Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

Our Dark Wicked Side

 

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? –Jeremiah 17:9

The International Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) gives this definition of wicked: “The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality.”

OUR DARK WICKED SIDE

We have a dark wicked side. It controls many of our thoughts and actions. It ensnares the smart and the dumb, the privileged and the non privileged, the healthy and the sick. In today’s world it undermines many of our economic, social, political, philosophical and religious structures. It may be about to end our life on Planet Earth. This Essay defines it and tells us how we can remove ourselves from its power.

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That neurological disorder in our brain cage is: 

The reason:

That In 1972 when a World Bank report referred to our dependence on fossil fuels leading to a repeat of an extinction event like that of the Permian Triassic, there was only limited world reaction.

That when the report was updated in 2017 by 15,000 and scientists expressed great concern, again there was only limited world reaction.

That when the late renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in that same year predicted that the planet will turn into, as he described it; “a sizzling fireball”, again there was only limited world reaction. 

And as for continuing “limited world reaction”:

When Gaia scientist James Lovelock on February 8, 2019 said in a BBC interview:

” There is a real danger of losing our tenure on the planet altogether…. We’ve got to care about this matter of global warming because if we don’t do anything about it, there won’t be anybody here…. It’s about time we went back to taking an interest in the environment…. What happens to the planet when more CO2 is put into the air? The earth will get hotter. It will heat up to a point where no life on it of our kind will be possible.”

There was “limited world reaction”.

Lovelock’s global warming is not our only problem. Our economic system is grinding away at precious planetary resources. We continue to dump into the biosphere hundreds of millions of tons of highly toxic non-biodegradable waste. Nations with enormous military power including atomic defiantly stare down at each other. Kleptocracy in world government is the norm. Over seven billion humans crowd the Planet. Population continues to expand. Cities towns are filled with violence.

Yet, the general public remains quiescent; expressing little or no concern for planetary reality. People only focus on the immediacy of their existence. Each day is a new day.

The reason: We as a species are inherently neurotically ethologically incapable of comprehending the deteriorating relationship between ourselves and the Planet.  

In an attempt to explore the reason we are the way we are, we need to examine why over these last several thousand years beginning with the Egyptian and Levant periods we have responded to the world around us and to each other the way we have.

With that move there was a coming together of the “primitive” and the modern human. And with it came the foundation for the value system that rules us today, a value system that now controls the way we think and the way we act. Some of that thinking and acting is constructive, some destructive; the destructive identified in this essay by the expression “dark  wicked side”, a side that controls many of our our thoughts and actions.

So here are the questions we should now be asking: What are the underlying post Egyptian/Levant value system faults? Can new values be introduced that counter these faults? How deeply embedded are these faults in our DNA? (Science has in recent years added greatly to our cranial bio physical understanding of this)

We need to start with an understanding of a system of belief that has been a global driver of our thought from the beginning of that period. It is Abrahamic religious belief. It has influenced the formation of many of our economic, social and political institutions.

Here we will first center our discussion on the meaning of this belief system as regards its belief in an Apocalypse. The reason is that it underlies the resistance to ecological thought of large numbers of the world population today; in America most notably Christian Evangelicals and internationally 1.5 billion Muslims with their concept of aher al-zaman, the Arabic expression for apocalypse translated literally as the end of time.

The original purpose in ancient times was an after Apocalypse human renewal/rebirth that would leave the dark wicked side behind.

How did it all come about; a God who would destroy humanity in order to bring about rebirth?

In Egypt and the Levant four five six thousand years before the Common Era there appeared what can be called a “Rorschach test god,” that is an anthropomorphic god-personification of the human mind; a metaphorical reflection of the best and the worst in each of us. And that God was not here on Planet Earth. HE was up in the Heavens. Then as the Nation of Israel moved forward in time, the definition did not change. Their GOD remained anthropomorphic. HE expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In anger HE brought on a great flood showing humanity that HE would punish those who disappointed Him. Years later with the advent of Christianity, HE would sacrifice His own son as expiation for the sin of man. Some years after that, HE would in the Book of Revelation outline in gruesome detail how HE will destroy all of humanity, allowing only a select few to join Him in eternity. Then with the advent of Islam, HE continued to be the same fearful, loving, controlling, punishing, judgmental god hidden far off in the heavens.

This understanding of God said that salvation will come only to a select few at the end of time (Apocalypse) when HE will bring a fiery end to this planet. So, today those who believe further reason; if my God will destroy our planet, why should I be concerned about nature and the environment, why should I even listen to the dire predictions of the scientists? Who cares? It is all in GOD’s hands anyway.

