Recently, I was walking on a College campus. It was, apparently, earth day or so the signs said. I happened to go in the student services building and a guy told me that they were having a performance of some sort upstairs. I decided “why not?” and went to have a look. A guy was actually talking about economy, politics, and such. He spent a lot of time with climate change, no doubt reflecting the fact it was earth day. His general stance toward climate change is that humanity was at fault. It made me think about things.
I should point out that my attitude toward climate change is that I’m not fully convinced humanity is at fault. My gut tells me that it is a natural process, that we’ve seen before in history, of temperature fluctuations. This doesn’t mean that I’m saying that they’re wrong. I’m saying that I’m not convinced and need more proof. But, as I thought of this, I saw another side to it that I thought was interesting. It goes something like this:
As I have listened to this stuff, through the years, I always get this impression that, behind a lot of this, is nothing but an attitude of condemning humanity. In other words, there seems to be some inner satisfaction at blaming humanity for problems. I’m under the impression that this mentality began with the Christian idea of sin which preached of the inherent “evil” in humanity, that humanity is “bad” innately. This attitude progressed through the years and changed with the times. One of its current results is that “humanity is at fault” for damage to the world by causing climate change. In that way, its really a religious-based mentality of condemning the sin of humanity. This is why there are things such as:
- There is a sense of a “great cause”. This comes from the religious cause.
- There is a self-righteousness about it. This comes from the self-righteousness of religion
- It is satisfying to people. It reaffirms the cause and makes them feel self-righteous.
In this way, much of the environmental stuff has this quality of a “save the world” which, by the way, was the message of Christianity. That, it seems to me, is no mistake.
This means that all of this is a reflection more of an attitude, a way of looking at things than whats actually happening. The effect of this attitude is that it tends to alter the interpretations in order to fit things to its image. Many years ago I began to suspect that all this worry over climate change was really more a reflection of this attitude, and its subsequent distortion of interpretation, than actual fact. That’s what my gut told me anyways.
Over the centuries there seems to be a historical progression of the “inherent evil of humanity” attitude. It has gone through many changes and transformations. It goes something like this:
- Christian sin – there is an “inherent evil” in humanity. This instilled, in the people and culture of Western society, an attitude and sense that humanity is evil in whatever it does. This can be so extreme that it views all humanity does as bad.
- The crusades. This caused a great sense, in Western Christianity, of a “great worldly cause”, that their belief impacted the world in some way. In other words, it made Europe take a more “whole world” perspective. Previously, it was more regional.
- The black death. This, following the crusades, gave a sense that the “whole world was being punished by the sin of humanity” in Europe. In other words, the sin is “upon the whole world”. Before this, it seems to me, the issue of sin seems to of been personal. After the crusades and black death it seems to take on a more “whole world” quality.
- The Protestant Reformation and the failure of Christianity. The Protestant Reformation caused a slow decay in Christian belief. This led to things like science. As Christianity failed the belief failed but many Christian attitudes persisted. One of these is the “inherent evil of humanity” attitude. It persists as an attitude in Western society down to today.
- WWI, WWII, and the machines of war. The world wars seems to of instilled a horror to humanity in its ability and effectiveness to kill. This is primarily because of the machines of war, which have begun to be very effective. This cast a big shadow on humanity as well as a doubt about humanity.
- Hitler and the holocaust. This cast another shadow across humanity, of how horrible people can be to other people. I think this has had far more impact than people think in portraying all of us as bad.
- The cold war. This is really a continuation of the previous two. The threat of nuclear annihilation cast a big shadow across humanity along with a sense of the “evil” of humanity. During this time there were many references back to WWII and Hitler almost as a basis of “proof”.
- The Vietnam war. The protests, hysteria, and panic at this time as if brought all of the above together into one form. As a result, it gave the “inherent evil of humanity” attitude a form, a voice, and made it accessible to common people. It also associated it with a mass hysteria. During this time there were many references to a great sense of the evil of humanity: war was bad, the government is bad, rules are bad, etc. Alongside this, it was preached that we need to “love” one another, as a solution. Interestingly, the emphasis on “peace and love” happened to be nothing but Christianity restated. This is a good example of how, behind a lot of this mentality, is nothing but Christianity. This is why it assumed the “evil” of humanity” (sin) and that the solution to this is “peace and love” (which is what Jesus preached). This point of view became a very strong attitude of hippi mentality.
- The attitude branched in different directions. One of the effects of the Vietnam war era is that it made this attitude more accessible to the common people. Accordingly, it branched off in many different directions. One of these is the concern over the environment and climate change. Since, behind this mentality, there is the “inherent evil of humanity” attitude, it tends to assume that “humanity is at fault”.
So we see that the assumption that “humanity is at fault”, such as is seen in climate change, is a modern reflection of the Christian idea of sin and the “inherent evil of humanity”. Humanity is, therefore, assumed to be causing all the problems. Not only that, there is the idea that the world is being threatened by humanity. In other words, humanity is threatening the world because of its “inherent evil”. This creates a fear of humanity, which lies behind much of these points of views, which I jokingly referred to as the “humanity fear” because its like a fear of all humanity.
What all this shows is that the idea of Christian sin has, over the years, turned into a fear of humanity that is very prevalent in Western society. It causes things like:
- A tendency to see threats coming from humanity
- A tendency to blame humanity for problems
- A tendency to see the worst in humanity
These are often done very easily and is often immediately assumed to take place.
One effect of this “humanity fear” is that it causes a tendency to paranoia. In other words, the Christian idea of sin has, over the years, created a tendency to paranoia in Western society. This can even develop into a sense that humanity will destroy the world. Its no mistake that this same point of view was taken by Christianity. Many years ago it was not uncommon for guys to stand on the corner and preach things like:
- “Repent ye sinners!”
- “The world is going to end!”
- “The sin of humanity is going to make God destroy the world!”
These same viewpoints and attitudes, in a modified form, are being seen today in people like environmentalists. So what we are seeing, really, is Christian attitudes being applied to non-religious things. I call this “post-Christianity” (see my article “Thoughts on Blind Christianity – some effects of the post-Christian era“). What this causes is a tendency for many Christian attitudes to be applied to everyday and non-religious things. I think climate change is another example of this.
Its probably no surprise, then, that many of the solutions to the “humanity fear” are very similar to Christian-based themes, such as:
- Love – “we must love the earth”
- Peace – “people must work together to avoid war and destruction”
- Understanding – “people must be taught to save the planet”
In many ways, much of these things are nothing but a reiteration of Christianity, referring to the same themes and attitudes. If anything, this shows how much influence Christianity has had on Western society, that it can’t even let its attitudes go after the belief system has failed.
But the problem is that it is laying too much blame on humanity and too easily makes humanity bad. In this way, we can see that the Christian idea of sin has, over the years, turned into a tendency to easily villainize people and humanity. This is often done needlessly and blindly. It can be particularly severe if there is something that “proves” it, such as the holocaust.
Remember that this does not necessarily say that climate change and global warming is false. Whether it is true or not I still think that the “humanity fear” has played a role in its mentality, assumptions, and interpretations. In fact, I think the “humanity fear” plays a significant part in many mentalities, assumptions, and interpretations of things nowadays. To be frank, I think that if we did not have the “humanity fear” the world would not look so dark and we’d have a better view of humanity.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen