In ‘The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses,’ Dan Carlin – host of the Hardcore History podcast – surveys the rise and fall of civilizations and cultures to put present-day concerns about the impending end of the world into perspective.
While I like the concept, and there are certain subjects I appreciate Carlin having brought up, his positive references early on to Will Durant’s epic history ‘The Story of Civilization’ provided the tell.
The same pitfalls from the Durant works I have read thus far are to be found here. Neither the author nor the reader suffer a shortage of facts and anecdotes. However, the understanding of how best to connect the dots to reach conclusions is in question due to the fundamental presuppositions never second-guessed, but always assumed.
And that is regrettable because there are plenty of dots needing connected, and it is sad to see them connected so often in a misunderstanding and misleading way.
Perhaps They Shrugged
While it is true that a successor to Gibbons could write something like ‘The Rise and Fall of the American Empire’ in the coming decades – and have it be not speculative and predictive so much as true in hindsight just like the first Gibbons’ work is true of Rome – that’s no excuse for contributing to the decline of our culture by asking whether the world might be better off if a global pandemic killed off most of humanity, and thereby decreased our carbon footprint.
Published at the tail-end of 2019, Carlin’s ‘The End Is Always Near’ reads like he knew something we didn’t. But I do not accuse him of having foreknowledge so much as look at the commentary here regarding man’s inhumanity toward man. And I add to that the way Carlin parrots uncritically the popular sentiment among our intelligentsia and elites regarding how radical potential solutions to global income inequality and climate change can afford to be.
From all these things, I do wonder to myself what sorts of conversations were had behind closed doors in the halls of power around the world immediately preceding and following the discovery by the global general public of this little thing called ‘COVID-19’ which has not so much wreaked havoc in our lives on its own as with the help of disastrously tight-fisted policies which seem intended to cure a disease by killing the patients.
‘Perhaps it will do us all, and the planet, some good’ you can almost hear the most powerful men and women in the world saying as you read Carlin’s work published October of 2019. And if those elites around the world read ‘The End Is Always Near,’ or works like it, perhaps they shrugged, and in shrugging decided to plunge the world into the abyss by their coordinated lockdowns.
When The End Comes
If I could add any one thing to this work, it would be to point out that for the Christian awaiting the eschaton, or second coming of Christ, there is not a fearful expectation that this world will end except in the same way it began – at God’s command.
So also, though, the presumption of mainstream secular science regarding origins necessarily leads holders of the Darwinian evolutionary explanation to suppose that our reality which was born of death and dying and more or less random, unguided chemical die being cast over and over again will similarly conclude with more of the same.
In some, the expectation that the end will come randomly leads to a kind of nihilism, and a penchant for random experimentation which may rather hasten the end than postpone it. And at the possibility that scientism will hasten the end of humanity and this world, nihilists who believe death is an invariable part of life can either shrug and embrace death like an old friend or else live in constant dread and terror of it. And this explains in no small part the readiness to impose all manner of draconian measures from the top, and the panicked frantic obedience by too many to those same measures, and the aid too many rendered in enforcing rigid conformity on their neighbors to those same measures.
Yet again, what the Christian believes about where we come from and where we are going makes a great deal of difference in how the Christian thinks about and responds to the potential end of their life, or the world for that matter.
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