizon.
But God as no conditions love overturns the entire suite of bad religious ideas. It exposes bad religious ideas as a great fraud and lie that has been perpetuated on humanity from the beginning. There has never been any such reality as a punitive, destroying deity. It was all bad, distorting myth from the start.
Think also of the incalculable human effort expended offering sacrifices, fulfilling religious ritual, and trying to live a religious lifestyle. It has all been a huge waste of human time and resources. There was no threatening or demanding God to appease or please. The reality of God, as unconditional love, was always just fine with imperfect humanity emerging and struggling to make a better world, and succeeding over the millennia. Any God that would create an imperfect cosmos and world obviously has no problem with imperfection and will not punish it.
Contemporary spiritual traditions (i.e. the NDE movement) tell us that the core “no conditions Love” also defines the essential nature of each human person. To paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz, we are not our inherited animal brains with their base animal drives. We are love at our core. Understanding our authentic self is love, now offers an entirely new basis for self-evaluation. It counters millennia of the mythology of fallen, corrupt humanity.
Think of how the “sinful humanity” myth has impacted human consciousness and emotion across history- to be told that you are not just bad but evil at core, even demonic according to some mythology. Think of how it has impacted people to be told that the Devil was their father because they were not true believers in some religious tradition. Look carefully at the trail of human misery- the endless guilt, shame, depression, and despair generated from the pathology of the fallen humanity myth.
Look at what these bad ideas are doing to young men in ISIS today. Terrorizing their consciousness with divine threat and inciting them to murder innocents in order to save their own souls from Hell (see Cook on Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature). The theology of a threatening, punishing God pushes terrorists beyond all normal human restraints, to destroy life.
Look also at what apocalyptic mythology and themes are doing in the environmental alarmism movement. They incite populations to embrace destructive salvation schemes like Rachel Carson’s anti-chemical alarmism (Silent Spring). That apocalyptic narrative led directly to the ban on DDT and subsequent unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of people in the following decades (50 million from 1970 to 2000).
Mythologies, religions, and now ideological systems, with their innumerable conditions and bad ideas, have endlessly distorted and buried the truth that ultimate Reality is no conditions Love. Religion across history has been conditional in nature, presenting the conditions necessary to appease and please the gods- i.e. the correct beliefs, rituals, religious lifestyle, and salvation schemes that people are obligated to embrace in order to be saved from divine threat.
Religion has never communicated to humanity the true nature of the core Love that is God. It can’t.
The historical outcome of these bad ideas has been a lot of bad behavior. As Bob Brinsmead says, “There are no bad people, only bad ideas”.
Using Joseph Campbell’s story outline I have argued that the real enemy of humanity, the real monster that we face in life, is not other people, but rather, the bad religious ideas that incite bad behavior. The real monster is the threatening, demanding God of religious traditions. That monster has now been secularized in the varied ideologies of the contemporary era- i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry planet, or karma.
Campbell also says that a wise man gives us a sword to slay the monster. I would suggest that Historical Jesus gave us the sword of his new unconditional theology. But that sword was immediately buried by Paul in his conditional Christ that represented the demand for a supreme condition of sacrifice before God would forgive. That became the great contradiction at the heart of Christianity- Jesus’ new non-retaliatory and unconditional theology versus Paul’s retaliatory and conditional Christ. See the Jefferson and Tolstoy quotes below that clearly summarize this irreconcilable contradiction.
Christianity then brought the apocalyptic pathology into Western consciousness and societies.
Unconditional love goes to the basic meaning of all things. It answers the great question of why the cosmos was created, and what all reality exists for. If God is no conditions love, and we are that same love, then love is the fundamental truth and meaning of life.
Unconditional illuminates personal human story- that we are here to learn love, and especially to learn something of no conditions love. And if we embrace ourselves as that love, it will profoundly change how we view and treat others. Unconditional love as the essence of human personhood raises the great humanizing caution in our consciousness- how can we violate our core self as love with anything subhuman or inhuman? Would those guys in ISIS be able to terrorize others if they knew that God was love and that love was their essential nature as human persons?
Unconditional holds the potential to spark the greatest liberation movement ever- the profound liberation of mind, spirit, and emotion… from bad ideas.
Unconditional is about understanding the fundamental human question- What does it mean to be authentically human? What is the real nature of our highest ideal of love? Unconditional takes us to the height of what love means.
It’s time to move beyond peripheral tinkering (religious reform) and get serious about purging those core bad theological ideas that still dominate so much religion and ideology. Bad ideas that continue to block human understanding of unconditional reality. We have the answer to that monstrosity.
So yes, it’s the theology, stupid (to paraphrase of Bill Clinton).
If you are Christian or from a Christian background and want to understand the contradiction between Jesus and Paul, one helpful way to start would be to sort out the chronology of the New Testament. What we have is all mixed up. What should be right at the beginning, chronologically, would be the original teaching of Jesus from the Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel. That is basically Matthew 5-7 and a few other sayings and parables.
But that original Wisdom Sayings Gospel is a bit different from Matthew’s presentation of it. Matthew already mucks things up by adding conditions and threats- e.g. your righteousness has to exceed that of the Pharisees or you won’t get into heaven, and you better be perfect like God, or else. That contradicts the core theme of Jesus.
The central statement in Jesus’ gospel is Matthew 5:38-48, or better, Luke’s version in Luke 6: 27-36. Do not retaliate against others but instead love your enemies… because God does. Be unconditionally merciful just as God is unconditionally merciful. This original Jesus material was taught around 27-36 CE. Then the next Christian material was Paul’s first letters to the Thessalonians, written around 50 CE. Putting that just after the Jesus statement shows the stunning contradiction between Jesus’ merciful, unconditional God and Paul’s completely contradicting theology- his retaliating, destroying Christ myth.
Paul’s other letters were written in the 50s CE. All the other New Testament writing follows Paul and was shaped by his theology.
Mark wrote his gospel around 70 CE. Matthew and Luke wrote their gospels in the early 80s CE. Luke was Paul’s protégé, his defender as in Acts. He makes Paul look good, like the hero of early Christianity. But remember, Paul’s Christ is the great anti-Jesus myth. Paul gave us Christ-ianity (his Christ myth), not Jesus-ianity (i.e. the message of Jesus).
Note on human obsession with heat apocalypse…
Why the current obsession with a heat apocalypse as in global warming alarmism? One line of origin- this goes back to Zoroaster, writing around 1500 BCE. Apocalypse before Zoroaster had been framed in terms of a great flood to end humanity (i.e. the Sumerian Flood myth). Zoroaster changed that to a world-ending heat apocalypse- a fiery molten metal washing over the Earth and ending life. Fear of some heat apocalypse has stuck with Western consciousness ever since. Just sayin.
This is a “root issues” site. It explores deeply embedded casual factors behind varied problems like violence (i.e. how bad religious ideas incite bad behavior). We probe these root causes even if only in the hope of long-term solutions, i.e. generational change. One thing we have discovered is how critical theology is to many problems in our contemporary world, such as religious violence and environmental alarmism. Theology is very much about the primary human impulse for meaning (Victor Frankl). (See “The theology in religious violence” in next section just below.)
The correlations between bad ideas and bad behavior? The threat of apocalypse has long incited humanity’s “primal fear”- the fear of angry gods punishing bad people. Frightened people then embrace harmful salvation schemes to appease the angered gods (in more recent versions- to placate the “revenge of Gaia”, angry planet, or karma). Salvation schemes often involve “coercive purification” (i.e. aggressive defense) in order to eliminate threats/enemies. The mass-death outcomes from apocalyptic fear-mongering are stunning. Whether Hitler acting to “save” Germany from the Jewish threat, or environmental alarmists acting to “save the world” from the threat of industrial society and trying to slow or halt economic growth, or ISIS acting to save Islam from the threat of the corrupting infidel. See research of Landes, Herman, Foss, and others below.
The same set of ‘apocalyptic millennial’ ideas have been located behind Marxism, Nazism, environmental alarmism, and ISIS. And Christianity is mainly responsible for embedding apocalyptic in Western consciousness (Paul’s Christ myth) and shaping Islam as an apocalyptic religion (see Tabor, Cook, and others below). The apocalyptic pathology then descended down through 19th Century Declinism to shape Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism.
A humane alternative:
It is not enough to identify these bad religious ideas that have long incited fear and responses such as religious violence. We must provide a robust alternative to replace the apocalyptic template with its core threat of divine punishment. This site argues for a “spiritual” response to the original religious error.
Our potent alternative is the spiritual insight that there is a “no conditions love” behind reality and life. That was the central theme of the Historical Jesus, someone entirely opposite to Christian Jesus (i.e. Paul’s Christ). Historical Jesus offered an alternative theology that effectively countered the primal human fear of divine threat. He taught that there was no punitive God threatening to destroy humanity. There had never been any such reality. There was only Love at the core of life. And that inexpressible unconditional love overturns entirely the fallacy of divine threat that has long incited bad behavior. Love affirms hope and liberates the human spirit from fear, with its instinctive response of aggressive defense.
Section topics below: Climate update- end the hysteria, the natural causes of climate change; Keep hope alive (Decline or Rise? The actual trajectory of life); Fight and win the real battle in life- with bad ideas, notably the apocalyptic template of ideas (see further summaries below); How bad ideas incite bad behavior; Destructive Salvationist responses (“coercive purification”); Don’t touch the Christ (Paul embodied supreme retaliation in his Christ myth, in direct contradiction to the non-retaliation message of Historical Jesus); Apocalyptic outcomes (mass-death totals from apocalyptic); Bob Brinsmead on the real enemy- bad ideas; Stirring the pot (Facebook posts); Justice opposed to love? (and culpability in offenders); British Liberalism; Trump Terror (hysteria gone apoplectic).
Note: The Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas, just below, express essentially the apocalyptic template of ideas, the most prominent and most damaging set of ideas in history. At the core of the apocalyptic template is the worst of all bad ideas- i.e. deity threatening to punish human imperfection. The central themes of apocalyptic are now shaping “secular” ideologies like environmentalism.
Brief summary of Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas: (1) The myth of a vengeful, punishing God behind life. (2) The myth of an original paradise or perfect beginning (the past was better) that has been ruined by humans (life is now in decline toward something worse). The original perfection myth embraces the related bad idea of a God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection. (3) The myth of corrupt humanity deserving punishment (the original sin myth). (4) One of the most psychologically damaging of ideas- the myth that humanity has been rejected by the Creator, separated from God and the broken relationship must be healed. Never happened. (In most mythology/religion the separation occurred at the time humanity ruined the original paradise)
(5) The myth of some cosmic dualism (Good God versus evil force or spirit), a dualism that is played out through human dualisms (e.g. true believers versus infidels, and the many other divisions between people). (6) Looming apocalypse- the violent purging of corruption from the world so the lost paradise can be restored. (7) The demand for a salvation plan- some sacrifice, payment, or punishment, some condition must be fulfilled to appease an angry, threatening God. (8) Payback as the true nature of justice, based on the myth of a punishing God.
(9) The myth of a hero messiah who uses superior force to defeat enemies. (10) Biblicism- the fallacy that religious books are from God, and are more ‘truthful’ or important than ordinary human writing. And well, not exactly 10. (11) The myth that humans were created to serve the gods, and that some deity must dominate humanity, that some higher good must take precedence over humanity (this has often led to abuse of people).
The cohering center of these bad ideas is the myth of “a vengeful God punishing bad people”. This is the worst of the worst. The myth of divine threat has endlessly terrorized people and incited them to embrace wasteful and damaging salvation schemes. This is the root pathology in human thought. It continues to dominate contemporary “secular” ideological systems- i.e. environmental alarmism with its vengeful Gaia, angry planet, or karma.
(See full presentation of Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas in following sections below)
Fake News: Alarmist media (David Altheide- Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis) continue to push the distorting narrative that skeptical scientists “don’t believe in climate change”, and that there is a final consensus on the science.
Skeptical scientists have never denied that climate is changing, but disagree over the causes. What exactly is the proven extent of the human contribution to climate change? And what about the now discovered strong correlations between natural influences/causes and climate change? Also, skeptics do not see sound evidence for the projected catastrophic outcomes from rising CO2 and rising temperatures. See the Introduction to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine “Protest Petition”, signed by almost 32,000 scientists. There are more benefits to increased CO2 and warmer temperatures than disadvantages.
Further, the model predictions of temperature rising between 3-5 degrees Cent. over these decades have all been proven wrong by actual observed climate data.
We have not yet had a rigorous and open public debate over these fundamental points. Yet people are being alarmed and pushed to embrace economically devastating climate policies and accords. The cost in human suffering has been immense- e.g. rising fuel poverty and deaths of the most vulnerable in countries like Britain and Germany, and perpetuated poverty among the world’s poorest.
Another Intro point….
TV interviewers on the skeptical side of the climate change issue, continue to show too much deference to the alarmists that they are interviewing. The interviewers concede regularly that we have to lower CO2 emissions, as though agreeing with the underlying alarmist science. But that is the very issue under debate. Too many have embraced the irrational fear-mongering over CO2, that it is a threat to life. This is a violation of basic science. It even borders, at times, on the insanity of the Alice-In-Wonderland kind. Reality turned all upside down and backwards.
It is embarrassing to have to say… but CO2 is not a poison or pollutant. And no, Richard Branson, we do not need a “war on carbon”. All life is carbon based. Carbon comes to life mainly via CO2.
“All life is carbon based and the primary source of this carbon is the CO2 in the global atmosphere”, Patrick Moore.
Moore is just refreshing us with Grade One science- CO2 is the basic food of all plant-life, and therefore of all life. To demonize CO2 as climate alarmists have done is nuttiness squared. And for the past millions of years (this abnormally cold “ice-age era”) CO2 has been at dangerously low levels. Plant life has been starving. With the slight rise of the past few centuries, plant life has rebounded, but CO2 levels are still too low.
And the CO2 correlation with the past slight warming of 1975-95 is under serious question because CO2 continues to rise at about 2 ppm per year but the warming trend stopped in 1995 and has been flat since. The two strong El Ninos of 1998 and 2015-16 do not define this trend, as alarmists claim.
See the “Celebrating CO2” videos by Patrick Moore, available at Youtube.
Climate update- End the hysteria
Alarmists have pointed to rising CO2 levels and warmer temperatures to incite endless hysteria over ‘climate change’. But consider the larger picture of life on Earth and the long term trends in climate. I am pushing back against the alarmism that has abandoned basic science and slid into apocalyptic exaggeration and distortion- the endless prophesying that the end of all is just over the horizon… again, and again and again. Like the hysterical lady in the science marches (2017) wailing that “the glaciers are melting, the oceans are rising, millions are going to die”. Woe is us.
Here are some basic facts on climate over the long-term history of Earth (paleo-climate history):
We have been in an “ice-age era” for the past many millions of years. This is because our solar system is currently passing through one of the arms of the Milky Way that has a lot of cosmic ray activity (See Henrik Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars for detail). Cosmic rays impact cloud cover as part of an interaction with the sun. The impact of cosmic rays on clouds produces one of the more significant influences on climate as water vapor is the main greenhouse gas, responsible for 95% of the greenhouse effect. Minor gases like CO2 and methane are responsible for the remaining effect.
During this ice-age era, average temperatures on Earth have been low and CO2 levels have also been very low. This is unhealthy for life. Low average temperatures and low CO2 has produced an abnormal, unnatural, and sub-optimal situation for life.
