It's difficult for humankind to think of itself as
being backward in any way because of the wealth of some nations and
advancements in technology and quality of living. But in spirituality,
humankind is in a pre-stone age, where we have a faint understanding that the
tools of spiritual growth and understanding are lying around us, but we don't
know how to pick them up and fashion tools from them. We are living in
spiritual caves, engaging in tribal warfare, and separating ourselves from
others as though they were entirely other species. We evaluate countries based
on their wealth rather than spirituality; if we did evaluate societies based on
spirituality, few would be ranked high enough in spiritual growth to even be on
Today, humanity is dominated by materialism, a belief
system that has hold of nearly all people, even those who belong to the world's
prominent religions. It is characterized by a fear of death and suspicion of the
afterlife, competition rather than beneficence, self-absorption rather than
other-centeredness, the conviction that wealth, possessions, and sensual
experiences are necessary for happiness, deceit without limits to achieve
personal goals, conflict resulting in anger, homicide, and war, separation of
people by nationality, race, and religious belief, individualism without
compassion, reliance on experts and books rather than intuition for knowledge
about life and spirituality, denigration of the inner person and personal realization,
and a belief that the spirit and consciousness are products of the brain with
no existence outside of the body. Those are beliefs held by the average person
today, religious or not, and they match the tenets of materialism exactly.
It has been two millennia, comprising 70 generations
of Christians, whom we would have expected would have increasingly come to
follow Yeshua’s teachings. But we have not. Today, the grip of materialism is
actually strongest in the nation that has the highest rate of belief in
Christianity, the United States. The result has been devastating.
A few hundred years ago rates of homicide were astronomical
in Christian Europe and the American colonies.,
In all secular developed democracies a centuries long-term trend has seen
homicide rates drop to historical lows. The especially low rates in the more
Catholic European states are statistical noise due to yearly fluctuations
incidental to this sample, and are not consistently present in other similar
Despite a significant decline from a recent peak in the 1980,
the U.S. is the only prosperous democracy that retains high homicide rates,
making it a strong outlier in this regard.,
Similarly, theistic Portugal also has rates of homicides well above the
secular developed democracy norm. Mass student murders in schools are rare, and
have subsided somewhat since the 1990s, but the U.S. has experienced many more
(National School Safety Center) than all the secular developed democracies
combined. Other prosperous democracies do not significantly exceed the U.S. in
rates of nonviolent and in non-lethal violent crime,,,
and are often lower in this regard. The United States exhibits typical rates of
youth suicide (WHO), which show little if any correlation with theistic factors
in the prosperous democracies. The positive correlation between pro-theistic
factors and juvenile mortality is remarkable, especially regarding absolute
belief, and even prayer. Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity
rise, especially as a function of absolute belief. Denmark is the only
exception. Unlike questionable small-scale epidemiological studies by Harris et
al. and Koenig and Larson, higher rates of religious affiliation,
attendance, and prayer do not result in lower juvenile-adult mortality rates on
a cross-national basis.
Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been
curtailed in all prosperous democracies,,
rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times
higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed
democracies. At all ages levels are higher in the U.S., albeit by less dramatic
amounts. The U.S. also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis
infection rates, which are starting to rise again as the microbe’s resistance
increases. The two main curable STDs have been nearly eliminated in strongly
secular Scandinavia. Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive
correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative
correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates
are uniquely high in the U.S. Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion
rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data. Early
adolescent pregnancy and birth have dropped in the developed democracies,,
but rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. where the decline has
been more modest. Broad correlations between decreasing theism and increasing
pregnancy and birth are present, with Austria and especially Ireland being
partial exceptions. Darroch et al. found that age of first intercourse,
number of sexual partners and similar issues among teens do not exhibit wide
disparity or a consistent pattern among the prosperous democracies they
sampled, including the U.S. A detailed comparison of sexual practices in France
and the U.S. observed little difference except that the French tend - contrary
to common impression - to be somewhat more conservative.
. . . .
In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a
creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult
mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous
democracies. The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional,
but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always
the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly
so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on
the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures
of societal health. Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because
there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular
factors. No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular
denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of
non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates
of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least
dysfunctional. None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is
experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly
religious U.S. is an outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less
theistic but otherwise socially comparable secular developed democracies. In
other cases, the correlations are strongly graded, sometimes outstandingly so.
