“I hold undying enmity against everything that enslaves the human mind” (paraphrase of unknown author).
(1) The most destructive pathology to have infected human consciousness- apocalyptic mythology;
(2) Subjective, personal human experience as a credible tool in the fight against primal fears;
(3) Fighting Fear: the panic-mongering of the “climate crisis” crusade (listen to the good science and scientists that contradict alarmist exaggerations);
(4) The continuing endeavors of the Left to criminalize disagreement;
(5) Basic climate facts (there is no “climate crisis”);
(6) From Retaliation to Unconditional: The narrative of human exodus from animal existence to become authentically human (our foundational story);
and more climate facts…
The most destructive pathology to have ever infected human consciousness: How apocalyptic began, where it came from, Wendell Krossa
The primal human impulse for meaning- i.e. to understand reality/life- led our early ancestors to create ideas/myths that would explain the world and how it worked. Hence, in the earliest human writing (Sumerian, Egyptian) we get, for example, the great “Sumerian Flood” myth, the Egyptian “Return to Chaos” and “Destruction of Mankind” myths, all early versions of apocalyptic mythology that told people of the coming punishing destruction of humanity. The message? Angry, threatening gods would punish bad people for their sins.
That mythology was the result of early thought-constraining logic regarding the world. The ancients believed that there were gods/spirits behind all the elements of the world- i.e. gods of storm, lightning and thunder, gods of trees and animals, sun and moon gods. It was then only logical for our ancestors to view the destructive consequences of storms/floods, drought and fire, earthquake, and disease as angry gods acting through nature to punish people for their sins. All the elements fit the constrained logic of early mythology.
Such themes then became the original models/patterns/prototypes that shaped all human consciousness and narratives that would follow down through history. As Joseph Campbell said, the same primitive myths have been embraced all across history and across all the cultures of the world. The early myths were later adopted by more formal religious traditions like Zoroastrianism that would then in turn shape the Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The same myths also shaped the Eastern religious traditions.
The great world religious traditions kept the core mythical themes (prototypes, archetypes) alive right into the modern era where those mythical, religious themes were then also embraced and given expression in “secular” ideological systems like “Declinism”- an essential feature of apocalyptic mythology (i.e. life declining toward a worsening state and final ending). Declinism has become the “single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in (modern society)”, Arthur Herman in “The Idea of Decline in Western History”.
Hence, my argument that the Christian Christ, as the single most prominent myth in history, is mainly responsible for keeping the pathology of apocalyptic alive in modern consciousness. This stuff has been so deeply embedded in human consciousness that it re-emerges endlessly in new narratives both religious and “secular/ideological” and even in “scientific” versions as, for example, in the former prominent belief that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics dominated reality and hence the cosmos was headed toward the final destruction of “heat death”- a scientific version of apocalypse.
(Insert note: “the Christian Christ… single most prominent myth in history”? Yes, see historian James Tabor’s comments in “Paul and Jesus” re Paul as the most influential person in history and that apocalyptic- Paul’s apocalyptic Christ myth- shaped everything that Paul said and did.)
Apocalyptic is part of a complex of related themes- i.e. that the gods had created a perfect original world but bad/fallen people ruined that paradise, now life is declining toward a worse future and punishment is coming for bad people (i.e. an apocalypse that will destroy humanity and the corrupted world). Fallen humanity is obligated to make a sacrifice, to purge the evil from life, and then salvation is possible- i.e. we can then restore the lost paradise.
Today’s “secular” versions of the above complex of myths include the beliefs that the past wilderness world was the original paradise, but corrupt humanity created civilization that changed the wilderness world thereby ruining/destroying it. Now punishment is coming in the form of an environmental apocalypse where the natural world will collapse from our engagement and use of its resources. But we can make a sacrifice by purging/diminishing our industrial civilization (i.e. de-industrialization), by returning to a more primitive lifestyle of low consumption, like the low resource consumption lifestyles of our ancestors. We can achieve this via decarbonization as the latest reincarnation of de-industrialization. We thereby restore the lost paradise of a wilderness world.
Such mythology denies the evidence that our modern industrial, technological civilization has enabled us to create vast wealth that thereby enables us to protect nature better than ever before, even as we continue to develop and prosper. Our industrial civilization also enables us to adapt to natural disasters better, to adapt to natural climate change, hence, the 99% decline in deaths due to weather-related disasters over the past century.
Features like “dematerialization” (i.e. fewer resources used per person with ongoing progress) have emerged and strengthened with growing population. And this is due to more creativity from more people (more minds, not just more mouths), and associated wealth creation, along with technological progress.
But we are confronted with the same primitive mentality as that of 5000 years ago that distorts our progress, demonizes it as destruction, and tries to stop it (the tribal obligation to join the “true side” and engage a “righteous battle against evil/enemies”, to purge the “evil” from life). Many are still stuck in those ancient primitive ways of perceiving reality and the world.
The apocalyptic complex of myths, noted above, deform human consciousness with unnecessary guilt/shame (i.e. humanity as fallen/bad), and with unnecessary fear and despair (looming apocalypse). They also cause immense harm as in the Marxism, Nazism, and now environmental alarmism movements (i.e. the decarbonization crusade).
A better narrative will not view the original wilderness world as untouchable and isolated “holy” divinity (nature as god- separated from defiling humanity, the “cancer/virus” on Earth). A better narrative will view the world as the arena in which humanity can wrestle with something imperfect to create something better. A place where we use some of the natural world for human needs (debates range over how much humanity can use), while preserving other elements as wilderness, just as we are doing now.
(Insert note: Also, don’t hesitate to challenge the idea that animal life prefers wilderness and must be maintained in that environment. Why then do animals sometimes refuse to leave cages when they are opened in zoos? Because a zoo environment provides safety from predators, a secure food supply, and the comforts of protection from the vagaries of weather. So also, more species of birds were discovered living in German cities than in German forests/wilderness. Animals want what we have discovered after millennia of living in wilderness- i.e. the safety and comfort of housing that protects us from predators and weather, the security of food supply, etc. Animals prefer just what we have discovered and created in protecting ourselves from wilderness/nature- the “wicked old witch, bloody in tooth and claw”. Yann Martel sort of suggests this in “Life of Pi”. And yes, this appears to discount the desire for freedom common to all species, hence, its not a dogmatic argument for zoos. See https://margot-quotes.livejournal.com/146544.html)
Do not discount how the apocalyptic complex of ideas operate in the background of human consciousness/subconscious and narratives, rendering us susceptible to contemporary versions of apocalyptic mythology as in “climate crisis” narratives of looming catastrophe. Add here the prominent influence on public consciousness from Hollywood’s ongoing obsession with apocalyptic.
Apocalyptic panic-mongering of populations incites the survival impulse and renders people frightened and susceptible to salvation schemes like decarbonization that is turning out to be societal suicide, as it pushes populations toward “self-fulfilling prophecy” outcomes just as in all past apocalyptic movements. Note, for example, the “Xhosa cattle slaying” of 1856-57 where people destroyed their livelihoods because they were panicked into irrational madness by the apocalyptic prophets of their time.
We are not helpless in the face of such madness movements. We can go to the root of the problem and change the “archetypes” that have long dominated consciousness and narratives and replace them with better alternatives, as in “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives” (in sections below).
Create for yourself a new narrative that you can use to evaluate everything in life. Like Julia Simon did when he was clinically depressed after embracing the environmental alarmism of his era (1960-70s). He did his own research to find out for himself the “true state of the world”. He probed the best evidence on all the major indicators of the state of life and found out that while there were problems everywhere, humanity was doing a good job in solving them and over the long-term life was improving, not worsening. His said that after discovering the true state of the world as improving, his depression left him and never returned.
Simon showed us how to get to the true state of things by looking at the big picture on any issue- not succumbing to confirmation bias by ignoring contrary evidence, evidence that contradicted his beliefs. And he practised good science by looking at the longest-term trends associated with any issue, not plucking out “anecdotal” downturns or reversals in trends. (Simon published his research in my candidate for the “single best book ever written”- “Ultimate Resource”)
Remember, apocalyptic is the worst myth that has ever been concocted by primitive human minds. It distorts entirely the state of life, the trajectory of life. Life is not declining but is improving over the long term. Apocalyptic is the greatest lie ever told and it still dominates human consciousness and narratives today. (Note, for example, the YouGov survey in “Ten Global Trends” showing that most people believe “the world is getting worse”- i.e. “declining”, a key feature of apocalyptic mythology).
Preface note: Our most fundamental fears are the results of deeply embedded impulses and the themes our ancestors created to explain and validate those impulses, themes that have dominated human consciousness and narratives from the beginning.
“Subjective”, personal human experience as a credible tool against primal fear?
One of the most potent tools to fight fear, especially our primal fears of threatening forces behind life (myths of gods behind the elements of the natural world and punishing people through natural disasters) and fear of after-life harm ( hell myths), a potent tool to counter such fears is the central discovery in the Near-Death Experience (NDE) movement that the Ultimate Reality or deity is love. And not just love as we know it but an inexpressibly transcendent unconditional love that overwhelms the ability of people to find words to communicate it. See the YouTube link below as one example of many similar stories.
And yes, when viewing such accounts bring your criteria for evaluating “subjective” human experiences. For example, I discount the many who try to frame these experiences as validating some form of traditional religion. The central discovery of the NDE absolutely does not validate any religion. If the Light/Ultimate Reality/Ultimate Consciousness is unconditional then that invalidates all religion which is highly conditional (i.e. conditions of right belief, required sacrifice/payment, proper rituals and righteous lifestyle, and membership in the “true religion” that signifies true faith or true believer status, and more conditions, conditions, conditions…). An unconditional God overturns all such conditionalism that is essential to all religion. An unconditional deity means that every person has unconditional access to God without the need for mediating priesthoods or religions of any kind. Who needs religion if God is no conditions love?
For example, the love and forgiveness of the Christian God is conditioned on the sacrifice of a cosmic god-man savior to appease the wrath of an angry and destroying deity. That is then followed with the condition of faith in that blood sacrifice, as Paul states in Romans and other books. Note his statements of threats of divine wrath/destruction and then the conditions of demanded sacrifice, and belief in that conditional sacrifice, in Romans chapter 1 verse 18, chapter 2 verse 5, chapter 3 verses 22-25, chapter 5 verses 1-2, and 9-10.
Let the stunning insight that deity is no conditions love infiltrate and permeate your consciousness and expel those fears related to myths of threatening, punitive, excluding, and destroying gods. Pathological myths that have dominated human consciousness and narratives throughout history and even today in “secular” versions (i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry Mother Earth/Nature, punishing Universe, and payback karma). Experience the liberating potential of unconditional at the deepest level of consciousness, even subconsciously. Unconditional reality goes to the deepest roots of human fear in the consciousness-deforming myths of conditional religion to purge the pathology there.
Listen to this example, one among many similar stories…
Subjective human experience of the metaphysical as a credible and potent counter to fundamental human fears? Well, yes, just as personal human experience has been the very foundation of all the great systems of thought across history- notably, Moses’ mountain-top experiences as foundational to Judaism, or the Buddha’s tree experience as fundamental to Buddhism, or Paul’s personal revelation of his Christ myth forming the basis of Christianity, or Muhammad’s cave experiences being foundational to Islam, and so on. But those experiences all advocated conditional religions.
Hence, my conclusion that no religious tradition has ever communicated to humanity the wonder of no conditions Ultimate Reality, but all have distorted and buried that liberating discovery/insight and continued the enslavement of consciousness with mythical religious conditions and related fears. No religion has ever gotten deity right- as an authentically and ultimately humane reality (unconditional being the highest expression of love or authentic humaneness).
So consider the NDE accounts as the latest emergence of a spiritual tradition, and the most credible of all spiritual traditions due to its central discovery of unconditional as the defining feature of metaphysical reality or deity.
A further note: While carefully skeptical of human experiences, and bringing our own criteria to evaluate things, personal human experience/consciousness is the only real thing that we all know firsthand. And consciousness/conscious human experience may be the only ultimately real thing in the cosmos. The most fundamental reality of all.
Here I depart from the materialists due to the fact that the most fundamental science of all- quantum mechanics- has rendered so-called material reality an unsolvable mystery that appears to be more phantom than real, and actually dependent on human consciousness for its existence. See, for example, Jim Baggott’s “Farewell to Reality” and “Mass: The quest to understand matter from Greek atoms to quantum fields”, or Sabine Hossenfelder’s “Lost in Math”. Also remember Niels Bohr’s arguments re the inseparable relationship between observer and observed reality in his debates with Einstein. There is a lot more going on here than what the materialists dismiss as irrational “woowoo” stuff.
Further, I depart from David Chalmers here re his “panpsychism”- that consciousness is “primitive” or fundamental but only in a form similar to basic realities like gravity or light. No, I go with those who conclude that consciousness is the most fundamental of all realities. It is the creating and sustaining reality- our consciousness as part of a greater Consciousness, or that greater Consciousness incarnated in all of us. The “Ultimate Consciousness” that collapses the cosmic level wavefunction that we observe as the 4% of visible material reality. And consider that not only do we have no clue what “Dark Energy/Dark Matter” is (better “Light Energy/Light Matter”), we also have no clue what is the nature of the 4% of “material” reality that we see. What we term “material reality” appears to be more dream-like, fog-like, than actual solid matter or ultimate reality which is what consciousness appears to be (i.e. the most real of all realities).
Note: Its not the personal experience that matters most in regard to NDEs, whether in or out-of-body, but rather the content of the discovery that matters- i.e. unconditional love as defining deity, as defining Ultimate Good or God. Unconditional is self-validating as true and right and most real. It does not need any person’s experience or any revealed word from religious holy books to validate it as ultimate good. It stands on its own as self-validating.
Comment below re two leftists/liberals and their comments on fellow liberals- Joe Rogan and guest, Eddie Bravo, who said recently, “They (US liberals) are doing so much dumb shit now”.
The single most important question that any person can ever ask themself- “What does it mean to be human?” See “From Retaliation to Unconditional: The narrative of human exodus from animal existence to become authentically human”, just below…
Not asking too much
Young man in recently liberated Ukrainian city: “I want to go to a place where there is no war, where I can develop normally, go study and all that”, said Illia, a 20-year old man wearing a Chakhtar Donetsk football shirt. “I don’t care where I go, I just want to live calmly”.
Fighting fear, Wendell Krossa
We live in an era dominated by fear, where many people have been rendered too frightened to express skepticism/disagreement with dominant public narratives on the environment, social issues, politics, and more. Too many have been terrorized by threats of censorship, being banned from big tech social media forums, or being cancelled/fired, their reputations ruined by distorting smears of being “racist… right-wing extremist… fascist… threat to democracy…” and more, all for daring to exercise their right to freedom of thought and speech, freedom to dissent and debate questionable public narratives. Consequently, today we see too much of the worst form of totalitarian censorship- “self-censorship”. Purportedly free people frightened into silence by the latest eruption of the totalitarian impulse.
This site is oriented to countering fear, unnecessary fear, fear based on exaggeration, distortion, and the outright delusion that dominates public narratives like climate alarmism. This is especially critical for young people who have been subjected to entirely unnecessary mental and emotional terrorism from the madness movement known as the “climate crisis” crusade. Their consciousness has been brutalized over past years and decades with scenarios of an apocalyptic ending to the world, mostly some form of environmental apocalyptic.
Don’t fear the many voices prophesying climate catastrophe based on the discredited models of the climate crusade.
Listen to the many skeptical but highly qualified climate experts, notably the climate physicists (i.e. Richard Lindzen, William Happer, William Wijngaarden, and others) who tell us that actual evidence shows there is no climate crisis looming ahead.
They base their conclusions on the physics of CO2 which show that the warming influence of CO2 has reached “saturation” (in physics terms) and now “declines logarithmically” with more CO2 in the atmosphere. If CO2 were to rise from the current 400-plus ppm to 800 ppm (this would take 200 years as atmospheric CO2 rises at only 2 ppm a year) then CO2 “might” add another 1 degree C to warming. “Might” because its influence is very small and gets lost among the many other natural factors that dominate the natural climate change that we have observed over the Modern Warm Period of roughly 1979-1997 (since 1997 climate has basically flatlined in an extended “Pause” interrupted only by a few years of El Nino warming, notably 2015-16).
