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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON DOOMSDAY

I have noticed that all of the doomsday prophets seem assured as to the sequence and portents of the end of the world, but rather vague about the details of the definition of “Doomsday” itself. Are they talking about destruction spread over all 13 billion light years of the universe? Or do their visions describe the termination of just the Milky Way, just the earth, or just Western Civilization?
I suspect, in fact, most of the religious predictions envision a rather limited doomsday; the end of Christianity or Islam or the end of monotheism. Could the Mayans have really sensed, in their jungle temples, the fall of cultures they never knew existed? And would they have been so certain, in their calendars of doom, had they known they were prophesying the demise of societies which had mastered the intricacies of advanced technologies, such as the wheel?The Mayan doomsday is supposed to arrive on December 21, 2012. I thank the Mayan diviners for waiting until the day after my 62nd birthday to end the world, but just for the sake of argument let me assume that these human sacrificing, slave owning, hygienically ignorant, polytheistic, cocaine and coca using witch doctors picked this particular date for reasons having nothing to do with my hedonistic affection for chocolate cake. Why December 21st and why 2012? Why not 2011, or 2013?It turns out the Mayans picked that date because that was when their calendars ran out. And it turns out that on this point the Mayans agree with Albert Einstein, who insisted his mathematics applied only for the “known universe” since, he observed, he could not know what he could not know. Or, to put it more practically, there was no point in debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if there is no way of knowing if you are right or wrong, and, since you don't win anything, no point in being right. The mysteries of existence, such as the meaning of life, will always remain mysterious because the answers differ for each individual life. The meaning of my life is different than the meaning of your life, because God speaks to us individually. We share the experience of God, but not the details. And that also makes doomsday an individual experience.It seems like an obvious point, at least to me, that eventually humans always redefine “doomsday” as “Judgment Day”. But this always boils down to the concept that the Lord will toss into the fiery pit of eternal damnation everybody who ever got away with things you think they should be punished for. Again, being human, we can't help this personal obsession creeping into our metaphysical calculations, but the implication is that jahannam or Diyu or hell, is filled with insulting store clerks, arrogant bankers, cruel lawyers, blackhearted insurance adjustors and nitpicking parking meter ticket writers. And then, of course, we must face the conumdrum; are those condemned to hell eligible to implicate others for condemnation? My point is that in order to be effective doomsday (and thus Judgment Day) requires a degree of abstraction on the part of the judge, i.e. God, of which we humans are not capable of.All humans are obsessed with our own realty. What other realty should we be obsessed with? Besides, an awareness of our personal obsession would seem a minimum prerequisite for intelligent life. As Socrates said, “A life unexamined is a life not worth having lived.” And a strong expectation of doomsday seems to me a mere excuse for not examining your own life. And not a very good excuse at that.

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