Site project: Conquer/Slay the Monster
Joseph Campbell outlines human story as going out into life, confronting and struggling/fighting with some monster or problem, learning lessons/gaining insights from that struggle, getting wounded in the struggle, receiving a sword from a wise man to slay the monster, becoming a hero of one’s story in the process of conquering the monster or problem, and then returning to bless others with the lessons that we have learned.
I’ve identified my monster and I have spent a lifetime struggling, fighting with that monster, trying to slay it. And yes, I have been wounded by my monster (Zenon Lotufo- Cruel God theory deforms human personality with fear, anxiety, depression, and despair). I have also received sharp weapons from wise men to help me slay my monster.
My monster is one that is common to all humanity- and it is a two-headed beast.
One head is the animal inheritance in each of us, the animal brain that we have inherited with its impulses to excluding tribalism (small band mentality), to domination of others (the alpha thing), and to punish and/or destroy the competing other.
The animal inheritance is our real enemy and we become heroes (we tower in stature as maturely human) by conquering these animal impulses and learning to live as truly human. We do this, according to Campbell, by orienting our lives to universal love. I would use the broader term “unconditional” love.
Unconditional love orients us to heroically mature humanity by countering the limiting tribal impulse with the universal inclusion of all people as intimate family. And unconditional counters the impulse to dominate by teaching us to treat all people as free equals in one family. And unconditional counters the impulse to punish and destroy by inspiring us to forgive the failures of others and treat all with restorative justice, not punitive justice.
(Insert: Campbell’s larger background to his point on universal love is that we come from a greater Oneness into this realm of dualisms- i.e. good/evil, male/female. We come into this material realm as “actors on God’s stage”. In our individual stories we engage some “righteous struggle with evil”. But in our struggle with evil we must “remember our brotherhood with even our enemies” so that we do not lose our humanity during our righteous struggle. We do this by remembering our oneness with all others, including our enemies. We are all equal members of the same one family.)
And the second head of the monster that is common to all humanity (the greater ‘monstrosity’ of the two) is the religious God that embodies the same base animal-like features that are found in humanity. From the beginning people have projected their basest features out to define their religious gods.
We see animal-like tribalism in the religious beliefs that God favors true believers over unbelievers, and the belief that God dominates people (the myth of people created to serve the gods, or do the work of the gods), and in the myths of divine punishment/destruction (i.e. judgment and hellfire). These features that were long ago projected out to define religious gods have then served to incite and validate the very same features in humanity. This relates to the behavior/belief relationship- that people have always created ideas of deity or divinity (ultimate ideals and authorities) to then guide and validate their lives.
(Insert to calm religious nerves: Yes, there have also been many good features included in religious God theory. But the problem with the mix of features in religious gods is that of “cognitive dissonance”- religious people merging the good with the bad and thereby distorting the meaning of the good. This is the “diamonds in dung” contradiction noted by Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy regarding the sayings of Jesus (i.e. “love your enemy”- Matthew 5) that were buried in a contradicting New Testament context (i.e. your unbelieving enemy will be sent to hell- Matthew 11 and following chapters). So Jesus also noted this problem of putting new wine in rotten, leaky wineskins- mixing good with bad. It doesn’t work. The endeavor to merge/harmonize only ruins the good. Example- God is love but will send you to hell if you don’t believe. Huh??? What kind of love is that?)
The site project here is to bring down (slay) history’s greatest monster with its subhuman/inhuman features of excluding tribalism, punishment, domination, destruction, and conditional salvationism. These features have long been foundational to religious theories of God (subhuman or inhuman versions of deity as ultimate ideal and authority- the core bad idea behind most other bad ideas). This “threat theology”, whether in religious or secular versions, is still the dominant ideal/authority in world consciousness/subconscious, most clearly so in the Abrahamic or Western religions but also in Eastern versions such as Lord Shiva the Destroyer in Hinduism. Threat theology also dominates “secular” belief systems- e.g. vengeful Gaia, angry planet or pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, karma, and apocalyptic versions of The Second Law.
Insert note: The religious god as humanity’s “greatest monster”? Yes. Because when people took some of the basest features of animal existence and projected those onto deity, they took those base features to new heights of horror, to infinity and beyond in deity. Small band animal reality or primitive tribalism became eternal division, separation, and exclusion in the religious myths of heaven and hell. Animal domination became eternal servitude to a dominating deity. And primitive tribal punishment and destruction became eternal punishment and destruction in religious hells. Religious deity, with the above features, then became monstrous beyond any human monsters that have ever existed.
Another: This site affirms the intuition of most people across history that we are part of some greater reality (even the Neanderthals got this, as evident in their grave sites). That reality is more than just energy or natural law as per dogmatic materialism. It is something of the nature of Consciousness and Mind. And it is something to do with personhood also. The problem is that the ancients projected subhuman features out to define and explain this greater reality and the result has been the pathetically subhuman gods or God theories of religious traditions. The reality that is God is infinitely or transcendently beyond what we can know (“the God infinitely beyond the term God”, as Campbell stated). And this Ultimate Reality is transcendently beyond the best in humanity, most especially in regard to our supreme ideal of love. Better than the best that we can imagine, and most correctly defined with terms like “universal… unlimited… unconditional love”. Take this transcendently unconditional feature as your baseline for evaluating all human theorizing about greater reality.
Argument of this site:
Despite embracing more liberal and humane features in God theory over history, religion across the world has always been fundamentally conditional in nature. Religion, as a dominant social institution, consistently presents Ultimate Reality/deity as a conditional reality. It presents the conditions claimed as necessary to appease deity (i.e. some offering/sacrifice, payment, or punishment). And it presents the conditions necessary to please deity (i.e. correct beliefs, taboos, rituals, and religious lifestyle). World religions then present the consequence of divine retribution (judgment, condemnation, hell) toward those that refuse to embrace religious conditions.
Religion also orients people to the tribal mentality of true believers versus unbelievers. It orients people to the domination of believers over unbelievers (“all will submit to our God in the end”).
Point (going right to the root of the problem)? Conditional religion, with its conditional deity, has never communicated the unconditional nature of God to humanity. “Yikes” is right. The conditional deities of world religions have never presented the authentically unconditional and universal nature of love to humanity.
Unconditional spells the end of all conditional God theory, and the end of religion itself as a conditions-affirming social institution.
How do we know that Ultimate Reality, or deity, is no conditions Love? Several ways. First (reasoning from the negative), we recognize the fallacy in the logic of our ancestors and the earliest god theory- why they created deity as a punitive, destroying, and conditional reality (i.e. demanding sacrifice, payment). The ancients believed that there were gods behind all the elements of the natural world and the destructiveness of nature, and disease, were evidence that the gods were angry with human failure and punitive in their response to such failure. You see this punishing deity theology in the earliest human writing- the Sumerian Flood myth where Enlil planned to destroy humanity in a flood (natural disaster). Or in Egyptian Return to Chaos and Destruction of Mankind myths.
Note also this idea of “divine retaliation through the events of the natural world” in the Old Testament. The Hebrews believed that the natural disasters in ancient Egypt were evidence of God punishing bad people. So Paul reasoned in the New Testament (the letters to the Corinthians) that sickness/death was evidence of God punishing the Corinthians for their sins.
Our ancestors believed that natural disasters, disease, and war were signs of divine displeasure and retribution against people’s sins. Religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam embraced this straw-God theory (a made-up reality that has never existed).
The next link in the chain of early logic was that pissed gods needed to be appeased. Hence, blood sacrifice as payment. And so began conditional religion.
This fallacy of natural disasters or disease as expressions of divine displeasure and punishment is where God theory went wrong at the very beginning. It has not been corrected since. This bad idea still dominates the major world religions today and therefore dominates most human worldviews (see World Religion survey data below). It has even been embraced in “secular” ideologies (i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry planet, retributive Universe, karma- all needing some appeasing sacrifice). It is the fundamental human error and remains dominant in contemporary human/world consciousness.
Doing theology from humanity out to deity (versus top-down theology from religious authority and holy books)
We now reason from the best in humanity to conclude that deity is no conditions love. How so? Unconditional love is simply the best of being human, the highest form of love that we know. While public figures like Nelson Mandela demonstrated this love on a society-wide scale, most parents and spouses also get this form of love as most humane. Therefore, we conclude that God as Ultimate Goodness or Love would be infinitely better than us at our best. God would be ultimate or transcendent humaneness. God is supremely no conditions Love. This is just good basic theodicy but reasoned from the best in common, ordinary humanity.
Doing theology by reasoning from the best in humanity should take the place of doing theology from authoritative holy books that are based on the bad logic of ancient people regarding natural disaster. This makes each of us- reasoning from our ordinary, daily experience with family- the final authority on ultimate “truth”.
The primitive myth of deity as a punishing, destroying Force or Spirit drives an entire complex of bad religious ideas. It is pair-bonded with the myth that humanity is bad to the bone and deserves punishment and destruction. Fallen humanity mythology denies the essential goodness of people and contributes to pathology in human self-imaging.
Why is it critical to redefine deity with the adjective “unconditional”? Because, whether you are religious, secular, or atheist, how you define your ultimate ideal and authority determines what you become in life. Our highest ideals and authorities shape our thought, our emotions, our motivations, and our responses/behaviors. And the single worst idea that we have inherited from our ancestors is that God is a punitive, destroying Force, Principle, or Spirit. That bad idea has incited and validated endless punishment and violence toward others across history. Modern versions of this bad theology include the myths of vengeful Gaia, angry planet/nature or pissed Mother Earth, Retributive Universe, and punishing karma. It’s all just more of the same old, same old (Joseph Campbell- the same themes repeat across history and across the world).
A conditional approach to life incites and validates the worst of our animal inheritance- the tribal impulse, the impulse to dominate others, and to destroy the differing other/enemy. Unconditional, to the contrary, inspires the best of our human spirit- to include all, to mutual treatment of others as free equals, to forgive and restore the offending other. Unconditional is the most potent counter to the tribal impulse because it orients consciousness to the most authentically human form of love and inclusion, the inclusion of all without limit as equal members of the one human family. Unconditional orients to the most humane form of forgiveness- the forgiveness of all without exception (restorative justice).
Unconditional liberates us from our animal past and points us to a truly human future.
Note: I affirm all endeavor at religious reform. But too often such reform is little more than tinkering at the periphery while leaving the core bad themes in place. Those subhuman themes then distort and bury the better ideals in the mix. Again, this was the conclusion of both Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Jefferson- that in the New Testament the “diamonds/pearls” of Jesus were buried in a context that was subhuman, “the product of lesser human minds”.
Note the world religion survey (PEW Research Center or Wikipedia) where 85% of humanity still affiliate with a major world religion and most of the remaining 15% (unaffiliated) embrace some form of “spiritual but not religious”.
Detail on religious groupings: Christianity at 32%, Islam at 23%, Irreligious or Unaffiliated at 16%, Hindu at 15%, Buddhist at 7%, Folk religion at 6%.
Quote from world religion surveys: “Unaffiliated group growing… Many in this group are theistic but non-religious….More than three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated live in Asia, the majority in China. Many of the people in this group do hold some religious or spiritual beliefs and may even believe in a deity, but they do not identify with a particular faith.”
Point from the above survey numbers? The majority of people across the world continue to embrace some form of God theory.
Interesting in regard to the “Unaffiliated” group: While many in this classification have left some more formal religious system, they continue to hold the core beliefs of the more traditional religions, notably the core belief in a retributive, punitive, or destroying Force or Spirit/god, and the belief that people are essentially corrupt (a virus or cancer on the Earth) and deserve to be punished. They have simply exchanged religious myths of angry gods for more “secular” versions of the same God theory- i.e. retributive Universe, vengeful Gaia, angry Mother Earth/planet, or payback karma.
Related to this, these people still embrace the obligation to appease such forces/gods with sacrifice/payment and penance. It is all more of the same old, same old now just dressed in more “secular” robes. The core bad idea of punitive, destroying deity remains firmly embedded in the foundations of many secular worldviews.
Insert qualifier regarding comment below: Get the baseline clear- while life is full of “conditions”, Ultimate Reality or God is absolutely “no conditions Love”. An unconditional approach to life will embrace natural and social consequences to behavior. Holding people responsible for consequences of their behavior is critical to maturing as human. But all response to bad behavior must be restorative. As Tolstoy said regarding the criminal justice system- “The whole trouble is that people think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love, but no such circumstances ever exist. Human beings cannot be handled without love. It cannot be otherwise, because mutual love is the fundamental law of human life”. In a restorative approach, love and justice (i.e. restraining violence/evil, holding people responsible) are not in conflict.
We exhibit the unconditional nature of deity in our restorative treatment of the failures of others.
However we understand unconditional in this world (human response to failure in others), God is still ultimate no conditions Love. That means that everyone is ultimately safe in that infinite Love.
Another: The point of human life or story? You came here to learn and exhibit “no conditions” or “universal” love. Love is the central point of conscious human existence in an imperfect world.
Background stuff to public narratives- the continuing dominance of myth in our secular world
The climate debate as an illustration of modern mythmaking:
Equally bright scientists disagree over the varied elements of the climate issue and the data sets related to these issues. For instance, with increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, some see positive outcomes (e.g. the greening of the planet with more plant food in the atmosphere- already a 14% increase in primary plant productivity since 1982). Others see looming catastrophe, collapse, and the end of all things (i.e. CO2 as a dangerous pollutant and greenhouse gas that is causing catastrophic climate change).