As Professor Ian Plimer says, life “flourishes” with higher temperatures and higher levels of CO2. Plant life prefers CO2 in the 1000-1500 ppm range. CO2 and temperatures have often been much higher over Earth’s history and there was no catastrophic impact on life. Farmers feed their greenhouse plants with CO2 at levels of 1500 ppm.
Temperatures over the history of Earth have often been in the 20 Centigrade plus range. Today we have abnormally cold surface temperatures in the 15 degree Centigrade range. This is barely above ice-age levels of 12 degrees Centigrade. For most of Earth’s history there was no ice at the poles (for 75% of history). That was a more optimal condition for life. Remember, a few years ago they discovered the stumps of tropical trees in the Arctic. It was once a tropical area and that means life would have flourished over a much larger area of the planet.
Climate change is normal and natural over history. Climate is a complex and dynamic system that is never static or unchanging. Climate does not remain at some “optimal” state. But generally, higher temperatures and higher CO2 levels are more optimal for life.
During the previous inter-glacial (Eemian), temperatures were some 3-5 degrees Centigrade warmer than today. And during the present inter-glacial temperatures were warmer during the Roman and Medieval Warming periods. Also, the hottest year “on record” (roughly the past 150 years) was 1935.
It should be noted that the severity of climate change has lessened over this inter-glacial. Ian Plimer graphs the climate change of the past 50,000 years on page 33 of his book “Heaven and Earth”. There were wild swings in temperatures during the remaining millennia of the past glacial period (50,000 to about 30,000 years ago) but since then there have been “far more stable temperatures during the current interglacial”.
We are currently still recovering from the suboptimal cold of the Little Ice Age of roughly 1645 to 1715 CE. That was a bitterly cold time on Earth with summers almost missed in Europe, crop failures, and starvation due to cold.
And when CO2 levels were at historical lows during the pre-Industrial era (some 200 years ago), plant life suffered stress. Now with a slight recovery to warmer temperatures over the past few centuries (about 1 degree Centigrade), and a slight recovery in CO2 levels (from an estimated 285 ppm to about 400 ppm plus), plant life is again flourishing on Earth. These current CO2 levels are still low but plant life is getting more of its basic food and is recovering. There is more plant life- about a 14% increase in primary plant productivity since 1980. Earth today is greener and healthier.
It is embarrassing to have to say this, and contradict James Hansen, Al Gore, John Holdren, and many other “experts”, but CO2 is not a poison or pollutant. It is the main food of all life. It is beyond insanity for Richard Branson to declare a “war on carbon” which is the essence of all biological life. It is further insanity for Bill Maher to state that we are “poisoning people with CO2”. Guys, please go back and redo your Grade One science. Others like David Suzuki have made similar nutty statements about CO2.
The Earth is much greener today and why are the Greens not celebrating this flourishing of life on Earth? They continue to traumatize the public with fear over this return to better conditions for life. This is sheer lunacy. Previously starving plant life is loving this increasing supply of more basic food.
The true narrative of life is that more CO2 and higher temperatures are good for life in net terms.
What about species like polar bears? Well, they survived the past inter-glacials where temperatures were much warmer (3-5 degrees Centigrade warmer) and there were complete melts of Arctic ice. And today with our slight warming, polar bear populations are thriving (up to 30,000 plus bears today compared to only about 8,000 bears some 50 years ago). Many other species also flourish with warmer temperatures. And to the contrary, species extinctions increase with colder temperatures (see Plimer again).
Now to mollify the alarmists, let it be very clear that skeptics do not “deny climate change”. They have never denied the fact that climate is changing. But they have always been skeptical that humans alone were responsible for the climate change that we have seen over the past few centuries. The debate has always been over the actual causes of climate change. There has never been a consensus that humans are mainly responsible for climate change. The 97% consensus is a complete fraud (http://climatechangedispatch.com/97-articles-refuting-the-97-consensus/ ). See also the 32,000 scientists that signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Protest Petition.
What good climate scientists have discovered over the past few decades is that natural influences on climate overwhelm the CO2 influence on climate. The CO2 influence is present when warming is occurring but it repeatedly disappears under the more prominent influence of other natural elements. The stronger correlations to recent climate change are to things like the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, the ocean/climate coupling, the negative feedback from cloud cover (low, below 3000 meter clouds that are highly reflective), and so on.
See Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars and Dr. Akasofu’s work on the ocean/atmosphere coupling- http://www.larouchepub.com/other/interviews/2007/3419dr_akasofu.html
The alarmists have denied this overwhelming evidence.
Also on this issue of correlations: Note that CO2 continues to rise at about 2 ppm per year. Yet the warming period stopped back in 1995. Except for the aberrational El Ninos in 1998 and 2015/2016, there has been no further warming over the past few decades. El Ninos do not define larger trends in climate.
What happened to the slight warming of 1975-95?
For one, we had an active sun in the past century but the sun then went “dead” in the 1990s. It entered a solar minimum that has extended beyond the usual cyclical patterns and expectations, and is now reaching the extent of past minimums such as the Maunder Minimum that correlated with the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715.This has led some scientists to predict that we might be entering another extended cold period. Will doom prophet Paul Ehrlich then switch again to the global cooling hysteria that he promoted in the 1970s?
Yes, these men are not true scientists, but more apocalyptic prophets. Note the father of modern climate alarmism, James Hansen, prophesying in 2008 that “its all over in five years”. So also Pastor Harold Camping prophesied the end of all for December 2013. Another doom prophet, Bill Rees (father of the Ecological Footprint), stated that we would reach ‘peak oil’ in 2013 and then the slide down to calamity would begin. They should all put on their sandwich boards with the statement, “Repent, the end is nigh”. And join Chicken Little on the road, wailing that the “sky is falling”.
This site looks at the primitive mythology behind this environmental alarmism. It is certainly not science.
Oceans are not rising any faster today than over the rest of this inter-glacial- http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/09/30/new-paper-finds-sea-levels-rose-up-to-8-times-faster-to-much-higher-levels-during-the-last-5-interglacials/
Ice is not melting any faster today, and in fact, there has been a net gain in world ice cover. Arctic sea ice increase- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/09/27/inconvenient-record-arctic-sea-ice-growth-in-september/
Antarctic sea ice increase- https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses
Oceans are not acidifying, aside from localized areas and due to natural influences and cycles- https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/ocean-acidification-yet-another-wobbly-pillar-of-climate-alarmism/#
The Ocean Is Not Getting Acidified
No mass extinction occurring- Species are not going extinct at accelerated rates that are any higher than average historical rates over the past hundreds of years (about 2 per year)- http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?zid=65a9c7eb06f55d1959fbc7d3c021fc24&action=2&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010602206&userGroupName=gran68706&jsid=e22a6e9a0822b163ed708bfdb7f8e047
Soil degradation- see Simon and Lomborg discussions in their books. Agricultural soils are not degrading at calamitous rates. Also, soil formation rates often exceed erosion rates (the real issue is any “net” loss). Alarmist reports ignore this balancing fact.
World forest cover has increased since the 1950s, from about 3.8 billion hectares in 1953 to about 4.0 billion plus today, with a tripling of world population during this same period- http://www.fao.org/forestry/fra/52045/en/
Ocean fisheries- problems remain but fisheries will not collapse by 2048 as predicted by alarmists. Some30 percent of ocean species are stressed but recover when harvesting pressure is moderated. And the growing aquaculture industry is taking much pressure off of wild species- https://theteteatete.org/2014/12/03/case-study-the-hilborn-worm-debate-on-the-status-of-global-fisheries/
Temperature is changing naturally, as it always does, and temperature changes have not been more sudden or severe over the past few centuries or decades- http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/146138/100-reasons-why-climate-change-is-natural
There has been no increase in severe weather events and in fact, there has been a decline in hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather over past decades- https://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/climatic-phenomena-pages/extreme-weather-page/
Further, CO2 is not harmful to life until reaching levels of 5000 ppm, or higher.
With further warming, we will not get an overheating world in general (maybe in some localized areas) as the Earth has a very efficient energy distribution system. The upwelling heat at the tropics is conveyed to the poles. The result is less severe temperature differences between the tropics and poles, less severe winters, less severe difference between seasons (winter and summer) and less severe difference between night and day temperatures. A warmer world then decreases the gradients (temperature differences) that cause severe weather events like tornadoes, hence the recent decline in tornado rates, and also in hurricanes.
Earth’s climate also has significant feedback mechanisms that keep climate within ranges that enable life to survive. There is lots of fluctuation within such ranges due to all sorts of natural influences. Hence the never-ending climate change over paleo-climate history.
Further, with warming climate there is less drought. Drought is a result of climate cooling, not warming. Al Gore got this basic relationship all backwards. He also got the CO2 and climate relationship backwards. Over history we have had long stretches of high CO2 while temperatures were low, and times when temperatures were high but CO2 was low. Also, the Vostok ice cores show that climate warms first, and then oceans warm which releases CO2 that then rises in the atmosphere. This is about a lag effect taking centuries to show.
Finally, life overall is improving and not declining toward some catastrophic collapse or ending. The alarmist narrative has life all backwards. More CO2 and higher temperatures are not a threat to life but bring net benefits to life. A proper scientific narrative is that more CO2 and higher temperatures will lead to life flourishing just as evidence has shown the 14% increase in plant productivity since 1980.
Keep hope alive in the face of alarmism
(Qualifying note: We all share a common concern for environmental problems and environmental health. Environmental Kuznets Curve research, or Environmental Transition research, affirms this widespread concern. But environmental alarmism is something different from this common concern that is shared by all humanity. Environmental alarmism persistently exaggerates environmental problems to apocalyptic scale and thereby distorts the true state of things. Alarmism then pressures people to embrace harmful salvation schemes (save the imperilled world) that have devastated people and nature. Environmental alarmists are not the sole valid spokespersons or advocates for nature.)
A lady interviewed at the recent US “rallies for science” (April, 2017), wailed hysterically that “Millions of people are going to die. The glaciers are melting, the oceans are rising”. Former Obama science advisor, John Holdren, said years ago that one billion people would die from global warming by 2020.
No one denies that climate is changing, just as it always has. But the change has been mild and within the range of natural variability- about 1 degree Centigrade of warming over the past century (0.3 degree C from 1975-1995). Further, good science has now shown that natural influences on climate are most likely responsible for the recent warming period. For example, note the correlations between the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, the ocean/climate coupling, and cloud feedback effects. These overwhelm the CO2 influence in general. And even more, they overwhelm the smaller human contribution to CO2.
The news media presentation of the varied elements of life, or events in life, tends persistently toward the alarmist narrative. News media are oriented to an obsessive focus on problems like violence, terror, potential war, and environmental alarms that are regularly taken to excess. Alarmist scientists and alarmist news media persistently exaggerate the varied problems of life and nature to apocalyptic scale. For instance, James Hansen stated in 2008 that because of global warming, “It’s all over in five years”. That is magnitudes of order more irresponsible than shouting fire in a crowded theater because his public statement impacts far more people.
Alarmist scientists do not present the full context of any given problem or the long-term trends that help people understand the true nature of any problem. Their presentation of problems is too often in terms of exaggerated apocalyptic alarmism-“looming crisis”, “potential catastrophe”, or like Hansen- the final collapse and end of all in just a few years. No one denies the fact there are problems throughout life. But to exaggerate problems to apocalyptic scale is to distort the real nature of any given problem and that exaggeration then becomes more like “fake news”. Unfortunately, we continue to see this abandonment of basic science throughout the climate change debate.
Julian Simon (Ultimate Resource) said that alarmist exaggeration and distortion cause fatalism and resignation in populations. But even worse, the outcome of alarmism is that panicked people are more willing to embrace harmful salvation schemes (i.e. “to save the world”), salvation schemes that inflict more damage than they do good. Note here the outcome of Rachel Carson’s chemical alarmism (i.e. 50 million malarial deaths in the following decades). Or the bio-fuels fiasco and consequent harm to the poorest people, as well as increased deforestation. Add the outcome of anti-GM alarmism with its devastating impact on children (8 million unnecessary deaths over a recent 12 year period due to the ban on Golden Rice). Environmental alarmism is “the most destructive movement on Earth today”.
David Altheide nailed the media orientation to alarmism in his study “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis”. Media, he said, are not truth-tellers (i.e. fact-checkers) but entertainers competing with the rest of the entertainment industry for audience. And the entertainment industry is obsessed with apocalyptic mythology. As Richard Landes notes, “(apocalyptic) millennial world histories are the mother of all grand narratives…mother to many of the West’s grand narratives”. He adds, “America, the most ‘cutting edge’ nation on the planet, continues to have one of the world’s more apocalyptic cultures. At the approach of 2000, both secular and religious forms (of apocalyptic millennialism) intensified across Western culture, but nowhere more visibly than in the United States”.
Remember also that in 2013 all the main summer blockbuster movies were apocalyptic. General movie reviewers noted this. Add here the popularity of the “Left Behind” series, varied TV series embracing apocalyptic, and the post-apocalyptic narrative trend in literature (now an established sub-genre). This primitive mythology continues to darken and enslave public consciousness with unnecessary fear.
The true story of life is quite different from the apocalyptic narrative. Careful research on the main elements of life show that the world is not declining toward some great catastrophic collapse and ending. When you consider the overall context and the long term trends, life actually has improved. And life continues to improve toward a better future on all its main elements and main trends. This is true despite remaining problems everywhere throughout life. It comes with an obvious “Duh” to affirm that imperfection will always be with us, and that continuing imperfection has a larger meaning and purpose in life.
Comprehensive studies of the true state of life on Earth have affirmed that the overall trajectory of life is improving. I refer repeatedly to the research of people like Julian Simon, Greg Easterbrook, Bjorn Lomborg, Indur Goklany, Matt Ridley, Ronald Bailey, Ian Plimer, and others. Environmental alarmism, now more like an extremist religious movement, does not embrace the complete evidence on life. It looks for aberrations in long term trends, or local situations. Alarmist science also chooses to engage confirmation bias, looking only for data that affirms its alarmist narrative and dismissing, denying, or discrediting evidence that challenges its dogma (cherry picking). Climate alarmism denies contrary evidence (skeptical science) and that exposes alarmism as an ideological and mythically-oriented movement, not scientific.
Lomborg gives an example of this shoddy confirmation bias science that was employed by a Professor Pimental. Pimental took a short-term reversal in the declining TB trend and tried to make the case that TB was getting worse, and that all disease was getting worse. But after that short term reversal TB continued its decline. Yes, there are downturns in longer trends, setbacks or reversals, often lasting 3-5 years, but they do not define the overall status of the longer-term trends.
And there are localized aberrations in such things as the forest resource (i.e. deforestation hotspots in Central Africa and Brazil). But those do not represent the overall state of forests, which have been growing in size over the past 70 years (from about 3.9 billion hectares in the mid-1940s to about 4.0 billion hectares today). This increase in world forests occurred over the time that world population increased from about 2.4 billion people to some 7 billion plus today. (Note: recent satellite research- 12/05/2017- has now uncovered another 378 million hectares of forest in the planet’s arid zones. This is a 9% increase in Earth’s total forested areas. See GWPF newsletters.)
