Apocalyptic alarmism, salvation through “coercive purging”, and mass-death outcomes.

Why tackle apocalyptic mythology, and its Johnny-come-lately offspring- environmental alarmism?

Notes below are based on research of apocalyptic millennial historians Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth), Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline In Western History), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich), among others.

Mendel said that “apocalyptic was the most violent and destructive idea in history”. How so? The threat of the end of the world (destruction and death) incites the basic survival fear in populations and the demand for salvation, for action now before its too late. Inciting apocalyptic hysteria then leads to rationalization for abandoning democratic processes just as too many are arguing today. If we are about to pass the final “tipping point” to catastrophe (“imminent apocalypse”), then there is no more time for debate or argument. We have to act now to save the world and this panicked urgency becomes an assault on freedom and democracy. Example: Former US AG Loretta Lynch, among others, has tried to criminalize skeptical science https://www.wsj.com/articles/punishing-climate-change-skeptics-1458772173. The ongoing efforts to silence critics and healthy debate over climate science are no different from the Medieval Church trying to silence the skeptics to the Medieval consensus, Galileo and Copernicus.

Arguments for silencing critics, based on disproven claims to “settled science” and “97% consensus”, are evidence of humanity’s age-old totalitarian impulse emerging once again. Disproven? Check the list of almost 32,000 scientists that signed the Protest Petition- http://www.petitionproject.org/ and note how the 97% figure was arrived at- https://www.thegwpf.org/…/Warming-consensus-and-it-critics1…..

Media that self-identify as “Truth-tellers” ignore the robust disagreement over the actual causes of climate change and almost exclusively take the alarmist/apocalyptic side. For detail, see David Altheide’s “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis”. Altheide says that news media are not truth-tellers but are entertainers that are competing with the rest of the entertainment industry. And what dominates entertainment? Apocalyptic. Someone noted that over a recent short period Hollywood put out 100 major movies that embraced some version of apocalypse.

Once the apocalyptic narrative takes hold in public consciousness, you also then begin to see arguments for the “instantaneous transformation” of society, for “coercive purging” of some imagined threat to life. This illustrates Mendel’s point on apocalyptic inciting violence and destruction. In Marxist apocalypticism, there was the incited urgency to save the world from “destructive” capitalism. In Nazi apocalyptic narratives it was the urgency to save Germany and the world from Jewish Bolshevism. Now in environmental apocalyptic the demand is for coercive purging of the imagined threat of fossil fuel-based industrial society and the instantaneous transformation of life, as in the push for immediate “decarbonisation” of our societies.

The outcomes of contemporary environmental apocalyptic have already been equally destructive as the previous apocalyptic alarmism in Marxism and Nazism. Examples: Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring led to tens of millions of deaths, many children, in the wake of the ban on DDT (‘The Excellent Powder’ details the history of DDT). Add here anti-GM alarmism and the deaths of 8 million children over a recent 12-year period (see Lomborg article https://nationalpost.com/opinion/bjorn-lomborg-trashing-rice-killing-children). Anti-fossil fuel activism has already resulted in rising fuel prices and fuel poverty, with related rising mortality rates among the most vulnerable people, the poor (Global Warming Policy Forum reports on fuel poverty and rising mortality in countries like England, Germany, and US).

Note:

Climate scientist Roy Spencer in a recent article (Nov. 18/2019) bemoaned the fact that science does not appear to be winning the battle with climate alarmism https://www.drroyspencer.com/2019/11/climate-extremism-in-the-age-of-disinformation/. While good science is still critical to counter the exaggerated apocalyptic scenarios of alarmists, it will not likely be the deciding factor to change minds. Because we humans are emotional creatures and we are swayed more by the core beliefs that we hold. This applies everywhere, even in the “hardest science”, the most fundamental science of all- physics. See, for example, Sabine Hossenfelder’s Lost in Math, or Jim Baggot’s Farewell to Reality.

Even hard-core materialist types tend to cross the science/philosophy boundary in their search for answers. This is because we are most essentially beings that are oriented to a primal meaning impulse. That impulse, along with the beliefs that we choose to affirm our personal sense of meaning, determines what evidence we will accept as credible and what we choose to downplay, discredit, and dismiss outright (i.e. confirmation bias).

For this reason, this site goes after the core ideas/themes that have always dominated human consciousness across history and across all the cultures of the world. Note Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives below. The alternatives respond to humanity’s undeniable orientation to Mind, Consciousness, Self/Personhood, and Purpose/Meaning, as vital to our understanding of greater reality.

And yes, climate alarmism, as part of a more general environmental alarmism, is history’s latest outbreak of apocalyptic madness.

Note

The real battle today, in the marketplace of ideas, is between the old apocalyptic narrative of life as defined by primitive themes like punitive, destroying core reality (e.g. angry God, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, payback karma), bad people deserving punishment through nature (for ruining some original paradise), and the trajectory of life as defined by the distorting mythology/ideology of Declinism- i.e. life declining toward disastrous collapse and ending.

And on the other side, we have the new narrative of life that is backed by amassed evidence affirming that life is rising and improving. We reason from that evidence to the conclusion that there is no core punitive, destroying reality and that we are more creators than destroyers- good to the bone.

Big picture, long-term trends

Look beyond today’s climate alarm debate, and even beyond the more general environmental alarmism movement. Note the themes that you hear repeatedly coming from these movements. This will get you to the real issues behind such movements- the meaning and belief issues.

What are those common themes? Here are some of the more prominent ones: The past was better (original paradise mythology), but bad people have ruined the better past (industrial civilization as the great destroying evil). Life is now heading toward some great disastrous collapse and ending (apocalypse mythology seen previously in global cooling, mass starvation and resource depletion, now warming apocalypse). Frightened populations, feeling intensely the alarmist inciting of their survival impulse, now feel obligated to embrace the salvation schemes offered by alarmist prophets- i.e. to “save the world”.

The salvation schemes involve “instantaneous transformation of societies through coercive purging” of some imagined threat because the end of days is always imminent, and the crisis is so bad (note the endless date-setting of apocalyptic prophets). This panic-driven sense of urgency results in the unleashing of the totalitarian impulse and the undermining of freedom/democracy. All such crisis-driven narrative seeks to restore some imagined lost paradise (better past world).

But the alarmist narrative is completely wrong, upside down, backwards, an Alice-in-Wonderland distortion of the true state of life. Life has never been better and the great trajectory of life has been improving over the long term. Amassed evidence and good science has affirmed the rising/improving trajectory of life and human civilization. See, for example, Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment on the Earth, Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Indur Goklany’s The Improving State of the World, Ronald Bailey’s The End of Doom, Szurmak and Desrocher’s Population Bombed, and Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, among others.

They all show that good science does two basic things in order to get to the true state of things. It (1) looks at the complete big picture of evidence, and (2) it look at the longest-term trends (e.g. paleo-climate evidence as the real historical record of importance). See also HumanProgress.org for lots of good updates on the ever-improving state of life.

Evidence also shows that rising average world temperatures and rising levels of CO2 (the basic food of plant life) are the two best things happening now to nature. For the past millions of years we have been in an abnormally cold ice-age era (average world surface temperatures today at 14.5 degrees Centigrade, barely above ice-age averages). And CO2 levels have been dangerously low for plant life. Just 350,000 years ago CO2 dipped below 200 ppm and we missed a real disaster as plant life would have died if CO2 had continued down to the 150 ppm level. So both trends today- rising temperatures and rising CO2- are beneficial to life and need to rise even more toward a more normal and optimal states in order for life to flourish more. Past optimal temperatures for most of the past 500 million years were temperatures at 19.5 degrees Centigrade. And plants prefer 1000-1500 ppm CO2 levels.

Quotes from “Basic Climate Facts project” (full version further below)

“Basic Climate Facts project– a list of the most basic climate facts that overturn the alarmist apocalyptic narrative on climate and give the true state of climate history. Intent: Counter the distorting “climate crisis” hysteria of today. Affirm hope based on the best evidence available. Overall point? Earth today is in an abnormally cold, and therefore sub-optimal and unhealthy state for life.

Paleo-climate facts:

“We are currently in one of the coldest ice-age eras in Earth’s history- the Quarternary ice age with repeated cyclical patterns of extended glaciation and inter-glacial periods. We are now in the coldest 1% of this ice age era.

“Average global temperatures today are only 14.5 degrees Centigrade which is 5 degrees C below the normal and optimum temperatures of the past 500 million years at 19.5 degrees C (67 degrees Fahrenheit). (see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/03/earths-ice-ages/, “The Earth’s normal or optimum global average temperature over the past 550 million years is about 19.5 degrees Centigrade… this is over 5 degrees C. warmer than today”).

“For most of the past 500 million years (roughly since the Cambrian Explosion of life), over 90% of this 500 million year period, the Earth has been entirely ice free. That is a normal, optimal world- with no ice. Researchers have discovered the stumps of tropical trees in the Arctic, showing that during warmer periods animal and plant life enjoyed extended habitats that covered most of the Earth’s land area.

“CO2 levels during this ice-age era have been dangerously low. Some 350,000 years ago we just missed a real potential catastrophe as CO2 levels descended below 200 ppm. Plant life dies at 150 ppm. See https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/06/climate-alarmists-winning-the-war-of-words-despite-evidence-that-nothing-unusual-is-happening/

“For much of Earth’s history, CO2 levels have been in the healthy range of 1000-2000 ppm (and often higher, with no catastrophic impact on life). To the contrary, plant life has thrived under such conditions of more plentiful plant food. CO2 is the basic food of plant life. It is not a pollutant or poison. I feel an embarrassing “Duh” in stating this Grade One science fact.”

Today, alarmists have the story of life all wrong. They are presenting warming temperatures and rising CO2 as the two greatest threats to life when they are, actually, the two best things happening to life. Greens, instead of demonstrating against rising temps and CO2, should be holding demonstrations to celebrate more warmth, and the fact that with more CO2 the planet is greener today (Fact: With just the small increase in CO2 to 400-plus ppm, since 1980 plant mass across the planet has increased by 14%. The Earth is greener and healthier today).

But the widespread alarm over rising temperatures and CO2 shows how apocalyptic mythology deforms human consciousness with false alarmism.

Topics below: “The influence of the apocalyptic myth on mass-death movements”; “Bill Maher on Joe Rogan’s podcast” (picking a few bones in an otherwise good discussion); “A brief on human story” (my struggle with the defects in the Christian God and Paul’s Christ myth); “Facebook post” (the central discovery of the Near-Death Experience- i.e. the core Reality is a stunning ‘no conditions love’); “Slay the Beast… or stick a stake in it” (go to the core of human systems of meaning- i.e. deity ideas- and bring down the sub-human features long embedded there)…

Further topics… “Paleo-climate facts” (Don’t fear more warmth and more plant food. We are in an abnormal and sub-optimal cold era on Earth with life’s basic food- CO2- at dangerously low levels); “Auto-bio stuff”- leaving my religion; “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives”; “History’s greatest religious contradiction”- the difference between Jesus-ianity and Christ-ianity, or the unconditional theology of Historical Jesus versus the highly conditional theology of Paul/Christianity, and more…

A “short version” list of “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives (More detailed versions, with sources, are below in this section and the next section “New Story Alternatives to Declinist/apocalyptic mythology”)

1 Old story theme (the core theme): The myth of God as an ultimate judging, punishing, and destroying reality.

New story alternative: The stunning new theology of God as an inexpressibly wondrous “no conditions” Love (i.e. no judgment, no punishment, no destruction in apocalypse or hell).

2 Old story theme: The myth of a perfect beginning (Eden) and a God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection (i.e. God angry at the loss of perfection).

New story alternative: The world began in imperfection (was purposely created imperfect as a learning arena for human struggle and development) but has gradually improved with emerging complexity and organization.

3 Old story theme: The myth that humanity began as a more perfect species but has “fallen” or degraded into something worse over history.

New story alternative: We have emerged from the brutality of an animal past to gradually become something better across history- more human/humane.

4 Old story theme: The myth that the trajectory of life declines toward something worse (i.e. toward some great collapse and ending).

New story alternative: Life has improved across history, especially with creative human input and guidance.

5 Old story theme: The myth that natural disasters, disease, human cruelty, and death are expressions of divine punishment.

New story alternative: While there are natural and social consequences all through life, there is no punitive, destroying deity behind the imperfections of life.

6 Old story theme: Humanity has been rejected by the Creator and has become separated from the Source, and now must be reconciled to God.

New story alternative: No one has ever been separated from the unconditional Love at the core of reality.

7 Old story theme: The myth of dualism in Ultimate Reality (i.e. a Good God versus an evil Force/Satan). This myth has validated the division of humanity into opposing groups of “true believers/unbelievers”, “saved” and “lost”, good guys versus bad guys/enemies, and other tribal divisions based on race/ethnicity, religion, ideology, nationality, gender, and so on.

New story alternative: We all come from the same originating Oneness and we are all equals in the one human family. The apparent dualisms of this material world do not represent any ultimate dualism.

8 Old story theme: The myth of looming apocalypse and the final destruction of all (i.e. God as ultimate Destroyer).

New story alternative: There are problems all through the world but no looming threat of final destruction and ending of life.

9 Old story theme: The threat of an imminent end to the world incites the panic-driven demand for “instantaneous transformation” of life (versus “gradualism” in the development of life). Threat of imminent collapse and ending incites the demand for urgent action to save the world, for “coercive purging” of some imagined threat.

New story alternative: There is no end of days on the horizon and consequently no need for coercive instantaneous transformation. We improve life gradually as we solve problems democratically.

10 Old story theme: The demand for a salvation scheme, for some sacrifice or payment.

New story alternative: Unconditional means absolutely no divine demand for debt payment, no conditions. None. No demanded sacrifice or punishment.

11 Old story theme: Retribution or payback is true justice.

New story alternative: Unconditional affirms restorative justice that is victim-centered and holds offenders responsible, but forgives and treats all humanely.

12 Old story theme: The myth of future or after-life judgment, exclusion, and punishment/destruction.

New story alternative: Unconditional includes all in the end (sun and rain given to all, to both good and bad people). There is no ultimate judgment, punishment or destruction (no such thing as Hell).

13 Old story theme: The myth of a hero messiah that uses superior force to overthrow enemies and purge the world so that he can coercively install a paradise for his “true believer” followers.

New story alternative: Authentic love does not intervene or overwhelm with force that violates the freedom of others. Further, the only savior/salvation that we can expect will come from ourselves. The only salvation that we need to be concerned about is to get busy solving problems in our world and improving life in some way. That will “save” life and the world.

14 Old story theme: The myth of Biblicism- i.e. the belief that religious holy books are more special and authoritative than ordinary human insight and writing.

New story alternative: There is no special religious authority above common human insights, such as in human rights codes or constitutions, or as found throughout ordinary human discussion and writing.

15 Old story theme: The myth of God as ruler, judge, Lord, or King (expressed via priesthoods and religious authorities).

New story alternative: There is no domination/subservience in God relating to humanity, or human relating to deity. God relates horizontally to humanity.

16 Old story theme: The myth that humanity is obligated to know, serve, or have a relationship with invisible reality (related myth- “humanity created to serve the gods”).

