Topics below: Climate basics; Courage in the face of crowd madness; Secular? Scientific? (the basic themes of primitive apocalyptic have been embraced in contemporary environmental alarmism); Analyzing an issue, solving a problem- more on the primitive apocalyptic mythology behind Green religion/climate alarmism; Buried Jesus and the ongoing domination of apocalyptic mythology in Western consciousness; The prominent features of apocalyptic; Baggot on Mass (materialism and the nature of physical reality); Main features of human story.
Note: The ‘climate change’ alarm is a tangled mix of climate science, politics, economics, and religion/mythology. Confronting and solving the issue involves embracing all these elements.
Another: Embracing the primitive myth of apocalypse in today’s dominant ideology of Declinism is not progressive thinking. Declinism is the belief/ideology that life is declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending. Apocalyptic declinism is a regression toward primitive mythical/religious thought at its worst and is a close-minded denial of the evidence on the amazing progress that life is making on all fronts (see, for example, Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Humanprogress.org, and many similar sources).
A repeated argument on this site is that environmental alarmism is a profoundly religious movement, and a very primitive form of religious extremism and crowd madness, though its advocates/proponents may present themselves as modern, scientific, and even secular/atheist.
The basic themes that drive contemporary alarmism are mythical themes that differ very little from the ancient and primitive expressions that we find in early apocalyptic mythology. Those ancient themes have been given new expression with contemporary definitions, categories, and terminology. But the core ideas are just the same old, same old primitive thinking of past millennia.
Note these similarities between ancient mythology and contemporary “secular” alarmist ideology:
1. Ancient myth: There was an original paradise or perfection (Sumerian city of Dilmun, Eden).
Modern secular version: The past wilderness world was better, an earlier paradise world.
2. Ancient myth: Fallen, sinful people ruined the original paradise (Enki in Dilmun, Adam in Eden).
Modern secular version: Corrupt, greedy humanity has ruined the original paradise of a past wilderness world.
3. Ancient myth: After the “Fall”, life became corrupted and was heading toward apocalyptic disaster (e.g. the Zoroastrian vision of a corrupted world heading toward looming apocalypse, a vision that has shaped the Western religions).
Modern secular version: Life has become worse and is heading toward looming collapse and catastrophic ending (Arthur Herman in “The Idea of Decline in Western History”).
4. Ancient myth: The threat of apocalypse demands the violent purging of the threat to life (the “evil” corrupting thing in the world) in order to save the world. This also relates to the felt need to make a sacrifice to appease angered deity.
Modern secular version: We must save life from the corrupting threat that is industrial civilization (“population bomb”, too many longer-living people indulging over-consumption, enjoying the good life and modern technology too much). Today the coercive purging of an evil threat is seen in the push for rapid decarbonization (i.e. purging the “evil” pollution that is CO2). This is the “secular” sacrifice of moderns, giving up the good life in industrial civilization out of a felt need to appease for wrongs done.
5. Ancient myth: After the apocalyptic purging of the world, the lost paradise will be restored, or a new perfect world created.
Modern secular version: By limiting human population and purging the world of destructive industrial civilization, then we may restore the lost wilderness world, and install a new millennial paradise.
Quotes from Richard Landes in the Preface to Arthur Mendel’s “Vision and Violence”:
“To the apocalyptic millennial historian, the secular is merely another clothing that millennialism has taken and Nazism is as much a new religious movement as a political one… all the most potent forms of political transformation in the modern period- … Scientific Utopianism, Nationalism, Communism, Zionism, Nazism, Environmentalism- are forms of millennial thinking, partly secular, partly still profoundly religious…
“Mendel (traces) the path from ‘apocalypse and God’ to the secular versions of millennial ideologies…
“(Millennial believers) are not merely fearful… they believe we (unbelievers) hate and want to destroy them, and their violence is, in their minds, purely self-protective when it is not world saving… totalitarianism is the desperate effort of a millennial movement that has taken power to ‘force’ the creation of the perfect world… millennialism can be the most violent and destructive force in history…
“The ‘great divide’ of 1500 between medieval and modern, appears in the millennial context, as a shift from religious to secular millennial projects and movements. Millennial phenomena survive all forms of secularization (Renaissance, Enlightenment, Atheism) not only undiminished but intensified… Millennial movements play a far greater role in the dynamics of modernity than most historians have imagined… (p.v-xv).”
Summary of climate basics that overturn the false alarmist narrative (a reposting)
We are currently in an abnormal, suboptimal “CO2 starvation era”. Over the past 150 million years CO2 levels have descended to dangerous lows, even dipping below 200 ppm some 20,000 years ago, down to 185 ppm, close to the level at which plant life dies (150 ppm). The small rise to the current 400-plus ppm is still far below historical averages that have often been in the multiple-thousands of ppm, times when life has flourished with more of its basic plant food. Point? Life is grateful for the human contribution to currently rising levels of atmospheric CO2. CO2 is not a pollutant or poison but is the food of all life.
Climate physicists note that the CO2 warming influence is now almost fully “saturated”, in terms of its ability to absorb and re-emit infrared radiation (“absorbing infrared radiation sufficiently to block radiation from the surface being transmitted directly to space”, Richard Lindzen, climate physicist). The warming influence of CO2 has been declining logarithmically. That means more CO2 will have little further warming influence, perhaps only 1-2 degrees more which would be a net beneficial amount of warming. There will be no climate emergency from more plant food in our atmosphere.
Plants prefer CO2 in the 1000-1500 ppm range, which is closer to long-term historical averages (see paleo-climate detail in Patrick Moore’s Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom). With more CO2 the world has already added 30% more green vegetation over the past century. More CO2 will continue this amazing greening of our planet.
Also, we are in an abnormal, suboptimal ice-age era where average temperatures on Earth are far below long-term historical averages that were about 5 degrees C higher (19.5 degrees C average compared to today’s 14.5 C average). Just as most of our inter-glacial period has been warmer than today (e.g. the Holocene Optimum, Roman Warming Period, Medieval Warming Period). The mild 1 degree C warming over the past century is part of the natural rise back from the earlier descent into the sub-normal and bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715.
The mild warming of the past few decades has benefitted life and more warming will continue to benefit life overall (expanding plant and animal habitat, improving human life). Remember, 15-20 times more people die every year from cold than die from warmth. And the areas on Earth with the greatest plant and animal diversity are the warmer areas of our planet.
Increasing average temperatures does not mean warm areas becoming hotter. It means that colder areas become warmer, colder seasons become warmer, and cooler nights become warmer because more warmth is distributed primarily to colder areas/seasons/times. Sounds real good to freezing Canadians, Russians, and other Northerners.
So enough already with the alarmist apocalyptic nonsense. There is no climate “crisis”.
“Conservative delegates reject adding ‘climate change is real’ to the policy book” Huh?
I am not sure who bungled the climate issue in the latest Conservative party convention in Canada. Was it the delegates at the policy convention or did later media reporting confuse the Conservative position? Media have a long track record of purposely misinforming the public with the mantra that anyone who is skeptical of the alarmist claim that “humans are mainly responsible for climate change and it will be catastrophic” is a denier or “doesn’t believe in climate change”.
Hence this title from CBC news (2021/03/20): “Conservative delegates reject adding ‘climate change is real’ to the policy book” https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/conservative-delegates-reject-adding-climate-change-is-real-to-the-policy-book/ar-BB1eMEGw?li=AAggNb9
No matter what the Conservative position might be, where are the politicians (or other public voices) willing to set forth clearly what the real climate debate is about? All sides agree that climate change is occurring as it always has in the dynamic, complex, and chaotic system that is climate. So yes, climate change is real. There is no disagreement on this. And all agree that CO2 has a warming influence on climate and humans have contributed to CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
But there is legitimate ongoing disagreement over how much of rising CO2 levels are from human industry, how strong the CO2 influence is on climate among many other natural factors that influence climate, and will more warming in an abnormally cold world be a bad thing or in net terms a beneficial thing? Also, alarmists are ignoring or dismissing the stunning greening of our planet over the past century (30% more plant mass) due to more basic plant food in the atmosphere during the current “CO2 starvation era” (CO2 now recovering from its lowest levels over the past 150 million years).
So there is no “settled science” or “scientific consensus” that humans are mainly or solely responsible for climate warming and that it will be catastrophic. The influence of other natural factors on climate show that CO2 is “a bit player” in climate change. For more detail on climate science see Wattsupwiththat.com, Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF.com), and CO2science.org, among other sources.
Remember also that almost 32,000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ‘Protest Petition’ that stated “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
Media ignored that petition almost entirely.
Takeaway? There is no “climate crisis” and no need to decarbonize our societies. Decarbonization is the hysterical over-reaction from climate alarmism and will be “the suicide of industrial civilization”, according to climate physicist Richard Lindzen. CO2 is not a pollutant or poison that must be banned. It is the very basis of life and has been in dangerously short supply over the past millions of years.
Conservative delegates do not help themselves in allowing media reporting to misinform the public regarding this issue. And unfortunately, it appears that the Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, does believe the alarmist apocalyptic position and is willing to be carried away with alarmist madness and embrace the suicide of industrial civilization with insane decarbonization schemes.
The public deserves open and vigorous ongoing debate over the climate issue. Media have never treated both sides of the debate fairly, choosing instead to promote the climate apocalypse narrative.
The Preface to Arthur Mendel’s Vision and Violence states that apocalyptic can be “the most violent and destructive idea in history”. I would focus the adjective “destructive” more specifically on the more foundational ideas behind apocalyptic mythology, the fundamental ideas that drive apocalyptic fear and hysteria. Those include the myths that (1) there is some great punitive, destroying Force or Spirit expressing itself through the natural world, (2) that humanity is bad and deserves punishment, and (3) that we are being punished through the imperfections of the natural world, with apocalypse as the ultimate expression of divine punishment and destruction.
The myth of “punitive, destroying deity punishing bad people” gets my vote as the worst of all bad ideas from across history. This combination of related ideas has caused more misery for humanity than any other myths. It has added immeasurable psychic misery to already unbearable physical suffering with the claim that physical suffering is a form of punishment from an angry deity. Listen again to the Japanese woman who stated after the 2011 tsunami, “Are we being punished for enjoying the good life?” Nancy Pelosi similarly affirmed this sentiment last year (2020) with her statement, “Mother Earth is angry”. Bette Midler added that God was punishing her political opponents through the Texas ice storm.