As for those ancient biblical texts, they said a plentiful Earth was given by GOD for man’s use and stewardship. And the word “stewardship” as translated left a lot of wiggle room. 

Many today are calling all religions leaders from these traditions to move away from apocalyptic belief and alienation from Nature and toward “Renewal” ; so defined as a new form of thought that recognizes each human life at one with a transcendental intelligence underlying the integration of all life and nonlife on our planet. This calls for our civilization in its entirety to live in a symbiotic relationship in harmony with Nature that allows both our species and all other organic and inorganic matter to recycle and renew.

This discussion would not be complete without reference to the strengths as well as weaknesses that came about during the European Enlightenment and then Post Enlightenment Periods. Many turned away from the Biblical texts and thought they had solved the problem. One of the new beliefs was that “Rational Thought” would to do away with the dark wicked side of the human brain cage. The new thought that emerged eliminated GOD. It gave up on any form of “GOD” direction. It viewed the cosmos as devoid of subjectivity and meaning. What is just is; no more than matter and energy. The individual became the center of all meaning with intellectual freedom the controller.

This “freedom” became an overarching political/economic ideology; what we now call “Liberal Democracy.” Today it rules most of the world East and West. With it came what is called “alt-right” economics, a form of economic behavior with no regard for the debasement of human and other life on the planet. It now rules markets East and West. It refused to recognize the dark wicked side of the human brain cage. A new god with the name “Rational Thought” took over.

During the European Enlightenment and then Post Enlightenment Periods many Jews and Christians accepted Liberal Democracy and alt-right economics but did not give up their religions. Scripture took on metaphorical interpretation. Some form of GOD control encompassing higher complexity remained. Some Jews and Christians however remained Orthodox. Islam did not partake in the thought change. In 1299 its past considerable intellectualism was encapsulated under the Ottoman Empire and hidden from the European changes taking place. Eastern religious thought was left out of the equation. Those in the East however gladly joined the free market alt-right movement.

That alternate Abrahamic GOD form of thought just referenced stayed with the idea of a GOD direction and transcendental GOD complexity, but not as originally understood. It held to the belief that our species is under the influence of a synchronous power and that the purpose of our lives is to be integral to its implicit planetary/cosmic purpose. Today those with this form of thought see themselves as the responsible party to pursue that higher purpose. Also they see our species as failing in this regard.

It has allowed them to continue to believe that this god power has an awareness of their own actions and inactions. They do not agree with Albert Einstein as quoted below.

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” – Albert Einstein

The Enlightenment challenges were thought to be beneficial. Human freedom away from Abrahamic religion was one of the benefits. Democratic government away from ecclesiastical and autocratic control another. Even “alt-right” economics seemed to make sense.

Now this Enlightenment freedom is threatening human existence.

All of human civilization is being forced to face the reality of an ecologically disintegrating planet with solutions not restricted to its formerly religious or later nonreligious philosophical past, but a reality built on new ideas within a thought process reaching beyond; measuring human value against a new form of thought that encompasses the mystery of all matter and non-matter in the context of human/planetary consonance – and Homo sapiens survival.

And there is the realization that the “freedom” challenge entails facing the dark wicked side of the human brain cage, so identified early on by Jeremiah and dismissed with the new age Enlightenment religious/philosophical breakaway.

As we face the possibility of Homo sapiens extinction, it is becoming the more clear that these last eight thousand years of so-called intellectual progress is failing us. The religious and philosophical thought pieced together after our movement out of Africa is failing us. The European Enlightenment and Post Enlightenment with all its emphasis on rationalism, utilitarianism, individual autonomy, freedom of thought and expression is failing us. Philosophers Hume/Kant/Mill and the others who built their reputations on new age constructs are failing us.

It should be noted that much of modern new age thought did reveal the inner depth and brilliance of the human mind. However, it did not adequately examine its dark wicked side. Understanding and controlling its dark wicked side was left out of the equation. In its place human rationality was given near godly status.

Once again the Rorschach god was able to raise his ugly head. The result: It left us all living in a frightening 21st century societal conundrum, one devoid of any understanding of our dark wicked side and how we can overcome it and construct a new value system able to preserve our life on this planet.

Why are we not able to recognize this? Why the insouciance? The answer lay in the culture that has grown out of our past religious and philosophical and economic thought. (both East and West) We are in a sense each of us entrapped complacently in our world culture. And here we are talking about national and regional culture. Also on a broad scale by way of international organizations global culture. Our culture is a powerful impediment working against acceptance of new forms of thought. This is the reason for our inability to recognize the dilemma in which we find ourselves. The Canadian futurologist Ruben Nelson writes:

All cultures, including our own in the 21st Century, take for granted that their construction of the world is the real world. The culture that forms us is not only comfortable, it appears as being natural. It is the real way the real world is. Life as we know it is comfortable because our concave fits the convex of our culture.”