New story alternative: Our primary loyalty is to serve real people and their needs, in here and now reality.

17 Old story theme: The absence or silence of God in the midst of natural disaster or human cruelty. The Holocaust is the iconic example of such silence.

New story alternative: There is no Sky God somewhere up above the world. God has never been absent or silent but has always incarnated in all humanity and is seen in all human raging against evil and suffering, and all human effort to make life better.

18 Old Story Theme: The myth of the moral and spiritual superiority of the simple, low-consumption lifestyle (self-produced, using only local resources).

New Story Alternative: The search for a better life is the fundamental urge of love- to responsibly improve one’s life and the state of one’s family. Enjoyment of life (i.e. free choice in consumption), along with the benefits of worldwide free trade, has been a huge boon to all humanity.

Added note: Holding the belief that God is a no conditions reality (i.e. all are forgiven and included in the end) does not nullify the common-sense need for us to restrain violent people and prevent wrongdoing in this world. And likewise, our responsibility to restrain bad behavior in this life does not nullify the ultimate reality of God as unconditional love (all forgiven, included, and loved in the end).

Note some engagement further below with Joseph Campbell’s basic framework for human story. It offers insight into the meaning of human experience in this highly imperfect world, including new insight into the meaning of human suffering. Spoiler alert: Its very much about the human exploration of love, and learning/innovating better ways of loving through all the creative diversity of uncountable human stories.

Insert: The single worst pathology in human consciousness across history has been that of punitive, destroying deity (i.e. most notably in apocalyptic mythology). This pathology continues to find new expression in contemporary gods (e.g. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback Karma). Threat theology has wreaked incalculable harm deforming lives with unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, despair/depression, and even violence (see psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God).

This worst of all bad ideas sets the background for humanity’s single most profound discovery ever- that ultimate reality is a stunningly inexpressible “no conditions Love”, an insight that potently transforms and liberates human consciousness. And yes, it spells the end of religion as a conditions-mediating institution.

Some autobio stuff- Leaving my religion (The contradiction between Christ-ianity and Jesus-ianity. Start taking Historical Jesus seriously. Most Christians don’t. For more detail see articles at the bottom of this section on “The great contradiction”)

I remember somewhere in the Oughts when the scales fell, and the critical relationship became clear. Earlier in the 90s, I had taken an Asian Studies course at the University of British Columbia and the prof had us read an article by anthropologist Clifford Geetz on Bali, Indonesia. The Balinese had this behavior/belief thing. They fashioned their houses, their villages, according to what they believed was the divine model or pattern.

That was in the background of my memory. And I had also read, somewhere in the 90s, a book by James Robinson on the “stunning new non-retaliatory theology of Jesus” (no more eye for eye but love your enemy). That non-retaliatory theology, Robinson said, was abandoned a generation later by the emerging Christian movement under Paul’s domination and his retaliatory theology.

In the mid-to-later Oughts I had been asked to work on some essay about apocalyptic. The associations are complex and fuzzy, how we move from one thing to another thing in our thinking and ideas/conclusions form in our heads. But I was reviewing Matthew 5:38-48 and I finally saw it- the behavior/belief connection, the “ethic based on similar theology” relationship in that Matthew passage.

Jesus had said, “You have heard of an eye for eye. But I say no, instead Love your enemy…. Because God does (the behavior based on similar belief). How so? God gives rain and sun (the good gifts of life) to all, both to good people and bad people”. God does not engage eye for eye retaliation toward the bad guys. That means no punishment. All are forgiven and included in God’s no conditions love. The bad guys are included just as the good people are (This is my paraphrase of the point that Jesus was trying to make).

Jesus was using the very behavior/belief relationship that Geertz had noted. Again, don’t retaliate (eye for eye) because God does not retaliate. Do this instead- love your enemy- because God does this- God loves the enemy also. You see this in that God gives sun and rain to all… to good and bad people. The whole section can be summed in six words as- “Love your enemy because God does”. History’s single most profound insight into being authentically and maturely human, how to be just like God. How to love as God loves. Kinda like what Mandela did (i.e. his signature statement, “Let us surprise them- our opponents/enemies- with our generosity, our forgiveness, inclusion, love”).

It was an ancient human pattern, this behavior based on similar belief. The Hebrews had exhibited it throughout the Old Testament. They built their temple according to what they believed was the divine model. And they ordered all things in their lives according to what they believed was the law, word, or will of their God. Down to details of daily life like where to shit, what to eat or wear, and even sexual things.

Christ. I had read this Matthew 5 section hundreds of times over my previous Evangelical life. And never saw it. God was indeed “no conditions love”. God did not punish or exclude anyone. Undeniably, no conditions love means universal love.

And the unraveling or disintegration of my Christian religion was pretty much complete. At least my personal adherence and subjection to it all. It had been part of my family inheritance. The full and clear recognition that God was no conditions love was a further and more final step in a decades-long process of liberation of spirit, of transformation of consciousness. And it was such profound relief because I had sincerely embraced the themes of a threat theology religion with its ideas of future after-death harm (i.e. threats of judgment, condemnation, exclusion, punishment/destruction- i.e. hell).

Hell, there was no judging, punishing, destroying God. There never has been any such reality. That mythical monster has reigned far too long in human consciousness and must be brought down. It has anchored an extended complex of related “bad religious ideas”. It had taken me, overall, several decades (roughly 1970s/80s) to free my mind from the religious themes that had worked their tentacles into all areas of my worldview and profoundly impacted my thinking and emotions. That had to do with the “personality deforming influence of cruel God ideas that engender unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, despair/depression, and even violence in people”- see psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God).

In my experience, embracing a no conditions deity was liberation from a highly conditional salvation religion with a full complex of mythical themes/ideas that supported the threatening deity at the core. My salvation religion had told me how to escape the threatened harm (i.e. the angry God that demanded the condition of blood sacrifice as payment/punishment, a necessary making of wrongs right before that God would show mercy). Now, a no conditions God was liberation from all sorts of religious conditions attached to such atonement mythology- e.g. required faith in the human sacrifice offered to appease the threatening God, and embracing the demand to follow the religious life-style that is oriented to pleasing and celebrating the threatening God. Add here the demanded condition of telling others of the threat and that they must join my salvation religion if they also wanted to be saved from the threat. These conditions/”bad ideas” were a burden that no human spirit should have to endure.

The larger context of the Matthew 5 material had buried the stunning new no conditions theme of Jesus just as Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy had bluntly stated. They summed up the New Testament problem in their comments that the “Diamonds/pearls of Jesus were buried in dung, muck, or slime”. Matthew, for instance, buried and distorted Jesus’ core no conditions message by adding condition-laden statements to Jesus’ teaching: “Your righteousness must exceed that of religious folk if you want to get into heaven”. Or “You must be perfect as your Father is perfect”. Matthew was obsessed with righteousness as the condition for acceptance and salvation and so he inserted his own statements into the teaching of Jesus.

Luke (6:27-36) did better with the same body of teaching, getting the gist of what Jesus said, in stating “Be unconditionally merciful as your father is unconditionally merciful” (added “unconditional” mine). He got the essence of the previous Jesus statements about a love that “just gives, expecting nothing in return” (i.e. no conditions love).

But even more, Christianity overall had buried this no conditions God of Jesus with Paul’s Christ myth that demanded the supreme condition of the sacrifice of a god-man, a condition that had to be met before God would forgive anyone (Hebrews 9:25, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness). Christian conditions were all through the New Testament (e.g. Romans: you have to believe- have faith in- Paul’s Christ myth in order to escape the wrath of God). Such conditions had buried this no conditions God that Jesus was teaching. How contradictory.

Paul’s theology, his God theory, was so entirely opposite to that of Jesus. That is evident in statements that Paul made in places like Romans 12:17-20 where he clearly uses the same belief/behavior connection (ethic based on validating theology) to state that his God was quite opposite to the God of Jesus. He said, ”Do not retaliate (he appears to agree with the non-retaliatory ethic of Jesus but this is better understood as saying, “hold your lust for retaliation in abeyance”) because… here is your hope… God will retaliate for you”. God will do the retaliation thing for you and fulfill your hope and longing for eye for eye justice. Paul then quoted an Old Testament statement to affirm his eye for eye retaliatory deity, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”. He rejected the non-retaliatory theology of Jesus entirely and re-established a retaliatory God at the heart of emerging early Christianity. He buried the gospel of Jesus with his Christ gospel. Christianity then became Christ-ianity, not Jesus-ianity.

This is what the search for Historical Jesus has been about- discovering what the historical person actually taught as distinguished from all the other stuff in the New Testament. Much of the material in the gospels is conditional stuff that has been put in his mouth (attributed to him) that contradicts Jesus’ core theme of no conditions love. Historical Jesus is the diamond/pearl that has to be pulled out of what Jefferson and Tolstoy called dung and muck.

A no conditions God changes everything. And the conclusions came quickly and in bunches. No conditions God means just that. Absolutely no conditions. None. No judgment, no threat, no demand for sacrifice/payment/salvation. No exclusion of anyone, not even the bad guys. No punishment or destruction (i.e. no such thing as hell). Marinate your mind in this for a while.

How scandalously offensive this no conditions reality is to the minds of good, moral religious people that are oriented to justice as some form of fair payback (i.e. reward the good, punish the bad). This point was made in the short stories that Jesus told, about all-day vineyard workers that were pissed that the last-hour guys were given the same wages as them due to the unconditional generosity of the vineyard owner. Or the older brother pissed at his father’s generous forgiveness and unconditional welcome of his wasteful younger brother. Where was fairness and proper justice as some form of traditional eye for eye payment? Such are the feelings of the good guys that are pissed at a generous God giving sun and rain to the bad guys also. The vineyard owner and prodigal father illustrated the God of Jesus that did not exhibit traditional eye for eye justice but was about the stunning new theology of no conditions love.

All across history, religion has been most essentially the social institution that has communicated divine conditions (i.e. right beliefs, correct rituals and necessary religious lifestyle), based on great conditional deities. Religion, as a dominant human social institution, has never communicated to people the stunning no conditions reality that is God. Conditional religion can not communicate an unconditional reality.

It was a final, critical piece to my previous-decades journey out of religion, this realization that God was a stunning no conditions reality. It was the final click-into-place liberation of consciousness.

Notes: The Matthew 5:38-48 section is central to “Q Wisdom Sayings gospel” research as the core of the original teaching of Jesus (see books of James Robinson, John Kloppenborg, Stephen Patterson). Much of the rest of the NT gospels (written decades after Jesus’ death) contain added material from the gospel writers that they put into the mouth of Jesus. But that additional teaching cannot be his authentic teaching because it contradicts his central theme of a no conditions God. And yes, to take Jesus seriously spells the end of religion, certainly the end of Paul’s supremely conditional Christ myth, the very heart and soul of highly conditional Christianity.

By the way, another critical conclusion in the mix- there will be no apocalypse. Because the God of Jesus is not apocalyptic. How so? A God that does not engage eye for eye justice will not engage the ultimate display of eye for eye justice that is the final great apocalyptic destruction of the world, the ultimate display of vengeance and punishment against the bad guys. Simple, eh. And further, rejecting any such eye for eye theology means that Jesus was not an apocalyptic prophet.

When you reject the myth of an apocalyptic God (i.e. punitive, destroying deity) you then overturn the core theme that holds the entire apocalyptic complex of ideas together. It will transform entirely your worldview.

A non-apocalyptic God directly challenges the dominant ideology of today- Declinism (i.e. the belief that life is declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending).This ideology is the direct historical offspring of Christian apocalyptic (Paul’s apocalyptic Christ- see his Thessalonian letters). Declinism is the ideology of environmental alarmism today, notably climate alarmism (see Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline in Western History). The environmental alarm movement is not about science but is very much about mythology and religion, meaning and belief. It is a Johnny-come-lately apocalyptic movement. Note the endless prophecies of the apocalypse (i.e. end of days) coming from the leading prophets of environmental alarmism. Examples: James Hansen prophesying in 2008, “Its all over in five years”. Stephen Hawking prophesying its all over in 100 years. Or OAC prophesying it’s the end of days in 2030.

Other points…

Joseph Campbell spoke of the great test of life, something everyone faces in their personal story, that when we engage some righteous struggle against evil we must not forget our oneness even with our enemy or we will lose our humanity. In our righteous struggle against evil, we maintain our humanity by remembering to love our enemy, by remembering our brotherhood even with our enemy.

Campbell quote: “There is a deep and terrible mystery here, which we perhaps cannot, or possibly simply will not, comprehend; yet which will have to be assimilated if we are to meet such a test. For love is exactly as strong as life. And when life produces what the intellect names evil, we may enter into righteous battle, contending “from loyalty of heart”: however, if the principle of love (Christ’s “Love your enemies!”) is lost thereby, our humanity too will be lost.”

Leo Tolstoy speaking to 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.”

Added notes:

This site traces the basic themes of human narratives across history, notably those of the apocalyptic complex, that have descended from Sumerian (Akkadian, Babylonian) and Egyptian mythology, down through Zoroastrianism and into the Western apocalyptic traditions of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions. Apocalyptic themes were then embedded in modern “secular” versions such as Declinism (i.e. life declines toward some great catastrophe and ending). Environmental alarmism is a notable offspring of Declinist ideology/mythology. The project to trace these “bad ideas” involves the history of this pathology in human consciousness, the horrifically damaging outcomes in human societies (“Apocalyptic is the most violent and destructive idea in history”, Arthur Herman), and then offer alternative ideas to fully liberate human consciousness. See Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives just below.

The auto-bio material above relates to my view that Christ-ianity profoundly contradicts Jesus-ianity. There is a fundamental contradiction in Christianity between the core teaching/theme of Jesus, and Paul’s entirely contrary Christ myth (i.e. the contradiction between the stunning new theology of a “no conditions God” and the “supremely conditional Christ of Paul”). This comment is based, somewhat, on ‘Q Wisdom Sayings gospel’ research and more generally on ‘The Search for Historical Jesus’, a now almost three-century long project (i.e. the search among all the gospel material attributed to Jesus to find what he actually said and did).

And this relates directly to the issue of apocalyptic mythology and its continuing harmful influence on human consciousness and society. We see this, for instance, in climate alarmism with its apocalyptic-scale hysteria and endless “end of days” prophecies. Paul’s apocalyptic Christ myth is mainly responsible for re-enforcing the apocalyptic myth in Western consciousness and society, and that has resulted in contemporary “secular” or ideological versions like Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism. The central Jesus’ insight on no conditions deity would have liberated human consciousness from the apocalyptic pathology if it had not been buried by Paul and others in early Christianity with their retreat to a retaliatory deity and supremely conditional salvationism (i.e. demand for the ultimate payment- the sacrifice of a god/man).

A brief on Human story

Joe Campbell and others have offered priceless insights on the main features of our human stories. See the full outline below in “A framework for human story”.