Primitive threat theology ideas are at the foundation of primal human fears that are rooted in subconscious archetypes. And this is a repeated point on this site- that this primitive and destructive mythology still dominates modern human consciousness, in both religious and “secular” versions. The old monster gods of our ancestors still dominate us today, just dressed in new contemporary expressions (vengeful Gaia, angry Planet or Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback karma).
Sources: For some excellent treatment of how primitive mythology was transformed and given “secular” expression for our modern age see Arthur Herman’s “The Idea of Decline in Western History”, Richard Landes’ “Heaven On Earth”, Arthur Mendel’s “Vision and Violence”, and David Redle’s “Hitler’s Millennial Reich”.
See also the excellent Global Warming Policy Forum report “A short history of climate alarm” by Paul Homewood at…
Buried Jesus and the ongoing dominance of apocalyptic mythology in Western consciousness
The historical Jesus went to the heart of human belief, consciousness, and emotion, and overturned previous millennia of threat theology when he stated his stunning new theology that God was not a retaliatory reality (not punitive, destroying), and therefore not apocalyptic. Where is this? In the Matthew 5 and Luke 6 statements that we should not engage eye for eye justice but, instead, should love our enemies. Because God does. (Behavior based on similar belief)
Jesus offered his “single greatest contribution to the history of ideas” (James Robinson) in stating that God was only love, non-discriminating, no conditions love. Where is this? Again, in his statements to “love your enemy because God does”. He then affirms this inclusive, universal love of enemies, adding that “sun and rain- the good gifts of life- are given to both good and bad people”. Point? God was an unconditional reality, not discriminatory, retaliatory, punitive, or destructive as in all past God theories.
But the wonder of that unconditional deity was then buried in the highly conditional Christ myth of Paul. The conditional nature of Paul’s Christ is seen in the features of angry deity demanding full payment for wrong by the cosmic sacrifice of a godman, demanding faith in that sacrifice in order to avoid divine wrath (see Romans), with threats of ultimate eternal punishment and destruction for those refusing to meet these and related conditions.
Conditional religion distorts entirely the reality of a God that is love, no conditions love.
The theology of Paul was then affirmed by powerholding elites, both religious and secular (see, for example, ‘Constantine’s Sword’ by James Carroll). Paul’s apocalyptic Christ then became singularly responsible for embedding apocalyptic mythology in Western consciousness and society. The iconic Christ is largely responsible for the ongoing domination of that destructive myth in the modern world. See also James Tabor’s Paul and Jesus on Paul’s prominent influence on Western civilization.
Christians claim that the Christ myth is a revelation of the love of God. But what kind of love is rooted in wrathful deity demanding full payment for all wrongs and eternal punishment of human imperfection? Again, see the Thessalonian and Romans letters of Paul.
Recovering the Historical Jesus insight on theology (deity as stunning no conditions love) would go to the central pathology in primitive thought/belief and do more to transform human consciousness and liberate from fear than any other possible intervention. That theological breakthrough deals most thoroughly with the deepest roots of primal human fears.
A reminder on the prominent features in the mythology of apocalypse:
1. The belief that the past was better (original paradise myth).
2. The anti-human myth that humanity is a corrupt species (“virus, cancer on Earth”) that has ruined paradise and sent life onto a declining trajectory toward something worse, toward some great collapse and even ending. This declining world myth, especially, is an outright denial of amassed evidence on the amazing improvement and progress of life toward a better future.
3. The associated myth that because we are ‘bad to the bone’ (“fallen, sinful” humanity) we deserve to be punished with suffering- i.e. natural disaster, disease, animal and human cruelty, apocalypse, death, and even suffer after-life harm as in hell myths.
4. The belief that we are obligated to make some sacrifice/payment to avert the apocalypse and end of the world. We must give up our enjoyment of the good life and return to more primitive levels of existence. We must embrace the “moral superiority” of a low-consumption lifestyle, the simple living of religious ascetics and monks.
5. The felt obligation to embrace some salvation scheme (save the world) and become true believers in that righteous cause/salvation scheme, or suffer condemnation as “deniers/unbelievers”.
6. The belief that if we coercively purge the “evil” in life (currently corrupt, greedy humanity in “destructive industrial civilization”) then we can be saved and restore the lost paradise. Think “decarbonization” here.
Do these primitive fallacies still feature prominently in your worldview?
Analyzing an issue, solving a problem (posts from a discussion group with Herb Sorensen, Bob Brinsmead, and others)
Herb, help me analyze this issue of climate alarmism which I would suggest is actually part of a larger human problem. Climate alarmism directly impacts your arena of expertise- world commerce and it poses perhaps the greatest threat to commerce today. What are other elements in this problem that might have to be tackled to thoroughly solve this alarmism thing? A hint at where I am taking this- I affirm your consistent point that 95% of human behavior is subconsciously influenced.
First a general outline of the problem/issue.
Environmentalists have promoted widespread alarm over nature with endless setting of end-of-days scenarios (over the past three decades- apocalypse via climate catastrophe). These modern apocalyptic scenarios incite widespread fear in populations, arousing the human survival impulse and that renders populations highly susceptible to alarmist salvation schemes such as the current push for decarbonization to save what they believe is a threatened world. Atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen calls decarbonization the “suicide of industrial civilization”.
The salvation plan involves generating guilt for having ruined an earlier paradise that existed before humanity began to grow and prosper. Now “fallen” humanity- the corrupting force in life, the “virus or cancer on Earth”- must make a sacrifice to appease some angered deity, the sacrifice involving giving up the good life in technological, industrial civilization. Another side to “saving the world” is the demand for the purging of some great evil, some great threat. Again, alarmists claim the threat is industrial civilization powered by cheap fossil fuels. If these conditions of sacrifice and purging of evil are met then we are offered the hope of salvation, the hope of restoring the lost paradise that existed before humanity.
Further analyzing the problem, Bjorn Lomborg warned that politicians around the world are embracing climate policies that will waste tens of trillions of dollars that could be better spent on improving life for all.
Other elements to understanding the problem: Richard Landes and many others have stated that this Green movement is “profoundly religious” in nature. It has all the markers of the same ‘apocalyptic millennialism’ that shaped Marxism and Nazism before. Historians Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline in Western History), Richard Landes (Heaven On Earth), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich) have all traced the apocalyptic millennial influence on these movements (Marxism, Nazism, Environmentalism).
Conclusion? Environmental alarmism, or Green religion, embraces the same complex of themes/ideas that have shaped human mythology and religion across history. I am with Mendel, and others, that apocalyptic millennialism is a collection of mental pathologies (bad ideas) that have caused more harm than any other in history.
There is always a significant emotional element attached to human beliefs/ideas. How so? Bad ideas like apocalypse incite unnecessary fear (i.e. the survival impulse) and the consequence is irrational response, even violence. The recent apocalyptic hysteria incited by ISIS resulted in an eruption of violence all too common to past millennial movements.
Further, on the emotional element, Roy Spencer has lamented that science itself is not changing many minds on environmental alarmism.
Tracing the apocalyptic millennial themes in environmentalism helps us understand what motivates alarmists. Their embrace of primitive apocalyptic millennial mythology is evident in the prophesying of endless end-of-days scenarios and proposing salvation schemes to “save the world” from the end-times. They are promoting the latest historical version of apocalyptic millennial mythology, often expressed in terms of Declinist ideology- a historically recent “secular” version of apocalyptic.
As noted above, we have often detailed the main themes of alarmism movements- the apocalyptic millennial complex of ideas- and their impact on populations (i.e. creating unfounded alarm). The basic complex includes:
The (1) original paradise myth, (2) fallen humanity ruining paradise and therefore deserving punishment, (3) life in decline toward some great catastrophe and ending (apocalypse as the ultimate, final punishment from deity), (4) demand for sacrifice to appease the angry deity, (5) the obligation to purge the evil threat to life, and (6) the hope of salvation in the recovery of the lost paradise (millennium installed).
I have argued that at the very core of the above complex of ideas is the central cohering idea of angry deity threatening vengeance, the worst of all bad ideas that gives life to the rest of this complex of bad ideas.
Examples of contemporary expression of this threat theology: The Japanese lady wondering after the 2011 tsunami if they were “being punished for enjoying the good life too much”. Nancy Pelosi (2020) stating that “Mother Earth was angry”. And Bette Midler (2021) claiming that God was punishing her political opponents via the Texas cold spell. All voiced modern versions of the threat theology (vengeful deity theory) that is still the dominant theme in the world religions and now dominates “secular” alternatives also.
Note the related mix of causal ideas and consequent emotions/impulses in this mix: (1) Ultimate threat via the natural world, (2) fear (survival impulse), (3) guilt/shame, (4) obligation to sacrifice and (5) to purge evil in order to counter the threat, and (6) promise of finding salvation. This is ancient as well as modern stuff.
How do we access and influence/change these things that often have to do with the deeply buried impulses (subconscious) and related validating ideas/themes (archetypes)? How do we counter the primal human fears now exhibited in climate alarmism- fears of some vengeful deity punishing humanity through the natural world? This is age-old stuff that has cursed humanity from the beginning. Remember the Sumerian Flood myth, the Eden story, and so much more. This is all part of understanding the emotional element that feeds apocalyptic movement madness and results in herd irrationality.
Again, how do we go to the subconscious roots, to the ancient impulses/instincts and related validating themes that incite those impulses?
I would suggest that we do so by changing consciously held ideas in human worldviews. This will help deal with the deeper themes (subconscious) that feed the human emotional element- the themes that shape human belief and response. I see it as an issue of old narrative themes in primitive mythologies and religions that have long re-enforced people’s worst fears and impulses. Those myths have now been embraced by contemporary ideologies like Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism.
This is all part of dealing with the complete big picture, including all elements in problem solving.
Many qualified people are dealing with this problem at varied critical levels like good science. I have chosen to focus on what I see as one of the deeper levels of this Green alarmism problem- primitive beliefs (threat theology) and consequent emotions (fear, anxiety, guilt, shame). Bad ideas like apocalyptic continue to incite irrational fears and that leads to harmful consequences such as the current push to decarbonize societies.
