The Humanizing Project (to make humane)

Comment in this section: Creating a Safe God- understanding roots causes of violence; Global Religious landscape quote; Further comment on Monsters of the Metaphysical; Linkages; Historical damage from alarmism; More on basic linkages; Brinsmead quote on vertical relating; Some reactions to unconditional; One more on links; The grand trajectory of the cosmos and life toward unconditional.

This humanizing project recognizes a common feature that has contributed to a similar problem in all the great religious traditions- the problem of violence in the name of God. Basic to good problem-solving is to consider all the elements that are involved in causing a problem, and then embrace the best means of solving the problem properly and thoroughly for the long-term future. This is about fully humanizing our validating ideals.

Quote from below: “Note that the suicide bombers are not shouting “Political oppression”, “Economic disparity”, or “Social corruption”. They shout “God is great”. Their motivating ideal is God, a God that affirms violence. See Terror in Mumbai in next section below.

And pay careful attention to the comment on avoiding “us versus them” tribalism over this violence issue. Note the larger Western Christian context of religious violence. It is about a shared inheritance of bad religious ideas and who passed on what to whom. In regard to this, note research on Muhammad’s Jewish Christian mentor, Waraqa, and the scriptures that he used to fill Muhammad’s mind with visions of violence (i.e. the Gospel to the Hebrews, roughly similar to the gospel of Matthew). Islam is just the latest major religion in the Western tradition that embraces violent gods promoting violence to punish and destroy unbelievers, with the inevitable consequence of promoting violence between people. Other sections below treat this in detail.

To the affirmative- despite the all-too-common outcome of violence, many in these religious traditions have learned to moderate their behavior for the better. But the core inciting feature of violent deity still remains embedded at the very foundations of these traditions, in their holy books. The pathology has not yet been properly dealt with and others advocating violence will continue to replace the current terrorist groups that we are repeatedly obligated to defeat. Read the rest of the opening comment here

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Site Comment: Section One

The true state of life- It gets better; Anti-science alarmism; CO2 alarmism; Plimer and Moore quotes on the benefits of CO2; Grappling with imperfection; Human narrative- Old story versus new story; Rethinking justice; Dogmatic meaninglessness; Defining the core of ultimate reality (some theological musing); Noble savage mythology; Authentic liberalism- its all about freedom; Alleviating irresponsible alarmism; Karma as payback myth.

What defines the overall trajectory of life and civilization- rise toward something better or decline toward something worse? Evidence on the complete picture and long-term trends shows improvement overall. There is much sound data to affirm hope. Life and civilization are rising toward a better future. Detail below. Critical to rational optimism is the evidence that humanity is in net terms creative and not destructive.

This site continues as a project to go after the foundational ideas behind all forms of alarmism, religious or secular, mythical or ideological. This is much more than some simple opposition between optimism and pessimism. It is about hard physical evidence and what this evidence shows about the complete picture of life and the long-term trends of life.

Life is story. Taking Joseph Campbell’s framework for human story (i.e. going out, fighting and conquering monsters, gaining insights to benefit others), I am going after a monster in human consciousness- the monster of vengeful, punishing, violent deity. That has been humanity’s supreme ideal and authority for most of human history. It is at the very foundation of much alarmism, past and present (note that ancient mythical themes have been given secular expression for the contemporary scientific era- see Declinism below). Read the rest of Section 1 here!

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Site Comment: Section Two

The foundational error in human thought- that there are punishing, violent forces or spirits behind life; A potent response to the original pathology- the discovery of absolutely no conditions love; Challenging the Greek view that retribution is at the core of reality; Main indicators of the true state of life- the status of forests, fisheries, soils, species; Confronting alarmism with hope based on the best available evidence; The problem of conditional religion; Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas; Theism/Atheism debate; A model of religion and violence; Countering the holiness distortion in Western theology; Inoculate children against religious pathology; Garcia on Alpha God; Pessimism as mental masturbation; Moore- celebrate CO2.