I would flesh out Campbell’s points with the following: That each of us has come here from a greater Consciousness or Oneness to experience a unique human story. We gain access to our story (our experience of being human in a material body) through the limiting mechanism of the human material brain. Our brain limits our greater consciousness to the experience of this material realm. Our brain does not produce, but “mediates” our greater consciousness (yes, I lean toward Nobel laureate John Eccles-type views on the brain/mind issue- a sort of “dualistic-interactionism”). Our 5 senses and four-dimensional material reality further limit our consciousness during our life.

We have come here to fulfill a unique mission or purpose in our story that no one else can fulfill. Every person should hold a sense of the specialness of their unique story. Campbell further adds that we are all “actors on God’s stage”, fulfilling our differing roles in this realm of temporary dualisms (the point being that there is no dualism in a greater ultimate reality).

While human stories are as diverse as the multiple-billions of people living them, there is one common feature to all human adventures or quests- i.e. that we all come to learn love, to discover what love is, and how to receive and express love. Love is the highest human ideal and the defining purpose of all authentic human existence.

In our stories, each of us will face some monster, some problem(s), and we struggle to overcome and defeat our monster, whether it involves something physical, mental/emotional, social, or other. The problems/monsters of humanity are as diverse as unique individual stories across the Earth.

Further, in our struggle we will be wounded, and our consequent suffering is also part of our learning experience. From our struggle and suffering we then gain insights that can benefit others (e.g. most valuable- suffering can lead to empathy with similarly suffering others).

And we all get to contribute in some unique way to making life better for ourselves and for others in all the widely diverse ways that people engage life- whether in work, in art and entertainment, in sports, in medicine, in food production, in daily family life, and so much more (i.e. the over 50,000 human occupations today, aside from the myriad hobbies and interests of the human population).

Critical to all human story is that when we orient our lives to, not just love, but universal and unconditional love, we then “tower in stature” as maturely human. We become the conquering hero of our story. This victory involves defeating the greatest monster and enemy of us all- i.e. the inherited animal impulses that are inside each of us (from the inherited “animal” brain). The base “animal passions” include the impulses to tribal exclusion of differing others, to domination/control of weaker others, and to punishing and destroying of differing others (i.e. eye for eye or punitive justice).

Orienting our consciousness to unconditional love as our highest ideal will defeat these animal impulses with a love that includes all, treats all as equals in the one human family (respecting the freedom of others), and approaches the imperfection and failures of others with restorative, not punitive, justice. Think of Nelson Mandela as a great recent example of someone exhibiting these higher human impulses. (Note also Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s point that the real battle between good and evil runs right through the center of every human heart. It is intensely personal.)

The material on this site is an expression of my personal struggle with my monster. Backstory: I was raised in Evangelical Christianity and, overall, experienced much good in that tradition. The people were mostly good, decent human beings and they embraced and exhibited many good qualities, notably love.

But there was also a dark side to the Christian religion that I discovered during my sojourn there. Christianity, from its beginning, embraced the darker features of “Cruel God” theory (see for example, Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God). There are some ideas that, no matter how you try to gussy them up, are simply too dehumanizing and they deform human consciousness and life.

Note this dark side in Paul’s main themes of “the wrath of God” against sinful human beings (e.g. his Romans letter), the apocalyptic destruction of the world (his Thessalonian letters), and his statements on ultimate eternal destruction (i.e. a reference to the myth of Hell- see this also in John’s book ‘Revelation’). Note also in Paul’s gospel the demand for the supreme condition of a human blood sacrifice as payment for wrong, and the requirement for salvation as only possible through faith in his Christ myth (a conditional and limited love).

These harsher features in the Christian religion deform human consciousness with unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, and despair/depression. Further, they have a history of influencing people to violence (i.e. the early Councils, later Crusades, Inquisitions, killing of heretics, and even the mass-death movements of more recent history).

(Note the research on the role that Christian “apocalyptic millennial” themes played in the mass-death movements of Marxism, Nazism, and are now playing in environmental alarmism. Remember that Paul’s apocalyptic Christ is mainly responsible for embedding the apocalyptic pathology in Western consciousness and history.)

Christianity has contributed to distorting confusion (“cognitive dissonance”) by framing the bad ideas noted above in terms of ideals like love (i.e. merging noble ideals with baser features from a primitive past). Christians argue, for instance, that because God loves us, Jesus had to be sacrificed to pay for our sin. But what kind of love would torture and kill an innocent human being before it would forgive? (i.e. The barbaric and now long-abandoned tradition of human sacrifice.) We know that authentic love just forgives, includes, and loves. It does not demand prerequisite conditions before forgiving and loving. Ordinary parents, spouses, and friends all get this unconditional love and practice it toward imperfect others. Surely, the Ultimate Goodness and Love that is God gets it also and even more so than we do. Note that Jesus had argued this in Luke 6 where he said that authentic love just gives/loves without expecting anything in return.

I take Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy’s position that there are diamonds in the Christian New Testament but they are buried in a larger context of bad religious ideas. The diamonds would include the Jesus insight to not engage eye for eye justice but to just love enemies because God does. Jesus’ remarkable insight was that we should not demand any conditions but generously forgive, include and love others just as God does. That was his point in stating that God inclusively/universally gives sun and rain to both good and bad people alike.

So yes, I long ago concluded that my personal struggle was with the Christian God and Paul’s Christ myth.

On this site I am pulling the diamonds of the Jesus insight out and polishing them off to reveal history’s single greatest insight- that, contrary to the entire history of religious God theory, there is no punitive, destroying God. There is only a stunning no conditions Love at the core of all reality and life. That transforms, liberates, and heals human consciousness as nothing ever before.

A post from my Facebook site (Wendell Krossa)

“I have encouraged people to read NDE accounts for ‘spiritual’ insights, and to help understand and overcome the primal human fear of death. Some have responded- “But they are just personal experiences”. Well yes. Just like all the major historical belief systems (i.e. world religions) are based on someone’s long ago personal experience. Moses on the mountain top, Buddha under the tree, Paul on the Damascus road, and Mohammad’s cave experiences and visions. Those personal experiences formed the very foundations of the world’s great religions. Most people across history have accepted those personal experiences, and the claims of early followers of those people, that such experiences were “special revelations from God”.

“But the issue is not who had an experience, or who makes claims of divine origins for their experiences. That is not the authoritative validating factor. Too many people across history have made suspect claims of getting words and experiences from deity. The critical issue is the content of the experience- i.e. is it authentically humane or not, according to our best human understanding of humane reality today? I would argue the authority on that comes from ordinary parents, spouses, friends, and the common human rights codes and constitutions that most of humanity agrees on. For example, most people agree that ‘no conditions love’ is the best approach to imperfect others, and to our own imperfections. No conditions love is humanity’s greatest discovery and highest ideal/ethic.

“And the NDE, whether in the brain or out of the brain (in body or out), is not the issue. Again, the real issue is the content, the central discovery or insight of any given experience. Central to most NDEs is the astonishing discovery that the “Light” or God is an inexpressibly unconditional love. Related discoveries are that we humans are all essentially good in our core self. And then there is the discovery of a stunning oneness of all things and people (much like one of the basic discoveries of Quantum relatedness or oneness). These main content themes of NDEs are self-validating and need no other outside authority, whether from some religious authority figure or holy book.

“Caution: Some try to use a minority of “bad” NDE experiences to validate their particular religion, insisting the NDEs affirm religious myths like Hell. No, the general experience is entirely non-religious, non-partisan, and non-threatening in any way. It points to an inexpressibly unconditional God- i.e. no judgment, no condemnation, no coming punishment or Hell, and no demand for some sacrifice or other payment. Quite offensively scandalous like some of those Jesus parables that rejected traditional payback justice (eye for eye reward or punishment) for unconditional mercy, inclusion, and love for all. It is no wonder that those having NDEs lose all fear of death (all fear of after-life harm). And yes, I get that this NDE discovery of an inexpressibly unconditional deity spells the end of all conditional religion.

“Note: The suggestion of “universalism” in some religious traditions is a cautious/timid step in the direction of no conditions theology. Kind of tinkering with peripheral reformism but leaving core conditional themes in place (e.g. the irrational argument of some that “God can now show unconditional love because Jesus met the great condition of dying to pay for sin”).

“So feel free to take insights from all sorts of places in response to our healthy curiosity about ultimate things, to flesh out our understanding regarding the big meaning issues and the questions that we all naturally toy with. Feel free to explore non-conventional sources of spiritual insight. Any God that is love will not be pissed with human curiosity, questioning, and innovative exploration of alternative ideas. And I view any given experience with skepticism and bring my own personal set of criteria to evaluate such experiences and the diverse features in them. For example, does the experience affirm the best of common human insight?

“Some of the sites offering thousands of these experiences and research on them include NDERF and IANDS. And if surveys are right that about 5% of the human population has had these experiences then we all know someone who has. I have met several myself. View the NDE as part of the latest historical phase of the human spiritual journey or quest.”

“This summary from the Washington Post:

“Among the thousands of people who chose to share their near-death experiences with the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF), the report is often the same: They come back with a profound understanding of God’s love.

Theologians sometimes talk about the omnibenevolence of God, the idea that God’s grace and charity is unlimited or infinite. For many who talk about encountering God, this term comes closest to the reality they describe. Here is a sampling of what some NDErs had to say about God’s love:

“No human can ever love with the love I felt in that light. It is all-consuming, all-forgiving. Nothing matches it. It is like the day you looked into the eyes of your child for the first time magnified a million times. It’s indescribable.”

“I felt the presence of pure love. This is very hard to describe. Everything made sense: God exists, God is love, we are love, and love creates all that is. … I was surrounded by pure love. First I was cold and in pain, but then I was warm and comforted.”

“I know that love is all there is and that God loves all… deeply and equally. There are no stepchildren in the family of God. We are all divine.”
“God loves us all infinitely.”

“I felt God as an all-encompassing presence — complete, total, and unconditional love in its highest form! I was surrounded by God’s unconditional love, which was so much greater than human love. I was given the knowledge that God is real and loves me unconditionally — God exists and is real, and God is love.”

“I came to realize that God is more loving and caring than I could ever imagine.”

“The entire encounter was about God, the ultimate power of God, and God’s forgiveness. The message was, ‘Love is the greatest power in the universe.’”

“Love is clearly an important part of near-death experiences. This experience of deep love often carries within it an affirmation of unity or oneness between all people or even all things.”

Further note on the NDE: All human development and growth begins with taking personal responsibility for our failures. But most of us feel threatened by confronting our imperfection and failure, especially if we are pushed to do so by others that may treat us harshly with condemnation and threat of rejection or punishment. Confronting human failure should be done in a context of reassurance of unconditional love, much like the life reviews in NDEs. People having experienced that, then claim that it was done in an atmosphere of reassuring ‘no conditions’ love. There was no threat of rejection, condemnation, or punishment. The entire experience was about the self-evaluation of one’s life (words and deeds) as a learning experience.

Another note to the post on NDEs:

The term “God” has accrued, over history, a lot of baggage that makes it at times almost a “dead word”, no longer useful for communicating meaning unless qualified with all sorts of clarifying disclaimers. I like what Joseph Campbell said, that “God is a term pointing to Mystery beyond, to the God beyond God”. The transcendently Unknowable ultimate reality. But, generally, God is still central to the human search for meaning (note that 85% of humanity today still affiliates with a major world religion- World Religion Survey).

A growing minority- the 15% “unaffiliated” category in the World Religion Survey- prefer alternative terms/theories, but their God ideas are often just as nasty as the religious God theories, with versions like retributive Universe (a great retaliatory reality), payback karma, vengeful Gaia, and angry Planet/Mother Earth.

My particular beef with the term God is that it instinctively raises too many subhuman and inhuman ideas in people’s minds upon hearing it. Whenever the term “God” is used, religious ideas automatically pop up in people’s heads and often very bad ideas. Ideas of judgment (God as ultimate judge), tribalism or dualism (true believers versus unbelievers), threat of condemnation and exclusion of unbelievers, retaliation (eye for eye justice), domination (humans created to serve some greater authority- subservience to deity or priesthoods/religious authorities), the need to embrace salvationism as demanded conditions (sacrifice, payment), and punishment/destruction (i.e. apocalypse and hell).

“God is love” is moving in the right direction but is still short of the best that we have discovered- i.e. that the highest form of love is “no conditions love”. Absolutely no conditions. None. Authority for this? The experience and insights on humane treatment of others that come from common, ordinary spouses, parents, friends, human rights codes, humane constitutions, restorative justice approaches, and so on.

Next: Beliefs shaping behavior…

“Apocalyptic has been the most violent and destructive idea in history”, Arthur Mendel in Vision and Violence.

How widely-embraced apocalyptic themes influence a population toward mass-death movements (e.g. Marxism, Nazism, and environmental alarmism).

This comment draws on the research of apocalyptic millennial scholars Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline), and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich). The apocalyptic millennial complex of ideas was brought into Western consciousness and society via Christianity, notably Paul’s apocalyptic Christ myth (see James Tabor’s ‘Paul and Jesus’). These ideas have dominated Western thinking for two millennia.

The main themes of the apocalyptic millennial complex of ideas include the following:

(1) The loss of a previous/original paradise (a better past).
(2) Life is viewed as declining toward disaster and ending. There will be a great final Armageddon battle before the end of the world.
(3) To save the world or one’s society, there must be a violent purging of some threat to life, the purging of some enemy or evil.
(4) Then there will be the restoration of the lost paradise, the installation of a utopia for the chosen/favored people.

These primitive mythological themes have dominated the great Western religions and were then re-stated in “secular” or ideological form in 19th Century Declinism- “the most dominant and influential theme today” (Arthur Herman). Apocalyptic millennial themes are now embraced by the environmental alarmism movement. The terms differ from movement to movement but the core themes remain the same.

Note a major case study: The stunning historical example of how these apocalyptic millennial themes worked to carry Germany into last century’s mass-death war. Germany had a long history of familiarity with Christianity and Christian themes such as apocalypse, a messiah arising to save people, and the promise of salvation into a millennial paradise. See the New Testament book of Revelation for an illustration of these themes.

Hitler was initially a fringe nutcase in 1920s Germany, not attracting any significant wider following. But during the Wiemar years of the 1920s/1930s Germany suffered multiple disasters. There was the French occupation of the Rhineland/Ruhr industrial area of Germany, and the demand for punishing reparations. There was economic chaos due to the worldwide Great Depression and the collapse of Germany’s economy. Germans suffered horrific inflation rates along with widespread unemployment and even starvation. In the mix was the imagined looming “cultural chaos of racial degeneration” attributed to “poisonous Jewish influence”. These were all varied elements in the growing sense of chaos “that fed the expectation of apocalypse- the total collapse of German civilization” (from David Redles’ book).

(Insert: One of the great questions following World War 2, was how a population of fundamentally good people, including many German Catholics and Evangelicals, became caught up the madness of Hitler’s Nazism. But then we also remember that German Christianity had a long history of anti-Semitic thought going back to Catholic priest and later influential Evangelical hero, Martin Luther, who stated regarding the Jews, “Burn their synagogues… Drive them out like mad dogs.”)