My response is that a radical new narrative is needed with new themes and this will help change things at the subconscious level. Start with the core themes that incite primal fears. First and foremost, get rid of the core threat- the old angry, punitive deity myths.
Note: My repeated point in these discussions that Paul is mainly responsible for bringing the apocalyptic myth into Western consciousness with his apocalyptic Christ myth (Thessalonian letters).
Related posts from a discussion group:
Bob Brinsmead responding to another’s comment that big oil companies are jumping on the Green bandwagon (“Big Oil Investing Billions in Renewables”):
“Yes, and many big corporate directors and CEO’s have joined the woke cause and are supporting the madness of woke science. I hope we can understand the difference between the great scientific principles of the Enlightenment and woke science. Woke science is subjective science, not the science of real observation and hard evidence, science which says in the words of Thomas Huxley, “Blind faith is the one unpardonable sin.”
“Woke science is based on the authority of subjective worldviews with evidence gathered to support what has become a belief system which no amount of evidence can disprove. You can’t disprove a belief system. Try telling a Muslim there is nothing wrong with a ham sandwich. Try telling a Jehovah’s Witness that his son must have a blood transfusion – or die. No amount of logic or the most startling evidence can cause an AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) believer that he is simply caught up in “the madness of crowds.” The climate emergency and saving the planet by taking measures to stop climate change is part of a post-modern worldview, it is a religion, it has become the narrative of the woke – almost impossible to dislodge.
“These green gestures from the elite corporation leaders are like the ANZ Bank here in Australia are nothing more than hypocritical virtue-signaling, because these same CEO’s jet around the world, enjoy their luxury yachts and buy prime real estate on water fronts that are supposed to become submerged by rising sea levels. If these leading voices were like Gandhi they would be first to embrace a frugal and abstemious lifestyle making few emissions. The simple fact is that a highflyer with a $5 million lifestyle causes more than 50 times more emissions that a humble person with a $100,00 income. If Gandhi believed in AGW he would lead by example and reduce his own carbon emissions to the minimum. But some royalty and Hollywood stars who preach reducing carbon emissions are profound hypocrites because they are the biggest carbon sinners on the planet, eh? Woke science is all about virtue signaling, nothing more.
My additions to Bob’s comment:
“Future children will look back with others on this generation and shake their heads in disbelief at how irrationality became madness and at times extreme lunacy. They will wonder how the basic food of all life- CO2- was demonized and feared by today’s world. At the very time that the Earth has experienced a massive greening (additional green vegetation) and life has prospered more than it has in millions of years. Yes, with environmental alarmism we are watching a profoundly religious movement (see Richard Landes quotes below), an extremist religious movement like we have not seen since Nazism and the mass-death from that lunacy. Read Patrick Moore’s new book Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom. After helping found Greenpeace he had to leave because his rational scientific mind could not let him continue with what was becoming a politicized organization, and an extremist one.
And then these thoughts on what motivates human behavior:
The subconscious, archetypes, and human behavior:
“The original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies” (Merriam-Webster).
Wikipedia: “The concept of an archetype appears in areas relating to behavior, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An archetype can be: a statement, pattern of behavior, prototype, “first” form, or a main model that other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy, emulate, or “merge” into”.
Also from Wikipedia: “Jungian archetypes are defined as universal, archaic symbols and images that derive from the collective unconscious, as proposed by Carl Jung. They are the psychic counterpart of instinct. It is described as a kind of innate unspecific knowledge, derived from the sum total of human history, which prefigures and directs conscious behavior.” (end of Wikipedia quotes)
Others add that some 95% of human behavior is subconsciously motivated. I would also suggest that archetypes could be understood as impulses related to ideas/themes that validate them.
When thinking of influences on human behavior, I find it helpful to frame things in terms of the behavior/belief relationship. We have impulses to act and we create worldviews or ideas to validate how we act and live our lives. We hold beliefs that validate how we respond to varied things.
Anthropologists (e.g. Clifford Geertz) have noted this behavior/belief relationship in places like Bali, Indonesia where people have constructed their villages and houses according to what they believe is the divine pattern or model.
The Hebrews did this in the Old Testament, constructing their temple according to what they believed was the divine pattern. They ordered all the details of their lives according to what they viewed as the law, will, or word of God.
ISIS offered a recent example of this behavior/belief relationship, claiming that they had to kill their enemies because they believed their vengeful God will it.
A young rapper, when challenged about the violence advocated in his videos, replied, “We are violent because we are animals. It’s what we do”. He justified violent behavior based on his view of evolutionary biology and our animal past as the validating ideal.
We embrace older ideas or create new ideas/beliefs to validate how we act and live. This is why it is critical to ensure that the ideas we hold are fully humane.
Another from Wikipedia:
Note below that Jung suggests “the collective unconscious (instincts and inherited archetypes/themes) underpins the subconscious mind”. The collective unconscious is populated with instincts/impulses and archetypes- i.e. universal symbols or mythical themes.
“Collective unconscious (German: kollektives Unbewusstes) refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. It is a term coined by Carl Jung. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts, as well as by archetypes: universal symbols such as The Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, and the Tree of Life. Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences. The psychotherapeutic practice of analytical psychology revolves around examining the patient’s relationship to the collective unconscious.
“Psychiatrist and Jungian analyst Lionel Corbett argues that the contemporary terms “autonomous psyche” or “objective psyche” are more commonly used today in the practice of depth psychology rather than the traditional term of the “collective unconscious.” Critics of the collective unconscious concept have called it unscientific and fatalistic, or otherwise very difficult to test scientifically (due to the mystical aspect of the collective unconscious). Proponents suggest that it is borne out by findings of psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology.” (end of Wikipedia quotes)
Having read Geertz in an Asian Studies course years previous (late 80s or early 90s), I was rereading Matthew 5:38-48 in the early Oughts when that behavior based on belief relationship hit me like a ton of bricks. “No more eye for eye, but instead love your enemies… because God does. How so? God gives the good gifts of life- sun and rain- to both good and bad people”. The God of Jesus was universal, non-discriminatory, unconditional, non-retaliatory. It all came clear. Jesus’ use of a behavior (no eye for eye but love your enemy) based on similar belief made that clear.
And Paul some 20 years later (Romans written in 50s CE) directly confronted this behavior/belief thing in Jesus and rejected it. Then in a contradictory, oxymoronic manner, he reframed it in Romans 12:17-20. He stated a similar non-retaliatory behavior and appeared to reject eye for eye response to enemies, but then he based that behavior on a retaliatory theology affirming his theology of a retaliatory God with the Old Testament quote, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”. But a closer look shows that his ethic/behavior was also essentially retaliatory in intent- “Do this (no retaliation) to ensure that coals of fire are poured on your enemy”. Withhold your urge for vengeance on enemies in order to ensure that God ultimately retaliates against your enemy.
Further, Paul retreated to retaliatory apocalypse in his Christ myth- see Thessalonians. Paul taught an apocalyptic Christ and God.
I would add to the Matt. 5 breakthrough of Jesus, that his statements on no eye for eye meant that God was not apocalyptic. Jesus was not apocalyptic. There should be no more eye for eye because God was not about eye for eye. Well, what is the single greatest expression of eye for eye? Apocalyptic judgement, justice, and destruction.
Point? Paul appeared to have intentionally confronted the Jesus statement on non-retaliatory behavior that was based on a non-retaliatory belief/theology. He appears to have done so in order to “correct” the wrong theology of Jesus, to restate that behavior/belief relationship according to his retaliatory theology. The Jesus insight was too revolutionary for Paul, too scandalous, too anti-Christ (anti-his retaliatory Christ myth). The Jesus statement on a non-retaliatory God overturned the entire history of theology up to that time. Too much for Paul’s tradition-oriented mind.
The only one I have ever read who got the Jesus breakthrough clearly was James Robinson with his statement on the “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God” as “Jesus’ greatest contribution to the history of human ideas”. But then Robinson did not seem to realize how profound that insight was, how absolutely revolutionary it was. The ramifications are astounding for so many areas of thought and behavior. It goes right to the very heart and soul of human thought, consciousness, subconscious archetypes, and all else. It has the potential to be the single most profound transformation in human thought possible because it dealt with humanity’s highest ideal and authority. It goes to the root pathology in human consciousness, emotion, and motivation.
There has always been the theology of a retaliatory, punitive, and destroying deity at the very center of human thought/consciousness, worldviews, and belief systems across history, and hence at the heart of the collective unconscious and subconscious and archetypes. That cohering central idea has profoundly shaped all other ideas in ancient mythologies and religions. It has validated all other ideas/myths.
Robinson stated that a generation later the early Christian movement had abandoned that breakthrough insight of a non-retaliatory God. And then he ended his book with the disappointing comment about something that “Might count in the day of judgment”. Huh? Non-retaliatory and judgment??? WTF.
Robinson did not fully realize what he was dealing with, that he was handling the single most transformative insight in history, one that went to the heart of the human problem (retaliation validated at the core of human belief- in theology). The Jesus insight could have liberated humanity as nothing ever before because it dealt with humanity’s highest ideal and authority- deity. The Jesus breakthrough overturned the single most damaging myth to have ever darkened human consciousness- ultimate divine retaliation in apocalyptic. The tragedy is that Paul rejected the Jesus insight and retreated back to retaliatory deity. Paul then shaped Western consciousness more than any other person (James Tabor, Paul and Jesus). And here we are today, dealing with another profoundly religious apocalyptic movement in environmental alarmism and the damaging costs are evident daily. Another madness movement.
Courage in the face of crowd madness
There are numerous courageous voices/forums decrying the insanity and crowd madness that demonizes the food of all life- CO2- as the great threat to life today (e.g. Global Warming Policy Forum, Wattsupwiththat.com, CO2science.org, among others). But hysteria-oriented news media, committed to “Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis” (David Altheide), give little space to these reasonable skeptical voices. Media prefer voices that endlessly prophesy crisis, disaster, catastrophe, and apocalypse. News media prefer apocalyptic prophets that endlessly set dates for the end-of-days. Keeps audiences on edge and clicking remotes.
We should all encourage the courageous voices, despite facing the threat of personal attack (ad hominem), silencing, banning, and cancelling, to speak out loudly and clearly against the madness movement that is pushing countries across the world to decarbonize. The outcome of this apocalyptic millennialism, this profoundly religious extremism cloaked in environmentalism and saving the world, is proving to be extremely harmful with unnecessary suffering that is already impacting the poorest people the most.
Eruptions of hysteria.
Over the past 60-70 years we have suffered a series of irrational eruptions of apocalyptic-scale hysteria over environmental issues, most recently climate change. This has occurred during the very time that life has experienced unprecedented new levels of progress (see, for example, Humanprogress.org).
The most irrational of all outbursts has been the hysteria over more CO2 in our atmosphere, the food of all life. The continuing rise of CO2 has greened our planet immensely with a 30% increase in biomass over the last century. Just over the past 40 years there has been the addition of green vegetation more than twice the size of the continental US. The increase in atmospheric plant food has also contributed to repeated record crop harvests over recent years.
And good research by climate physicists continues to show that more atmospheric CO2 has a declining warming influence (i.e. a logarithmic decline in the ability of more CO2 to absorb and re-emit infrared radiation). That means increasing levels of CO2 will not cause much more warming, perhaps only a degree or two. That will be beneficial warming, not “catastrophic warming”. Rational conclusion: There is no threat of a “climate crisis”.
Further, a mild increase in warming of 1 degree C over the past century has also made life more tolerable for colder areas in our still sub-normally cold ice-age era. More warmth benefits life with expanded plant and animal habitats. We could use a lot more warming as 15 times more people die annually from cold than die from warmth.
One of the projects here looks at what has long incited primal human fears. How did early people express their fears, what conclusions did they offer to explain those fears, and then how did they alleviate or intensify such fears? We find the answer to this in the ideas that our ancestors expressed in their mythologies and religions, the earliest human systems of meaning or belief.
Take the ultimate human fear of death. Our ancestors intensified this fear when they created myths that death was a punishment from upset gods for having ruined an original paradise (e.g. the Sumerian Dilmun and Enki myth, or the Adam/Eden myth). They intensified death fear further when they added myths of a coming future judgment for imperfect human existence, with the ultimate judgment in the apocalyptic destruction of all life. And they further added to the naturally unacceptable fear of death by embracing threats of after-life harm as in the hell myth.
At the center of ancient mythology/belief systems we find the worst of all fear-inciting ideas- that of a great punitive, destroying Force or deity. That single worst idea ever still dominates the core of the world religions and has become central to contemporary “secular” ideologies like Declinism and environmental alarmism.
The myth of punitive, destroying Force or deity is the fundamental pathology at the root of human fears. The myth of vengeful deity has long intensified the consciousness-deforming potency of fear, anxiety, shame, and guilt.
We continue to hear this primitive ‘threat theology’ voiced by our contemporaries in terms of the newer gods of our era- i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet or Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and payback karma. Nancy Pelosi expressed this primitive mythology in her 2020 statement that “Mother Earth is angry”. That sense of threat (the end is nigh, we are all going to die) incites survival desperation that renders frightened populations susceptible to salvationist responses that have potential to cause great harm. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”, Voltaire. I would put the rushed decarbonization schemes pushed across the planet in this category.
We moderns may arrogantly dismiss the mythologies of our ancestors as primitive irrationalism. But then why do so many of us, even those claiming to be secularist/materialist/atheist, still embrace “secular” versions of the very same primitive myths? The continued widespread embrace of the apocalypse myth is an example.
New stuff: The ongoing discoveries of our hardest science- physics- ought to caution the dogmatism of some materialists re the material brain producing mind. What we once thought was solid and separately-existing material reality has turned out to be profoundly mysterious with the latest theories telling us that it appears to be some form of energy (quantum field disturbances) and inseparably related to conscious observers. See, for example, “Mass: The quest to understand matter”, by Jim Baggot.
English physicist James Jean on emerging discoveries in quantum mechanics, “The universe looks more and more like a great thought rather than a great machine.”
Quotes from Baggot:
“(Einstein) was particularly concerned about the collapse of the wave-function. If a single electron is supposed to be described by a wavefunction distributed over a region of space, where then is the electron supposed to be prior to collapse? Before the act of measurement, the mass (and energy) of the electron is in principle ‘everywhere’. What then happens at the moment of the collapse? After the collapse the mass of the electron is localized- it is ‘here’ and nowhere else. How does the electron get from being ‘everywhere’ to being ‘here’ instantaneously?…
“The properties and behavior of the distant electron B are affected by both the setting we use to measure electron A and the result of that measurement. It seems that no matter how hard we try or how unreasonable the resulting definition of reality, we cannot avoid the collapse of the wavefunction.
“We have to accept that the properties we ascribe to quantum particles like electrons, such as mass, energy, frequency, spin, position, and so on, are properties that have no real meaning except in relation to an observation or a measuring device that allows them to be somehow ‘projected’ into our empirical reality of experience. They are in some sense secondary, not primary properties. We can no longer assume that the properties we measure (the ‘things as they appear’) necessarily reflect or represent the properties of the particles as they really are (the ‘things in themselves’) … (p.175)
“Particles- those ultimate, indivisible bits of ‘stuff’ beloved of the early Greek atomists- have been replaced by quantum fields. What we still tend to think of as particles are no more than characteristic disturbances of these fields. Matter has been reduced to ghosts and phantoms… (p.191)
“We’ve been convinced that it is matter that has energy. And, although matter may be reducible to microscopic constituents, for a long time we believed that these would still be recognizable as matter- they would still possess the primary quality of mass.
“Modern physics teaches us something rather different, and deeply counter-intuitive. As we worked our way ever inwards… we lost sight of matter completely. Matter lost its tangibility. It lost its primacy as mass became a secondary quality, the result of interactions between intangible quantum fields. What we recognize as mass is a behavior of these quantum fields, it is not a property that belongs or is necessarily intrinsic to them.
“Despite the fact that our physical world is filled with hard and heavy things, it is instead the energy of quantum fields that reigns supreme. Mass becomes simply a physical manifestation of that energy, rather than the other way around.
“This is conceptually quite shocking… The great unifying feature of the universe is the energy of quantum fields, not hard, impenetrable atoms… Never in the entire history of science has the rug of understanding been pulled so firmly from beneath our feet… (as Max Jammer) concluded: ‘… (p.253) in spite of all the strenuous efforts of physicists and philosophers, the notion of mass, although fundamental to physics, is… shrouded in mystery’ (p.255).
“Modern science has revealed the extraordinary rich structure of our empirical reality, a reality consisting of things-as-they-appear and things-as-they-are-measured. But it would be naïve to think this extraordinary success has drawn us ever closer to comprehending a reality of things-in-themselves. If anything, the richness we have discovered would seem to have dragged us further away. To paraphrase the philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat, our understanding of the basic structure of physical reality ‘is an “ideal” from which we remain distant. Indeed, a comparison with conditions that ruled in the past suggests that we are a great deal more distant from it than our predecessors thought they were a century ago’” (p.261-2).
Posts to a discussion group:
“I put together the stuff below in response to a panel discussion I saw with Daniel Dennett, Freeman Dyson, and varied notable other scientists. Dennett is well-known from consciousness discussions and is the author of ‘Consciousness Explained’. A dogmatic materialist. He affirms the view that the meat in our heads produces minds. His argument- we know the brain down to molecules and atoms, so its just a matter of time till we explain how that produces consciousness.
“Interesting that David Chalmers said in his review of Dennett’s book Consciousness Explained that all Dennett did was list brain functions and then concluded that sufficiently explained how brains produce minds. Chalmers said Dennett did no such thing (explained nothing). But such is the “poof” approach of materialists- list some detailed brain information and then make the leap of assumption that you have explained consciousness. Susan Blackmore does this- detail something of the complexity of neuronal activity and brain functions and then conclude that all works to somehow produce the human person/consciousness. No real detail on how it does such. It is just assumed (leaps of assumption much like leaps of faith).
“So in response to Dennett’s dogmatism on material creating mind, I would point back to the material- what is it and what are you talking about re its creative abilities? We don’t have a clue what the stuff is itself. Material???
“I go with the Rupert Sheldrakes (also in that panel above) that consciousness is the fundamental reality that creates all else. Hence, the new pyramid of reality- at bottom consciousness, then physics, then chemistry, then biology, and sociology/anthropology.
“This has to do with the debate between Niels Bohr and Einstein (see “Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality” by Manjit Kumar). Einstein held to ‘realism’- that matter existed on its own, separate from conscious observers (“I cannot believe the moon is not there when I am not looking at it”). He could not accept the discoveries of the very science that he helped found. Bohr argued that you could not separate observed reality from an observer. Subsequent experiments (Bell’s theorem and the 2007 French experiments) though designed to affirm Einstein, ended affirming Bohr’s position.
“Also, Julian Simon (Ultimate Resource), challenging Stephen Hawking on the prominence of the 2nd Law, said that we should not be dogmatic about such things when we know so little about the mysterious cosmos that we exist within. Just a note to materialist dogmatism, very much the mirror image of the religious dogmatism they reject.”
Quotes from The Academy of Ideas: Free minds for a free society, a video on “Fear and Social Control”
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear”, 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke.
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” HL Mencken.
“Fear is the foundation of most governments”, John Adams.
“False flag operations are used because people generally do not have access to the details, so they are prone to rely upon what they’re told, and thus are easily deceived. People will, for the most part, believe what they are told in times of crisis, and so government officials, whether their motives are good or evil, capitalize on or completely fabricate the crises”, Conor Boyack in ‘Feardom: How Politicians Exploit Your Emotions and What You Can Do to Stop Them’.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”, Voltaire.
And take a look at “What do the numbers show about Global Deforestation?”, an update on world forest status at https://www.humanprogress.org/what-do-the-numbers-show-about-global-deforestation/
A framework for understanding human story, Wendell Krossa
Early in our lives we become aware of existing in this world and over our developing lives there emerges the impulse to learn something, to contribute something to making life better in some way. Our existence comes with the primal human impulse for meaning, for purpose. Now first a qualifier: While taking a poke at philosophical materialism, let me applaud the critical value of the materialist critique of mythological/religious traditions, the necessary and beneficial exposing the mythical irrationality. That has been invaluable in finding our way to truth, freedom, and a more rational future.
But (my humble opinion) the materialist/atheist approaches have never properly dealt with the meaning thing for most people. Of the 70-100 billion people that have lived in our line of humanity, how many have seriously embraced theories of random meaninglessness as satisfactory answers to existence and life? I refer to the materialist myth that there was no ultimate purpose or meaning behind our emergence and existence. It all just-sort-of happened. Conscious humanity as cosmic accident.
From the earliest emergence of consciousness in biological life forms, people have endlessly tried to understand and explain the meaning and purpose of this cosmos, world, and life. And most people across history have intuitively understood that we are part of some greater reality. Even our hard science today affirms this with its explanations re quantum fields, dark matter and energy, multiple dimensions, and multi-verses.
But contrary to materialist philosophy, most people over history (look at the history of human mythology and religion) have understood that the greater reality should be defined by more than just energy forms/fields or natural law. Most people have intuitively understood that the greater reality is something of the nature of Mind, Consciousness, Intelligence, Spirit, Self/Personhood, or Source/Creator. Note the World Religion Survey that found some 85% of humanity still affiliates with a major world religion with most of the remaining 15% “unaffiliated”- that is, preferring “spiritual but not religious” status.
I would agree with the intuition of most people across history that the foundational nature of greater reality is some form of Consciousness- the most fundamental reality of all. The Creating and Sustaining reality behind all else, the essence of all else. But then I part with most of humanity across history because of what most people have projected out to explain the greater reality. Look at the explanations (i.e. belief systems) that humans have proposed over the millennia. For example, from the beginning, the God theories of our ancestors have included subhuman features like tribal partisanship (gods favoring true believers, excluding unbelievers), gods as dominating lords or kings controlling the lives of people, or gods as judges punishing human imperfection via natural calamities such as natural disasters, disease, animal and human cruelty, or ultimately in apocalypse and hell.
I reject outright all such “cruel God” features of the great religious traditions. These “threat theology” features of religious belief systems orient contemporary human consciousness to tribal division of people (believers/unbelievers), domination by Lord/King deities and related religious authorities/priesthoods, along with punitive forms of justice. Those are primitive, subhuman features that should no longer shape modern human consciousness.
The alternative? There is a wondrous, scandalous love at the core of all reality, or our existence is truly meaningless. If that love is not the core of all reality then please blink me out of existence. And if love is at the core of all reality, if love is the very essence of Ultimate Reality, then that has to be central to the meaning and purpose of all reality- the meaning of the cosmos, world, and life.
The inexpressible ‘no conditions’ love that is the Ultimate Reality (the true meaning of transcendence in deity) shapes my views on the meaning of our conscious existence. I affirm this with insights taken from what I view as the best sources (see comment below).
This is about answering those big background questions re meaning, purpose. The things that help us make sense as we all struggle with differing things in this world.
Further, I have never believed that the human self, human consciousness, dies with the death of the brain and body. I used to follow the brain/mind and consciousness research discussions closely and I have never seen a shred of evidence that the meat in our skulls produces the wonder of mind/consciousness or the human self. There is no such evidence despite, for example, Daniel Dennett’s “promissory materialism” claim that we are almost there in explaining consciousness as a product of the material brain. Beware the “poof” theories of materialists- the setting forth of the details of brain complexity and functions, and then making the magical “poof” leap of assumption that our growing understanding and explanation of such things proves that meat makes mind. It does no such thing.
Consciousness is the most real thing in our lives and the ultimate reality behind all else. Hence, our lives mean much more than just the few decades that we spend here.
I lean more to the John Eccles side of such debates- toward some sort of “dualist interaction” of mind and matter (information exchange?). And I am OK with “monism” if it’s understood that consciousness is the foundational reality that creates and sustains the material element in a monism mix.
The comment below is not about final dogmatic answers but what is the best among alternatives available. I reason that if unconditional love is the best of being human that we have discovered then Ultimate Goodness/deity is transcendently better than the best that we can imagine. Campbell’s “God beyond the term God” or good beyond good. Love beyond love.
Unimaginably better, inexpressibly better, and scandalously unconditional in contrast to conventional payback or eye for eye justice (i.e. reward good, punish bad).
I would add that human spirituality appears to be something more than just sideline hobby-type stuff, something better left in the personal realm. Human spirituality is central to meaning and purpose issues. But certainly, keep the discipline of science separate from spirituality/religion. And then recognize that science by itself will not give humanity the final answers to our greatest questions. This is especially true as science is today so dominated by philosophical materialism or dogmatic atheism. Science only takes us so far and then we are each left to make our own final conclusions about reality and life.
Added note: Why speculate about what appear to be unknowable things? Why not take the stance of the pissed atheist who said, “Let’s get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”. Because we cannot avoid speculating. Its just what we are as humans with consciousness. We are aware, curious, and we want to know. Even things we cannot fully know.
And more, there is a lot of real bad speculation around. Always has been. Look at the history of mythology and religion, and even ideology today. Example: Apocalyptic, the single worst myth to have ever cursed human minds is still a dominant idea today, everywhere. Just look at the hundreds of movies that have come out of Hollywood in recent decades centered around some apocalyptic scenario (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_films). Look at how apocalyptic dominates environmental alarmism with the endless setting of “end-of-days” scenarios. Arthur Herman is right in claiming Declinism (a central feature of apocalyptic mythology) is the most dominant and influential theme today.
So I would counter that you have to, at the least, counter bad speculation with better speculation. You will never prevent people from speculating. We all do it. We want to know more about the big questions that science will never answer. We should just recognize where we are speculating and what are the reasons/criteria for holding the ideas/assumptions that we hold. My fundamental criterion is: Does it affirm love, especially the highest form of love that we have discovered- no conditions love. Then I am good with it, with the speculating. Love gets us closest to the truth behind all things.
A definition of “no conditions love” (or unconditional), a common theme on this site.
No conditions would encompass the following features: No tribal favoritism but the full inclusion of everyone as equal. No domination/control of others but respect for the freedom and self-determination of all others. No punitive treatment of human failure but rather full forgiveness and restorative/rehabilitative response to imperfect humanity. And no, this last one does not mean “letting the psychopaths go free”.
I would also put these three features forth as the most basic of “common shared values”. They take us to the height of being human or humane, to the essence of what it means to be authentically and maturely human.
The outlines of human story:
Intro note: As with most everything on this site, the comment below is intended to counter fear, especially the age-old curse of all conscious creatures- the fear of death. Love is the most potent way that we counter fear.
The following comment on the meaning of human existence and life is taken from varied sources like the Near-Death Experience (NDE) movement, the insights of spiritual traditions such as the Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel (Historical Jesus research), along with Joseph Campbell’s points on the hero’s journey. I have added to Campbell’s basic framework, revising, paraphrasing, and changing some things. The very nature of the subject below requires frequent use of superlatives to describe.
If we are here for some reason or purpose then it only makes sense that we try to understand the meaning of our existence.
Jumping right in… The point of human life? What does it mean to be human? Why are we here? Based on common human intuition and agreement that love is our highest ideal, the critical thing that makes us uniquely human, I would argue that we are here to love, to learn what love is and how to love. This is the fundamental reason for the cosmos, our imperfect world, and conscious human life.
Love in its broadest expression is visible in the infinite diversity of human lives trying to be better and to make life better in some way for others.
But to define love more pointedly: Campbell said that when we embrace “universal love” we become mature human persons. We become the heroes of our story. I would use the more encompassing term “unconditional” or “no conditions” love. It includes universal and more. Unconditional love is the highest form of love and the ideal that takes us in the most humane direction.
My point: Unconditional, as our highest human ideal (the most humane expression of love), gives ultimate meaning to everything. It answers all the great questions: “Why existence?”; “Why this cosmos and this world?”; and “Why are we here?”, “Why conscious human life?”
Unconditional embraces features like unlimited forgiveness of the imperfection and failures of others, forgiveness that is manifested in restorative justice approaches (non-punitive justice). It embraces the universal inclusion of all as equals (non-dominating, non-controlling, respecting the self-determination of all others, the free choice and diversity of others).
Unconditional takes us to the height of being human, shaping our goals, our mission/purpose 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 personal monster, our real enemy in life- our “animal passions”. Unconditional enables us to “tower in stature” as a wise person, as a mature human person. Unconditional is the ultimate in being human.
A qualifier: Unconditional does not mean pacifist inaction in the face of injustice, violence, or evil. In discussion groups you sometimes get smart-ass participants who respond to the suggestion of embracing unconditional as an ideal with this extremist dismissal, “Oh, you’re saying that we should let all the psychopaths go free”. No. Common decency (i.e. common granting of “the benefit of the doubt”) would understand that no one is saying anything so dumb. In advocating for an unconditional mindset, no one is suggesting anything so thoughtlessly irresponsible. Embracing an unconditional ideal to guide life does not entail the abandonment of common sense in an imperfect world.
An unconditional approach to human failure will still hold all responsible for their behavior, including the restraining and imprisoning of people that are not able or not willing to self-control their worst impulses. Unconditional will even regretfully engage war to stop aggression against the innocent. But it will do so with the non-aggressive and non-triumphalist attitude advocated by the Chinese sage Laozi.
Taking an unconditional approach to human failure is not primarily about feeling, as the horrific inhumanity of some offenders rightly evokes rage and disgust. But it is a form of love that overcomes personal disgust and determines to treat all offenders humanely, despite their failures and offenses.
Unconditional is a profound redefinition of humanity’s ultimate ideal and authority- deity or God. It overturns entirely the long history of punitive, retaliatory gods demanding sacrifice. Unconditional purifies humanity’s highest ideal and authority. It fully humanizes the reality that we call God. It makes our highest ideal and authority safe to use as a source of validation for human behavior and life.
Insert: The discovery that God was an unconditional reality was the central insight of Historical Jesus, a person entirely different from the Christian “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament. As James Robinson said, the insight that God was a non-retaliatory reality was “Jesus’ greatest contribution to the history of human ideas”. Unfortunately, Paul rejected that theological discovery of Jesus and retreated to embrace a retaliatory/punitive God, the God theory that dominates Christianity today.