Good basic science will look at “the complete overall picture” and “the longest-term trends” related to any element of life. It will note that paleo-climate evidence shows that we are currently in an ice age era for these past millions of years. And during this abnormally cold era we have had unhealthy, low levels of CO2, with abnormally low average surface temperatures. More normal, natural, and healthy levels of CO2 over past eras were in the 1000-1500 ppm range (compared to today’s 400 plus ppm). Life has flourished when average temperatures were much higher and CO2 levels were much higher (see Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth). Life did not collapse into disaster with such levels in the past. See also Patrick Moore’s video presentations on “Celebrating CO2” (available on YouTube).
But like the Medieval church silencing Copernicus and Galileo, alarmist science has tried to silence modern skeptical science. The AG (Attorney General) in the US (and varied US states) tried to criminalize skeptical science in 2015. Alarmists have also tried to ban free debate as Jake Tapper of CNN did when he moderated one of the Republican primary debates. When one debater raised the point that there was disagreement on the causes of climate change, Tapper cut him off and told him there was a consensus so no more discussion was permitted. If Tapper had done some basic fact-checking he would have known that there has never been a consensus on the causes of climate change and the 97% consensus number is a fraud.
James Hansen and David Suzuki have even advocated for imprisoning oil company CEOs as criminals. Imagine- imprisoning the very people who provide the energy that fuels our civilization and provides us all the benefits of modern life. What lunacy has come from this Chicken Little alarmism.
Remember that Herman in his The Idea of Decline noted that apocalyptic alarmists in the 19th Century despised the emergence of rational science and longed for a return to a more mythical mindset (the “re-enchantment” of life).
This site affirms hope in a larger narrative of life with evidence that supports the overall improvement of life. This site goes after the great fraud of apocalyptic mythology that is behind alarmism, and especially the latest version of this religion known as ‘environmental alarmism’, the most destructive movement on Earth today. Far more destructive than religious violence.
Estimates affirm that all versions of alarmist movements of the past few centuries have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. Where is the news media on these devastating mass-death outcomes?
Again, this is not to deny or downplay the problems in life. It is about pushing back against the exaggeration and distortion of the true state of life on Earth. It is especially about pushing back against the mythology of some greater metaphysical threat behind nature and natural problems (i.e. angry deity promising apocalyptic destruction for bad people). There is no punishing force or spirit behind life- whether God, Gaia, angry planet, or karma. That is distorting mythology that has endlessly incited panic in populations and the consequent embrace of harmful Salvationist responses.
Unfortunately, these pathological ideas have been deeply embedded in human consciousness over the millennia, even in the subconscious. They resonate with primal fears. They are deeply held beliefs and no amount of good evidence to the contrary will pry them loose. You need to counter these bad religious ideas with alternative spiritual insight.
I have identified a set of core bad ideas or themes behind this apocalyptic fraud, a set of ideas that have persisted in human worldviews from the beginning. We find them first in ancient mythology, then in the great religions of the world, and now even in the dominant ideologies of the modern era. These ideas are summarized in my lists of “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas”. The outcomes of these ideas have been horrifically damaging over history.
The striking thing is that the very same core ideas can be found behind the mass-death outbreaks of the past centuries. Richard Landes has traced the apocalyptic millennial ideas that influenced Marxism (save humanity from the threat of Capitalism), Nazism (save Germany from the threat of the commercial Jew), and environmentalism (save the world from the threat of greedy people in industrial society). Arthur Herman has traced the very same apocalyptic ideas behind Declinism, the ideology that shaped modern environmentalism. We see the same apocalyptic exaggeration present in Rachel Carson’s narrative. And we find the same apocalyptic themes inspiring movements like ISIS today (i.e. save Islamic society from the corrupt infidel). Apocalyptic mythology has persistently incited fear and pushed people to embrace harmful salvation schemes. It is always the same core ideas or themes that incite such destructive responses (“coercive purification”).
The totals from all these mass-death movements now number in the hundreds of millions over the past few centuries. Again, why are the news media not onto this story?
This site goes to the foundational bad ideas behind these destructive apocalyptic movements, noting the historical origins of these ideas, and their persistence (lines of descent) down through history even into modern ideology and science.
I have repeatedly set forth the full apocalyptic template of ideas. And I have focused intensely on the single worst of the bad ideas- the idea of some great Threat behind life (i.e. the myth of an angry, punitive, and destroying God). At the core of Threat theology is a God who vents his rage and punishment in a final great act of apocalyptic destruction. A God who demands some violent salvation scheme to appease his wrath.
Michael Grosso noted the anthropological point that across the world people did not fear death itself but they feared harmful spirits from the after-death realm (see comment in sections below). I take Grosso’s insight further to make the point that the primal human fear has always been “fear of Ultimate Harm”. Fear of great spirits/gods that will punish people through natural disasters, disease, or in some after-life realm. The primal human fear is that of angry, punishing deity. “Secular” versions of this fear include “revenge of Gaia”, angry planet, or karma.
Apocalyptic alarmism of any form resonates with this deeply embedded human fear of Ultimate Harm. When alarmists incite the primal human fear with apocalyptic scenarios, they also incite the urge to embrace aggressive defense (“coercive purification”) against the threats they have presented. Consequently, you then get salvation responses of modern apocalyptic, such as the coercive action against the proposed threat of “industrial society” and the economic growth that is destroying nature and life. Contemporary apocalyptic prophets believe that you must aggressively stop the threat of industrial society by employing strangulating regulation or taxation, or by outright blockage of development projects (i.e. preventing the building of oil pipelines). The consequence? The poorest suffer the most.
This site also presents the breakthrough insight that overturned the foundational bad idea of metaphysical threat. That was the Historical Jesus statement that there was no retaliating, punishing, or destroying God. There is no Threat of Harm behind life or nature. There was only unconditional Love at the core of reality. But Christianity then buried that insight in its retreat back to a retaliating, punishing, destroying God, an apocalyptic God. Jefferson and Tolstoy were right that the New Testament had buried the diamond/pearl of Jesus.
But we do not need Jesus to affirm the discovery of Love at the core of reality. Humanity in general has got the point that love is our highest ideal and that unconditional is the supreme expression of authentic love. Parents get this. Our human rights codes basically express this insight on unconditional with their emphasis on things like the inclusion of all people as equals. We see unconditional expressed in the restorative justice movement. We do not need some religious authority to affirm the point that unconditional love is the highest human ideal. Unconditional love is self-validating as the definition of authentic humanity or humaneness. It defines ultimate Goodness in humanity and deity.
Note: I encourage people to read the masses of good evidence assembled by researchers like James Payne, Stephen Pinker, Julian Simon and others. Check for yourself the evidence from the best sources. But that may be wishing for the impossible at times. There are other things behind the doom and gloom mindset that orient alarmists to confirmation bias, to seeking only evidence that affirms one’s beliefs. And this points to a deeper issue. It has to do with basic worldview and the emotional response to deeply held beliefs. That is why I go after these deeply embedded beliefs in angry, punishing gods, and the related sense that humanity is bad and deserves punishment.
This is about the primal human fear of Ultimate Harm for being bad, for being imperfectly human. And the core idea that God is a retaliatory spirit (or the Greek belief in a core principle of Retribution). Apocalyptic alarmism in all its varied forms is about the bad religious ideas that have long dominated human consciousness and worldviews. These bad religious ideas are the real issue, the real enemy or monster to fight, the real battle in life.
Note on Simon and good science: Consider Julian Simon’s careful approach to understanding life- how he properly evaluated the true state of things on Earth (in his book Ultimate Resource). Simon presented the complete picture (all the evidence) and the long-term trends related to the various elements of life (whether forests, soils, species, etc.). His comprehensive approach requires setting aside confirmation bias (looking only for evidence that supports one’s personal views and ignoring, downplaying, or denying contrary evidence). That complete picture approach affirms hope that life is not heading for looming collapse and disastrous ending. His presentation of the full picture and long term trends helps to avoid the exaggeration and distortion of environmental problems that has so often unnecessarily alarmed people. Simon’s good scientific approach alleviates the exaggerated threat that incites irrational fear and harmful salvation responses.
Chicken Little Syndrome again…
With the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, the prophets of apocalyptic have gone apoplectic again. It’s all over, they are wailing, once again.
James Hansen (NASA) prophesied in 2008, “It’s all over in five years”. The same year that Pastor Harold Camping claimed would bring the end of days.
I understand how the Sumerians felt some 5000 years ago when they were told that their world was going to be destroyed by a great Flood. Over a millennium later Zoroaster changed the apocalypse to heat (i.e. molten metal washing over the world). The idea of a heat apocalypse then stuck in Western consciousness. Paul and other New Testament writers embraced heat in their apocalyptic prophesies. “The Lord will come in blazing fire…” (2 Thessalonians 1:7). John made heat part of his apocalypse, “The sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat…” (Revelation 16:8-9).
And ever since, humanity has been terrorized by the threat of a looming heat apocalypse. Though many end-of-days believers have also maintained the feature of flooding as part of their apocalyptic scenarios (i.e. the oceans rising rapidly to create catastrophe).
Even Stephen Hawking has joined the recent apocalyptic hysteria. He had claimed in recent years that it would all be over in a thousand years or so. But he has now pulled the end of days back to just 100 years. Careful Stephen, apocalyptic has always made fools of the brightest minds.
How do you respond to these endless bouts of apocalyptic madness? All the climate models have now been proven wrong. There is no rapid rise toward 3-5 degrees C warming coming in the next decades. Surface temperatures have been flat for the last 20 years, interrupted only by two strong El Ninos- one in 1998, and another in 2015-2016. Oceans continue to rise at the same rate that they have been rising over the past 15,000 years. Net ice cover on Earth has increased with growing ice cover in Antarctica. Arctic ice has recovered. And so much more evidence that disproves the alarmist exaggeration.
More Climate stuff
News media commentators continue to promote the fraudulent charge that skeptics of looming climate catastrophe are “denying climate change”. People on the skeptical side of the climate debate have never denied climate change. The real issue in climate science has always been the disagreement over the proven causes of climate change. Are human emissions of CO2 really the main cause of climate change? What about the emerging evidence of recent decades that shows natural influences on climate have stronger correlations to the climate change that we have observed over the past century or so?
Also, skeptical scientists have never denied the fact that CO2 that has a warming influence. But CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas and its influence is regularly overwhelmed by other natural factors such as the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, and the ocean/atmosphere coupling (multi-decadal shifts in ocean warming/cooling phases), and negative feedback from cloud cover. Alarmist news media never mention this science.
The mantra of climate alarmists is that rising CO2 levels and warmer temperatures are the great two-pronged threat to life on Earth. This alarmist narrative is all backwards. Paleo-climate history shows that we are currently at historical lows for average surface temperatures (about 15 degrees C- barely above ice age conditions of 12 degrees C.). We are also at historically low levels of CO2. Plant life was starving at pre-industrial CO2 levels of about 285 ppm. Over past long-term history average surface temperatures have been in the 20 degree C. range, with CO2 levels often in the 1000-1500 ppm range. And life flourished under those more optimal conditions. There was no climate catastrophe.
Rising temperatures and increasing atmospheric CO2 have already greened the planet with a 14% increase in plant productivity since 1980. Plant life is celebrating more food.
A potent alternative (correcting theological pathology with “spiritual” insight)
This site thoroughly explores the potent response to this set of bad ideas- the “spiritual” insight (a theological response to an original theological error) that there is only “absolutely no conditions Love” at the core of reality and life. And equally important- the related insight that the essence of the human spirit is that same no conditions love (God as love incarnated in all humanity). We are not fallen, corrupt beings (You Are Not Your Brains, Jeffrey Schwartz), but are most essentially and fundamentally Love at the core of our human self or person. Use this insight to affirm your true self. Build healthy self-esteem on this insight.
These two insights give profound meaning to human existence. They re-orient consciousness away from the darkening and enslaving grip of fear (fear of Ultimate Threat, Ultimate Harm), and toward the liberating influence of Ultimate Love. They point to the purpose of human existence as an adventure in learning how to love in the midst of an imperfect world. We are here to love. It is what we are.
And as Joseph Campbell said, a wise man gives us the sword to slay the monster. We have been given the sword of unconditional to bring down the monster of threatening, punitive deity. Use it.
Note: The insight that there is unconditional Love at the core of reality, points to a variety of logical or obvious conclusions. It overturns entirely the Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas. There is no threat of judgment or punishment from any God. There is no need for salvation or reconciliation with God. There is nothing to fear, ultimately.
Expanding on section topics: Paraphrasing Joseph Campbell’s story outline- fight the real enemy and monster in life, the metaphysical Master Terrorist (examples- the punitive God of religious traditions, vengeful Gaia, angry planet, and payback karma of contemporary traditions and ideologies). The Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas are now expressed commonly in movements like environmental alarmism, “the dominant ideology on the planet today”, and very much a “secularized” version of primitive apocalyptic mythology (see Summary of Apocalyptic Themes below).
(Note: Careful distinction is made here between the common concern for environmental health that all people share and environmental alarmism, an extremist anti-science movement that persistently exaggerates the problems in life to apocalyptic scale, thereby distorting the actual nature and extent of problems.)
Topics (cont.): More on environmental alarmism- “the most destructive movement on the planet today” (Bob Brinsmead). Alarmists have mounted full-scale assaults on things like chemicals, fossil fuels, and Genetically Modified foods. This has harmed the poorest people on Earth the most (note the devastating death totals below, see Jeffrey Foss’s Beyond Environmentalism for detail). A stunning correlation- the same set of common apocalyptic themes has shaped Marxism, Nazism, environmentalism, and religious violence like ISIS. See summary of apocalyptic themes just below and histories like Richard Landes’ Heaven on Earth, or Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline.
How bad ideas incite bad behavior
How do bad ideas, like apocalyptic, influence people to engage bad behavior? The threat of apocalyptic punishment or destruction stirs fear in people and excessive fear shuts down rational thought. Frightened people then feel pushed to embrace some salvation scheme, to save themselves, or to “save the world”, from the threatened punishment or destruction. Salvation programs often involve “coercive purification” (Landes’ term)- some form of aggressive “defense” against the proposed threat, some program of aggressive action to fight and eliminate an enemy. In secular movements, salvation schemes involve purging life of the “corrupting system or force” such as industrial civilization, in order to restore a lost paradise, to introduce utopia. We have seen this Salvationist endeavor in the modern central control programs of environmentalism that are advocated as necessary to slow “nature-destroying economic growth”. That obstruction of economic growth harms the poorest people the most.
In religious movements the coercive purification may involve purging the unbelievers (the enemies of God) in order to please the angry, threatening God and attain the religious paradise.
More on section topics: “Paul’s Christ myth” is an epitome statement of the primitive mythology of apocalyptic threat. Paul’s Christ became the central myth that kept apocalyptic mythology alive in Western consciousness (James Tabor on the influence of Paul in “Paul and Jesus”). Note carefully the stunning difference between Paul’s Christ and the central message of Historical Jesus, as evident in the contradicting themes of “ultimate retaliation” (Christ) versus “non-retaliation” (Jesus), or supreme condition (the Christ as ultimate sacrifice) versus unconditional (Jesus- “love, expecting nothing in return”).