The focus on materialism and self-absorption is
increasing in strength among the young:
. . . a study released by UCLA last month [January, 2007] .
. . found that nearly three-quarters of the freshmen it surveyed thought it was
important to be “very well-off financially.” That compared with 62.5 percent
who said the same in 1980 and 42 percent in 1966.
Young people’s feeling of self-worth and self-esteem
are bound up in their feeling about whether their bodies are attractive, not
whether they are compassionate, loving, or focused on other people.
The happier most adolescents are with their bodies, the more
they like themselves, a new study shows. . . . Perrin and her colleagues
surveyed 1,017 seventh- and eighth-graders to investigate how gender and race
affect the link between body satisfaction and self-image. Among all teens
except for black boys, the researchers found, high body satisfaction translated
to high self-esteem.
White girls who were highly satisfied with their bodies were
seven times more likely to have high self-esteem, while black girls with high
body satisfaction were three times more likely to have high self esteem.
A study by the Canadian Journal of School
Psychology using 472 students in Grades 1-6 from three Calgary schools
found that half of the children surveyed report at least some bullying,
including physical or verbal intimidation that causes fear or distress, or
indirect intimidation, such as gossiping or excluding. One of the authors
“Any form of bullying has damaging consequences – even for
the innocent bystanders,” Beran says. “Children who witness bullying often
report feeling distressed and uncomfortable, as though they have vicariously
experienced the trauma of bullying.”
Within the total school population it’s estimated that 10
per cent are the bullies, anywhere between 10-50 per cent are the victims, and
the rest are bystanders.
In Boston, “As many as 80 percent of middle school
students engage in bullying behaviors,” according to three different studies on
bullying presented at the American Psychological Association’s 1999 Annual Conventon
in Bostom. About 75 percent had been bullied, victimized, or both bullied and
victimized during the 1998-1999 school year.
The headlong freefall we are experiencing into the
abyss of materialism will result in the extinction of humankind as a species. The
unavoidable consequence of materialism is self-destruction; materialistic
people cannibalize themselves. We are destroying the planet on which we rely
for sustenance because we believe it all to be temporary and meaningless. Embracing
Yeshua's teaching today is not simply a matter of religious interest for a separate
group of people who are religious or spiritual—it is an imperative for all of
humankind as the only means of avoiding our self-destruction.
The churches cannot help. They are dying. They were
human organizations built on mundane materialism in tribal and nationalistic
ages. They display on their facades the words of the luminaries whose names
they carry, but inside, the teachings have been distorted to fit the desires of
the leaders and the people to whom the leaders are marketing their ideologies.
Christianity is a religion for all seasons. It embraces and adapts itself to
whatever society or ruling class will sustain it, regardless of the ideology or
barbarism of those it supports.
All Barna Research studies define "evangelicals"
as individuals who meet the born again criteria; say their faith is very
important in their life today; believe they have a personal responsibility to
share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; acknowledge the
existence of Satan; contend that eternal salvation is possible only through
God's grace, not through good deeds; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless
life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity
who created the universe and still rules it today. In this approach, being
classified as an evangelical has no relationship to church affiliation or
attendance, nor does it rely upon people describing themselves as
This classification model indicates that only 8% of adults
are evangelicals. Barna Research data show that 12% of adults were evangelicals
a decade ago, but the number has dropped by a third as Americans continue to
reshape their theological views.
In the United States, the “Christian nation” whose
citizens read the parable of the Good Samaritan regularly in churches, there
are 754,000 homeless, 25% of whom are minors. The number of emergency shelter
beds dropped by 35 percent from 1996 to 2005, to 217,900.
In 2004, the United States ranked second to last
among developed countries in government foreign aid to help those in need in
poor countries, and we each give only six pennies a day to domestic charities. Nearly
18 percent of American children lived in poverty (compared with 8 percent in Sweden).
We come in nearly last among the rich nations in childhood nutrition, rates of infant
mortality, and providing access to preschool. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture reported in 2006 that the number of households that were “food
insecure with hunger” had climbed more than 26 percent between 1999 and 2003.