Redles and his apocalyptic millennial colleagues detail how Hitler began to use the language of apocalyptic millennialism in his speeches and writing and that started to resonate with the broader German public that had a long history of belief in Christian themes. Hitler used common ideas and imagery that were familiar to most German Christians. The broader populace in Germany, feeling desperate because of the political/economic/social situation, then began to embrace Hitler’s fringe movement.

Hitler preached that Germany was in decline toward an imminent disastrous ending and there was a great threat/enemy that had to be violently purged in order to save Germany. That would involve a great final battle of annihilation with the enemy- namely the Jewish Bolshevik or Marxism/Communism (remember that Marx was a Jew). Hitler’s belief in a great final battle of annihilation explains his obsession with the disastrous Eastern Front battle with the Russian Communists.

Hitler presented himself to the German public, first as the forerunner of a messiah/savior, but then later as the actual savior of Germany that would defeat the enemy and purge the great Jewish threat to Germany’s survival. He would be the savior figure that would lead Germany into a new millennial paradise (the German Reich/millennium). His message resonated with the largely Christian population which then became caught up in his salvation vision for Germany.

Landes is right that if you dismiss Hitler as just another madman then you have learned nothing of how apocalyptic millennial ideas can carry a society toward mass-death and you will likely repeat the same error again. Marxism is the other major example that these researchers cover.

These authors all argue that we are seeing these same apocalyptic millennial themes today influencing the environmental alarmism movement. Note, for example, Rachel Carson’s use of an apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring and how that influenced the ban on DDT that resulted in tens of millions of deaths in subsequent decades. Note also the anti-GM foods alarmism and the consequent deaths of millions of children (see Bjorn Lomborg article https://nationalpost.com/opinion/bjorn-lomborg-trashing-rice-killing-children).

But the worst mass-death outcome could arise from the activism to “decarbonize” our societies and the collapse of economies that would result from that. As one scientist said, that could lead to multiple-millions of unnecessary deaths. Varied countries (e.g. Germany, England, US) have already experienced excess annual deaths of the most vulnerable from rising fuel prices and fuel poverty due to anti-fossil fuel activism.

Maher on Rogan’s podcast

I was listening to one of my favorite shows the other day- Joe Rogan’s Podcast (The Joe Rogan Experience). On Jan.17, 2020, he had as a guest, Bill Maher. All was fine and good till they got onto discussing someone who had cheated and then they moved on to discuss human fidelity and monogamous relationships. Both men admitted that monogamous relationships just don’t seem possible or natural for us humans. The discussion moved to explanation that, after all, look how chimps behave and we are descendants of that line of apes. Again, no argument on the common descent thing.

But here is what they missed- i.e. that we humans have developed further from our subhuman past. We now have human consciousness, human spirits, and humane sensibilities that come from such uniquely human capabilities as human consciousness. We are no longer just apes behaving badly- i.e. the group sex thing among chimps. So excusing infidelity- the choice to hump every vagina that comes along- as normal… well, Sheeesh.

Maher and Rogan were excusing bad human behavior as due to our animal past and that appears then as just excuse-making, lame validating of bad behavior, that suits the lifestyle of single guys like Maher, just as it suited his buddy Hugh Hefner. This is also my beef in general with evolutionary biology/psychology- i.e. that these disciplines tend to explain our humanity too much in terms of our animal past. That confuses things.

I would argue that monogamous relating is not some impossible ideal. It is actually an evolutionary advance. Look how it benefits children to be raised by a pair-bonded couple that can model mature human relating to them over their lifetimes (or long period of time).

And what about the benefits of pair-bonding to the couple involved? The potential lessons- i.e. such as learning love that shares, that thinks of and adjusts to the needs of a partner. Even Maher noted that real love was unselfish, thinking of the other person. Good one Bill.

We learn life’s most valuable and most humanizing lessons from the primary relationship. How to deny ourselves for a greater good- the family unit, the primary “community” of humanity. How to share in a back and forth relationship. How to forgive, how to tolerate other’s imperfections, how to stick with a failing and suffering other person (i.e. into the “sagging” years- e.g. ball sacks down to one’s knees, breasts swinging low), and so much more.

So while we do come from an animal past and we do have an animal inheritance inside our very skulls (core brain with its sometimes subhuman impulses), we humans, with human consciousness and human spirit, are moving in an entirely new direction from our animal past, into a more humane future.

See also comment such as this- Jordan Pederson on casual treatment of others… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAZ068CDUqU

And Bill Maher made another stunning statement that unhinged my jaw (it thunked to the floor). He said, “We on the Left are the science people”. Huh? What the fuck? He then made the usual reference to climate change, inferring that others (i.e. skeptics) did not believe this as the Left does. Bill, Bill, please. That distortion needs to be put aside once and for all. Nobody on either side of the debate doubts that climate is changing. That has never been the issue. And as you and Rogan both affirmed, the Left needs to get back to “facts matter”.

The real issue and debate re climate change has always been- What causes it? And how much is actually due to human input? (i.e. our input of CO2 emissions into Earth’s carbon budget and cycles) And will the outcomes be catastrophic as alarmists claim? So far, the models have been entirely wrong with their exaggerated projections.

Good science shows that other natural factors overwhelm the CO2 influence on climate (i.e. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere interaction, among many others). And natural sources (e.g. submarine volcanic and separation ridge emissions, land plant decay, etc.) overwhelm the human contribution to CO2 levels. The science has never been settled and there has never been any “consensus”. Remember the almost 32,000 scientists who signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Protest Petition that was almost entirely ignored by alarmist news media.

And with only a mild 1 degree Centigrade rise over the past century (out of the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of roughly 1645-1715) there is no “climate crisis”. We are still in an abnormal and sub-optimal cold era on Earth. See “Paleo-climate facts” below. The best evidence will include the long-term history of climate, the complete big picture of facts. All the facts… even from skeptical science.

Paleo-climate evidence shows that a more normal and optimal state for life on Earth, over the past 500 million years, has been a world with average surface temperatures in the range of 19-20 degrees Centigrade, and with CO2 in the range of 1000-1500 ppm. Not today’s sub-optimal average world temperatures of only 14.5 degrees Centigrade with only 400-plus ppm of CO2. Life flourishes with more warmth and more basic plant food, just as plant mass on Earth has increased by 14% since 1980 with more CO2. The pre-industrial levels of CO2, at below 300 ppm, were starving plant life.

The evidence to date shows that there is no sound science basis for activism to “decarbonise” our societies and cause populations to suffer the consequences of potential collapsing economies. Too many are already suffering from fuel poverty due to unnecessarily inflated fuel costs. The annual deaths from cold exceed, by ten to twenty times, the annual deaths from heat events.

Note: Bill Maher is also the guy who said that CO2 was a “poisonous gas”. Holy shit. The basic food of all life is poison? So this is what ‘Alice In Wonderland’ reality feels like, eh?

Stick a stake in it, or “Kill the Beast” (Commander Vaako’s wife in Chronicles of Riddick)

A pissed atheist erupted and spit this out a few years back, “Let’s get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”. While we may sympathize somewhat with his fedupness with too much God-talk and God-theorizing and God-whatever else, his wish was akin to getting rid of the primal human impulse to meaning (Victor Frankl). It just ain’t gonna happen for the foreseeable future. 85% of humanity still affiliates with one of the major world religions and most of the remaining 15% are “unaffiliated”, or “spiritual but not religious”. The primal human impulse to meaning has always been inseparably tied to curiosity, speculation, and theorizing regarding “spiritual” realities.

My response? First, to calm religious nerves I would offer the defensive-reaction softener that not all religious ideas are bad. But on the other hand, some really “bad religious ideas” have always been part of the religion mix, often dominating the human meaning project and causing incalculable harm. However, recognizing that religious or spiritual beliefs are not going away anytime soon, then at the least, offer people better alternatives to inform the spiritual part of their search for meaning, at whatever stage they may be at. (See Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives below.)

Further, I affirm all endeavor at reforming religion, making religion a more moderate force in human society. Religion will continue to play a vital role as a social medium that communicates people’s shared beliefs and values.

But my beef with religious reform movements is that they often do not properly or thoroughly solve the core problem with human systems of meaning. They do not go to the core ideal and authority of humanity- deity- where some of the worst of bad ideas are still embedded. Most of the major religious traditions still hold God theories that embrace primitive features that are now widely recognized in all other areas of life as subhuman/inhuman, themes that deform human consciousness. Note “Examples” just below.

Why such cautious tinkering around the periphery of the real core problem? I would suggest that the following built-in religious defense measures still enable religious traditions to maintain a solid grip on the consciousness of most of the human population and prevent tampering with their God theories.

For instance, there is the “biblicism” fallacy- the belief that religious holy books, though the main repositories of varied bad ideas, are specially-inspired revelations straight from God. So don’t touch. Also, there is the belief that religious holy persons are specially anointed and incarnated by God and therefore speak with special divine authority. So again, don’t touch what they have taught.

Further, there is the unwarranted and excessive respect for institutions with long histories (time deifies or sacralises), hence the related fear of things designated “sacred” as representing final, untouchable, and immutable truth. Add here, the fear of losing the “truth”, fear of heresy or falling away (“backsliding”). And yes, most fundamentally the fear of a God that threatens punishment for doubt or unbelief expressed toward religious traditions and beliefs.

And here is undoubtedly the biggest religious fallacy of all- that God is a religious reality that can only be mediated to humanity through religion as the primary authority on deity. This history-long tight association of God with religion must be rejected because conditional religion has never communicated to people the unconditional reality that is God.

The single most untouchable idea in religious traditions has always been the central idea of God, notably God as the source of irrefutable conditions for humanity. Conditions like the required sacrifice/payment to appease angry deity, the right beliefs that save people’s souls for eternity, proper religious rituals that maintain the true religion, and correct religious lifestyle to illustrate the true religion.

If we are ever to make the great breakthrough into full liberation and transformation of human consciousness I would suggest that we must go directly to the core ideal and authority of humanity- i.e. deity- and clean up the mess there. That will involve fully humanizing God with our most authentically humane discovery- i.e. that love at its best is “no conditions” (unconditional, universal, unlimited are related terms). Most people intuitively get it that authentic unconditional love just forgives all, includes all, and generously loves all. Surely, God as Ultimate Good or Love will embody this highest form of love, and do so much better than the best that we have discovered or practice.

And yes, I get it that if you reform God with no conditions love, then “pfffftt…. poof”. There goes religion as it has always been- an essentially conditions-mediating social institution (again- right beliefs, correct rituals, necessary salvation plan, and required religious lifestyle). If God is authentic no conditions love then that means “absolutely no conditions. None”. And, as noted above, it means that God has never been a ‘religious’ reality. An unconditional reality cannot be communicated through, or represented by, a conditional institution. This has always been the great distortion of religious traditions- presenting an unconditional reality as highly conditional.

But really, so what if unconditional deity spells the death of conditional religion? Look at the good outcome of this death. The alternative of unconditional love is far better as a cohering central ideal for inspiring and validating our better impulses. Unconditional orients consciousness to features like inclusion, treating all equally (no domination/subservience relating), and non-punitive approaches to other’s failures (restorative justice). Unconditional offers the safest route through life, pointing us to the most humane way to respond and treat others.

Once more, the new authority for concluding that our ultimate ideal and reality is no conditions love comes from common, ordinary people that understand that unconditional is the best way to relate to imperfect others (i.e. spouses, children, friends). From this new source of authority- i.e. the “best of humanity”- we then project out to similarly define Ultimate Goodness or Love, but to transcendently better degree. We do not get this insight on unconditional love from holy books or religious teaching that has always been highly conditional in nature.

Added note: Holiness mythology

One of the most common responses from religious people to the idea of God as no conditions love is that God is also holy and just and therefore must punish wrong. God’s honor is tarnished by the wrong-doing of people so he must be just (strict eye for eye) and punish all sin. God cannot just freely forgive and love. But this is primitivism at its worst. How so? It is the very same reasoning that is behind practices like “honor killing”. People in varied cultures today still reason that, for example, a daughter embracing modern habits has dishonored her family and their traditional culture. So the dishonored males are required to punish the “evil” daughter in order to restore their tarnished honor. Holiness theology is embracing this very same primitive reasoning. I would counter that unconditional forgiveness and love is the true glory of God, the highest goodness and love.

The holiness feature in theology affirms the myth of God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection, hence the creation of a supporting complex of myths related to original paradise/Eden (perfect creation), Fall of humanity and ruin of paradise (loss of perfection), subsequent need for an atonement (sacrifice/payment/punishment in order to restore the lost perfection).

A bit more on the Core issue- the ‘God theory’ thing:

If I had to isolate the one thing that is the most fundamental issue to deal with in solving one of humanity’s most fundamental problems- i.e. the deformities in our greatest guiding ideal and authority (deity)- I would go right to the heart of human systems of meaning/understanding (i.e. religions) and deal with the single worst idea to ever find lodging in human consciousness and narratives. I am referring to the pathology of “threat theology”, that is, ideas of punitive, destroying gods. God theories have always embodied humanity’s highest ideals and authorities across history and have embraced some of the worst and most threatening features that people have projected onto such realities.

Its also important to note on the consequences of bad ideas. Bad ideas, especially bad God ideas, have long incited and validated the worst of human impulses, the ‘animal passions’. This is due to the behavior/belief relationship- the long-established practise of people to base their behaviors on related beliefs about divinity (the desire to replicate the divine model, or pattern, in this world, to be god-like).

Examples of subhuman features projected onto deity: These would include ideas of God as retaliatory (judgment with eye for eye justice), dominating (king, ruler), tribally exclusive (favoring a chosen people), conditional (demanding sacrifice/payment), punitive, and destructive (apocalypse, hell). Such “threat theology” ideas have been used from the beginning to define humanity’s ultimate ideal and authority, with horrific outcomes. These features in divinity have validated the basest human impulses across history to vengeance (eye for eye retaliation), domination of others (the myth of leaders appointed by God), the tribal exclusion of ‘unbelievers’ as enemies, and justice as punitive and destructive (i.e. death penalty).

Threat theology has wreaked incalculable harm deforming lives with unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, despair/depression, and even violence (see psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God). Add here the role that these ideas have played influencing mass-death movements and wars against enemies (see research of Richard Landes in Heaven on Earth, Arthur Mendel’s Vision and Violence, and David Redles’s book Hitler’s Millennial Reich). ISIS illustrates today the role of God ideas influencing violence against “enemies”.

The evidence leads me to conclude that the single worst pathology in human consciousness across history has been that of punitive, destroying deity (i.e. most notably in apocalyptic mythology). This pathology continues to find new expression in contemporary gods and new eruptions of destructive apocalyptic hysteria (e.g. environmental alarmism with its new punitive gods- vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback Karma).

And if I were to go directly to the core of the issue and offer the single most potent thing to solve/correct the above pathology, I would offer humanity’s single most profound discovery ever- that ultimate reality, or God, is a stunningly inexpressible “no conditions Love”, an insight that potently transforms and liberates human consciousness and reshapes the core of human narratives entirely. Defining humanity’s ultimate ideal with unconditional will inspire and validate our better impulses to include all, to forgive all, to treat all as full equals (non-dominating, non-controlling relating), and mercifully treat failure with restorative forms of justice. And yes, to reiterate once more, no conditions deity spells the end of religion as a conditions-mediating institution.