Topics (cont.) “Affirming hope” (keep hope alive): The comprehensive scientific evidence on the ‘true state of the planet’ (i.e. the complete overall picture and long-term trends) shows that life is not declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending. Life is actually rising/improving toward something ever better. This evidence offers a sound basis for hope. See the research of Julian Simon (Ultimate Resource), Greg Easterbrook (A Moment On The Earth), Bjorn Lomborg (Skeptical Environmentalist), Indur Goklany (The Improving State of the World), Matt Ridley (Rational Optimist), Ronald Bailey (The End of Doom), and others listed below.
Then: “Climate update” (key elements in the debate between alarmists and skeptics, and notes on the natural influences on climate that show stronger correlations to climate change than CO2). Let’s end the apocalyptic exaggeration of natural problems and the resulting hysteria, i.e. the Chicken Little Syndrome that has possessed contemporary apocalyptic prophets like James Hansen, John Holdren, Al Gore, Leonardo Dicaprio, and now Stephen Hawking, among others. This site details the devastating outcomes of irresponsible apocalyptic alarmism.
Also, “British Liberalism”: The fundamental principles and institutions that have benefitted the world with freedom and prosperity. The best of the West. And then- “Trump Terror” to round things up. Ah, why not stick my big nose into that one, eh. It illustrates the great societal divide between collectivism ideologies and the free individual movement.
Summary of core apocalyptic themes (the heart of the Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas): The myth of a better past, an original paradise. This perfect beginning myth sets the baseline for what follows: Corrupt humans then ruined the paradise and life is now declining toward some catastrophic collapse and ending, toward the apocalypse where God or Gaia will punish and destroy humanity (judgment for ruining paradise). Humanity must now embrace a salvation scheme in order to “save the world”, to appease the angry God or angry planet, and thereby avoid punishment. The salvation scheme includes the violent purging of the corrupting thing in life, i.e. purging “destructive human civilization” in contemporary versions. There must be “coercive purification” of the world so that the lost paradise can be restored, or a new utopia/millennial paradise installed once again. The purging is the apocalypse.
The core idea in the apocalyptic template is that of a “vengeful God punishing bad people”.
The alternative to apocalyptic alarmism:
A “spiritual” insight to correct the original mythical/religious error in early human thought- the myth of an angry God punishing bad people. The insight? The single greatest discovery ever- that the true nature of Ultimate Reality is “absolutely no conditions Love”. There is no retaliating or punishing God behind life. There is only Love.
Unconditional love offers the ultimate definition of authentic humanity. It points to the real nature of authentic love. Most parents get this unconditional element in how they view and treat their children. We then do good theology by projecting this unconditional feature of love out onto deity, but to transcendent degree. God is ultimate Good, ultimate Love. God is unconditional love to inexpressible degree that points toward the wonder and scandal of unconditional.
What are the logical conclusions from this discovery? First, because religious people insist on tacking some condition onto unconditional, it must be affirmed clearly that the term “unconditional” means absolutely no conditions. None. One logical conclusion, then, is that unconditional means that there is no coming judgment and no separation or exclusion of anyone. It means there is no punishing force or spirit behind the natural elements of the world. Aside from the normal ‘natural consequences’ that are experienced throughout life, there is no payback or punishing principle or force behind life (i.e. karma). And there is certainly no apocalypse, no ultimate punishment and destruction. Also, unconditional means that there is no demand for a salvation plan. There is absolutely nothing to fear or appease in ultimate reality or God, whatever you envision that to be.
No religion has ever communicated this profoundly liberating truth of “unconditional Ultimate Reality” to humanity. All historical religion has affirmed the myth of some great punishing force or spirit behind life (See Descent of Bad Ideas in other sections below). Hence, all religion has been oriented to conditions- how to appease and please the threatening gods with the correct and required beliefs, sacrifices, rituals, and religious lifestyle.
The discovery of a core unconditional Love sparks the most profound liberation movement ever- that of mind, spirit, and emotion at the deepest levels of human consciousness. Explore this with us. Unconditional cuts the taproot of the bad religious ideas- especially the foundational myth of vengeful God punishing bad people. The bad religious ideas associated with this fundamental myth have endlessly incited bad behavior among people.
Unconditional exposes the Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas as fraudulent mythology, unnecessarily terrorizing human consciousness across the millennia.
Historical religious traditions have never communicated to humanity the real nature of deity as unconditional. The perception of the core of Reality as unconditional has the potential to spark the most profound transformation of human consciousness ever.
Note: On the physical side- the great trajectories of the cosmos, life, and civilization all reveal endless improvement toward something better (i.e. toward more complexity, more organization). These trajectories do not show decline toward something worse.
Further on the topics above:
A key point in the material on this site- watch carefully how primitive mythology and religious ideas are “secularized” in contemporary ideologies. Primitive myth is given new secular expression, new terms for new ideologies, but the core themes remain the same. In this we see the persistence of apocalyptic down through history. It is always more of the same old, same old.
The apocalyptic template of ideas is the most damaging set of ideas in history. It is now given expression in environmental alarmism, “the most destructive movement on Earth today”. How can we affirm this charge? Note the mass-death totals listed below. They are stunning. Where are the news media on this story? Oh, I forgot. Alarmist environmental narratives, that ignore the devastating outcomes to humanity, are the life-blood of news media (see David Altheide’s analysis of news media in “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis”).
Historians have shown that the very same set of bad religious ideas have been uncovered behind notable outbreaks of bad human behavior over history- i.e. Marxism and Nazism. Those same bad ideas continue to incite bad behavior today, in religious violence (ISIS) and now through environmental alarmism. The single worst of the bad religious ideas is that of a retaliatory, punishing, and destroying God, the God that will bring on the apocalypse. That is the real enemy, the real battle that we must fight, with the real monster that we must conquer. Our real struggle is not against other people, other members of our one human family. Threatening apocalyptic deity is the core bad idea that we must confront and eliminate in order to fundamentally solve problems like religious violence for the long term future.
Also, new material on “Stirring the pot”- some Facebook posts. More on the Jesus/Paul contradiction. And related comment on justice and love. Are they in conflict with one another?
The irresponsibility of alarmism– A summary of basic points for those in a hurry. Some expanded versions further below.
As noted above, bad ideas incite bad behavior. Here again are the important relationships/correlations to note- Promoting threat of looming destruction in public consciousness stirs unnecessary fear and shuts down rational thought. Frightened people are then easily pushed to embrace harmful salvation schemes that involve “coercive purification”, aggressive “defensive” action to save themselves, or save the world. These salvation schemes are too often assaults on human freedom. They orient populations to central control systems and the outcomes tend toward totalitarianism, as in the present endeavor of Greens to control human economic systems, and life in general, through agencies like the UN (for detail see Michael Hart’s “Hubris: the troubling science, economics and politics of climate change”).
When you stir a sense of threat in public consciousness, you incite fear and that has too often promoted destructive aggression against the threat. The outcomes have been devastating to real people, often the most vulnerable people (see also detail in studies like “Beyond Environmentalism” by Jeffrey Foss). The very same pattern of inciting apocalyptic fear, along with its related aggression to defend against threat, is evident in outbreaks of religious violence such as from ISIS (see David Cook on “Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature”). Fear-mongering does not promote peace, love and generosity in populations.
Further, we all share a common concern for the health of the environment. We are all environmentalists in the sense of our shared concern for a healthy planet. But movements like environmental alarmism, an extremist anti-science movement, persistently exaggerate the problems in life to apocalyptic scale. That then distorts the true nature and extent of problems. Alarmists repeatedly wail, “the end is nigh” (again, and again, and again…). Remember that climate alarmist James Hansen stated in 2008, “It is all over in five years”. Alarmist John Holdren said that one billion people would die from global warming by 2020.
Even Stephen Hawking has recently fallen for Chicken Little Alarmism Syndrome (2017). Apocalyptic mythology has endlessly made fools of the brightest minds. Hawking continues to revise his end-of-days prophesies, down from thousands of years to now just 100 years. Soon he will be doing what Pastor Harold Camping did when he set December 2013 as the end of the world. Cautionary reminder: apocalyptic prophesying has a 100% historical failure rate.
The outcome of such alarmism has been harmful “salvation” schemes (i.e. “save the world”), policies and programs that have devastated humanity and nature (e.g. the bio- fuels, DDT, and anti-GM fiascos, among others).
Some examples of Salvationist responses to alarmism and the outcomes. These movements have all been incited by the same core apocalyptic themes. See more detail in expanded versions further below.
1.Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative and chemical alarmism led directly to the ban on DDT. That ban resulted in the deaths of some 50 million people from 1970 to 2000. All to save the world from an exaggerated and distorted threat. She set the tone for the following environmental alarmist movement, something quite different from the common environmental concern that we all share. (See the entomologist’s analysis of her Silent Spring further below)
2.Hitler was incited to violent action to ‘save Germany’ because of the apocalyptic alarmism of Spengler and others. The human cost was horrific. Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth) details the “apocalyptic millennialism” that shaped Hitler’s thinking (see also Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline). As Landes notes, if you dismiss Hitler as just a madman, you then miss the critical role that Christian apocalyptic ideas played in his mass-death movement.
3.ISIS is incited to violence by the same core apocalyptic ideas (see, for example, David Cook on Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature, noting that Islam borrows heavily from Christian apocalyptic).
Again- apocalyptic alarm movements push frightened people to embrace “coercive purification” programs (totalitarian, central control endeavors) in order to purge the looming threat and bring on the envisioned utopia, whether a religious, political, or environmental utopia.
The repeated point made here- bad ideas incite bad behavior and the consequences are devastating to many people. Our real battle in life is not with other people but with the bad ideas that drive them to engage harmful salvation schemes. Our real enemy is the Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas (see sections below). That is the real monster in life.
Added Notes: More on the damaging consequences of alarmism (expansion of the above comment)
Topics: Pay attention to the core ideas in systems of thought/belief. And note the relationship between religious belief and contemporary ideology. I have traced here the persistence of apocalyptic themes down through history, despite the immense and ongoing harm. The historical line of descent- from ancient mythology to religion to 19th Century Declinism to Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism. Note the outcomes of differing ideas over history. Fight and win “the battle of ideas”. See “Apocalyptic in alarmist movements” just below.
“The greatest threat to the world today is environmental alarmism”, Bob Brinsmead. This conclusion is supported by the mounting evidence of the harmful outcomes from environmental alarmism (some listed immediately below).
Note again this important and “stunning” correlation: Environmental alarmism is driven by the same core apocalyptic ideas that drive violent religious movements like ISIS. The same core themes (“apocalyptic millennialism”) also incited the mass-death movements of Marxism and Nazism. I refer to the research done by historians like Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth), Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline), Michael Hart (Hubris), Jeffrey Foss (Beyond Environmentalism), and others.
Some have claimed that environmental alarmism has caused the deaths of multiple tens of millions of people. At first blush that seems exaggerated. But no, it isn’t. Add some of the totals below and see for yourself the real human cost from alarmist hysteria. For example, Rachel Carson’s alarmism alone led to the deaths of up to 50 million people that were denied the protection of DDT (total malaria deaths from 1970 -2000).
Also see http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/summ02/Carson.html for an analysis of Carson’s shoddy science.
Further, the alarmist battle today against fossil fuels hinders multiple millions of people from escaping poverty and that devastates human life. As Foss notes, cutting CO2 emissions reduces economic activity and that hurts the poorest people the most.
Another related correlation to explore: See the Ronald Bailey article further below (“Federal regulations have made you 75% poorer”) that shows Americans are only one-sixth as wealthy as they should be, due to excess regulation since WW2, much of it environmental. In relation to this, Rupert Murdoch suggested that the sluggish world economy- i.e. 2016- was due to excessive environmental regulation.
Add here the 8 million children that died over a recent 12 year period because they were denied access to Vitamin A in Golden Rice, due to alarmism over GM foods (Bjorn Lomborg at http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/bjorn-lomborg-trashing-rice-killing-children ). Activism against GM agriculture also means limiting access to new strains of wheat and other crops that could alleviate hunger and poverty among the poorest people.
Add the increasing deaths of people in places like Germany and Britain from diesel pollution due to alarmism over CO2 emissions from gas engines (i.e. the consequent push to switch from gas to diesel engines). Add the increased deaths of vulnerable people from cold in Britain and elsewhere, driven to fuel poverty because of alarmism over CO2. See Global Warming Policy Foundation reports on these issues.
Getting to the root ideas behind alarmism
Look carefully at the core themes behind contemporary environmental alarmism and understand where they came from. Do some “reverse engineering”, tracing the lines of historical descent backwards through history to see the origin of ideas. Start in recent history with the ideology that shaped contemporary environmental alarmism- i.e. 19th Century Declinism. And going further back, ask what ideas shaped the development of Declinism? Now you are back at Christian apocalyptic, the single most dominant influence on Western consciousness and society (James Tabor in “Paul and Jesus”). And of course, Christianity borrowed its apocalyptic themes from Judaism which borrowed from Zoroastrianism which borrowed from Sumerian mythology which….
I have traced the core ideas back to their beginnings and noted the descending path of apocalyptic from myth to religion to ideology.
(Then working with the forward flow of history again… forward engineering?)
Christianity, in particular, is responsible for bringing apocalyptic alarmism into the Western world (James Tabor- apocalyptic shaped everything that Paul said and did, i.e. his Christian religion). As noted just above, Arthur Herman shows that Christian apocalyptic ideas then shaped 19th Century Declinism which in turn shaped Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism. Declinism is simply a more “secular” version of primitive apocalyptic thinking. Herman notes only a few of the religious ideas behind Declinism- i.e. the loss of an original paradise and the violent purging at the end of the world (the apocalypse that purges the corrupting force in life). This site gives more detail on these things.
Richard Landes notes specifically that Christian “apocalyptic millennialism” shaped Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism. There are some stunning correlations between these religions and ideologies. Historians have detailed the evidence showing that the same core apocalyptic ideas were behind these mass-death movements.
Add the deaths from Marxism and Nazism to the total deaths from apocalyptic alarmism. The damaging outcomes have been horrific.
Where is the news media on this story?
My point- the real enemy in life, the real monster to fight, the real battle to engage, is with these bad ideas that have incited unnecessary alarmism across history. Alarmism has always pushed people to embrace harmful “salvation” schemes that have devastated humanity and human societies. Doom and gloom alarmism has even stirred some people to try to initiate the apocalypse, to bring on the final chaotic ending of life. ISIS is an example of people driven to help God usher in the final end to a “corrupt” world and then establish their paradise. Others have noted that threat-mongering promotes resignation, fatalism and despair among populations (i.e. Julian Simon).
It is irresponsible in the extreme to promote alarmism and then deny the harmful outcomes from alarmist exaggeration. We all recognize that there are problems throughout nature and life. But alarmism exaggerates these problems to apocalyptic scale and that distorts the true status of anything. Remember James Hansen stating in 2008, “It’s all over in five years”. Alarmism then pushes people to embrace damaging salvation schemes where politicians use state force to pressure populations to adopt the severe measures (the “coercive purification”) believed necessary to avoid some manufactured and over-hyped threat.
Summary note: The apocalyptic template of myths has dominated mythologies and religions across history. It now dominates ideologies, notably Declinism and its offspring- Environmental alarmism.
Again: The Apocalyptic template of ideas. The expressions of apocalyptic mythology change from generation to generation, and from religion to ideology (i.e. new terms for new movements), but the core themes remain the same.