Ours is the most violent rich nation on earth, with a
murder rate three to five times that of European nations. Prison populations are
six or seven times greater. We're the only Western democracy left that
executes its citizens, mostly in those states where Christianity is
theoretically strongest. Our marriages break up at a rate greater than that of
the European Union. We have the highest rate of teenage pregnancy among these
Carl Sagan observed that out of the more than
140 nations on Earth, "not one of them takes a Christian point of
view," a situation he found remarkable. He wrote,
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto
you" has a corollary. Others will do unto you as you do unto them. And
that encapsulates, among other things, the history of the nuclear arms race. If
this can't be done, then I think politicians who are practitioners of such
religions ought to confess and admit that they are failed Christians or aspirant
Christians but not full-fledged, unqualified, unhyphenated Christians.
They are not failed Christians or less than
full-fledged Christians. They are in fact successful, full-fledged adherents
to the teachings of the church created over two millennia, based on an icon unrelated
to the Jewish rabbi, Yeshua, who taught about love and brotherhood in the hills
of the Galilee in the first century CE.
Homicide has declined in Western Europe from the high
levels of the Middle Ages, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth
At the same time, Europe was increasingly withdrawing from organized religion.
Today, only 27% of the French say they believe in God. In the Czech Republic,
only 3% of the small number who say they still believe in God attend church.
At the same time, however, homicide in the United
States has increased to three times the mean rate in other established market
That is in the face of the fact that more Americans claim to be Christians (77%
Violent crime in America kept climbing in 2006,
increasing by 3.7 percent nationwide.
Humanity has matured beyond the superstition of these
religions and is discarding them through disinterest. But as it abandons the
familiar rituals and beliefs, humankind finds itself adrift in the cold darkness
of meaningless existence. Many still cling to the debris of the church hoping
the rituals and a steadfast, blind grip on disintegrating church doctrine will
save them. But they are deluded.
The church's ineffectual nature today has resulted in
the monotheistic God being viewed as Deus otiosus, an ineffectual god.
Humankind, that has been unable to advance beyond spiritual infancy, is rejecting
the person whose teachings are their salvation as it discards the church that
had misrepresented them. If humankind could have found its way to spiritual
maturity without such a model and teacher it would have done so already. Humankind's
intellectual achievements are a measure of how far our species is capable of
advancing in an area of human ability, but the diminutive spiritual area of
humankind's nature has become almost invisible beneath the burgeoning intellectual
Materialism and hedonism seem to be the only
alternatives because materialism has the approval of the most esteemed people
today—scientists and educated professionals—and sensuality generates a temporary
burst of light in the void. But as the sensual stimulation of each experience
wanes, the return to the darkness of mundane reality without the light of a
port leaves only feelings of hopelessness, depression, and despair.
The lack of a secure spiritual destination to steer
toward especially affects young people, who are trying to develop meaning to
make living worthwhile.
LARGE AND GROWING numbers of U.S. children and young people
are suffering from depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders,
thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental and behavioral problems.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among
young people ages 15 to 24 in the United States--the Christian nation.
The youth are becoming more violent each year,
contributing to an overall societal increase in violence. FBI data from fall
2006 show violent crimes, including murders and robberies, rose by 3.7 percent
nationwide during the first six months of 2006. Those findings came on top of a
2.2 percent crime hike in 2005 — the first increase since 2001. Increasing
violence among teenagers and other youths has contributed to the nationwide
Surveys in 2003 and 2006 showed that 40 percent of
college students binge drink, but during that period, there have been
substantial increases in the number of students who binge drink frequently. And
hundreds of thousands more students are abusing prescription drugs including
Ritalin, Adderall and OxyContin than during the early 1990s. The proportion of
students using marijuana daily more than doubled at the time of the 2006 study.
“Analyzing outside survey data, the Center calculated 23 percent of college
students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence. That’s
about triple the proportion in the general population.” Roger Vaughan, a Columbia
biostatistician involved in the report, wrote, “People need to step up and
realize this is not a rite of passage, this is not something we should
tolerate. If it keeps going, we’re going to destroy our best and brightest.”