Listen carefully to the disagreement between “alarmists” and “sceptics” and you can see that ideology is at play and that ideology leads to confirmation bias- i.e. scientists embracing the evidence that confirms their personal ideological positions, and denying or dismissing counter evidence that does not support their feelings and beliefs.
And if you listen even more carefully then you can further detect mythological themes behind the ideology or science. Note, for example, James Hansen, the father of the modern warming alarm. Whether he believes the myth of apocalyptic or not, he made an apocalyptic-scale claim, stating in 2008, “It’s all over in five years”. Many others have similarly set dates for the final “tipping point” and end of all things. Politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year stated that we had only 12 years to the end of days (2030). Pastor Harold Camping, an unapologetic religious apocalyptic, would be proud.
Joseph Campbell concluded from his study of human thought and writing over past millennia that the same basic mythical themes repeat endlessly across history and across all the cultures of the world.
What is the appeal of these primitive mythological themes? Why do they persist even into our modern era, despite the immense damage they have caused?
Here is a bit of insight into the project of this site…
Declinism- the belief that life is declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending (the apocalypse)… “the idea of decline is the most dominant and influential theme in modern society” (Arthur Herman in The Idea of Decline in Western History). Arthur Mendel adds that apocalyptic has been the most violent and destructive idea in history. Yet it persists. For example, it dominates the modern story-telling mythology that comes out of Hollywood (movies, TV).
The core ideas of apocalyptic are that of a punitive, destroying Force/deity and that corrupt people deserve punishment and destruction. These core ideas- punitive God and “bad-to-the-bone” people that deserve punishment- were already present in the earliest human writing, notably the Sumerian Flood myth where Enlil threatened to destroy all humanity for its sin (note also the Egyptian Destruction of Mankind myth).
This mythology of punitive deity arose from the ancient human logic that there were spiritual forces/gods behind all the elements of nature. Because nature was often destructive, well, that was evidence that the gods were angry with human failure/sin and were punishing people for being bad.
These primitive ideas were deeply embedded in human consciousness/subconscious and this logic continues to dominate human worldviews today, notably in the major world religions. The myth of punitive deity destroying bad people is also given expression in the contemporary myths of the “revenge of Gaia”, angry planet or Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and karma.
This ‘threat theology’ incites the primal human fears of chaos, destruction, and death. That pushes frightened populations to embrace harmful salvation schemes offered by the apocalyptic prophets that have alarmed them. The salvation schemes involve “coercive purification” (Richard Landes) of the corrupt thing that threatens society.
Note also that in the Sumerian mythology there was already a strong anti-human element (getting rid of “bad” people). And there was also a note of over-population alarmism- i.e. the god Enlil was pissed that there were “too many people”.
The anti-human element of apocalyptic mythology (the need to coercively purge some enemy) has continued down through the subsequent history of apocalyptic movements. In Marxist apocalyptic there was the demand to purge self-interested individuals in industrial, capitalist society. With Nazism there was the demand to purge Jewish Bolshevism. And in contemporary environmental alarmism there is the demand to purge too many resource-consuming people in industrial civilization.
(Marxism, Nazism, environmentalism as apocalyptic movements? Yes. See research of Richard Landes, Arthur Herman, Arthur Mendel and David Redles noted in sections below)
Apocalyptic scenarios involve the totalitarian urgency to remove some threat and save something before it’s too late. We are watching this theme throughout the climate alarm movement today. Once more- the same old, same old and the outcomes are devastatingly harmful as always before.
This site advocates going to the root of this recurring problem of apocalyptic and dealing with the primal fears and the deeply embedded themes that continue to incite those fears. Themes that repeat endlessly in modern ideology and even science. Note that even Stephen Hawking embraced a version of apocalyptic alarmism in his last two years. He stated in 2016 that it would all be over in a thousand years. Then he revised that prophecy and stated in 2017 that it would all be over in just 100 years.
Apocalyptic has a 100 percent historical failure rate and continues to make fools of the brightest minds.
There will never be an apocalypse because the Ultimate Reality that we call God is not a punitive, destroying reality. Read on. The core idea behind apocalyptic- the mythological/religious version of deity- is simply wrong. And yes, this is a theological issue/problem at its foundation. It is an “ultimate meaning” issue.
A curious thing: more on the “secularization” of myth in the modern world
For most of history people have viewed life mythically or religiously. You can see this mythical outlook in the centrality that was given to religion since early times. Note the place of early temples on ziggurats (raised platforms) at the center of ancient towns. Economic activity was centered on the temple- i.e. local produce was brought to temples for offerings/sacrifices and redistribution. Religion dominated the lives of early people and so through much of history. Then around four centuries ago we saw the growing emergence of a more secular/scientific way of viewing life. This became more widespread. But did we really leave mythical/religious thinking behind for a more scientific way of viewing reality and life?
Yes, to some extent that happened. But what also happened was that primitive mythical themes were “secularized” and given new expression in modern ideologies like 19th Century Declinism, a contemporary version of apocalyptic mythology. We saw this transformation and movement of the ancient into the modern even in science- e.g. the use of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to express apocalyptic fears (i.e. the universe declining toward a disastrous ending in heat death).
So reverse engineer history to see how this all works. Note that Declinism dominates human thought today, including in secular ideologies and science, and note Herman’s comment that varied Christian ideas shaped Declinism- i.e. the loss of an original paradise and the demand for violent purging of the world. Note the line of descent- that these primitive themes have descended down from a religious past to the secular present. Terms change for new generations but core themes remain the same.
Note: It is important to understand how “secular” versions of bad religious ideas are still involved at the basis of modern problems/pathologies like outbreaks of widespread violence and other forms of mass harm. This is Richard Landes point in Heaven on Earth. If we dismiss someone like Hitler as just a madman then we have not learned the lesson of how apocalyptic millennial themes can carry a society toward mass-death. How ordinarily good people- Christian Germans- can become caught up in such madness. And we will only repeat the same madness again. We are watching this today in the environmental alarm movement. Note how Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring contributed to the unnecessary deaths of millions of people following the ban on DDT. So also the immense suffering that has resulted from the fight against fossil fuels and CO2 (i.e. the activism to stop industrial society), a fight that harms the most vulnerable, the poorest.
The apocalyptic view of the world and history: Apocalyptics believe that the world was originally a paradise. But essentially corrupt people have ruined the original better world and now life is declining toward some disastrous ending. Consequent response to this belief- We must coercively purge (i.e. “instantaneous transformation”) the threatening thing in order to save the world and restore the lost paradise.
The actual history of the world: The past was much worse but essentially good people have improved life on all fronts and life has been rising toward a better future. Proper response to this evidence- We must engage the ongoing “gradual” improvement of life in order for it to continue to progress toward a better future.
Apocalyptic is the ultimate statement of nihilism. From the beginning (e.g. Sumerian Flood myth, Egyptian Destruction of Mankind or Return to Chaos myths) apocalyptic mythology has embraced the single worst pathology in the history of human thought- i.e. the idea of a retaliatory, punitive, and destroying God.
Contemporary expressions of apocalyptic: Scientist James Hansen stating in 2008, “It’s all over in 5 years”. Or politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claiming in 2018, “The world will end in 12 years”. Pastor Harold Camping would be proud.
You know you’re animal if… (three prominent features of animal existence- small band or tribal mentality, domination, retaliatory destruction)
1. You know you are more animal than human when you allow your identity to be dominated by your ideology, religion, nationality, race/ethnicity, social status, or gender. You know you are more animal than human when you allow these and other features to set yourself apart from others. That is to engage a form of small band or tribal thinking and behavior. Limiting human identity to an “us versus them” mentality. It is more animal-like than human.
Being human is to be aware of our oneness with all others in the one human family. What primarily identifies us as truly human is our common human mind, human consciousness, and human spirit.
2. You know you are more animal than human when you engage any form of domination/control of others (the alpha thing). You know you are more animal than human when you do not respectfully treat others as free equals in the one human family.
Yes, hierarchical arrangements are normal for efficient functioning in civilization- i.e. parent/child, teacher/student, supervisor/worker, and similar relationships. But being human is to treat others as free equals in these hierarchical arrangements. That defines us as human. We know we are human when we relate to others without coercion, threat, or manipulation.
3. You know you are more animal than human when you embrace retaliatory punishment toward the failures of others (i.e. hurt returned for original hurt caused- e.g. the dog snarling and snapping back at the dog that first snarled and snapped). You know you are more animal than human when you engage the destruction of some “enemy/offender”.
Being human is to engage restorative justice approaches to human failure, holding people fully responsible/accountable for their behavior (e.g. restraining violent people) but with forgiveness and inclusive love. As Leo Tolstoy said (speaking of the criminal justice system), “The whole trouble is that people think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love, but no such circumstances ever exist. Human beings cannot be handled without love. It cannot be otherwise, because mutual love is the fundamental law of human life”.
Universal love is not about feeling mushy, fuzzy, or warm toward human brutality but it is about treating all humanely despite their failures to live as human, just as we do with prisoners of war/enemy combatants after war has ended.
“You don’t need a weatherman…”
Yes, climate change is occurring. Yes, CO2 has a warming influence. Yes, CO2 contributed to the mild 0.3 degree Centigrade warming period from roughly 1975 to 1995. The 1998 and 2015/16 El Ninos were events in the larger climate trend, and do not define the trend in climate since the late 90s, a trend that has been basically flat for the past two decades.
No, there has never been a “consensus” that human contribution to CO2 levels is the dominant cause of the climate change that we have seen over the past 150 years. And no, climate is not heading for a 3-5 degree Centigrade warming over the decades that we are living through. There is no “climate crisis”. The climate models have been proven wrong by actual observed climate evidence.
Other natural elements show stronger correlations to the climate change that we have experienced. Notably, the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction (see Henrik Svensmark’s ‘The Chilling Stars’). And with the current solar minimum continuing, scientists are now predicting that we may experience an extended cold period over the coming decades.
Also, the ocean/atmosphere relationship shows strong correlation to the climate warming and cooling periods of the past 150 years- i.e. multi-decadal shifts in ocean currents from warming to cooling phases (see, for example, Michael Hart’s ‘Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change’).
As one scientist said, it is absurd to believe that we can adjust a CO2 knob and control climate. CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas (along with other trace greenhouse gases) and its influence is repeatedly overwhelmed by other natural elements that effect climate (i.e. water vapor/cloud being the dominant influence on climate).
Evidence on climate does not point to a catastrophic outcome from more CO2 and warmer temperatures. In fact, more atmospheric CO2 has resulted in a significant greening of the Earth (i.e. 14% increase in primary plant productivity since 1982). With more basic plant food (i.e. CO2) Earth now has more plant mass and this has benefitted animal life and human crop production. See “Celebrating CO2” (YouTube) by Patrick Moore.
We are observing more of the same old climate change as ever before (climate is never in stasis at some ‘optimum’). The worst policy response is to pressure people to use less fossil fuel. We need fossil fuels to drive more economic growth and the wealth creation that enables us to adapt to ongoing climate change and to take care of nature (see Population Bombed by Desrochers and Szurmak).
There is too much media distortion of the basic issues in the climate science debates. Media are not truth tellers but apocalyptic alarmists that compete with the rest of the entertainment industry that is obsessed with apocalyptic mythology (e.g. David Altheide in ‘Creating Fear: News and the Manufacture of Crisis’).
Posts from discussion group:
“I have long believed Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource is the single best book ever written. For its comprehensive approach to understanding “the true state of life on Earth”. Dealing with all the main features of the natural world- soils, forests, ocean fisheries, land animal life, and so on. And it presents what basic good science should be- look at the complete whole of things, and the longest term trends associated with the thing you look at. And his crowning achievement- to present the wonder of being human, that we- humanity- are more creators than destroyers. Ah, so many good things. Now Desrochers and Szurmak (Population Bombed) have brought forth another important aspect to Simon’s work- his outlining of the role of biology or biological science assumptions in pessimism. Brilliant. My respect for Simon increases even more. And… he was an atheist.
“Ah, God favored him, eh.”
“Desrochers and Szurmak note that Julian Simon saw that many scientists with biological training became involved in climate and population pessimism narratives. Erhlich, Suzuki, and others. They detail “His (Simon’s) reflection on the biological science origins of many deeply rooted cognitive habits of the pessimists”…
“One mistake these biologists made was to bring their understanding of the animal world to explain human society… “The non-historical character of most biological work, except for the study of evolution… the key problem with assuming humanity to be invariant within millennial (non-evolutionary) times scales is the neglect of vast cultural, social, intellectual and technological changes always occurring within human civilizations… animal husbandry and agriculture, for example, revolutionized the human relationship with Earth and accelerated the human divergence from the animal population and consumption models…”. Things the pessimist dismisses- e.g. human creativity and technological advance.
More…”Concepts that are appropriate for animal organisms- niche, carrying capacity, etc., are inappropriate for the creative aspect of human beings which is the central element in long-run economic activity. Biologists consider the human to be just an animal.”
“Ah, so much good stuff I am skipping over here… And they are dealing, in this good section, with Simon’s material.”
“Simon offers the best material for informing and shaping a worldview. I would urge young people, not too early (late teens, early twenties), to read and digest it as it will do more than most other material to help understand life on this planet. And basic economics too.”
“____, as a young Evangelical back in the early 70s, I embraced Christian apocalyptic. Then as life’s journey continued, I moved away from the religion of my youth. At least I thought so. I found myself at UBC in grad school embracing environmental apocalyptic (i.e. Bill Rees’ Ecological Footprint model). I took Bob’s advice around that time- early to mid 90s- to read Simon’s Ultimate Resource. That was an eye-opener. The realization dawned- that I had left the outer forms of my religion but still embraced the core themes/ideas, only in new “secular” form. And so began the real abandonment of my old worldview and construction of a new one.
