The endmeme is an important concept because it endangers all life on the planet. And it’s getting stronger and stronger since I coined the term in Mirror Reversal in 2007. It’s the belief that “Christ Is Coming” or the Holy Prophet will soon return riding his flying horse Baraq through the streets of Mecca to scourge the infidel and reward the faithful.
The endmeme is dangerous because the vast majority of humanity is infected by it. Most people believe in one of the craziest books ever written, The Book Revelation, the work of frustrated and hopeless lifetime prisoner who must have been on a bad LSD trip. St. John the Devine cursed the world because two thousand years later, our precious planet is in mortal danger because of his psychotic work.
The danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy looms closer and closer. As I write this, Jews and Mohammadans rattle their sabres while Christians all over the world wait anxiously to enter the fray. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just yesterday issued an ominous warning within just a few miles of the fields of Armageddon.
According to one premillennial Christian interpretation, the Messiah will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist (the "beast") and Satan the Devil in the Battle of Armageddon. Then Satan will be put into the "bottomless pit" or abyss for 1,000 years, known as the Millennial Age. After being released from the abyss, Satan will gather Gog and Magog (peoples of two specific nations) from the four corners of the earth. They will encamp surrounding the "holy ones" and the "beloved city" (this refers to Jerusalem). Fire will come down from God, out of heaven and devour Gog and Magog after the Millennium. The Devil, death, hell, and those not found written in the Book of Life are then thrown into Gehenna (the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone)
It only takes one powerful fanatical world leader to reason: “Well, we just completed the Millennial Age. What are waiting for?
Certainly, Ruth. Art is subjective. We all perceive it in different ways. That’s what makes horse racing.
A key influence here is the underlying motivation of the artist. So I tend to “look into” the work, “read between the lines” as they say. So if I know the message is don’t trust the anti-Christ bearing the peace symbol, I’m going to see the ancient symbol as disharmonious and contorted. For me, those hands are not pleasant to look at.
As far as the group goes, I just haven’t heard from them. Maybe I should give it another try.
I was watching the Christian channel yesterday and was astounded to listen to a Pastor Jack van Impe. He spent his whole time rapping about the end times and Armageddon. This is a major Christian theme and gets worse and worse as time passes. Now they’re talking about bombing Iran. To me, the endmeme an important concept. It’s a major danger and there’s not even a word for it other than mine.
These rabble-rousers are making money off the fear.
Ruth, are the ones making the peace symbol all women? Bracelets on the arms?
Matthew, Thanks for your insightful comment. We’ve come to the same conclusion but through different perspectives, adding to the overall believability.
“i wouldn't be surprised if any of these crackpots were in charge if they'd be willing to give Armageddon a nice little push.”
The recent Chick-a-fil dictum about homosexuals shows how firmly the Christian memeplex controls the minds of its hosts. The CEO had to know he’d be losing business and went ahead with his asinine denunciation of gays anyway. Just like Dan Dennett’s lancet fluke, the parasite takes over the neural apparatus of the host. It all comes down to mind control, that’s what’s scary.
“these folks are anti-Global warming, pro-Israel in a BIG way, and anti-Muslim. if they continue to gain political relevance, some of your endmeme scenarios could easily play out.”
Well said. Anti-abortion also fits in here for some crazy reason. Including “pro-Israel” is definitely correct. What an irony that throughout history the Jews were persecuted and tormented, but now, all of a sudden, Christians throughout the world are all pro-Israel. Shows how flimsy the belief system is when basic tenets and assumptions can be reversed so fast. Right out of 1984.
i'm not an expert on the whole Israel thing, but it has always struck me as odd how we are such good friends with them. i get that they are the rare Democracy in that area and we have substantial interests over there, so some of it makes sense. but the vigor of the Religious Right's defense of Israel makes me think it is something more. it's like they are placeholders for the day when Jesus returns and they want to make sure we still have allies there when it happens so we have solid access to Him, or they're scared that if Palestinians are in control when He comes back that they will kill him, or something. am i way off base here?
I think the only way to fight the Xian endmeme is with a compelling story of this transition/crisis as a potential new beginning for humanity, a chance to reinvent ourselves.
