Reflowering Apocalypse in the Tree of Life
This work is a "Rosetta Stone", to unveil the entire phenomenon of apocalypse, so we can finally come to terms with it, in a reckoning that includes both the tortured religious history and the complex cosmological and biological science our world-view now encompasses. Although it is daunting in its complexity, it has an outcome that is so world-transforming towards resplendent paradise on Earth, that there is no other work in existence that can have such bounteous potential. The reader needs to have patience and persistence to seek to unfold its full ramifications, for it is the Resplendence Codex, reflowering the immortal Tree of Life.
An apocalypse (ἀĻοκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀĻό and καλύĻτω meaning "uncovering" or more directly "unveiling"), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil, or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
Above: Dimensions of planetary apocalypse. The 58 megaton Tsar Bomba equaling over 3800 Hiroshima bombs and Amazon deforestation by fire. Below Left: In Nov 2015 Russia revealed plans for a 100 megaton nuclear torpedo designed to cause a 500m tsunami, probably "salted" to form cobalt-60 emitting intense gamma radiation with a half-life of 5.27 years to kill everyone within 1500 km. The document was shown at a meeting where Putin warned that "Russia will take necessary retaliatory measures to strengthen the potential of our strategic nuclear forces". Even as a defensive strategy, or merely cold war rhetoric , this is apocalyptic thinking. The world is still at 15 times nuclear overkill, risking accidental holocaust. Habitat destruction goes on unabated, precipitating the sixth great mass extinction of biological and genetic diversity in the history of Earth. Below Right: Amazon deforestation in Brazil as of 2006 (Nature).
We are living in a world in which human impact on the living habitats and climate of the planet on a vast scale is becoming ever more severe, taking us towards a tipping point that could both threaten our long-term survival as a species and will certainly cause a mass extinction of the diversity of life. At the same time as the covers have well and truly been thrown off reality by the scientific and technological revolution that is sweeping the planet, religious forces with an avowed agenda of world domination are fomenting violence in the name of the one true God. In the name of Islam, believers are committing genocide, mass beheadings, sexual slavery, and other inhuman actions taking us right back to the tribal law of the seventh century, while innocent people are being blown apart by Islamic 'martyrs' in the vain hope of seeing the face of al-Llah in paradise, with 72 black-eyed virgins at one's beck and call. In the Christian sphere, in slavish adherence to the Sabbatical Creation, people continue to deny the natural evolution of life in anticipation of a "late planet Earth" rapture in the heavens. Amid this turmoil, we still have the insecurity of enough nuclear weapons of mass destruction to devastate the planet, should they become unleashed.
Whether we are religious and believe in a day of judgment, or are simply people trying to look to a sustainable world, where our offspring and those of society around us can have the confidence to survive, we have to acknowledge that we are living in a very troubled world, where the future remains uncertain and where potential violence and tumult burgeon. We thus need urgently to come to terms with why we are living in this state, in a world which would otherwise be capable of sustaining a perpetual paradise, how we got ourselves into this dire situation, and how to find the way through to a soft-landing outcome that does protect the generations of life from the tumultuous threats that humanity has wrought upon the world.
The word apocalypse is both a beacon and a plague to the human consciousness. It is our destination in the final awakening in the end of days and it is the feverish fantasy that leads countless people to commit violence and genocide in the name of the rule of God, from the Muslim Caliphate to the Heavenly Jerusalem, with the Jewish Mashiach, the Parousia of the Second Coming of Christ and the Mahdi of the Shi'ities playing the role of healing, or avenging, hero in the piece. We can love it and hate it. We can try to ignore it, but it keeps creeping up on us as a fascinating and terrifying vision, no matter how much, in the interests of common sense, protecting the sanctity of life, we try to set it aside,
So here follows a key unravelling to come to terms with it, to understand its roots in our existential condition and to discover how we can turn the tide of misfortune and the tumult of genocide into a new epoch of paradise under the banner of the Tree of Life. For all the negativities of gloom and doom the tumult of apocalypse entails there is a golden lining in the covers being thrown off reality in a win-win for the ongoing survival and flourishing of life and consciousness in resplendent abundance.
Apocalypse is only now coming to a high noon out of a wider, deeper backdrop in our existential condition over the last two thousand years, and extending into the next century. It is an expression of a sense of future-shock, of political domination by corrupt world powers, of military turbulence and genocide on a vast planetary scale. It is dealing to currents deep in our collective subconscious that we have brought about an epoch of tumultuous change in which the future looks like coming to a 'high noon' in which everything will be revealed in a final reckoning. A hard planetary landing.
Four global scenarios requiring urgent long-term solutions: (1) Predicted world average July temperatures, indicating loss of crop production due to temperature and rainfall changes (NASA). (2) Biodiversity zones surviving four different global warming scenarios (Groombridge 1992 Global Biodiversity). (3) Loss of land area in a 6m sea level rise (Wikipedia). Because of the long response time, it has been estimated that we are already committed to a sea-level rise of around 2.3m for each degree of temperature rise within the next 2,000 years. A temperature rise of 3 degrees would lead to a 6.9m rise, but up to 50m if the Antarctic ice sheets melted from below. (4) World gross national income per capita shows spread of world poverty and affluence.
In many ways this has been a burgeoning reality ever since the agricultural revolution. It was certainly the case around the time Revelation was written, when it is said that over a million people died in the siege of Jerusalem in a world whose population was only around fifty million. Jesus was aware of this and events shortly after his death led to a holocaust, resulting in the Jewish diaspora, so it is very understandable that perspectives took an apocalyptic turn.
But today we are facing a much huger planetary apocalyptic crisis, potentially eclipsing the whole of Earth's cosmic history, in which we have gained the powers to effectively destroy much of life on Earth and ourselves through nuclear holocaust and are having irreversible impacts which are leading to tipping points, in the climate, ocean levels, precipitating a mass extinction of biological and genetic diversity, diminishing our own survival prospects as a species in the process. As a marker in the sand of misadventure, a 2016 research report shows the rate of carbon emission is an order of magnitude higher than the last mass extinction event - the PETM - some 56 million years ago, so the changes we are inducing go back not just to the origin of major religions some 4000 years ago, or human culture some 40,000 years ago, or the human species some 200,000 yeas ago, but a span of at least 50 million years to early in the mammalian radiation before the monkeys differentiated from the lemurs. This is hardly surprising since, in a century or two, we are releasing into the atmosphere much of the carbon in coal dating back to the Carboniferous 300 million years ago and a good half of the oil accumulated from the Ordovician 450 million years ago on through the Permian to the demise of the Dinosaurs. The image below shows a hard landingmass-extinction, which could threaten human survival, would set the world back on cosmological time scales.
Comparison of the evolution of the universe from the big bang and the evolution of life on Earth shows that life has existed for a quarter of the universe's lifetime and can thus be considered a long-term stable feature of cosmic evolution. Astronomical events including impacts and nearby supernovae have always played a major role in causing mass extinctions accompanied by volcanism possibly as a secondary consequence of the impacts themselves. However the advent of so-called human civilization is threatening in the next century to cause a mass extinction more serious than the cretaceous-tertiary event that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Apocalypse is a motif in every person's existential consciousness in the sense that we seek to understand the ultimate mystery of existence and come face to face with it before we pass away into oblivion. This is a fundamental theme of Eastern religion, which places its emphasis on an individual attaining enlightenment, in union with the cosmic self, albeit with varying degrees of moral responsibility for the welfare and enlightenment of all sentient beings, in the greater Mahayana.
The 'unveiling' of reality is also absolutely central to the scientific revolution. As we have progressed from the first wave of Greek science through to the Renaissance and the flowering of the Western scientific tradition, the covers have well and truly been thrown off reality, from end to end of the description of nature, confounding all our preconceived notions and religious doctrines, from the flat Earth and the centre of the cosmos, to the existence of the human ovum. We now have a model of the universe from the putative theories of everything through the standard model of particle physics, to molecular dynamics, biogenesis, and with the human genome project, the decoding of human genetic evolution and that of a rich diversity of our sister species, rendering the naēve endearingly quaint notion of the sabbatical creation of Genesis 1 no more than a beautiful impossible poetic fantasy, where the plants are created before the Sun and Moon.
Nevertheless the grip of affirmative religion clings to the scriptures like a drowning man clings to life flashing before one's eyes, right up to the moment of death in the final tumultuous apocalyptic expose. We still find Christians and Muslims alike rationalizing that the revealed scripture is somehow truer than physical reality itself, that we are all destined for the Day of Judgment and that evolution is just some kind of corrupt sleight-of-hand invented by atheistic humanists to undermine our faith in the one true God. This again affirms to us that apocalypse is not just a figment of religious doctrine, but a deep current in our existential consciousness induced by the paradox of subjective existence in a biological body in a culture in a continual state of flux towards an endpoint, which has throughout been one of crisis on a grand scale.
With our own generation "apocalypse now" has become an even more potent planetary reality. At their climax during the Cold War nuclear weapons of mass destruction rose to 40 times overkill, with arsenals poised to a hair trigger. We have an exponentiating world population which is consuming vast areas of the planet's natural habitable systems for human production, causing the depletion of non-renewable resources such as oil which have taken hundreds of millions of years to accumulate, irreversible mass extinction of genetic and biological diversity and climate change which could submerge major areas of the planet and lead ultimately to a 50 metre ocean rise with the under-melting of the Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets, as well as catastrophic storms on a scale never previously recorded by humanity. We are thus literally facing planetary apocalypse if we don’t get a grip on our own folly and the impacts of business-as-usual on the planetary future.
Into the middle of this toxic mix, we find that apocalyptic religions, and particularly Islam, and its divided camps, are entering ever more feverishly into an end of days struggle, in which the entire Middle East is now enmeshed in a religious war between Sunni and Shi'ite elements, amid calls from either side to the apocalyptic final solution in martyrdom and effective genocide driven by religious scripture. Both of these have end of days assumptions, with Shi'ites anticipating the return of the Mahdi the figure of the end of days who Jesus is believed to accompany to the Ka'aba in the final judgment and the Caliphate of Islamic State which seeks to return the world to a totalitarian monolith of seventh century Arabia, in which all who are perceived to have different views are taken into sexual slavery or summarily beheaded, or crucified, and minorities of other beliefs are committed to genocide, in the shadow of Muhammad's own genocide of 700 Jewish men in Medina.
Again one can see this in even deeper time as an evolutionary phenomenon of humans developing language and culture over tens of thousands of years as gatherer-hunters, only to explode as we left Africa and migrated to every "corner" of the globe. The culture of agricultural civilization then set the paradigm for reproductive expansion amid the rise and clash of cultures, amid genocidal wars of ascendency, accompanied by instances of natural disaster from flood and famine and the growth of epidemic plagues caused by human mobility and the density and marginal living conditions of urban populations. This became incorporated in turn into the religious dialogue as cultures sought more convincing and more universally cohesive ways of giving expression to moral and physical dystopia with a utopian expectation.
Apocalypse is in many ways a global archetype of the vision quest to find transformative meaning in an existence caught in the mortal coil, where there seems no alternative to the eventual decay of time and age and no respite from the ultimate fate of death we all face. The one way we could perhaps 'turn the tables' on reality is to discover the visionary roots of existence and convey it back to our fellow beings in a redemption of existence that includes us all in the fabric of meaning through love and the fertility of life itself. Perhaps all conscious organisms in the universe experience the apocalyptic condition and the messiah is simply an archetype of the discovery process any one of us could take to the absolute limit and return illuminated with the wisdom to weave the threads of existence into a coherent bundle of life.
We are all conscious sentient beings and have a huge amount of trouble coming to terms with what the relationship is between our conscious experience, our biological mortality in the natural world around us, and the mystery of being itself, which remains enigmatic, even in the scientific era. Belief in transcendent deities and spirits is an evolutionary feature of human consciousness that has existed for tens to hundreds of thousands of years.
Fulton cave drawing 1000 BC celebrating a San girl's menarche, Drakensberg Mountains, Natal (van der Post).
One of our oldest founding cultures, the San Bushmen, whose genetic history dates back 130,000 years, have a creator deity, a lesser god of misfortune and notions of the afterlife not dissimilar from those in major world religions, although they regard these gods philosophically rather than in fear and supplication:
≠Gao!na, the !Kung Great God, using one of his seven divine names, created himself: "I am Hishe. I am unknown, a stranger. No one can command me. I am a 'bad' thing. I follow my own path." Then ≠Gao!na created a Lesser God who lives in the western sky where the sun sets; and after this two wives for himself and for the Lesser God. ≠Gao!na, tallest of the Bushmen, was in his earthly existence a great magician and trickster with supernatural powers, capable of assuming the form of an animal, a stone or anything else he wished, and who changed people into animals and brought the dead back to life. But as the Great God who lives beside a huge tree in the eastern sky, he is the source and custodian of all things. He created the earth with holes in it where water could collect and water, the sky and rain both the gentle 'female' rain and the fierce 'male' rain thunder and lightning, the sun, moon, stars and wind. He created all the plants that grow on the earth. He created the animals and painted their individual colours and markings, and gave them all names. Then came human beings, and he put life into them; and gave to them all the weapons and implements they now have, and he implanted in them the knowledge of how to take all these things for themselves. Thus their hunting and gathering way of life was ordained from the very beginning and ≠Gao!na ordained that when they died they should become spirits, //Gerais, who would live in the sky with him and serve him. He set the pattern of life for all things, each in accordance with its own rules.
But the idea of Apocalypse ultimately stems from the beginnings of agricultural civilization, as we emerged from the gatherer-hunter 'paradise', in the fall into the tumult of future shock, with ever more cycles of facing grim reality, as one civilization after another struggled for dominance. In a sense it is woven into our existential condition. A key feature of the apocalyptic epoch is the fact that the entire period has been one of patriarchal domination, in which woman was cursed and social patterns involving the matriarchy and female reproductive choice were violently repressed.
We can see in the Fall from Eden the very origins of apocalypse in Adam and Eve being thrown out into a world of diaspora by the sweat of their labours, in an ongoing contratemps with God, evoking a dysphoric epoch lasting throughout biblical history. The Shekhinah of Jewish mythology, representing the indwelling feminine face of God's presence on Earth in matrimonial concord, was said to have retreated in the Fall, only to return in shards, or 'sparks', which will reunite in the end of days. Although in Genesis 1 woman and man are conceived in the likeness of the 'Elohim - God in the sexually dyadic plural, in Eden, Yahweh (Jehovah) is now a lone (male) God, and Eve is now blamed for parleying with the serpent and persuading Adam to eat with her the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, becoming sexually shy, covering themselves with fig leaves, only to be cast out of Eden with a flaming sword by God, for man to live by the sweat of his brow among thorns and thistles and woman to suffer the pain and travail of childbirth, to be ruled over by her husband and both to go as dust to dust and ashes to ashes in the round of mortal existence. Woman is thus cast as the "Devil's Gateway" in the Christian tradition, along with all the symbols of female reproductive choice as personified in the Great Whore of Babylon ‚Äď Inanna-Ishtar.
Woman is cast in Christianity as the devil's gateway, cursed for her own desire to have reproductive choice and the sexual and sensual responses to enable her do so. Here the world is divided between the frigidity of obedient female virtue and the heated lust of the cursed scarlet sinner.
This current of patriarchy opposed to matriarchal traditions is also spelt out in the Pentateuch, where Jacob, the founder of the twelve tribes of Israel spends seven years with the matriarchal family of Laban for each of Rachel and Leah, before departing with his wives and cattle to found a patriarchal dynasty, with Rachel hiding the teraphim, or house Gods of Laban's family, under her menstrual skirts, in a telling portrayal of the women conceding to be complicit in the transition to patriarchy.
This is followed by a severe warning in Judges, that matrilineal patterns were to be violently overthrown by a zealous patriliny. The concubine of Bethlehem-Judah is accused of 'whoring' by going back to live with her father-in-law for four months. When the Levite returns to claim her, the father-in-law keeps saying to stay a little longer. When the couple leave and turn in at Gibeath, and men of Belial ask to 'know the man within', the Levite offers his concubine, who is raped and dies on the doorstep.
Above: The hieros gamos from 10,000 BC through Catal Huyuk 7500 BC to Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumeria 2500 BC represents conjugal fertility. Middle: Bottleneck in human Y-chromosome from 10,000 years ago with the spread of urban agricultural civilizations resulted from an ongoing sex ratio of 1 reproducing man for every 17 women - the extreme polygyny of male elite power with a few high status males controlling female reproductive choice (doi:10.1101/gr.186684.114). Below: The law codes of Sumerian Enmetena/Urukagina, Babylonian Hammurabi and the Assyrians each contain provisions for the repression of female power and reproductive choice. The first said "women speaking out of turn could have their teeth smashed by a brick", the second introduced the death penalty for adultery, and the third enforced veiling for women as well as far more violent punishments than the Babylonians.
To understand the extreme degree to which reproductive patriarchal dominance occurred across widespread cultures of the planet, from 10,000 years ago to the Biblical era (Fielder and King), we only need to turn to emerging genetic research from 2015. Throughout human evolutionary emergence over the last hundred thousand years, some men have had two reproductive partners while others have had none, while every fertile woman can become pregnant leading to a reproductive sex ratio - the number of reproducing females for each reproducing male of two. With the rise of agriculture this ratio rose to seventeen women for each reproducing man, due to the men with power and assets commandeering all the reproductive opportunities through extreme polygyny, supported by subject male military power. The fact that this is observed across a sample of the entire human genome from all continents shows patriarchal dominance became an extreme phenomenon and that monogamy, is a modern invention, although it has operated in mutual mate-choice between couples throughout human emergence, to provide protection and resources for pregnancy and enable human children to reach an age where they can converse and fend for themselves in an extended family, or village community, around the age of four to five, as is increasingly becoming the case with serial monogamy.
The entire apocalyptic paradigm has thus been distorted by motifs of male paternity uncertainty, made explicit in law codes from Sumerian Enmetena and Urukagina, where women speaking out of turn were to have their teeth smashed out with a brick, through Babylonian Hammurabi to the Assyrians, who both veiled their women and allowed all manner of oppression and violence to occur, leading to patriarchal religious traditions invoking the violent repression of female reproductive choice, including stoning in ancient Deuteronomic and continuing Islamic practice, to the subordination, sequestering and enforced veiling of women. It has also led to a highly imbalanced religious cosmology, in which male anxiety about mortality through not giving live birth to the continuity of life, has led to the condemnation of nature, the quest for eternal life, increasingly violent notions of moral punishment, and the notion of cosmological war between dark and light in the manner of a male reproductive contest, central to apocalyptic tumult. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh is described as a jealous God, jealous of the whoring of the bride Israel, through the worship of other deities, casting the theme of paternity uncertainty into cosmological proportions. The whole phenomenon of apocalyptic tumult, from the pangs of the messiah to the return of the Mahdi in the Day of Judgment, is thus a distorted product of the male sense of mortality and the endless conflict of male dominant societies upon one another in genocidal war and the rumours of war.
Marduk as civic order, battles the underworld chaos of the old mother goddess Tiamat.