Most citizens of the world today accede to the existing foundational concave/convex cultural mold that encases them. This encasement begins some months after birth and then is reinforced with maturity by what is called social polarization. Metaphorically speaking; they reach adulthood in the confines of a prison cell with no windows  and no escape. This includes those living in the mold who think of themselves as not being in the mold. It also includes those who think they have moved away from the mold. For example; “Liberal” Pope Francis in his 2015 Laudio Si’ stayed in the mold when he spoke about environmental degradation. He left out reference to one of the most deadly planetary present and future dangers; namely exponential population growth. This can also be said about the conclusions of the members at the 2015 COP21 meetings in Paris. There was heightened awareness of ecological problems, but no urgent call for radical change in the political/social/economic systems in their home countries. (The same can be said for subsequent meetings)

Nevertheless, and on a note of optimism, there have been in history examples of a “breaking out” from the mold. See John Scales Avery’s book LINK below where he writes about a number of individuals who broke out from the mold.

In the 1st century with the presence of Jesus of Nazareth and his opposition to Temple orthodoxy and Roman hegemony there was a break out from the societal mold by way of a redefinition of the Abrahamic GOD. But then as years passed the original Jesus message became ensnared in creeds and sacraments and rituals and legalistic political structures, leaving only vestiges of the original thought. This is typical of all such break outs. The purity of the original thought becomes conscripted by adherents who then use that thought for their own political and secular advantage. Again we come back to the power of the dark wicked side of the human mind.

The first signs of an East/West world-wide cognitive breakthrough are now appearing on the horizon. They are being defined by many individuals as an emerging cosmic consciousness revealing an underlying “Implicate Order” to the Cosmos. With recent advancements in the physical sciences, and particularly in the areas of quantum physics and cosmology, many scientists and nonscientists alike are beginning to recognize that there is such a thing as planetary/cosmic order. They are making strides in attempting to further define it. David Bohm, the great theoretical physicist and colleague of Albert Einstein, spoke of it in terms of everything animate and inanimate having as he described it; “an inseparable quantum interconnectedness” in a continuing process of cosmic “enfoldment” and “unfoldment.” Breakthroughs in thought such as these are marking the beginning of a transition from our present state of planetary ecological ignorance to an understanding of how we humans can live in a state of planetary ecological accommodation.

This can even be described as the beginning of a Revelation, one where Homo sapiens is about to step out of its earthly secular shoes and into its cosmic non secular ones. Such a transition implies the need for detachment from the secular by way of a restructuring of world political, social, economic and religious thought. For our species to move toward Bohm’s “enfoldment” and “unfoldment” calls for a change in human behavior to be inculcated into all of world society’s institutions

Can it be achieved? Humanity will have to view the planet and the continuance of all forms of life on it in an entirely different way from the way it has in the past. And this does not just begin with our recent evolutionary past; Egyptian/Levant and then Modern Age. It goes back one million years or more as our brain cage was being formed. And as for the Egyptian/Levant and then Modern it will have to abandon much of belief as to a large extent that has been the glue pressing our species onto its concave/convex asymmetric perception of ultimate reality, an asymmetric perception now become contradictory to our continuance on Planet Earth.

Such a movement toward an understanding of this can be observed in some of the writings of the Post Enlightenment philosophers. A breakthrough came with American “in-depth-psychologists” such as F.W.H. Meyers and William James. Their challenge to the European school of reductionist behavioristic psychology soon gained momentum and led to the work of Carl Jung in Switzerland and others around the world in the form of a post-empirical behaviorist movement opening the field of transpersonal depth psychology.

The idea that there is a better world where everyone is offered a good life goes far back in time. It was expressed as a materially sufficient life built on inner communion and other dimensionality. It has played an important role in many forms of religious thought. We saw it in the life of Jesus. We see it today in monastic Christianity. Many Eastern religious beliefs emphasize it. In recent history we have seen reflections of it in the work of Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. The lesson here is that humans can find a full and complete life and happiness without the secular emphasis we see in today’s world. We don’t need jet planes, cruise ships, gas guzzling cars, million dollar condos to be happy.

