Thursday, January 5, 2012


Recently I posted about links between religion and environmentalism.  Not to say that one causes the other or any such thing but rather just that these two things fill very similar roles in people's lives.  They both supply reasons for living and heuristics for making decisions that are very simple.  The Naturalist sent me a link to an article that highlights another common theme in the two concepts:  Righteous annihilation.  The article talks about many of the common current predictions of Armageddon and shows pretty clearly how there is a big similarity between the fall from grace of Adam and Eve in the Bible and they common environmentalist theme that the earth was pure until humans messed it up.  In both cases there is a huge price to pay for wrecking the Garden of Eden though what will enforce that price can be either God or some amorphous concept of earth, fate or Gaia.

When you actually look at the Armageddon scenarios that people talk about in the mainstream media though you don't end up with an interesting thesis on the similarities between religion and environmentalism but rather just a slap in the face with the fact that people are really crazy.  There have always been and always will be religious nuts who manage to convince others that they can predict the actual end of the world; no actual facts are necessary but a little time needs to pass between each for people to build up their gullibility again.  Things like the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 though don't come along every day and people who want to take advantage of fools need to seize the moment.  What I find truly maddening is not that some folks somewhere buy into "People thousands of years ago wrote a calendar and it has a big turnover in 2012, obviously earthquakes are coming!" but rather that these fools wiggle into real discussions as if the idea isn't preposterous.  If those Mayans were so damn prescient they why aren't they our overlords right now, hmm?  Surely they could have predicted and avoided whatever harm might have come their way?  But no, we end up seeing real scientific panels on unrelated subjects field questions about whether or not the world will end in 2012.

Humans as a group sure do have an appetite for apocalypse.  I will admit that I love disaster movies and I find stories about people who live in a time after the collapse fascinating but there is a pretty big jump between wondering what it would be like and buying pet insurance so someone will feed Rover when you are taken up into the sky in the Second Coming.  Probably we all just want to be important and we want our lives and our times to be the BIG ONES.  It is a hard thing to look up into the night sky and realize how utterly insignificant we are even if you don't consider the eventual certainty of maximum entropy.  Somehow by being a tiny part of the grand hurrah people sell themselves on the idea that everything they do is important.  Not everyone can actually win the contests we have between ourselves so people look for a contest they can't possibly lose.

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