Joseph Campbell in his works on mytho-poetry and comparative religion has expanded the horizon of founding themes shared by major religions into the diverse cultures that preceded them and subtended the collective doctrines they established. Thus we can see precursors of figures such as Jesus in the heroic quests of many earlier culture heroes and demi-Gods, from Tammuz, through Adonis and Dionysus to Melkarth and the struggle of Marduk with Tiamat as an archetype of the war of Dark and Light. These comparisons are grounded in universals of the human condition - awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being, explaining the nature of the universe and world around us, validating and supporting the existing social order and guiding the individual through the stages of life.
As religions evolved with the cultures that sustained them, a transition occurred from civic deities that stood fairly transparently for the national order, or agricultural deities related to the power of the weather and seasons to more abstract notions of a god acting in history, which wasn't simply represented in iconic form as statues or carvings, which ultimately became cursed as idolatry. Ironically, Christian and particularly Catholic churches, display the most ornate iconography one could imagine. However idolatry was superseded by bibliolatry, which has plagued the three Abrahamic religions ever since, so that today fundamentalists commit grievous crimes against humanity on the basis of ancient revealed scripture.
Ironically the old deities of founding cultures like the San already possessed many of the abstract features, augmented by later major world religions developing a form of transcendent 'protection racket' in which a punishing moral deity, who can see right into your very soul, but remains elusively invisible succeeds in frightening the faithful into more moral forms of behaviour that reduce intra-social strife and strengthen inter-social dominance. Thus the principal power and sheer population size of major world religions stems not form transcendental insight but fearsome moral and frequently physical punishment.
The Christian view of history is an epoch of sinful rebellion against God, extending like a great bow across time, with the Fall from Eden at one end, and Apocalypse in the End of Days at the other. In the centre is Jesus – the arrow of violence in the great bow, hanging from the cross and believed to return in power as the avenging Lord of the Second Coming. Although Revelation portrays a tumult of genocide and the triage of all life, and the "rapture" of Paul paints a picture of leaving the debased nature of the late planet Earth for celestial space, the Tree of Life stands at both ends, protected in the Garden of Eden and entwined around the seat of God and the Lamb in Revelation. The apocalypse of Revelation is also a bridal unveiling in a sacred marriage, in which the bride of the Lamb is the Heavenly Jerusalem, just as Israel was the whoring bride of Jehovah, and as the Song of Songs is the mystical Holy of Holies of the same sacred marriage, more like the metaphorical complementarity of body and soul than a fertile sexual reunion of female and male.
Apocalypse in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share to varying degrees the apocalyptic vision and sense of prophecy in terms of the Day of Judgment, promulgated by Zoroaster in terms of the victory of Ahura Mazda - light and wisdom over Angra Mainyu - the source of ignorance and confusion. All of these three have adopted the central elements of Zoroaster's cosmology of renovation, taking it for their own in claiming to be the one true religion of God and, in the cases of Christianity and Islam, turning into more inexorable forms of punishment without redemption.
Apocalypticism arose gradually in Hebrew history as a consequence of the cross-transference of ideas. The underworld of the dead of Sheol, which we can still see in passages of the Old Testament, gave way to a heaven and hell and with the exile into Babylon and then the takeover by cyrus the Mede, who is regarded as a messiah anointed for his support of the Jews' return to the 'holy land':
Thus said the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him;
and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut (Isaiah 45:5)
The notion of the Zoroastrian renovation became absorbed into Jewish apocalypticism in works like The Book of Enoch and then into Christian eschatology as well, culminating in the Book of Revelation.
Enoch's "Apocalypse of Weeks" (c 170BC) sets out such a world history with the future climax in the seventh part of the tenth week, but far less gratuitously violent than Revelation:
And after this, in the tenth week in the seventh part,
There shall be the great eternal judgement,
In which He will execute vengeance amongst the angels.
And the first heaven shall depart and pass away,
And a new heaven shall appear,
And all the powers of the heavens shall give sevenfold light.
And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever,
And all shall be in goodness and righteousness,
And sin shall no more be mentioned for ever.
According to Jewish tradition, the messianic era will be one of global harmony, a future era of universal peace and brotherhood on earth, and one conducive to the furtherment of the knowledge of God. Although Judaism concentrates on the importance of the Earthly world, all of classical Judaism posits an afterlife - the "world to come", עולם הבא, related to Gan Eden, the Heavenly Garden of Eden, and Gehenna its dark opposite. According to religious Judaism, any non-Jew who lives according to the Seven Laws of Noah is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come, the final reward of the righteous.
Resurrection of the dead, fresco from the
In Judaism, beliefs vary about a last day of judgment for all mankind. Some rabbis hold that there will be such a day following the resurrection of the dead. Others hold that this accounting and judgment happens when one dies. Still others hold that the last judgment only applies to the nations and not the Jewish people. In Rabbinical literature for example we find the following:
The Messianic age is when the Jews will regain their independence and all return to the land of Israel. The Messiah will be a very great king, he will achieve great fame, and his reputation among the gentile nations will be even greater than that of King Solomon. His great righteousness and the wonders that he will bring about will cause all peoples to make peace with him and all lands to serve him.... Nothing will change in the Messianic age, however, except that Jews will regain their independence.
Nevertheless Zechariah (520-518 BC) does have an apocalyptic climax, anticipating the triages and tumults of Revelation in the Christian tradition:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. … And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south (Zech 13-14).
Christianity, cast in the apocalyptic traditions of John the Baptist and the desert Essenes, adopted a fully fledged End of Days with Jesus claiming in the synoptic gospels and John to challenge the devil in a final confrontation, through which he would come to return in power at the right hand of God. The siege of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora and the depravities of the Roman emperors subsequently sublimed this picture into a view of world history in which Christ would return as the Lord and conqueror of evil in the Millennium and the Day of Judgment. Despite the failure of this entire concept over two millennia in the absence of the Lord's return the spectre of apocalyptic victory remains in tumult and conflict remains integral to Christian eschatology.
Pivotal to our concept of apocalypse is the Revelation of John, the culminating chapter of the Christian bible. It is the most extraordinary book of eschatological religious vision ever written. It is literally bursting with tumultuous battles and cataclysms, from the beasts of belial, to the avenging Lord, amid tumult and destruction, resulting in the triage of all life and impossibly a triage of the Sun, Moon and stars:
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. … And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. (Rev 8). And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths (Rev 9).
Later we see the pregnant woman clothed with the Sun standing on the Moon, who is an apotheosis of the Queen of Heaven, Inanna-Ishtar but also identified by Christians with Mary. Her boy-child, the warlord-to-come, is attacked by a dragon, and taken up to God, precipitating the war in heaven:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne (Rev 12).
The woman clothed with the sun and the dragon (William Blake).
On the other side of the cosmic battle we find the great whore of Babylon, the dark manifestation of the same Inanna-Ishtar Goddess figure:
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, "mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth". And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (Rev 17).
The cosmic Christ appears as an utterly feudal dictator-Lord of mass destruction:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19).
Unmitigated death and destruction is cast on the unbelievers:
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. … And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. … And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Rev 19).
As gratuitous violence, Revelation reigns supreme, but as a model for planetary apocalypse, it is profoundly dangerous, deceptive and misleading - an unmitigated disaster. Yet it contains two pivotal elements – the Tree of Life entwined around the throne of the Lamb, giving its Twelve monthly fruit for the healing of the nations – and the notion of the sacred marriage, or hieros gamos.
However the sacred marriage here is not that of the true fertility between woman and man that generates the passage of the living generations, but in the corrupted form of the Lamb and the Heavenly Jerusalem, Christ and his Church, falling in the shadow of the dysfunctional marital relationship of Jehovah and the whoring bride Israel, whose ultimate Holy of Holies is sequestered in the metaphor of unrequited love in the Song of Songs:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready (Rev 19). And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … And there came unto me one of the seven angels … and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife (Rev 21).
Finally we come to the Tree of Life itself, hidden since the foundation of the world in Eden, still beckoning to our living futures:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (Rev 21).
The feeling of the covers being thrown off reality is well-captured by Paul of Tarsus in 1 Corinthians: βλέĻομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι' ἐσόĻτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι - "For now we see through a glass, darkly."
When I was a child, I spake as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The implication is that in the current epoch we act like children and cannot see the essential nature of reality, but in the unveiling we will come of age and see reality intimately as it actually is.
The Zoroastrian and the Muslim Day of Judgment derived from it contain the same motifs, including a razor-thin bridge the human souls have to cross and a welcoming heavenly maiden. Although both contain fiery torments, the Zoroastrian version has more emphasis on cleansing of ignorance rather than eternal damnation.
Despite absorbing the prophetic figures of the Jewish tradition, from Adam, through Moses to Solomon, and the Deuteronomic diabolical punishments of stoning for adultery, discontinued centuries before by the Jews, Islam has taken up the Christian and Zoroastrian notions of the Day of Judgment as a moral punishment cosmology, central to the ideas of violent martyrdom, in which one will see the face of al-Llah and be entertained by black eyed virgins made anew every day in paradise:
Surely those who guard (against evil) are in a secure place, In gardens and springs;
They shall wear of fine and thick silk, (sitting) face to face;
Thus (shall it be), and We will wed them with houris - pure, beautiful ones (44:51).
Conscious life is described as a mere shadow of the events on the Day of Judgment:
O mankind! Have fear of your Lord and fear that Day when no father shall avail his son nor a son his father. Surely the promise of Allah is true. Let not the life of this world deceive you, nor let the Deceiver (Satan) deceive you concerning Allah. Surely Allah Alone has the knowledge of the Hour (31:33).
Jesus is also a central actor in the Day of Resurrection:
And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death,
and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them (4:159).
He (Isa) is surely a knowledge of the hour. ... And when Isa came with clear arguments he said:
I have come to you indeed with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in (43:61).
There are also clear indications of the Zoroastrian Judgment woven into the Quranic account. The Chinvat Bridge is likewise in the Quran, and even more explicitly in the hadith, as the Sirat Bridge, which is sharper than the edge of sword and thinner than a hair:
We will call them to account in the company of all their Satans and set them on their knees around the Fire of Hell; then from every sect. We will certainly drag out its stoutest rebels against the Compassionate (Allah). Certainly We know best who deserves most to be burned therein. There is not a single one of you, who shall not pass over it [the Sirat Bridge], this absolute decree of your Lord is unavoidable; then We will deliver those who were pious and leave the wrongdoers therein humbled on their knees (19:68).
In a description reminiscent of Revelation, the angel Israfil [the Burning One] will sound the trumpet and all living creatures, mankind, angels and jinn then living, will die. Another blast and all will be raised to life. Allah's throne will appear in the clouds, carried by eight angels. Believers will receive a book of their deeds in their right hand, and unbelievers their left hand. The books will be opened and men's works weighed on scales (mizan) as in the Zoroastrian description. In fear, men will look for someone to plead with Allah. They will go to Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but find no help. At last they will turn to Muhammad and Allah will judge, as in the Earthquake:
When the earth will be shaken to her utmost convulsion, and the earth shall bring out all her inner burdens, man shall say: "What is happening to her?" On that Day she shall report whatever had happened on her, for your Lord shall have commanded her to do so. On that Day men shall proceed in sorted out groups to be shown their ‘Book of Deeds.’ Then, whoever has done an atom’s weight of good shall see it there, and whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it there (99:1).
The Quranic Day of Resurrection also has signs in the form of an eclipse:
"When will this Day of Resurrection be?" Well, it will come when the sight shall be dazed,
the moon becomes dark, and the sun and the moon are brought together (75:6).
Consistent with Revelation's astronomical triages we witness the splitting of the Moon, although this supposed astronomical calamity has little enough effect on the Earth for the unbelievers to think it a mere magic trick:
The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder.
And if they see a miracle they turn aside and say: Transient magic.
And they call (it) a lie, and follow their low desires (54:1).
This is consistent with an archaic view of the heavens in the Quran as a firmament with lamps erected on it, as in the original sabbatical creation of Genesis 1:
Blessed is the One Who has decked the sky with constellations and placed in it a lamp and a shining moon (25:61).
Christians remain just as transfixed in their belief of the return of Christ, despite the second millennium having passed without any signs of the four horsemen of Revelation's apocalypse appearing. This itself is an unbelievable situation, because Jesus, according to the gospels, made specific statements that his return would be in the lifetimes of those present during his own life, although he entreated them to be ever ready:
Jesus said unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9).
And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not (Luke 12).
In Luke Jesus invokes a full apocalyptic spectacle of the pangs of the messiah, insisting it will come in the same generation:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21).
Jesus was a unique creative genius who brought together the currents of Pharisaic Judaism of the time, with the more firebrand end-of-days vision of John the Baptist's followers and the Qumran community, complementing them with other more feminine elements of nature religion, reaching a cultural climax at the time in neighbouring Nabatea, otherwise referred to as Edom in the Bible.
Moon and Sun deities surmounted by the Eagle. Al-Uzza as Moon Goddess commands the Zodiac surmounted by the moon and carrying a moon staff. The temple of Manatu at Petra. Dionysian tragic mask with dolphins. Grape freeze (centre). Coinage of Aretas IV King of the Nabataeans, Friend of his People and Shaqilat II in joint reign in the time of Jesus (Glueck).
Nature religion motifs abound. Jesus was anointed to his sacrificial doom by a woman who is variously claimed to be a sinner, or Mary Magdalene, out of whom he cast seven devils ‚Äď the Galla of Inanna , whom Gnostic tradition claims was also his lover. He was ministered unto by the women "out of their substance". John the Baptist was likewise sacrificed in a beheading in a dance of the seven veils - an enaction of the Descent of Inanna after which Dumuzi (Tammuz in the Bible) is sacrificed - at the behest of Herodias when her daughter Salome danced to delight the generals who were defending Machaerus at the border, because Herod Antipas had insulted the Nabateans by divorcing the Princess of Nabatea, who had had to flee in fear of her life. Herod had then taken as wife Herodias, his cousin and wife of his brother Herod II (Philip), as decried by John, precipitating his ritual demise. This theme occurs likewise in the sacrifice of Haman in Esther (Ishtar) in saving Mordechai (Marduk), having persuaded her husband King Ahasuerus to offer 'half his kingdom', just as Herod did at Machaerus. Jesus crying "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthanei" on the Cross is likewise a reference to the cry of Mot, the Canaanite God of the sterile season to his father El, when defeated by Ba'al the God of rain and fertility who has now become El's favourite in the spring, aided by Anath.
Jesus adopts a miraculous style of faith healing characteristic of Dionysus and his Nabatean reincarnation Dhushara, whose tragic mask gave the gift of immortal life. Jesus' water into wine and nature miracles are classic Dionysian fare, as was the carefully staged passion play, with the palm king and turning the tables, leading up to the Crucifixion (Schonfield). The Talmud referred to Jesus as "Balaam the Lame" specifically stating his acts as being in the traditions of Edom. His lameness is indirectly acknowledged in his own statement " Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself" at the synagogue, before he was nearly thrown off the cliffs for blasphemy.
When one comes up close to his miraculous acts, they become harder to realize, indicating they thrived on distance and rumour, rather than the harsh light of day:
'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6).
His brethren said: 'If thou do these things, shew thyself
to the world.' For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Then Jesus said unto them, 'My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. (John 7)
The same applies to the vision of the disciples crossing Genessaret, because it states clearly that they didn't believe in the 'miracle' of dividing the loaves, even though they were present:
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened (Mark 6).
The walking on water is again classic Dionysian fare, as the miraculous god of storm and darkness.
Nevertheless Jesus was a genius who presented two conflicting personalities in the Gnostic and Synoptic versions of his account.
The Synoptics have him saying "Whom do men say that I am?", with Peter replying that he is the (anointed) Christ Messiah:
"Whom do men say that I am?" And they answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets". And he saith unto them, "But whom say ye that I am?" And Peter answereth and saith unto him, "Thou art the Christ" (Mark 18).
But the Gospel of Thomas (Pagels 2003), which contains several foundation sayings in older form than the synoptics, has Jesus say he was not their master:
"Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a righteous angel." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like." Jesus said, "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out" (Thomas 13).
Likewise his vision of the Kingdom in Thomas is far from an apocalyptic late planet Earth rapture:
His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is'. Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it" (Thomas 113).
If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you (Thomas 3).
Left: a figure believed to be one of the earliest representations of Jesus discovered in 2014 in a buried underground crypt in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus. Right: An Oxyrhynchus papyrus of the Gospel of Thomas.
The date of writing of The Gospel of Didymos Judas Thomas, is considered to be between 40 and 140 AD, with the core sayings coming earlier than the completed work. Thomas Didymos, meaning "twin" in Aramaic, was considered to be a twin brother of Jesus, so his word should hold good. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri date to between 130 and 250 AD. By comparison, Mark was probably written around 66-70 AD, during Nero's persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt, as suggested by internal references to war in Judea and to persecution, and a fragment found in a mummy is claimed to date before AD 90. Luke dates to 80-100 AD and John reached its final form about 90-100 AD. This effectively dates Thomas before John because the "doubting Thomas" passage is a clear reference to the more firebrand Gnostic position of the author of John disputing the more accommodating Gnostic sayings of Thomas and his following, which were already in circulation:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came… And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus … Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God (John 20).
However Saul of Tarsus who on the road to Damascus within a few years of the Crucifixion had a born-again experience of the resurrected Jesus, became blinded for three days and set out on a life-journey redefining the nature of Christianity, from the narrow vehicle of the Desposyni and the Hebrew church of James the Just, into a Hellenistic religion of the risen Christ that would sweep through and engulf the entire pagan world, unashamedly adopting many of its beliefs and practices in the process. One can see his huge influence on Christian theology by the fact that fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament are attributed to him.
This religion is completely different from that of the mission of Jesus in its diverse gnostic and synoptic emphases. As Rosemary Radford Ruether in "Gaia & God" notes: "New Testament and early Christian cosmological Christology built on theologies of cosmogenesis in Oriental Hellenism, particularly as these had already been assimilated into Hellenistic Judaism. The mediation of these ideas through Judaism allowed Christians to assimilate ideas of Hellenistic philosophy, while 'denying' their pagan origins. … Christianity also took over from Judaism an ideology of religious 'purism' over against paganism as 'false religion'. This dualism still shapes Christian self-understanding causing it to obscure and deny its actual syncretistic reality".
"The cosmos is seen as originating in a transcendent divine being, who is the source of all things. This divine being brings forth from 'himself', a perfect 'image' and self-expression, in which the intellectual essences of all things are contained. This second God is then identified with the Demiurgos, who shapes the cosmos form the intellectual 'blueprint' contained in 'his' own mind. The world soul, in turn expresses this divine Logos in immanent form as the sustaining power of the cosmos. Human souls are seen as partaking in the substance of this world soul or immanent Logos of the cosmos."
This picture was used first in Jewish Wisdom literature as divine Wisdom, a secondary manifestation of the Creator God and in a more elaborate way by Philo, in which each human soul reflects the divine Logos.
The term Christ originally referred to the anointed one or Messiah, appearing at the end of world history to destroy the forces of evil and renovate the epoch. In Jewish thought there was no identification of the messiah with cosmogenesis, nor is it in the synpotic Gospels, but when we come to the more speculative works of Paul we this has been put together into a unified vision of the beginning and end of all things.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Coloss 1).