“But as Desrocher and Szurmak note (Population Bombed)- some people change, just as Bjorn Lomborg did after reading Simon, but others don’t. They probe this a bit. Why do some never change despite evidence to the contrary- Paul Ehrlich being notable here. So often proven wrong, but never giving up on his pessimism and despair. His apocalyptic mindset.
“____, don’t be an Ehrlich.”
From Bob Brinsmead… “Why keep dragging up this now discredited worldview – i.e. this world is doomed, can’t reach its original goal, must look for a new earth, an apocalyptic end of this present world. That is the Biblical worldview, at least the New Testament apocalyptic view of things, of a world getting worse and worse, with all this degeneration and feeling of hopelessness about this world feeding this apocalyptic speculation. This view is totally discredited. It is deeply anti-human. Why keep dragging this dead horse around? And this worldview is the fruit of Christology – there has to be a Second Coming, things will keep going downhill until it takes place. That thinking is now all now done and dusted and ought to consigned to the dust bin of history- so stop noodling among these old religious ruins to find some justification for this Apocalyptic worldview of the New Testament.”
A book blurb...
Desrochers and Szurmak in their book ‘Population Bombed’ offer some fascinating probing of pessimism over the state of the world. Their book is an update on Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, the single best book ever written (his amassed evidence showing that the true state of the planet is improving, and people have been more creators than destroyers).
Desrocher and Szurmak probe common biases that lead people to embrace an apocalyptic view of life as declining toward disaster (worsening toward some great collapse and ending). Against all the evidence that life is improving, and rising toward some better future.
For example, why did Bjorn Lomborg abandon his environmental pessimism for hope, where Paul Ehrlich continues to push his despair over life? Despite being proven wrong so many times?
This site argues that this pessimism is often about ultimate meaning and morality issues. Deeper issues of core themes that inform our worldviews and outlook on life. Themes/ideas that we have inherited from our primitive past and that shape our emotions, motivations, and responses to life.
At the core of much human pessimism is that worst-ever complex of ideas of some angry deity punishing bad people via an apocalyptic judgment (through natural disaster). Ah, such silly, childish mythology, yet still dominant in public consciousness today, often in “secular” or ideological/scientific versions- i.e. vengeful Gaia punishing humanity as the virus, cancer on Earth, or angry planet/Mother Earth doing the same. Or retributive Universe/karma being the punishing entity.
It affects all of us right in our pockets– the rising energy costs in many countries due to things like carbon taxes. I see it and wince every time I pay my natural gas bill- the extra charge for carbon tax. And these unnecessary increases in energy costs impact the most vulnerable people the most as countries like England and Germany have experienced (see Global Warming Policy Forum reports on fuel poverty).
Why these increased costs? It traces back to alarmist agitation and activism over fossil fuels and rising CO2 levels. And why such alarm and pessimism, and the endless apocalyptic scenarios, now often related to rising CO2 and climate change?
This site probes one critical element in the complex mix behind such issues- the general pessimism over human engagement of the natural world and use of natural resources. This site probes why so many continue to embrace apocalyptic thinking regarding the natural world in the face of evidence to the contrary that humanity has improved life on Earth and continues to do so in industrial civilization (e.g. Simon, Beckerman, Easterbrook, Lomborg, Ridley, Goklany, Bailey, Desrochers and Szurmak, and others- see detail in sections below).
Another correlated leap..
Environmental alarmism is very much about the historical descent and persistence of a complex of ideas/themes known as “apocalyptic millennialism” (looming natural disaster and the end of days). These themes were first embraced by early people in their mythologies (e.g. Sumerian Flood myth). They continued without hiccup into the later world religions, and are now embedded in “secularized” versions of ideology and science (i.e. 19th Century Declinism).
We have inherited many themes from a primitive past that have long incited our primal fears of chaos, destruction and death. These themes include the beliefs that the past was better, that bad people ruined that paradise and now life is declining toward something worse, toward chaos, destruction and death. And a punitive God- or vengeful Gaia, Angry Planet, payback Universe, karma- will soon punish us for our sins in a great collapse and ending (apocalypse). So we must make some sacrifice to appease the threatening entity, in order to save the world from disaster and restore the lost paradise, or install our new utopia.
This story of decline toward apocalyptic is false and distorting from beginning to end. The long-term narrative of life has been that of endless rise toward progressive improvement, toward something better, most critically since maturing humanity has learned how to engage the natural world more carefully. Our gradual improvement of the world reveals the “wonder of being human” and basic human goodness. As Julian Simon said, we are more creators than destroyers.
Yet young moderns- claiming to be secular, materialist and scientific- still mouth the themes of this primitive mythology of decline toward disaster (the punishment of bad people) in the face of massive evidence to the contrary.
At root this pessimistic alarmism is an issue of human meaning and morality, unfortunately, informed by some of the most primitive thinking still dominant in modern minds.
Illustration: Al Gore, years back standing in water in Florida proclaiming a coming flood (rising oceans). He would be entirely at home in ancient Sumeria where the priests prophesied a coming flood to punish bad people (The Sumerian Flood myth). So also many young moderns claiming the past was better but life is degenerating toward some great disaster and ending (due to corrupt people in industrial civilization). They would feel entirely at home listening to the ancients proclaiming the same themes some 5000 years ago.
We are talking primitive stuff here, still dominating contemporary public consciousness.
More posts from online discussion group (on the topic of deity as unconditional reality- the conversation included several Australian members): “Let me tussle a bit more with you ____ in this MMA ring before letting go… And yes, Aussie rules football is way beyond the “traumatic brain injury” numbers in non-professional MMA or other combat sports. Remember that study of 4-19 year olds in all the major sports.
“Here I go again after promising not to get into more of these go-nowhere cycles that bore the rest of you to death.
“But it “appears”… I say appear because I don’t want to speak for you ____ as you have your own reasons and motives why you argue as you do. But it appears that theology seems qualified to you because you appear to explain God in terms of bad human behavior. That is the closest I can get to understanding your assumptions and logic.
“Now back to Desrochers and Szurmak (Population Bombed) a bit more… Despite all the great scientific progress of these past centuries, materialism fails to deal with something most important in human makeup, something so basic to being human. Materialist science does not resonate with basic human needs and concerns. We simply do not live by atoms and natural law alone. We never have, as the history of human thought shows (mythology, religion, ideology, and science- or better, the philosophizing and myth-making in science- Smolin in The Trouble With Physics, Hossenfelder in Lost in Math, and Baggott in Farewell To Reality).
“Without beating around the bush… we are most essentially beings of love (how bout that for revolutionizing human self-imaging). That is why love has long been our primary ideal. It permeates all of life, if you pay attention.
“Love is the reason for our existence here in this material realm. Our stories are about love- learning love, expressing love, receiving love… wrestling with opposites in dualist pairings (monsters, enemies) that bring forth the opportunity for love… and on and on….
“If we neglect this or try to explain things solely in terms of materialist philosophy (i.e. the strong dogmatic positions on evolutionary biology/psychology) then we miss the main point of human existence. The main point of human story.
“So much theorizing about reality and life misses this… the whole trajectory of human progress in improving this world in so many diverse ways shows the developing trajectory of the human spirit, maturing as heroically human across history (Campbell- when oriented to universal love). And in that trajectory we see the growing understanding of theology/theodicy… that Ultimate Reality is that same love but to transcendent degree better.
“And that ‘discovery’… that God is no conditions, universal, unlimited love… answers those most fundamental questions of the ages. It answers the primal human fears that have never been answered in the great religious traditions where the ancients misread the imperfection of the natural world as expressions of divine anger, retaliation and punishment. Hence, badly informing theology and consequent justice systems. Yes, the great religions created monsters beyond monstrous that have endlessly incited the worst in humanity (affirming the inherited animal). Monstrous theology now secularized and still dominating much human consciousness and still driving movements like Marxism and environmentalism that hinder commerce (i.e. myths of vengeful Gaia, angry planet, retributive Universe, karma).
“So this background explains why I view the discovery of deity as unconditional as the single greatest discovery ever, for how it explains reality and life at so many levels- i.e. ethics, justice and on and on. It answers so many of the fundamental questions that people ask.
“At a minimum- it’s just part of the complex mix of human understanding, life, and outcomes and so on.”
“Suggestion… If you deal with these things at the deepest possible levels (subconscious) of primal human fears and concerns then that will contribute to overall freedom that unleashes the human spirit even more (human creative potential). The fear engendered by apocalyptic millennialism in Marxism and environmentalism has been most notable for enslaving and hindering the modern human spirit and its progress. All sorts of researchers note this including Desrochers and Szurmak, as did Lomborg in his Skeptical Environmentalist- why do people continue to believe apocalyptic scenarios when there is so much evidence to the contrary? And he is referring to the brightest scientific and political minds out there all across the world. Hmmm, eh?
“And then make the basic correlations of this type of outlook (apocalyptic alarmism) with actual policies embraced by populations in our countries. I am feeling this here in BC when I pay my natural gas bill and see that huge government tax on this gas. And I go as deep as I can in understanding why people push such nuttiness. Despite evidence (factfulness) to the contrary.”
“The meaninglessness and nihilism from that cruel God theory”… referring to the God at the heart of apocalyptic- a punitive, destroying God. Making apocalyptic the ultimate or epitome expression of nihilistic meaninglessness… the final destruction of everything, the world. Makes Hitler’s holocaust look like child’s play.”
“Hossenfelder (Lost in Math) covered many of the same forms of bias such as false consensus but Desrochers and Szurmak go into more of the psychology behind the varied forms of bias.
“As they note…”thanks to decades of experimental work by psychologists and political scientists we have a picture of how individuals acquire and process information, and how they construct a mental model of others as information agents… and the mechanisms for social transmission of ideas…” Good material.
“My point is always- go to your core ideal and authority. The thing that impacts/shapes your emotions, thinking, motivations, response/behavior. From the deepest recesses of your consciousness. Note the outcomes in life. Is that core ideal and authority really human/humane? Is it really love?”
“I repeatedly toy with new versions of the same old, doing summaries for my site and for the new visitors there. Summaries that get to the main points of the problem that the site deals with. I would offer this to ____- there is a very real life, daily problem, illustrated in his own country now with rising energy prices and the suffering this causes to millions of people, harming the most vulnerable the most. This is happening all over as the GWPF reports repeatedly show in varied countries.
“Trace the problem to its roots, do some reverse engineering and try to understand one of the root causes of the problem- that pet apocalyptic myth that you favor ____. Look at the historical outcomes in real life from this “most violent and destructive idea in history” (Mendel).
“The core of the myth (two core bad ideas)- angry, destroying deity punishing bad people for their sins.”
“We (humanity) have wasted so much time and effort on the themes of those old religious narratives (trying to salvage them, trying to preserve wine in rotten wineskins, trying to maintain diamonds in dung).
“Time and effort that should be spent constructing entirely new narratives to help humanity navigate the stages of life.
“There was no original Eden or paradise. That is such a distorting image of the history and real state of this world. The world began in chaotic imperfection and nature has stumbled along randomly (freedom) ever since with all sorts of disastrous outcomes for humanity. So Bloom was right in that video clip with Rogan- humanity must intervene to solve the violence of nature and make this world more habitable for humanity and all life (so also Easterbrook in A Moment on The Earth).
“And no, humanity never got into trouble with any touchy, threatening God. Such silly, childish mythology, no longer suitable for mature humanity in this era. And if you ever read the book of Revelation you will see it is about the ‘final destruction of the world’- in order to create the new religious heaven and earth. My vision of hell.
“Such silly, childish mythology”… nothing personal here, just a reference to Campbell’s and other’s evaluation of the mythology that we have inherited from our religious traditions.”
“With that core, baseline belief in an inexpressible Love you can go out and tell anyone, no matter their failure to live as human, that they are safe in the end. That it will be all right, despite what they suffer in life. As someone said last night during the Oscars, in regard to some movie story or personal experience, that it was love from a parent that brought them back to love also. Ah, it is so fundamental to all humanity, this love thing. The most basic human need. And no religion has ever fully communicated that to people, what with all the distorting threats and conditions.”
“The ‘final destruction of the world’- in order to create the new religious heaven and earth”… Arthur Herman deals with this in The Idea of Decline, “the most dominant and influential theme in modern society”. He refers to the Christian idea in Christian apocalyptic that there must be a violent purging of the old corrupt world (this comes from Zoroastrian purging of the evil world with molten metal, washing all down into hell). This violent purging precedes the restoration of the imagined lost paradise. This idea of violent purging had horrific outcomes when embraced by Marxist apocalyptic, and Nazi apocalyptic. We are watching it again today in environmental apocalyptic- the felt need to purge some corrupt and threatening thing. That corrupting, threatening thing in today’s apocalyptic is industrial society. Hence, the public policy all over today to shut down economic growth (selfish, greedy consumers destroying nature in this industrial civilization). Desrochers and Szurmak cover all these themes well.
“The need for violent purging relates to issues of imminent threat as created by apocalyptic alarms (e.g. irreversible tipping points), to instantaneous salvation versus gradualism (escapism), and so on.
“Good scholarship/history (Landes, Mendel, Redles, Herman) has shown the ideas that were employed in those noted mass-death movements. It helps understand how a lunatic fringe personality like Hitler then began to resonate with the broader Christian German public. The themes he employed. They were Christian apocalyptic millennial ideas.”
