Suppose for a moment, hypothetically, that the crazy Mayan prediction is true and December 2012 marks the end of civilization. Suppose we knew it and saw it coming, doomsday was indeed upon us. When asked “how would you live your life?”, “what would you do?”, and similar such questions, most people that I have seen answer these questions have stated an answer of the sort: “live it up”, “have fun”, and the like.
Others suggest that if the governments of the world knew that doomsday was coming, they wouldn’t tell the people of the world for fear of panic, chaos and rioting.
This has always puzzled me. What rationalization would anyone have to either be chaotic or be hedonistic if they found out their lives were about to end? Personally, I would find religion. There is a rationality to my choice, and a rationality to my criticisms of those who would choose differently.
If, hypothetically, ancient prophesies (and this doesnt pertain exclusively to the Mayan 2012 example) did pan out to be true, then Im forced to ask the very simple question: How did they know?
The simple fact of the matter is that explicit knowledge of the future has transcended space and time and arrived in the hands of ancient peoples, violating every physical law in the book in the process. How do you account for this? How do you account for knowledge of such profound future events to travel into the past? Personally, I cannot account for this from a purely atheistic perspective.
But I can if I posit a soul or a God. Either the soul exists, thus spiritualism and precognition and other such space-time transcending variables of the human mind plausibly exist, thus validating mysticism and even possibly religions that made these predictions. The notion of prophesy is no longer absurd. Or God exists and had communicated knowledge directly. Either way, both validate in their own way the notions of spirituality and thus morality.
If we at some point in the future watch ancient doomsday prophesy unfold, I am forced to confront the existence of the divine. For how else could an ancient people have received such explicit and precise knowledge of a particular profound event from their distant future?
If I am watching prophesy unfold before me, I have every ethical obligation, and rational basis, to admit to myself – at least the very real and genuine possibility (no, probability) – that God exists, absolute morality exists, and likely then the soul exists.
I cannot conceive of a reason why anyone would panic, why society would become chaotic, or why individuals would become hedonistic sinners… why anyone would chose to sin… when faced with the best proof to date that God exists and that their actions have consequence.
How fanatic and bigoted must one be to, even in the most extreme case of Armageddon, to still refuse to accept religion? I mean, come on!
I would like to believe people are smart enough to correlate and reason that the obvious truth of ancient prophesy staring them in the face would mean something to them. “Hooray, no consequence” has got to be the most deluded and ignorant attitudes someone could have in such a situation of immanent doom, particularly immanent doom prophesied a millennium ago in a religious context.
I would hope that people would remain calm and introspective, stay with their families and remain at least as moral as they always have, if not become perfectly moral or seek religion. I would hope that people realize that even though there may not be consequences in life, there could be consequences in death.
Now, if the prophesies never existed and doomsday were still upon us, or alternatively if religion never existed, then I could understand why chaos and hedonism would ensue. Also, if doomsday prophesies failed to reasonably coincide with actual doomsday, then again I would understand that there is no reasonable correlation. Neither would directly validate religion or spiritualism. But if prophesy of doomsday does coincide with actual doomsday, then why in gods name would society fall apart? Why would anyone choose sin? The religious implications in the latter case would be irrefutably obvious.
Even if you still don’t believe that doomsday means anything, remain devoutly atheistic as the world crumbles, surely you can see that your actions and pleasures in life carry no meaning or value beyond. You wont be remembering any of it, no one will remember it or you – according to your own beliefs – so why even partake? Its pointless.
Ignoring any correlation to prophesy, then both from a theistic and an atheistic perspective, I see no reason why immanent doom would cause chaos or unruly hedonism or sinfulness in the last days of our world. From a religious perspective, there are moral consequences in death. From an atheistic perspective, nothing you do is meaningful, neither to you nor anyone else once you’re dead and you have placed no mark on the world. Either way, compromising the values you had when the world was normal makes no practical sense and only proves your hypocrisy. With the correlation to ancient prophesy, it makes even less sense.
I don’t necessarily give ancient doomsday prophesies any credence, and I dont have to in order to respectfully answer the question. I am fully capable of answering the “what if” question appropriately: I answer it with “I would find religion.” Its irrational and self-deluded to do otherwise. And its a true statement, I truly would find religion if given enough time as the world crumbles around me, as I’m forced to acknowledge ancient spiritual wisdom.