And listen to the many climate scientists who remind us that the mild 1 degree C of warming over the last century has been significantly beneficial in a cold world where 10 times more people die every year from cold than die from warmth. We need multiple more degrees of warming to return to the optimal state of climate that dominated for most of the history of life when plant and animal life emerged, developed, and flourished. Just as agriculture and the early great civilizations emerged and flourished when it was 3 degrees C warmer than today during the Holocene Optimum of some 10,000 to 6,000 years ago. A much warmer world benefits all life.
Don’t fear the endless media panic-mongering over melting ice in varied parts of our world. Any increase in warming does not mean that already warm areas (i.e. tropics) become warmer because the increasing heat energy is distributed by Earth’s convection currents to the colder polar regions. Such warming “evens out climate” across the planet and benefits all life with extended habitats for more diverse species of plants and animals. An entirely ice-free world has been the optimal norm for over 90% of the history of life.
And listen to the experts who tell us that, with CO2 now returning to normal past historical levels, this basic plant food has nourished a massive greening of our planet, adding 15% more green vegetation to the Earth just since 1980. Plant life has long been starving for more food and would prefer CO2 levels in the optimal 1000-1500 ppm range that would enable it to flourish even more. More vegetation means more food for animals and increased crop production for humanity.
Don’t fear global warming and the rising CO2 levels that the panic-mongering media obsess over daily. Alarmist media never tell you about the benefits of such trends, benefits that we ought to celebrate. Life has never been better on Earth. With the mild warming of the past century, and increased crop production from more aerial fertilizer (CO2), more people are eating more calories, are healthier than ever, and the doubling of the human life-span over the past century affirms this amazing outcome, among many others.
As for climate, well, climate is doing what climate always naturally does. Changing. But it is not “getting worse”. And as we have always done, we need to adapt to such changes, whether warming or cooling, and not frame them in hysterically distorting terms as an “existential crisis”.
Note: “Climate doing what climate always naturally does…”
“Global warming” does not mean warming in all areas of the planet as many places are cooling. And ongoing uncertainty about climate trends means that it is just as likely future decades may bring global cooling again as it did a few centuries ago during the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715, the coldest period of our Holocene interglacial that we are still barely emerging from.
This from Gregory Whitestone, Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition
“There is no climate crisis. There is no climate emergency. What we see and what I’ve seen from scientists who I work with at the CO2 Coalition — some of the top scientists in the world working on this — we see an earth and its eco systems that are thriving and prospering. The (growth of new) vegetation is greening the earth. Humanity and the human condition is improving by almost every metric you look at. Life in our ecosystems is getting better, not spiraling into some apocalyptic scenario.”
Climate comment further below: Further on “there is no climate crisis”. For over 80% of the history of life (the 500 million-year Phanerozoic era) average world temperatures were 17-20 degrees C, which is 3-6 degrees C warmer than today’s 14.5 degrees C average. And life emerged, developed, and flourished under those much warmer temperatures. There was no climate crisis. Note also that today far more people die every year from cold than from warmth. Data in articles further below.
An insert comment: Note the third graph down on the site in this link, the one showing paleoclimate temperatures and CO2 levels that for most of the history of life have been much higher than today and there was no climate crisis. Life emerged, developed, and flourished over the past in a much warmer world with much more of the basic food of plants- CO2.
Note also the disconnect between CO2 levels and warm temperatures. Sometimes when CO2 was high, temperatures were low, and vice versa.
The continuing endeavors of the Left to criminalize disagreement (an Independent’s view):
We are seeing this all over- governments trying to create new laws and systems to censor, ban, and even criminalize “disinformation… misinformation” which is often just legitimate disagreement from their opponents. This crusade, that unleashes the totalitarian impulse through censorship, comes mainly from the left today and is enacted against opponents mainly on the right. We saw this in varied episodes over past years with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other media.
From the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 6, 2022)- “The Climate-Change Censorship Campaign: The left is demanding that social media shut down debate even on solutions”
As the article on “California’s new bill” says in regard to Covid issues, the skeptical claims originally made against liberal/Democratic narratives and called “disinformation/misinformation” often later turned out to be correct.
The lack of understanding of free speech by the left/liberals today is very troubling. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley said, “The bill is further indication of the Democrats’ desire to control free speech. Despite being raised in a ‘very liberal Democrat’ family, Turley said he no longer recognizes the party.
“’I don’t know why Democrats have become the party of censorship and speech control’, he said. ‘You know, I come from a very liberal democratic family in Chicago. I don’t recognize the party anymore. It used to be this was a defining part of the Democrat Party. Now law after law is about controlling the speech of others, censoring the speech of others’.
“’But’, he continued, ‘this is very dangerous because what you are doing is threatening the very people we need to hear from if they have doubts about what is being put forth in policy’”.
In Canada the Liberal government is trying to censor and control online content through its Bill C-11/C-16. Jordan Peterson, for one, has spoken out about this attack on free speech.
Wake the hell up, Canadian sleepers: your PM @JustinTrudeau has (re)introduced Bill C-11, which will grant his narcissistic minions an unparalleled degree of control over online content: https://t.co/XyBrv4iqFu
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) June 8, 2022
It might help to understand this censorship as due to the fact that left/liberal parties have moved far left into extremist Woke Progressivism that embraces a renewed collectivism. Collectivism has always subjected individual rights to collectives run by “enlightened elites” that believe they alone know what is right for all others and refuse to allow dissent from the elite narratives, to the point of criminalizing dissent.
One of the more egregious examples of liberal/Democratic suppression of dissent occurred in 2016 when Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical climate science.
Common sense no longer defusing the absurd
A Canadian school board recently responded to a male shop teacher wearing grotesquely oversized fake breasts with the comment that “We must respect gender differences”.
Comedian Greg Gutfeld’s comment regarding the school board’s response- “Common sense can no longer defuse absurd situations”.
Much like the new Supreme Court justice (female) who claimed that she could not define “woman”. “No, I can’t… I am not a biologist”.
As Joe Rogan guest, Eddie Bravo, said recently, “They (the Left) are doing so much dumb shit now”.
Like the story of the absurd weavers, courtiers, and emperor, who convinced themselves that the emperor was wearing magnificent clothes but was actually naked. No one dared contradict the crowd madness till a little child pierced the lunacy bubble and blurted out, “But mommy, the emperor has no clothes”.
We are all expected to go along with the madness of a prophesied looming “climate crisis” based on discredited climate models, and to go along with alarmists telling us that the basic food of all life- CO2- is a dangerous “pollutant” and even “poisonous gas” (Bill Maher). So we are expected to go along blindly with Woke Progressive lunacy on so many issues- i.e. the initial Democratic denial of inflation, the ongoing denial of rising violence in US cities (notably Don Lemon on CNN), and the denial of the mess at the southern US border, and the denial of the excessive cost and unreliable intermittency of renewables. We are expected to just bury our heads and plow more wasted trillions into Net Zero. And we are not just expected to go along with the madness of denial on these and other issues, but we are under threat of being censored, banned, and even criminalized for daring to even question the madness.
Where are the courageous people with common sense to call out- “But mommy, they are naked”.
This today (Oct.6/2022) shows there is still some “common sense trying to defuse the absurd”
Basic climate facts
Climate alarmists who claim that a bit more warming (1-2 degrees C) will push climate beyond a “tipping point” and into “climate apocalypse” cannot explain the “remarkable stability of tropical temperatures” over past hundreds of millions of years and the more general “equable climate issue” (see “Sun-Climate Effect” reports in sections below). As the “Sun-Climate Effect” researchers note- climate has all sorts of negative feedbacks that keep climate within a healthy range for life. The entire history of life on Earth is evidence of this (paleoclimate history). Climate was between 17-20 degrees C for over 80% of the history of life (3-6 degrees C warmer than today’s “icehouse conditions” with our 14.5 C average global temperatures). With those much warmer average temperatures over the paleoclimate past there was no “climate crisis” but instead life emerged, developed, and flourished in that much warmer world.
More heat is distributed by earth’s convection currents, notably by “meridional transport”, to the colder regions of our planet and that lessens the gradient differences between warm and cold regions and hence, it makes for less storminess that depends on sharper gradient differences (hot-cold air masses meeting- note tornadoes in this regard). Hence, even the IPCC acknowledges that there is no worsening trend with extreme weather events (storms, floods, droughts, etc.). Again, see the “Sun-climate Effect” reports below, particularly “The Winter Gatekeeper Hypothesis (VI): Meridional transport is the main climate change driver”.
The warming of the polar regions (melting ice) is a return to more normal and optimal conditions for all life, with extended habitats for more diverse warm-area species and extended crop regions for humanity, like the growing of grapes and other crops in Greenland that was made possible during the Medieval Warm Period that had warmer temperatures than today. The ice-free world of over 90% of the history of life is a more normal and optimal world.
Remember that we are in one of the coldest periods in Earth’s history…
Fear of more global warming is beyond irrational and incoherent. It is an absurd distortion of factual history and reality. It can only be understood as a “madness of crowds” episode due to the continuing embrace of primitive mythological themes like apocalyptic and viewing natural climate change through such mythical lenses.
This site presents multiple sources of good evidence on these topics- scientific, mythological/religious- in sections below.
Note: The last interglacial- the Eemian- was 8 degrees C warmer than today and polar bears survived just fine.
Eric Worrall responding to Cardinal Czerny who stated regarding the recent landfall of hurricane Ian, “The time is over for speculation, for skepticism and denial, for irresponsible populism,” Czerny said.
“Apocalyptic floods, mega droughts, disastrous heatwaves, and catastrophic cyclones and hurricanes have become the new normal in recent years; they continue today; tomorrow, they will get worse,” he said.
As Worrall reminded the Canadian cardinal, “Exodus 23:1 tells us: ‘You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.’”
“Hurricanes worldwide are not getting worse”.
“Likewise, there is no significant global trend in heatwave or other extreme event intensity”
Retaliation to Unconditional (Our foundational story)
As part of the project to counter destructive apocalyptic narratives like today’s “climate emergency” myth, this site probes the deep historical roots of human mythology/religion and the core ideas/themes that still affirm primitive ideas in contemporary human consciousness and narratives, whether in religious narratives or so-called “secular/ideological/scientific” narratives. As Joseph Campbell said, the same myths have been embraced by people across all history and across all the cultures of the world.
Our dominant “narratives of despair” today originate ultimately with the mythical themes of humanity’s ancient past- notably the apocalypse mythology of Sumerian (“Great Flood”) and Egyptian (“Return to Chaos, Destruction of Mankind”) traditions. Those primitive mythical themes were eventually embraced by the great world religions, both Western and Eastern, and were then passed down and transformed into the “secular” Declinism ideology that dominates our modern era (“the world is becoming worse”), and were even presented in contemporary “scientific” terms (the climate alarmism claim to be following “consensus science”).
If we are to properly and thoroughly counter the destructive fallacy of apocalypse for the long-term future, then we need to go to root ideas/themes and expose the primitive nature of such mythology and offer better alternatives to liberate human consciousness. See, for example, “Old Narrative Themes, Better Alternatives” or “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives” in sections below.
From Retaliation To Unconditional Love: The Narrative of Human Exodus from Animal Existence, Wendell Krossa
(Revised May 23, 2013, and again Sept. 24, 2022)
(Note: This essay is the outcome of several decades of interaction with a valued friend, a great human spirit, and probably the finest theological mind to have ever graced this planet, Bob Brinsmead, notably with material of his such as “The Scandal of Joshua Ben Adam”.)
The foundational story of humanity is the story of liberation from our animal past. This is more than just the narrative of our physical/geographical exodus out of Africa (modern humans leaving Africa from roughly 200-50,000 years ago). Our defining story is our exodus out of our past animal existence and toward becoming more human or humane beings. This is an intensely inner journey or quest of the human spirit, like what Solzhenitsyn described when he stated that the real battle of good against evil is not an outer battle against physical “enemies’ but rather an inner battle that “runs down the center of every human heart”. The human struggle to make an exodus from animal existence is a personal adventure (psychological, social, spiritual/philosophical) that each of us engages against our personal experience with inherited animal drives. This quest has set us on a uniquely different trajectory from animal behavior and life.
Our exodus toward a more human mode of living is the engine that drives humanity’s overall trajectory of progress toward a better future- a progress that is fueled by the primal impulse to find something better. This story reveals the meaning and purpose of human existence in our endeavor to humanize all life. It is a story that responds to those profound human questions of Why we exist? or What purpose are we here to engage or fulfill?. It explains the millennia-long quest of people to understand what it means to be human and to live as human.
Our story begins in an animal past shaped by the drives of domination (alpha male/female), small band or tribal exclusion, and destructive retaliation. This triad of prominent animal drives illustrates the worst of animal reality and existence. It is the dark past that provides the greater background context against which the wonder of our becoming more fully human appears all the brighter as humanity emerged and developed gradually over multiple-millennia.
Joseph Campbell (“Myths To Live By”) has similarly noted the exodus of humanity leaving the animal past for human existence in stating that human story is about learning to conquer the “animal passions” in order to live as human (see also “The Power of Myth”, pages xiii, 104, 144, 191, 201, 218-19, 223, 235). The struggle to overcome our animal past and its base features is engaged on the individual level as well as by humanity as a whole. Campbell also framed human story as going out on a great adventure or quest, confronting and conquering monsters, learning lessons and gaining insights, and then returning with insights to benefit others.
In our personal stories, the element of struggle to overcome arises from the fact that the animal past continues into our human existence in the form of a residual animal brain with its animal-like impulses that continue to influence our thinking, emotions, responses, and behavior. We see this in the fact that people continue to act like animals when they exclude one another, dominate others, or retaliate against others. And these base animal features have even been embedded in our belief systems where we employ ideas/themes to maintain and validate animal impulses to the detriment of our efforts to be more human.
Retaliation, in particular, is the one notable feature that brings the worst of animal existence into human life. Musonius Rufus (Roman philosopher, circa 30-100 AD) expressed the animal nature of retaliation well, “For to scheme to bite back the biter and to return evil for evil is the act not of a human being but of a wild beast” (http://unsafeharbour.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/ancient-quotations-returning-evil-with-good/). Retaliation is humanity behaving at its animal worst. Establishing retaliation as a feature of our animal past helps expose its bestial nature, its essential inhumanity.
Think of dogs snarling and snapping angrily at one another on a street.
One of the more damaging mistakes that early people made was to project this destructive feature of animal existence- retaliation- onto early views of gods. They created the perception in their early gods of a greater reality that was threatening, malicious, and destructively punitive. Deity as something that would retaliate violently against human failure or sin. In doing that they created super monsters for people to fear. Something that would harm you in this life and in the after-life. Over time the feature of retaliation in divinity was refined with emerging legal categories as righteous justice, proper punishment of evil, or just retribution. Retaliation would further be developed into systems of human justice as payback, or what we know as eye for eye justice. So retaliation makes a line down through history to become the legal reality today of justice as punishment.
Other refinements were created over history to reinforce the idea of divine retaliation as something good- such as the development of the idea of holiness in gods. In fact, this would become the prominent feature of the Jewish and Christian God. It would be argued that because God was holy he was therefore obligated to punish all “sin” (sin as often defined by offenses against religious precepts or laws). Holiness became part of a complex of ideas that supported the demand for payback or punishment, including ideas of a holy God offended by human imperfection or “sinfulness”. As religious believers would subsequently argue, because God is holy he cannot ignore sin. He cannot just forgive sin without first punishing it (demanding full payment, sacrifice, restitution). But despite the sacralising of retaliation in divinity with such concepts as holiness, at core it was all still essentially very much about animal-like retaliation, revenge, or payback.
The concept of holiness has to do with ideas of purity, exclusion, and separation from things considered unclean or defiled. Holiness is a priestly invention that supports the role of priests as mediators between impure people and their gods. Holiness is a concept that intensifies human imperfection, making natural human imperfection appear all the worse, as something that religious traditions call “sinfulness”. Human sinfulness then promotes the view of human imperfection as something that must be punished, something that deserves divine retaliation. Such thinking has long promoted excessive guilt, shame, and fear over being imperfectly human.