All the mythologies before Jesus (primitive mythology, ancient religious traditions) had included elements of ‘threat theology’ in their god theories. All the deities before Jesus had embraced features such as tribal exclusion (true believers included, unbelievers rejected or excluded), domination (gods as lords, kings), and retaliatory punishment (God as Judge, Punisher, Destroyer). Those subhuman features in deity had long validated the same subhuman expressions in people because humans across history have always held deity as their highest ideal and authority. The nature of the God that people have venerated has shaped the nature of people’s behavior (i.e. “We become just like the God that we worship”). This is known as the belief/behavior relationship.
Look at the inhumane treatment of others across history in the name of retaliatory God. Christian crusaders near the end of the first millennium CE slaughtered Jews and Muslims because they believed their vengeful God willed it. ISIS slaughtered people because they believed their God demanded such punishment of infidels. But if God is unconditional love then the nastier features are no longer there in humanity’s highest ideal and authority to validate inhumane treatment of others. If God is only no conditions love, then people wanting to act inhumanely are left on their own without divine validation. They are left to take personal responsibility for acting in a manner that is less than unconditional love toward all others.
Unconditional deity thereby fundamentally re-orients the age-old human impulse to base behavior on belief- i.e. validating our behavior with our beliefs. Embracing unconditional in our highest ideal and authority will then assist in re-shaping our responses and treatment of human imperfection and failure. Where punitive, retaliatory deities have long validated human justice systems as punishment and retaliation, so unconditional deity will, for example, orient us away from punitive forms of justice and toward restorative or rehabilitative justice.
Now, those features of human story…
First, I would affirm with the Near-Death Experience people (NDErs) and Campbell that we come from a great Oneness that humanity has long called God (i.e. the Ultimate Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence, Spirit, Self, Source, Creator, Sustainer, Goodness).
There is one overwhelmingly dominant feature that describes this divine Oneness- Love. Not just love as we commonly know it here, but Love that is inexpressibly, transcendently, and infinitely “no conditions” or “unconditional”. Beyond words, terms, definitions, or categories. The God that is Love is an Ultimate Reality infinitely beyond our theories of God- the God and Love that are infinitely beyond the term God. Transcendently beyond the best that we could ever imagine. No religion has ever communicated this liberating wonder of unconditional deity to humanity because all religion is highly conditional, promoting the conditions of correct belief, required rituals and behavior for the religious lifestyle, and demanded sacrifices or payment.
That ultimate no conditions Love gives meaning to everything. This is the most fundamental reality of all realities. The Ground and essence of all else. Love exists as fundamental or foundational and gives existence to all else. There is nothing more fundamental or more real. As one person who had a Near-Death Experience said, “The very atoms of God, the very substance of God was unconditional love”. The stunning new theology of ultimate Love defines the core purpose of the cosmos, the world, and conscious life. It is all. As a sage said, We come from love, exist in love, and return to love in the end.
A related stunner: Our true self is also that same no conditions Love. This ought to radically transform and reshape our sense of identity or self-image. We are not the fallen, “originally sinful” beings of religious mythology. The love that is God is the very essence of our human spirit and our human consciousness. However, our spirit and consciousness are often clouded and inhibited 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 mechanisms to limit our consciousness in order to enable us to function in this material realm. Our greater consciousness when mediated through our body is limited by the 5 senses of our bodies/brains and the three or 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-action”)
Our origin in the Oneness or the Source that is Love, our inseparable and intense union with 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 a struggle with evil. Our true home in ultimate Oneness reminds us that the others that we battle with here- the imperfect others that we view as “enemies” or opponents- they are also equally part of that same Oneness that is love. They are still intimate family despite the oppositions/dualisms that we all engage here (i.e. the dualisms of religion, politics, race, nationality, gender, or other). They are still full equals with us. They are our brothers and sisters in the same one family. If we forget this oneness with others during our righteous struggle with evil in this world (“our brotherhood with even our enemies”), then we will lose our humanity, says Campbell. We will forget that “love your enemy” is the key to maintaining our humanity.
We go out into life to experience, to live a story, an adventure, to go on a quest or journey.
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, playing our differing temporary roles, whether good or bad.
And others yet suggest that we may even be responsible for choosing our unique life stories and the experiences of our stories, both good and bad. We may choose our bodies, our families, and the events of our lives, in order to learn, develop, and grow as 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 for consideration. They point to some alternative ways to view the harsher experiences of our lives. We may have chosen our unique life experiences as opportunities for learning and growth.
Insert: This is not a new take on religious predestination. As freedom is inseparable from love, so freedom remains paramount to our stories. We exercise authentic freedom of choice and also create our stories on the fly, during our sojourn in this world. Freedom, with elements of indeterminacy and randomness, is inseparable from love.
Moving along… Others have suggested that we come into life to fulfill some special mission, that we are called, or sent, or choose to come 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.
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 the love that is our true self. And the expression of love is achieved through all the diversity of innumerable human lives and experiences- e.g. whether making an economic contribution, a political or social contribution, or something personal. Perhaps as an entertainer. Is there any greater contribution to improving life than that made by comedians? Putting suffering in its place, laughing at it all, and thereby lightening the dark parts of life. And what about the valued contribution of farmers growing food for all of us? Or sanitation workers preventing the spread of disease? There are no “useless” or less important human lives or stories. All contribute to the grand overall venture of humanity learning to love and creating a better future in all imaginable ways.
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 experience, to create and innovate.
I would offer, again, that unconditional love is the central point of it all. And that is intensely personal. As we contribute in some area, we shouldn’t forget that its all 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. They are our equals in that family despite their status or failures in this world.
Trials and tests
Taking another Campbell point here: We all face some monster in life. We experience some problem, some trial and form of suffering, 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. While this requires cautious treatment (i.e. not making light of evil and related suffering), dualism serves the purpose, in this arena of life, of providing a backdrop or contrast against which we learn what good is. We would not know good without its contrasting opposite. 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 wrongs, injustice, or evil of life is where we also learn empathy with suffering others, empathy being a critical feature of authentic humanity.
Again, being very cautious with the horrific suffering that people have endured, but others have suggested that some forms of 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. Struggle brings forth the best of the human spirit.
Further, human experience of evil and suffering is never some form of divine punishment. That religious fallacy must be rejected entirely. God does not punish human imperfection. And God does not punish people through the imperfections of the world (i.e. natural disaster, disease, human cruelty).
While no explanation will ever fully satisfy all questions regarding evil and related suffering, it makes more overall sense to view the creation of this imperfect world as fundamentally an experience and learning arena.
But admittedly, there are experiences of suffering that appear to have no redeeming explanation. They appear to be just senseless, meaningless experiences. Then all that is left is to appeal to the NDE insight that all will make sense when we return home in the end. There, they tell us, nothing is ultimately wasted or meaningless.
Other traditions suggest that the reality we call God has incarnated in every person to experience the infinite diversity of human stories, experiences, and suffering. Even suffering that seems meaningless.
Campbell adds that we will be “wounded” in our struggle with our monster/problem. “Wounding” is as diverse as human stories.
To reiterate, 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. The greatest monster and the real enemy that we all face and must conquer, the most serious problem that we must all wrestle with and solve, is the inherited animal within each of us (“the animal passions”). The most important of all “righteous battles against evil” is the intensely personal inner battle that takes place inside each of us. 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 us. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “The great battle-line between good and evil runs through the center of every human heart”. The great battles against evil in life should focus primarily within ourselves.
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 at the surface.
The animal brain (and our past in millions of years of animal existence) bequeaths us with basic impulses 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, the enemy.
But then embrace this liberating qualifier: To paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz, we are not our brains. 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 physical/animal brains. We are something much better in our essential nature, personhood, or being (the “real” us). We are most essentially beings or persons that are love. Love is our most true inner nature. Love makes us authentically and maturely human.
This is the most important dualism of all to understand- i.e. the human versus the animal. The human in us- 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 to just another form of animal. Evolutionary biology/psychology also devalues our core love as something to be explained mostly in terms of the animal survival impulse- i.e. just another form of “species altruism”. No, it is something far more human or humane.
From our struggle with our monster we gain insights and learn lessons that we can pass on to help others.
And here is where Campbell shines when defining human story. He says that the most critically important transformation in human life is when we orient our lives to “universal love”. Then we begin to mature as humans. We then become the hero of our story. Again, 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 human family (inclusive not limited tribal love). 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 punish and destroy the differing other but to forgive the imperfection that we encounter in others. Our core self, as unconditional love, points us toward the restorative treatment of failure in others (justice not as punishment but as rehabilitation).
Further note on wounding, trials and tests: Add here Campbell’s comments on the shamanic experience that involves a disintegration 0f the self, and then re-integration around something new, a new worldview and life story. Orienting our worldviews and lives to no conditions, universal love will provide a new cohering center for an entirely new worldview and life story. Unconditional transforms and changes everything. It liberates and transforms consciousness away from the old features of human narratives that were often subhuman, and it orients us to embrace features that are entirely new and humane. See ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’ for details on constructing an entirely new worldview oriented to unconditional.
Re-emphasizing critical points:
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. And this relates to the deeper 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 the highest success in those 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. It is the defining feature of our human spirit and consciousness, and it gives the most potent meaning to our existence and stories. 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 what is done in love lasts forever.
When we struggle and suffer in life, and then discover unconditional as the route to an authentically humane life story- that is the greatest insight that we can learn, the most valuable treasure that we can discover, and the most important victory that we can achieve. When we orient our lives to unconditional love, then we can offer the most critical benefit or boon to others- to treat them unconditionally. Unconditional points us toward the most significant revolution that we can bring to life, toward the greatest possible transformation of life, toward the most profound liberation that we can offer to the world (i.e. liberation from the inherited animal in all of us). The unconditional treatment of all the imperfect people around us (e.g. restorative justice) is one of the most potent personal ways to make the world a better place.
Include the expression of unconditional toward oneself and one’s own failures and imperfections.
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 examples, ‘The Railway Man’, Nelson Mandela, the tortured prisoners in ‘To End All Wars’, or the mother in ‘The Forgiven’.
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 never 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 treating her sub-humanly at times. He had great public material success but regretted that he failed in his private life. He wished that he could have been kinder to family when alive and healthy.
Added notes in conclusion:
Again, the embrace of a no-conditions ideal to guide our lives will orient us to (1) the non-tribal inclusion of all others as full equals. It will orient us to (2) respect and protect the full freedom and rights of all others. And it will orient us away from punitive, destructive forms of justice and (3) toward restorative/rehabilitative forms of justice- i.e. treating all human imperfection and failure with forgiveness, mercy, and generosity.