Contact: wkrossa@shaw.ca copyright Wendell Krossa

(Previous section summary: This site explores the foundational error in human thought since the beginning- the belief that there are violent and punishing forces, or spirits, behind life. That error was long ago expressed in primitive apocalyptic mythology, in the Sumerian Flood myth where the gods would punish and destroy imperfect people. The punishing deity myth then sparked the response of salvation religion- the felt obligation to appease angry, vengeful gods with sacrifice. Punitive deity is a profoundly anti-human mythology that views people as fallen, corrupt, and deserving punishment. The original error has re-emerged over history in endless new versions, both religious and secular. The Greeks stated it in their belief that retribution was at the core of reality. More recently, 19th Century Declinism, and its offspring of environmental alarmism, have expressed the punishing deity belief in angry planet mythology or the revenge of Gaia against humanity…

We have the potent response to that original pathology in the discovery that “no conditions” (unconditional love) defines the core of reality. This ideal liberates entirely from the monstrous error of punitive, threatening deity. Unconditional takes us to the heights of authentically humane understanding and existence. It purges entirely the worst features of past mythological and religious thought. It is humanity’s greatest discovery, ever. See also the comment on the mythology behind environmental alarmism. Read the rest of Section 2 here!

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Site Comment: Section Three

Violence- Getting ultimate inspiration and validation from bad religious ideas; Bad ideas promoting bad behavior; Christianity and violence in the Western tradition; Jewish Christianity shapes Islam; The great Contradiction- the unconditional theology of Historical Jesus contrasted with the supremely conditional theology of Paul/Christianity (or non-retaliation versus retaliation); The great scandal at the heart of Christianity; Chronology of the contradiction; James Robinson quotes on the contradiction.

(Note- It is understood that there are many diverse elements that are employed to incite terrorism, including political issues, economic issues, ideological or social issues, and personal issues. There is also the contributing influence of the inherited animal brain with its impulses to small band mentality, to separate and exclude the outsider, and to dominate and destroy the competitor. And there are varied critical responses to solving terrorism such as diplomacy and military action. One often neglected but important element in the mix is the religious element. This must be dealt with if solutions to violence are to be thorough and long term.)

Additional note: Someone asked me, “Are we heading for World War Three?” My response- Always maintain a view of the larger historical context and the long-term historical trend. That shows an overall decline in violence across the millennia. Violence has no long-term future. James Payne and Stephen Pinker are right that violence causes revulsion in most people and that results in more endeavor to encourage moderation and peace. The evidence affirms this optimistic view. While there will be more outbursts of violence, the trend is clearly toward lessening violence over time. The big picture and the long-term view solidly affirm hope. Read the rest of Section 3 here!

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Site Comment: Section Four

Landes on apocalyptic shaping Marxism and Nazism; Bad religious ideas; Lotufo quotes; Comment from discussion group- notes material from Nelson-Pallmeyer (Is Religion Killing Us?) and Ellens (The Destructive Power of Religion), among other comments.

Comment

Contemporary terrorism affirms again the powerful influence of theological beliefs on human behavior. This pushes us to acknowledge that some very bad features have been projected onto deity where they have long operated as validating ideals. Often validating behavior of the worst kind.

Just defending religion (theism) does not help to resolve this problem. It is important to understand exactly what ideas or features in religious systems have been helpful, and which have been harmful to human relating and existence. Recognizing such distinctions then initiates the project of eliminating the bad stuff. Religious traditions must engage fully the humanizing process that the rest of Western society has undergone over the past few centuries (transforming all ideas, beliefs, ideals, and behaviors into something more humane).

The fact that something is has long been considered “sacred” or “divine” should not prevent its transformation into something more humane.

The most destructive idea in history has been that of violent, vengeful, and punishing deity- the belief that God is engaged in a great struggle to destroy his “enemies” (Zoroastrian dualism). Is this claim of “most destructive idea” perhaps too extravagant? See evidence throughout this site. This is one of the core ideas that drives Islamic violence today. It is an idea that has long been embedded in the foundations of all three Western religions and it has also incited and validated violence throughout the histories of Judaism and Christianity. The myth of violent, punishing deity has profoundly shaped Western narratives, consciousness, justice systems, political policy, personal ethics, and more. The damage from this inhumane myth has been immense in terms of pathologies in human thought, mood, motivation, and behavior (see Lotufo below). Read the rest of Section 4 here!