We would do better to view human imperfection in terms of the fact that we started out in animal reality but have gradually become something that has improved remarkably over time (see for instance, Stephen Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, or James Payne’s “The History of Force”). This gradual process of growth, development, and advancement over history is not something that deserves condemnation and punishment. As Bob Brinsmead reminds us, the real story of humanity is not how far we have fallen, but how amazingly we have progressed since our early beginning in animal existence.
(Insert: None of this comment is to excuse or downplay the personal failure to live as human and the consequences of bad behavior. As free beings we are responsible for our behavior that has both natural and social consequences. I would break the issues down like this- victims are responsible to “love your enemies”, meaning- not “love” as feeling gushy, warm, or fuzzy toward offenders and their horrific offenses but holding the intention to treat offenders humanely and not respond with eye for eye punitive retaliation. By holding such intention, we maintain our own humanity in the face of evil, despite how we feel about offenders. Outrage/anger at evil is a healthy, fully human response.
And offenders are responsible to stop harming others, to basically “grow the fuck up” and join the human family as contributing members, taking full responsibility for all behavior and the consequences of bad behavior that include making full restitution to victims.
Add here that incarceration is necessary where offenders will not or cannot control their worst impulses- violence, abuse of minors, etc. But even while incarcerating them, we are responsible to treat offenders humanely as in the Danish restorative justice prison programs. And further, force is often necessary to stop offenders that cannot be reasoned with- whether terrorists, or violent criminal offenders. Love never abandons common sense in an imperfect world and love is always responsible to protect the innocent, first and foremost.)
Another validation for the belief that the gods were retaliatory was the early perception that because the gods were behind the forces of nature, and as those forces were often destructive (i.e. natural disasters, disease, predation), early logic then concluded that the gods must be angry and were punishing people for their sins via the destructive forces and events of the natural world.
The theme of retaliation is found in the earliest human writing (circa 2500-2000 BCE), notably in the accounts of storm gods (e.g. Enlil) threatening to annihilate early people with a great flood (see the “Sumerian Flood” myth- Wikipedia). It is evident in other early myths of a chaos monster threatening the order of creation (“Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come”, Norman Cohn, or Egyptian myths of the “Return to Chaos”, or “Destruction of Mankind”). These myths were eventually developed into the grand myth of a final apocalypse, that a retributive God would destroy the defiled world and purge all life in a grand world-ending punishment (see the Zoroastrian beliefs that shaped the Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The feature of retaliation would then reach an epitome expression in the perverse and vicious myth of eternal Hell, the final and ultimate divine retaliation against imperfect humanity.
Another related idea created by the ancients was that any sickness or misfortune in a person’s life was understood to be due to the gods punishing sin or broken taboos. This is found all through early mythology in accounts of gods afflicting people with sickness (e.g. Epic of Gilgamesh, or the myth of Dilmun where Enki is punished for eating the 8 original plants). This idea has cursed people with immense additional guilt and fear, people already suffering excessively from physical ailments. Look, for example, at the Old Testament account of Job’s ‘comforters’ berating him with this theme- that his misfortune and illness was punishment from God because he had sinned. Paul burdened the Corinthians with the same argument- that their illnesses and deaths were punishment from God for their sins.
In all such mythology retaliation was being sacralised, made something sacred or divine (“hidden under the canopy of the sacred”). Retaliation was being made a core feature of deity. In doing this, early people were creating monsters, far above the ordinary monsters of life, to frighten one another. Such fear would become a potent weapon for subjecting people to priestly authority and control.
(Note: John Pfeiffer in “Explosion: An inquiry into the origins of art and religion” speculates that early shaman took people deep into the darkness of caves to view anamorphic art- cave paintings that appear to move in flickering candlelight. That was apparently about disorienting and frightening people to then believe the shaman’s claims to know the secrets of the invisible realm of spirits- i.e. what taboos people had broken and what sacrifices were then required to appease the angered spirits. It was very much about terror regarding the invisible realm and shamanic/priestly control.)
The central theme of retaliation or payback lodged in gods has subsequently validated endless violence between people, clans, and nations. Retaliating deities inspire retaliation among their followers. We all become just like the gods that we believe in. Part of the reason for this is that people have long appealed to the divine to approve their own lives. People try to replicate in their own lives and societies what they believe to be the divine model or reality. This is known as the “behavior based on belief” relationship or the “ethic based on theology” relationship. The creation of threatening, punishing gods has long validated people retaliating and punishing one another. Therefore, if you want to get to an important root validation for violence among people, then start with these core beliefs that have long affirmed human retaliation or payback (see James Carrol’s book “Constantine’s Sword” for some historical illustration of how the influence of religious views has inspired mistreatment of others).
(Notable examples of societies using the divine to validate human behavior and life- Plato’s appeal to the invisible Forms/Ideas/Ideals that should shape the ideal human society, the Hebrew’s appeal to the law/word/will of God to shape all aspects of their Old Testament society down to details about where to locate the 12 tribes, the details of building the Temple, and more.)
When you embed retaliation in the sacred or divine, it then becomes untouchable, a sacred ideal not open to challenge or questioning. The things that we protect in God, we are notably afraid to subsequently challenge because of our natural respect for or fear of deity. Such things are then immensely damaging to us because we believe that they originate with God and are therefore ultimately true and immutable. They are realities that must be believed and loyally adhered to. Such appeal to the divine has always been a powerful concept and a potent means to manipulate and control others.
By exposing the primitive origins of a feature such as retaliation we may help to break its grip on human consciousness.
The Salvation/Sacrifice Industry (the Appeasement Industry)
What has been the most damaging outcome of projecting the animal feature of retaliation onto God? It evokes in people the natural response of necessary appeasement or placation (placating the Alpha threat- see Hector Garcia’s “Alpha God”). The human fear of death plays a central role here. This is the felt need to appease the angry, threatening gods/God in order to avoid punishment, whether sickness, other misfortune, or outright death. Retaliatory gods have long aroused the primal human fear of death and the related survival impulse. The appeasement response then leads to one of history’s most oppressive outcomes- the enslavement to wasteful priestly systems of sacrifice and related salvation schemes.
Myths of a God angry at human imperfection and failure have also produced the corollary idea of separation from God, a separation that supposedly happened at the time of the “Fall” when humans lived in an original paradise called Dilmun or Eden. Since that Fall, or human ruin of paradise, God has apparently abandoned humanity, breaking off a former close relationship, according to religions like Christianity. If you think abandonment by parents is traumatizing then add this myth of abandonment by the Creator and Source of all, and note the impact this can have on human psyches (see, for example, psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo’s “Cruel God, Kind God”). These primitive perceptions further intensify the fear of divinity and death, and stir the felt need to atone.
And so the natural psychology of appeasement is stirred and this leads to endeavors to engage some salvation plan, to offer some sacrifice to placate the angered deity.
It is not clear when all this Salvationism started but we can speculate that it was long ago in prehistory. Some innovative person, probably an early shaman, came up with the idea of blood sacrifice to placate threatening gods. This may have been based on the perception that because life was in the blood then a life could be offered in place of another life. Researchers studying the origin of sacrifice suggest that sacrifices were made for varied reasons- to secure favor from the gods, to feed the gods- but another prominent reason was to appease the gods, to atone for sin (see for instance, http://www.istor.org/stable/3155070 notably p. 605, or http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/ritual-sacrifice-in-ancient-israel/ , also see Sacrifice at Wikipedia). I am focusing on this element of appeasement of angry gods because it arises at the very beginning and it has had such a damaging impact on human psyches and societies.
No matter what the ancient reasons were for sacrifice, “It is all inhumane and sadistic and stupid” (Bob Brinsmead, personal email, Feb.2013). “As for suggesting that God loved the smell of a burning animal as the OT says…then this god has not yet been humanized” (Ibid). But here we have it today- Salvationism which argues that some payment must be made- we must pay the debt, pay for the offense, and make amends. A cruel, violent blood sacrifice must be offered. And again, the belief in human sinfulness is integral to this perspective. Human imperfection was developed into the mythical belief in human fallenness or sinfulness as a means to explain why the gods were angry and wanted to retaliate against humanity. As noted earlier, this was further developed into the theological logic that human sinfulness was an offense against a holy God and hence atonement must be made.
And the earliest sins were beyond silly which revealed the petty nature of the gods that early people had created. The earliest epics of punishing people’s sin told of gods that were upset because people had multiplied too much and become too noisy. One god- Enlil- could not sleep because of the noise people made so he planned to annihilate them all via a great flood (http://history-world.org/sumerian_and_akkadian_myths.htm ). The gods hated human self-expression, freedom, and curiosity for knowledge as in the biblical Adam’s case.
Hence, because of human sinfulness atonement had to be made. So the burdensome and destructive salvation industry has continued all through human history, feeding off of human fear and misery. And it maintains a priesthood that lives well off this human misery, employing salvation myths to manipulate and control people. Priests claim that the great cosmic separation of humanity from the divine must be healed, the broken relationship must be restored and only they know how to mediate the demanded atonement and restoration. But there is not a shred of evidence anywhere in history that any such abandonment ever occurred except in the minds of power-seeking shamans and priests. It is all a massive system of human enslavement of the worst kind- mental, emotional, and spiritual slavery to inhumane mythology.
The salvation industry continues to reinforce in consciousness the fallacious idea of something threatening and punitive that must be appeased. It is an industry that has resulted in an incalculable waste of human time, resources, and creative potential. You see this as people under fear and felt obligation everywhere trudge off to temples and churches with their offerings, engaging often esoteric religious ritual, believing that if they don’t fulfill those obligations then they will suffer some misfortune. They are wasting time and resources that could be better spent developing themselves in other more beneficial ways. This waste was evident in a documentary I watched recently on the Quechua Indians of South America spending their meager resources on offerings made to saints. Entire days are spent in such activity.
I also saw it firsthand among the Manobo tribal groups of Mindanao. People offering scarce chickens and pigs to placate angry spirits instead of seeking proper medical help. And when those resources were exhausted then often there was nothing left for a trip to a lowland hospital to save life.
All such salvation/sacrifice activity is engaged to solve a non-existent problem, a mythical problem that does not exist and has never existed- i.e. the need to appease some angry reality that will punish you for your imperfections.
These primitive ideas of a threatening and retaliatory super monster persist and continue to cause damage even today. They persist because they resonate with deeply imprinted beliefs and emotions such as the feeling that we somehow deserve punishment because we have screwed up. Today, just as in the earliest mythology, it is claimed that vengeful Gaia (or angry planet/Mother Earth, punitive Universe, payback karma) is angry because people have again multiplied too much and have become too creative, expressive, and successful in technological society (see, for instance, http://www.green-agenda.com/gaia.html and note the reference to Lovelock’s book “The Revenge of GAIA”; see also http://reason.com/archives/2010/04/21/sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-ang ; and http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2008/06/17/202790/lessons-from-an-angry-planet/?mobile=nc noting this comment, “the tornados and floods battering the country (US) with almost unimaginable severity are the early tantrums of an angry planet”). Nancy Pelosi added to this irrational nonsense when she claimed several years back that wildfires in the Western US were evidence that “Mother Earth is angry”.
People trying to better their lives are now commonly condemned for exhibiting the sin of “greed” and thereby destroying nature by using natural resources. We then see the appeasement response in those who feel obligated to obstruct and halt human economic development and growth (make a sacrifice by returning to the “morally superior” primitive or simple lifestyle) in order to placate the angry Gaia or angry planet. Just as in the ancient past, this sacrificial obstruction of human progress is done out of the felt need to appease some angered and punitive reality. Many people advocating these views, and considering themselves modern secularists, are holding to the core themes of primitive mythology at its worst.
Let me summarize this fear/appeasement/salvation process again as it has significantly undermined human freedom. It is a pattern that is repeated endlessly through history. Someone first scares people with some threatening scenario (i.e. imminent apocalypse, natural world punishment from the gods such as today’s claimed threat of global warming destroying life). This touches the most basic thing in human psychology- the fear of disaster and death (see Ernst Becker’s “Denial of Death”). The fear-mongers then propose a salvation scheme such as some sacrifice (e.g. in our day, abandon the “evil” of too much energy use) in order to placate the angry and threatening monster that has been presented to people. And scared people will then support the looniest and most damaging salvation schemes and willingly give up their freedom in order to find relief from whatever has scared them. Stirring fear in such a manner is a direct assault on human freedom.
(H. L. Mencken, “In Defense of Women”: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary”.)
Non-retaliation or Unconditional Emerges
Among the earliest human writing in Sumeria (2500-2000 BCE) we see another line of insight that was entirely opposite to the theme of retaliation or payback. In those early minds shaped by animal-like features, with their monstrous threatening and punishing gods, the wonder of human consciousness, or conscious human selves, was making a significant new advance. With their maturing consciousness, and its human impulses, those early people were struggling against their past and discovering in new ways what it meant to be human and to live as human. They were becoming more aware of themselves as human persons and were experiencing new human emotions that inspired them to seek liberation from debasing animal drives and perceptions. That was a stunning new surge in the grand narrative of humanity learning to conquer the animal in order to live as human.
People were awakening more to the inhumanity of retaliation response or payback and how that reduced the remarkable status of being human to pettiness with its promotion of cycles of endless violence and death. They were becoming aware of new human ideals and human ways of responding and relating to one another. They realized that they did not have to retaliate and destroy one another. They were feeling and experiencing the humanizing emotions of compassion, mercy, and kindness. And that developing sense of humane response led to such new practices as forgiveness which was a supremely human response that broke destructive cycles of revenge and violence. The unconditional treatment of imperfect others was a radically new insight and discovery that challenged the heretofore dominant culture of animal-like retaliation.
That was a unique new phase in the liberation of humanity from an enslaving animal past with its destructive drives. There is no worse enslavement than to the drives to retaliate and punish or destroy others. These instincts have darkened human minds with hate and revenge all through history. They have ruined relationships, communities, and significantly disrupted human progress. Look, for example, at the destruction to national infrastructure from war. That has set entire nations back for decades.
Finding freedom from our animal drives is the great exodus out from animal existence toward a truly human existence. It is the grandest liberation movement that humanity has ever conceived. It is the real exodus to a promised land. The potential offered by unconditional relating to others, is the potential for liberation to an entirely new and higher plane of human existence. This new human mode of relating argues that no matter how badly people treat us, we can turn human life toward something higher and better by treating them more humanely in our responses.
Non-retaliation is one element of what is more generally known as unconditional love. This refers to the practice of unlimited forgiveness without first demanding that requirements be met or amends be made. It refers to the expression of unlimited mercy and generosity toward those who are undeserving. And it refers to the unconditional inclusion of all persons whether classified as good or bad people. Unconditional clarifies in a striking new way the real meaning of human ideals and practices. It elevates as never before the true meaning of the supreme human ideal of love.
Note: Unconditional exposes the petty nature of much tribally defined love- i.e. love limited to family, friends, or one’s ingroup whether ethnic, religious, political/ideological, national, or other social. Note this statement from Historical Jesus on the nature of non-tribal love:
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Everyone finds it easy to love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Everyone can do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Most will lend to others, expecting to be repaid in full. But do something more heroic, more humane. (Live on a higher plane of human experience). Do not retaliate against your offenders/enemies with ‘eye for eye’ justice. Instead, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will be just like God, because God does not retaliate against God’s enemies. God does not mete out eye for eye justice. Instead, God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Be unconditionally loving, just as your God is unconditionally loving”. (My paraphrase of Luke 6:32-36 or Matthew 5:38-48.)
The emerging human response of unconditional treatment of others also gets to the very core of human meaning and purpose. It answers all those great questions such as “Why something?”, “Why does this universe exist?”, and “What is the point/purpose of conscious human existence?”. It is simply the greatest insight in all history as to what it really means to be human. In the discovery and developing awareness of unconditional treatment of others, people were getting to the very essence of being truly human.
The developing response of non-retaliation also proved critical to such things as the development and growth of commerce. Early people chose to stop destroying one another and instead to cooperate in trade and that lifted societies toward a better existence (e.g. Paul Seabright, “In the Company of Strangers”, Lawrence Keeley, “War Before Civilization: The myth of the Peaceful savage”,). This is known as “the moralizing influence of gentle commerce”. Other forms of good in human society flowed from this. Non-retaliation became central to human success and progress.