We need an entirely new framing, where large family size isn't an "evolutionary benefit" or "reproductive success", where one's reproductive success is inherently tied to humanity's survival, not isolated and independent of it. I found the traditional evolution language in Small Family Size Increases Wealth of Descendants but Reduces Evolu... borderline irrational in today's context of overpopulation-caused Climate Destabilization. Let's rethink evolution. To date we've looked at individual reproductive success and family success, even tribal and population success vis a vis other tribes and populations. But today's crisis is global. We need to compare ourselves to other possible sentient species evolving to exceed the resources of their home planets. Some will manage to control their instinctive evolutionary urges and survive. Others will destroy themselves, as we are on the road to doing. Other advanced sentient species in this galaxy are our evolution peers, not fruit flies and lemmings.
Reproductive success for Sentient Species must be considered in a different context than that of nonsentients. When our population destabilizes the energy balance and chemistry of our home planet, it breaches a new level of reproductive success or failure. New issues are in play outside of the traditional evolution purview. Why aren't evolution specialists dealing with these new variables? Must every discipline fail to cope with humanity's ultimate crisis?
While Xian fundamentalists hug deliberate ignorance of traditional evolution close to their chests, we secularists must look beyond Earth's horizons to invent the next step of evolution study. We must go where no one has gone before in thinking who we are, sentient species babes in the Milky Way playing with fire. We haven't passed some new mirror test yet, we're still pooping in our pants.
Ruth, what an engagining and important post. I remember teaching studies on overpopulation decades ago where bacteria were allowed to grow wild on an agar Petri dish. The most common and salient observation is that the species will grow and increase in a multiplicative progression until it runs out of room or nutrient and crashes. It drowns itself in its own byproduct. All members die together by group self poisoning.
If we add more species to the mix, the one that reproduces fastest eventually dominates the most territory in the dish but dies off with the rest.
I had trouble with the Royal Society study. Long-term longitudinal studies are difficult to control as many diverse variables enter the equation. If the study were performed in France instead of Sweden, WWI and WWII would have intervened and artificially distorted and biased familial reproductive success. The personalities of individual members would also influence results.
Their conclusion: Among both male and female children in the original cohort, smaller family size and higher parental socioeconomic position were both associated with substantially higher school marks, university entrance and income.
Wow, no kidding, growing up a Romney or Kennedy gives you a better chance of economic and reproductive success than growing up in a Detroit ghetto. But wait, there’re some pretty large families in the ghetto also, so why test the two variables together? Testing for family size alone would have been more conclusive.
Other advanced sentient species in this galaxy are our evolution peers, not fruit flies and lemmings.
This line brings to mind one of my favorite excerpts from Mirror Reversal. In order to survive, profound changes have to be made in worldview and zeitgeist, not our physical bodies. Picture a member of an “advanced sentient species” from a far-away galaxy coming to Earth and living among us. She finds “Life in the United States” surreal and absurd. What recommendations would she make before going home in the manner of ET in the movie?
He led Cynthia and her boyfriend to the front of the mirror. “It’s time to go back to the other side of the mirrorverse. On this side, the very pillars of society—the judgment of right and wrong—are decayed and corrupt. Go back to your world of florid universities, instead of overcrowded cities. Go back to where Reason is God, instead of Money. Go back to where the human condition determines what’s legal and moral, not the economic interests of a few misguided war mongers benighted by greed and superstition. Go back to the world where the welfare and happiness of future humanity are more important than the luxury and comfort of the rich and powerful. Go back to where the biodiversity of nature is considered sacred and not plastic relics and figurines. Go back to where species consciousness protects the animal world and Earth consciousness protects our precious rain forests and coral reefs for future generations. Go back to where consciousness is based on ancestral wisdom and not Madison Avenue conditioning.
“With religion and superstition so powerful here, it’ll take centuries before humanity will evolve into a spiritual entity. People will steal the gold right out of your teeth, they will. The only time politicians tell the truth is when they’re smearing one another during a negative campaign. We remain in the Dark Ages. But maybe someday scholars, writers, artists and teachers in the local schools will be respected more than warriors, athletes, and pre-packaged egotistic pop culture celebrities. Maybe some day enlightened leaders will spend more money on education and health than on machine guns and cruise missiles. Maybe some day enlightened leaders will learn that technology can never solve humanity’s real problems and that the key to happiness resides in reconnecting with our primitive common humanity which is essentially good.”
He beckoned Cynthia and Homer to approach the antique mirror.
“Just stare into your reflection, darlins. Hold the mirror steady, boys.”