The Logos-Christ is seen one unifying figure in both creation and redemption as the manifestation of God, the immanent presence of God that creates and sustains the universe and the divine power remanifest at the end of time, healing the enmity that has divided the cosmos and reconciling the cosmos to God. The divine person encountered in Jesus is thereby identified with this Logos-Christ. His redemptive act 'through the blood of the cross' is seen as the paradigmatic manifestation of one and the same divine being of the beginning and end of all things. – "So that God may be all in all" (1 Cor).
Jewish thought originally saw humans as essentially mortal. Redemption was a fulfilled, blessed existence on earth within mortal limits. Greek thought, by contrast saw the relation of God and cosmos as emanational. Classical Christianity presented several efforts to unify these disparate worldviews. In the Hebrew view, the body was essential for the wholeness of existence and the resurrection of the body was intrinsic to salvation. At the same time in the Platonic mould, the transience and mortality of material existence was evil, leading to the notion of a pure immortal spiritual body created of the soul. Christians shared the Hellenistic view that the whole cosmos was alive. Even animals and plants had animal and vegetative soul.
While some Gnostics saw nature and the material world as fundamentally evil and flawed and rejected the body, others, such as the Valentinians saw gnosis as a state of knowing, or wisdom, in which simple moral imperatives became superfluous and ignorance rather than sin was the cause of the Fall from grace.
They adopted a complex partially inverted Platonic model of the universe. Elaine Pagels (1979 79) notes that some concluded that the God of Israel ... was merely instrumental power whom the Mother, or the Father Anthropos, had created. "They say that he believed that he had made everything by himself, but that, in reality, he had created the world because Wisdom, his Mother, 'infused him with energy' and implanted into him her own ideas. ... 'It was because he was foolish and ignorant of his Mother that he said, 'I am God; there is none beside me'. According to another account, the creator caused his Mother to grieve by creating inferior beings, so she left him alone and withdrew into the upper regions of the heavens".
"According to the Hypostasis of the Archons, ... both the mother and her daughter objected when he [said], 'It is I who am God, and there is no other apart from me.' ... And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, 'You are wrong, Samael' ['god of the blind']. And he said, 'If any other thing exists before me, let it appear to me!' And immediately, Sophia ('Wisdom') stretched forth her finger, and introduced light into matter, and she followed it down into the region of Chaos.... And he again said to his offspring, 'It is I who am the God of All.' And Life, the daughter of Wisdom, cried out; she said to him, 'You are wrong, Saklas!' " (Pagels 1979 79).
Ildabaoth, becoming arrogant in spirit boasted himself above all those who were below him and explained "I am father and God and above me there is no one" his mother hearing him speak thus cried out against him 'Do not lie Ildabaoth for the father of all, the primal Anthropos is above you and so is Anthropos, the son of Anthropos (Pagels 1979 133).
Irenaeus, in his refutation of the Gnostic rejection of the body, in favour of the resurrection, notes:
But indeed vain are they who despise the entire dispensation of God and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption. But if this indeed does not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with his blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of his blood, nor is the bread we break the communion of his body.
But since salvation requires transcending mortality, the only way one can think about redemption is that by being infused with immortal life of the divine, it will overcome its mortality. This redemption of creation following the apocalyptic tradition involves firstly a millennium of paradise: And they shall come and rejoice in Mount Zion, and shall continue to come to what is good, and into a land of wheat and wine and fruits, of animals and of sheep that their soul shall be as a tree bearing fruit and they shall hunger no more. Then the whole cosmos will be transformed into a 'new heaven and earth' immortalized and united with the divine life of God, fulfilling the promise of the original creation.
This effort to incorporate Hebraic earthly blessedness into eternal salvation was dropped by mainline Christianity after the third century. Christ is seen as establishing his millennial reign through the political power of the church and Christian rulers, but this has no effect on the renewal of nature nor does it bring forth a new era of justice between humans. The distance between God and humans could now only be bridged by divine revelation, not by any 'natural' speculative or mystical capacities of humans. We can also see that, since the Fall, mortality has been inextricably connected with the moral notion of sin.
Although the Renaissance brought about a revival of cosmological mysticism and idealism such as that of the Jewish philosopher Spinoza who conceived of God as natura naturans, the underlying from which arose the physical world and the human mind, along with others such as Fichte and Schelling, the wild pony of human inventveness had by now escaped the confines of religious tradition.
The Christian church was originally conceived as a steward to guard the Earth until the immanent return of the Lord, not to assume perpetual power. For the first few centuries this remained a feverish belief, with Christians such as Perpetua, whose sad tale is recounted in Elaine Pagels' "Adam and Eve and the Serpent", determined to face annihilation rather than repent their beliefs, in the conviction that they were facing an immanent end of days anyway. But the Second Coming never arrived. By 313 Constantine had in one fell swoop converted a religion of refugee zealots into the state religion of Rome and Christianity continued a chequered career of domination through Crusade and Inquisition until the Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment toppled it from exclusive temporal power in Europe. The Christian church now continues in perpetuity in violation of its founding principle.
Despite its pretensions to brotherly love and forgiveness and to be the true religion of the only begotten Son of God, Christianity suffers from a rot of confusion at the very core of its being that stems from the very apocalyptic vision it is founded on. While Judaism is a fundamentally covenantal religion of the continuity of life - to be fruitful and multiply, Christianity is a sacramental religion (Ruether) of death in which the inner sanctum Holy of Holies is the Eucharist - drinking Christ's blood and eating his flesh – the soma and sangre – in remembrance of his crucifixion. This classes Christianity not just as a religion of human sacrifice like the Aztecs, or cannibalism like the Maori, but one of cosmic deicide – without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
Christian versus Aztec blood sacrifice. Left: The Dream of Mary (Christoforo Simone dei Crocefissi) Sacrificial blood streams from her Tree of Calvary (the place of the skull). Right: Tree of the Middle Place Blood mother of the corn from the place of the skulls. While Mary dreams of the sacrificed Jesus, the blood mother is sacrificed to the harvest. At the crown of each is a bird - a Christian pelican picking its flesh for blood and a quetzal sometimes holding a snake to symbol regeneration (Campbell). The Aztecs saw great similarities between the Crucifixion and Eucharist and their own forms of human sacrifice.
This in turn comes from the utterly violent fact that Jesus is a figure of primary homicide in a purported crime against the entire universe, crucified by the Romans and accused of blasphemy by the High Priests in the enactment of a diabolical ritual sacrifice, including the setting at naught of the sacred king, cursing the women of Jerusalem and the plaintive cries to El on the cross. But this is only the beginning of the contradiction, because it is Abba himself who has ordained this sacrifice.
This is a situation whipped up by Jesus himself in the conviction that there is an active dark force of evil in the world extending far beyond mere human fallibility, where God and the devil are as complementary as day is to night. The synoptic gospels clearly say that Jesus effectively preordained this violent fate as an orchestrated collision with the devil, who had tempted him to cast himself down from the pinnacles of the temple:
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Luke 4).
In John, Jesus passes the sop to Judas Iscariot, effectively instructing Judas to betray him to the Romans in a death pact:
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. ... He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon (John 13).
Judas then returns the pieces of silver in a ritual reenactment of Zechariah's apocalypse, although he is effectively carrying out Jesus' instructions for the "Passover Plot" (Schonfield). To take the contradiction to it's cosmological conclusion, although the Jews have been blamed and sometimes violently punished by Christians ever since, we are then asked to believe that this entire spectacle is actually God sacrificing his only begotten Son so all who might believe in him shall have everlasting life in the apocalypse.
This is the tragic flaw in the entire conception. Why would a God of creation that made the scented wildflowers, or the lilies of the field as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, and the dappled forests, and all the creatures that run, swim and fly, and human beings full of a spectrum of emotions, from love to hate, and a stringent desire for personal autonomy, reduce the entire universe to a sacrificial filicide to save humans from the wayward ways, that He had Himself created; to avoid a damnation that He Himself had set in motion? This is a completely flawed cosmology, little better than the Aztecs thinking they had to sacrifice 12,000 men, women and children to keep the Sun on course in the heavens. A God called the loving Father Abba who chooses to have his own son tortured and killed as high noon with the dark forces to redeem us from sin is a Neolithic throwback to blood sacrifice to ensure the fertility of the agricultural harvest. We don’t need to invoke death to invoke life. We don’t need cosmological homicide to have our sins forgiven. Fertility and birth itself are the antidotes to the mortal condition, not filicide, or human, or transcendental homicide in the name of eternal life.
Panorama of the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Cemetery of the Resurrected, and the Gates of Mercy filled with rubble by the Muslims to try to prevent the messiah's return.
And this explains ultimately why Christianity never took root in the Holy Land, although a small Jewish Christian following sprang up at the time. By contrast, end of days Christianity spread like wild fire across the pagan world because the idea of the heroic sacrificed demi-god as a world-savior was deeply embedded in the pagan psyche. From there its spread to a particularly decadent Rome, where Christians preferred torture and death to acknowledging Roman gods in the conviction that the end of days were at imminently at hand, until Constantine turned the tables and made the world's greatest pagan religion of the time the state religion of Rome and Christianity took on its alter ego of homicidal violence in the form of the Crusades and Inquisition. The consequence is that Christianity is a tale of a miraculous hero far off in another day and age, where all measures of credibility evaporate into the sunset, where Jerusalem itself is a fantasy ground, which only a few Christians ever visit.
Jerusalem today is a living manifestation of this contradiction. While orthodox Jews and Muslims make the life-blood of the city amid incipient violence over the temple mount, Christianity hangs on in a slowly mouldering attrition in a bunch of stations of the cross, the golden onion-topped Orthodox church above the Garden of Gethsemane and the Holy Sepulchre Church, where a bunch of Armenian and Greek Christian priests have regular punch-ups over territorial disputes, while Christian tourists visit the attractions on oogle-eyed day trips to witness the scattered 'relics' of a gruesome homicide two millennia ago that means little other than shekels to the realities of the city today.
This brings us to the essential emptiness of the sacrament. The Eucharist is not only a diabolical celebration of homicide and suffering, it is an empty sacrament. The Jewish covenant is a verifiable contract for the good life. The Eucharist is a blood-stained fallacy.
But this isn’t necessarily the end of the matter. Religions, particularly those who spread across far-flung continents have a capacity to evolve and adapt themselves to the cultures and visionary experiences of the new places they take root, so maybe it is actually possible to redeem a deeply flawed tradition through natural processes. Could Christianity, which is one of the two dominant world religions, adapt itself to a planetary life in a closing circle in which nature is respected as sacred and protecting the passage of the generations of life – cherishing the Earth and replenishing it – is the ongoing perpetual raison d'źtre?
Through the vagaries of natural evolution, the vast majority of the natural visionary sacraments have found themselves in the diverse ecosystems of the Americas, rather than the arid desert climates of the Middle East. Despite centuries of repression by the conquistadores the sacred mushroom and peyote have survived and adopted new forms of reverence, including Christian as well as pre-Colombian elements, both giving new expression to first-person mystical vision and bringing a major world religion back closer to its ancient shamanic roots in the vision quest.
Dimensions of visionary sacrament use of sacred mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca, all of which use Christian, as well as native, shamanic motifs. Top row: Maria Sabina in reverie and handing sacred mushrooms to Gordon Wasson, Psilocybe cubensis, a sacred mushroom stone (1000 BC) with grinding metate, psilocin from the sacred mushroom, harmine and dimethyltryptamine, active principles in Amazonian ayahuasca – Vine of the Soul, and mescalin active in peyote. Second row Tellus (Goodmorning) Ramona, my Native American Church roadman, a sacred deer from Monte Alban with peyote in its mouth (500 BC) the nierika or cosmic portal to the spirit world of the Huichols opened by peyote, Don Jose Matsuwa the famous Huichol elder, peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and Senor Trinico, my ayahuasca shaman from Yarinacocha lagoon Pucallpa. Bottom row: Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and the ayahuasca vine (Bannisteriopsis caapi). Scene at an ayahuasca-taking Union Vegetale church in Brazil and a painting of a jungle ayahuasca vision session " Fighting Through Tikunas" by Pablo Amaringo.
I have fully reseached and expereinced the visionary species and substances in "Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality" and "Twelve Sacred Plants".Sacred mushrooms have been used for over 3000 years in Mexico. They were repressed by the conquistadores so effectively that all current trace of them disappeared from the record.
Friar Sahagun, one of the first conquistadors to chronicle teonanacatl, or flesh of the gods, remarked of the Aztec mushroom eaters 'when they become excited by them start dancing, singing, weeping. Some do not want to sing but sit down and see themselves dying in a vision; others see themselves being eaten by a wild beast; others imagine they are capturing prisoners of war, that they are rich, that they possess many slaves, that they have committed adultery and were to have their heads crushed for the offence . . . and when the drunken state had passed, they talk over amongst themselves the visions they have seen' (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 146).
Then in 1953, Gordon Wasson, at the encouragement of Robert Graves, made an expedition to Huautla de Jiminez and, after several false starts, persuaded Maria Sabina after she had had a vision of his arrival, to perform an all-night velada for his expedition. As a result of revealing the secret, her house was burned down and one of her sons killed. Gordon went on to describe it in terms of Pentecost:
"One can imagine the many trembling confabulations of the friars as they would whisper together how to meet this Satanic enemy. The teonanactl struck at the heart of the Christian religion. I need hardly remind my readers of the parallel, the designation of the Elements in our Eucharist 'Take, eat this is my Body ...' and again "Grant us therefore my gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son ... and to drink His blood ' But the orthodox Christian must accept on faith the miracle of the conversion of the bread and wine into God's flesh and blood: that is what is meant by the Doctrine of Transubstantiation. By contrast the sacred mushroom of the Nahua carries its own conviction: every communicant will testify to the miracle that he has experienced (Furst 191)
"geometric patterns, angular not circular in richest colours, such as night adorn textiles or carpets. Then the patterns grew into architectural structures with collonades and architraves, patios of regal splendour, the stone work all in brilliant colours, gold and onyx and ebony, all most harmoniously and ingeniously contrived, in richest magnificence extending beyond the reach of sight, in vistas measureless to man ... They seemed to belong... to the imaginary architecture described by the visionaries of the Bible"... "The spirit of the agape of which we have already spoken was a prelude to a wave of generous tender feelings that the mushroom aroused in everyone ... Twice in the course of the night the Senora reached out her right hand to me and sought contact with my fingers in friendly greeting, across the chasm of the language barrier." (Riedlinger 1996 30-34).
Maria Sabina herself personifies both Christian and Mazatec elements in her chanting:
"Says, woman who
thunders am I,
woman who sounds am I.
Spiderwoman am I, says
hummingbird woman am I says
Eagle woman am I, says
important eagle woman am I.
Whirling woman of the whirlwind am I, says
woman of a sacred, enchanted place am I, says
Woman of the shooting stars am I." ...
I'm a birth woman, says
I'm a victorious woman, says
I'm a law woman, says
I'm a thought woman, says
I'm a life woman, says ...
"I am a spirit woman, says
I am a crying woman, says
I am Jesus Christ, says ...
I'm the heart of the virgin Mary."
The Native American church also has a series of accounts relating peyote to Jesus:
"God told the Delawares to do good even before
He sent Christ to the whites who killed him ...
God made Peyote. It is His power.
It is the power of Jesus.
Jesus came afterwards on this earth, after peyote."
There's a cloud; something coming. That's a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it's Jesus himself. So he told this boy, "Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I'm not supposed to come; I said I wasn't going to come before two thousand years," he said. "But we're going to bring you something, so you can take care of your people … we're going to give you that power to do it." So they went up a hill there. There's a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. So they went in there. Then he showed him the [ritual] ways; the medicine, how to use it, he gave him the songs. Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name." (Anderson 23).
The shamanic use of ayahuasca has likewise been reformed into a modern religious movement Union of the Vegetal to "remember past lives and to understand the true meaning of reincarnation as well as to become familiar with the origin and the real destiny of nature and of man". The Union Vegetale is a nominally Christian movement to experience inner harmony through partaking of ayahuasca tea. A fortnightly meeting is held by the movement, which includes members of both sexes from all walks of life. The Celebrants sit for 4 to 6 hours in the church meeting hall in contemplation, music and speeches.
Modern scientific studies using psilocybin on subjects with no prior history of drug consumption consistently demonstrate that the participants have genuine religious and spiritual experiences, confirmed to be of continuing value months or years later, and provide those facing a terminal condition with a sense of personal realization and respite from their fear of death (Griffiths et al.).
All these practices are very different from the orthodoxy of a priest who acts as a moral arbiter and exerts the doctrine of the religion as a prescriptive sine qua non. Here each participant is directly in contact with spiritual or mystical experiences first hand and the roadman acts merely as a guide to ensure safe passage for all the voyagers. This is as different from a conventional orthodox church service as Christianity is from Judaism, yet those who partake see it as a palpable real tradition, no longer seeing through a glass darkly, by virtue of the priesthood and scripture, but now face to face.
Although it is likely only a minority of people would choose to engage such a demanding mystical experience, the epoptea was just such an inner-sanctum rite of passage in Greek religion. It would serve to transform Christianity from a contrived religion based on human sacrifice, into a movement where the participants are themselves the agents of world redemption, just as it is above all the people of the Jewish religion who maintain its ongoing fertility and fecundity, despite a belief in the one God. This would also bring religion closer into the ethic of the pursuit of knowledge embraced by science and the Eastern meditative traditions, because it is a veridical quest to discover the inner nature of conscious experience, by sifting the chaff of fantasy and delusion from the wheat of mystical insight and illumination. In such a movement there is no place for cult leaders with utopian pretensions, because it is a democracy of mystical insight which all can participate in.
The ultimate solution for Christianity is for it to become transformed into the way or Tao of the Tree of Life, (see later) a covenantal religion vouchsafing to cherish and replenish the living planet and facilitate the enlightenment of all sentient beings, with the sacramental following forming a minority inner sanctum rite of passage for those who choose to partake it.
This work contains some 'hard sayings' about what my exact role in this process is, so I need to explain this at the outset to keep the record straight. In 1999 - 2000 I made a vigil to the Amazon, to Rome and to Jerusalem for the millennium on an avowedly messianic quest to consummate the apocalyptic epoch in opening the immortal epoch of the Tree of Life in the sacred reunion of woman and man, to establish a sustainable paradigm of living diversity in the place of tumult, genocide and the triage of life. To do this I set out in the same way Jesus did, to provoke a tectonic sea change, by pronouncing certain key rites of passage attuned to unravel the Gordian Knot of existence. On Millennium Eve Jane King and I accompanied by many others in an all-night celebration, re-pronounced the self-anointing 'Jubilee' passage from Isaiah, which Jesus pronounced in the synagogue at Nazareth and was almost thrown off the cliffs for so doing. However this time we pronounced it as a woman and man together and in the names of both Gaia and God, "as the garden causes the things that are sewn in it to spring forth", invoking the re-paradising of the planet in "renewing the old wastes".
