Apocalyptic Religions And The Actual End Of The World

You can’t say we weren’t told

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Lord Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu, artwork from ArtNIndia

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It’s sacrilege in the modern world, but every major religion looks forward to the end of this world. In Hinduism, this is the Kali Yuga (the worst yuga), which Kalki ends by the sword. In the Abrahamic faiths, the Day of Judgement is kinda the point of it all. The Buddha’s great feat is that he checked out already. The religions disagree on many things, but they all agree that this ain’t it. They’re all against the world, which worldly people (myself included) basically just ignore.

Satan

What is this world? What is modernity? These are expansive questions, but at some level we all know. To me, modernity is the idea that we should be fulfilled in this life, with creature comforts rather than just being creatures. ‘This world’ is the idea that you and I can share this experience through ubiquitous trade, travel, and telecommunications. Francis Fukuyama called something similar ‘the end of history’ but, in practice, it’s closer to the end of the world. If anything, such ideas come from Satan.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s ask the fallen angel himself, played by Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate. Pacino’s Satan said, “Who, in their right mind, could possibly deny the 20th century was entirely mine.” You have to admit, he has a point. As Satan said,

You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire. You build egos the size of cathedrals. Fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse. Grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green gold-plated fantasies until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own god. Where can you go from there?

God

If I — a groveling worm — may sum up all religions, they evolve along with us, and our material conditions. Especially energy. When all energy came from the sun, we worshiped that. When we captured solar energy in grains and stored it in temples, we worshiped those temple gods. As energy became more distributed via trade, people began worshiping one God above it all. A God who made us in their image, which leads us to the false corollary, that we are…

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Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.