Cynthia and Homer held hands and stared into the mirror. The leprechaun walked behind them and gave the couple a feisty shove.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Richard.
It’s not just bacteria which will overproduce till the population crashed from lack of nutrients and waste buildup, other species do the same without predation. Deer on an island without predators will increase till they eat everything, then die back suddenly from starvation. People too, Easter Island is an example of how we destroy the carrying capacity. Residents eventually resorted to cannibalism.
The parts which most resonated with me were...
In order to survive, profound changes have to be made in worldview and zeitgeist, not our physical bodies.
Life in the United States” surreal and absurd.
... the biodiversity of nature is considered sacred and not plastic relics and figurines.
However I don't agree with...
Go back to ... consciousness ... based on ancestral wisdom ....
... the key to happiness resides in reconnecting with our primitive common humanity which is essentially good.
Our evolved instincts and mental patterns, what you call "ancestral wisdom" and "our primitive common humanity", are adaptations to a world of abundant resources, predators and disease. Our predispositions to overproduce and over-consume create problems in an overpopulated world. What was "essentially good" in a world of prehistory or nascent civilization is self-destructive when we number 7 billion.
The new mirror test we haven't yet passed might be called The Sentient Species Mirror Test.
Animals (and people) pass the mirror test when they recognize their own reflected image, using the mirror to groom or explore the face.
A species passes the Sentient Species Mirror Test when it collectively recognizes that it's causing its planet's climate change, and changes its behavior in time to avert self-extermination.
This PASS/FAIL test demonstrates planetary self-awareness and responsibility commensurate with an Advanced Sentient Species.
Ruth, thanks for bringing up this important consideration about “ancestral wisdom.” There’s a beautiful speech before Congress in 1854 by Chief Seattle which deals with the concepts I was trying to get at. This James Joycian view is that the inner man, Jong’s collective subconscious, is basically good in nature.
I remember once seeing a TV nature documentary showing a mother seal passionately sobbing her heart out over her clobbered pup. How dare these sexless clerics teach that animals have no soul, no emotion. What stupid anthropocentric arrogance!
In evolutionary terms, changes from reptile to mammal caused extreme morphological adaptations. Animals went from smell to hearing, developed warm blood, vision improved, internal fertilization and gestation ensued. These trends caused changes in the brain itself. Very important was the development of the limbic (seat of higher emotions) brain from the reptilian hindbrain (seat of fear, anger and territoriality.) We still see people who live at the reptilian level with absolutely no empathy or concern for anyone else. The 20th century dictators like Marcos, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin are good examples. If there was a tinge of love at all in their lives, it was very focused and controlled. Phylogenetically they were closer to reptiles than mammals.
I tried to write Mirror Reversal with many layers like an onion. You touched on the very core, the fundamental thesis. Cynthia describes it in the early chapters.
“But me, Wayne, I truly believe I know the real reason why the extinction of humanity will happen, if it does. The ultimate reason that no ET will possibly be able figure out, no matter how intelligent and advanced the planet it comes from. The reason, to my young inexperienced and naïve mind, judging by all the crimes against humanity, crimes against nature, and above all, the depraved crimes against the animals from which we evolved, the reason consciousness will perish from the Earth is because powerful, misguided individuals couldn’t accept their phylogeny, that humanity evolved from fish and slimy worms, their reflection in the mirror of time, without feeling shame and self-hatred. Like Beauty in the fairytale she must kiss the Beast and he will turn into a handsome prince. Humans must embrace the inner being or pneuma of our early evolution and our self image will change from a feeble, fawning creation of an omnipotent god to the gestating spiritual creation of the Earth itself—thereby breaking out of the confines of the Prime Directive. There must be a mirror reversal when we contemplate our image in the mirror of time. If we don’t accept the reality of our remote evolution, we’ll either blow up the planet in a nuclear war, or we’ll go the way of the dinosaurs, handing over dominance to the cybernetic mind that looms in the shadows. Our precious Earth will be nothing more than a sterile computer consciousness—no emotion, no beauty, no joy of being alive. Evangelicals find it hard to accept a world without God. I can’t continence the thought of a world without love. It took too long to evolve.”
So, Ruth, I guess the point is that humans have to accept their Darwinian phylogeny, i.e. brake out of the “Christ died for our sins” nonsense. We need to see ourselves as a product of the Earth itself, just as Chief Seattle so eloquently orated in his speech before Congress so long ago.