Death, and all of his Friends

KlinkenbergRegardless of how far the human race voyages into the galaxy; how thoroughly we can sift the sands of the deepest oceans; how well we can document the machinations of the universe, there will always be one element of life that will perplex us; death.

There is likely to always be uncertainty surrounding the end of a human life and that which follows, if anything.

Natural selection dictates that we postpone our demise for as long as possible in a bid to ensure the continuation of our species through reproduction. It seems odd, then, that we waste so much time wishing a premature end upon ourselves and our fellow man.

I’m not talking about simple hexing, witchcraft and the like; I’m talking about doomsday theories.

  • The End Times

Humanity has been obsessed with the apocalypse for millennia. Planet X, global pandemics, geomagnetic reversal, a supernova event at Betelgeuse, a collision with the Pleiades, an alien invasion; all those events have been associated with the ‘end-times’ by doom-mongers.

Shoemaker-Levy_9_on_1994-05-17

But let’s start with the facts; in five million years of human history, every single doomsday prediction has been wrong, and every single person that has foreseen the end has been exposed as a fraud. Christian pastor, Harold Camping, for example, was famously wrong twice in a single year.

The end of the world having any kind of significance for scaremongers hinges desperately on two things: firstly, that we can survive the death of our brains, and secondly, that there is a place to go after we die, an afterlife, of sorts.

Why? Predicting the end is a self-serving endeavour; we must survive the apocalypse for any proposed ‘Great Plan’ to come to fruition and for the ‘prophet’ to be recognised as such.

S Memo_19If the soul or mind does not persist after death in some way or another, the prediction of the apocalypse becomes pointless for its practitioners. Doomsday theorists, who clamor for attention on Facebook and in the science section of the Daily Mail website, must have their beliefs validated.

Successfully predicting the end of the human race – being the man or woman privy to such knowledge – is a powerful accolade that loses all of its worth in the endless gloom of non-existence. What’s the point in knowing God’s will or the trajectory of Planet X if the only consequence is annihilation?

In many supernatural scenarios, such as the long-prophesied second coming or the sudden reappearance of Niburu, we may expire before we are even cognisant of the end.

  • The Rapture on TV

It is perhaps no surprise that religious people, who possess a belief in the continuation of the soul, are more susceptible to doomsday predictions than agnostic or atheist people. For example, one thousand Christian cultists were arrested in China in December.

Unsurprisingly, the cult’s predictions (that a female Jesus would usher in a fresh era at the end of the Maya Long Count) were wrong. Note, again, the prerequisite of an afterlife or nebulous ‘new world’ after the apocalypse, a place in which they would presumably bask in smugness for all eternity.

Many religious people have no time for the Harold Campings of this world – and with good reason; too many men who believed themselves privy to God’s plan have enjoyed notoriety on television and in the media, serving only to tarnish the reputation of all Christians, perhaps irreparably.

“When next Saturday passes without a Rapture, some will say, “see, the Bible was wrong again,” when, in fact, it will have been Harold Camping who was wrong — again.” – Robert Jeffress, CNN [Link].

  • Ast’roids

The current ‘fad’ in doomsday predictions is, of course, asteroids and comets, owing to the recent arrival (and harmless passing) of 2012 DA14 and the later, unrelated explosion of a fireball above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Both events have since been linked and elaborated on by doom merchants:

the end

To reference an English adage, ‘one swallow does not make a summer’; one large meteorite exploding in the Russian skies does not make an apocalypse. An estimated 18,000 – 84,000 tons of rock pieces larger than 10g enter our planet’s atmosphere every year.

Granted, the size of the Russian meteorite and its close proximity in time to 2012 DA14 were unusual, if not ultimately coincidental. However, a quick glance at the Solar System’s many celestial bodies reveals that impact craters are as ubiquitous as the dust that lies within them.

“…if the Moon suffered like this [with violent bombardments], then so too did the other inner planets, including Earth” – Keith Cooper, Astronomy Now, Feb 2013.

I’m not denying the ‘death by big asteroid’ scenario (the dinosaurs can attest to the possibility), but to declare a relatively common event a harbinger of the end times is ignorant of all the facts; to then attribute it to an ill-defined holy plan is sensationalism at its worst.

  • The Holy Sack Race

But let’s suppose, for a moment, that a god is warning us about the end of the world. What’s he waiting for? Why use symbolism and riddles? Why send comets and asteroids, organise a leaflet campaign, charity walk, and an egg-painting competition before pressing the big red button?

Most importantly, why would he tell one believer, in particular, about his plans? Why would one man or woman in seven billion, living on one planet of innumerable worlds, sustained by one of many trillions of stars, be granted such peerless knowledge? The answer is: they wouldn’t.

Death-on-a-pale-horse-west-1796So, let’s define our doomsday theorist: a man who believes that he is entitled to knowledge that the Christian god withheld from the angels and his own son; or one who believes that all the minds at NASA are inferior to his own; or, alternatively, one who can interpret symbolism like no other.

“…of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” – the Bible, Matthew 24:36.

Our hypothetical doomsayer rides a horse so high that its saddle touches the clouds.

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