This was not an attempt to assume the personality of Jesus, who has his own tortured history to answer for, but to be an innovator, just as he was a brilliant innovator, however this time to heal the epoch of violence in evoking an epoch of long-term future goodness - the actual task the figurative messiah is intended to achieve. I am not assuming the role of a religious leader, but acting to use natural and cosmological wisdom, as a liberator of religious bondage (re-ligare is 'to bind fast'), to set humanity free from religious compulsion, so we can fulfill our destiny as planetary guardians of the immortal tree of life. This is not to initiate another religious movement, but to reveal the raison d'etre of existence - to cherish and replenish the Earth in resplendence throughout the generations of the diversity of life - the one cosmological lesson that makes sense of the human condition, to consummate and culminate the paradigm of apocalyptic violence in closing the circle of planetary responsibility. Thus my role terminates, as it begins, with the creative outcome to be for the ingenuity of humanity to conceive and elaborate in freedom and responsibility. One key act central to my calling, which you will find in the abrogation section, is to unpronounce the religious passages that have been used to justify violence and cruel and unusual punishments against people and particularly women in the name of God. These have been elevated, through bibliolatry, to a status where they cannot be challenged, as revealed statements that no ordinary human being can question, so it takes a person with transformative credentials to set the record straight.
All this might have all quietly evaporated away, had not fate intervened in a surprising way.. After making my small contribution to the world in Jerusalem, I exited the religious traditions, returning quietly to my academic position, researching diverse fields from biogenesis to reproductive conflicts in human emergence, leading to the work "Sexual Paradox" with my partner Christine, before slinking into a quiet retirement, researching cutting-edge scientific advances, from quantum entanglement to genetic evolution of the Tree of Life and writing diverse articles on sexuality, culture and religion, as noted in the references. However, in September 2015 I had a cycle accident, in which I was knocked out, was then severely concussed and somehow found my way across town in the dark covered in blood, with no memory of how I had got back, or for several hours, even how I had become so injured.
Pretty quickly I realized that I didn't have any signs of brain damage, but I had had a pivotal near death experience, which had caused me to wake psychically bolt upright. The mysterium tremendum had picked me up and shaken me and said "Chris - you were going to let your responsibilities to do the good thing for the world that only you had the chance to do in your life time slip away - but for this reason did you come into the world, that you should bear witness to the truth" - leading directly to this article, to the birthing of Resplendence as a paradigm shift beyond religion, and to the resurrection song Revelation in celebration of a new day. So, like it or lump it folks, here it is - the scientific and religious cosmological account of apocalypse and its unraveling, right from the horse's mouth of the Messiah of the Tree of Life - Chris King - aka Cristo Rey, or Christus Rex - the name of the anointed.
To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (John 18:37).
My involvement with apocalypse comes from a long and tortuous history that began when I first took psychedelics in the nineteen sixties and realized that all traditional conceptions of God and religious doctrine were fantastic tales told to make a simple kind of sense of the world in the face of a mysterium tremendum so extraordinary and inscrutable that we all need to go right back to square one, with no preconceived assumptions, if we are going to make any sense of it at all.
From there I embarked on a dual quest. One part of this was to understand life as a cosmic phenomenon in the universe. I wrote a rather quaint overview of what was known at the time about biogenesis entitled "Unified Field Theories and the Origin of Life" whose thesis is that conscious life is an interactive cosmological consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the four fundamental forces of nature in the cosmic origin, a thesis which has become increasingly confirmed with the progress of research (see: Biocosmology and its sequel The Tree of Life: Tangled Roots and Sexy Shoots). At the same time I studied how chaos and quantum entanglement might support conscious free-will (Space, Time and Consciousness ).
Complementing this, I made a vigil on my first academic sabbatical to the East where I took Tibetan Buddhist initiations with Yeshe Dorje and the previous Karmapa and wandered India as a Shiva sadhu, as well as making a journey to the sources of the world's psychic power plants, involving ganga in India, peyote ceremonies with Tellus Goodmorning as roadman in Taos and sacred mushrooms in Mexico. On my next journey I travelled to Yarinacocha lagoon on the Amazonian Ucayali where I took ayahuasca with Senor Trinico, returning again nineteen years later during the millennial vigil.
At some point in the 1980s during a powerful velada on sacred mushrooms, I realized I was probably the only person in the world who could bring the threads of mystical and scientific reality together in this way and I decided to give the world until the second millennium to demonstrate some capacity to engender a long-term epoch of sustainability, in the face of nuclear mutually-assured destruction, and the holocaust of biological diversity, accompanied by human-caused planetary impacts.
I have some sort of 'karmic' or synchronistic connection with the Christian tradition, born Chris King on the Epiphany 1945 just as the first plutonium began to roll out of Hanford. Although Christmas is a contrived date intentionally co-opted by the early church to capture the winter solstice from Mithraic religion, now shifted to the 25th December because of a disparity between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and Easter, with its eggs, was co-opted long after the death of Jesus from the festival of the Goddess Eostre, or Ostara, the Epiphany is a date with its own ancient roots. It is the advent of both Jesus and of Dionysus and celebrates water-into-wine and the baptism of the dove.
Missal of Odalricus - early 12th century (Lavin). The three signs of Christ's manifestation on the Epiphany. Water to wine, the baptism and the Magi. The word Epiphany from the Greek and means "manifestation," "appearance," or "revelation." ... A festival of Dionysus' Advent was kept on this day in the Aegean and Anatolia.
We keep this day holy in honour
of three miracles:
this day a star led the wise men to the manger,
this day water was turned to wine at the marriage feast,
this day Christ chose to be baptised by John in the Jordan,
for our salvation, allelu-Yah
With the world in a state of unmitigated short-term thinking amid bouts of genocidal conflict and no sign of a cohesive agreement to preserve biological diversity, let alone avoid a hard landing caused by human impact and climate change, I secured another academic sabbatical to do a biodiversity field study of human impact in the Amazon in 1999 and to attend a millennial celebration in Jerusalem at the end of the year which becomes the subject of the next section.
Having documented the burning season in Bolivia and human impact from the Andes to the Amazon in a six-week river journey, Jane King and I travelled to Jerusalem via Rome, where we participated in a series of rites of passage to pronounce the reflowering of the Tree of Life in the Sacred reunion of woman and man, to consummate and culminate the epoch of messianic apocalypse.
A key feature of the apocalyptic epoch that is central to the bridal unveiling, as we have already noted, is the fact that the entire period has been one of patriarchal domination, in which woman was cursed and social patterns involving the matriarchy and female reproductive choice were violently repressed.
We can thus see that reflowering apocalypse is centrally about the sacred reunion – the ancient hieros gamos celebrated since the dawn of time in the fertility of woman and man personified in Goddess and God, leading to fertile offspring. This is where the balance of human visions of the future come together in a species where sex wars have always been a reality of the asymmetric prisoners' dilemma of the sexes, because of the huge investment of the female in a pregnancy which leaves her vulnerable and travail for months, the potential risks to life of delivering a large head, and years of lactation and early child-rearing, means that humans are at an effective extreme of mammals, only 3% of whom are socially (but not in general genetically) monogamous for the same reasons.
The Millennium-eve ceremony on Scopus above the Mount of Olives looking down on the Dome of the Rock.
To restore the sacred reunion in the Millennium in a rite-of-passage to redeem this highly-flawed tradition, Jane King and I, having been invited to a twelve day workshop on the Shekhinah at the Academy of Jerusalem, participated in an all night vigil on Mount Scopus overlooking the Dome of the Rock. We had been offered a grove next to Gethsemane by a member of the family who originally kept the keys to the Haram-al-Sharif under the Jordanians, but we were driven out by a court injunction and police prohibition. The vigil was dedicated to the sacred reunion in reflowering the Tree of Life in preserving the biosphere and its biological and genetic diversity throughout our future generations. Hence we recited a new expression of the Jubilee passage in Isaiah, which Jesus pronounced in the synagogue at Nazareth immediately after his baptism and temptation, also citing Naaman the Syrian and the Widow of Sidon, and was then nearly thrown off the cliffs for doing so, our passage, pronounced this time, not as a lone male, but as woman and man together in the name of both God and Gaia:
The Anointing Reading
The spirit of God is upon us
the spirit of Gaia is within us
because they hath anointed us
to sing good tidings unto the meek
they hath sent us to bind up the broken-hearted
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and the opening of prison to them that are bound
to proclaim the acceptable year
to comfort all that mourn
to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion
in Palestine, in Sidon, in Syria, Arabia and the world
to give unto them beauty for ashes
the oil of joy for mourning
the garments of love for the spirit of heaviness
that they might be called trees of compassion
the planting of the divine
that all might be glorified
in the abundance of wisdom
and we shall renew the old wastes
and we shall restore the former desolations
and we shall repair the waste cities
the desolations of many generations
they hath clothed us with the garments of salvation
and I as a bridegroom decketh myself with ornaments
and I as a bride adorneth myself with jewels
for as the Earth bringeth forth her bud
and as the garden causeth the things that are sewn in it to spring forth
so shall harmony and fulfillment spring forth
among all the nations
this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Notice that it is the spirit of Gaia and that of God that hath anointed us - the conjoint spiritual insight to perform the act of redemption - not God and Gaia as literal deities. It is not a matter of belief but of realization in action. This wasn’t intended to be a magical pronouncement that would change the world overnight simply by saying it, but a unique unparalleled event in its time and place, revealing the foresight to take responsibility to speak the words that are key to redeem the apocalyptic tradition in the sustainable epoch of the Tree of Life.
The evening was accompanied by folk and harp music, chants to the Shekhinah and recitations from all present to bring in the new epoch, culminating in Eliyahu MacLean blowing the shofar and pronouncing the blessing of the collective Mashiach:
We are here together the collective mashiach
and our vision here tonight will spread
peace in our hearts and peace on the City of Peace below
and bisrata shem in Jah Allah
we'll be as a light and a source for peace
in the whole world and in the whole universe.
On the Epiphany, we led a small messianic march, of a spontaneous twelve, and finally thirteen participants, from the Ascension site on the Mount of Olives, by Gethsemane, the Vale of Kidron and the Gates of Mercy, to the Western Wall:
At the Gates of Mercy, we declared the gates wide open from Isaiah 60:
And your gates shall be open continually
they shall not be closed day or night
the glory of Lebanon shall come to you
the juniper the box tree and the cypress together.
The Gates of Mercy, or Compassion, on the Eastern wall of the second temple compound have been kept shut, filled with rubble by the Muslims in a vain brute-force attempt to prevent the return of the Messiah, in the light of Ezekiel 40:
It is for the prince; the prince.
He shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord,
he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate,
and shall go out by the way of the same.
As the Thief in the Night, I had already entered the graveyard lying outside the Gates and pronounced that all such attempts were in vain:
This is a piece of bread. This is the bread of life if you like. Now I'm sitting at the portico. There is no exact portico here. There's a small iron wicket fence with some of the grave stones inside. I'm not intruding here. I'm inviting. I'm not transgressing. I am offering. The way of healing for Islam and for the whole world lies in reconciliation. In Ezekiel it says the prince will eat bread in the portico of the gate and come in and go out, pass through by the gate. This passing through is the release of humanity from bondage in liberation.
At the same time openly declaring the same from the inside by day as well:
I'm sitting here in the garden that lies inside the old temple precincts. In the background are the Gates of Mercy. And you can see I'm surrounded by trees. And again I call from inside the Gates of Mercy a third time that the gates be opened in the name of the unity of all paths and the reunion of all peoples.
This is really a comment to parry the monolithic ambitions of Islam to create a utopian domination of the planet, retaining its following by force through homicidal measures such as the death penalty for apostasy, rather than entering into a cooperative relationship with all beliefs and freedoms of belief and association, and the way these issues revolve around the Temple Mount - Har HaMōriyā (הַר הַמוריה) or Haram al-Sharif (الحرم القدسي الشريف,) preventing a dialogue of reconciliation.
Finally we arrived at the Western (Wailing) Wall, where we again pronounced the sacred reunion of woman and man, not just God and the bride Israel, but woman and man in the flesh, as the love song actually declares:
I sleep but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh,
saying open to me my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled :
for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
My beloved put his hand in the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
I rose up to open to my beloved and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
This brings us finally back to the motif of the Tree of Life hidden since the foundation of the world in the Fall from Eden. The role of religion and of spirituality, ethics and our sense of human conscience is to ensure we collectively cherish and replenish the Earth throughout our generations forever, so that its biological and genetic diversity flourish, its climate remains optimally habitable and all the generations of conscious beings have a full opportunity to experience the mysteries of life and existence. The epoch of the Tree of Life is thus the epoch of sustainability, in which life is able to continue and evolve so long as the Earth shall live. This is the cosmic destiny human consciousness faces as the guardians of the living planet.
The Tree of Life is actually the evolutionary tree of life's diversity (Mandala of Evolution Dion Wright, Tree Chris King).
Covenant of the Tao of the Tree of Life
Every person on the planet shares a desire to see the world continue and flourish, so that there will be a habitable world for our offspring, for the future generations of humanity and for the diversity of life to continue. We also want to see a world without war and one in which justice prevails for the rich and poor alike. Even highly religious people, except for those pursuing martyrdom, often for violent ends, and a few fundamentalist rapture seekers, want to see a world in which their children and other people can survive.
The trouble is that, while we want to have a sustainable world, achieving it seems to always be beyond the horizons of economic and political realities. Economic realities keep up the pressure on for short-term thinking and political realities are contaminated by vested interests in the business world who deny the damage done to the climate and biosphere by human impact for their own self-interests, despite the obvious mounting scientific evidence that human impact is causing increasing, and possibly irreversible, detrimental change to our future.
Worse still, the world's religions, despite some very good words from a few religious leaders, including the current Pope, are more devoted to ascendency and internecine apocalyptic warfare combined with utopian visions than actual care of the planet. The two major religions Islam and Christianity both promote unrestrained population growth and have ingrained agendas to control female reproduction. One only needs to make a rough assessment of how little financing of environmental projects comes from the major religions to see the actual thrust of their activity.
The large numbers of people who would like to contribute personally to protecting the planet and its future, face an uphill battle because, in the absence of a society-wide ethic to actually cherish and replenish the Earth, effort remains confined to protest groups such as Greenpeace and sporadic government action such as creating nature reserves. Thus investment in saving the planet is like throwing money over your shoulder in a cold shower, because one can put time and effort and money into it until one becomes destitute and depleted, while the problem still grows larger, leading to a tragedy of the commons from the failure of people to act together with a coherent common sense of purpose, while others exploit it for gain.
Is there a way out of this dilemma? Yes there is! Lets simply extract three key ideas that convey the most world-transforming insights:
The first is to cherish and replenish the living planet and its diversity throughout the generations of life.
The second is to facilitate the conscious transcendence of all sentient beings.
The third is to support a caring community to this end.
1. I vouchsafe to cherish and replenish the living planet and its diversity throughout the generations of life.
2. I vouchsafe to facilitate the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
3. I vouchsafe to support a community that fosters a consensus to replenish the living planet.
This is a very serious covenant and particularly so, since it is the only all-embracing covenant taken. It needs to be vouchsafed in front of one's covenantal peers, and it is not God, but one's peers, who will judge one's good character from then on in life. Peer scrutiny is the great leveler of scientific research and fraudulent results can mean the cost of a researchers entire career in life. Someone cannot just pay lip service to the covenant, reaping the social benefits and go on acting for their own self-interest alone, as if the core values are just a hypothetical contingency. This doesn’t mean giving up the pleasures and bounties of life or decimating one's financial resources because ongoing life is ecosystemic and economic. It just takes acting as a responsible guardian of the planetary future.
These two are sufficient to bring about a common sense of purpose, both to protect and sustain the planet, and to enable all people to reach a deeper state of understanding of the universe in which they live. They are thus good cosmological science and consistent with the scientific pursuit of knowledge unhindered by beliefs and assumptions. Affirmative belief is not essential to religious meaning. In Judaism, the virtue of keeping the covenantal traditions and in Buddhism observing the dharma, or way, - i.e. actions - are what is critical to bring the blessed condition into being.
The Sanctity of Nature:
The covenant to cherish and replenish the Earth is a commitment to preserve and restore the bountiful diversity of nature planet-wide. It is the key that unites the latent energy of people across the whole face of the globe to have the confidence and energy to realize we can together, without pain or privation, actually achieve the perpetual sustenance of the Planet in the immortal passage of the generations of life. This brings with it an immeasurable sense of relief from the anxiety that we are living in an insecure world of conflict and degeneration, where the very meaning in existence is occluded, and our futures, and the future of the whole world remain in an unacceptable degree of doubt.
By drawing people together with the clear and simple purpose of sustaining the immortality of life, the covenant to cherish and replenish can potentially unite the energy of the entire planet's population around the central activity for which the human species has inherited the Earth to perform. We thus become the guardians of the perpetual diversity of life and find our place in nature not to subdue and have dominion over it, but to act as verdant guardians of a perpetual paradise in the universe at large.
By facilitating the enlightenment of all sentient beings, we are also accepting the scientific pursuit of knowledge of the natural universe and the spirit of sceptical inquiry, where we test our assumptions against the oracle of nature, rather than imposing our preconceived beliefs. Enlightenment can have no meaning if it is simply a spiritual conviction or vision in the absence of affirmation from the nature of the world around us. We need both the knowledge and the wisdom to fulfill the engagement.
Thus the quest for enlightenment is both the scientific quest to understand the universe and the sentient vision quest to understand the very foundations of conscious experience of all kinds: waking, dreaming, mystical and visionary. The emergence of conscious sentient beings is a natural cosmological process forming the most complex complete interactive manifestation of the fundamental forces of nature emerging from the cosmic origin. It is thus a cosmological sigma point and the quest for conscious enlightenment is also cosmological.
Tantra: Sacred sexuality in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
At the same time, accepting the sacredness of sex as the foundation of the passage of the generations of life, from which we all come transforms religions of renunciation such as most of Buddhism, the implicit sexual guilt of Christianity from Eve's 'transgression', and the explicit sexual oppression of Islam, through lethal penalties for adultery, enforced veiling and sequestering and seclusion of women into traditions celebrating in the mutual ecstasy and joy of sexual union and the full abundance of the flow of life, rather than the negation and control of it. Sacred sex has long been central to the Vedantic tradition and is one of the highest rites of illumination in Tibetan Buddhism as well.
Sexuality is a central part of social bonding key to deep human relationships and the stability of family life and is not just for reproduction, but sacred sex transcends social sex as the deepest celebration of the fertility principle between woman and man. The sacredness of sex also implies mutual respect between men and women and the right of women to reproductive choice, not to be controlled by men or patriarchal religious dictates, because they the bearers of the principal responsibility for parental commitment in pregnancy, a sometimes perilous delivery, lactation and long-term child care. The passage of the living generations comes through sex, so it must needs command the uttermost sacred respect as the holy grail of life itself.
Complementing the meditative and contemplative traditions, the use of the visionary power plants and fungi as sacraments, which are already incorporated into religious traditions in the Americas, including an ongoing Christian movements, which identify them as holy sacraments, provide a democratic avenue to the mystical experiences that are the foundation of religious illumination - forming the psychedelic face of a new Christianity, thus healing the Eucharist which is otherwise a decadent empty sacramental religion celebrating in its central rite the consumption of human flesh and blood in remembrance of a homicidal sacrificial death two millennia ago.