A few days after Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people and
wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech, an AP reporter noted that seven of the
eight deadliest mass public shootings in history occurred in the 25 years prior
to 2007. The reported concluded, “Ultimately, it is impossible to attribute
the rise in mass shootings to any single cause.” But that’s not true. It
seems true only because people are asking the wrong questions and looking at
the wrong factors. Questions about parenting, video games, alienation in society,
bullying, and the other raft of areas speculators are focusing on will not
result in answers that will help solve the problem. The reason is that the
problem is not psychological or sociological—it is spiritual. Spirituality is omitted
as a problem area because of our myopic, materialistic society. But that is
the reason we are seeing an increase in violence and alienation and it will
continue until we address the spiritual issues.
Among teenagers, the result is an increase in finding
ways to anesthetize themselves and immerse themselves in whatever sensual
experiences they can. They have no meaning or direction for their lives. “The
2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates there are 11 million
underage drinkers in the United States. Nearly 7.2 million are considered binge
drinkers, typically meaning they drank more than five drinks on occasion.”
In the European Union, “The poll, conducted in
October and November, found that almost one in five people between the ages of
15 and 24 reported drinking five or more alcoholic beverages in one session, or
19 percent of those asked across the 27-nation bloc, Croatia and northern Cyprus.
Those suggesting solutions to the problems of youth
anesthetizing themselves with drugs and alcohol are better education and
tighter controls. They won’t work, just as “Just say no” and Prohibition
didn’t work. The problem isn’t one of control or courses in not bingeing on
alcohol or of making young people “happier” or finding the right corrective
drugs. It is a spiritual problem; young people have no belief that anything
exists of worth beyond the physical body and beyond the short stretch of time
that is their physical lives. Life has no purpose or value. All that is
tangible are the rituals of alcohol, drug abuse, and sex that seem to give the
only pleasures available in existence.
The result is violence, crime, and death. The
British government estimates that half of all violent crime is alcohol-related.
The European Commission reported that 10 percent of the population of the
European Union drink at harmful levels, so alcohol is the third-highest cause
of illness and early death, killing 195,000 people a year. In addition, more
than 25% of traffic accident deaths are caused by drunk driving.
Some turn to the government and insist that it
reengineer society in some way to halt the slide into the abyss of meaninglessness
and violence. However, the government is ineffectual. Our government and the
democratic system are hopelessly mired in materialism and self-seeking special
interests. Arianna Huffington wrote, in How To Overthrow The Government:
Our democratic system has broken
down . . . The two political parties have become indistinguishable. Their
policies are feeble, their motives self-serving, their campaign tactics
ruthless and insulting. And, as they kneel at the altar of profit, our nations'
foundations are crumbling. Decay is everywhere. The physical decay of our
cities and schools is matched by the moral decay of a drug industry that is
allowed by politicians to push Prozac on children, a media industry that looks
only for the next scandal, and a political industry that hypnotizes its
candidates with polls, paralyzes them with smear tactics, and seduces them with
carefully camouflaged cash. 
Believing themselves to be destined to live and die
groping about in existential darkness, people take without giving, deceive to
achieve their ends, destroy their surroundings to create what they compulsively
need to feel a moment of happiness, and fear death so profoundly that they
don't talk about it or plan for it. Humankind is destroying itself and its
world because it believes both to be meaningless.
If we continue to live as though life were an
accident in time and death is the end of the spirit, then humankind will become
extinct. The emerging population of young people are in a spiral of
self-destructive behavior they will bring into society in the next decades, and
nothing in the world can stem that inevitability. There are no controls,
threats, punishment, or reengineering of society that can turn this trend
around. No material realm measures will have an effect on this problem. The
Justice Department will spend nearly $50 million in 2007 to try to find a material
way to stem the problem.
But the government is committing no resources to trying to help people find the
spiritual grounding that will change these destructive behaviors and heal
society as a whole.
As you read that, you may feel that government’s job
isn’t to address spiritual issues. That sentiment most of us hold is an
indication of how distant the inner self and spirituality have receded from our
culture and our own consideration. That attitude seems natural, but it is in
reality quite dysfunctional. Spirituality is seen as being on the fringe of
our lives, for all intents and purposes, completely superfluous. At worst, it
is viewed as weakness and delusion. This denigration of spirituality is a
sickness people suffer from today that could be terminal.