“Desrochers and Szurmak note that Julian Simon saw that many scientists with biological training became involved in climate and population pessimism narratives. Erhlich, Suzuki, and others. They detail “His (Simon’s) reflection on the biological science origins of many deeply rooted cognitive habits of the pessimists”…
“One mistake these biologists made was to bring their understanding of the animal world to explain human society… “The non-historical character of most biological work, except for the study of evolution… the key problem with assuming humanity to be invariant within millennial (non-evolutionary) times scales is the neglect of vast cultural, social, intellectual and technological changes always occurring within human civilizations… animal husbandry and agriculture, for example, revolutionized the human relationship with Earth and accelerated the human divergence from the animal population and consumption models…”. Things the pessimist dismisses- human technological advance.
“More…”Concepts that are appropriate for animal organisms- niche, carrying capacity, etc., are inappropriate for the creative aspect of human beings which is the central element in long-run economic activity. Biologists consider the human to be just an animal.”
“Ah, so much good stuff I am skipping over here… And they are dealing, in this good section, with Simon’s material.”
“I have long believed Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource is the single best book ever written. For its comprehensive approach to understanding “the true state of life on Earth”. Dealing with all the main features of the natural world- soils, forests, ocean fisheries, land animal life, and so on. And it presents what basic good science should be- look at the complete whole of things, and the longest term trends associated with the thing you look at. And his crowning achievement- to present the wonder of being human, that we humanity are more creators than destroyers. Ah, so many good things. Now Desrochers and Szurmak have brought forth another brilliant aspect to Simon’s work- his outlining of the role of biology or biological science assumptions in pessimism. Brilliant. My respect for Simon increases even more. And…he was an atheist.
“Ah, God favored him, eh.
“Simon offers the best material for informing and shaping a worldview. I would urge young people, not too early (late teens, early twenties), to read and digest it as it will do more than most other material to help understand life on this planet. And basic economics too.”
Site content: I am interested in correlations between things that help us understand life better. I am, for instance, stunned by how apocalyptic millennial themes played such a significant role in the mass-death movements of the last century, notably in Marxism, Nazism, and then in the ongoing movement of environmental alarmism (e.g. Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring and the consequent deaths of tens of millions of people that were denied the benefits of DDT protection).
I am most especially interested in the driving core of apocalyptic mythology- the idea of a punitive, destroying God, whether in religious or “secular” versions like vengeful Gaia, angry planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or karma. And I am fascinated by the alternative that goes to this core and transforms it entirely- i.e. history’s single greatest insight that the core of reality is ‘absolutely no conditions Love’. Something so radically opposite to the history of religious God theory.
Site project: Rethinking humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity. The core features have been subhuman since the earliest human efforts at God theory- i.e. that deity is tribal (believers versus unbelievers), dominating (God as king, ruler), and punitive, destroying (i.e. apocalypse, hell). Correct the core and all sorts of related things in human society are transformed also- i.e. ethics, justice, behavior/human relationships.
This is about the outcomes in life when we embrace the above themes in our worldviews (i.e. tribal exclusion, domination, punishment/destruction)- subhuman themes that then operate to affirm intolerance toward differing others, harsh condemnation and punishment instead of forgiveness and mercy (i.e. restorative justice approaches), and so on. The ideas that we embrace and promote have real life consequences. They guide and validate our feelings, our motivations, and our responses/behavior.
As noted repeatedly in sections below- among all the things that we struggle with in order to make life better, also go to the deepest roots of problems and solve things there. For example, fully humanize your God (whether religious or secular) and that will help transform (fully humanize) your consciousness and life. We do become just like the God, or ultimate ideal and authority, that we believe in. This relationship (belief/behavior, theology/ethics) operates at all sorts of scales, from daily interactions to larger social movements.
For most people it is still a theological or ‘ultimate meaning’ issue, and always will be.
Nelson Mandela was right. When you treat your enemies with unconditional love (i.e. include all, forgive all, embrace restorative justice as in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), that love then “brings out the best in others” and “turns enemies into friends”. Not in all cases, but in most. There is still the obligation of love to restrain those who cannot or will not control their worst impulses (i.e. hold offenders accountable, protect others). But in many other situations those with the courage to forgo the petty ‘right to retaliate’ (i.e. eye for eye, hurt for hurt, hate for hate), those with the courage to break a retaliatory cycle are the real heroes that take life in a better direction, toward more love. Such people “tower in stature as maturely human” (Joseph Campbell’s point that we become heroes of our story and we mature as human when we orient our lives to universal love).
Intro- taking another shot to make the same point as the opening section above
(Note: Myth is important to navigating life and the life stages of development and maturing.
But there is good myth and bad myth. Bad myth incites and validates our animal passions- i.e. to tribal dualism, to domination, and to punish and destroy some other. Good myth inspires our human impulses to inclusion, to treat all as free equals, and to forgive and treat all restoratively.)
This site tackles the problem of environmental alarmism (i.e. catastrophism, apocalyptic). But why do this at the level of mythology? Why not just counter alarmism with good science? Well, keep in mind Joseph Campbell’s comment that the same themes are repeated across all history and across all the cultures of the world. It’s a problem of the same old, same old endlessly repeating itself and continuing to dominate human consciousness with the same old bad outcomes.
In problem solving you need to isolate the actual root of any given problem. What contributes to the problem at the most fundamental levels? So let’s do some reverse engineering. Keep in mind Arthur Herman’s statement that Declinism (a modern “secular” version of apocalyptic- i.e. life is declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending) is the most dominant and influential theme in modern society (The Idea of Decline in Western History). Add here Arthur Mendel’s comment that apocalyptic has been the most violent and destructive idea in history (Vision and Violence).
Where does apocalyptic (with its central idea of a punitive, destroying deity) come from? It arose from the earliest and gravest human error ever. We see this error in the earliest human writing- the Sumerian epics on cuneiform tablets. The Sumerians, and following Akkadians/Babylonians, believed that natural disasters were evidence of angry gods punishing bad people for their sins. Hence, the Sumerian Flood myth (see the epic of Gilgamesh).
This old theme of divine punishment through the natural world is endlessly repeated even today in “the revenge of Gaia”, angry planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and karma myths. The same old, same old. Firmly embedded in human consciousness/subconscious, hardwired.
So in problem solving note this foundational mythological element still in the mix. Note, for example, that equally bright scientists often come to very opposite conclusions over the same issues or data sets in the world. Some see the glass half full and some see the glass half empty. Some see decline, some see progress. When that happens, we can see that personal ideology influences people to confirmation bias conclusions (to include evidence that affirms personal beliefs and to dismiss or deny evidence that opposes personal beliefs).
But if we listen even more closely we can hear something more behind the level of personal ideology. We can hear the same old, same old themes of all past mythological/religious history (see my “15 Ideas to Re-evaluate” below).
Insert: the apocalyptic complex includes the ideas that the past was better (original paradise), bad people have ruined paradise, and life is now declining toward some great collapse and ending- the apocalypse. These ideas incite the primal human fears of chaos, destruction, and death. Therefore salvation is necessary. This involves the coercive purging of the threat (the corrupting element) in order to save the world/life and restore the lost or ruined paradise.
This deeply embedded set of myths has resulted in a very curious phenomenon today- that of young moderns claiming to be secular, materialist, scientific, and even atheist but still mouthing the same old primitive mythological themes of the ancient and primitive past. They may have abandoned the major religious traditions but they still embrace the core themes of those religious traditions, now just dressed in modern secular robes.
The main point here- threat theology (divine punishment/destruction through the natural world) incites primal human fears and that alarm causes people to embrace harmful salvation schemes.
Thorough problem solving must go to the deepest levels of human consciousness/subconscious to deal with deeply embedded themes inherited from a primitive past.
Note: There have been horrible events across history but none of them have been the apocalypse (the final end of all things). They are events in the overall trend of life that has been gradually growing more complex, more organized, and continues to improve toward a better future. The evidence is overwhelming that the long-term trend of life progresses toward something better and does not decline toward something worse.
Another: Dominant public narratives continue to labor under Marxist/environmentalist views of our industrial society as responsible for ruining a better past world and all is now heading for some disastrous collapse and ending. This site embraces an entirely different narrative that industrial civilization has been responsible for immense improvements in the human condition as well as improvements in the environment. Industrial society is not destroying nature but is saving the world (see Population Bombed for detail- a newer restatement of Julian Simon’s research in Ultimate Resource).
In general, there are two great competing narratives of life on Earth, on the true state of the world. One argues life is declining toward disaster, the other argues that life is rising/improving toward a better future. What does the best evidence affirm? See Simon’s book.
Ah… the never-ending predictions of the end of days. Democratic Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is yet another in a history-long line of apocalyptic prophets, claiming last year (2018) that “We only have 12 years left.” The latest end of days is 2030. Pastor Harold Camping would be proud.
The myth of apocalyptic, in all its diverse expressions both religious and secular, still dominates public consciousness. Arthur Herman said that Declinism (a historically recent “secular” version of apocalyptic) is “the most dominant and influential theme in modern society”.
What drives apocalyptic mythology? The core idea of a punitive, destroying God that will finally mete out justice/punishment for bad people that have ruined some original paradise world. This punitive, destroying God will then intervene to coercively purge the corrupting people from Earth and instantaneously restore the lost paradise.
Get the two central ideas in this apocalyptic myth- that of punitive deity and bad people that deserve divine punishment for ruining some original paradise. They must be purged (over-population alarmism) so paradise can be restored.
Then note the most recent historical expression of this mythology- the Progressive push to coercively reshape society under Green apocalyptic deadlines of the end of days. To purge the world of industrial civilization that has ruined paradise and then via central control re-introduce a social-justice/environmental utopia (Collectivist utopia).
Yes, this is just another rehash of primitive apocalyptic mythology where punitive, destroying deity intervenes to purge the world of a corrupting humanity and then instantaneously re-establish some lost paradise. For more detail, see the gradualism points below in “15 Ideas to Re-evaluate” (i.e. Arthur Mendel in Vision and Violence).
This site goes to the root of this mythical worldview, to the Threat theology at the core- that there is some mythical Force or Spirit that threatens to punish humanity and destroy the world. This threat has always incited the primal human fears of chaos, destruction and death. That fear has then pushed people to embrace alarmist salvation schemes that have caused immense destruction and misery.
This site counters these bad ideas with the new theology of a core Love without the punitive, destroying elements of the old mythical and religious God theories. There is no great Threat behind reality or life. And there is no evil humanity deserving punishment. We see the essential goodness of humanity in the progress that we have made across history- in decreasing human violence, and improvement in all areas of life. Note Julian Simon and many others for detail.
The evidence of progress affirms hope that our endeavors to make life better are succeeding. This liberates creativity to continue to make the world better.
The following are posts from a discussion group:
Comment from one person in the discussion group: “I hope, one day, you will show me how we all can be merciful and just without compromising either.”
My response: “For me ____, its always pulling back to big picture contexts, just as I am sure you do also in terms of your overall worldview.
“My reconciliation of love with justice is done in terms of the non-retaliatory justice Jesus advocated. I understand life in this world to be a brief experience in a larger context and that larger context gives meaning to this life. We come here to experience the imperfection of this reality, to struggle with it and learn something in the process. Yes, basically Campbell’s good outline of meaning. But it is all then swallowed up back in a love beyond our comprehension, a love that scandalizes and even offends because it is ultimately restorative justice, not punitive in any manner. The punitive element would be in the self-judgment and punishment (see those life review comments in NDEs).
“Bigger context? This has been much of my own story. What a journey these past decades have been, eh. To illustrate, years ago I felt myself being pulled in a certain direction, notably by ________ of ____ and that experience was appreciated. _____ kept asking me what I was doing, was I keeping busy, and would I join them in their new venture at ____. He even wanted to write a paper together re “catastrophism” or apocalyptic in the post-World War2 era, as related to environmentalism. But _____’s group is more science oriented and I so appreciate that and what they are doing. But I was being drawn to something else that did not quite fit their project.
“I was watching good scientific minds on varied debates and how they were arriving at such opposite conclusions about the same bodies of evidence. What was really going on? Obviously the influence of personal ideology/belief and the bias that results from that. Hossenfelder, along with so many others, shows how science is full of such bias. And the mythmaking associated with that.
“And from our decades at looking at the history of mythology, I was seeing those common themes that Campbell spoke of, that repeat endlessly across history and all the world cultures, even into our modern “secular” era and our ideologies, and our science. Notably things like the apocalyptic millennial complex of ideas or themes. Still, as Herman says, the dominant theme in our modern world. Just look at our story-telling today (movies, TV, literature) and the prominence of apocalyptic there. Proxy evidence.
“Now in ‘Population Bombed’ more of the same- as they point to those “deeply held values”, that climate alarmism “co-exists uneasily with quasi-religious images of doom and redemption… accompanied by the simultaneous horror at the impending apocalypse”. Beliefs/themes that shape our biases and how we respond to life.
“While I affirm all that people are doing at the level of observed evidence (empiricism) to respond to the horrific outcomes of such themes today (e.g. fossil fuel opposition, anti-industrial society activism, and on and on), there is something missing in the mix if we do not go to another element at the bottom of the problem.