Apocalyptic encompasses the following ideas: The myth of a better past, an original paradise. Corrupt humans ruined the paradise and life is now declining toward some catastrophic collapse and ending, toward the apocalypse where God or Gaia will punish and destroy humanity. So humanity must embrace a salvation scheme in order to “save the world”, to appease the angry God or planet. The salvation scheme includes the violent purging of the corrupting thing in life- i.e. “destructive human civilization” in contemporary versions. There must be “coercive purification” of life, the Earth must be cleansed of impurity, so that the lost paradise can be restored, or a new utopia/millennial paradise installed.
The core idea in apocalyptic is that of a vengeful God punishing bad people. The pairing of the “two worst” of all the bad religious ideas.
Insert: It is repeatedly noted here that sound evidence on the true state of life on Earth shows that life does not decline toward something worse, toward collapse and ending. Rather, life rises and improves over the long-term, toward something better than before. Amassed evidence supports this- again, note Simon, Easterbrook, Lomborg, Ridley, Goklany, Bailey. Note also the overall improving trajectories of the cosmos, life, and human civilization.
Apocalyptic in alarmist movements: Summaries of the core themes in varied movements.
Christianity: An original paradise (Eden) was ruined by fallen, corrupt people. Life now declines toward something worse, toward a great world-ending apocalypse. God will purge the world of the corrupting elements in a great apocalypse (“coercive purification”) and then re-install the lost paradise.
19th Century Declinism: There was a pristine natural past. Humanity in industrial society has ruined that paradise. Now life is declining toward collapse and ending. The salvation scheme? Purge the corrupting force from the world- industrial civilization- so that the lost paradise can be restored.
Marxism: The original paradise was early communal, hunter/gatherer existence. Humanity has now fallen into industrial capitalist society that is heading to self-destruction. We must purge this destructive system from the world in order to restore the lost communal paradise (again- “coercive purification”).
Nazism: The past was pristine with a more pure German race and culture (rural man in harmony with nature). That came under threat from Jewish/capitalist pollution. Hitler believed that German society was declining toward catastrophe and he believed that he had to purge the Jewish threat (among other threats) to German purity and power in order to save Germany, and to enable Germany to enter the new millennial paradise of the Third Reich, the restored German paradise.
Environmentalism: The past world was a pristine natural paradise. That has been ruined by humanity in technological, industrial civilization. This industrial society must be slowed and reversed, even purged from the world, in order to “save the world” and restore the lost natural paradise.
The same ideas shape the mass-death movements of religious violence such as ISIS. ISIS jihadists live in a world threatened by the impure society of the unbeliever that must be purged from life so that the Muslim paradise/caliphate can be spread across the world.
Added note: this site uses a theological insight to respond to an original theological error. From a noted “spiritual” perspective we have the insight that there is no Threat behind life, but only Love at the core of reality. That core Love does not threaten apocalypse or demand some costly and damaging salvation scheme. It does not urge or engage “coercive purification”.
Don’t touch the Christ– the ultimate blasphemy
Paul’s Christ myth has been called “the most influential myth in all history”. It is the foundational Christian belief, the holy of holies, the very heart and soul of Christianity. You challenge this myth at great peril of inciting Christian rage and hysteria. To challenge this is to engage the ultimate blasphemy and sacrilege. Calvin put Servetus to death for refusing to state that Jesus was the Christ- fully equal with God in the Trinity myth. Servetus had rejected the Christ myth. He refused to move an adjective over just two words in a sentence. Calvin wanted him to state “Jesus is the eternal son of God”. Servetus would only admit, “Jesus is the son of the eternal God”. And even though he was Calvin’s fellow Christian theologian, Servetus was slowly burned to death in a green wood fire. It took him 30 minutes to die in horrific agony.
While affirming the good human ideals that were included in Paul’s theology, let me also point to some subhuman features in the same material. Remember Thomas Jefferson’s point that we must distinguish diamonds from dung, and Leo Tolstoy’s similar point to distinguish pearls from muck, slime, and garbage. In quoting such graphic language I am not trying to offend but I am simply seeking clarity about what is good and what is bad in Paul’s teaching. When you protect subhuman features in a belief system, along with better features, the subhuman features cloud and deform the more humane elements in your system. It is corruption by association.
The Christ myth of Paul embraces and affirms some of the most primitive features of ancient mythology. It includes the themes of Threat theology, retaliation justice, apocalyptic destruction, conditional salvationism, blood sacrifice, superior violent messiah mythology (combat hero, ultimate savior mythology), and more. Paul’s Christ is an epitome icon of much that is bad in human thought and belief. It is difficult for Christians to see this because Paul’s Christ is commonly defined and presented in terms of the better human ideals of love, grace, and mercy. His Christ is presented as the Savior of humanity. How can there be anything bad in that?
The better features in Paul’s Christ make it difficult to recognize the other bad features, subhuman ideas like apocalyptic rage and destruction. The danger in these mixed-feature icons is that the darker features are merged with higher human ideals. The subhuman features then weaken and undermine the better ideals. The outcome is that ideals like love are then understood as something that is based on violent human sacrifice and reserved only for true believers. Love then becomes a limited tribal love where unbelievers are excluded and punished in Hell. That is not authentic unconditional love.
Remember, these gods are humanity’s highest ideals and authorities. Icons of the highest Good. The influence of the darker features in such icons can be horrifically damaging to minds and spirits.
Paul’s Christ myth is an intense embodiment of primitive Threat theology- the myth of an angry, punishing God that demands payment, sacrifice, and the severest punishment for failure to do so. Paul’s myth offers an intense focus on humanity’s greatest pathology in thought- the apocalyptic template of themes. Those are the most damaging set of ideas in history- that of an angry deity punishing fallen humanity, and violently destroying the world by apocalypse. Paul’s Christ is an epitome statement or expression of the old myth and theology of a retaliating God who threatens punishment and destruction. That divine threat that has always been at the heart of past mythology and religion.
Note the apocalyptic retaliation in Paul’s earliest writing, his Thessalonian letters: Paul starts those letters by urging faith in Jesus “Who rescues us from the coming wrath”. He then proceeds to warn the opponents of his Christ gospel that “the wrath of God has come upon them at last… The Lord (Christ) will punish men…. The Lord (Christ) himself will come down…. destruction will come on them suddenly… they will not escape… (but) suffer wrath”. Further in Second Thessalonians, “(God) will pay back trouble to those who trouble you… when the Lord Jesus (Christ) is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (Christ). They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord (Christ)… whom the Lord Jesus (Christ) will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming… they will perish”. Yikes to nth degree.
In other letters, Paul repeatedly affirms his central theme of divine retaliation. He speaks of people abusing their bodies and that “God will destroy them” (1Cor.). He warned those who taught other gospels different from his that they would be “eternally condemned” (Gal.1). People who gave in to their sinful nature would “reap destruction” (Gal.6). And that “God’s wrath comes on the disobedient” (Ephesians 5). Opponents of Christians would “be destroyed”, (Philippians 1). And “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong” (Col.3). And of course, his clearest statement of divine retaliation (divine eye for eye justice) is presented in Romans 12:17-20 (“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”).
Angry deity punishing fallen humanity is the fundamental bad religious idea. It is where things originally went wrong. The original “fail” of humanity was to believe that the gods were punishing spirits. Humanity’s original error was to create the mythology of a punishing God. Paul in his Christ myth re-affirmed that primitive pathology of divine retaliation. His Christ became the summation of all that was wrong in past human thought, the summary of all the bad theology of past millennia. Paul in his Christ expresses those worst of all bad ideas to extreme degree or scale. His Christ will bring the ultimate retaliation of eternal destruction.
Paul’s myth then became the embodiment of humanity’s primal fear and terror- the fear of some Ultimate Harm. This was fear that was way beyond fear of temporal natural disaster, accident, disease, or death. It was the ultimate fear- the fear of after-life harm from the gods (i.e. in Greek myth- the wandering of departed souls in the darkness of Hades, or in Christian myth- eternal burning in Hell).
James Tabor: “I maintain that there was a version of ‘Christianity before Paul, affirmed by both Jesus and his original followers, with tenets and affirmations quite opposite to these of Paul. This is the lost and forgotten Christianity…. The message of Paul, which created Christianity as we know it, and the message of the historical Jesus and his earliest followers, were not the same. In fact, they were sharply opposed to one another with little in common… Paul is the most influential person in human history, and realize it or not, he has shaped practically all we think about everything… from our assumptions about reality to our societal and personal ethics… (they) rest in a singular way upon the heavenly visions and apparitions of the apostle Paul. We are all cultural heirs of Paul, with the well-established doctrines and traditions of mainstream Christianity deeply entrenched in our culture. In contrast, Jesus as a historical figure… has been largely lost to our culture…Paul operated with a strongly apocalyptic perspective that influenced all he said and did” (Paul and Jesus, Preface and p.15).
Paul’s mythology of a Christ that would bring on the apocalypse (divine threat mythology) is entirely opposite to Jesus’ stunning new message of a non-retaliatory God that was no conditions love (Matt.5, Luke 6). Jesus had presented the new theology that would liberate humanity from the old threat of some punishing deity- from humanity’s greatest fear. Jesus said that there should be no more “eye for eye but, instead, love your enemies… because God does”. That statement meant that there was no ultimate divine Threat of punishing retaliation. There was only Love at the core of reality. Jesus stated that God sent the good gifts of life- sun and rain- to all alike, both good and bad. God did not discriminate between people but included all and loved all the same. God did not threaten punishment or destruction to the bad people, but offered only generous forgiveness and love to all. Jesus made the single greatest breakthrough discovery in all history. As James Robinson said, Jesus’ non-retaliatory theology was “his greatest contribution to the history of ideas”. (See the Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel research).
Paul’s Christ, his core teaching, was a complete contradiction of that gospel of Jesus.
Paul’s Christ myth is the epitome statement of his rejection of the non-retaliatory theology of Jesus and his retreat to retaliatory theology. And Paul did this intentionally, as in Romans 12:17-20 where he stated that God would retaliate. God would engage eye for eye justice (i.e. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”). Paul confronted the core theme of Jesus- that God did not retaliate- and rejected it, contradicted it outright, and replaced it with his retreat to primitive Threat theology, the theology of divine retaliation. In Romans 12:17-20, Paul even used the same pattern that Jesus had used, starting with a behavior and then basing that behavior on a belief (i.e. do this because God does this). Only Paul got the belief all backwards from Jesus’ new belief.
Paul’s Christ is a supreme statement of his rejection of Jesus’ non-retaliatory theology and retreat to retaliatory theology.
Paul’s Christ myth buried the single greatest discovery ever. It short-circuited the greatest potential liberation movement ever. Jesus’ new unconditional theology- that God did not retaliate and punish- had offered freedom from humanity’s primal fear of ultimate Harm, fear of divine punishment. This is the great scandal of Christianity. Paul’s Christ is the anti-Jesus. Where Jesus had rejected divine retaliation and punishment, Paul’s Christ is an epitome statement of divine retaliation and punishment. Read those Thessalonian statements again and compare them with the central theme of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-48.
The Christ myth focuses and illustrates the profound contradiction between the message of Jesus and the entirely opposite message of Paul, the message that became Christianity. The core of this contradiction is about what ideas or ideals should define human life and response- the ideal of retaliation or non-retaliation. This contradiction is central to understanding human history- what went wrong and how to make it right. The contradicting messages of Jesus and Paul help us to understand what most essentially forms the general categories of good and bad in human thought and existence- non-retaliation or retaliation. What do we hold as our ultimate ideal and authority? The non-retaliatory/unconditional message of Jesus, or the ultimate retaliatory/conditional message of Paul?
From another angle:
Paul’s Christ also highlights the conditional/unconditional element of the contradiction to extreme scale. The Christ was created to express the divine demand to fulfil the supreme condition ever conceived- the demand for a supreme cosmic sacrifice or payment to satisfy the wrath of God. The ultimate and final payment/demand/condition. The sacrifice of a God-man.
To the absolute contrary, Jesus’ central gospel message was no conditions love. Listen carefully to some of Jesus’ statements- Authentic love does not just love those that love the same in return. Love expects nothing in return. It generously loans or gives to anyone, expecting no payment (no eye for eye relating). Love keeps no record of wrongs (1Cor.13). If also forgives seventy times seven, which is to say without limit or condition.
The love that Jesus taught meant no demand for sacrifice or payment to satisfy some imagined tight-fisted and angry deity.
Paul’s central gospel was about a supreme condition that was demanded- the making of an ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of a god/man, before there would be forgiveness or salvation. A sacrifice like no other ever conceived before. The final, ultimate, cosmic sacrifice. The ultimate condition that had to be met first before anyone could be forgiven, included, or saved.
Admittedly, the Christ of Paul also contains some of the greatest human ideals- love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and so on. But these are merged or harmonized with subhuman ideals and that fosters “cognitive dissonance”- the confusion of holding opposite things in tension. The better ideals in the Christ are all defined by the overarching categories of exclusion (salvation is only for those who believe the Christ myth), and supreme tribalism- unbelievers will be ultimately excluded and destroyed. Love in Paul’s gospel then becomes limited and conditional tribal love, the very opposite of what Jesus advocated. Jesus had taught that we should not just love those that love us in return, like the primitives do. We should love all inclusively, in an unlimited and universal manner. There should be no believer/unbeliever division or separation with authentic divine love. Humanity- both good and bad people- was one family, all the children of God.
Affirming the animal, rejecting the animal
Paul’s Christ illuminates the root of the human problem. How to liberate consciousness from our animal past with its central feature of tribal division, opposition, and retaliation between differing groups (i.e. eye for eye as an expression of animal survival responses). When animals are attacked they defend aggressively, fighting back against predators, enemies. That aggressive response had carried over into human societies as retaliation, or eye for eye justice. Jesus tried to liberate people from that primitive response that fueled endless cycles of payback revenge between divided and opposing groups of people. Paul refused the advance of Jesus and re-affirmed primitive thinking on this issue.
So yes, the Jesus/Paul contradiction is crucial to understanding the greater human story, our emergence out of an animal past, our struggle to become human, and the great systems of meaning that we create to explain and validate this journey. Jesus offered a new step of liberation and advance with his non-retaliatory ethic and theology. But early Christianity rejected that, opposed it, buried it, and re-affirmed the primitive past. Paul and his retaliatory Christ myth re-oriented humanity (human consciousness and response) back toward retaliation and primitive tribalism (believer/unbeliever).
Jesus had offered the most profound liberation from our animal past with his “love your enemies” statement and stated we should do so because that is what God does. God does not retaliate against enemies or outsiders, but loves God’s enemies. God is non-tribal and non-retaliatory. God does not treat humanity tribally, excluding some- i.e. the bad. God does not engage eye for eye against enemies. God includes all- both good and bad- as intimate and equal family. Paul rejected that God of Jesus and re-affirmed the worst of our animal past in his Christ. His Christ myth epitomizes the eye for eye retaliation of our primitive tribal past, the very essence of animal existence.
(Qualifying note: I refer to Historical Jesus to illustrate this point on non-retaliation and unconditional love but he is not the final authority on this issue. His point on non-retaliation is there in the Christian bible. But it has been buried in the larger Christian context and is difficult to understand properly because of that distorting context. The surrounding material in the gospels undermines and contradicts the central unconditional theme of Jesus. Christians have used the surrounding teaching on divine retaliation to refute Jesus’ central point that God did not retaliate. So rather than base my argument solely on Jesus, I refer to him, but do not establish my points on his authority and teaching alone. Common human consciousness of what love is, leads us to the same conclusions that Jesus made- that non-retaliating, unconditional love is authentic love.)