No change in society imposed from outside of people
can have an effect on the alarming increase in violence, crime, and feelings of
despair. We can find our salvation only by experiencing, as individuals, the
inner rebirth Yeshua described. Only when we ourselves change, one person at a
time, to become the eternal spiritual beings we are will the deterioration of
civilization be stemmed.
That isn't just a heart-warming, glorious moment some
lucky few can have with a near-death or mystical peak experience. It isn't
achieving separation into a nondual awareness that shuts off the physical realm
by decapitating the spirit. It isn't waiting for death and resurrection to
live in the clouds somewhere and strum harps. It is reshaping ourselves so we
live in happiness all day every day, love and are loved without reservation,
have a fruitful, full life knowing we are growing into bliss and will continue
growing after the body is no longer useful, and begin humankind's development into
the spiritually evolved society that will be realized in future generations.
That was what Yeshua envisioned, and that is what Yeshua tried unsuccessfully
It is the only salvation for humankind. Bringing light
to the life of every individual is more important than reducing the trade
deficit, stemming the growth of Al Quida, or sending humans into space. It
requires that we reduce the amounts of money and time that now are wasted on
materialistic, self-destructive, futile endeavors and find ways to engage
humankind in maturing spiritually. We're wasting billions grasping at wisps
of vapor that will be gone in a year or a decade, while we're spending nothing
on helping humanity survive its free fall and make changes that will carry it
Humankind has advanced so rapidly and ingeniously in
technology that it has extended far beyond the limits of its spiritual
understanding, and thus has nothing to temper the use to which the technology
is put. Like children in a war zone playing catch with a live hand grenade,
this barbaric, nationalistic, self-seeking, naïve humankind is playing
mindlessly with the objects that will eventually destroy us.
The billions invested in war today must be invested
in spiritual growth.
No spiritual leader today has the potential for
having the impact that Yeshua can have. A spiritual rebirth in humankind will
occur only when we reexamine Yeshua's teachings, and those currently swearing
allegiance to him change their beliefs to be what he actually modeled and
taught. We must learn that he wanted us to follow his teachings, not him, and
that if we follow his teachings, we will enter the kingdom of God as he
described. It is within us; it is spread out upon the face of the earth, but
we do not see it.
The kingdom of God isn't a far-off place. Yeshua
wasn't teaching theology or philosophy. He was speaking to his fellow Judeans
who were fishermen, carpenters, shopkeepers, housewives, farmers, and laborers
about a life they should be living right now. He was saying to them, "You
should never feel lonely or unloved. You should never have fear about your
place in the universe or about your eternal life. You should never feel judged
by anyone else regardless of what you do or who you are." Those words
were lost on the first-century Judeans, but they are promises for all of
humanity that today we can redeem. Yeshua wasn't describing some life in the
future; he told us about the life that we already have, right here, right now, if
we just see it and live it.
No person should feel lonely and unwanted: the
elderly, the unattractive, the uneducated, the orphaned, the recently divorced,
the disabled—no one. Others in the community should be anxious to be with you
and let you feel wanted and useful because of their craving to spend time with
you, not out of obligation to serve, but out of genuine love and enjoyment in
being with you and serving you. In the kingdom of God, you are happy when you
make others happy; others are happy when you are happy.
No one should feel judged or condemned, regardless of
what they have done or thought or didn't do. There are no errors and no
sins—they've all been washed away, but not in the sense that they've been
absolved. They're just not important. They're not who you are.
No person, especially a child, should feel belittled
and worthless. No words should ever suggest someone is anything less than the
brilliant face of God.
No person should fear death. Death is a wonderful
doorway to the next, more exciting stage in life. It's where we're united with
those we love and we go on to greater insights that help us learn and mature
spiritually. In the afterlife, we are afforded opportunities we couldn't find
in life, and we experience a life that is as we've always wanted life to be.
The kingdom of God is a place we enter now, when we decide
to open the gate. It isn't a far-off place. And when others enter with us,
we'll have the companionship we crave, all the time, without reservation.