Anders Behring Breivik has admitted to killing 77 people in Norway on July 22, 2011 — 8 with a car bomb in Oslo, and 69 with a rifle and pistol on Utoya island where youth stayed for a camp conducted by the Workers’ Youth League (Arbeidaranes Ungdomsfylking, or AUF). And he went on trial last week for his crimes. While the trial is still in a preliminary stage, it has revealed many things. He studied Timothy McVeigh’s car bomb from 1995 and spent hours in his lab (lair?) learning how to create bombs. He tested armor able to withstand police ammunition near his farm during thunderstorm to remain undetected. He spent years (starting in 2006) conditioning his mind against provoking any emotion while conducting his attacks by dehumanizing his targets. His barbarous acts are about as premeditated as it gets.
Breivik conducted the attacks because he believes that individuals of the Islamic belief are “invading” his country. He has acknowledged that his attacks were “gruesome and barbaric” yet at the same time justifies his actions, saying, “If you want to consider me as a person, you must consider me as a salesman. I sell a message.” Breivik also informed the Norwegian court that he had bigger plans than the ones finally carried out — such as beheading the former Prime Minister of Norway (who left Utoya island shortly before Breivik arrived); conducting his shooting spree in Oslo; and setting off three bombs by government buildings.
The brutality of the situation escapes Breivik in the emotional sense. Indeed, it seems that he has detached himself from any emotions a person would normally feel. He was recorded as saying during the fifth day in trial, “I think I would break down mentally if I removed the mental shields that I have.”
Warning: The video below may be offensive as it contains information describing the Norway massacre. However, the video does not contain any gore or profanity.
What’s so interesting about this case is how normal Breivik is. Granted, it does not fit most definitions of “normal” to condition your mind and spend years preparing for a shooting spree; but at the same time, it is not as though he had some kind of demented childhood (that we know of) or suffered from a head injury. In other words, it appears that Breivik made a conscious choice to become a psychopath. That he valued his cause above his ethics. He has performed his immoral deeds because he is more committed to salesmanship than he is to his conscience — even to the point where he is willing to kill youth. And even still, you can readily see that Breivik has an occasional outburst of normality or morality. Indeed, he is quoted as saying in the video that he had “one-hundred” voices in his head telling him to stop and that he was sorry for the pain he caused — that’s called a conscience. He knows what he did was wrong — he knew it from the beginning.
Many individuals would point at this case and conclude that such an occurrence is a social anomaly that may never happen again. And to an extent, this is perfectly true — the majority of individuals do not go on shooting sprees. But in a larger sense, the view is not correct. We are all capable of doing what Breivik did. The fact that he was a perfectly normal person, until around 2006, demonstrates this. Breivik was not the beginning and end of the problem, Breivik was a product of a greater problem.
Such a problem is illustrated by the need the Vatican has seen in recent weeks to crackdown on a particular organization of nuns known as the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The reason being that the nuns have views which are radically different from the traditional Catholic and Christian doctrine — such as acceptance of homosexuality and abortion. Their detachment from such doctrine has been a long and elaborate process.
George Weigel — a distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies — describes the situation:
[A]lmost none of the sisters in LCWR congregations wear religious habits; most have long since abandoned convent life for apartments and other domestic arrangements; their spiritual life is more likely to be influenced by the Enneagram and Deepak Chopra than by Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein; their notions of orthodoxy are, to put it gently, innovative; and their relationship to Church authority is best described as one of barely concealed contempt. . . .
The years immediately following the Second Vatican Council saw a mass exodus from American convents; and in the four and a half decades since the Council concluded, American Catholic women’s religious life in the LCWR congregations has suffered various forms of theological, spiritual, and behavioral meltdown. In the face of those two large truths, young Catholic women have quite sensibly decided that, if they wish to do good works or be political activists while dressing like middle-class professionals and living in apartments, there is little reason to bind themselves, even in an attenuated way, to the classic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience — each of which has undergone a radical reinterpretation in the LCWR congregations.