“And while I appreciate so much, for instance, what ____ is doing re commerce, for me there is something missing there also. What Bailey noted years ago re US income being only around $60,000 on average when it should have been over $300,000 average (just since the 2WW). And Murdoch adding that hindrance to economic growth was mainly from environmental regulation. Green religion. Look all around- the hindrance to commerce issue. We are now facing it here in BC with our Socialist/Green government. Preventing a pipeline to get Alberta oil to market. Trying to shut down this fossil fuel-based market system. Madness. These people are having a powerful influence on our societies and lives and they hold some very “deep values”, some very influential themes.
“My conclusion along with Campbell and so many others- the same mythical themes still dominate too much today all over in ideology, and science, and the outcomes are the same old, same old- devastating to humanity and our progress (Mendel- apocalyptic has been the most violent and destructive idea in history). So its just my personal project to get to some of these root issues in problem-solving. Commerce alone will not fully solve the problems.
“It’s a fundamentally theological problem at its ultimate root. Yes, and just one element in the complex mix of life. But still a critical one.
“Like other larger contexts, I pull back to such things. And the love/justice issue that you are concerned about, so I similarly see that in its larger context. That whatever this life means, it is all swallowed up again in the end, in a love that scandalizes and even offends the common sense of justice as some form of retribution (note those parables of Jesus).
“So, nah. No more eye for eye. Love the enemy too. That is what God does, in the end. And yes, that is justice, divine justice of the best kind. Ultimately restorative. And there is no conflict here, in love, with our mutual responsibility to hold one another responsible for behaviour in this world. Just sayin.
Point just above? This is why one of the most potent thing I would say to a young modern blathering on about karma or Retributive Universe and so many similar gods- no, there is no ultimate Threat behind life, no ultimate punishing Force/Principle/Spirit. There is only Love, absolutely no conditions Love. That is the closest I can get to one of the most foundational issues in human consciousness, related to our primal impulse for meaning.
And that is why I also focus on Paul’s Christ, for its still dominant role in re-enforcing such belief in the modern world- Tabor and so many others affirming the dominance of Paul and his Christ myth. Herman showing how Paul’s ideas were “secularized” in the ideology of Declinism that dominates modern societies.
One more illustration- Lomborg in Skeptical Environmentalist did a fantastic job of responding to all areas of life with good evidence, empirical evidence. But then he was puzzled why that did not convince people. He asked why do people then against evidence still embrace apocalyptic thinking? He had no answer. And this gets to this issue of deeply held values or beliefs. What influences our emotions and outlook and response to life, our behavior. Why so many will support Green policies just as the majority is doing here in BC, totally against their better commercial interests. Against all evidence to the contrary.
One more, eh.
____, your question is valid- mercy and justice without compromise. Here is a bit more on how I reconcile this. You have to go to a bigger background picture, what I refer to as Joe Campbell’s story outline. Something I have borrowed and filled out more and revised/paraphrased.
If all are ultimately safe in Love at the end, then what of bad behavior and justice in this world?
I engage a larger background or meta-narrative to make sense of this.
We all come from Love, from perfection, from Oneness in a greater reality. Yes, Campbell and others affirm this. Many NDEs affirm this.
We come here to live a story, to live an experience of life in imperfection, in the dualisms of this material realm- in stories of opposites like good and evil, in suffering. Struggling with imperfection to make something better of life and of ourselves. In this struggle with imperfection we learn lessons, we gain insights, and become mature humans, we become heroes of our stories as we learn primarily what love is, how to love in the struggle with its opposites (hate, offense, evil). That is the central point of life- to learn how to love in all the diverse ways that people make life better by breaking retaliatory cycles and so on, by being peacemakers and restorative justice advocates.
So we are all actors on God’s stage here in this world, taking our differing roles but in the end we all return safely to the Love from where we originated. We all return to that Oneness that Campbell and Sudman and others speak of having experienced. That is the testimony of the witnesses that surround us.
This background or meta-narrative stuff helps us in “our righteous struggle with evil”. It helps us to remember our brotherhood with even our enemy, so that we maintain our humanity by loving our enemy, not losing our humanity in our struggle with evil. The embrace of our larger Oneness in the one family of God, that helps us to still love the “enemy”, the offender in our stories.
Are all these insights from others just make-believe? Speculation? Perhaps, but such insights offer better input to make sense of things than much of what religions have given us. So of course, we cautiously embrace such things and evaluate with our own criteria. But we can’t live in a vacuum of not knowing or explaining things. Not even science can do that. Hence the endless engagement of philosophy all through science. Crossing boundary lines to do as religious people have done across history (Easterbrook)- appeal to invisible things to explain what is. It’s just being human, following that meaning impulse. And that urge to love.
Two key points in the meta-narrative context- there is an inexpressible no conditions Love at the core of all. The Oneness or Light thing. And we are at our core that same Love. It is our essence- the core of our human self or human spirit. This goes a ways to explain what is going on in life.
My two simplifying points- Love behind all, and we are the same love at core, is to counter the two great fallacies of mythical/religious/ideological history- that there is a great Retributive Reality behind life and we as essentially bad to the bone deserve punishment from that great Threat Theology. Just keeping it simple for the kids.
So we now wrestle with the question of why such “imperfection” was built into the universe and world right from the start. This is a critical issue for new narratives. The old Eden/Fall stories no longer work. Evolutionary or development science tells us that.
Here is one more for you ____, to show where I am coming from.
This relates somewhat to a question my sister Gail and I posed to ourselves decades ago- as we were discussing our journey out of our religion…”Where now?”
Some ‘splaining’… This is part of the ongoing search for a new meta-narrative framework. These features are already out there as defined by the old mythical/religious narratives. And as Campbell said, the old no longer work. So this is to offer some new “fill-in” elements to replace the old speculations. And my dipping into such things is part of my refusal to be enslaved to materialist rational constraints. Oh, I respect that in many areas of life. But the problem is that people are curious and will pose and answer these things anyway so why not offer features that work better to help fill out a new narrative? Speculation be damned.
Last night at beddy-bye time I was watching a Netflix docu on the world’s highest tower in Abu Dhai. One couple in that seemed so modern, business-like and secular and then as they got into an elevator the lady said, “Thank you God”. Ah, there it is again, all through modern life, eh.
So here goes… my venturing some features to fill out a larger framework for human story. Props to Campbell again…
We come from Oneness, we pre-exist as part of some larger Consciousness. Pim Van Lommel also speculates this as do many others aside from Campbell.
Our greater Consciousness is mediated through a material brain, limited by 3 or 4 dimensions and five senses to experience this material world or realm.
The point of incarnation here? To experience this imperfect natural and imperfect human reality (e.g. its dualisms of right and wrong) for the purpose of learning and exhibiting love. Love is the point of it all. We come to struggle against all sorts of things and in that struggle we learn lessons, gain insights and develop as human. The key insight is love as universal, unlimited, unconditional. That single feature is most critical and central to it all. It has been given epitome expression in that statement “Love your enemy”. There is the best of being human and the best of theology. In that one simple summary statement- love your enemy because God does.
In struggle with universal/no conditions love we become maturely human, we become heroes of our unique story, we tower in stature when we orient ourselves to universal love (Campbell).
We also each face some monster in our story- whether physical, mental, emotional, financial, social, and so many other things that people struggle with in life. And we become wounded in our struggle with our monster. But a wise man gives us a sword to slay our monster. And the struggle and wounding serve the purpose to help us develop empathy with all suffering others, empathy being central to learning love.
And I would suggest that the greatest monster we all face is the real enemy, the monster inside us- the animal inheritance. This line between good and evil that runs down the center of every human heart. I refer to the “animal” impulses to tribalism (us versus some other- offender/enemy), to domination of others (alpha thing), and to exclude and destroy the other. We face the opposite of unconditional in order to bring forth the wonder of unconditional. The orientation to universal love potently counters those impulses with inclusion of all (the Oneness issue), with treatment of all as free equals, and with forgiveness and restorative justice approaches to all human imperfection and failure.
So just some added features to fill out a greater narrative framework as so many people ask such questions anyway- what does it all mean? Why such misery and suffering for so many? Why this imperfect world? These features do better to help understanding of the larger story issues, better than many similar speculations from old story frameworks.
And of course, the expression of love is through all that people do to make this life and this world better- in every area of human activity whether art/music, commerce, sports, medicine… well, everything that people have done and do to make this world better. Each making some unique contribution, living a unique life story. Finding their individual mission or purpose or interest and fulfilling that.
As Julian Simon said, problems (struggle with imperfection) is good for us. It stirs our creativity to solve problems and out of that we find solutions that benefit others. There, an atheist gets it. Just what Campbell was suggesting- that we learn lessons and gain insights from our struggle with our monster. We grow and develop as human, especially when we orient ourselves to universal love. Then we “tower in stature”, become heroes, mature as human. That is the key point of this human story on Earth.
And no, I am not telling you folks on this list anything new. I am more just musing to myself and working on brief summary posts to put up on my site for all those curious folks out there that ask these questions and wander around my site… folks from China, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, yes even Saudi Arabia and Iraq and so on at times. All across South America, Africa, Asia and so on. I had this conversation online years back with a lady from China- atheist father, yet she also had contact with some Pentecostal-type church, and she asked me so many things along these lines. They are out there and getting input from old story narratives that are just not helpful but just re-affirm old story themes. So I am not hesitant to stick my nose in with counter speculations. To re-affirm new story themes. That’s all this is.
And on the “enemy” issue and unconditional. Campbell offers some of the best comment in stating that we must be careful to maintain our humanity in our “righteous struggle with evil”, with some other “enemy”. We must not forget our oneness with all, our “brotherhood” with even our enemy. Remembering that oneness or brotherhood helps us to love even our enemy and thereby not lose our humanity, we maintain our humanity if we do that. These features (his point that we all come from the same larger Oneness, the originating family of God) are part of the larger background story that helps us maintain our humanity in our struggles here with enemies and our righteous struggles with evil.
Remember also this, Easterbrook’s Wired point of long ago…. even the materialist scientists speculate about invisible realities to fill in their story lines, to affirm their beliefs. Imagine, physics doing this. So one of the most dominant myths today (Baggot in Farewell to Reality) is that of multi-verse, and it is used to affirm the random meaningless myth of materialist science (given infinite tries, one universe is bound to randomly fall into place with Just Six Numbers to be a livable habitat for life). There is no evidence of multi-verse and the Hadron Collider experiments undermined it but it persists as widely believed by the public. No evidence for it, yet it dominates the hardest, most bedrock science. So even the most ‘rational’ materialist minds are engaging wild speculation on invisible things to affirm their mythmaking, what Hossenfelder said is not even pseudoscience but is pure fiction (mythmaking).
One more… with the animal inheritance we face the graphic opposite of unconditional love- with tribal impulses to exclude, dominate and destroy. That opposite brings forth the wonder of unconditional all the more, graphic contrast to show the ‘glory’ of the other. Unconditional counters the animal with non-tribal inclusion, non-domination (respect the freedom of the other), and with forgiving restorative justice as opposed to punitive justice.
One more and I will go out and get to work on the septic field with Dennis’ crew, doing a great job repairing our field. Says it has at least 40 more years of use. Perc tests are good despite the poor forest soils here- Brunisols, sort of clayey. Don’t drain well so they have to bring in sand and gravel to put deep below.
But some of you will pick up on what I am doing in these earlier posts, the larger point I am making. Many argue today that we should focus only on the rational, empirical, the observable material world of here and now. Good, go for it. I am in hearty agreement…mostly. “Let’s get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit” said the pissed atheist. And this more rational approach has been invaluable in countering past millennia of irrational mythology and religion. You know, offering sacrifices to storm gods to appease anger. Such as waste of pigs and goats and chickens, except for the full bellies of the shaman/priests.
But in this more materialist approach there is something missing. Something even the Neanderthals got as they responded to their conscious human impulse for meaning, for more complete understanding and explanation. To answer their curiosity. The Adam thing. The materialist response to human meaning and spirituality swings to an opposite extreme. And no one really fulfils that solely materialist approach anyway. Note even physics violating the science/philosophy boundary. Engaging in “pure fiction”. So in biology- Harold Franklin, Lynn Margulis, and Ellen Kellor on the mythmaking “with a paucity of evidence” that goes on there. But as Kellor says, we have to appeal to purpose to make any sense even though we hate to b seen with this mistress in public.
As Easterbrook noted, science all over does this- appealing to invisible things to explain what is- the visible material.
I embrace the “healthier” approach of so much exploration today- the merging of science with human spirituality. With here and now focus. So don’t be afraid to fill things out a bit more with some speculation, to affirm new narrative themes as Campbell does with things like Oneness, with “better” speculation to support more humane new narrative themes.
Will you be discredited for not being properly rational and empirical, according to materialist definitions. Who gives a shit. Meet people on the street with where they are and their daily concerns. This too being part of that complex mix. Like that modern, successful, secular lady in the Abu Dhai tower, just as she gets into the elevator- reflecting on her interior designing success, “Thank you God”.
Another line of discussion
A friend in the discussion group put up this comment… “W. The ‘shared’ article: Is Divine Forgiveness Conditional Or Unconditional In The Gospel Of Matthew?… concludes: ‘In a context of daily prayer, the true disciple can expect forgiveness based upon forgiveness of others (Matt6). In the context of proclamation of the salvation of the Messiah from sin, a person is proclaimed forgiven based on the condition of faith (Matt). In the context of describing true and false disciples in the kingdom, those who do not forgive are not true disciples (Matt. 18). Finally, in the context of the death and resurrection of Jesus as a substitutionary sacrifice to establish a new covenant, forgiveness is proclaimed based upon the condition of faith (Matt26)’. My purpose for sharing this article is for us to note how the author constantly contextualizes his reading and interpretation of each text about ‘forgiveness’. Note his summarizing statement: ‘This paper seeks to argue that this either/ or explanation is far too simple and that it is best to allow the author to define forgiveness differently depending upon the immediate context of the passages in question.’ Note the condition in Jesus’ assertion in Matthew 5:43: ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, SO THAT (a condition) you maybe children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.’ The condition is obvious – if you want to be a child of God- then love your enemies.