The important observation is this: Many all over the globe are joining in with the understanding that there is an all-inclusive material/non-material cosmic inner/outer dimensionality to this planet and within an enfolding/unfolding order. Many are also concluding that our civilization in its present secular form is not meeting the test of being integral to this order. Many are coming to the conclusion that Planet earth can sustain no more that 1 to 2 billion humans (or less) living within that enfolding/unfolding order. These many are identifying unrestrained materialism as a major part of the problem.

How do we all become at one with enfolding/unfolding order? How do we all become a part of cosmic inner/outer dimensionality? How do we all develop that consciousness?

Observations on the work of the modern intellectual Richard Tarnas speak to this. He uses the word “participation” in the context of the “need” to partake in a unity waiting to be realized. He calls for this through contact with the creative process within “Nature.” He writes in his book The Passion of the Western Mind:

“From within its own depths the imagination directly contacts the creative process within nature, realizes that process within itself, and brings nature’s reality to conscious expression.”

An acceptance of this planetary understanding can make the difference between an ecologically disintegrating planet and one that can continue to sustain human life. Unfortunately most of the world is living and thinking well out of the Tarnas mind-frame.

Only such a mind-change of shattering magnitude can save our species from extinction. Post Modern intellectual Friedrich Nietzsche warned us about the dangers of our present insouciance. He wrote in The Gay Science:

“The madman when he went into the marketplace to tell everyone the news of God’s death; those going about their business missed the significance. Nor did they recognize the extent to which they themselves were implicated.”

We need to understand that we are those there in that marketplace. We are the ones implicated.

Matthew Fox, Roman Catholic scholar, speaks to this same theme in his book A Way To God Thomas Merton’s Spiritual Journey when he quotes Thomas Berry discussing the ideas of Thomas Merton.

“There is a certain futility in the efforts being made, truly sincere, dedicated, and intelligent efforts to remedy our environmental devastation simply by achieving renewable sources of energy and by reducing the deleterious impact of the industrial world. The difficulty is that the natural world is seen primarily for human use, not as a mode of sacred presence primarily to be communed with in wonder and beauty and intimacy. In our present attitude, the natural world remains a commodity to be bought and sold, not a sacred reality to be venerated….”

Can humanity change? Can it understand that this planet is a sacred reality to be venerated? There are signs that it can. In recent years implosion of the biosphere adverse to human survival has become more visible. World thought is becoming more and more aware of this. The internet is accelerating this realization. Larger and larger numbers are demanding that something be done. Many are coming to the realization that the natural world is not a commodity to be bought and sold; it is a sacred ultimate reality to be venerated. And among these many is the growing realization that our economic, social, political, philosophical and religious institutions do not recognize this sacredness.

Yet, as repeated again and again in this essay there is a dark wicked side to the human mind with no interest in this sacred ultimate reality. It is locked into a concave/convex mind-set that ensnares; rich and poor; privileged and non privileged. It dominates our economic, social, political, philosophical and religious institutions.

Just a glance at any newspaper or other communication will confirm it. The American political/economic scene today with its anti-climate turmoil and secular emphasis is a perfect example.

This brings us to the most urgent questions now facing our species. Will we be able to escape from our dark wicked side? If so, how?

We all must come to the realization that:

The cosmos is conscious. Lift up a stone, you will find it there. Gaze into the night sky, you will find it there. Split an atom; you will find it there. See a butterfly, you will find it there. Watch a spider, you will find it there. Look at the person next to you, you will find it there. Look at yourself, you will find it there.

You and everything in and around you, living and non-living, exists within cosmic consciousness.

There is an implicate order to this cosmic consciousness. Within this implicate order is intelligence. Within that intelligence is endless and timeless creativity.

The sole purpose of your life from birth to death is to become part of that endless and timeless creativity.

How you ask? First, you must rid yourself of your cultural constrains. You must look for reality beyond your societal concave/convex perception.

Then and only then will you be able to realize who you are and who you can become; not here one moment and gone the next, but part of endless and timeless cosmic creativity.

Then and only then will you begin to understand that you are singularly endowed with the ultimate privilege to be more than just another biological form of life on the planet.

Then and only then will you find that you are not inconsequential.

Then and only then will you find a life purpose separate from the distractions that now surround you.

Then and only then will you be able to connect with intelligence both within and beyond your consciousness.

Then and only then can your thoughts, your actions, your very being become the creative force they were meant to be.

Then and only then will you find your path where your life’s possibilities are without limit.

Then and only then will you find meaning.

XXX

David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, economics, theology and history. He has written four books. The fourth is about the necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival.

See: http://www.inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html

For all my essays click here:

https://countercurrents.org/author/david-anderson/

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