In essence, the LCWR has traded the laws and Christian morality established by God for more relative, gray, or penumbral set of principals. Indeed, the keynote speaker at the 2012 annual LCWR assembly was none other than Barbara Marx Hubbard. The topic? “Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now.” Hubbard is something of a leading philosopher in the field that is known as Conscious Evolution and is hailed by the likes of Deepak Chopra and Buckminster Fuller. And I assume that the “evolutionary now” bears a striking resemblance to Conscious Evolution. Indeed, Hubbard has received an honorary Ph.D. in Conscious Evolution from the Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University. That’s a Catholic university, right?
Barbara Hubbard offers us a definition of Conscious Evolution: “Conscious evolution is the evolution of evolution, from unconscious to conscious choice. While consciousness has been evolving for billions of years, conscious evolution is new. It is part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods.” Not only is this fully detached from Catholic doctrine, it’s detached from reality. (Or, should I say, the reality of realities?) She seems firmly convinced that we can each become god with the advent of technology and other “powers” we have “come to possess.” That these powers “offer us the possibility of profound change in the physical world.” The physical world? I find that interesting, especially since it’s the physical world which places so many limitations on our “powers.”
Hubbard also tell us that we face only two choices: to consciously evolve, or to devolve into chaos. “We are participating in a global system that is far from equilibrium, conditions that are known to favor a macroshift,” she says. As she frames it, we must either embrace our powers and evolve, or cause a “sudden shift toward devolution and chaos.” But I fail to see why failure to evolve would cause chaos. Is there a competing species? And if there is, wouldn’t our demise maintain the stability of the planet rather than destabilize it?
Still confused? Well, to simplify things, she has made a poster that illustrates her theory.
As far as I can tell, the little explosion on the left side is the beginning of the universe. And all the little loops represent different creations — the universe, earth, life, animal life, and human life. Then the little wheel has social structures — government, science, justice, etc. And the little loops after the little wheel represent potential life cycles — universal humanity and infinite potential. So I guess the idea is to break out of the little loops, or maybe the little wheel, in order to make it to the little “universal intelligence” beam thingy in the middle?
Never mind, I don’t think this is helping. . .
On the surface, this may all seem like unsubstantiated spirituality devised by a deranged Easter bunny (cf. A Christmas Story) that has nothing to do with Catholicism or Christianity. However, when we dig a little deeper we find that Barbara Hubbard draws support for her theory from the story of Christ:
“Although we may never know what really happened, we do know that the story told in the Gospels is that Jesus’ resurrection was a first demonstration of what I call the post-human universal person. We are told that he did not die. He made his transition, released his animal body, and reappeared in a new body at the next level of physicality to tell all of us that we would do what he did. The new person that he became had continuity of consciousness with his life as Jesus of Nazareth, an earthly life in which he had become fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ life stands as a model of the transition from Homo sapiens to Homo universalis.” –Barbara Marx Hubbard with the Foundation for Conscious Evolution in her essay “A Context for Conscious Evolution”
On many factual points about the story of Christ, Hubbard is wrong. Jesus did not “make a transition,” He literally died (Matthew 27:32-54; Mark 15:21-38; Luke 23:33-49; John 19: 17-37). Jesus did not become God through a “transition,” Jesus was and is God (John 10:22-30). He performed miracles before he died (John 14:8-14) and He was born out of perfection (Matthew 1:18-25). Also, Jesus did not reappear in a new body, rather, He reappeared in the same body — indicated by the holes in his hands and side (Luke 24:36-41). Hubbard knows, and implicitly acknowledges with her statements, that man is not god. But even if her claims were true, Jesus does not stand as a model of transition from something imperfect into something perfect. He showed us that only someone perfect can overcome death.
Yet herein lies the problem with Conscious Evolution, the LCWR, and Anders Breivik: they all accept more relative and shaky versions of principals and reality. They all believe that we can do whatever we would like, or become whatever we would like. They all accept a perverted sense of freedom, priorities and sensibilities. We can say that what Breivik did was wrong, yet if we all spent six years conditioning our minds, it would be impossible for us to do so. He would appear to us as he does to himself — a devoted salesman, is there anything wrong with that?
