Now, be honest: do you think the world is going to be radically transformed, probably not for the better, within your lifetime?
Social scientists tell us that two-thirds of Americans do. And that’s only counting the traditional millennials, the “Left Behind” crowd and their ilk. But as scholar Richard Landes recently described in his sweeping book Heaven on Earth: Varieties of the Millennial Experience, apocalyptic thinking comes in many forms: secular, political, mystical, and many more. Even those of us who aren’t wearing special underwear because we believe we’re about to be levitated out of our clothes still harbor apocalyptic views about climate change, the global financial collapse, even 2012.
The Paranoid Few
How does one respond to such fears? If the consensus of climate scientists is correct (and it is a consensus; here is one survey of scientific opinion), vast swaths of forest will die in the next fifty years, many species will be wiped out, and coastline ecosystems will vanish on a level unseen since the Ice Age. If the worst-case scenarios envisioned by mainstream economists come to pass, our entire economic system is in danger of systemic collapse. And if nanotechnology, genomics, and artificial intelligence continue to evolve at their current rates, we may all live forever, at least as uploaded intellects in a huge mainframe computer. Read more...