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 most potent sword to slay our personal monster or enemy- the inherited animal in us.
From our struggle with this imperfect life and our struggle to learn love, we are transformed into a new person, into a better version of our self (or better- learning to love is the unveiling or expression of our true 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 learning to live out the love that is our true self.
Further notes: 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 our failures is the starting point of the life trajectory of personal improvement.
Another: 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 that 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.
One more: The monster that we face in life can be viewed as a two-part beast. I noted the basic features of animal reality that we all struggle with- 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. Across history, people have also projected these very same features onto deities, onto humanity’s highest ideals and authorities- the gods. They have thereby created ultimate monsters that embody tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction. Consequently, conquering a monster in life is more than just overcoming the monster inside us- the animal inheritance in us.
Our battle in life includes conquering the monsters in our meta-narratives- i.e. the religious God theories that inspire, guide, and validate our emotions, attitudes, motivations, and responses/behavior. Religious gods- humanity’s highest ideals and authorities- have long been monstrous in nature and their features have been employed to validate the same monstrous impulses in people- to tribalism, domination, and punitive destruction.
Unconditional is the sword that potently slays the monster in us and also slays 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” (i.e. apocalypse and hell myths).
A personal account in terms of Campbell’s story framework
Here is some personal material to illustrate how we can frame our personal stories with Joseph Campbell’s research on the common elements of all human story. Why Campbell’s framework? Campbell studied the world’s cultures, myths, and religions from across history. He then summarized the main elements familiar to all human life in his comments on ‘The Hero’s Journey’, outlining experiences that are common to all people.
Here is some inter-action with Campbell’s story themes.
Story theme: We go out into life to engage a journey, an adventure, to live a human story.
Our awareness of our existence as human beings begins in our first few years on Earth. Our earliest years are remembered in scatted ‘little-people’ experiences, usually the more traumatic ones that impress themselves more prominently on our memory. And parents, along with other adults, occupy a dominant place in such experiences. Children are intensely aware of and impacted by what big people say and do.
My earliest remembered experience, around 3 years of age, was of my Dad calling us into the kitchen of our house. My sisters and I stood before our white enamel wood stove while Dad stood to the side of the stove facing us. He held the forefinger of his hand close to the hot black surface of the stove and said with a warning intonation, “Just like your finger burns when you touch this hot stove so you will burn in hell if you don’t follow God”. He was referring to his Evangelical Christian God. That was my introduction to the hell-fire deity of fundamentalist Christianity.
Following years brought more re-enforcement of that sense of ultimate threat, of fire, burning, and pain if you did not believe and follow Dad’s religion. God would surely get us in the end, Dad warned.
Story theme: In our life journey we face a monster. Our monsters may be physical problems, or mental/emotional, psychological, social, and other.
During teen years, young people struggle for independence from parents as part of the transition to adulthood. The struggle for freedom from parental control can be a difficult navigation for young people. After mid- to late-teen years of too many bad choices (juvenile delinquency, multiple probations) I was then again pulled back into my Dad’s religion for the next few years (late teens, early twenties). Dad moved our family to a small-town Christian Bible School in a neighboring province. It was an Evangelical school lit with 1970s Evangelical fervor over the soon return of the apocalyptic Lord Christ to violently end history and the world.
Over our years there, we were indoctrinated with themes of a deity that was enraged and obsessed with human imperfection and failure (sin). That deity threatened a soon-coming judgment, with possible exclusion from the tribe of true believers, and potential severe punishment, including eternal hellfire.
The Christian God then became my personal monster. That God was presented as Ultimate Threat. Evangelical Christianity beat that deity into our consciousness to dominate all thought and life as we were taught to worship, serve, pray to, meditate on, and have a relationship with that invisible, metaphysical reality. I did not have the mental tools at the time to challenge what was being taught.
Evangelical Christianity oriented its followers to an after-life reality that had to take precedence over this here and now world. And that other-worldly emphasis was backed with threat of the worst kind, the threat of ultimate after-life harm or loss.
And yes, love was also included in the mix of Christian themes. But it was a version of love that was grounded on the central demand for a violent, bloody sacrifice to appease “the fury of the wrath of God” (Revelation, Romans). It was a profoundly deformed understanding of love, a love that was highly conditional, easily offended, quick to retaliate harshly, and eternally merciless toward all who refused to believe it.
Story theme: We are wounded in our fight with our monster. Campbell also touches on the shamanic experience that involves the disintegration of a person with later reintegration around something new, some new discovery or truth.
Psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo (“Cruel God, Kind God”) speaks of the deforming influence of “cruel God religion”. He details the personality-deforming influence of the fear, anxiety, guilt/shame, and despair that Cruel God ideas promote. For a period of several years in my early Twenties I made the mistake of taking the ideas of Evangelical Christianity seriously. I did not possess the mental tools to resist the potency of Christian threat theology and its deforming influence.
That eventually resulted in a personal episode of disintegration, a sort of mental/emotional collapse during overseas missionary work for an Evangelical organization. It was a fall into a deep, dark hole. I can’t explain it, not even to myself, because I have never fully understood it, try as I have over subsequent decades. Co-workers may not have noticed much outwardly aside from some social withdrawal, but inwardly I experienced a descent into profound disorientation and disintegration. I had become overwhelmed by the fear, anxiety, shame, and guilt that had flooded my consciousness over the past years of intense religious indoctrination. Add here the point from Erikson’s psychological development theory (human stages of development) that during late teens and early twenties young people are forming their self-image/identity. During those very years we were being taught that we were essentially evil, bad to the bone, as per the Christian doctrine of ‘inherited sinfulness’. Again, I took such stuff seriously during my time at the Evangelical school.
The human struggle with depression is often the result of complex factors that are hard to disentangle and fully understand- i.e. childhood experience and trauma, later life stresses, chemical/physical elements in relation to the brain, and more (genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, according to the National Institute of Health and Medicine).
Add the disorientation from total long-term immersion in a new and different culture, new diet, and the many other elements that make up the mix of human experience.
It left me feeling deformed at core. Seriously wounded. As the Natalie Portman character in ‘Jane Got A Gun’ said, “Life stopped being something you live after that day, just something you endure”.
Out of survival desperation I then began years of exploring alternative ideas around which to build an entirely new worldview, a new way of understanding and living. It was the beginning of a decades-long process of abandoning my religion and finding a new worldview with new themes/truths to center my life (see ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, below). That was a “cognitive therapy” phase of life.
Subsequent years in university- undergrad and grad school- helped the process of re-integration around an entirely new worldview.
Story theme: In our struggle with our monster/problem we gain new insights, we learn lessons. And a wise man gives us a weapon to help us slay our monster, to overcome our monster.
Sparked by a fortuitous event, I started reading Bob Brinsmead in the mid-70s and that led to a journey of liberation from my Evangelical Christian religion. Campbell says that in our journey we will encounter a wise man who gives us the weapon to slay our monster. Bob was that wise man for me.
Over subsequent years I discovered and fully embraced the “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God”, a God that was “no conditions Love” of an inexpressibly wondrous kind. That unconditional feature became a defining core theme of a new emerging worldview. It became a central theme in a long process of re-integration around a new truth, with new ideas that would shape my life story. Unconditional became the potent weapon to slay/conquer my old monster God and defeat that monster.
I would eventually realize that the threatening deity of Christianity had never existed but was just the product of over-heated religious minds. The Ultimate Reality that had always existed, the Source that was only Love, had nothing to do with the primitive threat theologies of historical mythology and religion. There was no exclusion, no domination, no punishment or destruction with the no conditions reality that existed. Ultimate Reality was love and only Love of the most profound kind- absolutely no conditions. I was also amazed to discover that such a deity had been presented by the Historical Jesus before his message was buried under the retaliatory and highly conditional deity of Paul’s Christ religion (see ‘The Christian Contradiction’ below).
The feature of unconditional finally brought down my old monster God. Completely and finally.
The feature of unconditional also enables us to conquer the monster and enemy that lives inside all of us- the animal inheritance. What Campbell calls the “animal passions”. The animal passions include the impulses to tribal exclusion (small band mentality), to domination of others (alpha male/female), and to punishment and destruction of enemies. Unconditional counters those animal impulses with an orientation to the universal inclusion of all people, with respect for the freedom of all others, and with restorative justice.
Campbell says that the transition to mature adulthood comes when we embrace universal love. I would paraphrase that we mature as humans, we become the heroes of our story, when we embrace the more encompassing feature of unconditional love for all others.
Story theme: Out of our struggle with our monster we can then share the insights that we gain, the lessons that we learn, as a boon or blessing for others. As Julian Simon said, our problems are good for us because they push us to find solutions that can then benefit others. Suffering is also beneficial for sparking empathy for others that similarly suffer.
The offering that I would make from my struggle with my monster is the wonder of unconditional reality and life. I have made it the defining core of my larger encompassing worldview and ethics. It liberates human consciousness entirely from bad religious ideas/myths. Unconditional frees from the personality-deforming fear, anxiety, and shame/guilt of ‘threat theology’. Unconditional presents a potent central idea for an alternative worldview.
Summary of climate basics: Overturn the false alarmist narrative
We are currently in an abnormal, suboptimal “CO2 starvation era”. Over the past 150 million years CO2 levels descended to dangerous lows, even dipping below 200 ppm, down to 185 ppm, close to the level at which plant life dies (150 ppm). The small rise to the current 400-plus ppm is still far below historical averages that have often been in the multiple-thousands of ppm, times when life has flourished with more of its basic plant food. Point? Life is grateful for the human contribution to rising levels of atmospheric CO2.
Climate physicists note that the CO2 warming influence is now almost fully “saturated”, in terms of its ability to absorb and re-emit infrared radiation (“absorbing infrared radiation sufficiently to block radiation from the surface being transmitted directly to space”, Richard Lindzen, climate physicist). That means more CO2 will have little further warming influence. The warming influence of CO2 has been declining logarithmically. There will be no climate emergency from more plant food in our atmosphere.
Plants prefer CO2 in the 1000-1500 ppm range, which is closer to long-term historical averages (see paleo-climate detail in Patrick Moore’s Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom). With more CO2 the world has already added 30% more green vegetation over the past century. More CO2 will continue this amazing greening of our planet.