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Site Comment: Section Five

Roots of alarmist/apocalyptic thinking; Quotes and summaries; A thought breakthrough; Grand narrative core themes (humanizing worldviews); Zoroastrian dualism (opposing and destroying enemies); The discovery; The futility of reforming religion (the stunning contrast between the unconditional teaching of Jesus and the conditional atonement of Paul); Standing up to the bully gods- the monsters of the metaphysical; History’s greatest Terrorist (violence in God); Getting to the root of violence.

Copyright Wendell Krossa

Note: Comments from previous years are preserved further below. They are repetitive of the main themes on this site but they also contain varied points that are not included in similar but more recent comments.

Material on religion and violence (i.e. religion inspiring or validating violence) is scattered throughout the site.

This page presents the big picture of unconditional reality and existence (no conditions, absolutely none). Unconditional offers an entirely new way to view ultimate reality, or what has long been termed the “spiritual”. Despite the secularizing trends in many societies over the past few centuries, the spiritual still plays a prominent role in shaping human perception, mood, and motivation (how we respond and act). In relation to this, unconditional offers a new humanizing ideal for human thought, behavior and existence. It is the most effective way to counter the destructive ideas or ideals at the core of much religion, ideals that have too often incited and validated the worst of human impulses.

This page also presents the developing history of unconditional reality. I note the first expressions of this discovery in some of the earliest human writing, that of the Akkadian father (2200 BCE), and then down through Buddhism, Hinduism, and other traditions. And on to the unique contribution of the historical Jesus (a person entirely different from the Christian Jesus). Historical Jesus was the first to get both the ethical and the theological dimensions of unconditional right. Read the rest of Section 5 here!

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Site Comment: Section Six

A brief history of punishment; Tackling Paul; Ethics and theology contrasted- Jesus versus Paul; Maccoby on Paul inventing his Christ myth; Ethics and theology compared; Central theme repeat; Paul’s reversal/retreat; Eliminating Zoroastrian dualism; Solving the root causes of violence; The wonder of being human; The most potent force against evil; CO2 or natural variation?; Secularized mythology- apocalyptic myth in modern ideology

New Comment

The unconditional treatment of all people presents an authentic way to peace on Earth. It goes to the root of the human tendency to violence and war- the impulse to retaliate and punish. And it challenges the foundational beliefs that have long validated retaliation and punishment.

Also, here is my review of Simon Joseph’s new book The Nonviolent Messiah read my review here . Simon argues convincingly that the new theology of Jesus- a nonviolent, non-punishing God- demands a radical rethinking of core Christian beliefs.

And here is an essay by Robert Perry on the unconditional theme of historical Jesus (Click here to read essay) . Perry expresses well the spirit of unconditional as found in the core teaching of the Palestinian sage.

New material at bottom just above the Joke Bin…includes comment on Harold Ellens’ “The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”. Ellens is helpful in pointing to the destructive impact of religious ideas but weak on the solution to this root cause of violence. He, and his contributors, get bogged down in endeavor to reform religion. My response- a conditionally oriented institution cannot properly communicate unconditional reality. New wine needs new wineskins.

See also “The Futility of Reform” that comments on the endeavor to reform Christianity and the confusion that is created by claiming that the teaching of Jesus is foundational Christianity. Not true. The teaching of Paul is original, foundational Christianity. Jesus, to the contrary, advocated a new unconditional theology that was entirely opposite to Paul’s highly conditional theology.

In my response to the Ellens material I have outlined the brief history of how our basest impulses to exclude and harm others are incited and validated by our highest ideals and authorities (often religious ideals and authorities). I note how ancient people projected their worst features onto their gods (i.e. violence as in atonement theology, us versus them tribalism, domination, and destruction of enemies), and then subsequently they used those gods to validate the inhuman treatment of others. To solve this root cause of inhumanity we need to thoroughly re-evaluate our most fundamental ideas and beliefs, especially religious ideas and beliefs, and discard those that do not fully express unconditional reality. We need to build unconditional into the very foundations of our thinking or worldviews, as the highest expression of authentic humanity. Read the rest of Section 6 here!

