Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture? Yeah.. right.

I can't let this weekend begin without a fly-by comment about this nonsense. A bunch of hyper-religious people have somehow decided that the end of the world starts tomorrow, and that they'll be bodily removed from the chaos that ensues. Every so often the psychosocial world we all swim in together becomes punctuated by something whacky like this.

Make My Bed? But You Say the World’s Ending

Talk about deliberate amplification of already high stress levels - I mean, as if people who've already been through tornado and flood and economic crippling need any more wear and tear on their inner psychosocial connection points. Or maybe they do - maybe they need to ratchet it all up to the max so that on Monday, when they realize nothing is really changed, they can call it a miracle and confabulate a bunch of gratitude to enjoy the feeling of instead. I would die of embarrassment if it were me - I mean, here is a woman announcing to her own son that he isn't going to make it. How can she face him on Monday? Seriously? What's her back up plan to save face in case she's wrong? 

"Hi Honey, what would you like for breakfast this morning?" 

"Nothing. I don't want anything. I'll grab a muffin on the way to school. Bye. And I'm never making my bed again as long as I live, so shove it."



So, is the world gonna end? Probably. Some day. So what? 

It's been dying ever since it was born. Entropy baby. It's such a slow process most of us don't care about it, don't even think about it much. It's just there, like the oxygen we take for granted. The more we rush around consuming everything on the planet the faster we hurtle the planet toward it. 

EXCERPT: Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences that seems to imply a particular direction of progress, sometimes called an arrow of time. As time progresses, the second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases. Hence, from this perspective, entropy measurement is thought of as a kind of clock.

But what about renewal, and growth, and life? Well, these things seem on the surface to contradict the idea of entropy, but fit as a loop right inside it. My understanding, dim and rough, is that life is tolerated because it helps reduce energy gradients faster than they otherwise would reduce all by themselves. How's that for a catch-22?

The best book ever, and I must admit, the only one I was ever able to access with my own mental capacity, was Dorion Sagan's and Eric Schneider's wonderfully readable book, Into the Cool.  It's entirely online, readable there, explains everything in a science-based yet conversational manner, and is thoroughly digestible by most general readers, one hopes.  Even mere breathing of oxygen reduces the energy gradient, and certainly burning fossil fuels, something that humans seem desperate to do, helps a whole lot. Cutting down trees helps too, because those great big plants make more oxygen, even as we are trying our species-programmed best to reduce it. 

So even those of us who can only bear life by sitting still and breathing for long periods of time, are actually helping entropy move along... exhale... move along...inhale....move along.... exhale.

Anyway, yes, the world will end, but no, not tomorrow, and it's not about to start tomorrow, because it already started to end pretty much the day it began, just as we all do. And it has been accelerated by human activity on the planet, but again, that ship has kinda left the dock.. I truly think that only the indigenous peoples, specifically those who made a point of being very conservative with nature's resources, who dreamed up the notion of never taking anything out of nature without putting something back in, only they would be deserving of any divine rescue - not that there actually is any. We're all here together and we're all gonna die, and so is the planet gonna die. Some day. Probably not tomorrow. So, relax already.

Slate article by Vaughn Bell: Prophecy Fail  - a discussion of post-non-apocalyptic rationalization. 

1 comment:

Tony Friese said...

Tomorrow is also "talk like Yoda day"...
"so certain are you? End tomorrow the world will not!"