The response of non-retaliation and unconditional treatment of others is the ongoing trajectory and future for humanity to explore. It is at the core of what it means to be truly human, and at the core of the ongoing endeavor to humanize all of life. It liberates people to entirely new heights of being human. It offers a fundamental solution to the major problem plaguing human existence- the endless cycles of violence and war. It gets to the very root of the worst of human afflictions.
The Origins of Non-retaliation
We find one of the earliest statements of this maturing consciousness of what it means to be human in an early bit of Akkadian literature- the “Advice of an Akkadian Father to his son” (circa 2000 BCE). He says, “Do not return evil to your adversary; requite with kindness the one who does evil to you, maintain justice for your enemy, be friendly to your enemy” (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/2200akkad-father.asp). We also remember here that what we find in the earliest writing we may also assume represents what was believed in the pre-literature era.
A similar insight emerged around 1500-1300 BCE in the Egyptian Instructions of Anii. This states, “Conquer malice in yourself…Do not speak rudely to a brawler…When you are attacked, hold yourself back…when your relations are friendly… the aggressor will desist…” (http://www.perankhgroup.com/ani_wisdom.htm).
The Notable Hebrew Breakthroughs
This same non-retaliation insight then emerges in other traditions across the world. For example, the Hebrew prophets (800-600 BCE) began to advocate an entirely new view of justice not as punishment (retaliation, revenge) but as liberation of the oppressed and mercy toward all. Bob Brinsmead says that in Latin/Western thinking, justice became associated with penalty, price, punishment, atonement, or payback. His study of the Old Testament word for justice- sadak- found that it meant, instead, fidelity to a relationship and had a restorative meaning related to liberation and mercy (personal email, Feb.9/13).
The Hebrew prophets also began to offer an entirely new view of divinity that was not interested in sacrifice or payback atonement. They claimed that God did not want sacrifice but instead desired mercy (e.g. Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:7-8, Amos 5:21-24). There are other statements noted by Brinsmead: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…” (Psalm 51: 11-17). “When I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Jeremiah 7:21, 22). “I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats” (Isaiah 1:11). Brinsmead concludes, “So Paul’s message about the propitiation of God’s wrath by the blood sacrifice of Jesus as a payment for human sin is not the fulfillment of the message of the Old Testament prophets, but completely contrary to it” (personal email, Feb.18/2013).
In these striking claims the Old Testament prophets were confronting and challenging the greatest monster ever created in history- the threatening, retaliatory God, the punishing God. They were stating that past perceptions of deity were all wrong. Now if the story of humanity is about conquering monsters, as Campbell suggests, then the mythology of retaliating, punishing deity is the biggest monster of all for people to conquer and overcome.
The Egyptians were also making similar discoveries regarding humanizing deity and attributing kindness and mercy to their pharaoh gods: “at the high period of the Pyramid age a new comparatively humane, benevolent, fatherly quality began to be apparent in the character and behavior of the pharaohs…even the gods had become kind” (Joseph Campbell, “Oriental Mythology”, p.95). This is how the process of humanizing gods works: People discover new more humane features about themselves and then begin to attribute these to their concepts of deity, they project human qualities onto deities. They perceive ultimate reality in terms of how they perceive authentic humanity. An understanding of divinity begins with humanity (Campbell, Myths to Live By, p.93, 243-249). Good theology begins with understanding the best in humanity.
Brinsmead also argues that the Hebrew prophets said absolutely nothing about the Jewish Day of Atonement. The justice that they advocated for was freedom from all oppression, to break every yoke, and to let the oppressed go free. It was the Israelite priesthood that promoted the sacrificial system and Salvationism with its bondage to mediators that oppressed people with the dark theology of looming punishment and the demand to atone. The prophets, to the contrary, were offering an entirely new view of deity as unconditionally forgiving and loving.
It is difficult to state how radical a break this was with the past dominant views of gods as threatening, punitive monsters seeking retribution against imperfect and fallible people. That had been the overwhelmingly prominent perspective through previous history. Retaliatory, punishing gods had terrorized people from the beginning. A reviewer in The American Journal of Theology, vol.13, No.4, Oct. 1909, p.605, “The Origin of Sacrifice”, states regarding a book titled ‘Semitic Magic, Its Origins and Development’ by R. Campbell Thompson, “The author appears to maintain that religious institutions have been molded by belief in evil spirits rather than by faith in good divinities. He directly asserts it of the rite which he calls atoning sacrifice”. He continues, noting the central religious belief that sickness was caused by sin; it was the result of people breaking taboos which offended the gods who then punished those people, hence, the need for atoning sacrifice to appease.
But contrary to payback punishment beliefs and responses, people were beginning to discover this new human ideal of non-retaliation or unconditional response toward others. As noted earlier, this new human response included the following elements: Unconditional inclusion of all people as intimate family (no more tribal exclusion of outsiders or “enemies”), unconditional forgiveness of all offenses or wrongs, and unconditional generosity toward all. Non-retaliation or unconditional response means absolutely no conditions in our relationships with others; no pre-requisites are to be demanded, and no payment exacted for failures or mistakes. As dictionaries define the word unconditional- i.e. not subject to any conditions, absolutely no conditions. None.
Other traditions offered similar insights on the new non-retaliatory response. In Buddhist literature we find the following statements: “Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world: through non-hatred alone they cease…Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth…Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Let us therefore overcome anger by kindness, evil by good, falsehood by truth…Nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred…” (Dhammapada 3-5, 223-234, 197, Majjhima Nikaya 129, written about 250 BCE, though dating to the time of the Buddha around 500 BCE, see for instance such sources as http://www.unification.net/ws/theme144.htm ).
Confucius taught his followers to propose justice and not revenge or anger (Analects 14.36, ca. 450-250 BCE). The Taoists advocated being kind to the unkind (Tao Te Ching 49, 300 BCE). In Jainism it was said, “Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity” (Samanasuttam 136). Hindus taught that a superior person “does not render evil for evil…but will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds” (Ramaya, Yuddha Kanda 115, around 500-400 BCE). Socrates (470-400 BCE) urged, “We ought not to retaliate or render evil to anyone, whatever evil we may have suffered from him”. And so on.
Interestingly, Hinduism began when the people of North India, around the time of the Buddha (roughly 500 BCE), grew disillusioned with the sacrificial system that they viewed as wasteful and cruel (Karen Armstrong, “Buddha”, p.23). They no longer believed that salvation was through animal blood sacrifice and began to seek answers in a new tradition that focused on human potential (p.25). As people continued to understand more humane ways of responding and relating, they then rejected sacrifice, payback, and appeasement thinking and practices.
The Hindus also rejected the priestly elites, according to Armstrong. They believed that they could discover God for themselves without a system of sacrifice or a mediating priesthood (p.26).
The Historical Jesus Tradition
This movement of liberation from animal retaliation or payback broke through to a new level of coherence and clarity in the teaching of the historical Jesus who is someone entirely different from the Christian “Jesus Christ”. I refer readers to the research of the Jesus Seminar for some basic principles on how to detect what the historical person actually taught as contrasted with the many statements in the New Testament gospels that are attributed to Jesus but which present contradictory teaching to the core message of Jesus. For instance, in Matthew 5 Jesus is presented as teaching that we are to “love our enemies”. Then a few chapters later (Matthew 11) we find Matthew claiming that Jesus damned people to hell for not accepting his miracles, for not agreeing with his message. This is an irreconcilable contradiction in basic teaching and must be rejected as not authentic teaching from the historical person who clearly taught love of enemies. Unfortunately, blind devotion to the sacred prohibits people from seeing such contradictions in their holy books.
Using Jesus Seminar principles of interpretation, and more notably “Q Wisdom Sayings” gospel teaching, nothing in Jesus’ teaching comprises a more consistent core set of ideas than this theme of unconditional treatment of others. This is the new “kingdom of God” that Jesus spoke about; the new mode of truly human existence.
The historical Jesus presented the wonder of unconditional thinking and existence in a coherent set of sayings and stories. For instance, in Matthew 5:38 he set a context first by summing up the old payback view of justice as “eye for eye” response or justice. This sums up past views of retaliatory or retributive response as taught in the Old Testament and all through primitive mythology- reward for good, punishment for wrong. Tit for tat. Getting even in relation to a strict standard of payback.
He then countered that old view entirely by arguing that we should not retaliate against offenders, we should not respond in kind or in like manner, returning evil for evil. If we are mistreated or offended we should respond instead with over-the-top goodness, kindness, and generosity. We should not engage in the old payback response of only loving friends and hating enemies, but we should love enemies also.
Once again, my paraphrase of the central message of Jesus:
“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Everyone finds it easy to love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Everyone can do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Most will lend to others, expecting to be repaid in full. But do something more heroic, more humane. (Live on a higher plane of human experience). Do not retaliate against your offenders/enemies with ‘eye for eye’ justice. Instead, love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will be just like God, because God does not retaliate against God’s enemies. God does not mete out eye for eye justice. Instead, God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Be unconditionally loving, just as your God is unconditionally loving”. (My paraphrase of Luke 6:32-36 or Matthew 5:38-48.)
There is nothing authentically human in just loving those who love us. That is limited tribal love. Even animals do that. Genuine human response goes further and loves enemies also. It is absolutely non-discriminatory, authentically inclusive, and unconditional in its treatment of all people.
If we do this- not retaliating, not engaging in payback response- then Jesus says that we will be like God who is good and generous to all alike. Take a minute and let the radical, history-overturning nature of this comment sink in. God, according to Jesus, gives good things (sun and rain) to both good and evil. God does not engage in the old payback response of eye for eye treatment of people (rewarding only the good and punishing the evil). God does not exclude the bad. God has no favorites, and there are no insiders/outsiders with God. There is no threat and no punishment with a God that is Unconditional Love. Like the Hebrew prophets before him, Jesus was presenting a stunning, entirely new view of deity that countered the previous historical understanding of gods as threatening, punitive entities. This was a major historical shift or transformation of human perspective.
This statement of Jesus- if you do this then you will be like God- also plays on the ancient impulse in people to replicate in their lives and societies what they believe to be the divine model; to fulfill in their lives what they believe to be the divine purpose for their lives. The behavior based on belief relationship, or ethic based on similar theological ideal.
There are other statements by the historical Jesus that affirm there is only unconditional goodness behind life and no threat or punitive reality. Note, for instance, his statements that God clothes the grass and feeds the worthless birds that no one pays any attention to. Limitless generosity shown to all life alike, no matter how insignificant.
Researchers argue that some of the other accounts in the gospels did not originate with the historical Jesus. But whoever recounted them, they are of the same tenor as the core teaching of Jesus on non-retaliatory response toward others. For instance, there is the story of the man born blind in John 9. The writer contradicts conventional perspectives by stating that this sickness was not a punishment for sin. As noted earlier, primitive thought understood that any sickness or deformity was a punishment from the gods for sin. This belief has caused endless misery to unfortunate people afflicted by disease and deformity. It adds an unnecessary psychic burden of guilt and shame to already unbearable physical suffering. It is one of the cruelest perceptions ever concocted- that a punishing deity gets even with human imperfection and failure by sending sickness and misfortune. Note the persistence of this belief in that following the tsunami of 2011, a woman in Japan said, “Is God punishing us because we are enjoying life too much?”. Again, this belief promotes a sense of sinfulness and obligation to appease or atone, to submit to salvation/sacrifice schemes and mediating priesthoods. It is oppressive slavery and wasteful to boot. But Jesus taught very clearly that there was no punitive reality that demanded appeasement. He took on the ancient perception of a threatening punishing reality behind life and denied that any such monster existed. He taught the very opposite, and this was considered blasphemy by his contemporaries.
We find this same core theme of unconditional treatment of others in Jesus’ short stories or parables. He spoke, for instance, of a prodigal or wasteful son (Luke 15) who was welcomed home, forgiven, and treated generously by his father who refused the son’s offer of repentance or atonement. The father just wanted to celebrate without any requirement to make amends or demanding payback first for the wrong done by the son.
It is important to note that these stories also include other characters who represent conventional payback attitudes. These other characters express the resistant stance of many good people toward this radical new teaching on unconditional response toward offenders. Note in this regard that the older brother in the prodigal parable is indignant that the father is too generous and unconditional toward the wasteful son. He believes in conventional justice where good is rewarded and wrong is punished. He represents most good, moral religious people who demand that justice be upheld and fulfilled. There should be some form of retaliation, some form of exact response according to the deed done, whether good or bad.
But the generous, unconditionally forgiving father would have none of it. He believes in justice as liberation, and scandalous generosity toward all, whether good or bad. He illustrates the new human response of unconditional treatment of all persons no matter what they have done. The older brother exhibits the harsh and petty nature of payback thinking and response. His sense of righteous morality and payback justice is offended, but his morality is in reality the pettiness and cruelty of primitive payback thinking. It is more animal-like than truly human. And this story shows how deeply ingrained such thinking is in many people. Unconditional generosity and mercy offends good moral people seeking conventional justice.
The story of the vineyard owner and workers makes a similar point (Matthew 20). At the end of the day all the workers are given the same payment regardless of hours worked. The workers who started at the beginning of the day are not cheated. They received the wages that they agreed to. But the late starters who get there at the end of the day, for whatever reason, also have families to feed. And the owner gives them the same as the early starters who then find such generosity offensive and complain to the owner. The owner is not acting according to conventional views of just or “fair” treatment of people. He is too generous and unconditional, according to the early starters. And his generosity pisses them off. They live by conventional fairness as strict reward or punishment according to actions done. They are good, moral people with a strong sense of justice as payback. They do not get this new unconditional treatment of undeserving people.
The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) also speaks to unconditional treatment of others. The Samaritan assists a wounded enemy, showing no sense of tribal exclusion or socially required payback but only concern for the wounded man’s welfare as a fellow member of the human family.
In this new body of teaching by the historical Jesus we are seeing millennia of primitive thought being completely overturned. Jesus is arguing for an entirely new type of authentic human response. And he states very clearly that, contrary to all past historical teaching on deity, this is what God is actually like. Let me state his teaching as plainly as possible in theological terms. God is not threatening or punitive. God does not retaliate against human failure or wrongdoing. God does not punish anyone. God does not engage payback response toward anyone. And God does not exclude anyone. Most previous human perspective on Ultimate Reality was wrong, according to the historical Jesus.
This is such an entirely new understanding of Deity or God that it is hard for us to get the full impact that his teaching had on the people of his day. The greatest monster in history- the threatening, punishing God- was being confronted directly and overthrown as a great lie. That monster was being decapitated and conquered. The great payback God of religion, the greatest bogeyman ever created with all the added features to terrify- i.e. holiness, wrath, judgment, hell, blood sacrifice to appease- that was all being discounted entirely as false mythology and thrown out as unworthy of truly human thinking and existence.
God was being revealed as unconditional love. At the very core of reality, the creating and sustaining Consciousness was being presented as an inexpressibly wondrous unconditional goodness, generosity, and mercy. The implications of this were stunning. It meant the end and abolishment of all sacrifice and all salvation thinking and practice, and the consequence of this meant the end of all priest-craft, priesthoods, and religion. It lifted a great burden off of humanity with all the associated guilt, shame, despair, and fear that has always accompanied ideas of human sinfulness and myths of gods punishing that sin.
Follow the obvious conclusions for yourself. Since the beginning, most religion and Salvationism had been built on the inhuman myths of a punishing, retaliating deities. That mythology of monster gods, according to Jesus, did not exist and had never existed. So all the subsequent salvation theology and practice was a response to a problem that had never existed in the first place- i.e. meeting atonement conditions to placate angry gods in order to be forgiven. God had never been angry with people for their animal beginnings and their imperfection and their gradual historical development toward something more human. And God had never abandoned humanity at some mythical fall after a lost paradise. There had never been any separation that needed to be healed or restored. God had never threatened to punish anyone. It was all just bad mythology to scare people, and shaman/priests had from the very beginning used that mythology to manipulate and dominate populations by fear (again, see John Pfeiffer’s “Explosion: An Inquiry Into the Origins of Art and Religion” on the origin of religion as an institution to terrorize and control people).