Added note: Paul’s Christ has been hugely successful and influential because it resonates with the inherited animal in humanity- the old retaliation response (eye for eye) that is the core animal response. That basic survival instinct is now still affirmed in eye for eye or punitive justice systems.
Retaliation thinking in the Christ: Bringing the primitive past into the present- more on retaliation in human existence.
I would summarize the essence of animal existence in the feature of retaliation. And I see a correlation here with human justice as payback, or “eye for eye” justice. This is a deeply embedded feeling- the demand for eye for eye justice as a basic right. Animal retaliation may be the deep root of what eventually became “the right to justice” in the eye for eye treatment of offenders. Eye for eye embodies the felt right to protect oneself against offenders, aggressors, and to exact some payment or punishment for offenses. Eye for eye is a deeply embedded natural impulse.
Someone has noted the belief in Greek mythology that Retribution is at the core of reality. That wrongs must be punished in order for things to be made right again in the cosmos and life. What is this deep belief and feeling that things are not right unless offenders are punished? What is this felt need to hurt offenders, and the accompanying belief that the gods must do this via some sacrifice- the divine demand for bloodshed, for the violent punishment and death of someone or something?
This felt need for retaliation is at the core of Paul’s Christ myth.
I would do as Alex Garcia did in ‘Alpha God’ (i.e. in terms of evolutionary biology/psychology) and trace this eye for eye thing back to perhaps that fundamental animal survival response. Try viewing ‘eye for eye’ response as expressing the need to fight back against the attacking predator for survival. Then take this into emerging human society, as the felt need for “defense” against attack, that eventually became part of basic justice as eye for eye. The right to get payment or to exact “just” revenge. Again, a form of “defense” against attackers or offenders.
One could argue that retaliation justice began long ago as the basic survival defense against some aggressive, predatory enemy. That became, in human existence, the same survival response, the right to defend oneself against some aggressor. That later became human justice as eye for eye, the right to get even, to demand payment for wrong, to punish some offender. All summed up in the feature of retaliation.
Retaliation was then projected out onto the gods. It was understood as central to reality, i.e. the Greek belief in a core principle of Retribution. Retaliation was viewed as necessary to make things right again in the cosmos and life. It was required to right wrongs. It was fundamental to justice.
And so retaliation became central to human thought and society. This feature was projected out onto the highest human ideals and authorities- the gods. They were viewed as justly angry, punishing deities. And the ultimate retaliation would be in a final apocalypse to destroy and purge the bad people so that the world could be set right again. This is expressed in the earliest myth and writing- in the Sumerian Flood myth and it has continued down through history as central to human systems of belief.
Ultimate divine retaliation continued down into Zoroastrianism- the most influential religion in history, the religion that shaped Western consciousness and religions with its apocalyptic theme (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). A great divine retaliation in apocalypse became “the Mother of all theology” (paraphrase of Ernst Kaseman).
Paul, in particular, embraced this apocalyptic framework for his Christ myth and his Christian religion. Apocalyptic retaliation is there in his first writing to the Thessalonians. Paul’s Christ myth resonates widely with something fundamental in humanity, with the basic survival instinct, the pushback against attacking predators, against offenders. Where the Jesus’ response of non-retaliation seems unnatural, mushy, airy fairy, and appears to go against a basic human or animal instinct.
But the Jesus response offers exactly this- liberation from the basest impulses of the inherited animal, liberation from base retaliation in order to become authentically human.
Retaliation descends down through history
Paul’s Christ myth then became the most influential myth in history, shaping Western consciousness and history (see Tabor’s comments on Paul as the dominant influence on the West). Paul shaped the thinking of the other New Testament writers- Luke, Matthew, and so on. You see the theme of retaliation clearly in Matthew’s threat of divine punishment and destruction- those who refuse the signs and message of the gospel will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew states this just after he included the non-retaliation theme of Jesus in chapter 5. He then immediately contradicted that message of Jesus with his statements on divine retaliation. Such a stunning shift and contradiction.
And Matthew was used by Waraqa to shape Muhammad’s thinking. That comes through in the Quran’s repeated threat of divine retaliation against unbelievers- they will be cast into Hell and never escape. The Quran repeats the central Christian theme of divine retaliation, punishment and destruction.
And the influence of Paul’s Christ, his Christianity, continues. Landes shows how Paul’s apocalyptic millennialism shaped Marxism and Nazism, two mass-death movements (retaliation against some threatening enemy). Landes and Herman also show how this apocalyptic retaliation shapes environmentalism, the most dominant ideology across the world today (see also Foss). Environmentalism has promoted the message of an angry planet retaliating against nature-destroying humanity (i.e. revenge of Gaia). The Master Terrorist- the Christ- continues to terrorize humanity today via various secular ideologies.
At its core the apocalyptic Christ myth expresses divine retaliation against fallen, corrupt humanity. Humanity must be punished and eventually destroyed. This incites the primal human fear- the subconscious fear of after-life harm, of ultimate Harm.
And as noted above, Paul’s Christ is a stunning contradiction to the central theme of Jesus. Jesus had introduced a stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God. He had rejected the myth of some angry, retaliating, punishing or destroying God. He said, there should be no more eye for eye response, but instead love your enemy because God does. God does not engage eye for eye retaliation but loves God’s enemies. God includes all without discrimination- not just loving those that love in return. God gives, expecting nothing in return. God generously gives sun and rain to all- to both good and bad. There is no eye for eye justice or payback with God, just forgiveness of all, inclusion of all, and love for all. What a stunning rejection of all the past mythology of punishing deity. Jesus’ message was a complete rejection of all threat theology, of all forms of divine retaliation and punishment.
But then a decade or so later, Paul rejected that stunning new theology of Jesus and retreated back to affirm the primitive theology of retaliating, punishing God. His Christ was a statement of outright rejection of the theological breakthrough of Jesus. It was a shameful retreat to Threat theology, to the essence of the primitiveness of the past. A complete reversal, retreat, and rejection of the Jesus advance in thought. Paul preached a rejection of the potentially greatest liberation ever, liberation of mind and spirit from the fear of Ultimate Harm. All there in Paul’s Christ myth.
Paul’s Christian religion then buried the discovery of Jesus.
His Christ myth has dominated Western consciousness.
Messiah mythology- superior violence
Another element in Paul’s Christ. Jesus rejected the myth of a Savior, a Messiah that would come and employ superior violence, superior force to overcome and destroy enemies. To the contrary, Jesus had stated things like “whoever wants to become great among you, whoever would become your leader, should be your servant”. He taught that there must be no domination of others by overwhelming force. There must be no forcing “every knee to bow” in subservience to some Alpha God (see Alex Garcia on Alpha God). In his original core teaching (i.e. the Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel) Jesus had made no claim to be the hero messiah of ancient combat mythology. He taught the very opposite.
Another note: You become just like the God that you believe in. If people worship coercive domination and violent destruction then do not be surprised if that incites similar response and behavior in those people. This goes some way to explaining the violence in Christian history. Again- note Calvin and so many others.
One more: Paul’s Christ myth also re-affirms the primitive belief in blood sacrifice to appease an angry deity. Again, doing as Garcia did in Alpha God, I would trace the development of sacrifice from original animal practice. Some studies on the origins of sacrifice note that it has ancient roots in prehistory.
I suspect that the human practice of sacrifice has something to do with the bloody meal of the predator eating prey. The bloody meal to satisfy the hungry alpha predator. Later mythology adds layers to such things and states that people were “created to serve the gods”, the ultimate predators or alpha males. People were responsible to make offerings of food, to provide food, to feed the gods. To make offerings and sacrifices to appease and satisfy the ultimate alpha males. Sacrifice to appease gods may originate in the animal realm of bloody prey to satisfy predator hunger.
Note also among lions, how other lesser beasts back off and give the alpha male first choice to satisfy hunger. Appeasing that rage with the bloody meal of the prey.
Note that in Jesus’ original message- the Q Wisdom Sayings gospel- he said nothing about his coming to die for sin, to become a sacrifice for sin.
I see the Christ myth as affirming varied features of primitive thinking and practice.
If the Christ myth has any redeeming value then it is that it serves as a stark contrast to Jesus’ message and makes that message all the more clear. It makes the diamond brighter by severe contrast.
Basic correlations, lines of historical descent- another brief summary for quick visits
The argument here is that the foundational human battle, the fundamental human problem, the greatest human monster, is bad ideas, bad religious ideas and specifically the apocalyptic template of ideas. These ideas have long incited bad behavior such as religious violence (ISIS today as the latest outbreak). Apocalyptic myths have always incited people to embrace harmful salvation schemes that have devastated humanity, whether from unnecessarily wasting resources, or harming people outright.
The very same set of bad religious ideas- apocalyptic- have been traced behind the mass-death movements of the past few centuries. Richard Landes refers to them as “apocalyptic millennialism”. Arthur Herman has shown how these ideas were “secularized” in 19th Century Declinism. These ideas influenced Marxism, Nazism, and Carsonism (modern environmental alarmism). The death totals are estimated in the hundreds of millions (an estimate borrowed from Jeffrey Foss). Where are the news media on this stunning story of mass-death?
Once again, the full apocalyptic template includes the following:
There was an original paradise (the past was better), but that ‘golden age’ was ruined by corrupt people. Life is now in decline toward some great collapse and ending (Mircea Eliade- “The present moment is a degradation from the past”). The corrupting force (fallen, bad people) will be punished, destroyed and purged from the world, so that the lost paradise can be restored (i.e. some millennial paradise, heavenly kingdom, or utopia will be installed). People living under the threat of apocalypse must engage some salvation scheme in the hope of avoiding the looming threat and catastrophe.
Once again, what is the relationship of bad ideas to bad behavior? First, bad ideas frighten people with threat (i.e. apocalyptic ending). That threat then incites unnecessary fear and “defensive” response to stop the threat. People then feel obligated to embrace some salvation scheme, often aggressive action against threats. And this is where the harm results. Note the stunning research on people like Hitler who believed that he was saving Germany from the Jewish threat. He actually believed that he was doing something good and necessary to avoid catastrophe. Landes says that if you dismiss Hitler as just a madman then you miss the complete picture of what motivated him. You miss the critical influence of apocalyptic mythology on his thinking. And you do not properly understand and solve the problem of apocalyptic alarmism for the future.
And what about Rachel Carson believing that she was saving life from the human chemical threat- her view of the looming apocalypse.
The central bad idea- the worst of the worst- in the apocalyptic template is that of some threatening, punishing Force or deity that will destroy all people in the apocalypse. This has become humanity’s greatest monster. This myth of punishing deity is paired with the myth of fallen, corrupt humanity that deserves punishment. These two bad ideas have long incited fear-based human response and behavior, they have incited aggression and even violence among people.
Note an especially important point here- how the primitive themes of apocalyptic were secularized (given secular expression) in 19th Century Declinism. That ideology then shaped Marxism, Nazism, and notably contemporary environmental alarmism. In Declinism, primitive myth became ideology for the modern secular world. Terms and forms of expression change from generation to generation but core themes remain the same.
This site traces the apocalyptic set of bad ideas that have descended from primitive mythology to the great historical religions and now into contemporary ideologies (the “secularization” of mythology). The point is to create awareness of bad ideas and their damaging influence in order to clear the way to see the great discovery of an unconditional core Reality. This “spiritual” discovery points to the greatest liberation ever, that of mind, spirit, and emotion at the depths of human consciousness. An unconditional core Reality offers a new foundational theme for human hope.
Note how aggressive defense against threat works in modern secular versions of apocalyptic. The enemy is often some human-created threat such as chemicals or CO2 emissions. Salvation schemes are then promoted that are anti-human- they devastate human life.
Rachel Carson is a notable example of apocalyptic alarmism in a “secular” movement, in environmentalism. Carson used an apocalyptic framework to present her threat and subsequent salvation scheme. She incited exaggerated and distorting fear over chemicals. That led to the “salvation scheme” of a ban on DDT (aggressive anti-chemical defense to save life), and that devastated millions of lives. In the wake of her alarmism, some 50 million people, many children, died unnecessarily from 1970 to 2000.
Add here the unnecessary deaths of 8 million children denied access to Vitamin A in Golden Rice due to anti-GM alarmism, another step-child of environmental alarmism. Other environmental alarmists are inciting fear over CO2 and propose the salvation scheme (save the world) of banning the threat from fossil fuels, the very life-blood of industrial civilization, the only hope for escape from devastating poverty. Foss says that the death totals in the past few centuries have been tens of millions of people. Again, where is the news media on this story?
These apocalyptic ideas also have a long track record of devastation in historical religious violence and still today in movements like ISIS (Cook- Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature). Further, apocalyptic was behind the mass-death movements of the last century. Arthur Herman and Richard Landes present the stunning evidence that ‘apocalyptic millennialism’ was behind Marxism, Nazism, and now environmentalism. These ideas continue to alarm and incite Salvationist responses that devastate people. It is the same set of threat themes that are found behind these mass-death movements, whether religious or secular.
It is always the same old pattern- stir alarm with some threat from an angry God, revenge of Gaia, angry planet, or karma. Incite the fear of looming catastrophe in populations. Then present your anti-human Salvationist scheme (either some form of sacrifice or “coercive purification”), and the outcomes are inevitably devastating to people. But the consequences are ignored by alarmists. After all, many alarmists believe that corrupt “nature-destroying people” (humanity as virus, cancer) deserve punishment from the threatening forces. They deserve to be eliminated from the world. Note, for example, Sea Shepherd Society guru Paul Watson stating that we need to “cull” some 85% of humanity. He was affirming Paul Erhlich’s earlier call to severely reduce the human population. All those “useless” people, the “cancerous” threat to life. Remember, the dehumanizing of people has long been the first step to subsequent genocidal treatment of groups (i.e. the Jews- historically viewed as a threatening disease, a vermin- see Anti-Judaism by David Nirenberg).
Bad ideas like apocalyptic-threat incite our worst impulses. Bad ideas incite our inherited animal brain with its tribal mentality (us versus the enemy). Bad ideas incite aggressive defense against some enemy/predator, and exclusion and destruction of the enemy. Bad ideas are the real enemy, the real monster in life, and the real battle that we must fight.
How to we counter these base impulses and the bad ideas that incite them?
The alternative to alarmism- discovering the authentically humane
We have had the answer for two millennia. It is a theological response to the original theological mistake, the early primitive assumption there was some threatening god behind life. The response was the discovery by Historical Jesus (entirely opposite to Christian Jesus) that behind all reality and life there was no threatening, angry, or punishing God. There is only love. Absolutely unconditional love, or authentic Goodness. That eliminates entirely the primitive belief in some great threat behind life. It liberates from humanity’s greatest primal fear- that of punishment from God for being bad. It liberates at the deepest levels of mind, spirit, and emotion.