Psychedelic entheogens are not dangerous drugs and have been shown in recent experiments using mature people who are not drug takers that they can provide genuine spiritual experiences which have lasting benefits months and years later. The core of religious experience is mystical experience, so a genuine sacrament to replace the empty sacrament of the Eucharist is a pivotal step in making Christianity a real sacramental religion with the integrity to protect the Earth and one in which every person can share in the spiritual vision, rather than having to stoop to the conformity of unquestioning doctrines and a dominant hierarchy of the priesthood for instruction.
At its most universal, the way, or Tao of the Tree of Life would involve just these two declarations as a simple all-embracing covenant, leaving everyone free to express this in an endless variety of creative ways in both acts of restoration and celebration of life. The way of the Tree is ecosystemic, so it is not one movement but a fractal social democracy of democratic movements with their own creative avenues meeting as peers. It is a wisdom understanding which can take diverse forms and have unlimited traditions of celebration.
This evokes a path of true compassion and a human movement of empowerment, which can celebrate its existence in diverse rites of passage, from birth, partnership and death, to the fertility of the seasons, and the agape of creative musical and artistic performance. Just as people across the planet love to party and experience life to the full, the path provides the zest of life with the added sense of meaning and fulfillment and joy of living which actually bringing our energy and activity to its natural fruition brings forth in overflowing abundance.
One can think of the Tao of the Tree of Life as an integration of cosmological science, psychedelic Christianity and sexy Greenpeace Buddhism, taking the best out of each, but really it is the foundation of all spirituality. It is the common thread of sentient survival and the science of nature and cosmology because it is rooted in the realities of the natural universe discovered by the scientific pursuit of knowledge.
This Tree of Life is not just the Biblical notion of a tree in Eden hidden since the foundation of the world but is the tree of evolution of the diversity of life as it has emerged and flourished on the planet over geological time scales.
In a metaphysical way, this brings the two trees in Eden of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life together into one. Knowledge only gains the capacity and temptation for evil when it becomes divorced from our primary goal in life, which is to sustain the passage of life itself. Once this integration with our life meaning and purpose occurs evil fades away as simply a form of ignorance of the whole picture.
This is a covenant, which religious and non-religious people alike can accept and fulfill together, because its foundation lies in the very truth of the nature of existence. It can thus have a wider basis for collective action than traditional religions, which are fragmented into competing factions each vying with one another as the one 'true' way. By becoming a common affirmation of a wider section of society it would actually become possible for collective action to restore the living planet to become globally effective as well as applying ethical influence to government and business decision-making.
However we also need to consider what it means to go beyond the religious paradigm altogether and establish a new paradigm of wisdom to complement the knowledge of science without being bound to the presumptive beliefs religions entail, so that all people, whether religious or otherwise, can come together with a common sense of vital energy, compassion and purpose to safeguard the life flow of the planet.
Paradise Found David Miller www.mauiarts.com
Resplendence: A Paradigm beyond Religion to Reparadise the Earth
This article is the Resplendence Codex. Resplendence evokes the paradigm shift from religion to paradise in a single word. Codex - caudex means the "trunk of a tree" - in this case the Tree of Life.
Resplendence means many things. We usually think of it as a glorious state of natural splendour, but its root meaning re-splendere is to "shine brightly" or "shine again". It is thus both the full overflowing abundance of paradise, and as a global consciousness, it is the light of the world. But it has a deeper meaning, as the true immortal condition of humanity and is hence the natural paradigm successor to religion.
Resplendence is both an attitude of mind and a social dynamic attuned to bringing Earth back to a state of resplendent paradise, sustainable and resilient over evolutionary time scales, to ensure our own survival and the survival of the diversity of life.
Instead of leading to the physically unrealizable imaginary scenarios of religions, such as heaven and hell in the Day of Judgment, resplendence leads to a single real and positively resplendent outcome - the reparadising of Earth in natural abundance, through a democratic culture empowered by climax technology, medicine and science and based on the principles of ecosystemic diversity.
Resplendence complements the knowledge provided by science with the wisdom of what to do about it, in the same way religion has sought to complement practical knowledge in human history. Science deals with the pursuit of the knowledge of how nature and the universe work, while the wisdom of resplendence deals with what we creatively do with this knowledge, in reflowering paradise - the ultimate manifestation of wisdom in action.
We all want to find meaning in life and want it to have a meaning which extends beyond our own lifetime. We also want the security that we are living in a world that has a viable future for our offspring and the future generations. The critical source of our angst that many of us turn to religion to alleviate, is that we are living in a world which is not only teeming with injustice, violent conflicts and weapons of mass destruction, but is lurching towards an uncertain future as a result of human impacts on the world's living habitats, climate and resources which could take us to an irreversible tipping point, undermining the future of unborn generations.
Okavango Delta. One of Africa's richest biodiversity hotspots.
These are problems we need to deal with and heal in this life to have a sense of fulfillment, not just pass them on to future generations to worry about, or to an imagined afterlife full of even more graphic tortures and punishments. The only meaningful contribution we can make to the future is through our offspring, our contributions to understanding in culture and society, in the humanities, science, art and music, through innovations we bring to society which produce lasting benefit and through actually protecting the living planet through our actions to guard the diversity of life.
No selfish, expedient, greedy or jealous motive, or action - can serve to give anything more than a futile and temporary distraction from the central goal of creative integration with the immortal flow of life around us. Redemption comes through coherence and integration with paradise pure and simple. And paradise is a realizable condition, if we only put our collective resources and inspiration to work to achieve it.
Science, Resplendence and Religion in a Nutshell
Science is the foundation of our description of nature and the physical universe.
Resplendence complements scientific cosmology providing three existential raisons d'etre for humanity as a climax cultural species:
(a) To cherish and replenish the diversity of life on the planet so that the immortal passage of the generations will continue
(b) To facilitate the unfolding illumination of all conscious beings.
(c) To support a caring community to realize resplendence as a creative process.
Traditional religions are in fundamental conflict with both scientific cosmology and human survival. Monotheism is particularly dangerous, because it invokes a violent End of Days, leading to conflagration, triage of all life and destruction of the Earth in favor of a heavenly kingdom.
Religion, according to Augustine comes from re-ligare to "bind again" or "bind fast". Religions bind together spiritually-minded people into mass movements, but religions are also contaminated with the notion of bondage to a potentially oppressive utopian moral order. This is a fascist totalitarian notion that makes traditional religions dangerous and harmful to world futures. The fasces is a bundle of sticks, sometimes with a protruding axe, or labrys, whose strength bound together is greater than the sum of its parts.
Cosmological Paradigm Shift: Ancient religious notions of a universe created by God are in fundamental conflict with the scientific description of reality confirmed by experimental investigation. The six day sabbatical creation of Genesis (a) has the 'Elohim or God as a manufacturing designer creating the life forms and the firmament of stars as a dome over the flat Earth. The Sun and Moon are created before the plants. This view continued into the middle ages (b), but with the scientific revolution a conflicting paradigm has emerged (c), in which the Earth is a planet in a vastly bigger more complex universe, which has emerged from an explosive origin over 13 billion years ago, with processes such as cosmic inflation providing the dynamics to induce the formation of galaxy clusters, stars and planets in the form we see today amid accelerating expansion caused by dark energy. This is a cosmogenic process with no evidence for an external creator God. Life was not generated de-novo in a fixed machine-like act of manufacture at a single point in time, but shows exhaustive genetic, fossil and developmental evidence of evolution (d) to form complex organisms and ultimately conscious sentient beings. Resplendence, as a democratic social process, seeks to reparadise the Earth by applying the scientific paradigm correctly to the human existential condition. This provides a more effective view of our life-giving role in the universe, in terms of protecting the generations of living diversity and of conscious beings on the planet over evolutionary time scales, thereby enabling a deepening of conscious awareness as a whole in the universe, as a cumulative emergent manifestation of cosmology.
In scientific revolutions, the sceptical principle of inquiry, seeks verification from nature, confirming a theory to be true only when all attempts to negate it result in contradiction, rather than imposing preconceived beliefs. This means that descriptions of reality only remain stable over limited epochs, called paradigms, punctuated by evolutionary leaps. When a new theory, or description of reality, is discovered, which generalizes, or replaces a previous one, a new scientific paradigm is born. The term paradigm itself has an ancient origin in Greek paradeigma, "pattern, example" from para, "beside, beyond" and deiknumi "to show, to point out" meaning "exhibit, represent, expose". The term was used in Plato's Timaeus as the model or pattern that the Demiurge (god) used to create the cosmos. Resplendence in making a paradigm transition from religion does precisely this, transforming the naive view of religious creation of the cosmos by God into a wisdom tradition to guide human action based on the extraordinarily confounding and detailed scientific knowledge of the universe we have more recently accumulated.
Human societies and individual consciousness have been driven by two complementary sensibilities. On the one hand, the practical understanding of nature is essential for survival, manifest in gatherer-hunter society, for example in knowledge of diverse food and medicinal plant species and in the practicalities of hunting and developing arrow poisons and this has eventually become science. Complementing this are feelings of belonging and meaning in a precocious natural world, associated with beliefs in spirits and deities that guide behavior towards societal strength through morality, and explain the mortal condition and the vagaries of fate. These have over time become what we call science and religion.
However, religions have resisted natural paradigm evolution because they seek permanent ascendancy. Thus Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad remain fixed male entities impeding the natural evolution of human insight and world guardianship of nature. Buddha has become a symbol of perfection unattainable in the round of birth and death. Muhammad is claimed to be the last prophet under pain of execution. Jesus is claimed to be going to return in the 'second coming' as the avenging Lord. This prevents natural evolution, even though our understanding of the world, and the closing circle of the biosphere have been transformed, both by science, and human impacts of our burgeoning planetary technological society, leading to climate change, ecocrisis and potentially irreversible risks to human and natural survival.
Resplendence accepts the paradigm shift to the scientific description of reality in all its manifestations, while at the same time resolving the dilemma of existence in a way religions are failing to do, by coupling our sense of purpose and collective action to the one thing that immortalizes us - protecting the life flow of the living planet and its generations.
Morality and Redemption: Christianity asserts a corrupt moral imperative that human beings are flawed by original sin, stemming from Eve's transgression, and that human free will is set in a moral cosmology, in which those who do not believe in God, and/or commit any of the seven deadly sins, will suffer eternal damnation in the Day of Judgment. Resplendence asserts that humans possess original virtue in their emotional makeup, which allows for love and empathic relationship as well as expedience and betrayal, and that moral behavior is a natural feature of sociobiology in which individuals in a species, or human society, or religion, forgo immediate advantages over their peers to enable the society as a whole to gain dominance over competing societies and better survive in the wider environment. Below: Three features of morality in mammals (a) Protective behavior at risk to the individual. Lion attacking a wildebeast. A pride of lionesses cooperating to try to capture a young, or weaker, straggler are rounded on by a herd of buffalo also cooperating with one another, making a classically moral decision to act together for the benefit of the group at some risk to their individual lives, forcing the predators to flee. (b) Clear evidence of emotional bonding in elephants and chimps showing they can make emotional decisions. (c) Collective altruistic action. A group of hippos act together to save a zebra at a waterhole from a crocodile. Altruistic punishment is neither necessary, nor sufficient for morality, although it is very effective in human societies. Compassion and empathy are natural mammalian emotions which have also been observed, even across species in animal societies. Notice also that the carnivores have an essential role in the ecosystem of avoiding boom and bust in the herbivores, which could lead to a famine resulting in them becoming extinct, so their role in tooth and claw is also beneficent. The lion lying down with the lamb of Isaiah is thus a misguided fantasy. The religious moral imperative in urban societies arises from the imposition of cultural values which rob the human individuals of their deeper relationship with the passage of the generations in nature. As a climax species having major impacts on the planet, we are only now becoming aware of our cognizant role in planetary life. Resplendence, by restoring the natural relationship between humanity and life as a whole, applies the redemptive principle, which heals cultural tendencies towards selfish exploitation, because they are futile mortal strategies with no long-term fulfillment and no lasting outcome, except for diminishing the regenerative process by short-term exploitation and tragedy of the commons..
Gods are projections of conscious personalities onto the cosmos that come from an earlier phase in human emergence, where gatherer-hunters devised parent-like entities to guard over their vulnerable lives in a tumultuous world, and later in our cultural adolescence, agricultural civilizations used increasingly powerful deities as punishing moral entities holding sway over life and death, and the implied after-life as the final moral end-of-days scenario.
With the coming to maturity of human culture in reaching a state today where human actions themselves can irreversibly harm the planet's future, we have to accept we have entered a state of de-facto maturity and accept that it is we ourselves, neither God, nor Jesus as Lord in the Day of Judgment, who must assume responsibility for beneficent guardianship of the planetary future, and achieve the enlightenment to be able to do this successfully. This is a complete fulfillment of our life meaning and purpose and enables the mystery of conscious existence to be more and more deeply explored over the lifetimes of all the sentient participants as an open-ended process.
Resplendence seeks a condition of unfolding visionary transcendence in sentient consciousness and in human society at large. This is a quest that spans both the foundations of cosmology and neuroscience and the deepest insights of the religious traditions. It is a greater perspective than the lofty pretensions of religions because it encompasses all conscious experience in an open-ended discovery process, neither limited by materialistic assumptions that the consious mind is no more than the workings of the chemical brain, nor pre-empted by doctrines and dogmas of prescribed religious assumptions..
Spiritually, resplendence seeks a condition where every individual is able to explore the mystical and visionary undercurrents of the conscious condition first hand, without becoming subject to oppressive forces seeking to assert any religious belief or creed, or to deny people the opportunity to experience such states themselves through legislation to prevent the use of visionary sacraments or drugs which induce visionary states. Attempting to ban access to mind altering substances is a benighted policy aimed more at shoring up mindless consumer materialism and existing traditional religious beliefs than any protection of society from misadventure. Any forms of societal abuse of substances need to be treated as a heath matter to avoid the growth of violent criminal organizations seeking to profit from banned substances in an age where technology is making synthesis on demand ever more available.
Women and Sexuality: Left: Enforced veiling and homicidal stoning. Islam, imposes stringent and violent restrictions on female reproductive choice, social, educational and career opportunities, enforced by torture and homicide for adultery, as part of an archaic patriarchal tribal code. Such reproductive control of the female to ensure patriarchal reproductive imperatives has been an almost universal feature of world religions for millennia. Centre to right: In contrast with religion, resplendence seeks a high degree of sovereignty for female reproductive choice in an overall climate of mutual partner choice consistent with the needs of the human family. This is because humans are at an extreme among mammals in the dissonance between the male reproductive strategy which is primarily focused on fertilization and the female strategy focused on parenting. Because mammals bear live young and the females engage lactation and a pivotal role in infant care, females need to be able to choose the best combination of resourcing partner and good genes for what is a massive commitment, with a long pregnancy leaving the woman vulnerable and travail, a risky delivery bearing a large head, months to years of breast feeding and years of young child care. In addition mammalian XY chromosome sexual selection favours males displaying single X-linked characteristics, while females are able to apply sexual selection to these, again emphasizing the importance of female reproductive choice. In an overpopulated world, universal access to contraception is essential, but in addition, there need to be social incentives to enable capable achieving women to both pursue and maintain their professional careers and have security of parental leave, to avoid the conflict between parenting and women's careers that has blighted democratic countries from Italy to Japan. At the same time, this predicates a pro-choice position concerning terminating pregnancy, not least to avoid the risks women suffer when these rights are withheld in the name of religious conviction. Finally resplendence implies ensuring natural childbirth remains a viable process, and advising against routine cosmetic Caesarians based on a false image of womanhood, and giving responsible advice about the implications for future generations of technologies such as in-vitro fertilization and intra-cytoplasmic sperm implantation, as well as more advanced techniques such as generating gametes from stem cells, to avoid the human species becoming perpetually dependent on medical procedures to survive. Right: Sexuality commands respect as sacred to the natural order, as we each become conscious beings through sexual fertilization and sexual recombination to create the diversity of all sexual beings, without which higher life forms would never have come into existence.
Politically, resplendence aims at an ecosystemically diverse informed non-violent democratic society of mutually enlightened beings, possessing maximal autonomy of choice, avoiding the tyranny of the majority democracies are prone to , while recognizing the need to actively oppose all forms of totalitarianism that could lead to a loss of democratic autonomy, both from political movements such as totalitarian fascism and communism and from world religions with totalitarian doctrines that form an even more all-encompassing utopian threat to freedom of choice and world futures.
Technologically, resplendence seeks a society utilizing the most advanced techniques in a sensitive way, which works closely with evolutionary principles to achieve a high standard of living and fully informed intelligence, while having minimal impact on and actively restoring the biospheric resilience of the planet over evolutionary time scales. The energy economy needs urgently to move to renewable forms of energy not having deleterious impacts on the climate and biosphere as a whole. The information economy needs to remain as free as possible from governmental surveillance and accessible to all people.
Above all resplendence seeks to prevent the destabilization of the entire planet's resilience and robustness to survive, through rampant habitat destruction, burning the fossil fuels accumulated over three hundred million uears and climate change running to tipping points which could compromise both human survival and the survival of the diverse species upon which we co-depend.
Weapons of mass destruction need to be replaced by programs to provide defences against events on an astronomical scale threatening to the continuity of life, such as asteroid impacts and nearby supernovae. Questions of interstellar migration, or communication, need to be considered cautiously for their deeper implications..
Great precautionary care needs to be applied to bootstrap genetic technologies such as germ-line editing and engineering, which feedback directly into the process of genetic evolution itself and hence the informational foundation of the biosphere. These technologies have vast utopian potential, and invoke the temptation to make choices which result in an elitist dependence on advanced reproductive technology. They are liable to lead to 'poisoned chalice' dystopias, lacking the resilience to survive over evolutionary time scales.
Because resplendence is founded on the resilience that natural evolutionary ecosystems have over cosmological time scales and the super-computing power of parallel genetic algorithms in a diverse natural ecology, as a concept it needs to apply a very strong precautionary principle against forms of technology which to bootstrap genetic technologies such as germ-line editing and engineering, which feedback directly into the process of genetic evolution itself and hence the informational foundation of the biosphere. Eugenic genetic engineering and/or cloning, or using other genetic reproductive technologies for "brave new world" utopian aims is a key potential threat to long term ecosystemic viability that needs to be avoided, because it is most likely to lead to irreversible loss of characteristics essential to the long-term adaptiveness of both human beings and the species upon which we depend for our future survival. These technologies have vast utopian potential, and invoke the temptation to make choices that result in an elitist dependence on advanced reproductive technology. They are liable to lead to 'poisoned chalice' dystopias, lacking the resilience to survive over evolutionary time scales. Use of technologies such as germ-line editing, particularly in humans and the species upon which we depend, thus has to be examined very carefully on a case-by-case basis.
Primary Threats to Evolution and Survival: Top: Hiroshima after the nuclear holocaust. Middle: Intentional deforestation in Indonesia. Bottom: Genetic technology hold both great promise and great risks, requiring careful ethical assessment to avoid irreversible damage. (Left) Macaques genetically edited using CRISPR to alter three genes. Right: Parthenogenetic and stem-cell generated mice using reproductive genetic technology.