So we need to radically revise our perceptions of deity or ultimate reality. The ultimate reality behind all was revealed by Jesus as unconditional love. That had always been the true nature and character of God. And now simply stated, because there is no threatening, punitive God, then there is no need for salvation or any form of sacrifice. This means the end and abolition of religion as we have known it for millennia.
Christianity Reverts To Payback Conditions
The followers of Jesus, with a stunning lack of insight, dismissed his core theme of unconditional and reverted back to the old payback thinking of past religious belief. And they thus created the payback theology and system of belief called Pauline Christianity. In the development of this Christianity the historical battle between retaliation and non-retaliation reached a new climax of profound contrast and opposition. In direct contradiction to Jesus’ teaching, Paul’s Christianity was developed as a religion of supreme conditions. Christianity then became history’s grandest embodiment of the themes of punishment, threat, payback, or retaliation.
In this regard Christianity has been like all religion which makes divine forgiveness and love conditional. But none moreso than Christianity which created a theology of the greatest condition ever conceived- that of the need for an infinite and universal payment via a cosmic Savior for all humanity. Previous religions had insisted on varied animal sacrifices to appease offended gods, including human and even child sacrifices. But Christianity took this thinking to new heights by arguing that as the sin of humanity was an infinite offense against an infinitely holy God so the payment must be equally infinite and universal. According to Brinsmead, church theologians then created the theology of not just human sacrifice but of the sacrifice of a “God-man” (a member of the Godhead or Trinity). Only an infinitely valuable sacrifice could meet the infinite demand for making amends to an infinitely offended Deity. This took conditional payback or retaliatory thinking to new unheard-of heights.
Paul’s Christianity came down decidedly against the new liberation that Jesus was trying to promote, the liberation into unconditional living or the new kingdom of God as truly human belief, relating, and existence. Christianity retreated, instead, into the old enslavement to retaliation thinking and existence. So the historical struggle between retaliation and non-retaliation came to a unique climax in the Jesus/Christianity contradiction. In the historical Jesus we found a new summit reached in the understanding and expression of what truly human existence could be- unconditional response and relating. His message clearly established an existence of no conditions, no requirements to be met in order to receive full forgiveness, unconditional inclusion, and unlimited generosity.
In pronounced contrast, with Christianity we got a system of supreme condition, a return to the old God of anger and punishment and demands for sacrifice/payment. Unfortunately for Western societies, Christian payback thinking has reinforced the felt need for payback justice in society as well. Note in this regard the Christian support for the death penalty in the US, and record-breaking imprisonment for all offenders, even non-violent ones.
How did this happen? How did Christianity get it all so wrong? Because the man whose thinking and theology became Christianity- i.e. the apostle Paul- did not pay attention to what Jesus actually said or taught. Paul ignored entirely the unconditional teaching of Jesus and created instead a new theology about Jesus (not the message of the man but a message about the man) that was shaped through and through by the primitive payback perspective. Paul got Jesus backwards, upside down, and absolutely opposite from what he had actually taught.
Paul, and the other followers of Jesus, were just like the older brother in the Prodigal parable. With their strong sense of righteousness, morality, and justice as full payback they could not just ignore wrong with the free forgiveness that Jesus had advocated. No. All wrong first had to be punished before forgiveness and salvation could be offered. Amends had to be made. Debt had to be paid as a prerequisite condition. Holiness demanded that all such conditions be met first.
Paul argued that humanity had wilfully fallen from original perfection and that all people had become sinful and therefore all deserved punishment and damnation. So a great sacrifice/payment had to be made to atone for what was believed to be wilful human sinfulness. A sacrifice of a God-man was necessary to placate an offended God that intended to enact retribution on all humanity.
Note some summaries of the retaliation theme in Paul’s letters, starting with his central book on Christian belief or doctrine, Romans: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men (Rom.1:18)…you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done….to those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress” (2:5-8).
He then presents the solution to avoid this damnation from an angry God, “the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (3:25). The condition for escaping the wrath of God is “faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus”. This condition for escaping wrath is repeated elsewhere throughout Romans. “If you confess with your mouth…and believe in your heart…you will be saved” (10:9).
Other statements affirm this payback theology, “God is just: he will pay back trouble to those who trouble you…He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel…They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” (2Thessalonians 1:7-9).
The book of Hebrews continues this theme of retaliation and the condition of atonement by blood sacrifice. “Every violation and disobedience received its just punishment…” (2:2). For those who do not believe, “I declared on oath in my anger, they shall never enter my rest..” (3:11). “It is mine to avenge. I will repay” (10:30). The condition to avoid this anger, “He sacrificed for their sins…when he offered himself…” (7:27).
This theme of blood sacrifice to appease a threatening God continues throughout the New Testament and reaches a terrorizing culmination in the book of Revelation. After noting again the condition of violent, bloody sacrifice to appease angry deity (“He has freed us from our sins by his blood”, 1:5) the writer of Revelation then threatens those who refuse this blood sacrifice with an endless roasting on the big barbie down under. And he means burning in the “lake of fire”, forever (20:11-15). Ultimate and eternal payback, punishment, or retaliation. In Revelation the peaceful, forgive-without-limit, cheek-turning, love-your-enemies Jesus is presented as the angry, sword-sticking-out-of-mouth, unforgiving, fiery eyes, hate-your-enemies Christ. A true Christian monster.
So where Jesus had taught that no payment needed to be made before forgiveness was offered, Paul and other New Testament writers claimed that all debt must be paid in full before God would forgive. Paul denied completely what Jesus had taught. He went against Jesus’ message entirely. He missed the most humanizing insight in all history, the discovery of the greatest human ideal ever conceived. He then successfully aborted the grandest human liberation movement of all; one that Jesus had sought to take even further, to new heights of humane relating and existence. And yet, confoundingly, Christianity claims to be the religion of Jesus. Well, where then is Jesus’ central message of unconditional treatment of others? Christianity opted instead for the message of Paul about supreme conditions.
It has been established that Paul was a domineering man who tolerated no opposition and jealously fought to have his theology established as the only true Christian theology (see, for example, Charles Freeman’s “The Closing of the Western Mind”, p.109-114). James Tabor (“Paul and Jesus”) has summed this up well in stating that Paul wrote most of the New Testament and other books support his viewpoint (e.g. the gospels and Acts). Christianity is therefore Paul’s Christianity. Paul’s view of Jesus is the one that the world has received. And there is nothing of true unconditional in Paul or his Christianity.
Yet the diamond of unconditional teaching is still here and there in the New Testament even though it has been almost buried by the dunghill of payback myth and theology of the New Testament. This leads some of us to conclude that the greatest threat to Christianity is not found among its many outside opponents, whether from atheism or other religions. The greatest threat to Christianity is the historical Jesus, and taking his unconditional message seriously.
Deity Meeting A Lower Standard
Varied Christians today facilely use the term unconditional love to describe their God and what they believe they are obligated to fulfill in their lives. But this is an oxymoronic and irreconcilable mixing of entirely opposite things. Consequently, they come up with some fantastical and contorted explanations when presenting what they call “God’s unconditional love through the sacrifice of Jesus”, seemingly unaware of the contradictory nature of what they are stating (see for example, http://www.biblicaltheology.com/rom/rom_12_13.html noting the comment, “because love without hypocrisy loves as God loves: unconditionally… By so doing we leave the judgment and vengeance entirely up to the Lord”; also http://www.commontruth.com/UnconditionalLove.html. Others just give up entirely on unconditional- http://withchrist.org/unconditional.htm or http://preservedwords.com/uncond-pv.htm ).
And yes, admittedly, some Christians are at least embracing and wrestling with this theme of unconditional. They sense the spirit of this ideal in what Jesus taught but they present it thus- we must forgive unconditionally just as Jesus taught, so we must then let God repay as payback is a divine responsibility. In this manner they are trying to maintain both the theme of unconditional, which cannot be denied in Jesus’ teaching, and yet also maintain the old payback views in their overall theology which is the supporting background of their belief system (that God will exact revenge). This is an irreconcilable and profound merging of contradictory things, but it is the best that they can come up with given the starkly opposing realities that they are trying to hold in tension. This contradictory Christian mish-mash is the result of holding a felt obligation to the immutable sacred that they have inherited (a holy God that must punish sin) and then trying to read the unconditional Jesus through this payback lens. The outcome is that it only distorts the humane ideal that Jesus was advocating. The larger payback context that they are maintaining woefully distorts the actual meaning of unconditional.
So when pressed on this issue of genuine unconditional response, Christian believers will argue that God cannot just forgive sin. God is holy, they claim, and must first punish all sin before he can forgive. Holiness takes precedence over unconditional love. Therefore, a holy God demands that any debt be first paid in full before he will forgive or include anyone. A sacrifice must first be made before mercy can be shown (in direct contradiction to the Jewish prophet’s claims that God wanted no sacrifice but only mercy). Consequently, unconditional (absolutely no conditions) is distorted beyond recognition.
In response, we need to challenge that old theology by asking a simple question- why cannot God just exercise authentic forgiveness as Jesus taught and be merciful and generous without first demanding payment? We imperfect people are urged to act like this- to love and forgive with no pre-conditions being met first. We are told to just forgive others for their offenses. Why is the God of Christianity held to a lower standard of behavior than we are? Is not God supposed to be something better, something more humane than we are? Why then are we held to a higher standard of human response and relating than God is? As Brinsmead says, a God who demands full payment before he forgives is a God who knows nothing of genuine forgiveness. Where the debt is paid in full, then no authentic forgiveness is required.
And what about the teaching in such places as 1 Corinthians 13? It states that authentic love “keeps no record of wrongs”. That sounds like the unconditional of Jesus. And is not God love? Why then hold the contradiction of claiming that God must keep record of all wrongs and punish all sin? The entire salvation and sacrifice industry is built on noting the faults of imperfect people and demanding atonement for them. Again, if ordinary people are held to a new humane standard of unconditional love then it is valid to ask why a supposedly supremely humane God is not held to the same standard? Edward Schillebeeckx has correctly stated, “God is more human (more humane) than any human being” (“The Praxis of the Reign of God”, Mary Hilkert, p.56). Why then these silly myths of a God maintaining a lower standard of distinctly subhuman behavior? God is either Unconditional Love (absolutely no conditions), or not. If god is not authentically unconditional love, then you cannot define that conditional reality with the term unconditional.
Watch The Context
Payback thinking has missed entirely the real meaning of ideals such as forgiveness. As noted above, when you try to embed human ideals in a payback context (e.g. unconditional love in a Christian theological context) you distort the real meaning of these human ideals. They are no longer authentically unconditional. This is the problem with all religion which is essentially conditional at core. Note in this regard that many religious believers have tried to humanize their gods over history, recognizing that the barbaric gods of the past are too primitive for modern minds. So they have added new more humane features to their gods such as love and mercy. But they also feel obligated to maintain the old features that have to do with retaliation and punishment. For instance, as noted above, many religious people will claim that holiness demands punishment. Holiness in deity takes precedence over mercy or love. Forgiveness and love are then dependent on first making some payment or sacrifice. Well, forgiveness is then rendered meaningless. When human ideals are couched in a payback context (an inhuman context) they are then rendered something entirely different from the unconditional that should define them.
Ignoring the core message of Jesus, Christianity has continued to sacralise archaic payback thinking. And the Christian God has become an even more intense version of the payback perspective, with his dominant qualities such as infinite holiness demanding infinite payment. The Christian God has become an even greater retaliating monster than other historical payback deities. And Hell in Christian theology has become the ultimate statement or expression of the hateful, inhuman response of retaliation toward human imperfection. Again, all to frighten people into the vast salvation/sacrifice industry that saps human time and resources, and hinders human progress.
The sum of the matter is that Christianity got Jesus all wrong and it got God all wrong. God is indeed unconditional love just as Jesus taught. And unconditional love to incomprehensible and inexpressible levels beyond all human imagination (better than the best that we can imagine). In a God that is love, no conditions love, there is no threat, no condemnation or judgment, no punishment, no conditions to meet for acceptance, absolutely nothing to fear. Let me state as plainly as possible the central point that the historical Jesus was trying to make. Every human being is fully and equally included; all are fully forgiven, and all receive the full generosity of God. All are safe no matter what they believe or don’t believe. There is no threatening monster behind life to fear or dread. There is only Unconditional Love at the very core of all reality and life. There are no conditions to meet to be included in the love and generosity of this Ultimate Reality. No one has ever been separated in any manner from this Unconditional Love.
And while you are conquering this monster-the old punishing God- set your sight also on bringing down the second greatest monster of all- death. Over human history, death has been made an even worse terror to people because it has been defined and explained in terms of religious belief and myth. Shaman and priests have long told people that death was a punishment from God for sin, and more punishment would follow after death. Cheer up, they said, the worst is yet to come. Such mythology intensifies natural human fear of death. Death then becomes a terrifying monster for humanity to face and resolve. I know a lady who was reduced to despair and crying when a relative of hers died, refusing to meet the Christian condition of “accepting Jesus” in order to “be saved”. The lady subsequently believed that her relative had gone to hell. That cruel nonsense adds further psychic misery to already unacceptable human suffering. The realization that there is only unconditional love at the heart of all reality dispels the enslaving fear of death or life after death. Unconditional does indeed take the sting out of death. Death can then be seen as the toothless monster that it really is. We should not hesitate to laugh in the face of such a grotesquely exaggerated monster.
Unconditional offers liberation like nothing else in all history, and especially liberating is the realization that there is no threatening, punishing reality behind life. This gets to the deepest roots of long held human fears, anxieties, concerns, despair, and depression. In this regard, unconditional is utterly limitless in its liberating potential for human minds. It goes to the root of darkness in human consciousness, darkness long promoted by religion and its myth of coming divine payback.
Unconditional love at the very core of all reality breaks the grip of religious fear by overturning all those past perceptions of some looming retaliation and the need to placate that with sacrifice. Real liberation is not just social but more essentially liberation of mind, thought, perception, feeling, and spirit. We can be physically free but still enslaved to the worst ideas held from a primitive past. Unconditional thinking therefore takes freedom to the very heart of what really enslaves humanity and this positively impacts human creative potential in profound ways. It liberates mind and emotions and spirit from a long history of guilt and shame over being imperfectly human, and still gradually developing toward something better and more humane.
And it points us toward the ultimate meaning and purpose of the universe and life. As others have suggested, the main point of human existence is to learn something about love. Well, this new definition of love as unconditional, takes that formerly high human ideal to new heights of clarity and humanity.
This new insight into unconditional love as the supreme human ideal and the true nature of ultimate reality offers profound potential to reshape human behavioral response and society. It liberates as nothing else can ever do from all the debasing and dehumanizing features of animal existence with its conditional exclusion (small band, tribal loyalty), domination, and retaliation, and the destructive consequences of these behaviors in human society.
Living An Unconditional Life
Naturally, questions arise as to how to express the unconditional ideal in daily life. I once brought up this idea of unconditional treatment of others in a discussion group and someone countered, “Oh, you’re saying that we should let psychopaths go free?” Well, no. Absolutely not. No such thing is being suggested. Any common sense understanding of love will recognize the fundamental responsibility to protect innocent people from harm. This means that people who cannot or will not control their worst impulses to harm others need to be restrained (locked up and in some cases- i.e. psychopathy- the key thrown away). It may even mean pro-active endeavor to prevent such things as terrorism. We remember the common sense expressed by the pacifist preacher who said, “If someone attacks me and my family, I will beat him over the head with a 2by4 and when he is lying on the ground unconscious then I will sit down and discuss my pacifist principles with him”.
But, more seriously, any such protective restraint should be done “with a loving heart and with the other person’s welfare in mind” (http:www.unification.net/ws/theme144.htm). This is a call for conventional views of justice to be continually re-evaluated and reformulated in terms of necessary restraint but also in terms of the ongoing need for strengthening restorative justice ideals as desirable human ideals and practises. And we ought to be careful that when presenting these common sense qualifiers above (i.e. forcible restraint of violent people) that we do not diminish the full impact of the ideal of unconditional treatment of all others.