“’We don’t know who wrote the Gospel of Matthew, but like all biblical literature we can be sure that it wasn’t a single person – it is a product of a community. The authors of Matthew have telescoped the experience of Christians in their day with the story of Jesus so that Jesus’ words and actions apply to both the time of Jesus and that of Matthew a half of century later.’ (J.R, C. Cousland). ‘Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…. For if you forgive others their trespasses your heavenly Father will also for give you, but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.’ This conditional theology was a feature of Judaism long before Matthew’s community wrote the gospel of Matthew. I believe it was also the teaching of the historical Jesus.”
My response to him….It matters not what Matthew or some community said, or even what Jesus said, because I say to you, Love your enemies without condition because God loves enemies without condition.
Hey, its a fresh start with that “the truthfulness is in the content” thing. Just pulling a diamond out of the dung. Just sayin, eh.
Just as Laotzi and others (Tolstoy on the penal system) argued there are no situations where we do not love the “enemy”. It’s not about some feeling as we carry out the most humane approach while restraining evil and violence and war. Such situations do not undermine greater truths of God as authentic love and our responsibility to be like God. And I will try not to get into another of these endless cycles as we have gone over this too often now. Like here and its imperfection does not lessen or “qualify” God’s love or our responsibility to do as Tolstoy noted. There are no situations where others are not to be treated with love. It’s not about how we feel but how we do or act.
Historical Jesus… well, I am not sure what he was aware of in making some of his comments. But it appears there is a string of coherent themes running through that biblical material, coherent in affirming a restorative justice approach to human failure. I refer to those Q Wisdom sayings, notably the central piece in that- Matt.5:38-48. What strikes me is how he got the behavior/belief or ethic/theology relationship right. So critical to human functioning- the urge to validate how we live by appeal to some greater ideal or authority, especially divine. And of course, Paul appears to intentionally do the same in countering the central Jesus insight or breakthrough discovery (Rom.12:17-20).
But that thematic coherence? Yes, some of the parables that illustrate offense at no conditions generosity. And other behavior to illustrate it- the invites of failed humanity into meals. The forgiving of the worst offense at his death, and so on.
I don’t need to wrestle with all the rest except as illustrative of how it, as dung (“the product of inferior minds”, Jefferson), counters the diamond stuff. But I pull only the diamond stuff to affirm what many today get from the God inside them- their human spirit and consciousness, their own sense of what is the best of being human. The parent that unconditionally loves the failing or wayward child. The spouse that forgives and overlooks the imperfections of the other. Without condition or qualification. Love that keeps no record of wrong. Just forgives. And I get that God as transcendent Good can do a lot better, to perfection. Inexpressibly better than the best we can imagine. So yes, God told me through my common reasoning from the best in humanity. What we saw in a Mandela or Railway Man, and so many others. The book I have of the Rwandan lady who forgave her attacker after the madness ceased. And on and on.
And maybe Jefferson was a bit harsh in saying that about “inferior minds”. Maybe, as you argue, all that other biblical material shows something of people struggling with a traditional sense of justice. There, that was being generous. But I don’t really see Matthew and others doing that. I just watched the Ted Bundy docus on Netflix. Look at the ending, when that pathetic life was ended in the electric chair. All those people outside drinking and cheering with signs like “burn Bundy, burn”, and delight that he was “going to hell”. Something so profoundly wrong to cheer. Matthew seemed to imbibe something of that ugly spirit.
It becomes us more to feel regret at any such failure to live as human. So I see too much of that same harshness in Matthew. And there is an element of delusion and denial, and even arrogance, to think we would have been any different in outcome if we had experienced the same life as a Bundy. Same defective brain and upbringing.
At the end I saw a scared little boy desperately afraid of death and admitting what he had done wrong but all wrapped in the selfishness of his particular deformity- sociopathic, narcissistic, and the rest of the analysis of the man.
Nah, an unconditional approach to all others is still the safest way to get through life- to do the least harm (Jordan Peterson) and the most good to others.
Another line of discussion on bias in science
Sabine Hossenfelder winds up her book (Lost in Math) re-affirming her argument throughout, that physics is lost. She ends with an interview with George Ellis who worked with Stephen Hawking on a standard- The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.
Ellis notes the sad state of physics and science in general in that too many “want to weaken the requirement that theories have to be tested”. This is undermining the nature of science. He notes the difficulties this has brought to issues like vaccination, climate change, GMO crops, and more. And now that scientists are doing this in physics, the hardest science of all, well, this has serious implications.
Ellis then discusses the limits of science. And the relation to philosophy. He notes that a lot of people are rejecting science because “scientists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krause and others say that science proves God doesn’t exist, and so on- which science cannot prove”. He references David Hume of centuries ago who stated science could not do this.
Ellis then notes that many scientists do not understand basic philosophy and this is a boundary area that must be respected- between science and philosophy. Because this boundary is not recognized, many physicists are presenting theories that are not even pseudoscience but are fiction.
Quote on multi-verse theory that the Netflix docu said was undermined by the Hadron Collider experiments of recent years. Baggot noted (Farewell to Reality) that even without proof, multi-verse is widely accepted as true. Ellis, “I am not against multi-verse…I am just against saying its established science…”.
His point- “We use a lot of assumptions that are based on philosophy, but we do not pay attention to them”. Hossenfelder, “Physicists draw on philosophical arguments more frequently than they like to admit… problems in the foundations of physics are philosophical itches, not tensions with data”.
Hossenfelder then moves on to her final chapter on biases and that is good. She notes again how strong is the search for beauty as a motivation throughout our lives. And this leads to the failures of human cognition… “We try to transcend the shortcomings of human cognition and we do this by procedures meant to prevent us from lying to others and to ourselves… The current procedures however are insufficient. To be good scientists we also have to be aware of our wishes, desires, and weaknesses. We have to be aware of our own humanity…”
She illustrates with economics. “The economics profession went astray because economists mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth”. She notes the template that economic theories follow… “The template is basically that you want a system in which agents selfishly maximize their preferences… (Economic theories) they have this concept that all theories have to come from that principle. And it’s very strongly enforced, particularly in the so-called top journals”. And more on supply and demand being balanced and the value of goods optimized. And again, how economics, like other social sciences, got hooked on math. Nice math. Elegant math. The search for beauty.
She then ends with the diverse biases we are subject to, saying, “Cherishing beauty and wanting to fit in are human traits. But they distort our objectivity. These are cognitive biases that prevent science from working optimally, and they are biases currently unaccounted for”.
Her list of prevalent biases includes confirmation bias, sunk cost fallacy (throwing good money after bad- we are already invested and don’t like to admit we may be wrong… hence ‘science advances one funeral at a time’), halo effect (appeal to authority), false consensus effect (overestimate how many people agree with us), communal reinforcement (our tribe), and the mother of all biases- “the insistence that we certainly are not biased”.
Her conclusion is that the default assumption must be that our theories are cognitively and socially biased unless steps are taken to address these issues…”But no such steps are currently being taken”. So scientists routinely are forced to lie if they want to continue their work.
The larger background to this includes GWPF reports on the widespread falsity of research and peer-reviewed articles in standard science journals (80%). And Herman’s comment that many moderns do not like the scientific method and its rationality but prefer myth-making (Mother Earth, etc.).
One more on the bias issue- I read a while back an article by some scientist going after John Eccles and claiming that Eccles’ religious beliefs influenced his conclusions re dualism. The author then dogmatically stated his position that brain science supported his conclusion that “meat produces mind”. Not convincing at all, but illustrated the mother of all biases- that I am not biased like the other guy is.
Let me throw this into the mix… I affirm much of what a science like physics is doing. It is valuable for what it discovers and then applies to useful tools in life. This is never in question. But the TOE element in the mix…. the elephant in the room in the search for what reality is and what it means- the gorilla is conscious humans motivated by their primary meaning impulse and their supreme ideal of love. Yes, this is behind all, including commerce, despite the dominant economic assumption of selfish individualism.
Materialist types ignore this gorilla/elephant. It is us and what we are at core that is doing all this research for understanding and explanation. Do not dismiss what is most primary to all of us.
The selfish individualism thing comes from evolutionary and materialist biology that assumes humans are little more than animals, that we and our features are best explained in terms of the animal. Hence, even human love/altruism is defined in animal survival terms. This misses something so fundamental to being human. Better to view commerce and its mutual advantage (trade) or benefit in terms of the emerging human ideal and feature of love. Define it in terms of our core nature as beings of love (what we really are, the God spirit in us that we call the human spirit or consciousness) and this is emerging in all areas of life and all human endeavor to make this world something better (e.g. our revulsion to violence and the decline in violence).
Materialist-type definitions and explanations have too long dominated and distorted what is really going on.
Now here is the question to probe… what feeds our biases? Think Campbell and those “themes that repeat across history and all the cultures of the world”. Jordan Peterson probed this a bit but I was not entirely satisfied with his comment on this. You know the direction I am pointing to.
Another re Sabine’s book….Sabine Hossenfelder’s last chapter on bias is good. How we too often lack the self-awareness of our own biases. So with logic- the belief my positions are logic and the other guy’s are not logical. How do I resolve this for myself? What is most humane. As per that single greatest insight ever on the true nature of love- Matt.5 and Luke 6. And what is best in humanity, most humane, gets us to the best theology. Simple logic, eh.
Again, most parents/spouses get this right. They beat the theologians lost in Paul’s logic.
From other discussant-“Wendell. Just read your qualifications again. It is logic not me that requires you to make the necessary changes to your premise of universal, unconditional love.”
My response…No, not at all. Read Hist. Jesus again in Matt.5 and Luke 6. It was good logic that led him to conclude God was no conditions Love. Nature itself expressed such. It was bad logic that led Paul to reject that new theology.
By the way… I keep revising that list of 15/16 basic themes… especially adding notes on the new theology of God incarnated in all humanity (no such thing as an absent or silent sky God). This undergirds a new narrative of full embrace and involvement in this world, the human responsibility to improve life in all ways. Part of the ongoing ‘healthier’ understanding of human spirituality as merged with modern scientific discovery.
Paul’s logic, just as you have embraced, was shaped by retributive justice. That is where he misunderstood Jesus and rejected his breakthrough insights. Note the contrast between Jesus and Paul (Christ, Christianity, religion) that I have often set up for comparison. The behavior/belief relationship…. Love your enemy because God does. But the embrace of nihilist apocalyptic (e.g. Revelation and its destroyer God/Christ ) to define God will confuse everything. Then it becomes impossible to embrace the project of creating new narratives to explain this imperfect material realm- the why issues of imperfection and subsequent suffering.
The comparison of behavior/belief examples…. (I would argue that the best of being human- gets to the best of theology, in the statement of Jesus).
Jesus- Love your enemy because God does, generously and inclusively showering the good gifts of life on both righteous and unrighteous. No more eye for eye justice.
Paul, to the contrary- do not pay back your offender because God will (Vengeance is mine, I will repay… Lord Jesus will return in blazing fire to punish and destroy all who do not believe/obey my gospel). Just “pour coals of fire on your enemy” (be patient, do not repay and that response will affirm the punishment and destruction of your enemy- use such behavior to make sure that God gets them- an ethic and theology of punitive retaliation. There is nothing of real love in Paul).
It’s the why of all whys. The Mother of why. And no answer is ever going to satisfy everyone. So much suffering just seems so useless and even counter-justifiable. Wreaks more misery than any possible good.
Having said this, I am still with Jordan, something I have long done. Despite the dark glass I affirm ultimate Goodness and Love behind all. And someday a full understanding of how it all fits together to mean something in a larger scheme of things. That is a sort of faith position.
Jordan Peterson in his last chapter on rule 12 wrestles with why the world and life is imperfect and the suffering that flows from this. And why this is good for us. It is his attempt at theodicy. He argues that we have to persistently orient ourselves to some greater Good/Love despite what we suffer. This is some of his best work in the book.
Hossenfelder also in her own way wrestles with this human longing for perfection but living in a real world that does not cooperate with this basic human desire. She notes how theoretical physics has lost its way in this longing for perfection (beauty) and misunderstanding of the imperfection of this world.
Her comment: “The almost irresistible beauty of string theory has seduced many physicists in recent years…the mathematical structure of string theory was so beautiful… (but) mathematics is full of amazing and beautiful things, and most of them do not describe the world… Nature doesn’t care…”.
Peterson, like the theodicy guys, has to come to grips with what is, with this world of imperfection and suffering and try to find a “why”. A why that makes some sense of it all.
And his conclusion is similar to mine. Despite how we understand this life…. in the end we orient ourselves back to ultimate Love and Good. That alone makes final sense of things.
Our suffering then has some ultimately good meaning and purpose, despite our viewing it through a dark glass.
I was listening the other day to a Rogan podcast as he interviewed some physicist on quantum mechanics. My takeaway was that people tend to get lost in esotericism- in elaborate theories of reality and the material aspect of it all- what it is made of and that TOE is to be found in such.
Now there is some value in some of that exploration because at some level such knowledge is critical to functioning in modern society and to our technology and progress. But there is too much of what Hossenfelder points to- getting lost in dense theorizing that never finds ultimate answers (the search for beauty or perfection). Much like the same theorizing on the religious side across history.