Each undermines the absoluteness of our principals and the sacredness of the individual. Each plays god — whether by creating one’s own morality to justify brutal murder, or believing that we can somehow transcend ourselves in the physical world to be god himself. Each operates under a broken self-centered conception of reality. Each uses moral relativism to justify their actions and impose their prerogatives on others — either by creating a false crisis and fabricating support, or with the barrel of a gun. By embracing everything, each has forfeited its ability to provide humanity with a solution for anything.
The viewpoints which have arisen — especially the ones held by futurist Barbara Hubbard — are the stuff of science fiction. As such, I find it appropriate — if not necessary — to seek the council of science fiction itself. This particular group of philosophers worked for the MGM Hollywood studios during the 1950s.
In the classic movie Forbidden Planet (1956), a starship crew ventures out to investigate the silence of a planet’s colony, discovering that only two members remain. The rest of the colony had died due to attacks from a strange monster. One of the survivors, Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), discovered that an advanced, highly intelligent civilization (known as Krell) used to reside on the planet — but had all suddenly died when attacked by a monster. Morbius had also discovered that Krell had built an elaborate machine which could project thoughts and contained almost unmeasurable power. Krell had evolved consciously, if you will.
Morbius had tried to apply his mind to the machine and almost died — yet in the process had increased his intelligence. The starship crew, soon after arriving, had suffered numerous attacks from the monster (who is invisible). When one of the starship crew members, Doc Ostrow (Warren Stevens), tries his to apply his mind to the machine in an act of desperation, he dies; but manages to tell Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) a few things beforehand. Most importantly, that this whole ordeal has to do with something known as monsters from the Id.
COMMANDER ADAMS: What is the Id?
DR. MORBIUS: …It’s a… It’s an obsolete term. I’m afraid once used to describe the elementary basis of the subconscious mind.
ADAMS: Monsters from the Id…
ADAMS: Monsters from the subconscious. Of course. That’s what Doc meant, Morbius. The big machine, 8,000 miles of klystron relays, enough power for a whole population of creative geniuses, operated by remote control. Morbius, operated by the electromagnetic impulses of individual Krell brains.
MORBIUS: To what purpose?
ADAMS: In return, that ultimate machine would instantaneously project solid matter to any point on the planet, In any shape or color they might imagine. For any purpose, Morbius! Creation by mere thought.
MORBIUS: Why haven’t I seen this all along?
ADAMS: But like you, the Krell forgot one deadly danger — their own subconscious hate and lust for destruction.
MORBIUS: The beast. The mindless primitive! Even the Krell must have evolved from that beginning.
ADAMS: And so those mindless beasts of the subconscious had access to a machine that could never be shut down. The secret devil of every soul on the planet all set free at once to loot and maim. And take revenge, Morbius, and kill!
MORBIUS: My poor Krell. After a million years of shining sanity, they could hardly have understood what power was destroying them.
And since Krell had long been extinct, they soon learned that all of the recent attacks were due to Morbius’ subconscious. Commander Adams, finally acknowledging, “We’re all part monsters in our subconscious, so we have laws and religion!”
Forbidden Planet is correct on many major points, yet wrong on a few others. The monster described is not our subconscious, it’s the inherent nature of man (Romans 5:12-13; 3:10-20). It is primitive, it is our base nature. Yet, like Krell, we cannot “evolve” from it. We, as imperfect, cannot make ourselves perfect; for we know nothing other than imperfection, malice, and hate. We literally embody depravity. That is why we are all as capable of committing heinous crimes against humanity as Anders Breivik.
We cannot solve our problems with higher consciousness, or even a million years of shining sanity. We are all monsters by nature, ready to kill and maim; even laws and religion struggle to constrain us. We cannot solve our problems by conditioning our minds, only by transformation that comes from renewing our minds. And the only One who can renew our minds is Jesus.