The insight on a core unconditional Reality leads us to conclude that there is no coming punishment (no ‘eye for eye’ justice from God). Unconditional Reality means there is no need for a salvation scheme of any kind. It means that all people are ultimately included in the love and generosity of God. After all, Jesus said that God gave the good gifts of life- sun and rain- to everyone, both good and bad. An unconditional core Reality counters all forms of alarmism. It radically redefines theology and ethics as nothing ever before in history. It points to the most profound shift in human consciousness, the single greatest liberation ever- that of mind, spirit, and emotion at the deepest levels of consciousness.
But the scandal of Christianity- Paul buried this discovery that there was no punishing, apocalyptic God and retreated to the primitive myth of punishing deity. He created his myth of an apocalyptic Christ (see his first writing- Thessalonians). His Christian religion then kept apocalyptic alarm alive in the Western consciousness (Tabor- Paul is the most influential person in history). His Christian apocalyptic religion shaped Declinism and Islam. I have detailed the historical sources that show this in sections below.
The real battle, the real enemy, the real monster in life is this apocalyptic template of bad ideas. Most pointedly, the great human enemy or monster is the core bad idea of an angry, violent, and punishing God (in Greek myth- a core Retribution). These bad religious ideas, now given secular expression (angry Gaia, planet, karma), will continue to incite bad behavior in ever new versions and movements. Until we replace them with the stunning discovery that God is unconditional love. That provides a radical new orientation for human consciousness and a new foundation for a humane narrative of reality and life.
Follow-up notes: All people share a common concern for the environment and environmental health. But environmental alarmism is an extremist and anti-science movement that exaggerates problems in life to apocalyptic scale and thereby distorts the true state of things. It terrorizes and traumatizes people with fear and makes it difficult to engage sane research and solutions to problems. Environmental alarmism has led endlessly to devastating anti-human policies that have caused immense harm to humanity and life.
Fear of threat incites the primal human fear of ultimate Harm and that sparks fear-based over-reaction, frightening people to embrace harmful salvation schemes. Exaggerated threat and consequent alarm distorts the real state of things. Remember Paul Erhlich raising alarm over food production shortages and looming starvation. His alarmism then promoted the attitude of resignation and fatalism. He suggested that the rest of the world should “let India go down the drain” to mass starvation and death.
This is where Julian Simon’s approach is critical- how to properly evaluate problems and respond with creative solutions just as Norman Borlaug did.
Sound evidence on the complete big picture and long term trends show that life is not declining toward disaster but improves overall. This affirms hope despite the remaining problems in life. See research by Simon, Easterbrook, Lomborg, Ridley, Goklany, Bailey, and others.
The past was never better than the present. Apocalyptic has distorted the true story of life. There was never some pristine original paradise. Early life was less developed, more chaotic and random. The present shows improvement on the main features of life. And the future has unlimited potential to improve even further. We see the gradual improvement of life over history. It is never the perfection of some utopian vision but the successful outcomes from creative human input.
Insert: Bob Brinsmead on the real enemy in life– “There are no bad people, only bad ideas”.
Bob’s comment from a discussion group: “All human beings are basically the same. Differences are only skin deep. We have the same DNA, we are all Homo Sapiens. The Islamic terrorists are not basically different from us. The real difference between them and us is in the realm of ideas and beliefs. Bad ideas make people do bad things. The more devoted they are to their ideas the more dangerous they are. They do not feel that they are doing evil. They see themselves as do-gooders. They just have a different idea about what is the Supreme Good. They do not see themselves as serving evil, but believe that they are doing the will of the Most High.
“As Paul would put it, they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. And certainly not according to love.
“Our passionate rejection of evil must not be against the people, but against the ideas that motivate people. Justice is not served by hating the evil people even if some of them like Nazis must be killed for the good of all. This is why the command of Jesus is so important: “Love your enemies.” Hatred is only justified when it is directed at the wrong ideas that destroy people.
“I am not saying anything new here, but repeating what has been said previously so that the point sinks in. The justice that calls for passionate rejection of what is evil must not be directed against so-called bad people, but against the bad ideas that make people do bad things.”
Another from a discussion group: (Wendell Krossa) “At some level there are good, practical outcomes from the varied religious systems. Good people trying to find something good, and do something good. And we have repeatedly affirmed here the good that generally comes from religious traditions, and from environmental concern and limited regulation.
“On the other hand, there is that harmful stuff in the mix. What Landes, Herman and other point to. The bad ideas and outcomes. The Carson outcomes. Was Rachel Carson a basically sincere and good person? Trying to save something? Undoubtedly so. Also true of many others. But look carefully at the results of their ideas and alarmist campaigns. We need to embrace the lessons from that. The ‘unintended’ consequences from good people, well-intentioned people.
“It is critical to understand the impacts from different approaches, or from the different emphasis on things. For instance, is some environmental problem just that, a problem to solve? Or is it an indicator of the looming collapse and end of all?
“We affirm there have been beneficial outcomes from environmental concern and from religious movements. But then that element of exaggeration and distortion that comes from the apocalyptic mythology. And the harmful outcomes of that. Some ideas have a long track record of causing harm- inciting, guiding, validating bad behaviour. So we continue to evaluate such things and distinguish between good and bad outcomes.”
An unconditional approach to all people does not mean dogmatic pacifism in the face of violence. It recognizes that there are social consequences to behavior and people must be held accountable for their behavior. And innocent people must be protected from violence. Hence, the justice and prison systems. But unconditional also affirms that justice must be restorative and not punitive.
Time to stir the pot again… and have some fun. Time to push beyond limited thinking. The following is from a Facebook posting.
The single most upsetting, disturbing, but also most potent and liberating statement in all history is the hard saying of Historical Jesus (yes, someone quite entirely opposite to Christian Jesus). The statement- “Love your enemy”. Catholic writer Albert Nolan, in his “Jesus Before Christianity”, gave some insight into the scandalous nature of that central Hist. Jesus statement. He said that Jesus urged us to consider all people as “intimate family”, even our enemies.
Most of us love only those who love us in return. That is tribal love. Limited love. Conditional love. As my friend Bob Brinsmead says, it is not authentic love. Unconditional is the only authentic love.
So yes, most of us love in the manner of tribal or small band love- ‘us versus them’ love that is reserved especially for insiders that are like us (“good” people), but not for outsiders that differ from us (“bad” people). We separate and divide people over our good/bad distinctions. Most of us have little experience with a love that sends sun and rain on all alike, both good and bad. With no discrimination or exclusion of anyone.
And remember, Jesus applied that “love your enemy” statement to not just his ethic, but to his theology as well. Do this-“ love your enemies”- because God does this. God is like this. God does not exclude anyone. God forgives everyone, of everything (“seven times seventy”, or unlimited). God is generous to all in the same unlimited, universal manner. Read that Matthew 5:38-48 statement. I have not found a God like that in any of the world religions.
Note: While this “love your enemy” statement is in the Christian Bible it has been buried and distorted by the immediate context that contradicts it.
And this statement- “no more eye for eye… but love your enemies…. because God does…”- is the very core teaching of Jesus. His central message or gospel. I base this conclusion on good Historical Jesus research, notably on Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel research (see the books of James Robinson, John Kloppenborg, and Stephen Patterson, among others).
Now a trigger warning to Christian friends- you may want to pull out now and retreat to a safe space. The following comment below may seem offensive, but it’s my personal take on the great contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Also, I have been in varied discussion groups with Christian members and it is endlessly fascinating how Christians defensively explain this central “love your enemy” statement as meaning something other than what it says. They then retreat to the retaliatory, tribal love of Paul. A love that is ultimately reserved only for true believers.
Christians defensively react to “love your enemies” with the nullifying qualification that there must be some form of punishment for bad people, somewhere at some future date. This is exactly Paul’s reaction in Romans 12:17-20. If we should not retaliate here and now, then certainly in the future God will retaliate and punish all offenses. This reaction, which affirms some form of retaliation/punishment, undermines entirely what Jesus had stated about no more eye for eye justice.
(Note: One of the Jesus Seminar scholars, a Paul specialist, told me that he felt that I was too tough on Paul. I don’t think so. Also, remember our clarifying of the need for restraint of violence, the natural and social consequences of bad behavior, and holding people accountable but within the context of a restorative approach to justice.)
Paul buried this revolutionary statement of universal love (love your enemies) under his retaliatory, punitive theology (see the expressions of that punitive theology in his earliest writing- Thessalonians, Romans, and elsewhere). Paul retreated back to the payback love of ‘eye for eye’, the same old primitive theology of all past history. Paul re-affirmed eye for eye justice- getting even, ultimate punishment, ensured payback, ultimate exclusion of the bad ones, and ultimate destruction of the enemy.
Paul appears to have no clue as to what Jesus was trying to communicate with his new unconditional message. That unconditional core message is the real scandal of historical Jesus. The real offense to traditional and conventional understanding of justice as something punitive in nature.
This retreat of Paul to a retaliatory God is not just my conclusion- noted Q scholar James Robinson says that Jesus introduced “a stunning new non-retaliatory theology” but a generation later, Christianity retreated back to a retaliatory God, rejecting the new theological discovery of Jesus that God did not retaliate but loved and included enemies- sun and rain on all alike, both good and bad.
“Love your enemies” liberates as nothing else can. It liberates from our enslaving animal inheritance with its orientation to the base impulses of tribal mentality (us versus them thinking, small band orientation). Love your enemies liberates from the animal impulse to dominate others (whether in-group Alpha behavior, or domination of outsiders to our group). Unconditional love of the enemy liberates from the base impulses to exclude, oppose, and destroy the competing or differing other person. The “bad” ones.
With the NDErs (Near-Death Experience people), I like to think that we all came here to learn something of love, that learning love is the central point of human existence and story. We all came here on some unique mission, with some unique personal purpose, to contribute something to make life better in our own individual way. And central to this is to learn love- what it really means. To experience it. To live it, however imperfectly. As Ken Ring writes in ‘Lessons from the Light’, about the experience of one person who had experienced the great Light and said, “I was asked, ‘Did you learn something about love? Did you learn how to love? Do you know what love is?”
You will find no more clear and potent statements of the profoundly unconditional nature of love than in the NDE movement and accounts. They get closest to the central message of Historical Jesus. Better than any religious tradition. Most religion exists as essentially conditional and cannot communicate the nature of love as authentically unconditional. Religion has across history been about the conditions necessary to appease and please the gods- i.e. correct beliefs, right ritual and ceremony, proper lifestyle.
Joseph Campbell also makes some good comment on the universal nature of love in his Myths To Live By. He notes that we attain maturity when we center our lives on love, universal love. We then “tower in stature” like a Nelson Mandela. When we learn to love universally, more than just tribally.
There, I’ve stirred the pot. I am now verklempt. Discuss amongst yourselves.
(End of first Facebook post)
Justice opposed to love? (another Facebook post)
And of course this love your enemy statement opens all sorts of legitimate questions about offenders, and justice for victims. We have gone over this intensely in discussion groups and the insights are helpful.
In discussion, many respond that advocating the unconditional treatment of offenders is a weak, mushy response to evil. It is too unrealistic in the face of violence. It is too impractical.
(Insert note: Richard Stengel in his bio of Nelson Mandela- Mandela’s Way- says that when Mandela was released from prison, there were millions of young South African men that wanted to retaliate violently against their oppressors. But Mandela urged them to forgive and forget. He wanted to “surprise his enemies with his generosity” and include them in a new S. Africa. Mandela’s unconditional treatment of all, even enemies, helped S. Africa avoid the horrors of civil war that consumed Serbia and Rwanda around the same time. So tell us again- that an unconditional approach is impractical in real life. Psychology also concludes that punitive approaches do not work with children or criminal offenders- they do not teach alternative humane behaviors. Restorative approaches work better.)
Here is some response to these dismissals:
For one, love your enemy is not advocacy for dogmatic pacifism in the face of irrational violence, such as ISIS or psychopathic criminality. Love of any kind is responsible to protect the innocent and to restrain violence. That is what military, police, and prisons are for. You cannot discuss peace with the irrational minds of ISIS fanatics. You have only one option- send in the drone, press the trigger, and vaporize.
So with some criminal violence. You have to protect the public and lock repeatedly-violent people up and sometimes throw the key away (i.e. in the case of some forms of psychopathy). You need the common sense of the old preacher who said, “If someone attacks me or my family, I will beat him over the head with a 2by4 and then when he is unconscious on the ground, I will sit down and discuss my pacifist principles with him”.
But here is where other insights also help: The Chinese sage Laotzi struggled with his higher angels and the horror of warfare. He concluded that you sometimes have to regrettably use force to stop your attackers. But then do not humiliate them with triumphal gloating. Rather, seek reconciliation and restoration with them after you have won your battle and stopped the violence.
So General Grant treated his defeated enemy General Lee with forgiveness and generosity. He told his cheering soldiers to be quiet and not humiliate the departing Lee. Abraham Lincoln also calmed the post-war waters with this generous statement, “Malice toward none. Charity toward all”. So General McArthur acted restoratively toward the Japanese in the post-war years. The Allies also tried to work for the restoration of Germany, while holding some people accountable. So also Mandela held the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to hold people accountable.
Unconditional love was breaking forth in all those situations. And every parent practices unconditional love toward their children, no matter how bad the children act or become.
And of course, unconditional love does not avoid the natural and social consequences of life. That is the real punishment of life. Act badly and you will suffer the consequences of your bad behavior. As Bob Brinsmead says, “Bad reaping is the self-inflicted punishment for bad sowing. Bad consequences are inherent in bad sowing. If one sows resentment and hate, then one is drinking poison. Ruining one’s chance at happiness. That is the way the universe operates. You do not need some external justice to punish you because the punishment is self-inflicted”.
The Near-Death Experience accounts (i.e. the “life review” component) add the interesting insight that there is no ultimate judgment or punishment from God but that there is only a self-inflicted punishment in the sense of a detailed review of one’s life and how one’s words and actions impacted others. It is an intense experience in learning empathy (self-judgment) but without any outside threat of punishment or judgment.
And further on offenders- consider the issue of culpability. We never downplay the horror of the suffering of victims. What senseless violence does to the families of victims. We embrace and try to understand and feel that trauma in all its intensity. We never diminish that.
But then also remember the lives of offenders. It is all too easy to caricaturize offenders as cold, cruel, heartless monsters, and prosecutors are good at putting such narratives out in courtrooms. But real human stories are more complex than that.
Some added notes:
See, for example, the Netflix series on Death Row Executions. Fascinating. Also the movie ‘Shepherds and Butchers’ on the S. Africa death penalty system, now abandoned. Try to put yourselves in the shoes of the offenders also. So often they have been brutally traumatized as children, suffering things beyond their control. Or born with a psychopathic brain, deformed before birth (e.g. born with schizophrenia). Born with the inability to feel empathy. What choice was there in that? Robert Hare, world expert on the psychopathic brain, notes this. Sure, you have to lock these people up for life, but why add things like the ultimate social rejection of the death penalty? Consider that woman in Florida that serially killed men (her story was told in the movie ‘Monster’). She was brutally raped and terrorized as a child. Her brain had been deformed from an early age. Yes, it was too dangerous to grant her freedom but why add the death penalty on top of the trauma that she experienced all her life?
Hence, with this other evidence, there is a growing movement today toward restorative justice approaches. This is not about feeling fuzzy or warm toward offenders that have committed horrific acts of violence. It is about understanding their full stories and the brutalizing that many of them suffered at the hands of others, often at an early age.