But we are a creative species and can come up with new mediums, new non-religious narratives, for communicating our continually evolving shared values.

One more: What about science and bad ideas? Authors like Sabine Hossenfelder (Lost in Math) have noted that science has its own problems with too many scientists crossing the science/philosophy boundary. Again, that meaning impulse intrudes everywhere, leading too many scientists to make “leaps of assumption” and ‘god-of-gaps-type’ conclusions that are not supported by good evidence. Keep an eye on this as well as the ever-present distortions from confirmation bias.

Climate intro…

No one on the skeptical side of the debate denies that climate change is occurring. So “deniers” is a petty name-calling stunt to shut down discussion, to avoid dealing with real content and evidence. Climate, as a complex and dynamic (no stasis) system, is always changing. That is not the core issue of disagreement.

And be clear- there is no “climate crisis” with the roughly 1 degree Centigrade rise in average world temperatures over the past century.

The core issue is how much we humans really contribute to the rise of atmospheric CO2 and will the rise of CO2 (now 400 plus ppm) lead to catastrophic outcomes? We still do not know how much humanity in industrial civilization has contributed to the CO2 budget on Earth, what with other natural sources- i.e. submarine volcanoes, land plant decay, ocean release, etc.- that appear to overwhelm the human contribution.

And we still do not know how much CO2 itself actually influences climate change in light of the discovery of other natural factors that show stronger correlations to the climate change that we have seen over past centuries (e.g. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere interaction, etc.).

So enough already with the endless silly claims, re skeptics, that “they don’t believe in climate change”. That shows either outright deceitfulness or, more generously, profound ignorance of the basic issues of the debate over climate.

Basic Climate Facts project– a list of the most basic climate facts that overturn the alarmist apocalyptic narrative on climate and give the true state of climate history. Intent: Counter the distorting “climate crisis” hysteria of today. Affirm hope based on the best evidence available. Overall point? Earth today is in an abnormally cold, and therefore sub-optimal and unhealthy state for life.

Paleo-climate facts:

We are currently in one of the coldest ice-age eras in Earth’s history- the Quarternary ice age with repeated cyclical patterns of extended glaciation and inter-glacial periods. We are now in the coldest 1% of this ice age era.

Average global temperatures today are only 14.5 degrees Centigrade which is 5 degrees C below the normal and optimum temperatures of the past 500 million years at 19.5 degrees C (67 degrees Fahrenheit). (see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/03/earths-ice-ages/, “The Earth’s normal or optimum global average temperature over the past 550 million years is about 19.5 degrees Centigrade… this is over 5 degrees C. warmer than today”).

For most of the past 500 million years (roughly since the Cambrian Explosion of life), over 90% of this 500 million year period, the Earth has been entirely ice free. That is a normal, optimal world- with no ice. Researchers have discovered the stumps of tropical trees in the Arctic, showing that during warmer periods animal and plant life enjoyed extended habitats that covered most of the Earth’s land area.

CO2 levels during this ice-age era have been dangerously low. Some 350,000 years ago we just missed a real potential catastrophe as CO2 levels descended below 200 ppm. Plant life dies at 150 ppm. See https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/06/climate-alarmists-winning-the-war-of-words-despite-evidence-that-nothing-unusual-is-happening/

For much of Earth’s history, CO2 levels have been in the healthy range of 1000-2000 ppm (and often higher, with no catastrophic impact on life). To the contrary, plant life has thrived under such conditions of more plentiful plant food. CO2 is the basic food of plant life. It is not a pollutant or poison. I feel an embarrassing “Duh” in stating this Grade One science fact.

Today there is no “climate crisis or emergency” with the slight warming (about 1 degree C. over the past century) and slight increase in plant food (CO2 at just over 400 ppm). These two rising features of life are also part of the more recent natural recovery from the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of approximately 1645-1715.

Ice core samples show that rises in atmospheric CO2 levels follow climate warming. CO2, a small greenhouse gas (0.04% of the atmosphere) does not drive warming as much as varied other natural factors do (see, for example, Henrik Svensmark’s The Chilling Stars on the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, or Michael Hart’s Hubris on the ocean/atmosphere interaction). Historically the CO2 influence on climate is consistently overwhelmed by other natural factors that show stronger correlations to climate changes.

The two best things happening to life today are more warmth and more CO2. The outcome of these two improving features is that plant life is now thriving a bit more and has gained roughly 14% more mass across the Earth over the past few decades. The planet is healthier today. See Matt Ridley’s “Rejoice, the Earth is greener today” at https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=2018&fbclid=IwAR2DhS7FGEgzdR0XQp5iFNGZOUcofy8FhUrgJJ6CFfuwE8tV-rxRkb6x3jQ.

Animal life is also thriving with access to more plant food. Further, human crop production is thriving also with more critical aerial fertilizer (CO2). However, temperatures and CO2 levels are still too low and not yet normal or optimal for life to flourish even more.

Further, we do not know what actually contributes to the rise in Earth’s current CO2 budget. Alarmists have claimed that the rise over the past two centuries is due mainly to industrial society emissions (human use of fossil fuels). But research shows other natural sources that overwhelm the human contribution, such as submarine volcanic emissions (some 3 million undersea volcanoes as well as separation ridge emissions), and other natural land sources (e.g. plant decay) and ocean sources. See, for example, https://principia-scientific.org/volcanic-carbon-dioxide/?fbclid=IwAR3ScJMbDRoVmr2lSmr5jkPBR1RmV60ibhTIOYQUSxuNc5VjLqgIuIyeZSY

Point? There is no good reason to “decarbonise” our societies- i.e. stop using fossil fuels. That would devastate our economies and harm the poorest people the most. This has already happened with rising energy costs from anti-fossil fuel policies, fuel poverty, and consequent increased deaths from cold. Over ten times more people die every year from cold than die from warm events. https://notrickszone.com/2019/09/12/new-studies-cold-temperature-deaths-rising-and-10-20-times-more-common-than-heat-related-deaths/

Added notes on main claims of alarmists: Extreme weather events occur endlessly across Earth during all periods of climate change. Such events show no worsening trend today.

Ocean rise is occurring at the same slow rate that it has across this inter-glacial, the Holocene. Oceans have risen about 120 meters since the beginning of this inter-glacial.

Droughts, and related fires, are not more severe or frequent than during the long-term past. Media claims of “worst on record” are referring to the past 150 years of record-keeping, and often refer to even shorter time periods of just a few years. This distorts the true state of climate issues.

19.5 degrees Centigrade as normal and optimal? Higher temperatures will not “fry the planet” as alarmists claim. Earth has an efficient heat or energy distribution system. Great upwellings of warm air at the equator carry heat to the poles. This leads to the spread of warmth to colder regions. The result is less temperature differences between higher latitudes and tropical regions, less difference between seasons, and less difference between day and night temperatures. These “less severe gradients” mean less severe storminess. Things like tornadoes arise from the sharp differences between hot and cold air fronts. Does the slight warming of the past half century or so explain the recent decades of flat trends for hurricanes and tornadoes?

More notes:

Scientific, political, and media elites have convinced many across the world that the two best things that are happening on earth today, i.e. (1) more warmth in this cold ice-age era, and (2) more CO2, the basic food of life… alarmist scientists and alarmist news media have confused many with claims that these two improving trends are the two worst things that are happening on earth today, that they portend the “end of days” just up ahead. That is irresponsible and immoral inciting of apocalyptic hysteria, and it is entirely unhinged from reality. Frightened populations are now willing to embrace alarmist salvation schemes like “decarbonization” that will devastate economies and the lives of the most vulnerable people, the poorest.

As the paleo-climate evidence above shows, these two rising factors in nature- more warmth and more CO2- are signs of a return to a more normal and optimal state for life, and life is flourishing in response (i.e. increasing plant mass by some 14% over the past four decades). The world is greener and healthier due to these two things rising toward a more normal state for life.

And behind the promotion of public alarm over these two features of life, we see the re-emergence of last century’s great battle between Collectivism and the free individual model for organizing human society. Collectivism has reframed itself with new claims to “honor the consensus science”, which is just more of the same old Collectivist anti-freedom of speech as before. And it claims to be the crusade that will “save the world” from industrial society (i.e. capitalist society), a crusade that is fundamentally anti-human progress.

But keep these two improving trends in sharp focus as key to the public narratives of today- warming temperatures and more CO2. These improving features of life have been demonized as great threats to life. Even a usually sharp mind like Bill Maher has called CO2 a “poison gas”. Sheesh. Anti-scientific lunacy gone insane, eh.

One more: Fear of change in nature/climate

Fear of change in nature should be considered some sort of pathology, or at least, certainly profoundly anti-science. Change, especially in climate, is fundamental to such a complex, dynamic system. Climate is influenced by a still-hardly-understood myriad of natural elements. There is never the possibility of stasis in climate, especially not through the proposals of climate alarmists (e.g. the irrational claim that we can turn a CO2 knob and thereby control temperatures, holding climate change to only a 1.5-2.0 degree C. rise).

Irrational fear of change has resulted in the embarrassing claims of alarmists that every twitch in climate (especially every extreme weather event) portends the apocalypse. A notable example: During the filming of The Revenant, Leonardo DeCaprio was subject to freezing Alberta temperatures but was fortunate to experience the beautiful, and fairly common to Alberta, phenomenon of a “chinook”- a sudden warming front moving in. Startled, he told the film crews that this warming was a “terrifying sign” of dangerous, apocalyptic climate change. Huh? Warm air saving you from freezing to death and it is the harbinger of catastrophe? Sheesh. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/leonardo-dicaprio-witnesses-a-terrifying-sign-of-climate-change-in-calgary-a-chinook

The best evidence that we have shows that the change that we have seen, notably over the past few centuries, correlates most clearly with natural influences that consistently overwhelm the CO2 influence on climate. CO2 is a minor player in the climate drivers mix.

Quote from the next section just below:

“Site project: Bring down the monster that is apocalyptic mythology, with its history-distorting belief that life is declining toward some great disastrous ending. This “most violent and destructive idea in history” has endlessly fed nihilism, unnecessary fear and guilt, fatalism/resignation in populations, and worst of all- totalitarian outbursts of “coercive purification”, and related mass-death movements, that erupt from the apocalyptically-incited need to violently purge some great threat in order to “save” something.

“The latest historical outburst of apocalyptic hysteria has come to us through environmental alarmism/Green religion (the latest version of 19th Century Declinism) with its destructive policies to slow and even reverse industrial civilization (e.g. decarbonise) and to reinstate some imagined pre-industrial paradise. Huh? Regain paradise in a return to the bitterly cold “Little Ice Age” world (roughly 1645-1715) with CO2 at plant starvation levels? (i.e. below 300 ppm)

“Apocalyptic has always been essentially anti-human, viewing humanity as a “population bomb” or a “virus/cancer on the planet”. The apocalyptic mind views human industrial civilization as the vehicle through which the human virus is supposedly destroying the world (fueling the decline of life toward something worse).

“It is beyond irresponsible to advocate apocalyptic scenarios (i.e. shouting “fire” in the great theater of public life) and to publicly promote the hysteria-inciting “end of days” claims that have become so common to alarmist science and alarmist news reporting (Sociologist David Altheide was right that news media are not “truth-tellers” but are entertainers, competing with the rest of the entertainment industry that is dominated by apocalyptic- see “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis”). Its time, as someone said, that we all “grow the fuck up” and start acting more like mature adults (i.e. end the irrational and anti-science fear-mongering of apocalyptic exaggeration). See “Humanity’s best decade yet” just below.

“This site goes to the cohering center of the apocalyptic pathology- i.e. bring down the real monster that is behind apocalyptic- the single most monstrous idea ever introduced to human consciousness, the foundational error of some punitive, destroying Force or deity. This myth of punitive, destroying God has long been central to world religious traditions, and is now joined by the newer gods of environmentalism or Green religion- i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and payback karma.

“The intention here is to deal thoroughly with the main themes that have long shaped human meta-narratives, the great stories that embody our highest human ideals, give form to the human struggle for meaning and purpose, and serve to guide and validate human lifestyles and societies.

“This site offers stunning new alternative themes to shape human meta-stories. No theme is more important than that of a new cohering Center that embraces the highest form of love- i.e. no conditions love, the single greatest ideal that we have discovered. This is about how we frame our highest ideals and authorities, the ideas that we embrace to guide our meaning impulse toward a truly humane future, and the impact of ideas on life. See below a complete complex of ideas to support this central New Story theme.”

Here are some of the most prominent ideas that have shaped human worldviews/meta-narratives across history.

The “short version” list of “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives…(the full version is below in the next section “New Story Alternatives to Declinist/apocalyptic mythology”)

1 Old story theme: The myth of God as an ultimate judging, punishing, and destroying reality. These pathologies projected onto humanity’s highest ideal and authority- i.e. deity- have long oriented human ethics and justice toward punishment and destruction.

New story alternative: The stunning new theology of God as an inexpressibly wondrous “no conditions” Love. A non-retaliatory, non-punitive reality. This foundational theme- i.e. the nature of deity- overwhelmingly shapes all other themes/ideas.

2 Old story theme: The myth of a perfect beginning (Eden) and a God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection (i.e. God angry at the loss of perfection).

New story alternative: The world began in imperfection but has gradually improved. A new story would argue that God included original imperfection in order to create the world as a learning arena for human development. We learn the best things in life through struggle with their opposites- the bad things. We learn important humanizing lessons (i.e. empathy) in the struggle with our own problems and suffering, as we work to make life better.

3 Old story theme: The myth that humanity began as a more perfect species but has “fallen” or degraded into something worse over history.

New story alternative: We have emerged from the brutality of an animal past to gradually become something better across history- more human/humane (see James Payne’s History of Force, Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature).

4 Old story theme: The myth that the trajectory of life declines toward something worse (i.e. toward some great collapse and ending).

New story alternative: Life has improved across history especially with creative human input and guidance. See Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment On The Earth, Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Indur Goklany’s The Improving State of the World, Ronald Bailey’s The End of Doom, Desrocher and Szurmak’s Population Bombed, Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist, and Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, among others.

For a view of the long term “improvement” in the trajectory of the entire cosmos and the overall trajectory of life see Harold Morowitz’s The Emergence of Everything and Brian Greene’s Universe Story.

5 Old story theme: The myth that natural disasters, disease, human cruelty, and death are expressions of divine punishment. This adds the unnecessary psychic burden of fear, anxiety, guilt and shame to already unbearable physical suffering. Paul tormented the Corinthians with this argument that their sicknesses and deaths were punishment from God for their sins.

New story alternative: While there are natural and social consequences all through life, there is no punitive, destroying deity behind the imperfections of life. Ultimately there is only Love at the core of reality (see number 17 on the relationship of Love to the freedom and randomness in life).

6 Old story theme: Humanity has been rejected by the Creator and has become separated from the Source, and now must be reconciled to God.

New story alternative: No one has ever been separated from the unconditional Love at the core of reality (see number 17 below- God has always been “incarnated” in all humanity, united with the human spirit).