CRISPR, a new gene editing technology based on a key bacterial immune system, has already been shown to be able to make changes in specific genes and yet enable the birth of live gene-edited primate offspring, leading to the potential to make selective changes to genes such as those causing diseases in humans. But this technology has to be very carefully assessed. Combining it with 'gene drive' techniques, which can selectively result in the edited genes being transmitted to virtually all offspring when an organism containing the edited changes mates and produces offspring, rather than the natural 50-50 ratio, could eliminate a disease such as malaria by precipitating an explosive loss of mosquito fertility, but could also cause irreversible changes to both species and ecosystems. Such gene drive mechanisms could continue to cause collateral damage, resulting in the loss of essential characteristics in species upon which depend or even our own species. A decade ago Monsanto tried to introduce 'terminator technology' which would cause seeds produced by the company to become genetically infertile in the second generation leading to a similar risk of irreversible loss if the natural varieties ceased to be cultivated on an adequate scale by farmers dependent on the technology.
Resplendence is the natural paradigm successor to religion, in which we cherish and replenish the Earth throughout the generations of the diversity of life, no longer seeing through a glass darkly, but now face-to-face, coming into coherence with our sexually-immortal condition, becoming the source of a collective illumination of enlightenment, both scientific and visionary, to flower the future generations and sustain the epoch of paradise on Earth.
There is no basis to the cosmological argument for God because there is no meaningful way to mount an initial cause, since space-time begins with the cosmic origin and time does not extend to before but curves to meet itself in much the same way as all the lines of latitude come together at the south pole of the Earth. There is thus no meaning to trying to apply linear causal logic that something beforehand must have made the universe, except as a classical misconception. This problem only gets worse If the universe is part of a larger fractal cosmic inflation process, because it is fundamental to general relativity that the curvature of space-time is shaped by gravity.
Likewise it is meaningless to talk about a 'final' cause of life - a single external defined purpose to which it must converge. Just as dark energy suggests the universe will expand forever, so the quantum physics of biology leads to the evolutionary diversity of life and the vision quest of consciousness as open-ended outcomes. In this process we, and the generations of life with us, will discover, ever more deeply, the nature of conscious existence, which is the most inscrutable process in the universe.
For this reason we need to protect the evolutionary diversity of life and of conscious existence throughout the generations as a prime purpose in life, while at the same time exploring as deeply as possible the conscious condition. We also have a prime purpose to safeguard the genetic diversity of life in our use of technology.
Recent research connecting quantum entanglement to space-time and gravity implies that quantum reality, with its spooky wave functions connecting past and future, may define the large scale structure of the universe and hence space-time as well. Elapsing time is a feature of an observer inside an entangled state. Outside this state, the observer sees space-time extension with no time evolution - i.e. eternal existence. It is everything forever - alpha to Omega.
Because the conscious brain depends on edge-of-chaos sensitivity and quantum entanglement to anticipate reality and survive in an uncertain world, we can experience both the temporal aspect and the eternal aspect of the existential condition. In the temporal, we witness things change and evolve and we are born and die. In the eternal, everything we have witnessed and will ever witness is encoded in the entanglement of past and future.
Consciousness and intentional will are a process which enables us to anticipate the immediate future and to act to perpetuate the process in terms of survival. Thus the consciousness in every sentient being is subjectively participating in determining the causal destiny of the universe. The universe coming to experience itself is the ultimate interactive consummation of the symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature in the cosmic origin. It is thus fully cosmological - the Sigma state complementing alpha and Omega.
Cosmological life - paradise on the cosmic equator.
In the temporal aspect of existence, we are discovering ourselves while discovering nature and collapsing the cosmic wave function so that we all experience a temporal line of world history in the making. From outside the entanglement, this is the universe having come to know itself in paradise on the cosmic equator. This knowing is eternal - spanning space time - so that it is of significance only that it came to pass at all, not when it begins or ends. It doesn't matter if life ends on Earth, or even the entire universe meets its heat death, because the experience is eternally encoded in space-time.
The eternal aspect of this collective consciousness, spanning the entire history of the universe, is what religious people think of as God generating the universe as a dream, a thought, an intellectual pronouncement, or ultimate cause. Let there be life and there was life! Vishnu, the sustainer, dreaming the universe out of Brahman emerging from a lotus in his navel, lovingly overlooked by Lakhsmi. The Pauline Logos as a demiurge pronouncing the universe into being through his intellect.
These worldviews are allegorical myths, not literal accounts. We need to explore the actual mysteries of sentient existence in the first person to validate them, just as good science discovers the natural world by sceptical inquiry. This is a primary responsibility of being a sentient being alongside protecting the diversity of the generations of life.
1. Biogenesis, Evolution and Consciousness: Biogenesis is a cosmological interactive process leading, through biological evolution, to consciousness as the most complete expression of all the fundamental forces of nature in interaction. It is thus the Sigma point on the cosmic equator in space-time, standing in consummating relationship to the alpha and Omega.
2. Transcendence lies in the Biota: Transcendence is thus manifest principally or exclusively in the biota, and hence in the human vision quest. The messianic quest, the mystical quest, the shamanic vision quest and the quest for enlightenment are thus real, as is the sacredness of sexuality, but worship of deities, including the monotheistic God, is a false vision based on idolatry and bibliolatry. There is no final prophet or messiah, because the mysterium tremendum of existence is manifest in every sentient being.
3. The Origin of Apocalypse: Our conscious awareness of the existential condition during the epochs of human emergence and the development of civilization has led to an awareness of tumultuous future shock converging on the covers being thrown off reality, a phenomenon that has come to be described in religious traditions as apocalypse.
4. Transcendence versus Deity: Transcendence is not manifest in the monotheistic God or other deities, which are projections of human nature and transcendence into imaginary personalities in heavenly and hellish domains. The Day of Judgment is thus a false morally punishing apocalypse.
5. Sexuality, Fertility and Incarnation: Sexual complementarity and fertility is key to the emergence of complex life and consciousness and secures the creative and perennial passage of the generations of life, even though as individual organisms, we suffer a mortal life-span, inescapable in biological life. Sexuality is thus integral to the sacred condition and the immortality of the generations of life. Because incarnation is sexual, the idea of reincarnation of individual souls, possibly in different species is a natural fallacy.
6. Religion and Nature: The purpose of spirituality and religion is to cherish and replenish the planet throughout the generations of life. Nature is thus central and pivotal to the sacred condition.
7. Religion and Morality: The social value of religion is to encourage collective respect for, responsibility about, and action to, protect the living planet and life in the universe. It is neither to worship God, nor to create a dominant culture through morally prescriptive punishing deities and doctrines, nor to repress female reproductive choice, all of which are oppressive worldly instruments of male power.
8. Realization and Fulfillment: Individual realization and collective fulfillment comes through contributing to the future fecundity of life and discovering the inner nature of conscious experience and the natural world and communicating these experiences to others. This is fulfilling the destiny of the universe coming to understand itself in space-time through conscious illumination.
9. Conscious autonomy and Will: Consciousness and intentional will exist to bind together the complementary subjective and objective physical aspects of existential reality in such a way as to enable subjective intentionality to alter the course of physical history and bring about a more blessed and aware world and cosmological condition. We are thus responsible for our actions and their ultimate affects.
10. Selfishness and Mortality: While free-will can also be used for selfish ends, or to create dominant dystopias, these aims are ignorant and ultimately doomed to mortality because they do not achieve fruition of the immortal condition. The aim of enlightenment is to help everyone see the futility of such selfish manipulative and oppressive actions and to act with joy and vitality to protect the living generations of life.
Apocalypse is a cosmological nightmare generated by a patriarchally dominant culture generating religions of conflict and destruction in the name of the male reproductive imperative and its ensuing male mortality anxiety inflated to cosmic proportions in the quest for eternal life and the cosmic war between God and the devil. This is itself a betrayal of faith in both our evolutionary original virtue, which sustained us into this situation, and for believers in the divine, a betrayal of the genuine power and essential goodness of God, by placing Him in mortal combat with equally oppressive forces of darkness, which have no place in any cosmological description, outside the all too natural human failings of jealousy, betrayal, anger, contempt, disgust, envy and expedience.
The scientific revolution has shown us in astounding ways how the universe actually works and how it comes about, and it does have moral and ethical implications for conserving the diversity of nature, knowing how long evolutionary time-scales take to generate the living and genetic diversity upon which the robustness of the planet, and our future with it, depends.
The unique role of religion, when it is functioning for the human and planetary good, is to bind us together in a paradigm of caring and of moral and ethical goodness and togetherness in which major decisions for the long-term welfare of the planet and its ongoing life may take personal sacrifices on the part of all of us to avoid a tragedy of the commons (Hardin) caused by winner-take-all exploitation and greed.
This is precisely the theme of the current Pope's encyclical to care for the planet, to avoid severe climate change and loss of biodiversity, paralleled by similar responses from the Anglicans and a group of Muslim scholars which we shall examine in the next section, so it is possible for religion to have a helpful role when it is not oppressive. However, religion also needs to respect female views on contraception and reproduction in an era of peaking and potentially unsustainable human population. Its role should be to mitigate human violence with a sense of wisdom and mutual compassion, rather than to invoke homicidal violence and dismemberment through outmoded doctrines and prescriptions, such as stoning for adultery, amputation for stealing, and death for apostasy.
As Rosemary Radford Ruether (1982) notes: both the [Covenental and Sacramental] traditions are marked by a legacy of patriarchalism and must be reinterpreted, if they are to be genuinely affirming of dominated women, men and nature. Even then, the question of whether they can be adequately liberated and made liberating will remain. … I assume there is no ready made ecological spirituality and ethic in past traditions. The ecological crisis is new to human experience. This does not mean that humans have not devastated the environment before. But as long as populations remained small and human technology was weak, these devastations were remediable by migration, retreat from top-heavy urban centers, or adaption of new techniques. Nature appeared a huge inexhaustible source of life and humans small. Only after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did humans begin to recognize the possibility that they could destroy the planet by their own expropriated power. The radical nature of this new face of ecological devastation means that all past human traditions are inadequate in the face of it.
Many of the ways religions act already encourage compassionate sentiments, in the virtues of charity and love for others, celebrated collectively in rites-of-passage, from birth, through sexual union, to death, and in the festivals of the seasons. They also encourage caring for others in creating a fairer world for all. This is the joy and magic of people coming together in love with a common cause of the fertility of life itself and the part each of us plays in the fabric of existence. We are thus the agents of giving meaning to existence through the meaning we give to life itself, rather than seeking it in subservient worship and unquestioned archaic doctrines. Extended to an opportunity for mystical experience as well, provided by the living sacraments completes the cycle in the first person, making the whole process one of confirming reality through personal affirmation, rather than prescriptive belief.
We nevertheless need to hold all existing religions to account for their history of violence and deal with them in terms of tough love, resisting all violence and coercion, to avoid them taking humanity and our very ability to protect our future generations, hostage to their coercive and often violently enforced utopian ambitions.
Muslims hold Muhammad as a sacred perfect being, peace be upon him, under pain of death for his mere depiction, but it is clearly documented that he ordered the summary beheading of 700 Jewish men and took their women into sexual slavery by appointing a dying warrior judge over their fate when they had parleyed with the Quraysh besieging Medina, but had not betrayed the Muslims by actually opening their gates in the Oasis (Armstrong). Thus a genocide was committed, even though an actual betrayal had never occurred, or the Muslims wouldn't have been in a position to exact such a diabolical punishment. Muhammad personally ordered apostates to be killed and women to be stoned for adultery. All people on the planet need to recognise that the prophet's own actions are completely inconsistent with Islam's pretence to be a religion of peace. If any religious leader in this day and age were to commit such heinous offences, the international community would hunt them down and put them on trial for crimes against humanity. We need to come to a day of reckoning about those who have committed unconscionable violence in founding a major world religion with utopian aims for world domination, and steadfastly oppose all rights to commit homicidal violence in the name of religion, or scripture.
The Genocide in the Souk of Medina (Fitna)
For this reason I close with a series of abrogations of scripture invoking violence or repression, as possibly the one person on the planet who has declared the need, taken the prerogative, and the had insight to do so, in the spirit of culminating the violent epoch of apocalypse once and for all time to follow, for the liberation of all sentient beings from bondage and religious homicide.
But to consummate this process, we need to consider the wider horizon. The world is suffering from a schizophrenic mismatch between the scientific and religious traditions. On the scientific side, paradigm shifts (Kuhn) - fundamental changes in the description of reality - are happening at an accelerating pace, just as Albert Einstein's quantum theory and relativity formed a new paradigm, generalizing and replacing those of Isaac Newton. Whole new developments, from the theories of fundamental physics, through cosmology and the ultimate origin and fate of the universe, to the human genome project, biological genetics and neuroscience, are completely transforming our understanding of the natural world, using the sceptical principle of accepting only those theories that are confirmed by nature.
Physicist Richard Feynman put it this way: In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is - if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it.
By contrast the world's major religions are caught in a sabbatical flat-Earth view of existence, in which evolution doesn’t exist, God made the living species in an act of creative manufacture as we make tools, autos and computers, the heavens lie in the clouds and we all wait in fear for the Day of Judgment. In the middle stands the planet and its biosphere and the human impacts documented by science which could jeopardize the long-term future of planetary life. Despite efforts on both sides to paper over the cracks and claim some consistency between science and religion, these two world-views have become fundamentally inconsistent and in a state of conceptual and actual conflict.
Central to this question is the way religions try to infer the reality of their models by reference to a-priori assumptions, untestable hypotheses and notions invoking supernatural processes transcending any form of human examination. The Hellenistic cosmogony of Christianity posits a divine ultimate being in turn giving rise to a creator god, who creates the universe as a kind of conscious mental imprint of their own intellect. Modern versions of this Christian idea see God becoming all things to all men - the Biblical god of Israel invoking jealous wrath in the Old Testament, the forgiving father God of Jesus, who sacrifices his only begotten Son, the Logos-Christ at the beginning and end of the universe, and finally the god imagined to be standing somehow behind the inordinately complex physical universe we have now discovered through science, and in the conscious minds of its diverse inhabitants, along with all the good and beneficent feelings of compassion and awe we can come to express – i.e. God is in everything!
Despite the US being a developed country with strong scientific and secular traditions, over 42% of people still believe in Genesis 1 creationism, sometimes disguised as 'intelligent design', and most, particularly Republican Christians continue deny human impacts on climate change.
Caught up in this confusion are the endless arguments for the existence of God. The original ontological argument was "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" must exist in the mind; even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God. The cosmological argument, which we shall consider and refute in detail, is generally in the guise of a notion of the cosmos as a causal process, which thus must be set in motion by a primal first cause claimed to be God.
There are fundamental reasons why the cosmogony and cosmology of both the physical universe and conscious sentient existence should apply the standards of sceptical inquiry, only confirming theories which could actually be disproved and for which there is confirming evidence, either objective or subjective. The picture emerging both from quantum theory and the relativistic universe clarifies why positing first causes of this nature are likely to be fundamental misconceptions originating from mental introspection in the classical world, which do not hold in general.
Quantum theory is stochastic, with deterministic Hamiltonian wave functions interleaved with causality-violating processes invoking the probability interpretation, either from the notion of collapse of the wave function and other theories such as many worlds. Quantum processes also admit both advanced and retarded solutions, so that implicitly time-reversing properties such as the many versions of the Wheeler delayed choice experiment become manifest in diverse forms of quantum entanglement. Causality in the physical universe is generally associated with the "arrow of time" in that causes precede their effects, but general relativity invokes the curvature of both space and time, so that for example in the source of the big bang, space and time become rather like the north pole where the lines of latitude come together, with there being no meaning in asking what came before hand, as a primal first cause. Ideas of internal symmetries and symmetry-breaking have better explanatory power, although there are also cosmogenic physical theories in which a clash of higher dimensional 'branes', a recurrent bounce from a big crush, or a fractally inflating cosmos, could introduce new big-bang baby universes in the process.
Likewise the study of conscious experience is better served by empirical discovery than a-priori assumptions about transcendence and notions of first-causes, even though subjective consciousness may not conform to the notions of objective replication experimental science usually applies. Since we are all subjectively conscious beings, we can each enter into the cosmological spectrum of mental states achievable by the human brain and psyche and into a discovery process, just as shamans and mystics have done since the dawn of human culture. To have veridical validity, this needs to be pursued in the first person rather than surviving third-hand on doctrines of a priesthood or religious prescription.
Centrally in terms of the religious pursuit of eternal life in a mortal world, we need to understand that the redemption of mortality lies not the apocalyptic genocide of "a new heaven and earth", but the living immortality of the passage of the generations. Complex intelligent life could not have evolved without sexuality providing the almost endless repertoire of viable variations that sexual recombination enables. This leads in turn to the variety of each of us as sentient beings with a common compassionate basis in mortal incarnation as individual organisms. We are thus as individuals, 'emanations' of sexuality and gain our physical immortality in the immortal web of the generations of life. In return we owe it to the passage of the generations to cherish and replenish it. This is the best of all possible outcomes, not a flawed universe doomed to mortality of the individual. Through empathy and compassion we become united in life.
The caveat on a-priori assumptions also applies to Christogenic theories, such as that of Pierre Teihlard de Chardin, the Catholic philosopher/archaeologist who was prevented by the church from publishing his work during his lifetime and produced an evolutionary Christology occurring in qualitative 'phase transitions' in which successive phases supplanted one another due to their invoking more efficient and novel forms of emergence, from physical and chemical complexification, through biological evolution from simpler to more successful complex organisms, in turn succeeded by human culture proceeding from primitive societies through early civilizations to democracy and technology, leading to a unitary mind, reminiscent of the 'global village of the world-wide web, culminating in unidirectional causality in the 'body of Christ' in Love, realizing the Hellenistic notion of the cosmic redemption. Rosemary Radford Ruether notes the dark side of this unilateral 'privileged axis', leading to 'sanguine acceptance of extinction of species as the acceptable price of this progress' although it has been widely recognized by scientists for its integrated view of humanity in the universe.
Chardin's Christogenesis model.
The idea that there is a beneficent underlying basis for the deeper and deeper integration of conscious experience, which is also a manifestation of the interactive cosmology of the universe is consistent with it being manifest subjectively in the cosmological nature of consciousness itself, which can be experienced in meditation and contemplation. But this is something we need to explore very carefully without preconceptions, because it is the most subtle manifestation of the sentient cosmos. We have no evidence that this will lead to a linear axial Christology, rather than an increasing diversity of indwelling mystical insights in a resonating tapestry of living experience, just as we are still trying to determine whether the current physical universe will expand forever, rather than ending in a 'big crunch'.
Science, as the pursuit of natural knowledge, can tell us the planet is in trouble, but it falls to social activists, such Greenpeace, to try to bring human consciousness to bear on the problem, while world leaders dither and argue, urged on by a few more enlightened of their members, often hobbled by conservative forces aligned to business interests who depend for their wealth on the status quo, leading towards a tragedy of the commons. Traditionally the complementary role falls to religion to give people a view of reality in which life makes sense, to motivate people to act for the common good, and in which our collective prospects and sense of meaning in life and death are given real hope.
