The End of the World
In recent years there have been numerous groups which claimed that the world would end. The book The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey predicted that cold war would result in a nuclear war that would end the world in 1988 (and then 1993 and 1994 when the world continued to not end). Harold Camping has used Bible numbers and dates to claim the world would end numerous times starting in 1994 and most recently in 2012. In 2000 computers were going to destroy us. Yoruba priests in Nigeria expected natural disasters to escalate in 2002 which would inevitably tear the world apart. A Japanese religious cult expected the world to burn in a nuclear war in 2003. Many scientists thought the world would end in 2008 when the Large Hadron Collider was first turned on resulting in the potential creation of a black hole. The passing of Comet Elenin was thought to potentially bring about the end of the world in 2011 by disturbing the earth’s crust, resulting in devastating earthquakes. The Mayan calendar was (incorrectly) assumed to end in 2012, during which some people thought the earth would collide with another planet, be invaded by aliens, or experience the aftermath of a supernova. Rasputin prophesized the world to end via a fire storm in 2013. Asatru, believers in Norse mythology, expected Ragnarok to occur in 2014. Most recently David Meade, a Christian numerologist, predicted the world would end in September of this year when the earth was (again) supposed to collide with another planet. For future doomsayers, Jeane Dixon (an American psychic) predicts the end of the world in 2020, the Messiah Foundation International anticipates the world to end in 2026, Sir Isaac Newton predicts the world will end in 2060, mainstream Orthodox Judaism expects 2239, Nostradamus predicts the world to end in 3797, the Doomsday argument mathematically predicts we will be killed off in 9120 years, in 5 billion years the earth will be consumed by a new red giant star known as our sun. While this list may seem somewhat excessive, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Many religions anticipate the world’s end, either a linear end to the cosmos through an Armageddon-like event or through a cyclic destruction and rebirth as is seen in Hinduism and Norse mythology.
If nothing else, what we should get from this rant thus far is that many humans have a desire to see the world end. In many religious cases it is a matter that there is a future reward, what we will simply call the Good Place. But since humans seems to naturally prefer immediate reward over a reward at a distant point in the future we observe people not only believing that the world will end but almost wanting the world to end. Others are simply not happy with the world as it is and just want to see things end before things get even worse. They believe the world is fundamentally flawed. Whether it is to move on to an afterlife or just end things, people are hoping for something they perceive as better than what they perceive as an unjust and imperfect world. Others still will go along with what others are doing. They may fear being isolated, they may place trust in others, etc. They perceive that they need to go along with the crowd even if there is little logic in doing so.
But these are merely perceptions. The world around us isn’t unjust or imperfect. It just is. What makes it flawed is the fact that it doesn’t match with the mental models they make of the world. They make assumptions on how the world works through which they develop expectations. And when these expectations are not met, they place blame on an external locus. After all, it’s easier to curse the darkness than light a candle. The thing about perceptions is that they can be voluntarily changed. For example, many people complain about a rainy day, saying that it’s bad weather. The rain isn’t what makes the weather bad, it’s one’s perception that rain equals bad that makes it bad weather. Essentially, happiness is a choice, a philosophy almost (barring the influence of neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain which may lead to depression). All that is required is for us to change our ways of thinking. So instead of looking out on the world and seeing it as flawed, gaze out and admire it. It is beautiful if you open your eyes to it. There would be no doomsaying if more people were able to see what was right in front of them. The world may not behave as you think it should, but instead of resisting it we should go along with it and change ourselves to better face the challenges life may bring.