7 Old story theme: The myth of dualism in Ultimate Reality (i.e. a Good God versus an evil Force/Satan). This ideal has incited and validated varied human dualisms and general tribalism across history (i.e. the mentality of “us versus our enemies”).

New story alternative: We all come from the same originating Oneness and we are all equals in the one human family. The apparent dualisms of this material world do not express any ultimate dualism.

8 Old story theme: The myth of looming apocalypse and the final destruction of all (i.e. God as ultimate Destroyer).

New story alternative: There are problems all through the world but no looming threat of final destruction and ending of life.

9 Old story theme: The “instantaneous transformation” of life versus gradualism in the development of life. The ‘imminent’ feature in apocalyptic (i.e. the imagined imminent threat of destruction) demands urgent action to save something and that incites the demand for “coercive purging” of some threat. The result, historically, has been the unleashing of the totalitarian impulse in mass-death movements expressed toward perceived enemies and threats (e.g. the Marxist purging of the “threat” of capitalist societies, the Nazi purging of the “threat” of Jewish Bolshevism, and the environmental alarmist purging of the “threat” of industrial society based on fossil fuels).

New story alternative: There is no end of days on the horizon and consequently no need for coercive instantaneous transformation. We improve life gradually as we solve problems democratically.

10 Old story theme: The demand for a salvation scheme, for some sacrifice or payment. This debt payment demand has always framed deity as representing requirement for punishment and the demand for atonement.

New story alternative: Unconditional means absolutely no divine demand for debt payment, no conditions. None. No demanded sacrifice or punishment. See, for example, the story of the Prodigal Son and his Father, representative of God. The Father did not demand debt payment, sacrifice, or punishment before offering forgiveness, full acceptance/inclusion, and love. This is a regular theme in the authentic teaching and stories of Jesus (Not everything attributed to Jesus in the gospels was actually taught by him). And yes, this point that God did not require debt payment is not prescriptive for human commercial and business relationships, except by the free choice of property owners/creditors.

Note also that in the Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36 summaries of the core teaching of Jesus, he rejects the debt payment principle in relation to God. He states that authentic love will “give… do good… expecting nothing in return…”. In this teaching- i.e. “give expecting nothing in return”- Jesus is describing authentic goodness and love. He then makes this summary point- “Do this and you will be like God because God does this” or “this is what God is like”. “Be unconditionally merciful as God is unconditionally merciful (not expecting return or payment/sacrifice)”.

11 Old story theme: Retribution or payback is true justice.

New story alternative: Unconditional affirms restorative justice that is victim-centered and holds offenders responsible, but forgives and treats all humanely, seeking rehabilitation where possible (i.e. no hurt for hurt cycles as in punitive justice approaches). And a critical qualifier- authentic love is not pacifist, but is always responsible to protect the innocent and that often means the use of force (i.e. police, military), and imprisonment, to restrain violence.

12 Old story theme: The myth of future or after-life judgment, exclusion, and punishment/destruction.

New story alternative: Unconditional includes all in the end (sun and rain given to all, to both good and bad people). There is no ultimate judgment, punishment or destruction (no such thing as Hell).

13 Old story theme: The myth of a hero messiah that uses superior force to overthrow enemies and purge the world so that he can coercively install a paradise for his “true believer” followers.

New story alternative: Authentic love does not intervene or overwhelm with force that violates the freedom of others.

(Note: This general non-coercive approach with most people does not nullify the responsibility to restrain the evil/violence of some people in this world, often forcefully.)

14 Old story theme: The myth of Biblicism- i.e. the belief that religious holy books are more special and authoritative than ordinary human insight and writing.

New story alternative: We evaluate all human writing with the same criteria of bad/good, right/wrong, or human/inhuman. There is no special religious authority above common human insights such as in human rights codes or constitutions.

15 Old story theme: The myth of God as ruler, judge, Lord, or King (expressed via priesthoods and religious authorities).

New story alternative: There is no domination/subservience in God relating to humanity, or human relating to deity. God relates horizontally to humanity. Jesus taught that true greatness was to serve and not dominate or control others. God is a “commoner” reality, not a “royalty” or elitist reality.

16 Old story theme: The myth that humanity is obligated to know, serve, or have a relationship with invisible reality. Loyalty to realities above humanity- e.g. law/rules, governing authority, deity/priesthoods- has often resulted in neglect or abuse of people.

New story alternative: Our primary loyalty is to serve real people and their needs, in here and now reality.

17 Old story theme: The absence or silence of God in the midst of natural disaster or human cruelty. The Holocaust is the iconic example of such silence.

New story alternative: There is no Sky God somewhere up above the world. God has never been absent or silent but has always incarnated in all humanity and is seen in all human raging against evil and suffering and all human effort to make life better. God is immediately present as a gently persuading influence on the human spirit and consciousness, to do the right thing. With this immediately present God- closer than our breath or atoms- it is entirely up to us to solve problems and to make life better.

Critical here is the inseparable relationship between love and freedom. Authentic divine love will not do the inhuman thing and overwhelm the freedom of others. Love understands that authentic goodness comes from authentic freedom to choose. This is the great risk that divine love takes.

18 Old Story Theme: The myth of the moral and spiritual superiority of the simple, low-consumption lifestyle (self-produced, using only local resources). Enjoyment of the good life is then misrepresented as selfishness and greed, or obsession with ‘base’ materialism.

New Story Alternative: The search for a better life is the fundamental urge of love- to responsibly improve one’s life and the state of one’s family. And it is the free choice of people to enjoy the growing abundance that modern economies provide with an ever-increasing proportion of humanity moving into middle class status.

See more detail on this new addition (number 18) in the second section below: Note the related fallacies of “limited good” or limited resources, and “noble savage” mythology that claims primitive people were uncorrupted before the fall into corrupting civilization.

Added note: Holding the belief that God is a no conditions reality (i.e. all are forgiven and included in the end) does not nullify the common-sense need for us to restrain violent people and prevent wrongdoing in this world. And likewise, our responsibility to restrain bad behavior in this life does not nullify the ultimate reality of God as unconditional love (all forgiven, included, and loved in the end).

Site project: Bring down the monster that is apocalyptic mythology, with its history-distorting belief that life is declining toward some great disastrous ending. This “most violent and destructive idea in history” has endlessly fed nihilism, unnecessary fear and guilt, fatalism/resignation in populations, and worst of all- totalitarian outbursts of “coercive purification”, and related mass-death movements, that erupt from the apocalyptically-incited need to violently purge some great threat in order to “save” something.

The latest historical outburst of apocalyptic hysteria has come to us through environmental alarmism/Green religion with its destructive policies to slow and even reverse industrial civilization (e.g. decarbonise) and to reinstate some imagined preindustrial paradise. Huh? Regain paradise in a return to the bitterly cold “Little Ice Age” world (roughly 1645-1715) with CO2 at plant starvation levels? (i.e. below 300 ppm)

Apocalyptic has always been essentially anti-human, viewing humanity as a “population bomb” or a “virus/cancer on the planet”. The apocalyptic mind views human industrial civilization as the vehicle through which the human virus is destroying the world (fueling the decline of life toward something worse).

It is beyond irresponsible to advocate apocalyptic scenarios (i.e. shouting “fire” in the great theatre of public life) and to publicly promote the hysteria-inciting “end of days” claims that have become so common to alarmist science and alarmist news reporting (Sociologist David Altheide was right that news media are not “truth-tellers” but are entertainers, competing with the rest of the entertainment industry that is dominated by apocalyptic- see “Creating Fear: News and the manufacture of crisis”). Its time, as someone said, that we all “grow the fuck up” and start acting more like mature adults (i.e. end the irrational and anti-science fear-mongering of apocalyptic exaggeration). See “Humanity’s best decade yet” just below.

This site goes to the cohering center of the apocalyptic pathology- i.e. bring down the real monster that is behind apocalyptic- the single most monstrous idea ever introduced to human consciousness, the foundational error of some punitive, destroying Force or deity. This myth of punitive, destroying God has long been central to world religious traditions, and is now joined by the newer gods of environmentalism or Green religion- i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and payback karma.

The intention here is to deal thoroughly with the main themes that have long shaped human meta-narratives, the great stories that embody our highest human ideals, give form to the human struggle for meaning and purpose, and serve to guide and validate human lifestyles and societies.

This site offers stunning new alternative themes to shape human meta-stories. No theme is more important than that of a new cohering Center that embraces the highest form of love- i.e. no conditions love, the single greatest ideal that we have discovered. See below a complete complex of ideas to support this central New Story theme.

From latest Global Warming Policy Forum newsletter– Dec. 2019, “Humanity’s best decade yet (2010s)”.

28 percent of all wealth ever created.
Extreme poverty halved.
Child mortality rate reduced by a third.
World average life expectancy increased from 69.5 to 72.6 years.
Countries criminalizing same sex unions down 40 percent to 27 percent.
Countries with laws protecting women up 53 percent to 78 percent.
Death rates from pollution down 19 percent.
Weather-related deaths decreased 95 percent since 1980s.
“Peak stuff” consumption of 66 out of 72 resources is declining.
“Not free” countries down 34 percent to 26 percent.
Sources: World Bank, Our World in Data, and other.

See also: “We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously. Little of this made the news, because good news is no news” by Matt Ridley. Published Dec.21, 2019 in The Spectator.

Further… The central issue in the climate debate: “A global warming skeptic is not someone who doubts the world has warmed; it is someone who is skeptical that the warming is primarily man-made… the (skeptics) contend that natural cycles shaped by sun and sea play a far more important role than greenhouse gases in determining global temperature…”, Dr. Rael Isaac in Roosters of the Apocalypse.

Love- a stunning, inexpressibly wondrous “no conditions” love- defines the core of reality, life, and the human spirit or self. Human story is about learning what that love is, how to express it in relation to imperfect others, and how to treat oneself with that same love (i.e. not beating oneself up over personal imperfection and failure).

The great contradiction in Christianity and its holy book, the New Testament. A “stunning new theology” buried by Christianity.

(The conclusions here are based on Historical Jesus research, notably Q Wisdom Sayings gospel research- i.e. James Robinson, John Kloppenborg, among others.)

First, why go after Paul’s Christ myth, the highly revered icon of a major world religion? Because, even though the Christ represents varied highly valued ideals to the Christian community- i.e. love, forgiveness, salvation, hope- it has also embraced and reinforced some of the worst features from an ancient past- i.e. retaliatory vengeance (see the Thessalonian letters), tribal exclusion (true believers saved, unbelievers excluded), domination/subservience relating (Lord Christ and his mediating priesthood), and angry gods threatening to punish and destroy (John’s Revelation as the epitome statement of this).

You cannot merge and mix contradicting opposites. That only creates “cognitive dissonance” (see Zenon Lotufo’s “Cruel God, Kind God”). Also, the nasty elements in a merger undermine, weaken, and distort the good stuff. It’s like putting new wine in old, rotten wineskins.

Further, the Christ gospel of Paul is mainly responsible for embedding/re-enforcing the myth of apocalypse in Western consciousness and keeping that pathological myth alive. As James Tabor said, “Paul has been the most influential person in history and he has shaped practically all we think about everything” (Paul and Jesus). His Christ myth has shaped much of how we think and act- i.e. our ethics, justice.

Religious icons and beliefs still exert an outsize influence on human thought and behavior (Note the 85% of humanity still affiliated with a major world religion as per the World Religion Survey). A close examination of humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity- reveals too much residual subhuman/inhuman stuff still in the mix. Religious reformism has to move beyond peripheral tinkering to thoroughly and properly tackle the core reality- e.g. the nature of religious deity.

Fortunately, growing human insight into the authentic nature of love as unconditional now points us toward a stunning new understanding of the true nature of Ultimate Reality- God. Parents, spouses, friends all get that love should be unconditional from daily relating to imperfect family/people all around them. So we naturally project this highest form of love out to define deity properly as Ultimate Love and Goodness. The best in humanity, as understood from common modern sensibilities, defines the transcendently better in deity. Yes, this is an “audacious” new way of doing theology. But it points to a more humane understanding of deity than what we have inherited from religious traditions and their holy books.

Moving into the issue…

The Search For Historical Jesus, over the past three centuries, has given us the basic outline of what happened in the Christian tradition. The latest phase of this search- the Jesus Seminar- offers more detail on the basic issues involved, i.e. that early Christianity was a diverse movement with major differences, for example, between Jewish Christianity (Jesus as some sort of prophet/king but not God) and Paul’s Gentile Christian movement (Jesus as God-man, cosmic Christ/Savior). Further, there were numerous other gospels that were not accepted into the Christian cannon- e.g. the gospel of Philip, gospel of Mary, Gospel of James, gospel of Thomas, and so on. The victors of the early Christian battles (i.e. Paul’s version of the gospel) got to dictate what was truth and what was heresy. Emperor Constantine also stuck his nose into the truth/heresy battles among early Christians.

(Note on the four gospels included in the New Testament: Of the many other gospels available when the New Testament canon was assembled, why were only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John included? Historians have noted some of the primitive reasoning behind the centuries-long selection process, such as Irenaeus’ affirmation that “there are four universal winds… animals have four legs…”, etc. Such was ancient ‘theological’ reasoning.)

The Search For Historical Jesus has revealed that there was a real historical person and we believe that we have gotten close to his original message. But that message is much less than what the New Testament gospels have attributed to Jesus. The NT gospel writers put a lot of things in Jesus’ mouth, claiming that he had said such things, but many of those things contradict his core theme/message.

Note, for instance, his statement in Matthew 5 to “love your enemy”. The single most profound statement of supreme no-conditions love. But then a few chapters later (Matthew 11) Jesus apparently pivots 180 degrees and threatens “unbelievers/enemies” with the single most intense statement of supreme hatred- that enemies should be cast into hell. Matthew claims that Jesus threatened the villages that refused to accept him and his miracles/message, stating that they would be “cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth”. These statements could not have come from the same person because they are statements of irreconcilable opposites.

The core teaching of Jesus has been summarized in the Q Wisdom Sayings gospel, notably the first version of Q- Q1. That teaching is basically Matthew 5-7 with some other comments and parables. Luke 6 is a similar summary but with a different setting- lakeside versus Matthew’s mountain top.
Matthew, obsessed with righteousness, tampered with the core Q Sayings Wisdom teaching in the chapter 5-7 section of his book. He added his own editorial glosses, such as his condition that people’s righteousness had to exceed that of religious teachers if they wanted to get into heaven. They had to meet the impossible condition to “be perfect just as God is perfect”. That distorted entirely the main point of Jesus that it did not matter how people responded to love, because God generously included all, both good and bad. God was unconditional Love, and universal, unlimited inclusion. Luke in his treatment of the very same message did a better job, summing Jesus’ point as “be unconditionally merciful just like your Father is unconditionally merciful” (Luke 6). That gets the spirit of the passage better than Matthew’s conditional statements.