Also, we are in an abnormal, suboptimal ice-age era where average temperatures on Earth are far below long-term historical averages that were about 5 degrees C higher (19.5 compared to today’s 14.5 average). The mild 1 degree C warming over the past century is part of the natural rise back from the earlier descent into the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715. This mild warming has benefitted life and more warming will continue to benefit life overall (expanding plant and animal habitat, improving human life). 15 times more people die every year from cold than die from warmth. The areas on Earth with the greatest plant and animal diversity are the warmer areas of our planet.
Increasing average temperatures does not mean warm areas becoming hotter. It means that colder areas become warmer, colder seasons become warmer, and cooler nights become warmer. Sounds good to freezing Canadians, Russians, and other Northerners.
Christopher Monckton, March 2, 2021, countering false claims made by Sir David Attenborough
“’Changing weather would turn forests into deserts’. No, it won’t: the Earth has been greening by 15-30% in just the past few decades thanks to CO2 fertilization, and as long ago as 1981 it was reported that the Sahara had shrunk by 300,000 km2 thanks to the greater moisture content of the warming air, which is precisely what one would expect if, like David Bellamy… one knew what the Clausius-Clapeyron relation is and how it mandates more water vapor, not less, in warmer air…
“’(Changing weather would) drown great cities’. No, it won’t: sea level is rising at about 8 inches per century, just as it has for 150 years, and the apparent increase above that rate is caused entirely by a “glacial isostatic adjustment” – yes, yet another adjustment – which, whatever it is and whether or not it is justified, and it isn’t, is not a real sea-level rise at all…
“Sir David Attenborough maundered on that “the world is perilously close to tipping points that, once passed, will send global temperatures spiralling catastrophically higher. If we continue on this path we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security – food production”. No, global crop yields in 2020 reached yet another record high, a fact that the… BBC somehow failed to report,
“’(tipping points…collapse)…(no) access to water’. No, the main reason for lack of universal access to water is the refusal of governments and banks to lend for coal-fired electrification to pump it where it is needed.”
Fallacies from environmental alarmism narratives
Common to environmental alarmism ideology is the myth that nature is fragile and wilts under contact with humanity, much like the “shame weed” that grows beside roads throughout tropical areas. You touch the leaves in a roadside patch of the weed and that sets off a folding-of-leaves reaction throughout the area you touched. Like an embarrassed wallflower.
To the contrary, nature is incredibly resilient, tough, and rebounds robustly from the harshest forms of disturbance. I saw this during my 11 years of living in the upland rainforests of Mindanao. After loggers left some area, within weeks the weeds and creeping vines were crossing the roads and after a few months the larger bushes/trees were already making roads impassable. Nature was taking back those disturbed spaces and doing so quickly. So also with the slash and burn approaches of shifting agriculture areas. Forest reclaimed them rapidly.
Another fallacy: People are most essentially destroyers of the natural world, hence the environmental alarmist definition of humanity as “the cancer/virus” on the planet. And the claim that the world would be better off without humans. But a world without humanity would be absolutely meaningless. We alone give life meaning.
I would affirm with Greg Easterbrook that humanity with mind is the best thing that has ever happened to nature. And conscious humanity with love is the best thing to have ever emerged in this world. Example: Where nature has destroyed over 95% of all species that ever existed, compassionate humanity has sought to preserve species as never before.
Julian Simon was right that we are “more creators than destroyers”.
Another fallacy: That life should exist in some optimal stasis condition, static and unchanging at some optimal state. Today you have people like Bill Nye “The Science Guy” arguing that we should return to what he views as the optimal status of the pre-industrial era of some two centuries ago. But that was the era of the “Little Ice Age”, a bitterly cold time on earth with abnormally and dangerously low levels of the basic plant food (atmospheric CO2). All life was suffering during that sub-optimal era.
No, there is no stasis in nature. Life is dynamic, complex, in a state of constant change, and subject to randomness and consequent dead-ends. And over the past few million years life has been subject to repeated episodes of glaciation that have been, aside from massive meteor strikes, the most destructive events in the history of life on Earth. Cold is far more destructive to life than warmth. The last glaciation (the “Wisconsin” in North America) decimated the Amazon rainforest. It buried 97% of Canada under kilometers of ice. There was no Canada. But life has rebounded and flourished with the coming of our inter-glacial warmth. And today the places on Earth with the most species diversity (plant and animal) are the warmest areas of our planet. That says something about what life prefers, doesn’t it?
Sources: Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment On The Earth, and Alston Chase’s In A Dark Wood. Also Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource.
Understanding the true state of things (comment on science)
Apparently, Aristotle started this thing of empirical science by observing the natural world, the real world, and then making conclusions from his observations. That was a striking new approach for his era.
Consequently, we have this approach today: We are curious and we observe nature and we then make assumptions and conclusions about what we see. The sun rises on the horizon, crosses the sky during the day and then sets on the other horizon. Observing our solar system, we have concluded over the centuries that our Earth is round and rotates as it circles the sun. We come up with explanations to make sense of what we see in the natural world. And we test our observations and conclusions.
After initial observations and assumptions/hypotheses, we gather more data, systematically, to affirm or disprove our understanding of things. And to get to the true state of the thing that we are curious to study, it is critical that we gather all the related evidence in order to make a complete big picture conclusion and avoid the distortions that come from “anecdotal” observations, or from gathering only partial information.
And we also gather data on long-term trends in order to better understand the overall big picture. We especially pay attention to the cyclical patterns that are so common to the natural world. There is little new under our sun.
The result of all of the above is either affirmation of our original conclusions, or falsification. Maybe our assumptions need adjustment or replacement with entirely new ones.
Further critical to getting to the true state of something- we open up our research to others to critique our hypotheses, to challenge our observations and conclusions, our methods and data. To see if they can perhaps bring forth some “white crows”.
We affirm the value of skeptics and questioning as fundamental to all good science. Contrary to a disturbing trend in alarmist science today, we should never try to silence, ban, or threaten those who question our work. Our critics are our best friends. Only the pettiest of scientists would attack skeptics personally (ad hominem).
Let others observe and gather their own data and perhaps find contrary evidence. We should embrace all such projects to see if our theses are affirmed or disproved.
And then we must never close the book on any thing with finality because someone just might show up yet with those white crows and we would all benefit from finding truth about the actual state of things. Einstein went to his grave never accepting the apparent conclusions of the very branch of science that he helped discover (quantum mechanics).
Listen and be pleasantly surprised. Former Obama-Biden scientist declares there is no climate emergency.
These good comments from Anthony Watts latest ‘Weekly Roundup’ at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/03/22/weekly-climate-and-energy-news-roundup-447/
“President Eisenhower also warned against a scientific-technological elite dominating public policy. With the Biden Administration making “climate change” a priority, the fear of such dominance has become real. This TWTW will emphasize what is hidden from the public about the greenhouse effect and the exaggerations of the danger that increasing carbon dioxide presents. After water vapor, carbon dioxide is the second most important greenhouse gas.
“Contrary to what the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), NASA’s Goddard Institute on Space Studies (NASA-GISS), and other government organizations proclaim, the greenhouse effect is poorly measured by changes in surface temperatures, because surface temperatures have been changing for hundreds of millions of years for reasons not fully understood.
“Atmospheric temperature trends are a more direct measurement of changing greenhouse effect, but they do not separate changes in water vapor from carbon dioxide. These measurements have been taken for over 40 years. The most direct measurements of the influence of carbon dioxide are found in the databases of observations from the atmosphere such as the high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN), which has been compiled for about 50 years. These observations support decades of laboratory experiments which were used to conclude that increasing CO2 in today’s atmosphere would not have a significant effect on temperatures.
“In short, a politically motivated scientific-technological elite has proclaimed a “climate crisis” which does not exist. As is occurring in Western Europe, the American public may fall victim to this false crisis…
“economist Ross McKitrick makes an insightful observation on the economic impact of a Canadian carbon tax on the economy of Canada…
“This desire to not know the consequences of their policies appears to be common among politicians in the US and Western Europe as well. It appears that countries that have recently emerged from authoritarian governments, such as Poland, are genuinely concerned with the consequences of government policies, while the traditional West is indifferent.”
Then from a paper by Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba… “In his paper “What we need to know about the pace of decarbonization” Smil goes into some detail on what Western politicians do not wish to know – the tremendous difficulties and costs of decarbonization, particularly since there are no alternatives to fossil fuels, hydropower, and nuclear power to generate reliable electricity and to provide transportation on the scale needed for modern civilization…
“It was not until after the 1950s with the economic growth of Asia, that carbon dioxide-caused warming became a concern in the West with false claims of dire consequences… “And herein is a major dilemma for the Biden Administration’s Climate Envoy, John Kerry, who probably will not understand it. The nations emerging from extreme poverty understand the benefits of fossil fuels, while many Western politicians do not understand them or do not wish to admit them.”
Smil details the role of fossil fuels in critical processes such as nitrogen production… “Without Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia (with natural gas as the dominant feedstock and fuel), nearly half of today’s humanity would not be alive as even the most assiduous recycling of all available organic matter could not supply enough nitrogen to feed nearly 8 billion people”.
Also, the critical role of fossil fuels in transport: “today’s dominant liquid transportation fuels are nearly 50 times as energy dense as our best commercial batteries – and this gap is not to be closed anytime soon… there are no available noncarbon alternatives that could be readily deployed on mass commercial scales…
Smil’s conclusion regarding the rapid push to decarbonize… “Designing hypothetical roadmaps outlining complete elimination of fossil carbon from the global energy supply by 2050 (Jacobson et al. 2017) is nothing but an exercise in wishful thinking that ignores fundamental physical realities. And it is no less unrealistic to propose legislation claiming that such a shift can be accomplished in the US by 2030 (Ocasio-Cortez 2019). Such claims are simply too extreme to be defended as aspirational. The complete decarbonization of the global energy supply will be an extremely challenging undertaking of an unprecedented scale and complexity that will not be accomplished –- even in the case of sustained, dedicated and extraordinarily costly commitment –- in a matter of few decades.”
“It appears that the green dreams of western politicians will become nightmares for the public in countries that implement them.”