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Site Comment: Section Seven

The problem of deity; Defining and describing God; Reason for this page (leaving conditional religion for unconditional freedom); Former page Intro; Punishment thinking; I am a dreamer (my list of greatest things); Search for the real deal; Summary of core teaching (historical Jesus); Unconditional in the Jesus tradition; Dating the New Testament books and related sources; The great contradiction; Mandela’s example and the cost of unconditional; Unconditional is impractical?; Unconditional and the use of force (advice of Chinese sage); discussion on Mandela; Brinsmead on non-retaliation in relationships; Two essay summary; Humanity’s greatest mistake

The Problem of Deity

Over history an interesting relationship has developed between humanity and deity. People have long taken human features and projected them out to define deity, to shape their understanding of greater reality. We see this in ancient mythology- gods that fight, punish, destroy, and often in the pettiest manner and over the pettiest things. Primitive gods that were very much like the primitive people that created them.

But as we have become more humane so we have updated our conceptions of deity, making gods more humane also. We see this early on in the Pharaoh-gods beginning to exhibit kindness and mercy. We find it later in the Hebrews presenting God as compassionate. Over history we humanize our gods as we become more humane and as we come to understand better the core features of authentic humanity.

This human/god relationship has also worked in a feedback loop manner. People create their perceptions of gods and then use those gods to justify their own actions and existence. As anthropologists note (e.g. Clifford Geertz), people have long appealed to the divine to validate their own lives and societies. This can be seen in the BCE-era Israelites believing that God gave them detailed instructions on how to build their first temple, how to arrange their camps around that temple, and a vast array of other detailed instructions on things like clothing, diet, care and consumption of animals, sexuality, and more. Read the rest of Section 7 here!

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Site Comment: Section Eight

Humanity’s greatest discovery; Post to the Jesus Seminar Fellows; Seminar appreciation; Bob Brinsmead comment; Grand narrative context; Paul’s dominant themes; The benefits of blasphemy; Summary of unconditional; Two grand narratives of cosmos/life/humanity; The Ultimate Resource- Julian Simon quotes; Stephen Pinker on decline of violence; The most fundamental questions; Remembering Nelson Mandela; The ultimate insight; Environmentalist/environmentalism; The Mennonite solution (lipstick on a pig)

Humanity’s greatest discovery

There is no greater discovery in history than the discovery of unconditional at the very heart of all reality. This liberating insight counters entirely humanity’s worst error- that retaliation and punishment defined the core of reality (i.e. ultimate forces/spirits that were punitive).

Unconditional also revolutionizes our views of humanity. We can now apprehend that humanity shares the same unconditional essence as that of ultimate reality, variously referred to as Universal Mind, Consciousness, Spirit, Intelligence, Self, Universe, Being of Light, or God.

And here is the great contradiction between unconditional ultimate reality and religion. Historically, all religion has been about conditional reality- the correct beliefs, sacrifices, rituals, life style, taboos, and rules to appease and please the gods. Religion, in general, has long affirmed the orientation to conditional thinking and existence in society (i.e. justice as payback, eye for eye).

This conditional orientation of religion is entirely contrary to the discovery that ultimate reality is unconditional in its essential nature. Religion, therefore, does not and cannot correctly represent the unconditional love that is ultimate reality or God (unconditional meaning absolutely no conditions, none). Religion, as conditional existence, is entirely opposite to that. And this is especially true of a religion like Christianity that advocates a supreme condition in its Christ myth. That myth is about the demand for an infinite sacrifice- that of a God-man- to meet the demand for infinite punishment for human sin. This is the height of conditional thinking/reality. Christianity’s theology is completely opposite to the original unconditional gospel of Jesus (see essay “Retaliation/Unconditional”). Read the rest of Section 8 here!