The central statement or theme in the Q Wisdom Sayings gospel material is a behavior/belief relationship. Note this in the Matthew 5:38-48 section, “Don’t engage the old eye for eye justice toward your enemy/offender. Instead, love your enemy because God does. How so? God does not retaliate against and punish enemies/offenders, but instead generously gives the good gifts of life- sun and rain for crops- inclusively to both good people and bad people alike”. Jesus based a non-retaliatory behavior on a similar validating belief- a “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God” (James Robinson).

A critical takeaway here is that a non-retaliating God (no more eye for eye) is a non-apocalyptic God because apocalyptic is about supreme and final retaliation, ultimate eye for eye retaliation. The God of Jesus will not engage the ultimate act of retaliation that is the apocalyptic punishment and destruction of all things (include here the eternal retaliation that is the hell myth). The God of Jesus was non-punitive and non-apocalyptic.

Other common sense conclusions flow from this stunning new theology, from the core theme of a no-conditions God. For instance, the God of Jesus would not ultimately judge or condemn anyone and would not ultimately exclude anyone (again, sun and rain are given to all- to both good and bad people). There will be no Matthew 25 judgment that separates humanity into two groups and rejects unbelievers (the sheep and goats division).

The God of Jesus is best defined with the adjective “unconditional” and this clearly summarizes the core theme/teaching in Matthew 5 and Luke 6.
This also means that the God of Jesus was non-salvationist (i.e. no need to “be saved” via sacrifice or payment for sin). His God would not demand the condition of sacrifice or payment before forgiving, loving, and including even the worst offenders/enemies. He would give, expecting nothing in return. And this point scandalizes the religious/moral mind that is oriented to fairness and justice as proper retribution or punishment, justice as tit for tat, hurt for hurt, demanded payment for wrong. Note Jesus’ parable on the Vineyard workers and the Prodigal Son for illustrations of how good people were offended by the unconditional generosity, forgiveness, and love of the Father and the vineyard owner. Their disregard for the commonly understood norms of fair justice, offended the older brother and scandalized the all-day vineyard workers. Also, the unconditional inclusion of local “sinners” at meal tables offended righteous, moral Jews.

There is a “thematic coherence” to the message and behavior of the Historical Jesus and that message/behavior is intensely oriented to unconditional love.

The rest of the New Testament, including the gospels, contradicts this core non-retaliatory, unconditional love theme entirely. A proper setting forth of the correct chronology of the New Testament highlights this profound contradiction at the heart of Christianity.

The dating

Jesus taught first, around 27-36 CE. I would offer that the main point/statement in his core message, the Q Wisdom Sayings gospel, would be the behavior/belief relationship noted above: “Do not engage eye for eye retaliation, but instead love your enemy because God does. How so? Just as we are expected to do, God does not engage eye for eye justice against imperfect people. Instead, God gives the good gifts of life- sun and rain for crops- to both good and bad people”. God is a non-retaliatory reality that loves all unconditionally and universally, expecting nothing in return. God’s love is not tit for tat love that is dependent on the response of the person. Further, God does not view humanity as tribally divided (e.g. good people versus bad people) and does not treat some differently from others. All are the favorites of God, including our enemies.

Paul wrote the very next material that is in the New Testament- i.e. his Thessalonian letters written around 50 CE (I am passing over the argument re the authenticity of the second Thessalonian letter). His other letters were also written in the 50s CE. Paul contradicts Jesus entirely, notably the core Jesus theme/statement in Matthew 5:38-48. Paul also employs a behavior/belief pairing to state his theology that is the very opposite to that of Jesus. In Romans 12:17-20 he urges Christians to hold their desire for vengeance at bay because God will satisfy it eventually with ultimate eye for eye vengeance.

Here is the stunner- Paul affirms his theology that God is a supremely retaliatory reality by quoting an Old Testament statement, “Vengeance is mine says the Lord. I will repay”. In this, Paul re-affirms eye for eye retaliatory justice and response. There is no ultimate “love your enemy” in Paul’s God or Christ.

In the above section Paul is arguing with the Roman Christians- restrain your vengeance lust, not because God does that (rejecting eye for eye justice as Jesus did), but to the contrary, because God will unleash ultimate vengeance soon enough and satisfy your desire for eye for eye vengeance on your enemies.

I would suggest that Paul used this behavior/belief pairing in Romans 12 intentionally to contradict the same behavior/belief pairing in Jesus’ central message. The similarities are too obvious. Paul rejects the non-retaliatory God of Jesus to fully affirm a retaliatory, punitive God, a tribal God that favors his true believers and rejects the enemies of believers.

Paul also, in other places (again, in contradiction to Jesus), straightforwardly embraced an apocalyptic God/Christ. Once more, note his Thessalonian letters where he states, “Lord Jesus will return in blazing fire to punish/destroy all who do not believe my gospel”. Apocalypse- the supreme act of a retaliatory, destroying God that engages ultimate eye for eye justice.

Further, Paul rejected and trashed in general, the wisdom tradition that Jesus belonged to. See his first Corinthian letter for detail.
All the gospel writers that were later included in the New Testament affirmed Paul’s views and his Christ myth by adding made-up biographical material and statements that they claimed were from Jesus, material that directly contradicted his main theme and message. Mark wrote first around 70 CE. Then Matthew and Luke wrote around 80 CE, John later around 100 CE.

All affirmed Paul’s apocalyptic, destroying Christ myth and Paul’s gospel of that Christ as a great cosmic sacrifice to pay for all sin (supremely conditional love).

Paul and his apocalyptic Christ myth- the most influential person and myth in history- has since shaped Western consciousness more than anything else. His Christ myth also shaped Western justice as punitive and retaliatory- i.e. eye for eye justice (pain for pain, hurt for hurt).

Fortunately, the inclusion of the original Jesus material in the New Testament has served as a moderating force in the Christian mix, countering the harsher elements with mercy. But unfortunately, the mixing and merging of opposites has resulted in the ‘cognitive dissonance’ of a diamonds in dung situation (the conclusion of Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy). The better stuff- the core Jesus message and his stunning new unconditional theology- has been too often distorted and weakened by the nastier elements. Again, much like new wine put into old, rotten wineskins. (See Zenon Lotufo’s Cruel God, Kind God for a psychotherapist’s view of the cognitive dissonance of mixed God theories, and the damaging impact of including subhuman features in ideals/authorities such as deity.)

Contrary to the unconditional love that Jesus advocated, Christian love too often is a tribally-limited love, reserved more specially for fellow true believers in the Christ myth. Paul advocated such tribal love. Also, note his intolerant rage, in varied places, at his fellow apostles that did not submit to his Christ myth. He cursed them with eternal damnation. John in the early chapters of Revelation similarly curses “lukewarm” Christians with threats of exclusion and eternal destruction. And then how about those later chapters of Revelation?

After the core Q Wisdom Sayings message of Historical Jesus there is nothing of the scandalous generosity of unconditional love in the rest of the New Testament.

The unconditional God of Jesus, and the supremely conditional God/Christ of Paul that dominates the New Testament (demand for cosmic sacrifice before forgiving), are two entirely opposite realities.

Ah, such contradictions, eh.

Here is the main contradiction summarized again:

Jesus’ ethic and the theology/belief that it is based on- “Do not engage eye for eye retaliation but instead love your enemy because God does, sending the beneficial gifts of life, sun and rain for crops, to all alike, to both good and bad people”. Behave like that because God is like that.
Then, to the contrary, Paul’s ethic and the theology/belief that it is based upon. He copies the pattern Jesus used of an ethic/behavior based up a similar theology/belief. I believe Paul set this pattern up deliberately to directly contradict the central theme of Jesus and his stunning new theology. Paul’s argument and reasoning in Romans 12:17-20, “Be nice now to your offenders. Hold your vengeance lust at bay because my God- “Vengeance is mine, I will repay”- shall satisfy it soon enough”.

That is the profound contradiction in the New Testament between Jesus and Paul, between the non-retaliatory theology of Jesus and the opposite retaliatory theology of Paul. These core ideals/authorities- the very core ideals of great human narratives- influence and shape all else in belief/life systems.

Takeaway? The central theme/message of Historical Jesus: “You must not engage ‘eye for eye’ retaliatory justice. Instead, love your enemies/offenders because God does. How so? God does not retaliate and punish God’s enemies. Instead, God gives the good gifts of life- sun and rain for crops- universally and inclusively to both good and bad people”.

Christianity has never taken this central theology of Jesus seriously. It opted instead for the retaliatory and tribally excluding God of Paul. Unbelievers are excluded from Paul’s salvation scheme, and face the threat of ultimate retaliation in apocalypse and hell. Note Paul’s repeated use in his varied letters of the threatening term “destruction” in relation to people who refuse to believe his God/Christ.

And another version…

History’s single greatest contradiction? My candidate: The contradiction between the central message of Historical Jesus, and the central meaning and message of Paul’s Christ myth (his Christology theory). Or, “How history’s single most profound insight was subsequently buried in a major religious tradition”.

A side consideration: Think of the liberation that could have been promoted over the last two millennia if some movement had taken Jesus seriously (i.e. liberation from the unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame that come from harsh and threatening God theories- Zenon Lotufo). But no one, not even his closest companions, took his scandalous and offensive insights seriously.

The contradiction at the core of Christianity has to do with the following profound opposites- i.e. non-retaliatory behavior versus retaliation, the non-punitive treatment of offenders versus a punitive approach, no conditions versus supreme condition (sacrifice, Salvationism), unlimited love versus limited tribal love, the universal embrace of humanity versus the restricted inclusion of only true believers, and non-apocalyptic versus total apocalyptic destruction. You can’t get more contrary or contradictory than these entirely opposite realities.

Psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo (Cruel God, Kind God), and others, point to the “cognitive dissonance” that arises when you try to hold opposites in some merger.

“Greatest contradiction?” How so? Because of the historical and current world-wide influence of the Christian religion, and notably the influence of Paul’s Christ myth. This myth has shaped the version of Christianity that has descended down to our contemporary world (compared, for instance, to the prominent Jewish Christianity of the first century CE).

And also “greatest” due to the very nature of the contradiction itself. It is hard to find a more stark contrast between entirely opposite realities than that between the main message of Jesus and the contrary Christ message of Paul. I use the term “the main message of Jesus” in reference to the Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel, specifically the Q1 version, and the most important statement in that gospel as now found in Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36.

Historical Jesus stated that, for him, the era of “eye for eye justice” was over. He rejected retaliatory justice and, instead, he promoted the restorative justice of “love your enemies” (Matthew 5). Why? Because that was what God did. It was what God was. The God of Jesus was love of a stunning new variety never before seen in the long history of God theories. His God did not retaliate with eye for eye justice but loved God’s enemies. And the evidence? Jesus illustrated his point with the main features of the natural world. God gave the good gifts of life- i.e. sun and rain for crops- to all, to both good and bad people. There was no discrimination and no exclusion of anyone.

God’s love and generosity was inclusive, universal, and unconditional. Jesus used a behavior/belief pairing to make this point. “Do this… because God does it”. He based his behavior on a similar validating belief. Do this- treat all others with unconditional love- and you will be just like God (you will be acting like the children of God) who treats all with unconditional love.

The God of Jesus was non-retaliatory, non-vengeful, non-punitive, non-excluding, non-destroying and therefore non-apocalyptic. Non-apocalyptic? Yes, because a non-retaliatory God is not an apocalyptic God. Apocalyptic is the ultimate act of eye for eye retaliation, vengeance, punishment and total destruction.

Further, such a God would not demand payment or punishment for wrong. He would not demand a sacrifice for wrong. The God of Jesus would give to all, including those who do not pay back or respond in a similar manner. His God would not just love those who loved him in return (limited tribal love). His God was authentic universal and no conditions love toward all, without exception.

No sacrifice? Yes, this is intimated clearly in statements such as “Lend, expecting nothing in return (i.e. no payback)”. Expect no payment. Just love and give anyway. Freely. Unconditionally.

Try to get the “spirit” of the overall section and the central point of the message of the man (i.e. Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:27-36). Too many get sidetracked in what they believe are qualifying details that undermine the core ‘no conditions’ point that Jesus was making. Remember Matthew, obsessed with righteousness, and as the editor of this material from Jesus, added his own distorting qualifications such as “Be perfect as your Father is perfect”. Luke did a better job with this very same material, getting the spirit of Jesus in stating, “Be unconditionally merciful as your Father is unconditionally merciful” (my paraphrase of Luke’s point and spirit).

Note the same unconditional generosity and forgiveness in other Jesus material such as the Prodigal parable and the Vineyard workers story, and in statements on forgiving “seventy times seven” (unlimited). Also, in his inclusion of everyone at meal tables.

But Paul

Paul outright rejected this central theme of Jesus and retreated to the old retaliatory, punitive theology of all past mythology and religion. His used the same behavior/belief pairing that Jesus had used, but he did this to contradict the central theme of Jesus. I think Paul did this intentionally as he knew he was confronting the central statement of Jesus. So Paul also based his behavior on a validating belief.

Further, Paul more generally trashed and rejected the wisdom tradition that Jesus belonged to (see his first letter to the Corinthians).

At first glance, it appears that Paul embraced the behavioral standard of Jesus in stating that it was wrong to repay evil with evil, to retaliate (Romans 12:17-20). But then he contradicted the new non-retaliatory theology of Jesus and stated that, to the contrary, his God was retaliatory. Paul quoted an Old Testament statement to make his point, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”. Paul re-affirmed eye for eye justice at the center of his belief system. And His God would punish and destroy all in the epitome act of retaliatory punishment and destruction- an apocalypse. “Lord Jesus (Christ) will return in blazing fire to punish and destroy all who do not obey/believe my gospel of the Christ” (Thessalonians). See his other letters for similar statements of the punishment/destruction of unbelievers.

And a closer look at Paul’s ethic in this Romans 12 section shows that his advocacy for non-retaliatory behavior was actually retaliatory in intent. You were supposed to engage such behavior in order to ensure that God would take vengeance on your offenders/enemies. Do such in order to “heap coals of fire on them”- to ensure that God punishes them harshly.

There is no greater contradiction in religious history than this one between Jesus and Paul’s Christ. It is the contradiction between non-retaliation and retaliation in deity. Between Jesus’ inclusion of all (sun and rain on all), and Paul’s exclusion and destruction of unbelievers. This is a contradiction between no conditions love and the supreme condition of all conditions ever concocted- the demand for a supreme sacrifice to pay for all sin (i.e. the sacrifice of a god-man to pay for the sins of all humanity- see Paul’s letter to the Romans).

Paul’s term “Jesus Christ” is the epitome expression of an oxymoron. You cannot mix and merge these two entire opposites. Jesus is not Christ. He was against Christology or Christ mythology (see “Rethink Paul’s Christ Myth” below). Jesus is the anti-Christ at the heart of Christianity.

Paul shaped the version of Christianity that we have today. Christianity is the religion of Paul’s Christ (“Christ-ianity”). It is not the religion of Jesus (it is not “Jesus-ianity”). Christianity does not properly represent Jesus to the world. As Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy stated so bluntly, “The diamonds/pearls of Jesus have been buried in the subhuman context of the New Testament”. I’ve paraphrased their actual statements to soften the harsh bluntness of their words.