And my gut response was that the simple feature of love answers much of what is going on there, in that exploration. But hey, that is too “subjective” and “social science” and personal. I would still argue though, that it is foundational to what those people are looking for, a missing element in the search for the meaning of it all, the purpose of this cosmos and life. Alexander was right that his experience of unconditional love at the core of reality is not just “the greatest spiritual discovery but also the greatest scientific discovery”. TOE will never be found without including this “spiritual” feature. Just musin.
The materialist orientation and search for final answers to this cosmos and life will never get there if focused only on the material. Just sayin.
And that we simply have to know. Somehow, however we find best. Like those physicists argue- we have run up the dead-ends of string theory, probably the dead end of Susy (super-symmetry) and multi-verse but we have to keep trying. Good on them. The one physicist, after the Hadron results came in on Higgs boson, moaned that he had wasted 40 years on one of those. The other laughed and said, “I have only wasted 30 years” but the docu commentator said no, we have to try everything. We have to find TOE of some sort. Good on human curiosity. Never let it cease. Keep the Adam spirit alive.
And this is why the contemporary endeavor to merge scientific discovery with “spiritual” issues (i.e. panentheism) appears to be the most productive approach to TOE.
My point is that all these differing projects, including physics and so much of other sciences, are so fundamentally explorations for meaning/purpose. What is this cosmos? What is reality and what is it made of and why? This is fundamental to all areas of life, not just religion or spirituality.
And to explore that with just an orientation to material answers is to miss something so fundamental- what we are and why. The love thing- our highest ideal. What makes us most human (love in all its facets- empathy, forgiveness, inclusion, mercy and kindness, restorative intent, making life better in myriad ways, and on and on).
Hence, my argument that human love is foundational and central to TOE. To making sense of reality and life.
The physicists are searching for a TOE, for a complete understanding of everything, for complete explanations. They cannot just stop and focus on ‘bread alone’ and not know everything. They must press on. And this is all through science. It is as old as humanity, from the beginning. It is behind all religion- the search to know about it all. For completeness in understanding. It is the earliest expressed impulse in Genesis, that Adam and Eve story. And that very story is an expression of this- what creates and why?
And on it goes all through history and all across life.
Our job is to build on the past- understand where our ancestors went wrong and do better now as we stand on their shoulders.
It’s not about denying the supernatural. That solves nothing for humanity- and is more just shrugging one’s shoulders in the face of our primary impulse for meaning. No. We do better to embrace this impulse in all its dimensions and create new understandings that help people to respond properly to such impulses.
One- the supernatural in incarnated in all humanity- in the human spirit. And that is expressed in all that people do to solve problems, to counter evil and suffering, to make life better in some unique way through some personal contribution. These ‘new’ approaches avoid the sky god problems of past religious thinking, and embrace a more healthy responsibility for life here and now, while maintaining the human impulse for meaning that includes the sense of greater realities (something even physicists explore in their own way- in their philosophical search for beauty or perfection, something religious people have done across history).
Keep it simple, stupid
Dostoyvesky said, “And it is so simple…”. Dostoyvesky stated something simple. Bob the other day reminded us of theology at its best when kept brief and simple. And, as Julia has said in the past, it helps if the new thing is brief so “those that run may read”. And yes, there is a place for more dense discussion of things. We engage that all the time.
But how about some brief, simple summaries for social media forums? Twitter and what not.
Here is one summary for my site that tries to express some of the core issues… such as the striking difference between Historical Jesus and the rest of the New Testament.
“Love your enemy because God does” (Matthew 5).
That is the most profound statement ever uttered by anyone. It expresses the best of being human (unconditional love) and the best of theology (i.e. God is supremely no conditions, universal love- God includes all, giving sun and rain to both friends and enemies).
Matthew included that statement in his biography, but then immediately repudiated it and buried it with the ultimate statement of hate for enemies in chapter 11, claiming that enemies would be rejected and destroyed in Hell (“cast into outer darkness”).
This is what Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy meant when they stated that the “diamonds… pearls” of Historical Jesus were buried in the “muck… dung” of the surrounding New Testament teaching.
The dominant, overwhelmingly so, issue of the NT is the contradiction between Jesus and Christ. That is the overriding issue of the book. It takes precedence in importance over any other interpretive issue that theologs have brought to biblical studies. So yes Jefferson and Tolstoy nailed the key thing.
And that is the value of the NT, that it presents that contrast between messages/gospels, such a stunning contrast between new and old thinking. Between justice as retributive or restorative, and so on.
The other day ____, you shared something intensely personal and did so honestly. That was appreciated because it resonates with how all of us feel at times about the things, sometimes horrible things, that life throws at us. And there are different ways we all try to make sense of it all. That is what we are doing in this forum. We embrace this impulse for meaning and look for the best that we can find to help us and others negotiate life, to the best of our ability.
I wake up early and open MSN to get a brief on daily news then open Youtube for music to meditate by. And every day there is something suffered by someone that reminds us of how terrible life can be to some. And the rest of us pray- spare us temptation and evil and give us our daily bread. This below hit a father and now he will wonder what the hell it is all about.
Just down the street from where we grew up as kids, another father (truck driver) came home for lunch one day. He was inside eating with his wife and did not pay attention to where their young baby boy was. He returned to his dump truck to go back to work and backed over the boy crawling behind the back wheels. How do you continue with life after something like that? I cannot imagine… yet, we have to make some sense of things and when I listen to people endlessly say that they believe they are being punished by God, well, we can find better responses… I cannot accept the extra unnecessary psychic burden that so many embrace, due to their belief systems. Life is hard enough for many without that burden.
Peterson does some interesting comment on how all suffer in life but that some turn from their suffering to nihilism/destruction while most return to hope/love and become stronger. What is the psychology in all this? Fortunately, few take the destructive route. Most re-orient to hope/love.
And this goes for all the negatives/opposites of this realm. The contrast thing. Dualisms. It has to mean something and the old systems do not explain it satisfactorily. So we find better explanations.
Once again, the single worst idea in the old systems- the core theme/myth holding all the rest together- was that of greater Forces/Spirits punishing bad people through all the negatives of this world. So I endlessly quote Lotufo- that such “cruel God” ideas deformed human persons with unnecessary fear, guilt, shame.
Had to laugh at your latest ad hominem about obsession. As Jordan says, we should pay attention to our own issues first before going after others… ahem, like the obsession with Revelation, eh.
But seriously, Jordan does a good section how people put forward appearances of virtue but really are expressing evil motivations. Like those who rail against inequality and the rich but really hate the poor. Marx and Mao both exhibited this. And many others.
But here is the section on p.288 of his book 12 Rules.
He notes Freud, Jung and Nietzsche all pointed to this dark side to what we present as our good. Nietzsche in particular noted this in terms of “resentiment” motivating what were ostensibly selfless actions, often exhibited all too publicly”. He quotes, “For that man be delivered from revenge…’What justice means to us is precisely that the world be filled with the storms of our revenge’…” and he relates this to the preachers of equality (railing against inequality) that “disguise their resentment and jealousy with piety, sanctimony and self-righteousness”… and he adds, “The question seems particularly relevant if the same someone is complaining, criticizing or trying to change someone else’s behavior”.
This is a good note all through Jordan, to focus on changing oneself and less compliant against the failures of others. Start change with the “battle line between good and evil that runs down the center of every human heart”.
And one more… where love of enemy is not widely practised (e.g. justice still prominently punitive not restorative), how is advocating for such obsessive? ____? And where views of deity are still dominantly oriented to retribution (eye for eye, retaliation against enemies) how is correction of that pathology obsessive? Explain please ____.
Unconditional is a starting point or baseline statement for a new theology to overturn the worst features of old religious theologies, centered on retributive justice themes and conditions that exclude and punish the ‘bad’. It offers a baseline for understanding no conditions love because it points to a stunning universalism, something you have ‘morbid obsession’ with undermining and dismissing, and that obsession illustrates the wider public obsession with retributive justice. Just sayin.
This (the need to fight the evil within first) came through in the Dostoyvesky and Tolstoy links from the post Ellen put up the other day. That the worst among us are not really bad, a thought deemed offensive by many. But that ‘will to resentiment’ in that case speaks to a lack of self-awareness and arrogance much like the worshipper in the temple thanking God he was not a bad as the other sinners. That we can go after the really bad with zeal and righteous outrage, void of the pity/mercy that comes from a healthy self-awareness that, but for some different life circumstances we would probably have ended just as they have. This humanity comes through in Dostoyvesky’s and Tolstoy’s generosity toward the failure of others.
And ___ thanks for the prompting on this ‘obsession’ with ‘love your enemy’. There is no more profound insight into the true nature of love, the ultimate human ideal. There is no more profound insight into theology- what God is really like, than this statement to love your enemy because God does. And it takes on all the more importance in light of the New Testament assembled, and Christianity developed, to undermine and overturn it with the Christology of Paul and others. The mightiest religious movement in history brought into being to overturn, reject, and retreat from the single greatest statement and insight ever offered to liberate humanity (from primal fears of after-life harm or this life harm, from the enslavement to our animal inheritance and its destructive cycles of eye for eye justice, and on and on). So no, our mild obsession here has barely begun to explore the wonder in this simple statement. Join us sometime if you can think past your retributive justice obsession.
One key section of the Murder Mountain series on Netflix… the documentaries focus on the death of one young man and his Father’s search for answers. Many others are related to that search and one of the most interesting is an old Vietnam vet who moved up there to start a business in the isolation. He is a thin man with a scraggly beard and looks like some hill billy bum. But oh, his spirit.
Later in the series he finally meets the father of the murdered young man. They are sitting on the back of a pickup truck and the father asks the vet, why he did what he did to solve his son’s murder. The bearded vet replies, “I put myself in your shoes and thought/felt what you were going through as a father”. That motivated him to act to solve the murder.
What a statement of human empathy, eh. I put myself in your shoes to feel and think what you were going through. Doesn’t get any more profound, this trying to be human thing.
We can now recognize that the supernatural is in us (God incarnated in all humanity), closer than our breath or atoms. And this allows one to retain a sense of the spiritual with a healthy focus on bettering this life. It is not one or the other exclusively.
God has never been absent or un-involved in life and suffering. Just listen to people all around us and hear God crying over human suffering, God arguing for something better and God going out in all humanity daily to make things better. Listen to the raging, and watch the action in all spheres of life. God absent or silent??? What nonsense, that sky god mythology.
When you lose one half or more of your children, watch those parents and their intense longing to see those kids again. As one father said after his son was killed (the guy in Murder Mountain on Netflix), “I wanted to join him”. There is so much more going on than these calls of the atheist/materialist to just “Let’s just get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”. There is love and human relationships and all that desperate longing for what was cut short here, of for the horror of suffering here that denied so many “the good life”.
I always temper such with a broad refresher of the lives of so many of the 70-100 billion humans that lived before us. Think of their existence, the short life spans, the diseases with no cures, the constant battles with neighboring tribes and clans, the high infant mortality rates, and on and on. How would they have thought of our advice to just live here and now with no hope of something better. Here and now was often Hell already. So we today have much better here and now existence and can embrace such things as a more intense focus on bettering this world even further. But even in all this, there is something about “more than just bread alone” as to what it all means. The ultimate meaning thing. That is what Steinbeck is getting at. Even with all this present day good, we long for something more, something other yet. Its just what we are.
There is such a complexity of factors to deal with around all we discuss here. And it is all about that fundamental human impulse for meaning. And we have inherited millennia of human struggle to understand and explain it all. That we live in a violent cosmos, and a world/life/nature very much like a wicked old witch. And on top of it all we have this dualism in humanity to struggle with- our inherited animal passions and our human nature and consciousness- the better angels of our nature.
We try to make sense of it all. As noted so often here- religious traditions have a history of presenting ideas that have not helped people to live properly in the here and now, to engage life fully. But the materialists, on the other hand, have not dealt properly with human need to find meaning in more than just bread alone.
Therefore we press on to find better narratives that take all sorts of considerations into account. The meaning impulse. Understood in ways that recognize greater realities but help us to better engage this life and world as we should.
But such a complex of ideas/explanations exist (inherited) that have to be rethought and better alternatives found to help us navigate life.
We also learn from the mistakes of the ancients- as we have a good body of literature telling us how they reasoned and the conclusions they came to. We ought to do better with all that history to learn from.
And many (parents, spouses, friends, sages) have agreed that there are some “diamonds/pearls” the ancients have passed to us to embrace. Their human spirit and intuition led them to focus on those diamond statements, much like Peterson reasoned to his basic axiom or truth that he could not deny- do not commit harm to anyone. Good for him.
I embrace that basic truth or diamond of people like Jesus. Whatever else I do not understand in the complexity of life, that is non-negotiable. Fundamental. My baseline. And I start the rebuilding of a meta-narrative from that. Going through all sorts of re-evaluation of common themes that have guided human consciousness and life over the millennia.
See my 15/16 Ideas to re-evaluate and alternatives. I have borrowed some good stuff from Bob to complete that list.
(My unconditional is qualified)… Not at all. God as unlimited, universal, no conditions love is unqualified. No retaliation, no judgment, no conditions (sacrifice, salvation, belief in correct doctrines, ritual and religious lifestyle, etc.), nada. As the dictionary definition states with finality- “Absolutely no conditions. None”. No punishment or destruction.
There is your Peterson axiom or truth that is beyond question.
Your baseline for viewing reality and life.