Science and religion in deeper human history over the last 100,000 years have appealed to complementary aspects of how the human brain has evolved. Science is basically an abstraction of the practical natural skills of hunters developing potent arrow poisons and gathers learning the nutrient and medicinal properties of diverse plant species, and potential uses of natural products to achieve diverse cultural ends. It is the knowledge of how to live in nature successfully. Religion plays into our sense of meaning, our togetherness as a people, our sense of moral rightness towards one another in the face of potential betrayal, and the subconscious realms where visionary experiences, our mortal fears and sense of belonging play out in senses of ecstasy and ultimate meaning.
It is thus religion that has been the motivating force for the rise and fall of successive cultures and civilizations. The world is in absolutely urgent need of the ability to have paradigm revolutions of its religious traditions, so that humanity can come to constructive engagement with the closing circle of one biosphere. Now the tragic fallacy in this equation is that Christianity, Islam and even Buddhism too have set up toxic traps to prevent natural paradigm change. Buddha embodies a state of perfection unattainable in the round of birth and death. Islam has declared that Muhammad is the final prophet, preventing any change to the paradigm under pain of execution. Christianity has in many ways set up an even more lethal trap by claiming the only messiah is Jesus who will return as avenging Lord in the day of judgment, thus not only being the final prophet, but the judge and executioner as well.
Try to imagine for a moment the relationship between Newton and Einstein. If Jesus, as the historical founder of Christianity, is compared to Newton, how can an Einstein ever come into being in this tradition? No Meister Eckhart, Saint Paul, or Mother Teresa can do it because all are caught in the gilded cage of having to worship the Christian doctrinal package, unadulterated by heresy, as good faithful Christians. The current Pope Francis who is a genius about protecting diversity and addressing global warming in his encyclical compiled by world class scientists, and has moved to soften the hard line against divorce, and abortion through forgiveness, is still stuck with claiming that "Good weeps" for the victims of church child abuse. What kind of God of creation lurks in the aether, expressing human emotions and "biological" tears for Catholic wrongdoings, while genocidal religious war rages in Syria and the planet is in ecocrisis?
So, is it true that the only way a Christian Einstein could come about would be by founding a completely new religion, overthrowing the broken paradigm of Jesus stuck on the Cross bleeding for all eternity? Since Christianity is the central cultural religious tradition of the Western world, this is like saying Einstein would have to overthrow science to discover relativity. It is madness pure and simple. It is possible but it would clearly take a huge challenge to the zeitgeist to accept a human innovator daring enough to do a stealth raid as the "thief in the night". The acid test ultimately is universal credibility of the innovation.
Hence we need to look very carefully at what the natural revolution of this stasis is, in complete honesty and transparency. The answer, in the closing circle of the biosphere, is clearly that the central meaning, raison d'źtre and purpose of all our human lives is to cherish and replenish the Earth throughout the generations of living diversity. There is no other end game, no other Unveiling, no other solution - this IS it! It's not a matter of affirmative belief, such as "I believe in the one God", but the ultimate truth of existential reality itself, and our conscious place in the process. This is what I describe as the way, or Tao of the Tree of Life, the natural successor to Christianity in the Western tradition.
And it comes with two clear implications about nature and fertility, both of which run diametrically opposite to the view of reality pronounced in Eden - that nature is evil, as the serpent is evil, and that woman is the devil's gateway. The truth is that nature is sacred, sine qua non, as paradise is sacred, and that sexuality is as sacred as nature. Reproductive fertility, its underlying genetics and the parental investment of the human female stipulates that female choice reproductively and culturally is at least as sacred as male choice.
I unpronounce dominion over nature.
I unpronounce the Anathema maranatha.
I unpronounce the death curse on the witch.
I unpronounce stoning for adultery,
or any other violent punishment.
I apologise to all women for the sins of man.
The following sample passages from the Old and New Testaments, Qur'an and Law of Manu are hereby abrogated in the name of the Bridegroom, to liberate all women from the yoke of patriarchal religion, whether monotheism or polytheistic Hinduism. These are representative examples. Any others expressing similar attitudes are likewise abrogated by implication and precedent. All references to death for adultery are abrogated in every religion in which they occur. There are so many diabolical hadith concerning stoning and other stone-age punishments that only three key passages emphasizing the origin of stoning from applying it incorrectly to Jews on the basis of an outmoded passage in Deuteronomy are included to emphasize the origin of this grievous error, which has plagued Muslim women for many centuries.
Exod 22:18 Death curse on the Witch Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Lev 20:27 Familiars A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
Lev 24:16 Blasphemy And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.
Deut 21:22 Hanging on a Tree And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;
Deut 20:12 Genocide and Sexual Slavery And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; (used to justify Muhammad's genocide at Medina)
Deut 22:20 Stoning for Adultery But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: (used to justify stoning for adultery in Islam)
Deut 22:22 Stoning for Adultery If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
Deut 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: ... And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Luke 14:23 Religious compulsion And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
1 Cor 16:22 The Anathema curse "If any 'man' love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let 'him' be Anathema maranatha".
1 Cor 14:34 Women to keep silent "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
1 Timothy 2:11 Women not authorized to Preach "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent with all subjection; for Adam was first formed then Eve. Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor".
1 Cor 7:29 Negating sexuality in marriage "Blessed are they who have wives as if they had none, for they shall inherit God".
Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Qur'an 4:34: Men superior to women, Beating "Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other ... Those whose perverseness you fear, admonish them and remove them into bed chambers and beat them, but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
Qur'an 4.11: Male worth two Females Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females
Qur'an 4.15: Confinement unto death And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.
Qur'an 4:89 Death for apostasy They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.
Qur'an 24.2 Flogging for adultery (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement. The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believers.
Qur'an 24.31 Enforced veiling And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons.
Verses of the Sword
Apologists for Islam, as a supposed religion of peace, often quote the following:
Qur'an 2.256 Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error.
But the Koran includes many abrogated verses, called mansukh, and abrogating verses, nasikh; the latter cancel the former, rendering them invalid, though they nevertheless remain in the Koran and are deceptively quoted, for Western consumption, as though they still represent genuine Islamic beliefs. Of the Koran's 114 suras, only 43 are without abrogated or abrogating verses. The Koranic verses that preach tolerance and peace and prohibit compulsion in religion, are among the earliest of Muhammad's revelations and are thus liable to abrogation, whenever Allah felt the inclination to revoke his immutable word. Muhammad was thus able to impose upon his followers the implausible belief that the inerrant Muslim God had routinely changed his mind. The early Koran invoked religious tolerance because Islam had not yet acquired the power to compel conversion:
The Apostle had not been given permission to fight or allowed to shed blood ... he had simply been ordered to call men to God, endure insult, and forgive the ignorant ( Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. )
But when Islam became powerful, Islam could now call people by the sword - that is, compel conversion - and accordingly verses of the sword were conveniently revealed to the Prophet, verses that sanction and command conversion of the Infidel by armed violence, which historically would become Islam's preferred method.
Hence the following sura are all abrogated in the name of religious deceit and the need for a sustainable world without promulgation of religious violence to achieve physical domination:
Qur'an 5.33 Crucifixion for mischief The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, Except those who repent before you have them in your power; so know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Qur'an 5.51 O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them. Allah guides not the people of the evildoers.
Qur'an 8.12-13 Allah revealed His will to the angels, saying: 'I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!' That was because they defied Allah and His apostle. He that defies Allah and his apostle shall be sternly punished by Allah.
Qur'an 8.37 In order that Allah may separate the pure from the impure, put all the impure ones [i.e. non-Muslims] one on top of another in a heap and cast them into hell. They will have been the ones to have lost.
Qur'an 8.39 And fight them until there is no more fitnah disbelief and polytheism, i.e. worshipping others besides Allah and the religion worship will all be for Allah alone. But if they cease worshipping others besides Allah then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.
Qur'an 8.60 Muster against them [i.e. non-Muslims] all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them who are unknown to you but known to Allah.
Qur'an 8.65 O Prophet, urge on the believers to fight. If there be twenty of you, patient men, they will overcome two hundred; if there be a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand unbelievers, for they are a people who understand not.
Qur'an 8.67 It is not for any Prophet to have prisoners until he make wide slaughter in the land.
Qur'an 9.5 Killing idolators So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Qur'an 9.29 Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden -- such men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book [i.e. Jews and Christians] -- until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.
Qur'an 9.39 If you do not go to war, He will punish you sternly, and will replace you by other men.
Qur'an 9.73 Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and deal harshly with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate.
Qur'an 9.111 They [i.e. faithful Muslims] will fight for the cause of Allah, they will slay and be slain.
Qur'an 9.123 O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness, and know that Allah is with the godfearing.
Qur'an 17.16 When We resolve to raze a city, We first give warning to those of its people who live in comfort. If they persist in sin, judgement is irrevocably passed, and We destroy it utterly.
Qur'an 21.11-15 We have destroyed many a sinful nation and replaced them by other men. And when they felt Our Might they took to their heels and fled. They were told: 'Do not run away. Return to your comforts and to your dwellings. You shall be questioned all.' 'Woe betide us, we have done wrong' was their reply. And this they kept repeating until We mowed them down and put out their light.
Qur'an 47.4 When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom from them, until war shall lay down her burdens.
Qur'an 48.29 Muhammad is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.
Qur'an 111.1-5 May the hands of Abu Lahab [Muhammad's uncle, who had refused to embrace Islam] perish! Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him. He shall be burnt in a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with firewood, shall have a rope of fiber around her neck!
Hadith Death for Apostasy al-Bukhari 4:52:260 Narrated Ikrima: Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'
Hadith Stoning for adultery al-Bukhari 2:23:413 Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque."
Hadith Stoning for adultery al-Bukhari 4:56:829 Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?" They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm." They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. ('Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones."
Hadith Stoning for adultery al-Bukhari 6.:60:79 Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar: The Jews brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from among them who had committed illeg- al sexual intercourse. The Prophet said to them, "How do you usually punish the one amongst you who has committed illegal sexual intercourse?" They replied, "We blacken their faces with coal and beat them," He said, "Don't you find the order of Ar-Rajm (i.e. stoning to death) in the Torah?" They replied, "We do not find anything in it." 'Abdullah bin Salam (after hearing this conversation) said to them. "You have told a lie! Bring here the Torah and recite it if you are truthful." (So the Jews brought the Torah). And the religious teacher who was teaching it to them, put his hand over the Verse of Ar-Rajm and started reading what was written above and below the place hidden with his hand, but he did not read the Verse of Ar-Rajm. 'Abdullah bin Salam removed his (i.e. the teacher's) hand from the Verse of Ar-Rajm and said, "What is this?" So when the Jews saw that Verse, they said, "This is the Verse of Ar-Rajm." So the Prophet ordered the two adulterers to be stoned to death, and they were stoned to death near the place where biers used to be placed near the Mosque. I saw her companion (i.e. the adulterer) bowing over her so as to protect her from the stones.
Law of Manu IX. 4. Reprehensible is the father who gives not (his daughter) in marriage at the proper time.
Law of Manu IX. 88. To a distinguished, handsome suitor of equal caste should a father give his daughter in accordance with the prescribed rule, though she have not attained the proper age (puberty).
Law of Manu V. 157. At her pleasure let her emaciate her body, by living voluntarily on pure flowers, roots and fruits ; but let her not, when her lord is deceased, even pronounce the name of another man.
Law of Manu V. 161. But a widow, who from a wish to bear children, slights her deceased husband by marrying again, brings disgrace on herself here below, and shall be excluded from the seat of her lord.
Law of Manu V. 162. Offspring begotten on a woman by any other than her husband, is here declared to be no progeny of hers ; no more than a child, begotten on the wife of another man belongs to the begetter; nor is a second husband any where prescribed for a virtuous woman.
Yajnavalkya 86. When deprived of her husband, she must not remain away from her father, mother, son, brother, mother-in-law or from her maternal uncle; otherwise she might become liable to censure. Here again Yajnavalkya does not suggest that a widow become a Sati.
Vijnaneshwar "This is in the case of the alternative of leading a celibate life vide the text of Vishnu [f75] : "After the death of the husband, either celibacy or ascending the (cremation) pile after him." Vijnaneshwar adds 'There is great merit in ascending the funeral pyre after him.
Accompanying this article I have produced a redemption song, Revelation, which you can find as a video at https://youtu.be/9WI0PymUWZg and as an mp3 along with my other musical productions at http://dhushara.com/nino/.
Black Rose http://dhushara.com/nino/sharon.mp3
Last Temptation http://dhushara.com/nino/temptation.mp3
Verdant Unveiling http://dhushara.com/nino/verdant.mp3
Hymn to the Epoch http://dhushara.com/nino/epoch.mp3
The Anointing Reading http://dhushara.com/nino/anoint.mp3
Set Love Free http://dhushara.com/nino/seto.mp3
This article was written in response to a life-and death wake-up call, in which I realized I needed urgently to write down the essential connection around which my life has revolved before it was too late and the threads became scattered and lost, after I had a serious accident and sustained head injuries which could have left me with permanent brain damage, tetraplegia, or death. You will no doubt say "physician heal thyself" about this! My body has naturally sloughed off virtually all this damage, but ironically I had to fix my own teeth gathered from the pavement in the middle of the night from the accident scene after leaving A&E, with superglue, making a stainless steel and thermoplastic implant for one that was still missing because the NZ government accident compensation scheme failed to provide even basic support.
The final climactic words are liberating the apocalypse from under the very noses of the religious traditions, by singing it out in one fell swoop, as the 'thief in the night'. Observe the words carefully in the finale below. This is reality, not religion speaking. It is a song writing itself into veridical history. It could be ignored at our peril, but it can't be undone! It's the planet and its living diversity that is the unveiling of our meaning in existence. I'm sure you all know this, so it's not that hard to accept!
I am resurrected! I have ascended!
I am transfigured, I am redeemed sufficient unto the day thereof,
to bring some consolation to a very troubled world.
Jesus, you are tired - please just come down from that cross.
It's time for an end to all the blood, to the death, the guilt and remorse.
I am a phoenix from the ashes. A new man of the Morning Star,
A feathery serpent of two ways now, the Lord of both dark and light.
I am resurrected! I have ascended!
Life has given me another day, living here on a borrowed fate,
to do the things that were left undone, before it's all just too late,
Freed from the past, hurtling into an uncertain future,
on a mission of salvation, to give back what we owe.
For all the glory of this life, for all its pain and agony,
let's make this world a better place, where we can all find sanctuary.
I am resurrected! I have ascended!
I was clutched into the jaws of death, but the old grim reaper spat me out,
so I have the chance to run another round, and discover what its all about.
I am here to love the world all over, and help turn crisis into survival,
for all the living creatures who scuttle upon this Earth,
for all the finny fishes, for the forests and their dappled trees,
for the birds that fly up in the sky, and human beings like you and me.
I am resurrected! I have ascended!
We are here to make the world anew in an all-too fleeting existence,
suspended between birth and annihilation, suffering and strife.
Not just in the halls of the rich and famous, and the corridors of power,
but those clinging on to life in the ghettos, and the refugees of war.
The only way we can find redemption, is to give our very heart and soul,
to the flowering of the living planet, our golden shining love-bird goal.
This is the hour of Resurrection! It is the time of Ascension!
It is our Transfiguration! It is our very own true Redemption! It is our Salvation!
This is our consummating Unveiling! It is our Revelation!
The hidden quotations come from D. H. Lawrence's "Plumed Serpent" and the Gospel of Thomas:
"But I, I am lord of two ways.
I am master of up and down.
I am as a man who is a new man,
with new limbs and life,
and the light of the Morning Star in his eyes.
Lo! I am I! The lord of both ways.
Thou wert lord of the one way.
Now it leads thee to the sleep. Farewell!
So Jesus went on towards the sleep.
And Mary the Mother of Sorrows lay down
on the bed of the white moon,
weary beyond any more tears.
"And I, I am on the threshold.
I am stepping across the border.
I am Quetzalcoatl lord of both ways,
star between day and the dark."
(DH Lawrence -The Plumed Serpent)
Jesus said: "If those who lead
you say to you,
'See, the kingdom is in the sky,'
then the birds of the sky will precede you.
If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,'
then the fish will precede you.
Rather, the kingdom is inside of you,
and it is outside of you." (Thomas 3)
Anderson, Edward 1980 Peyote The Divine Cactus Univ. Arizona Pr., Tucson.Campbell, Joseph 1959, 1962, 1965 The Masks of God vols 1-3, Viking Press, N.Y.
Armstrong, Karen 1991 Muhammad, Victor Gollancz, London.
Bartholemew , Archbishop of Constantinople 2012 Patriarchal Encyclical on the occasion of the Indiction http://www.ecpatr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=1518&tla=en
Campbell, Joseph 1988 Historical Atlas of World Mythology Vol. II Part 1 The Sacrifice, Harper & Row, N.Y.
Fielder, Christine & King, Chris 2004 Sexual Paradox: Complementarity, Reproductive Conflict and Human Emergence http://dhushara.com/paradox/
Francis Pope 2015 Laudato siÕ, miÕ Signore http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si_en.pdf
Furst, Peter ed 1972 Flesh of the Gods Praeger, N.Y.
Glueck, Nelson 1966 Deities and Dolphins, Cassel, London.
Griffiths R et al. 2006 Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance Psychopharmacology DOI 10.1007/s00213-006-0457-5
Griffiths R et al. 2008 Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later J Psychopharmacol 22:621-632 doi:10.1177/0269881108094300
Griffiths R et al. 2011 Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects Psychopharmacology 218 649-665 DOI 10.1007/s00213-011-2358-5
Groombridge, Brian 1992 Global Biodiversity : Status of the Earths living Resources, Chapman & Hall London.
Hardin, G 1968 The Tragedy of the Commons Science 162 1243-1248.
Hodson M 2015 We are the body of Christ, so we feel the pain of all creation https://youtu.be/lxgMJl1-dwI
King C.C. 2015 Biocosmology http://dhushara.com/book/bchtm/biocos.htm
King C.C. 2015 The Tree of Life: Tangled Roots and Sexy Shoots http://dhushara.com/book/unraveltree/unravel.htm
King C.C. 2012 Entheogens, the Conscious Brain and Existential Reality http://dhushara.com/psyconcs/psychconsc8.htm
King C.C. 2013 The Cosmology of Conscious Mental States http://dhushara.com/mental/cosMentSt2.htm
King C.C. 2014 Space, Time and Consciousness http://dhushara.com/stc/ct.htm
King C.C. 2015 Nature, Violence, Consciousness, Sexuality and World Religion http://dhushara.com/fallacies/fallacies.htm
King C.C. 2015 Religion, Politics, Sexual Reproduction and the Future of Human Society http://dhushara.com/repcult/reproduction-and-culture.htm
Kuhn, T S 1970 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Univ, Chicago Press.
Lavin, Marilyn 1992 Piero Della Francesca, Thames and Hudson, London
Pagels, Elaine 1979 The Gnostic Gospels, Random House, N.Y.
Pagels, Elaine 1988 Adam Eve and the Serpent, Random House, N.Y.
Pagels, Elaine 1995 The Origin of Satan, Random House, N.Y.