A framework for human story (the meaning of human life- some essential features of human life and experience)

Joseph Campbell presents a basic outline for understanding human life/human story. I have added to his basic points, revising, paraphrasing, and changing things.

Where Campbell says that the embrace of “universal love” defines a mature or heroic persons, my version of heroic or mature human experience is oriented to the broader term “no conditions love” (it includes universal and more). My larger point: Unconditional, as our highest human ideal (the most humane expression of love), gives meaning to everything. It answers all the great questions about “Why existence?”; “Why this cosmos and this world?”, and “Why conscious human life?” Unconditional potently informs all areas of life- our goals, our basic mission in life, how we become the hero of our unique story, and how we mature as a human being. Unconditional is how we conquer our monster, our real enemy in life, and thereby “tower in stature” as a wise person, as a mature human person.

First, I would affirm with Campbell that we come from a greater Oneness that humanity has long called God (the Ultimate Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence, Reality, Spirit, Self, Goodness). And there is one overwhelmingly dominant feature that describes this divine reality- Love. Not just love as we commonly know it here, but Love that is inexpressibly, transcendently, and infinitely unconditional. Beyond words, terms, definitions, or categories. Inexpressible no conditions Love is the essence of the God that is infinitely beyond our theories of God (the God infinitely beyond the term God). Transcendently beyond the best that we could ever imagine. That ultimate love gives meaning to everything. It defines the core purpose of the cosmos, the world, and conscious life. It is all.

A related insight: Our true self, the core of our person, is also that same no conditions Love. That love is the very essence of our human spirit and our human consciousness, though our spirit and consciousness are often clouded by the material body and brain that we have come to inhabit. Our core nature as no conditions love is often distorted and buried by the animal brain that we have inherited, with its anti-human impulses to exhibit tribalism, domination of others, and the exclusion, punishment, and destruction of others.

Further on our origins in Oneness (i.e. that we are part of a greater Consciousness), some suggest that only part of our consciousness is expressed through our body and brain that are the physical mechanisms to limit our consciousness in order to enable us to function in this material realm. Our greater consciousness is limited by the 5 senses of our bodies/brains and the three/four-dimensional reality of this material realm so that we can experience life here. In this view, the brain is a transmitting organism, a limiting mechanism to make a life experience possible in the here and now. (Note: This view is more in line with John Eccles’ “dualist inter-actionism”.)

Our origin in the Oneness or Source that is Love, our origin from that Oneness, according to Campbell, is critical to remember as we journey through life so that we do not lose our humanity in this world where we engage some righteous battle with evil. Our origin in Oneness reminds us that the others that we battle with here- the imperfect others that we view as “enemies”- they are also from the same Oneness. They are still intimate family despite the oppositions/dualisms that we all engage here (i.e. the dualisms of religion, politics, race, nationality, or other). They are still equals with us. They are our brothers and sisters in the same one human family. If we forget this oneness with others (“our brotherhood with even our enemies”) during our righteous struggle with evil in this world, then we will lose our humanity, says Campbell. We will forget that “love your enemy” is the key to maintaining our humanity.

Others have suggested that we are co-creators with God, that we take part in creating this material reality as a learning arena, a place to come and learn how to be human, to act out a human adventure, story, or quest. We all come as fellow actors in God’s theater, says Campbell.

And others yet suggest that we may even be responsible for choosing our unique life stories and the experiences in our stories, both good and bad. We choose our bodies, our families, and our lives, in order to learn specific lessons, and to develop and grow as maturely human. If this is true in any way, then we cannot blame God for our troubles. I am not affirming these speculative things … just offering them. But they point to some stunningly alternative ways to view the harsher experiences of our lives. We may have chosen our life experiences as opportunities for learning and growth.

Add here the insight that there is no such thing as a Sky God, absent and silent. Rather, God has incarnated in all humanity, equally. God is intensely united with the human spirit and consciousness and is evident in all human rage against disaster, evil and suffering. God is manifest in all human goodness, all endeavor to make life better in some way.

Moving along… Others have suggested that we come into life to fulfill some special mission, that we are called, or sent, to make some unique contribution to improve life, to make the world a better place. And we do this through living a unique life story. No one else can accomplish the unique mission that we came to fulfill. Others express this as God incarnating in diverse lives to experience diverse human stories.

Insert: This is not some new take on religious predestination (i.e. the details of life foreordained). As freedom is inseparable from love, so freedom remains paramount to our stories. We freely choose and create our stories on the fly, in this world.

Again, affirming my main point- the core purpose of human life and story is to know and learn love. To learn what authentically humane love is about. To learn how to love, how to receive and to express love. And the expression of love is achieved through all the diversity of human lives- e.g. whether making an economic contribution, a political or social contribution, or something personal. Perhaps as an entertainer. Is there any greater contribution than that made by comedians? Putting suffering in its place, laughing at it all, and thereby lightening the dark parts of life.

Our contribution may be small and hidden, or it may be offered in the larger public realm. Again, our contributions to life are as diverse as being human in our individual life stories. There is infinite creative potential in human lives and the freedom to be different, to explore, to create and innovate.

Once again, I would offer that unconditional love is the central point of it all. And that is intensely personal. As we contribute in some area, we should never forget that successful human life is very much about how we relate to others around us in the mundane, ordinary, and private situations of daily life. Success in life is about how we treat others as fellow members of the same one family of God. They are our equals in that family despite their status (or failure) in this world.

Taking another Campbell point here: We all face some monster in life. We experience some problem, some trial, something that we struggle with and try to overcome. Our monster/problem may be a physical disability, or mental/emotional problems, or some social issue, perhaps economic or political. Our monsters, and struggles/battles, are as diverse as the problems of our complex world, whether public or personal.

Others, Campbell included, have noted that dualism is a vital part of this material realm and there is a point to the dualisms of material reality and life. Whether the male/female dualism, or the good versus evil dualism. Dualism serves the purpose, in the arena of life, of providing a backdrop of opposites against which we learn what good is. The experience of evil or bad in life provides the opposite that we struggle against, and through that “righteous struggle with evil” we gain insights, we discover humane responses, and we find solutions to problems, solutions that will benefit others. Our struggle with the bad or evil is where we also learn empathy with suffering others. (Note: Campbell and others suggest that dualism is a feature of the material world and not of greater or ultimate reality.)

So struggle and suffering are necessary and even good for us because we would not learn, we would not develop and grow as human aside from struggle and suffering. As Julian Simon said, our problems are good for us because they push us to find solutions and our discovered solutions then benefit others.

Added note on dualism in this material realm: Campbell says that we are all “actors on God’s stage” in this world, playing our varied roles in stories (good guys, bad guys). The intimation is that this dualism is all temporary and then we return to ultimate Oneness in greater surrounding reality. We learn what we came to learn and then return to our real home. Caution: This speculation does not diminish the need to take evil seriously and to engage battles against wrong in this life.

Campbell adds that we will be “wounded” in our struggle with our monster/problem. Again, this speaks to the diversity of human story and experience.
Remember once more, we may have chosen our unique problems and experiences of suffering before we came here. We may be more responsible for our lives than we realize. Let your mind toy with this suggestion (see, for example, Natalie Sudman’s The Application of Impossible Things).

I would add something further to Campbell’s good points, though in places he has intimated something similar to this. The greatest monster and the real enemy that we all face and must conquer, the greatest problem that we must all wrestle with and solve, is the inherited animal within each of us (“the animal passions”, Campbell). Here is where the role of unconditional comes into laser focus. And this is where we make our greatest contribution to making the world a better place. It starts within us, with conquering our own animal passions. “Why do you worry about and judge the speck in the other person’s eye (their imperfections) when you have a beam in your own eye (your own imperfections)?”

Revolution, reformation, renewal, change… should all begin as something intensely personal. Within each of us. As Solzhenitsyn said, “The battle-line between good and evil runs through the center of every human heart”.

We have all inherited a core animal brain. They used to frame this as the “tri-partite” brain, with the reptilian core (i.e. amygdala), the limbic system, and then the more human cortex.

The animal brain (and our past in millions of years of animal existence) bequeaths to us basic impulses or orientations to things like tribalism (small band separation and opposition to outsiders), the impulse to dominate others (Alpha male/female), and the impulse to exclude, punish, and destroy the differing other/enemy.

But a liberating qualifier: We are not our brains (Jeffrey Schwartz). Our core human spirit, our human self or person, our consciousness, is the same Love as our great Source that we have long called God. We are not our inherited material and animal brains. We are something much better in our essential nature, personhood, or being (the “real” us).

(Insert: This is the most important dualism of all to understand- the human versus the animal. The human in us- i.e. our human spirit and consciousness- is taking us in an entirely new direction from our brutal animal past. It is taking us toward a more humane future. Evolutionary biology/psychology tends to devalue the human by explaining it too much in terms of the animal, by viewing and reducing the human as just another animal.)

And here is where Campbell shines when defining human story. He says that the most critically important thing in human life is when we orient our lives to “universal love”. Then we begin to mature as humans. I would use unconditional love as a broader, more inclusive term.
Unconditional potently counters (overcomes, conquers) the animal inside us by pointing us toward the embrace of all others as equals in the same one human family (inclusive, not tribal). Unconditional inspires us to treat all others as equals and to not dominate and control the free and equal other (no alpha domination). And unconditional urges us to not destroy the other but to forgive the imperfection that we encounter in others, and to seek rehabilitation of offending others. Our core self, as unconditional love, points us toward the restorative treatment of failure in others.

Another critical point: The most important battles in life are not the great historical wars of tribe against tribe, or nation against nation. The greatest battles/wars are those that take place inside us all. And this relates to the real meaning of equality in human life. There can be no outer material equality because life is shaped by hierarchies and pyramids where only a few can reach the upper levels, whether in business, sports, politics, or entertainment. Only an elite few can achieve success in these pyramids of life. But everyone has equal opportunity to achieve the greatest success of all in the most important achievement of all- common love. Love is the most foundational thing to human existence and story. And love is the only lasting achievement in the cosmos. All else will be left behind and forgotten in the material world or realm. Only love lasts forever.

When we struggle and suffer in life, and then discover unconditional as the way to become authentically human, that is the greatest insight that we can learn, the greatest treasure that we can discover, and the greatest victory that we can achieve. When we orient our lives to unconditional love, then we can offer the greatest benefit or boon to others- to treat them unconditionally. Unconditional points us toward the greatest revolution that we can bring to life, the greatest possible transformation of life, toward the greatest liberation that we can offer to the world (i.e. liberation from the inherited animal in all of us). The unconditional treatment of all imperfect humanity (e.g. restorative justice) is one of the most potent personal ways to make the world a better place. Note the Mandelas of life as examples of this.

Another way of putting this… We will all face some struggle, some experience of suffering, something we fear, perhaps opposition from an enemy, or some abuse from an opponent. If we choose to respond to that challenge with love, we then discover our true self as a being of love, and we mature into a heroic person through that experience and choice. See, for example, The Railway Man.

In all that we do, and should do, to make this life better- i.e. in sports, in business and work, in all public or social issues, or entertainment- we should not forget that it is how we treat others in the daily mundane interactions (the ordinary and hidden things) that make us real successes and achievers, or not. Steve Jobs understood this on his death bed when he apologized to his daughter Lisa for how he had treated her sub-humanly at times. He wished that he could have done many things better, and been kinder.

Campbell also says that a “wise man”, or mentor, will give us a sword to slay our monster and help us to achieve our purpose in life. We all know such people among family and friends, people who give us advice from their own life experience. And again, most importantly, unconditional love is that sword to slay our animal monster or enemy.

From our struggle with this imperfect life and learning how to love, we are transformed into a new person, into a better version of our self. When we orient our lives to unconditional love, we then “tower in stature as mature humans”, we become the hero of our story, and we fulfill our destiny, we accomplish our mission. And that is how we help to create a better world, a new world, by first making ourselves better persons, by living the love that is our true self.

Added note: An essential part of the development toward becoming a mature human person is to take responsibility for our failures in life. Personal acknowledgement and embrace of failure is the starting point to personal improvement.

Recap: Unconditional love is the key to the cosmos, this world, and conscious human life. It is the defining essence of our great Source- God. As someone said, “The very atoms of God are made of love, unconditional love”. That love then defines the purpose of the cosmos and life- that all has been created as an arena where we come to learn and experience such love, to receive and express such love. The imperfection of life is the background against which such love shines all the more brightly.

While each of us has some unique thing to contribute to life in economics, politics, work life, social life, sports/entertainment, music, or whatever else we choose to do, the one common factor in all human story is to learn unconditional love, to discover and achieve something of this highest form of love. When we orient our lives to this central ideal, then we have conquered our real monster and enemy, the inherited animal in us. Then we have become the hero of our story.

Added note: The monster that we face in life is a two-part beast. I noted the basic features of animal reality that we all struggle with- i.e. the impulses to tribalism (small band separation and opposition), domination of others (the alpha thing), and the impulse to exclude, punish, and destroy the differing other. But across history, people have also projected these same features onto deities, onto humanity’s highest ideals and authorities- the gods. We have thereby created ultimate monsters. So conquering a monster in life is more than just overcoming the monster inside us. Our battle in life includes the monsters in our meta-narratives (i.e. religious God theories that inspire, guide, and validate our emotions, attitudes, motivations, and responses/behavior).

Again, unconditional is the sword that potently slays the monster in us and the monstrous pathologies of humanity’s God theories. An unconditional God does not engage dualistic tribalism (believers versus unbelievers), or domination of people (the myth of “humanity created to serve the gods”) and does not punish and destroy “unbelievers” (apocalypse, or hell myths).

More on a new narrative/story– short version.

We come into this world purposely created imperfect to struggle with all sorts of problems in order to create something better. As Julian Simon said, our problems push us to find solutions that benefit others. The struggle with imperfection is good for us.

We make contributions to improve life and help others, in all the diverse and creative ways that people contribute to life- in art, sports, entertainment, commerce/business, daily work, agriculture, medicine, and more. There is freedom of choice to follow personal interests and desires.
Central to all human story is the ideal of love. We come to learn love, to discover what love is, how to love. And we express love in all the diverse and creative ways that are uncountable individual human stories.

Campbell similarly argued these features in his outline of human story- that we go out on an adventure, we face some monster, and we struggle to conquer the monster, learning lessons in the struggle, gaining insights, and then we can benefit others. We conquer the monster and become heroes of our story.

He added that we will be wounded in our struggle. And a wise man will give us a weapon to conquer our monster.

He also noted the critical role of love in human story- universal love. He said that in our righteous struggle with evil we must never forget to love our enemy. If we did not love our enemy then we would lose our humanity. We must remember our brotherhood with even our enemy (our oneness with all) and thereby maintain our humanity.

I would frame human story this way- our real struggle with monsters and enemies takes place most importantly within us. The real monster and enemy that we must conquer is the animal inheritance inside each of us with its impulses to tribal exclusion, to domination of others, and to punish and destroy others. This is what Solzhenitsyn meant that the real battle between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart. The greatest battles in history are these internal, intensely personal battles.

We conquer our real monster and enemy by embracing universal, unconditional love. That makes us hero of our story. That enables us to tower in stature as maturely human.

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