But hey, here we are in a very imperfect world. So we go out with that background feature beyond qualification but recognize that such love is responsible for all sorts of things. Responsible to restrain bad behavior (the Libertarian thing of do not interfere in the freedom of another except where they harm another) and hold one another responsible as basic to human development and maturing. And with the obligation to treat all with love while we do so (Tolstoy’s point on the justice/penal system). Our doing so- in love- does not change the base reality of God.
Why you continue to mix these is beyond me to understand. I sense you try to do theology from the worst in humanity, just as the ancients have across history. God doesn’t. God loves those who do not love in return (enemies). God loves those who do not pay debts. God does not retaliate (eye for eye) against offenders/enemies. God even loves those who torture and murder (Jesus’ death and statement re his killers). Offensive as it is, God includes all in God’s mercy, giving good gifts- sun and rain- to all without discrimination.
How one can state it more clearly than Jesus did, I don’t know. And look at how he illustrated it in his other stories and personal behavior.
This is nothing to do with the mixing with punitive justice that you continue to try to drag in.
It is just like that young lady with the theology degree (Catholic) stated when she recovered from her NDE- She said that she was stunned to realize her religion was all wrong. There was no angry God, no judgment, no punishment, no Hell. Just a stunning unconditional Love beyond expression. Such people state the best they can and it overturns all that their religions have taught them about God. The love is so inexpressibly unqualified.
And on love
And as Tolstoy said, we can never separate love from the justice/penal system, and I would add- or from warfare (Laotzu’s point). We can never separate it from the way we respond to and treat our fellow failing human beings. To quote Tolstoy, “The whole trouble is that people think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love, but no such circumstances ever exist. Human beings cannot be handled without love. It cannot be otherwise because mutual love is the fundamental law of human love”. So…. “too much fascination with love”???
It is not a question of circumstances like war requiring us to embrace something other or less than love (as though the responsibility for defense is incompatible with love). So yes Tolstoy… the trouble is with the way people think about such things.
Part of the problem may be the way some people think about love- as a pacifist obligation to feel fuzzy, mushy, warm toward offenders and their offenses. That appears to be part of your view ____. Am I wrong? Or is love something bigger and better? Something more human.
Hossenfelder raises all sorts of issues and questions re physics, our “hardest”, most fundamental science discipline. She wonders if we have reached the limits of human understanding of reality. And she notes how much emotion and feeling about things like beauty intrude into our search for truth. So without evidence to back, we create theories about reality. And she presents the floundering around in physics…
This all speaks to something bigger going on in all these areas. We are watching this play out here in BC with our socialist-type government embracing climate change alarm and pushing policies that will raise energy prices and all the outcomes from that across the planet. The feeling/emotion/belief thing that so influences and governs life, despite evidence to the contrary.
And to me this pushes interest in what really is behind all this, things like the persistent fear and embrace of salvation schemes that permeates all this and the cost to all in a larger society. I am also working through Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules and he is in a section on telling the truth, to oneself mainly. And the struggle to embrace truth and not live a lie, a life of lies.
I continue to probe those “deeper” things behind all this. Looking for those threads that when pulled will start to unravel something needing to be unravelled, so rebuilding can continue. The old narrative, new narrative thing.
Hence, my 15 basic ideas to rethink getting another push on my site….and looking for those brief summary things that will be sharp weapons to bring down monsters and set maidens free…
Jesus’ point is that this behavior points to a stunning new theology. This relationship is key to the whole section. God is like this. God includes all with the same generous non-judging, non-retaliatory, non-punitive love. Does not seek payment in kind or return for love shown. Just loves anyway without expectation of similar response. Loves the enemy. The offender.
This provides the most fundamental axiom or truth of all for human worldviews.
____should try something Jordan Peterson does… he reasons himself to a basic axiom, a basic ‘truth’ that he cannot deny and makes that foundational to his worldview. I would suggest that Matt.5:38-48 offers that, along with the Luke 6 version.
It tells us what true love is. What we are to be like. Love your enemy. Give to the one who won’t repay. Treat all as intimate family (Nolan in Jesus Before Christianity). If we do this then we will be like God, because these statements of Jesus point to what God is like. Do this because God does it, but infinitely better. This type of behavior reveals what God is like.
There you have your basic truth or axiom as Peterson urged to reason yourself to. His was stated negatively- do not cause anyone harm. Same point.
A new story or meta-narrative will need to include that at the core of reality there is a stunning, inexpressible no conditions Love God. That is just most fundamental. I was reading Jordon Peterson on how he resolved his doubts with a most fundamental truth he could believe in. I have done that often here.
And we are, in our most core and true self, that same love. It defines our human spirit, us.
From there I work out. Looking for insights to explain conscious life and story in this very imperfect world. And I have offered that.
That we have inherited an animal brain with its inhuman impulses. And we create stories to validate both our animal side and our human side.
Ah, I won’t go over it all again. We each find what works for us.
But no ____. Your conclusions about what I am saying are entirely wrong. I long ago got my head out of all that biblical stuff and biblical theology so I could think more clearly and that worked for me. I needed to come up with new categories, definitions, explanations and all that old stuff just continued to cloud things for me.
But no, this has nothing to do with Calvin or some pre-determining deity.
Remember, love has been proven to be the best motivator to inspire better behavior. And the better form of love to do that, inspires better forms of response. Mandela figured this out when he said, no conditions love brings out the best in others. It turns enemies into friends. He proved that. Why can you not see this?
Here is another brief summary of some critical points, and correlations across history, to get a sense of the big background picture of things. To help keep the larger context in view…
Campbell notes that the same themes have been repeated across history and across world cultures. Themes of a better past (original paradise or Eden), corrupt people have ruined that paradise and now life is declining toward some great collapse and ending, so we must embrace some salvation plan to be spared the coming punishment and destruction, then the world will be purged of evil and the lost paradise restored.
These themes are all there in the earliest mythologies (Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Indian, Egyptian)
World religions later take up those core mythical themes, notably Christianity.
These themes are then “secularized” for the modern era, Herman good on this.
These themes are now embedded in our contemporary ‘ideologies’.
The impact of these themes has been horrific and the mass-death movements of the 20th Century revealed. Their destructive impact continues. (Lotufo on deforming power, Ellens and others on same).
The apocalyptic millennial complex captures many of these core themes.
The core bad idea is that of a punitive, destroying deity, or similar core Force/Principle (e.g. Greek core cosmic principle of Retribution, today- vengeful Gaia, angry Nature, retributive Universe, karma). This is the single greatest error in human thought across the millennia.
The Christ myth of Paul then became the epitome expression of the apocalyptic millennial complex and the core idea of punitive, destroying deity. See Paul’s Thessalonian letters and the book or Revelation.
And there is an entirely opposite narrative available that overturned the core bad idea of punitive, destroying deity. The Jesus discovery of a non-retaliatory, unconditional God- “his single greatest contribution to the history of ideas”.
That essential Goodness, Love, has incarnated in all humanity and emerges gradually via the common human spirit and all human endeavor to make life better. The accumulating real world evidence backs this new narrative of emerging, growing goodness all through life- Simon, Easterbrook, Lomborg, Bailey, Goklany, Ridley, Pinker, Payne, Greene, Morowitz, and on and on.
To add re Jung’s and Campbell’s point on archetypes (inherited impulses and the themes created to validate such impulses)…
The themes that the ancients created to inspire, guide, and validate their behavior and lives, many of those themes served to incite and validate their worst inherited ‘animal’ impulses (Campbell- the “animal passions”).
The new narrative themes from the core Jesus discovery (oriented to his core theme of a no conditions God) serve to counter those animal passions (e.g. No more eye for eye) and to inspire the best of our human spirit (universal love).
And mind and brain stuff
“Does the mind or consciousness separate from the brain at the point of death and continue to exist?”
Of course ____. That is the question. And nothing in material science can prove that either way as Parnia’s research is showing. There are signs from him that it might. But my feeling is that science cannot answer that either way. So we look elsewhere for ‘evidence’.
The two theories are ‘production’ and ‘transmission’. The brain produces mind. Or the brain just transmits mind.
It comes down to what you are willing to accept as ‘evidence’. Again, I would not let some things in a general movement that appear “lunatic fringe” throw you off potential good evidence in that movement.
Others look to quantum theory and the fundamental nature of consciousness in that area. Those early quantum theorists concluding the universe was more a great thought than a machine (material). And so on. What I see pointing to more than just panpsychism as per Chalmers. More Eccles.
As you embrace materialism _____ be fully aware of the myth-making going on. Take random multi-verse theory for example. No evidence for it. Disproved by the Hadron Collider experiments of recent years (that Netflix docu). But it persists, widely accepted in public as true. And it suits materialist belief- that all reality just began randomly, and means nothing. But if you have trillions of tries, just trillions of universes randomly popping into existence, well, you are bound to get one falling together just perfectly with all the numbers fine-tuned just right as in our universe, and suitable for conscious life. So it is all a big mistake, just like we are. But the IDers, ‘lunatic fringe’ types as they are, kept asking hard questions like, well, what mechanism exists to keep producing all those trillions of universes? Ouch.
Ah, we choose our lunatic fringe group, don’t we.
And that is why dogmatism on any side is unwarranted. Note this dogmatic quote from the article you put up…
“In a nutshell, the common beliefs are that the NDE happens only to those who are dying, and that it is also proof of an afterlife. But neither belief is correct.”
And he was present to see their experience??? To test the reality either way? He has probed those many other surrounding invisible realms or dimensions? He has entered the quantum or any other invisible reality? Ah, such dogmatism from these materialists. Mirrors the religious dogmatism they claim to reject. But as Easterbrook noted they all do and have to do just as spiritually aware people have done across history…. appeal to invisible reality to make sense of this reality. Taking science as far as it goes then making your own philosophical or spiritual conclusions about things. Fulfilling that primal impulse for meaning.
“I believe the human body is a psycho-physical unit and we have a lot more to learn about the interaction of mind and body”. I am with you ____ on this. But that quote that the mind is the product of the brain is materialist conclusion, a philosophical conclusion. Not a scientific one. A guess, not a fact. And as I said earlier we have witness ‘evidence’ that consciousness or the human self can exist aside from its close relationship with the material brain. Just sayin. Yes, I take personal human experience seriously, evaluating with my own set of criteria.
Arthur Mendel said that apocalyptic was “the most violent and destructive idea in history”. It presents the idea of a violent God who destroys the world in order to purge bad/corrupting people and recover or install some lost paradise. This myth of ultimate final ending incites the primal human fears of chaos, death, and destruction (e.g. today climate change leading to environmental collapse). That fear incites populations to embrace salvation schemes that demand “coercive purification” in order to save some threatened thing (e.g. get rid of too many over-consuming people in fossil fuel-based industrial society). The outcomes of apocalyptic are always devastating to people and societies, harming the poorest the most. Note that Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative resulted in the unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of people that were denied the protective help of DDT.
And one more…
Bob Brinsmead posted this note: “In recent comments to an old friend who like ____ is trying to find a more humane way of interpreting the book of Revelation, I commented that maybe the best way to do this would be to internalize (like some more spiritual Muslims do with jihad) the great conflict/battle in book of Revelation. Sort of like applying that comment of the great Russian author (Solzhenitsyn) that the real battle line between good and evil is something that goes through every human heart. Thus the beasts, dragons, fornications¸ destructive horsemen, etc., would not be seen so much as a battle of enemies without, but the great battle between good and evil that goes on in every heart. Interpreting Revelation like this might even be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, one would have to ask oneself, is this really what the author of the book of Revelation was on about, and is this the way he intended his book to be understood?
It is another line of ‘spirituality’ worth exploring and promoting. In my take on Campbell’s story outline I suggest taking some of the old story themes internal. Take the theme of “enemy” and view that as the animal inheritance in each of us (the “animal passions”). Take the theme of “monster” and view the animal in us also with that theme. And take mythical/religious dualism and view it in terms of the “battle-line between good and evil that runs through the center of every human heart”. The most critical dualism to grasp- between the animal and the human. Between the animal passions and the human spirit with its humane impulses.
So becoming a hero of one’s story is about conquering the animal within in order to “tower in stature as maturely human, having oriented one’s life to universal love”. Such love most potently counters the base features of animal existence- tribal dualism, alpha domination, exclusion, punishment and destruction of the other/enemy/unbeliever.
This makes the human adventure intensely personal. Everyone gets to engage and fulfil the most important aspects of story in this world. To make the most important contribution to making life better.
History is not primarily about the great military battles and conquests that people have tended to celebrate across history (where we focus “greatness”). The most important history is what each of us engages at a very personal level.
By the way- this offers a better basis for understanding true human equality. That every person gets to play an equally important role in the greatest battle, the greatest human endeavor in history- defeating the animal and promoting the human spirit. Despite all the inequities in all areas of life, this is the real issue in human equality. All can be equally successful at being human, at living a great and important human story- and succeed heroically like a Mandela. All can live the most successful human life- by understanding that success in universal/unlimited/unconditional love is the key to human meaning and story.
Yes, all the expressions of love in life- all success in so many material areas of life- that is all important but the pyramid thing Jordan Peterson noted applies in all such areas- that only a very few make it to the top in those areas. But in the arena of being human, of love, well everyone has equal opportunity for great achievement and success. So conquer your personal animal, your personal monster and enemy, and thereby contribute to the overall human venture, living a unique life story with some unique contribution. But while doing so, do not ignore the one thing that enables us to be a hero, to tower in stature. Even Steve Jobs recognized this on his death bed and confessed his regret to his daughter Lisa.