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Site Comment: Section Nine

Unconditional goodness; A big picture approach; Previous site summary; No Hell beneath us; Climate change alarmism continues; A fresh look at unconditional; More on site content; Decline or Rise- what is the actual trajectory of life?, There is nothing to fear behind life; Retaliation…non-retaliation; The apocalyptic error and the nature of life as unconditional; Creating divine monsters; Unconditional- correcting the apocalyptic myth; Excerpts from near-death experiences (unconditional love at the core of reality); Decline or Rise; From retaliation to unconditional; Entirely opposite- a shift into reverse; A new unconditional TOE; Essays on unconditional; Two greatest things, Depression and theology

Unconditional Goodness: A liberating new ethical and theological perspective (part of a larger trend to humanize all of human understanding, that is, to make it more humane)

There is an emerging and still developing discovery spreading through public consciousness that is absolutely the most profound perception or insight in all the history of human thought. It is the discovery that unconditional goodness is at the very core of all reality and life. Unconditional goodness defines everything in the most essential manner.

Generally, the adjective unconditional is commonly paired with love (i.e. unconditional love). Unconditional goodness is another way of stating this with the understanding that it also encompasses the full range of meanings related to unconditional, including such things as unconditional forgiveness, unconditional inclusion of all, unconditional mercy, and unconditional generosity, etc. But even more than this I want to focus in more exclusively on the word unconditional itself with the intention to clarify what it actually means. You would think that it explains itself, but unfortunately there is a lot of distorting religious use of this term in contexts that include religious conditions. That only confuses the real meaning of unconditional.

The insight of unconditional, when simply taken for what it says, revolutionizes entirely the human perception of ultimate reality. All past understanding of ultimate forces/spirits viewed the gods as threatening and punishing beings that demanded payment or punishment for wrongs committed (i.e. the condition of blood sacrifice to pay for sin/failure). The gods were oriented to conditions or demands that humans had to fulfill in order to be forgiven, accepted, or to be assisted by the gods (i.e. required offerings). But unconditional overturns all such perceptions with the affirmation that ultimate reality is entirely unconditional. And unconditional means just what it says- absolutely no conditions. None. Read the rest of Section 9 here!

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Site Comment: Section Ten

Discussion group comment; Bob Brinsmead; Dense complexity (causes of violence, NCI response); Mimetic Mennonites (the futility of reforming Christianity); Harold Ellens’ ‘The Destructive Power of Religion’; New comment; It all gets better, infinitely better; History’s greatest liberation movement; Celebrating more CO2; Hitchens on violence; The longing for perfection; Brinsmead on imperfection; God as psychopath; the pathology in Western religion; Zenon Lotufo quotes (the psychopath behind atonement theology- finding satisfaction in the suffering of others); a model of religion and violence; review of Armstrong’s ‘Fields of Blood’; understanding the relationship between religion and violence; and Love and freedom- understanding suffering.

Comment from discussion group August 2014, Wendell Krossa

Much of this comment below, while pulled out of its discussion group context, has to do with response to the recent eruptions of violence in Syria/Iraq (ISIS) and elsewhere. For more detail on the issues discussed, see comment throughout this opening page and in various site articles.

Note comment further below from Bob Brinsmead on the Christian history of violence.

Discussion group comment (Wendell Krossa): He made some good points on the video interview I saw. Arguing that Israel was not gaining points for its still heavy-handed approach. Many commentators have said that this time around world opinion was more on the Israeli side, with the understanding that no country can put up with such ongoing attack on its civilians. But still, more can be done to insure less civilian casualties on the other side also.

And people also understand more of what we are dealing with- a nihilistic hate and lust for death that cannot be reasoned with. But still, for long-term resolution to such violence, total destruction of one side is not the answer. The Ottoman history and larger situation in Bosnia ought to be instructive. Those hatreds and the lust for revenge were passed down over four centuries to each new generation before exploding back in the early 90s as we all saw. Total destruction of your “enemy” is no long term solution. Many others are watching and remembering, and they are building a sense of hate and desire to retaliate, to get even, that will erupt again when it finds the opportunity. Read the rest of Section 10 here!

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