And as people in psychology tell us, forgiveness is not about personally liking an offender but about freeing oneself from hate and bitterness. As one father of a murdered child said, I know my daughter would not want me to continue in hate and the consequent darkness that will ruin me and the rest of my family.
So yes, there is a lot of complexity to these issues of offense and victimization. But consider that love and justice are not opposing things. You do not have to set one aside in order to fulfill the other. Love and justice are not mutually exclusive things.
Our point in our discussion group- you do not have to abandon love in order to deal with violence and offenders. It is not unloving to hold people accountable in the justice and prison systems. You can protect people and yet still maintain an unconditional attitude toward offenders, treating them restoratively, humanely. Just as our basic human rights codes call for the humane treatment of prisoners of war. We do not torture and brutalize them. Captured terrorists are given Qurans, medical treatment, and culturally-sensitive diets.
Unconditional is about maintaining our own humanity in the face of inhumanity.
Clearly, the unconditional treatment of all people (an unconditional attitude toward others, toward even “enemies”) will encourage movement away from retaliatory, vengeful, or punitive forms of justice. It will embrace restorative justice approaches. This sentiment is behind the growing movement to abandon the death penalty while ensuring public safety.
Further related issues- the 3-5 % false conviction rate for death row offenders. That alone should give pause to death penalty advocates.
And again, it is about determining real culpability in offenders. How can we really be sure that we have done that properly, given the horror that many offenders have suffered as children? How do you get to the root of another person’s life experiences?
One more example: Decades ago a young 17 year old man was put to death in the US for a brutal rape and murder. But during his trial it came to light that he had been traumatized by violence from before birth. His jealous father had beaten his mother’s pregnant belly before he was born, in fits of jealousy over possible cheating. As a child his father threw him against walls for crying as all children do. His brain was wired for violence and hate from the beginning. No wonder that as a teen he started killing neighborhood pets. But what chance did he have at a normal life? So why put him to death on top of the horror that he suffered throughout his life?
Imprisonment for life? Yes, many of these people cannot be rehabilitated. They are just too damaged and dangerous. But they can still be treated restoratively as much as possible. We do not have to abandon our sense of unconditional in the face of such failure to live as human.
Even in the US there is growing recognition that the tough-on-crime measures of the Clinton administration went too far. The US justice system has locked up increasing numbers of non-violent offenders, many African American young men. Non-violent offenders now make up 50% of the US prison population. There is recognition that there is still too much of a punitive, vengeance element in our justice systems. Dehumanizing on all sides. For example, what was the point of locking Martha Stewart up for almost a year? Make her pay a fine. She had pockets full of dough.
(End of Facebook postings)
Here are some summary lists of the values and institutions that emerged out of the British movement for freedom that spread through the West over the past few centuries, and became vital to Western success. There has been too much apologizing for our Western tradition. Certainly, colonial abuse and early industrial pollution were bad. But we have corrected those abuses and they do not define the overall Western contribution. The British/Western heritage is fundamentally about personal freedom and the unleashing of human creativity in freedom.
The following is from Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom, a great history of the discovery and development of freedom in the English tradition.
List of main features:
Property rights, personal liberty, representative government, rule of law.
Freedom to say what you like, to assemble in any configuration you choose with your fellow citizens, to buy and sell without hindrance, to dispose as you wish of your assets, to work for whom you please, to hire and fire as you will.
No laws enacted or taxes imposed except by elected legislators who are answerable to the rest of us. Elected parliaments, habeas corpus (determining before a court if detention is legal), free contract, equality before law, an unrestricted press, the right to proselytize, jury trials.
Lawmakers should be directly accountable through the ballet box; the executive should be controlled by the legislature; taxes should not be levied, nor laws passed, without popular consent; the individual should be free from arbitrary punishment or confiscation; decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affected; power should be dispersed; no one, not even the head of state, should be above the law; properly rights should be secure; disputes should be arbitrated by independent magistrates; freedom of speech, religion, and assembly should be guaranteed.
The idea of personal autonomy, including in contract and property rights, the notion that collective decisions ought to be made by representatives who are answerable to the community as a whole, the conception of law as something more than a projection of the wishes of the ruler, as a folk-right of inherited freedoms that bound the King just as surely as it bound his meanest subject.
The Roman historian Tacitus told his countrymen about the barbarians who lived beyond Rome’s borders. He wrote that the primitive German tribes were in the habit of deciding their affairs through open-air clan meetings. Their chiefs were not autocrats but governors by consent. Their rule rested upon “auctoritus” (the ability to inspire) rather than on “potestas” (the power to compel). Their peoples were not subjects, but free and equal participants in the administration of their affairs.
Quote from Hannan:
“The miracles of the past three and a half centuries- the unprecedented improvements in democracy, in longevity, in freedom, in literacy, in caloric intake, in infant survival rates, in height, in equality of opportunity- came about largely because of the individualist market system developed in the Anglosphere.
This British tradition embodies resistance to taxation, to state power, and to collectivism of any kind. It affirms equality before the law, regardless of sex or race, secularism, toleration for minorities, absence of censorship, social mobility, universal education.
It includes common law, a peculiar emphasis on personal and property rights, distrust of government, a determination that laws should not be made, nor taxes levied, save by elected representatives.
Beware all efforts to centralize power and control.
Trump terror and hatred: The apoplectic hysteria over Donald Trump has all the flavor of another outburst of apocalyptic lunacy. He has flaws, but c’mon…
“I feel Hitler in these streets”, Ashley Judd.
“I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House”, Madonna.
And other endless histrionic claims that most everything the President says or does portends the shredding of the Constitution, the ending of American democracy, the rise of Fascism, the end of Western civilization, and on and on.
How about calming down this extremist hysteria over Trump. As Piers Morgan cautioned, quit taking very Trump Tweet as the apocalypse. CNN has gone 24/7 for months dissecting every possible nuance of every word from the President as expressing new unheard of levels of human evil.
I sometimes get the sense that I am watching an extended version of those old “In Living Color” skits on conspiracy theory, done by one of the Wayan brothers. What next, alien abductions to explain Hilary’s loss?
(Note: I come at this topic as a fierce Independent, floating like a butterfly, and taking nectar wherever I find it.)
Analyzing the problem
Bill O’Reilly hosted Geraldo Rivera and Eric Bolling on one of his last shows. He pestered them with the question of why people (Liberals) hated Donald Trump so intensely. He felt Rivera and Eric did not get to the real drive behind that hatred.
Let me suggest some reasons for the Progressive or Liberal hatred of Trump, and the wider discomfort with the man. Charles Krauthamer noted one element here in his comment on a “personality flaw” of Trump, his tendency to retaliate against critics. I think that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Retaliation, tit for tat, getting even, or hitting back, makes any of us appear petty, and even childish. We compare this behavior with a Mandela who represented the best of the human spirit with his conciliatory attitude and generous treatment of his enemies. We see in that mature action the best of the human spirit, the best of being human. Mandela made us all feel better about being members of the human family, where Trump sometimes does not try to engender that level of respect.
“Eye for eye” is not a good ethic to guide one’s life by.
But then there is an upside to his “counter-punching”. He fearlessly (stubbornly?) pushes back against the suffocating political correctness of our era, an anti-freedom pathology promoted mainly by the Liberal Left. Enough now of these viral storms to censor every non-PC utterance as racist, bigoted, or intolerant Fascism. Good grief. As Clint Eastwood said, “Grow up people”.
Another discomfiting thing about Trump is his tendency to play loose with facts, to exaggerate things as to how horrible they are, or how amazing they are. It sometimes comes across as boasting, or braggadocio. That also makes us feel uncomfortable about Trump. Or maybe most of us just don’t get the “confidence” of the man. I don’t know which it is. But it appears sometimes as unseemly bragging.
Having said this, none of us are flawless. Now there’s a “Duh” for you. And overall Donald Trump, despite his flaws, appears to be a fundamentally good person. He welcomes former opponents and tries to accommodate/include them in his programs. He appears to be forgiving, generous, and inclusive toward opponents after hard fought battles and disagreements. And he exhibits good humor toward those opponents.
He also exhibits refreshing flexibility in a political leader. Willing to learn and change his mind with new information. Good for him.
Further, he likes to initially stake out what appear to be extremist positions on things and that has been explained as just a good negotiating tactic. After all, he is a deal-maker. His opponents do not understand that and scream “racism”, “bigotry”, and other distortions. But Trump regularly moves back to more moderate positions in follow-up conversations and explanations. He appears willing to make concessions as part of bargaining. Remember, as one commentator noted, he’s a salesman from Queens.
Now Ari Fleischer (2017) mentioned something else that may do more to explain the Liberal hatred of Trump. He said that Trump was threatening the big government apparatus that Liberals see as central to their ideology and their program for US society. Trump is dismantling that by undoing regulation, and by cutting the taxation that funds big government and its bureaucrats. Liberals, like Obama, believe that government is the answer to all societal issues, including economics. Big government is vital to Liberal central control of society, to their collectivist approach to life. If they lose that, then their very reason for existence is threatened. And Trump is dismantling all that. Hence, the Liberal rage at the man, to extremes not seen before.
The Liberal/Trump conflict illustrates the larger historical battle between the collectivist and the individual freedom models or approaches to organizing societies. Collectivists believe that the capitalist orientation toward individual freedom is all about base selfishness and greed. And they feel that their orientation toward the “greater good”, or “common good”, is morally right. It gives them moral superiority over the “grossly individualist” capitalist model, and its free market of selfish individuals. And Liberals see the outcomes of that individualism (i.e. self-interest) as the result of greed and corruption, evident in the massive wealth accumulation by some individuals, as well as by large businesses, by big corporations.
But selfishness and greed are not the defining features of industrial, capitalist society. Greed and selfishness are not the operating principles of the system. The Western heritage of individual freedom and property rights (i.e. free choice and self-determination) are the defining elements in the success of industrial, market society.
The Left’s answer, to what they view as obviously selfishness and greed, is to exert central control in order to coercively push populations toward more emphasis on the greater good. This is done by regulating and controlling “evil business” and the inherently “corrupt free market” that is dominated by business. Their central control is achieved by endless regulations to restrain business, and by taxation to redistribute the “corrupt” gains made by business.
And the Left then wonders why their central control orientation always ends with totalitarian excess. Centralized power and control inevitably accommodates the expression of the totalitarian impulse in “enlightened elites” that believe they know better how all others should live. Who said that the most dangerous people in society are those that believe they know what is best for all others and believe they are doing good in coercing others to follow that vision of good.
Leftist types just do not understand how individual freedom achieves the greater good for all while at the same time protecting societies against totalitarianism. Individually-oriented systems maintain freedom by dispersing power among many competing actors (see Fredrick Hayek, The Road to Serfdom). Whereas Leftist systems centralize power and that always leads to eruptions of abuse of power.
Joshua Muravchik (Heaven on Earth) notes that Socialists were always perplexed by Communism, why their ideology always led to that particular form of totalitarian outcome. But the totalitarian impulse always finds expression in centralizing trends, when societies put more power in the hands of central governments. This is the end-outcome of Socialist ideology with its emphasis on some greater good as the supreme principle for organizing society, and its emphasis on the state, or government, as the means for defining and ensuring the common good.
Remember that all varieties of Leftism (from Robert Owen’s communalism, to Marxism/Communism, to Socialism, to contemporary Liberalism/Progressivism) are collectivist in the sense of orientation to greater good. The greater or common good takes precedence over people and that inevitably harms people. It undermines their freedom.
See Arthur Herman’s The Cave and The Light for the long-term history of collectivist systems, versus the individual rights and freedoms models. Herman notes that Hegel began the modern trend of Leftists to see the common good as represented by the State, as embodied in the State.
It is critical to recognize how individual freedom (decentralized power) and creativity works better to achieve greater good while at the same time protecting freedom. Protected individual freedom unleashes the human impulse to improve one’s self and one’s family (the fundamental human motivation) and that unleashes human creativity to solve problems, to create something better, to improve the human condition. All benefit from this human creativity that is unleashed and encouraged in a context of protected individual freedom.
Western success is fundamentally the product of human freedom. The Western free market system is about individual freedom that unleashes human creativity. Individual freedom is the essence of the system. Again, that protected freedom honors the basic human motive to improve one’s life and condition (“self-interest” is not the best term to describe this). Protected individual freedom, and protected individual property rights, better affirms that basic human motivation to improve life. Do not damn this as mere selfishness, or destructive greed. Yes, there is selfishness and greed throughout the capitalist system, just as there is in all human systems. But, at least, in the modern democratic form of capitalism, the greed and corruption is more easily exposed by a free press, and kept in check by minimal regulation that guarantees equality of opportunity, whereas in totalitarian systems the very same greed and corruption is hidden and that secrecy permits for more intense expression of common selfishness and greed.
Another point- early industrialization did pollute. And there was the excess and abuse of colonialism. Today, environmentalism has taken this false narrative of “destructive industrial society” to new heights, creating the ultimate narrative that greedy, selfish people in industrial society are destroying nature and the planet. They add a dose of apocalyptic exaggeration to create intense hysteria over their narrative of destructive capitalism. But the opposite is actually true- the creation of wealth in industrial society is enabling humanity to save the world.
My point in this material- do not fear the Donald. His polices are re-affirming the basic principles and institutions of the British tradition of free individuals competing in commercial society, in the free market. This tradition of free individuals will accomplish the greater good far better than the old failed central control models of the many varieties of collectivism (i.e. Communalism, Socialism/Marxism, Liberalism, Progressivism). Barack Obama never understood or appreciated the British Classic Liberal tradition. He devalued free markets and business in general. Hilary Clinton shared his depreciatory attitude toward business and markets.
But even the Communists in Mitterrand’s Socialist Coalition understood and appreciated the critical role of business in creating wealth for a society (see Muravchik’s history of Socialism in Heaven on Earth). That wealth creation is fundamental to all else that people want to do in society. It is the basis for all other good that people want to achieve. You have to first pay for all those programs that you might want to provide for people.
Hilary also indulged the old Marxist class warfare approach to business, railing against the evils of “big business” as contrasted with more innocent and pure “medium and small businesses”. Nonsense. All business is critical to wealth creation and achieving good in society. But the mantra of “evil big business” re-affirms the common Hollywood narratives on this distortion and re-assures Leftists that they are the righteous saviors of society.
Look past the flaws of President Trump to the policies. That is the critical issue. And where he, or anyone else at any point on the political spectrum, indulges any expression of the totalitarian impulse, then he/they too must be slapped down vigorously. Freedom is all.
Notes: Leftism or Progressivism in the US is currently suffering a real crisis of credibility with its unhinged assault on free speech. This is noted widely on university campuses where Liberals violently protest alternative expression, shouting down or banning Conservative and other voices. It is evident in the Hollywood shunning (blacklisting) of Conservatives that dare come out. As Ben Stein said, Hollywood is a one-party state that does not permit free and open debate on alternative positions. And we have long seen this Progressive totalitarianism in climate science where only one position is permitted public expression (the “consensus”) and alternative views are demeaned as “Holocaust denial or flat Earth lunacy” and threatened with criminal prosecution. Free debate is not permitted, under threat of lost funding, expulsion, or worse.
And all this from a movement (Liberal) that once advocated for inclusion, diversity, tolerance, and openness. What happened to US Liberals? Why is there no outcry or protest from the Liberal elites, against the above outbreaks of the totalitarian impulse?