Pagels, Elaine 2003 Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Random House, N.Y.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford 1982 Gaia & God, Harper Collins.
Riedlinger, Thomas.ed. 1990 The Sacred Mushroom Seeker Diascorides Press, Portland, Or.
Riedlinger, Thomas 1996 Pentecostal Elements in RG Wassons accounts of the Mazatec mushroom velada, Shamans Drum, 43, 26-35.
Schonfield, Hugh 1965 The Passover plot : new light on the history of Jesus, Hutchinson, Lond.
Schultes Richard Evans, Hofmann Albert 1979 Plants of the Gods, McGraw Hill, N.Y., Reprint Alfred Van Der Mar
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre 1959 The Phenomenon of Man With an introd. by Julian Huxley, Harper, NY.
Thiaw I et al. 2015 Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change http://islamicclimatedeclaration.org/islamic-declaration-on-global-climate-change/
van der Post, Laurens and Taylor, Jane Testament to the Bushmen Penguin Books, UK.
Welby J et al. 2015 Lambeth Declaration 2015 on Climate Change http://www.cimer.org.au/documents/lambeth-declaration-on-climate-change.pdf
Yale Project on Climate Change Communication http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/The_Francis_Effect.pdf
Religious Encyclicals and Declarations on Climate and Biodiversity
Pope Francis's edict on climate change has fallen on closed ears, study finds
Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical has had a very significant impact on the world's media which gave it a very positive reception for its call to a moral conscience about human impact on the climate and biodiversity of the planet which stands out for its clarity by contrast with the dithering of politicians and vested business interests. It sets a new standard for religious dialogue about science and nature, partly because it was commissioned utilizing the experience and credentials of a spectrum of respected scientists and activists, including for example Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals, while inviting Naomi Klein one of the world’s most high-profile social and environmental activists and a ferocious critic of 21st-century capitalism to be a lead commentator.
Pope Francis embraces Patriarch Bartholomew
Immediate positive commentary in the media, acknowledging its position about climate, diversity and social justice came from as diverse heavyweights as Nature, Science, New Scientist, The Economist, New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal, as well as news outlets such as The Guardian, The Atlantic, CNN, al Jazzera, TIME and the Telegraph.
Opening the Laudato Si', Pope Francis quotes the original St. Francis in lamenting the rape of the Earth:
Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. 'Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs'. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she 'groans in travail'. We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Consistent with the Resplendence Codex, he squarely addresses loss of biodiversity:
The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses. Different species contain genes which could be key resources in years ahead for meeting human needs and regulating environmental problems. It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.
Climate change is also addressed and specifically asserted to be largely due to human impacts:
The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.
We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas — needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition.
Moreover the Pope is making a moral claim both that this is caused by exploitative processes in society and that as human beings we have a moral duty to act as responsible guardians of the Earth's living diversity and climate for the future generations and that our spiritual welfare as well as the fate of the less advantaged depend on this.
He also has a respectful and reasonably astute assessment of genetic technologies:
The respect owed by faith to reason calls for close attention to what the biological sciences, through research uninfluenced by economic interests, can teach us about biological structures, their possibilities and their mutations. Any legitimate intervention will act on nature only in order “to favour its development in its own line, that of creation, as intended by God”. It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application.
However the word "contraception" is notably absent and discussion of population fails to address the fact that we have an explosive human population precipitating much of this impact:
To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and 'whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor'. Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.
Naomi Klein, who was invited by Cardinal Peter Turkson to co-lead a Vatican press conference on the encyclical, notes that population control may eventually emerge: Some traditionalists have been griping about all the heathens, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a roster of climate scientists, who were spotted inside these ancient walls in the run-up to the encyclical’s publication. The fear is that discussion of planetary overburden will lead to a weakening of the Church’s position on birth control and abortion. As the editor of a popular Italian Catholic Web site put it recently, "The road the church is heading down is precisely this: To quietly approve population control while talking about something else." However this remains to be seen in a world where sheer population and ensuing resource and agricultural impact is a principle destroyer of natural habitats.
As expected, abortion and embryonic stem cell research are met with abhorrence and abortion is no excuse for protecting the Earth from overpopulation despite the fact that Christian reproduction rates exceed the world average and are second only to Muslims:
Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?
There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development.
Venture capitalism and consumerism receive a central share of the criticism:
A sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.
The biblical accounts of creation invite us to see each human being as a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object. Yet it would also be mistaken to view other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination. When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society. This vision of 'might is right' has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all.
In traditional terms, sin is still the elephant in the room:
The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.
But the encyclical spreads an attitude of hope that real change can be achieved through a change of heart and mind. The ecological crisis is also a summons to a spiritual ecological conversion:
A commitment this lofty cannot be sustained by doctrine alone, without a spirituality capable of inspiring us, without an “interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity”. … The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast”. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. “To achieve such reconciliation, we must examine our lives and acknowledge the ways in which we have harmed God’s creation through our actions and our failure to act. We need to experience a conversion, or change of heart”.
It will also require coherent social and political conversion:
Nevertheless, self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today. Isolated individuals can lose their ability and freedom to escape the utilitarian mindset, and end up prey to an unethical consumerism bereft of social or ecological awareness. Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds. This task “will make such tremendous demands of man that he could never achieve it by individual initiative or even by the united effort of men bred in an individualistic way. The work of dominating the world calls for a union of skills and a unity of achievement that can only grow from quite a different attitude”. The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.
Naomi Klein notes that "by asserting that nature has a value in and of itself, Francis is overturning centuries of theological interpretation that regarded the natural world with outright hostility—as a misery to be transcended and an “allurement” to be resisted – 'Teach us to despise the things of the earth and to love the things of heaven' - as the Latin prayer of advent goes. - Of course, there have been parts of Christianity that stressed that nature was something valuable to steward and protect—some even celebrated it—but mostly as a set of resources to sustain humans".
Other Christians actively advocating "dominion over nature" immediately rejected the encyclical. Among Pope Francis's opponents is the evangelical US-based Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has written to him arguing that we have a holy duty to keep burning fossil fuel, as "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork". It also insists that exercising the dominion granted to humankind in Genesis means tilling "the whole Earth", transforming it "from wilderness to garden and ultimately to garden city".
However some of the more socialist and ecological clergy do see this as a real sea change. Irish Catholic priest and theologian Seán McDonagh, who was part of the drafting process for the encyclical wishes it had gone even further in challenging the idea that the earth was created as a gift to humans, saying "How could that be so, when we know it was here billions of years before we arrived?" Naomi Klein asked him how the Bible could survive this many fundamental challenges—doesn’t it all fall apart at some point? He shrugs, telling her that scripture is ever evolving, and should be interpreted in historical context. "If Genesis needs a prequel, that’s not such a big deal."
Statistics of US reaction to the Pope's initiative (Yale Project on Climate Change Communication)
Nevertheless, it is clear the Pope's message has had a demonstrable effect on US public opinion and on the moral attitudes of US Christian denominations. Trust of the Popes position on climate change grew from 50% to 60%. The above charts from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication show that while a large majority of people across the religious spectrum claim his message has had no affect on their views, nearly half admit it has made them more concerned and now a clear majority of the population are concerned. While nearly half still believe global warming is not man-made, a clear majority do concede that global warming will harm future generations and that action to reduce global warming will help the natural environment. While more are prepared to accept economic costs to reduce emissions, there is still fundamental resistance and denial from the evangelical sectors of Christianity.
Outstanding points are that more Americans think global warming will harm people here and abroad:
• More think global warming will cause a great deal or moderate harm to people in developing countries (Americans: from 48% to 63%, +15 points; American Catholics: from 45% to 62%, +17 points).
• More think global warming will harm the world’s poor (Americans: from 49% to 61%, +12 points; American Catholics: from 42% to 62%, +20 points).
• More think global warming will harm future generations of people (Americans: from 60% to 70%, +10 points; American Catholics: from 63% to 74%, +11 points).
• More Americans (from 48% to 57%, +9 points), and more American Catholics (from 45% to 58%, +13 points), think global warming will harm people in the United States a great deal or a moderate amount.
Aligned with Pope Francis’s message, Americans are more likely to think global warming is:
• A moral issue (Americans: from 32% to 38%, +6 points; American Catholics: from 34% to 42%, +8 points).
• A social fairness issue (Americans: from 21% to 29%, +8 points; American Catholics: from 21% to 25%, +4 points).
• A religious issue (Americans: from 8% to 12%, +4 points; American Catholics: from 6% to 13%, +7 points).
Now turning finally to the Pope's idea of precisely what "God" is, we find a complex adaptive notion, which in essence comes down to the mysterium tremendum cited in the Resplendence Codex as a conscious manifestation of transcendence, without having to invoke God as an anachronistic, sometimes jealous and punitive anthropocentic personality.
God is the creator of the physical universe, as we know it today complete with its evolving biota. The world is described as fragile and entrusted to humans by God for us to use intelligently and place limits on. Complex relationships of countless forms in the universe "lead us to think of the whole as open to God's transcendence, within which it develops."
"The respect owed by faith to reason calls for close attention to what the biological sciences, through research uninfluenced by economic interests, can teach us about biological structures, their possibilities and their mutations. Any legitimate intervention will act on nature only in order “to favour its development in its own line, that of creation, as intended by God” – implying that benevolent human action upon nature can fulfill God's will.
Although evolution is conceded as a possibility, human consciousness adds another dimension of "God consciousness": Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems. Each of us has his or her own personal identity and is capable of entering into dialogue with others and with God himself.
Each creature reflects something of God, and humans cannot afford to ignore the order and dynamism God has written into it. The risen Christ is intimately present to each being, surrounding it with his affection and penetrating it with his light. God lies in the realities and experiences of the world, and although natural entities are not divine in themselves, the mystic experiences the divinity through the intimate connection between God and all beings. In nature the "Father" has interlinked us into loving relationship in which we can resolve the world's problems, but in the Catholic view this is offering ourselves to God "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable", turning the nature of sacrifice from a crucifixion into a sacred duty to cherish living diversity. Finally the all powerful God who created the universe as we now have come to understand it scientifically is actually the same loving and caring God who liberates and saves in the Bible, making God all things to all men - a kind of spiritual mirage like the Holy Ghost that can appear to us in many different ways as the beneficent agent that enables the conscious universe to become compassionately aware of itself.
This IS the mysterium tremendum and the only legitimate way to approach transcendence is with no prior assumptions, exploring transcendence consciously and psychically, just as we do good science, not clothing it a-priori in the garments of a deity that in history has also taken blood sacrificial and violently punitive forms. Understanding the ultimate mystery of transcendence will take a revolution of outlook every bit as fundamental as Galileo's reversal of the flat-Earth view of Genesis to confirm the Copernican reality, leading eventually to the universe full of galaxies we understand today. Pre-emptively calling the shots on this fundamental mystery in the form of an all too anthropocentric personality, even if expressing sentiments of compassion, as well as violent moral punishment, is a fundamental error of judgment.
The Pope acknowledges in his encyclical the debt owed to Orthodox Patriach Bartholomew 1, who has been a champion of the guardianship of biodiversity and the planetary biosphere for over a decade: Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for "inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage", we are called to acknowledge "our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation". He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation.
Bartholomew's Sep 2012 Orthodox Encyclical, which although brief, states the case for cherishing and protecting the planet in no uncertain terms. Despite a traditional emphasis on the creator God, the message is clear and the urgency is unambiguous.
Our God, who created the universe and formed the earth as a perfect dwelling place for humanity, granted us the commandment and possibility to increase, multiply and fulfill creation, with dominion over all animals and plants. The world that surrounds us was thus offered to us as a gift by our Creator as an arena of social activity but also of spiritual sanctification in order that we might inherit the creation to be renewed in the future age. … biodiversity is the work of divine wisdom and was not granted to humanity for its unruly control. By the same token, dominion over the earth and its environs implies rational use and enjoyment of its benefits, and not destructive acquisition of its resources out of a sense of greed. Nevertheless, especially in our times, we observe an excessive abuse of natural resources, resulting in the destruction of the environmental balance of the planet’s ecosystems and generally of ecological conditions, so that the divinely-ordained regulations of human existence on earth are increasingly transgressed. For instance, all of us – scientists, as well as religious and political leaders, indeed all people – are witnessing a rise in the atmosphere’s temperature, extreme weather conditions, the pollution of ecosystems both on land and in the sea, and an overall disturbance – sometimes to the point of utter destruction – of the potential for life in some regions of the world. … In addressing this appeal, petition and exhortation from the sacred Center of Orthodoxy to all people throughout the world, we pray that our gracious Lord, who granted this earthly paradise to all people dwelling on our planet, will speak to the hearts of everyone so that we may respect the ecological balance that He offered in His wisdom and goodness, so that both we and future generations will enjoy His gifts with thanksgiving and glorification.
Again Bartholomew states in no uncertain terms that this is a sin against God: Thus, the invocation and supplication of the Church and us all to God as the Lord of lords and Ruler of all for the restoration of creation are essentially a petition of repentance for our sinfulness in destroying the world instead of working to preserve and sustain its ever-flourishing resources reasonably and carefully.
The 2015 Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change supported by a wide spectrum of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist movements also made a specific declaration:
As leaders of the faith communities we recognise the urgent need for action on climate change. From the perspective of our different faiths we see the earth as a beautiful gift. We are all called to care for the earth and have a responsibility to live creatively and sustainably in a world of finite resources. Climate change is already disproportionately affecting the poorest in the world. The demands of justice as well as of creation require the nations of the world urgently to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2oC, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun. We have a responsibility to act now, for ourselves, our neighbours and for future generations. The scale of change needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy is considerable and the task urgent. We need to apply the best of our intellectual, economic and political resources. Spirituality is a powerful agent of change. Faith has a crucial role to play in resourcing both individual and collective change.
We call on our faith communities to:
• Recognise the urgency of the tasks involved in making the transition to a low carbon economy.
• Develop the spiritual and theological resources that will strengthen us individually and together in our care of the earth, each other and future generations.
• Encourage and pray for those engaged in the intellectual, economic, political and spiritual effort needed to address this crisis.
• Work with our communities and partners in the UK and internationally to mitigate the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world;
• Build on the examples of local and international action to live and to work together sustainably,
• Redouble our efforts to reduce emissions that result from our own institutional and individual activities.
The fact that there is no mention of biodiversity in the Lambeth Declaration is a matter of concern, however another specifically Anglican declaration does so in passing.
The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice 2015 from 17 Anglican bishops from all 6 continents: We accept the evidence of science: Human activity, especially in fossil-fuel based economies, is the main cause of the climate crisis. The problem is spiritual as well as economic, scientific and political. We have been complicit in a theology of domination. While God committed the care of creation to us, we have been careless - but not hopeless. In the words of St Theresa of Avila, we are God's hands and feet on earth - now is the time for us, rooted in prayer, to step up and take action on the climate crisis.
The Declaration commits the bishops to actions including: energy conservation measures in church buildings; more renewable energy; nurturing biodiversity on church land; supporting sustainability in water, food, agriculture and land use reviewing churches’ investment practices. While this is commendable, it is scarcely any more effective than the measures any ecological group can engage on an individual basis.
We are the body of Christ, so we feel the pain of all creation: To see how convoluted the Christian language of biodiversity protection can become, one only needs to heed the words of Margot Hodson vicar of the Haddenahm Benefice at the conference "Reconciling a Wounded Planet" at Coventry Cathedral:
When we look at the world, with climate change, with all the biodiversity problems, it's easy to feel that things are out of control and to wonder how on earth we can hold it all together. But God through Christ created this world. It was created in Christ and through Christ the whole of creation, which means that it has value in its own right, and it means that it belongs to him and not to us, and you also see that he is holding creation suffering and damaged as it is, as a father holds a wounded child and you can see that through creation you have that resurrection power of Christ. But we are the body of Christ and surely in some ways we are holding it too and that's why it hurts because we don't see these problems in the world simply as fellow creatures and humans on the planet, if that wasn't enough to empathize with the terrible things that we see, but there is hope because through his death on the Cross he has made peace and has brought about reconciliation. He reconciled all things and that means the environment as well, the universe as well. So we need to ask what is our role and the answer is very straightforward. If Christ is holding creation and we are holding it with him, then that is our call to be there in the places where creation has needs, to be a visible presence of that resurrection power and joy that runs through our creation and that's what we challenge people to do.
Although Anglicans are generally right in the liberal fringe of Bible-bashing Christianity, it is really difficult to judge where we go with this Hellenistic literalism from Colossians that the universe was not only created by God but in and through Christ as well. Is the "body of Christ" just the humans in the Christian church, or all the biota and the physical universe? What of God's hands and feet in the previous declaration? Are we not also in some way the brains and heart? It is equally hard to understand whether the suffering and death of Jesus is a good or bad harbinger for the mass extinction of biodiversity. Do we actually accept the necessity to save our genetic heritage before it is irretrievably lost, as the Resplendence Codex asserts is our sacred duty, or is it just part of the eschatology of wounding and suffering the Cross implies, with the redemption a little like Magdalene looking on from afar at the damage done, or suffering triage in the vain hope of eternal life, as in Revelation? This is why I am certain that a change of paradigm is urgently needed to flush out the endless confusion and the continuing ability to return to notions of subduing nature in dominion over it, as a mere fabrication of the creator, not a sacred irreversible process over cosmological time scales.
The Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change authored by a group of prominent Muslim scholars has made a clear pronouncement addressing the need to both protect biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change caused by human use of non-renewable energy resources, stating clear scientific parameters while also feeling it necessary to issue a string of Quranic quotations about al-Llah creating the universe with all life bowing to and serving the creator to legitimize the case.
God – Whom we know as Allah – has created the universe in all its diversity, richness and vitality: the stars, the sun and moon, the earth and all its communities of living beings. All these reflect and manifest the boundless glory and mercy of their Creator. All created beings by nature serve and glorify their Maker, all bow to their Lord’s will. We human beings are created to serve the Lord of all beings, to work the greatest good we can for all the species, individuals, and generations of God’s creatures.
Our planet has existed for billions of years and climate change in itself is not new. The earth’s climate has gone through phases wet and dry, cold and warm, in response to many natural factors. Most of these changes have been gradual, so that the forms and communities of life have adjusted accordingly. There have been catastrophic climate changes that brought about mass extinctions, but over time, life adjusted even to these impacts, flowering anew in the emergence of balanced ecosystems such as those we treasure today. Climate change in the past was also instrumental in laying down immense stores of fossil fuels from which we derive benefits today. Ironically, our unwise and short-sighted use of these resources is now resulting in the destruction of the very conditions that have made our life on earth possible.
The pace of Global climate change today is of a different order of magnitude from the gradual changes that previously occurred throughout the most recent era, the Cenozoic. Moreover, it is human-induced: we have now become a force dominating nature.
We are driven to conclude from these warnings that there are serious flaws in the way we have used natural resources – the sources of life on Earth. An urgent and radical reappraisal is called for. Humankind cannot afford the slow progress we have seen.
We affirm that Allah is the Lord and Sustainer (Rabb) of all beings
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form (Qur’an 59: 24)
الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ
Nothing that He creates is without value: each thing is created bi ’l-haqq, in truth and for right.
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ مَا خَلَقْنَاهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