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?
There are secular versions of endmemes too, which can also usher in self-fulfilling local apocalypses.
...millennialism, the scholarly term for the belief that a wholesale transformation of the world, for better or for worse, is imminent....our own beliefs and fears about politics, economics, and the environmental crisis, are not so distant from ancient apocalyptic prophecies about the end of the world, the Second Coming, or the rapture. Sure, our anxieties may be grounded in ‘facts,’ but the ancients thought theirs were too. What’s more important is the pattern of millennial thinking...
Millennialism itself is, in Wessinger’s definition, “the audacious hope that in the imminent future there will be a transition—either catastrophic or progressive—to a ‘collective salvation’ which will be accomplished by a divine or superhuman agent and/or by humans working in accordance with a divine or superhuman plan.” Following the pioneering scholar of millennialism Norman Cohn, Wessinger states that the millennialist salvation is collective, earthly (i.e., it will happen in this world), imminent, transformative, and supernaturalist in nature.
...millennialism is a pattern of human thinking that is universal, and depends little on whether the “superhuman plan” is polytheistic, monotheistic, or atheistic in nature.
It’s easy to say that millennialism is for the weird and wacky; it’s quite another to recognize millennial thinking in our own minds.
Of course, concurrent with the view that the world is soon to be greatly transformed is the notion that we ought to do something about it....what Wessinger calls “progressive millennialism” may be nothing more than the belief that humanity is (or should) be evolving toward a more just and peaceful future. But others are downright sinister...once millennial beliefs take hold, they inspire the strongest of human actions, often at terrible cost.
...even when these myths are hopeful, they are still reconciliations with thanatos, the death wish. It’s almost like we’d rather the world be destroyed, than for it to be as impersonal, as relentless, as it appears. [emphasis mine]
1. "wholesale transformation of the world, for better or worse, is imminent" - I 100% agree
I see humanity as facing it's first inevitable species crisis. Wouldn't all sentient species who become powerful enough to modify their home planet face the day when their evolved drives imperil their survival? Overproduction is an essential part of evolution. As any species progressively destroys the carrying capacity of its home planet, a similar crisis would develop. We will either take charge of our own evolution, the better transformation, or fail to do so and drive our own extinction.
2. "‘collective salvation’ which will be accomplished by a divine or superhuman agent and/or by humans working in accordance with a divine or superhuman plan" - I 100% disagree
We might employ computer assisted social organization and decision making, possibly even using quantum computing to handle the complexity, but there are no divine or superhuman agents to bail us out. We have to grow up ourselves, collectively. We have to step up to assume new responsibilities for ourselves in novel ways, instead of depending on rescue.
3. "concurrent with the view that the world is soon to be greatly transformed is the notion that we ought to do something about it' - I 100% agree, see #2 above.
4. "these myths ... are still reconciliations with thanatos, the death wish. It’s almost like we’d rather the world be destroyed, than for it to be as impersonal, as relentless, as it appears." - Not for me
I want to live, but even more I want human beings to continue enjoying life into the far far future. I don't see the world as impersonal and relentless, even though physical laws prevail. My view is more nuanced, involving complex systems with a version of quantum multiverse reality. I see human beings and our choices as central to reality-as-we-know-it, where everyone counts and extreme sensitivity to initial conditions prevails, sort of like universal experimenter effect. I'm all about our power, our choices influencing the future, and this is the granddaddy of all choices.
Image by tirsden at DeviantArt