Further, how do we judge and assign culpability in any human life? For example, decades ago a teenage boy in the US was condemned to death for a brutal rape and murder of a woman. But during his trial it came to light that he had been brutalized from before birth. His father, suspicious that his mother may have cheated, had beat her pregnant stomach. After the boy was born, he was thrown against walls for crying, and beaten repeatedly. He knew only hate and violence all through his young life. And if the condition of psychopathy is involved in such cases, researchers suggest there may even be a genetic factor. These people may be born with defective brains. They still need ongoing restraint and imprisonment in order to protect others, but surely they should also be shown mercy for things that have happened to them that were beyond their control. So the argument is not about setting people free that cannot control their own base impulses but for treating humanely and showing mercy to even the worst offenders (e.g. abolishing the death penalty).
Further, some studies have shown that exacting revenge through our payback justice systems brings no ultimate or final closure to victims (e.g. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/06/revenge.aspx ). We also remember that forgiveness does not mean that victims are responsible to personally like offenders in order to properly forgive them. Others argue that forgiveness is more about personal liberation from negative emotions regardless of any contact or relationships with offenders. And by way of caution here- normal human sensitivity will respect the overwhelming trauma caused to victims by the unrestrained and intentionally cruel violence of some offenders. Sensitivity will understand that each person approaches these human ideals in different ways, from differing experiences, and at their own chosen pace. Any severely traumatized human being deserves the utmost respect in regard to how they may wrestle with these human ideals, or choose not to engage them. So while we can argue that unconditional treatment of all others is a profoundly liberating approach, different people will embrace such things as they feel able. The trauma of some people, however, does not mean that unconditional treatment of others should be dismissed as unrealistic, impractical, or unworkable. Such dismissal would miss the liberating potential of this ideal.
Others argue that if there is no threat of punishment in society then there is nothing to restrain people from wrong behavior. Anarchy and chaos will break out. But the discipline of psychology has shown that most people respond better to positive affirmation than to threat and fear. The Australian Psychological Society has a paper entitled “Punishment and Behavior Change” (http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/punishment_position_paper.pdf) which argues “that recent trends towards increased reliance on punishment as a primary response to crime” do not work as expected. For example, punitive parenting approaches have been linked to higher levels of aggression in children, the paper claims. And these punitive approaches do not rehabilitate and deter criminal offenders. They don’t teach “alternative acceptable behaviors”. The paper recommends approaches that do such things as explain other people’s perspectives and feelings, promoting empathy and other more positive alternatives.
Also, we obviously teach children the natural consequences to all sorts of actions. One man suggested there was value in the driver’s point system for curtailing his daughter’s more aggressive approach to getting to destinations. She was “inspired” by her mounting points to slow down and follow traffic speed limits.
Others have noted the obligation of love to care for others. We affirm this in the responsibility to improve our own situations in order to properly care for our families. And if someone runs a business operation then they are not just responsible to care for their own family but also to ensure their business continues to operate so that employees may also care for their families. In such situations debts owed to the business must be paid and we have a legal system to ensure that debts are paid. We do not abandon common sense in the pursuit of human ideals like unconditional.
And unconditional is not an argument against restitution. That is a common sense and entirely humane responsibility of any offender. It is up to the victim to freely choose to engage unconditional response toward offenders, or not.
Contemporary psychology (and theology) further offers another insight that is important to consider in regard to our struggle to overcome our animal past and live as human. It states that we are not our inherited animal brain (e.g. Jeffrey Schwartz, “You Are Not Your Brain”). Though we still struggle against the residual influence of the animal brain, we are in reality a conscious self that is essentially love (see for instance, Albert Nolan’s “Jesus Today”). Some suggest that this true human self as love is the God of love that is incarnated equally in all humanity as the common “human spirit”.
Note again that the ideal of unconditional treatment of others faces stiff resistance from varied sectors of the human family. It is an ideal that is particularly offensive to good moral people, and notably to religious folk like Christians (some examples- http://withchrist.org/unconditional.htm , and http://www.acts17-11.com/cows_unlove.html ). We saw this earlier in the stories of Jesus where some people were included as a contrast to other characters expressing unconditional generosity, such as the older brother who was offended at the generous father who refused to punish or demand repayment first. The father did not act according to conventional payback justice (reward the good, punish the wrong).
We could respond to such constricted and stingy righteousness by recognizing that all of us intuitively feel that we should be treated unconditionally and our failures forgiven freely, but we are then often less generous with the failures of others that we view as worse than ourselves (further over toward bad on the continuums of good and evil that we hold). So we set conditions for others that are harsher than what we apply to ourselves. This type of thinking leaves us all insecure in the end. Who is really forgiven and included and safe if some are to be excluded from full unconditional treatment? Once we make it conditional and uncertain for some then it becomes conditional and uncertain for all of us.
I would add that to apply the ideal of unconditional only to response to major traumatizing events (e.g. serious crimes) is to miss an important application. Lifting a population or society is more about all members practicing unconditional in the little details of daily mundane human interaction. This is where we experience unconditional as a “hard saying” but as the purest form of liberation and enlightenment and the best way to lift all life toward something better.
Human ideals develop over history and sometimes spread gradually through populations. They are first felt and imagined by the courageous few who will begin to experiment with them in real life situations. They are often exhibited against conventional social practices that may dominate societies in a contrary manner. So there is often resistance to the new ideal. But if the new ideal is something authentically human, then it will grow and spread via a learning process. Hence, the advice of the early Akkadian father to his son was surely not something notably believed or practiced in his time but it has become more widely accepted in our age.
Also, with new ideals you will often get extremist applications as part of the social learning process. For instance, some have taken compassion to what is considered a pacifist extreme (i.e. “turn the other cheek” in all situations of violence, or a dogmatic non-resistance toward all evil). But also integral to any form of love is the element of healthy anger at evil and the refusal to yield to such, and consequent endeavor to prevent further evil in order to protect the innocent.
We might say that while Ultimate Reality or deity is absolutely no conditions love, and that serves as a noble ideal for life here, the messy reality of imperfect life requires all sorts of compromises.
There is also an important theological component to social change for many people. They come to understand that ultimate reality is unconditional love and this provides a sense of security and safety. It has a liberating impact on their consciousness and enables them to embrace life more fully as this realization frees from anxiety, fear, depression, and despair. This can then lead to a wider liberation of public consciousness in significant ways and the outcomes of this may reverberate throughout societies.
Love Beyond Comprehension
When considering this relatively new discovery of unconditional love at the core of all reality, we ought to remember the true nature of things transcendent or having to do with divinity. Such reality is beyond all imagining in terms of its real perfection and beauty. It is beyond our understanding or ability to express. As Campbell notes, categories, words, names, or statements only distort and diminish the truly incomprehensible. What Ultimate Reality actually is, is so much better than we can ever conceive or express. The reality of a God that is unconditional love is something infinitely better than the best that can be imagined. When “Near-Death Experiencers” return, after encountering the unconditional love of the great Light in surrounding realms, they cannot find words to express it. So, as Ken Ring says, they stammer hyperbole about that love. It is something better felt than understood or explained.
In light of this, anything less than or contrary to unconditional love could be evaluated as not fully human or humane. Unconditional becomes a new touchstone or centering ideal for truth and meaning in human narratives. It becomes the new baseline for perception of reality, for meaning, for human purpose, for authentically humane feeling, response, behavior, for overall authentic human existence. Comparatively, anything less may be considered not authentically human, or subhuman. This historically new ideal answers the profound human desire to know and experience what it means to be truly and fully human. Unconditional is the critical guidepost as to what to look for in order to find that better future or existence that all humanity intuitively longs for.
At the core of the universe is this pulsating Energy, Life, Power, Mind, and Consciousness that is defined most importantly by Unconditional Love. It is the greatest discovery ever made, the greatest insight ever conceived. It gets to the ultimate meaning of the universe and life, to the purpose of all. And it gets to the essential nature of what creates and sustains all things, and why all has been brought to exist- i.e. for the purpose of learning, living, and experiencing something of real love, of love that is unconditional. Unconditional takes the ideal of love to new heights of humane experience and expression. Unconditional is the grand liberation that we continue to reach for.
There is a major revolution occurring in the historical development of human perception and outlook. Humanity continues to explore and discover what it means to be truly human and what is the real nature of humane reality. But we have further work to do in order to fully root out this perverse perception that there is some horrific monster behind life that is going to retaliate and punish humanity. This is a residual perception that still hinders modern consciousness from a full liberation into a more humane future.
The grand narrative of humanity is about this liberation into that more human future. Counter movements like Christianity have tried to derail and abort this liberation but it goes on, driven by dreamers like the Akkadian father, the Hebrew prophets, the historical Jesus, and many others who have also felt something of the wonder of being truly human. We are just beginning to play around the edges of something so profoundly wondrous and liberating that we are hardly able to understand or begin to express it. It pulls us forward to make life something ever better.
Unconditional love is about liberating consciousness from all that limits humanity, from all those dark ideas that devalue the wonder of being human and depress human creative potential. Unconditional offers a genuine purging, cleansing, and transformation of the conscious and subconscious.
Some argue that any speculation about unknowable realities is a waste of time (Like the frustrated atheist who blurted, “Lets get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”). But because a lot of distorting speculation has already occurred over history (the basest features have long been projected onto ultimate reality) and such speculation has long shaped human thought and behavior, often in damaging ways causing much harm, then it is important to correct that speculation and offer better alternatives. To point toward a better direction for human perception. Hence, my foregoing theological speculation on new ways of perceiving ultimate reality or deity as unconditional love.
When we state that at the core of all reality there is Unconditional Love, we are not referring to some distant-from-humanity reality, out there somewhere, or up above somewhere in the “heavens” (i.e. the primitive mythology of sky gods). The Unconditional Love that creates all and sustains all in existence every moment is at the very core of our own consciousness, closer than our own breath or our own atoms. In fact, it is probably not even correct to perceive of human consciousness, or the human spirit, as something separate from the greater creating Consciousness. What matters most in the cosmos and world is right here inside us, at the center of our personhood. We, each one of us, are at the very center of what is most vital in the cosmos. There is no circumference, only Center, and each of us is that Center (to borrow and paraphrase some comments from Joseph Campbell).
This is also to counter the commonly made argument of how small and insignificant humans are in the universe. We need to question this argument that sometimes appears to devalue humanity, as the dimensions of this spatial realm may not mean much in terms of the value and role of consciousness. Conscious human experience appears to be the most real thing of all in the cosmos. It may be the only ‘real’ thing in the cosmos. It may be that which gives reality to all else (see for instance, “Quantum Enigma” by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner).
If humanity can no longer blame punishing gods, how then do we explain human misfortune and suffering? We can no longer explain it (as people have done all through past history) in terms of gods retaliating against sin, or disciplining failing people, or teaching people lessons. And anyway, what monster would harm or kill people just to teach others lessons, as is the argument of Job’s comforters?
We have better alternatives to help in understanding the mystery of suffering. For instance, we now recognize there is an element of freedom in nature and in human existence (freedom of choice and action).
Freedom is a concept essential to any authentic perception of love. Any contemporary understanding of deity must accept the fact of non-intervention (non-coercion) as central to genuine love. Love does not over-rule human freedom and choice. This leaves open the possibility for poor choice and hence, abuse and suffering caused to others. But such freedom also permits genuine moral good to be expressed which, according to theologians, is valued highly by a God of love.
For more detail on these issues that have perplexed people for millennia see, for instance, “The Triumph of God Over Evil” by William Hasker. He offers a thorough coverage of the issues related to human suffering and attempts to understand and explain this mystery as much as it is possible.
Appendice D: More background to Retaliation and Conditional
Let me rehearse here in summary some of the more prominent themes from early mythology that have continued to shape human belief systems through history, most notably with a punishment orientation. I am focusing on the origins of the two themes developed in this essay.
First, to clarify, the human fear of death is the fundamental impetus to mythmaking (Campbell- “The recognition of mortality and the requirement to transcend it is the first great impulse to mythology” Myths to Live By, p.22). Early people with their developing human consciousness became aware of life, of existence, and of beauty, love, suffering and all that comes with conscious human experience of life. But it was their awareness of death that impacted them the most. Their experience of life and love would end in the rot of death. That realization of finiteness and mortality became a terror to people.
Coupled with their death awareness and death fear they also felt the fundamental impulse of consciousness for meaning and purpose (Victor Frankl). This primal/primary impulse for meaning drove the human desire to understand it all and to explain life and death. This led to early attempts at mythmaking, at creating systems of meaning or explanation.
While fear of death pushed early people to create mythical explanations, there were associated ideas that shaped the nature of the explanations that they came up with. Prominent among such ideas was the perception that there were spiritual forces or spirits/gods behind all the elements and forces of nature. We see that in early accounts of water and wind gods (storm gods), gods of lightning and thunder, sun gods, moon gods, and other related gods.
Early people, using the best logic available to them, concluded that the spirits/gods were angry because the forces of nature were often destructive and harmful to people.
Further, people emerging from an animal past understood life in terms of animal drives and impulses such as small band or tribal mentality, domination of others (alpha male/female), and retaliation (destruction of competitors/enemies). It is important to note that retaliation begins with the animal world. We continue to embody our animal past in our physical body and in our genes (i.e. the 98% similarity with chimpanzees), and we also share the same dark and brutal impulses that animals manifest without guilt or shame.
These dark animal impulses are mediated to humanity via a core animal brain. This is the dark side in humanity, what religious people call “original sin or human sinfulness”. Viewing human imperfection and failure as sinfulness is to view humanity too harshly as possessing something that rightly provokes the gods to retaliate. Human imperfection is then viewed as something deserving punishment and damnation. Early myths also added the element of willfulness to human failure. The ancients claimed that early people intentionally chose evil (a more serious fault- first degree or intentional choice) and they thereby ruined the original paradise and destroyed life (the Fall of man or original sin myth). Later people would project onto their gods the feature of holiness which further sharpens the sense of human imperfection and affirms the felt need to punish humanity. Theological retaliation logic then argues that holy, pure gods are obligated to punish sin.
But to call our animal background and inheritance “sin” is to unnecessarily demonize humanity and to intensify the felt righteous urge to punish. Our animal background is our inheritance and it remains with us in the form of this inherited animal core brain (formerly the “tri-partite brain” in evolutionary biology terms- i.e. the reptilian core, the limbic system, and then the later cortex that mediates the more advanced human impulses). Humanity should not be condemned for emerging out of an animal past and struggling to gradually progress toward a more human future. Surely patience and assistance is a more appropriate response to our endeavor to become more human.
Unfortunately, with our animal background and its residual animal drives still experienced in human life, the brutal features of animal existence were then projected by early people onto their gods. Those gods were shaped as predatory, punitive, tribal, dominating, and retaliatory deities. They punished and destroyed people. For example, note the Sumerian Flood myth (Wikipedia) where an early council of gods decided to annihilate humanity with a flood.
Further in relation to these myths, people developed the belief that any human sickness was evidence of punishment from the gods. It was understood that the gods had sent any sickness because people had broken taboos and consequently deserved retribution.
The ultimate expression of the gods retaliating against human imperfection was the idea of final apocalypse, a grand annihilation of all humanity and all life; the ending of the world. This was the ultimate expression of retaliating gods punishing humanity.
But later mythmakers would take retaliation and punishment even further in the perverse myth of hell. After the apocalyptic ending of the world, imperfect humanity would then be destroyed and punished forever in a fiery and tormenting hell. This is the dark and perverse drive to retaliate and punish taken to a traumatizing extreme.
The culmination of developing these themes in early mythmaking is the perception that there is something threatening and punitive behind life, some great retaliating monster; a super predator. This has been the most damaging perception ever created by human minds. It has reverberated all down through history in human consciousness causing incalculable terror, misery, and despair.
As noted in the essay, this perception of something threatening and punitive, or retaliatory, then sparked the appeasement response in early people. This is the fear of death and survival impulse being aroused to extremes. Early people, afraid of the angered spirits/gods, naturally sought a way to escape punishment and death. They wanted to find some way to appease the angry gods and find salvation from their threats.
Therefore, the early shaman/priests devised salvation schemes. Notable here was the offering of sacrifices or blood to appease angry spirits. The salvation/sacrifice movement was developed into a massive endeavor across human history. It was revised and refined in many diverse ways in the varied religions that people have created but it has always expressed essentially the same desire to appease some angered and retaliatory entity behind life.
Christianity developed the above myths into their most intense expression and that Christian body of myths has arguably shaped Western consciousness and society more than any other complex of ideas, and the Christian civilization of the West has subsequently influenced much of the rest of the world.
So we have this line of descent from base animal characteristics and existence down to early animal-like myths and gods, and further down to more refined expressions of such themes in religions like Christianity. But in contrast to this line of descent, we also see in history the emergence of human consciousness in early humanity. That is something new and uniquely human or humane. As John Eccles says, it is something entirely outside of the evolutionary process- “A supernatural, spiritual creation… no other explanation is plausible”. And human consciousness with its new and unique human impulses takes humanity in an entirely new direction from animal behavior and existence. This is the exodus into freedom (freedom from animal drives and existence). It is the beginning of the humanization of all life in the wonder of civilization.
Evolutionary biology or psychology often does not get the human element right with its endeavor to understand human experience and life in terms of our animal past and inheritance. These disciplines have distorted and degraded the uniquely human by trying to explain it solely in terms of animal drives and existence. There are more helpful explanations coming from the disciplines of theology and psychology that properly honor the unique wonder of being human (see the books of John Eccles).
With the emergence and maturing of human consciousness there has been an ongoing struggle between the human and the animal. Religious traditions try to explain this as a struggle with original sin, but see, for example, Lyall Watson’s “Dark Nature” for alternative approaches to understanding human imperfection. Despite the ongoing influence of that animal inheritance, our human consciousness has sparked an overall trajectory in history that improves irreversibly toward something better over time. Note, for instance, Stephen Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and James Payne’s “History of Force” for evidence of this long-term improvement, rise, and advance of humanity and human civilization. We become something more humane over time and we also humanize the rest of life.
To sum up, the long historical record of the development and refinement of retaliation (payback, punishment, revenge) has to do with our animal past and inheritance, and the early projection of this onto ideas of God. The long historical record of the development of the unconditional treatment of others (i.e. non-retaliation, compassion, mercy, and other human traits) has to do with human consciousness emerging and maturing in humanity over the long-term. As some argue, this is divinity incarnated in humanity and inspiring humanity through the wonder of consciousness to become something better over time. To become what we are- truly and fully human.
To further clarify again, let me add that researchers like Karen Armstrong (“Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life”) and Jeffrey Schwartz (“You Are Not Your Brain”) are also wrestling with this issue of dualism, or dual natures, in humanity. They argue that as human persons or human selves we are not our animal inheritance. We are more essentially human and defined by the core human feature of love. This is our essential nature as human persons, as supernatural, spiritual creations. Our consciousness that is oriented to love defines us most essentially, not our animal past or inheritance.
Thus a new dualism is emerging. Note also the “Near-Death Experience” research in this regard. Monism or materialism never dealt properly with the fundamental human impulse for meaning or purpose. It never understood fully the wonder of human consciousness or the wonder of being human as a distinct and unique new reality in life.
Further comment on “From Retaliation to Unconditional”…
While appreciating the contributions of evolutionary biology and psychology, I have a quibble with such disciplines in that they try to explain the human too much in terms of our animal past and inheritance. Example- reducing human love too much to just the animal survival impulse- i.e. “species altruism”. Yes, an element of that is in the mix, but human consciousness and love is something far more unique and wondrous than the comparable features in our animal relatives. We are far more than just the 98% genetic relationship with chimps. That other 2% points to a vast gulf of uniqueness and difference.
Neuroscientist and Nobel laureate John Eccles, for example, details the difference between human and ape/chimp consciousness in his books, hence, the titles of some of his books- “The Wonder of Being Human” or “The Human Mystery”. We are something stunningly unique in the animal world. Our consciousness is something entirely distinctive and wondrous. We are much more than just our animal brain to paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz’s “You Are Not Your Brain”.
I affirm Eccles’ conclusion that we are led to believe that the human self is “a supernatural, spiritual creation”. Something far more wondrous than just another species of animal. Hence, our life trajectory in human civilization toward something uniquely different from animal existence. What we are, counters entirely the dominant anti-humanism of today’s nihilist apocalyptic narratives. Note how Julian Simon, in his own individual way, highlighted the wonder of being human in our ongoing improvement of life on this planet (“Ultimate Resource”).
As noted before… and critical to repeat and remember in the face of global warming panic-mongering… The comment below is to counter some of the more irrational, extremist, and anti-science features of the global warming crusade narratives…
1-2 degrees more warming will not be the tipping point to “catastrophic global warming”.
Ask yourself- Why did life emerge, develop, and flourish over most of past history when climate was much warmer on average than today? (the 500-plus million years of the Phanerozoic era) And why was there was no “climate crisis” during those much warmer eras? (Also, life flourished back then with thousands of ppm of CO2 compared to “today’s CO2 starvation era” of the low 400-plus ppm.)
Average world temperatures for over 80% of the Phanerozoic era were 17-20 degrees C. That is 3-6 degrees C warmer than today’s 14.5 degree C “icehouse conditions”. And tropical temperatures remained “remarkably stable” during those much warmer eras (see the reports on the “Sun-climate effect” below). Why was there no “climate emergency” during those much warmer eras? Because increasing heat energy is distributed to the colder polar regions/higher latitudes by Earth’s great convection currents (the “meridional transport” convection system being the main influence on climate change). The result is the “evening out” of temperatures across the Earth (i.e. the lessening of gradients or temperature differences between tropics and poles). Hence, already warm areas do not become hotter. Again, tropical temperatures “remain remarkably stable”, and consequently the “equable climate issue” that alarmist’s theories cannot explain- i.e. the varied negative feedbacks, still not fully understood, that maintain climate within parameters suitable for life, over hundreds of millions of years.
And consequently, with cold regions becoming warmer, plant and animal habitats are extended and that means greater diversity of life for cold regions and seasons. The areas of the world today with the greatest diversity of plant and animals are the warmer areas of our world- the tropics.
Note also that cold area species like polar bears have already adapted to and survived much warmer eras in the past, such as the previous Eemian interglacial that was some 3-5 degrees C warmer than our current Holocene interglacial. With the cold regions warming, humanity also benefits from a lessening of deaths from cold which is the far greater threat to all life today. Also, humanity benefits from extended crop areas. Alarmist media ignore such benefits entirely in order to harangue us with the panic-mongering over the mild 1 degree C warming that we have experienced so far over the past century.
Remember, multiple-more degrees of warming will not be “catastrophic” but will be net beneficial to all life. All climate change brings negatives, but any possible negatives are far outweighed by the many positives from more warming and higher CO2 levels. And adaptation to potential negatives is much more efficient than costly and irrational mitigation endeavors like today’s damaging decarbonization.
So do not fear the endless panic-mongering over more degrees of warming in our abnormal and sub-optimally cold world where there is far more harm to life from cold than from warmth. The 14.5 degrees C average temperature of today’s world is barely above ice-age conditions (again, see the paleoclimate research of sources like “Sun-climate effect” below). For most of past history, Earth has been entirely ice-free (over 90% of the history of the Phanerozoic) and that was a more normal, optimal status for all life. The panic over melting ice today is highly irrational and a denial of the history of life and the increased warmth that has benefitted all life across history.
Climate alarmists, like Woke Progressives in general today, have locked themselves into a corner with totalitarian response as their only option because they have framed their alarmist narrative in terms of a “righteous battle against intolerable evil, against an intolerable threat to life (i.e. an existential threat, an emergency/catastrophe/crisis)”. Hence, no compromise can be tolerated with dissenters/skeptics because, they claim, the stakes are the survival of life itself on Earth.
And they have frightened populations with this exaggerated and distorting narrative, inciting the survival impulse of many and thereby gaining popular support for their irrational salvation crusade of decarbonization, even as it devastates societies such as Germany, Britain, California, etc. just as it recently destroyed agriculture in Sri Lanka. Dissenters to the exaggerations of climate alarmism are now discredited with the usual pejorative smears as “deniers… right-wingers… extremists… disinformation peddlers… and even racists…”. Climate alarmism has long ago ceased representing any kind of credible science. It has come out of the closet as full-blown cultic fanaticism. A profoundly religious/ideological crusade.
Climate alarmists are taking us into another episode of totalitarian control of life by unelected elites who believe they know what is right for all others even as their own behavior hypocritically denies the basic tenets of their narrative of apocalyptic climate change. Note, for example, the detail just below on John Kerry’s personal use of energy compared to average citizens. The hypocrisy of these elites is further evident in their refusal to acknowledge the horrific damage their policies are wreaking on societies today.
This from Vijay Jayaraj, “Colonialism Reappears in Africa with a Woke new spin”
Quotes from the link:
“Many people read history to understand colonialism — how it looked and felt. However, for those in the Third World colonialism is a living experience, courtesy restrictive energy policies forced upon them by Western political leaders.
“This modern form of enslavement — to the West’s so-called green agenda — is variously known as climate colonialism, carbon imperialism and other monikers. Whatever the nomenclature, the reality is suppression of access to fossil fuel energy sources in the name of saving the planet from a made-up climate emergency.
“The effect of this imposed energy crisis on developing countries is lethal and quick. What climate-woke politicians decide in their temperature-regulated offices in Europe and North America has disastrous consequences for the world’s poor who live — and die — without reliable electricity, running water, washing machines, refrigerators, ovens and hospitals connected to a power grid.
“Societal objectives supposedly cherished in the West — from improving one’s livelihood to empowering women — are sacrificed by anti-fossil fuel activism of the colonialists.
“John Kerry, the U.S. administration’s special presidential envoy for climate change, asked African leaders to limit the role of natural gas to being a short-term replacement for coal and oil. Kerry expressed reservations about long-term gas projects because he believes that the fuel’s CO2 emissions are problematic.
“The authoritarian drum beat from the likes of Kerry has led the prime minister of India to call out the “colonial mindset” of western leaders who continue to suppress access to affordable and reliable energy in sovereign nations.
“The issue was also brought up in a recently concluded political conference where Russia, China, India, and other countries expressed deep concerns over the coercion of restrictive Western energy policies.
“The most astonishing aspect of these persistent calls for reducing Third World consumption of fossil fuels is that they come from people who have some of the highest CO2 emissions. For example, Kerry’s family owns a private jet and multiple mansions, with emissions higher than that of thousands of villages in Africa and Asia.
“As per data obtained by media in July, the Kerry jet, a Gulfstream GIV-SP, “has made a total of 48 trips lasting more than 60 hours and emitted an estimated 715,886 pounds, or 325 metric tons, of carbon since President Biden was sworn into office.” Reports indicate that the jet “produced 30 times more carbon in 2021 than an average vehicle.”
“So, on what moral ground do politicians like Kerry ask the poor to reduce emissions? What authority do they have to deny energy liberation to 620 million Africans still without electricity?”
And you think global warming is a “crisis”?
This from Paul Driessen, “The real climate and health crisis”
“Contrary to faulty global warming “research,” far more people die in cold weather than in hot summers. In the United States and Canada, cold causes 45 times more deaths per year than heat: 113,000 from cold versus 2,500 from heat. Worldwide, with air conditioning far less available in already hot countries than in the United States, some 1,700,000 people die annually from cold versus 300,000 from heat.”
After detailing the damage from climate alarmism policies (decarbonization), Driessen notes that climate changes are mostly natural and weather events are no more frequent or extreme than over the previous century and that “’manmade global warming’ exists almost solely in computer models that rely on junk-science greenhouse-gas hypotheses”.
He then says, “The real climate crisis is due to policies that are being rammed through on the basis of false premises, fear-mongering, and intolerance for fossil fuels.
“Congress, courts, states and voters must act now, to reverse the damage that climate and “green” energy policies are having on our economy, jobs, health, well-being, wildlife and environment.”
And also from the New York Post: On how panic-mongering over more warming is all backwards and upside down. Cold is the far greater threat to life. Multiple-more degrees of warming will benefit all life in our subnormal, suboptimal cold world.
(Note: I am not affirming the comment in this article that warming is “manmade”. Evidence does not support such claims. Other natural factors continue to show the strongest correlations to the climate change we have been seeing across past decades and centuries. See research reports in sections below.)
“Heat deaths are beguilingly click-worthy, and studies show that heat kills about 2,500 people every year in the United States and Canada. However, rising temperatures also reduce cold waves and cold deaths. Cold restricts blood flow to keep our core warm, increasing blood pressure and killing through strokes, heart attacks and respiratory diseases.
“Those deaths are rarely reported, because they don’t fit the current climate narrative. Of course, if they were just a curiosity, the indifference might be justified, but they are anything but. Each year, more than 100,000 people die from cold in the United States, and 13,000 in Canada — more than 40 cold deaths for every heat death.
“The same pattern holds, including in countries not typically associated with frigid winters. In India, cold deaths outnumber heat deaths 7 to 1. Globally, 1.7 million people die of cold each year, dwarfing heat deaths (300,000).
“For now, rising temperatures likely save lives. A landmark study in the medical journal Lancet found that climate change over the past decades has across every region averted more cold deaths than it has caused additional heat deaths. On average, it saves upwards of 100,000 lives each year.”
He’s so right to be angry at the merchants of despair
Here is a brief but powerful statement from Jordan Peterson on some of the most destructive themes in today’s narratives of despair and the damage caused especially to young people by these nihilist harangues. Peterson notes that young people are told they are a “cancer on the planet”, that life is “heading toward an environmental apocalypse”, and that “past history is nothing but destruction and corruption”.
As Peterson says, these alarmist screeds destroy any ethical ambition to go out into life. Young people are told to crush themselves, to not have kids, and are told that the whole human enterprise is so corrupt that humans must be limited. This demoralizes people, especially young people- i.e. being told that they are a corrupting force in life, so don’t do anything.
World surveys back Jordan’s point. Note the YouGov survey (Ten Global Trends) that revealed a majority believe “the world is getting worse”. Significant percentages of youth now suffer “eco-anxiety” and related mental/emotional disorders from the irresponsible alarmist panic-mongering. For decades environmental alarmists have claimed that our civilization is destroying the world and the end is nigh, whether from 1970s global cooling alarmism, to mass starvation scares, to predictions of the end of resources like forests, and more.
Alarmists and alarmist media ignore entirely the counter evidence that contradicts their apocalyptic scenarios. Good scientists challenge the alarmist’s prophesies of apocalypse, and do good follow-up research, and show that while there are problems everywhere, no, we are not destroying the world. Rather, evidence on all the major indicators of the true state of life show that we are solving problems and life is improving over the long term. Life overall is getting better, not worse. There is an amassed body of sound evidence on which to base hope for a better future.
I share Jordan’s anger at these narratives of despair that are lying to us about the true state of life and are destroying the hope and dreams of people, notably young people. While climate is changing, and we have had a mild and beneficial warming over the past century, there is no “climate crisis”. And the extreme weather events like storms, floods, heat waves, wildfires, tornadoes, and others- even the IPCC admits there is no worsening trend in such events. These weather events have always been part of life and we have learned to successfully adapt to them. The 99% decline in weather-related deaths over the past century is evidence of that successful adaptation. And what about the 15% increase in green vegetation across the Earth from more plant food in the atmosphere- more CO2? Why are we not celebrating that benefit to all life? (i.e. more food for animals and increased crop production for humanity)
No one denies climate change
For years now, there has been the persistent claim made in mainstream media that skeptics to the alarmist narrative of apocalyptic climate change are “deniers of climate change” and hence must be censored, silenced, discredited, and outright banned. Climate alarmists claim that the skeptics present evidence that contradicts the alarmist narrative and that evidence is dangerous “disinformation” that is hindering the alarmist efforts to “save the world” from looming climate catastrophe, hindering their “salvation from apocalypse” crusade that must take precedence over all other concerns. The alarmist’s authoritarian response to contrary evidence reveals a lack of understanding of the critical role of dissent/skepticism in true science and they have now moved dangerously toward unleashing totalitarianism responses, despite some alarmist’s claims of concern for “free speech”. Alarmists seem entirely unaware of what they are advocating with their calls for action against “disinformation” that counters their narratives.
Add to this the ongoing media crusade to attribute all extreme weather events to “climate change”. Media claim that all weather events are an affirmation of the alarmist narrative that apocalyptic climate change is happening.
Skeptical challenge to the climate alarm narrative is distorted and dismissed as dangerous “denial of climate change”. Remember the repeated mantra of Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, regarding their skeptical opponents during the 2016 presidential campaign, that “They don’t believe in climate change”.
Another element of the alarmist narrative is the claim to “scientific consensus”:
The scientists of the “co2coalition” make the following good points,
“The question is not, “Is climate change happening?” The real question of serious importance is, “Is climate change now driven primarily by human actions? That question should be followed up by “is our changing climate beneficial or harmful to ecosystems and humanity?”
“There are some scientific truths that are quantifiable and easily proven, and with which, I am confident, at least 97% of scientists agree. Here are two:
1. Carbon dioxide concentration has been increasing in recent years.
2. Temperatures, as measured by thermometers and satellites, have been generally increasing in fits and starts for more than 150 years.
“What is impossible to quantify is the actual percentage of warming that is attributable to increased anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2. There is no scientific evidence or method that can determine how much of the warming we’ve had since 1900 that was directly caused by us.
“We know that temperature has varied greatly over the millennia. We also know that for virtually all of that time, global warming and cooling were driven entirely by natural forces, which did not cease to operate at the beginning of the 20th century.
“The claim that most modern warming is attributable to human activities is scientifically insupportable. The truth is that we do not know. We need to be able to separate what we do know from that which is only conjecture.”
My main point here:
It is entirely false to state that skeptics to the climate apocalypse narrative are “denying climate change”. That is a statement of either profound ignorance of other’s positions, or deliberate deception.
The term “climate change” when used by media has become the alarmist dog whistle to refer to the entire climate alarm narrative that embraces the following fallacies- (1) climate is changing dangerously in terms of speed and scale, (2) CO2 has a warming influence that is the dominant influence on climate change (“control knob theory”) and humans are mainly responsible for adding to this CO2 influence over the past two centuries, and (3) that climate change is rapidly becoming “an emergency”, and will be catastrophic if it passes another degree or two of warming (the claim that 1.5- 2.0 degrees of further warming is the “tipping point to disaster”).
There is persistent effort to smear, silence, ban, and outright cancel the skeptical scientists who challenge this alarmist narrative that is largely based on discredited climate models that even the IPCC admits have been “running too hot”, that is- exaggerating the amount of warming occurring and its potential negative outcomes in the world.
Skeptics rightly note that actual evidence from climate shows that- yes, climate is changing because- Duh- it is never static and never has been. Climate is a dynamic and complex system that always changes. So no one, alarmist or skeptic, denies climate change as a basic fact. But the change over past centuries and decades has been very mild in historical terms, with only a roughly 1 degree C of warming as we continue to emerge out of the coldest period of our Holocene interglacial- the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715.
The speed and scale of warming over the past few centuries, and over our entire interglacial, has been small and mild compared to the huge swings in climate during the last 30,000 years of the previous glaciation, from 50,000 to 20,000 years ago at the tail-end of the Wisconsin glaciation in North America, just before our interglacial began. See the graphs of climate change in Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth” history of paleoclimate (p.33).
And yes, CO2 levels have been rising over past centuries but the carbon cycles on Earth are massive and the human contribution to these cycles is minute. Note also that when human emissions fell some 7% worldwide during the Covid lockdowns that CO2 levels continued to rise uninterrupted as before. How do we explain such disconnects?
We cannot conclude that most of the rise of CO2 over the past few centuries is due to human emissions. We don’t know the exact amount of the human contribution to rising CO2. And as far as the warming influence of CO2, evidence continues to emerge that other natural factors show much stronger correlations to the climate change that we have been observing over past decades and centuries and CO2 is just a “bit player” in this complex mix.
And (3) there is no evidence that climate change is becoming “catastrophic” or will become an “existential crisis/emergency” if it passes another degree or so Centigrade of warming. For most of the history of life, Earth was much warmer, 3-6 degrees warmer for over 80% of the Phanerozoic era (the 500-plus million years of life), and there was no “climate crisis”. Also, CO2 levels during that era were often in the multiple-thousands ppm and again there was no “climate crisis”. To the contrary, life emerged and flourished under such conditions. https://co2coalition.org/facts/current-co2-levels-are-near-record-lows-we-are-co2-impoverished/
Further, the increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 and the mild warming of the past few centuries has led to the largest improvement in human condition ever in history with the doubling of human lifespans over the past century, and a 90-plus percent drop in human deaths from severe weather events over the same time, and many other benefits like the massive greening of the Earth (15% more green vegetation on Earth since 1980). More warming will be further beneficial in saving human life as 10 times more people still die every year from cold than die from warmth. Further warming will lessen the threat from our still far too cold world.
So skeptical scientists are right to challenge the alarmist narrative and good science will not try to ban and silence such challenge but will encourage skepticism as integral to good science. The censorship endeavor is more evidence of a creeping totalitarian response, more evidence of a cultic religious fanaticism that tries to silence “heretics to a dogma”. That is not science.
Governments in the US, Canada, Germany, Britain and elsewhere, caught up in climate apocalypse hysteria have been blocking fossil fuel energy development. They have blocked pipelines and other infrastructure, shut down new exploration (cancelled leases), threatened that fossil fuels will become “stranded assets”, and burdened fossil fuel companies with ESG social justice requirements, and more. This frontal crusade against the most basic energy that fuels our societies has hindered the supply of fossil fuels in a world where demand for energy is increasing while unreliable renewables cannot meet such demand.
With diminishing supply in the face of increasing demand, energy prices have risen steeply over recent years and all else has also increased in price as a consequence. The result of driving up energy costs is increases also in the prices of the 6,000 derivative products from fossil fuels, many that are basic to modern life.
So don’t blame Putin for what your own anti-fossil fuel policies have done, Joe.
The decarbonization crusade is impoverishing many with inflation and an overall worsening of the human condition, a return to a more primitive past and poverty. Others have noted that the growing impoverishment due to the anti-fossil fuel crusade is the intentional plan of climate alarmists.
Pay close daily attention to sites like “Wattsupwiththat.com”, “co2coalition.org”, “Net Zero Watch” (regular newsletter of the Global Warming Policy Forum), and others that are warning us of the growing disaster developing across the world as a consequence of the “climate crisis” crusade and related irrational decarbonization policies (Net Zero). This crusade against CO2/fossil fuels has become a “madness of crowds” episode that has become more delusionally irresponsible than any other apocalyptic crusade before in history. It affirms Arthur Mendel’s statement that apocalyptic is the most destructive idea in history (“Vision and Violence”).
Historian Richard Landes was right, in his conclusion regarding the destruction from apocalyptic millennialism during the Nazi movement, that “(Hitler) is not so much the measure of the unthinkably, the impossibly evil, as he is the measure of how, with modern technology and an only partially developed civil polity, a nation, a people, seized by, ridden by (an apocalyptic) millennial passion, can become one of the great dealers of death in human history” (p.388, “Heaven On Earth”).
Landes and other apocalyptic millennial scholars/historians- Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline in Western History), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich)- all note the influence of primitive apocalyptic millennial ideas on the mass-death movements of Marxism, Nazism, and environmental alarmism.
Decarbonization is shaping up to exceed Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” in its destructive impact on our world. See sources noted above and the following links…
More on the madness of decarbonization and its destructive outcomes in the world…
The Holocene Optimum of some 10,000 to 6,000 years ago was up to 3 degrees C warmer than today…
We are in the coolest of the four warming periods of our interglacial and still emerging out of the coldest part of our interglacial- the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715. During the Holocene Optimum, agriculture emerged and flourished and also the early great civilizations emerged and flourished. And alarmists are panic-mongering us about a possible further 1-2 degrees C of warming??? What kind of irrational hysteria is that?
We have been on a long-term cooling trend since the end of the Holocene Optimum some 6,000 years ago and we ought to welcome any further multiple-degrees of warming that we might get. Varied climate scientists warn that we may be entering a cooling trend over the next few decades. See the “Sun-climate effect” reports in sections below.
Climate notes: 50 reasons why there is no “climate crisis”.
Good one on celebrating CO2 from environmental scientist Indur Goklany, author of “The Improving State of the World”
Here are quotes from the Goklany article on the current amazing greening of Earth thanks to humanity helping to put more plant food in the atmosphere. We are still in a “CO2 starvation era” with historically (in paleoclimate terms) low levels of CO2. Over the 500 million year history of life, CO2 has often been in the multiple-thousands of ppm compared to today’s 400-plus ppm. And plant life thrived during such eras with such high levels of CO2 and there was no “global warming crisis”. Plants prefer CO2 in the 1000-1500 ppm level.
“Contrary to the claims of proponents of the Green New Deal and Net Zero, fossil fuels are the greenest fuels.
“First, uniquely among energy sources, fossil fuel use emits CO2, which is the ultimate source of the elemental building block, carbon, found in all carbon-based life, i.e., virtually all life on Earth.
“The increased amplitude of the seasonal cycle in atmospheric CO2 and satellite-borne instrumentation to measure solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence from plants provide direct evidence that global photosynthetic activity (or Gross Primary Production, GPP, a measure of the change in global biomass) has increased over the past several decades (Frankenberg et al. 2011; Graven et al. 2013).
“Observed variations (Campbell et al. 2017) of atmospheric CO2 over the past two centuries are consistent with increasing primary productivity. Other satellite studies also show that the earth has been greening continually in recent decades (Zhu et al. 2016; Piao et al. 2020). “Second, fossil fuel dependent technologies have increased agricultural yields directly or indirectly by at least 167% (Goklany 2020). This increase in agricultural productivity is due to the use of fossil-fuel-dependent technologies, specifically, nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides and carbon dioxide fertilization resulting from fossil fuel emissions. This has enabled human beings to meet their demands for food using less cropland, which then spares land for the rest of nature. Thus, in the absence of fossil fuels, at least 167% more land would have to be cultivated to maintain global food production at current levels. That would be equivalent to increasing current cropland from 12.2% of global land area (GLA) (FAO 2019) to 32.7%. But diversion of habitat (land) to agriculture is already deemed to be the greatest threat to global biodiversity. Fossil fuels have, therefore, not only increased productivity of already-converted habitat, they have forestalled conversion of at least an additional 20.4% of GLA.
“Consequently, the world sustains 10 times more people today (7.97 billion) than at the start of the Industrial Revolution (786 million in 1750), while supporting more biomass…
“Based on satellite data, Zhu et al. (2016) found that from 1982–2009, 25–50% of global vegetated area had become greener while 4% had become browner. They attributed 70% of the greening to CO2 fertilization from emissions from fossil fuel combustion (which increases photosynthesis and water use efficiency, WUE, of most vegetation), 9% to nitrogen deposition (also from the use of fossil-fuel-derived fertilizers), 8% to climate change, and 4% to land use change. The first three, responsible cumulatively for 87% of the greening, are related to the use of fossil fuels…
“Chen et al. (2019) report that global leaf area increased by 5.4 million km2 over 2000–2017, equivalent to the area of the Amazon rainforest (Piao et al. 2020)…
“Song et al. (2018) found that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, global tree cover increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1%) from 1982–2016…
“Reforestation was probably enabled by increased productivity of agricultural lands substantially due to the use of fossil-fuel-derived fertilizers and pesticides, and increases in CO2 fertilization (indirectly from using fossil fuels). Together, they rendered land surplus to agricultural needs…
“Using data from 1982-2011, Cheng et al. (2017) found that global gross primary productivity (GPP) increased, mainly due to increased WUE of vegetation, an expected, but underemphasized, consequence of increasing CO2 concentrations…
“Vegetation models suggest that CO2 fertilization is the main driver of greening on the global scale, with other factors being notable at the regional scale.”…
“The increased productivity from higher photosynthetic rates and WUE due to higher CO2 concentrations implies the biosphere produces more plant matter, i.e., more food for all carbon-based organisms even under water-stressed conditions, which further enables earth to sustain higher biomass, that is, more organisms and/or a larger variety of species while also increasing its resiliency to drought, a chronic condition detrimental to most life forms (but which may favor drought-tolerant species)…
“Habitat Saved by Fossil Fuel Usage from Conversion to Human Use
“Use of fossil fuel technologies has enabled human beings to spare 20.4% of GLA for the rest of nature…
“The increased agricultural productivity allowed cropland in many areas to revert to forest or other non-agricultural use. For example, between 1990 and 2020 forestland in the USA and Western Europe increased 2.4% and 10.1% despite population increases of 30% and 11%, respectively (FAOSTAT 2022)…
“Fossil fuel combustion has increased the amount of carbon dioxide available to green the earth. This has contributed the major share of the approximately 34% increase in the earth’s GPP that has occurred since 1900 that has literally greened the earth. Second, by enhancing agricultural productivity, fossil fuel-dependent technologies have forestalled the conversion of at least 20.4% of global land area to agricultural uses. This is 25% larger than the entire area of North America. Remarkably, this exceeds the total amount of land currently set aside globally for both cropland (12.2%) and conservation worldwide (14.6%). Third, relative to renewable energy sources, fossil fuels have smaller physical footprints and lower demand for metals and other minerals. The latter substantially limits mining and other land disturbance. Such disturbance would inevitably result in “browning” of the land. Hence, fossil fuels are indeed the greenest energy sources.”
The decarbonization crusade
With decarbonization we are experiencing one of the most insane (Too strong? OK then, “irrational”?) and widespread apocalyptic madness movements in all history. That this is indeed an apocalyptic movement is not my evaluation and conclusion alone. Historians Arthur Herman, Richard Landes, Arthur Mendel, and David Redles, among others, have reached the same conclusion that climate alarmism is another apocalyptic madness movement influenced by the same apocalyptic millennial themes/ideas that influenced Marxism and Nazism. I’ve noted their research on the role of apocalyptic millennial myths in Marxism, Nazism, and environmental alarmism in sections below. And this resurgence of primitive mythical themes in contemporary ideology, and even in modern science, explains my interest and comment here on the deep historical background of such ideas in mythologies and religions. So “Yes” to whoever said that climate alarmism exhibits the signs of being a “profoundly religious movement”.
Joseph Campbell was right that the same mythical ideas/themes have been embraced by people all across history and across all the cultures of the world.
Added note: Is “insane” too harsh a term to describe the climate change alarm and its salvation scheme of decarbonization? I don’t think so. Many today actually believe that CO2 is the “control knob” that we can turn to control climate. We hear this incessantly in calls to reduce human emissions so we can keep global average temperatures from passing the 1-2 degrees C tipping point into apocalypse. This is King Canute-like lunacy that denies the basic science of climate. CO2 is just a “bit player” in a complex of other natural factors that have a much more dominant role influencing the natural climate change that we have seen over past decades and centuries. Added to the fact that CO2 is not a “pollutant or poison”, but is the basic food of all life and still in short supply compared to most of the history of life, CO2 is not the control knob for climate. To deny these facts is a form of insanity. Irrational at the least.
Ah, those Grade-One children who at the end of this century, maybe sooner, will look back in wonderment that so many “adults” became caught up in this “madness of crowds” episode that is the climate alarm crusade and that they ruined their societies with the decarbonization salvation scheme (i.e. to “save the world”). But such is the outcome when you terrorize populations with apocalyptic mythology.
A further argument that “insanity” is the correct term to describe the decarbonization crusade is that you have a nation, the US, that has massive reserves of fossil fuels and could be energy independent and help flood the world with fossil fuels, thereby driving down energy prices, and also lessen inflation. But the president, captivated by climate alarmism hysteria, refuses to unleash those resources and help people, notably lower and middle income citizens that suffer the most from fuel poverty. He chooses instead to blame others for the severe blow to US living standards from rising energy costs, rather than admit his own policies are responsible.
Add that he pushes costly renewables that are highly unreliable and still need conventional backup to maintain electrical grids.
This from Wall Street Journal, Oct. 6, 2022
Quotes from link…
“No American President has done more to make the U.S. more dependent on foreign energy than Mr. Biden has in less than two years. He came into office promising to slash U.S. oil and gas production, and his regulators and the Democratic Congress are doing everything they can to make drilling difficult and investment non-economic….
“The Biden White House has tried every gimmick to lower gas prices other than the one that would really matter: Call off its political and regulatory campaign against American oil and gas production. A statement from Mr. Biden to that effect would spur more production immediately in the Permian Basin and encourage new investment.
“But the Administration won’t do it because it is too afraid of, or shares the beliefs of, the climate left that wants to ban fossil fuels.”