As part of the lead-up to Centre for Inquiry Ottawa's Eschaton 2012 conference, Celebrating Reason at the End of the World, we are pleased to present Apocalypse When, a series covering some of the many eschatological visions and scenarios that have gained or maintained popularity over the centuries.
- Islamic: Taste the Doom of Fire
- Buddhist: The Dwarf Somalia
- Raëlian: Waiting Room Battle Royale
- Zoroastrian: Hot, Sticky Justice
- Death by Comet Flatus
- The Surf Shop at the End of the World
- Norse: Wolves and Snakes and Eyjafjallajökull, Oh My!
- Y2K: Your Mother Smelled of Subroutines
- Left Behind: Romania Will Rise Again
- Revelation: Thrust In Thy Sharp Sickle
- Nostradamus: Unspecified Event at Unknown Time with Voluptuous Edith
- Mayan: This Magic Skull Goes All the Way to…Zero
Apocalypse #2: The Dwarf Somalia
Hello again! This week's apocalypse comes from a bit farther in time and space than the Islamic mythos previously explored. In the mountains of 6th-century-BCE Nepal, the Buddha and his most prominent disciples waxed lyrical about an endworld scenario like no other.
As Buddhism would have it, civilization will end as the world suffers a steady increase in "unskillful" behavior.
That's…remarkably reasonable. Civilization falls apart as a result of an epidemic of incompetence? I'd almost buy it, given the special class of nincompoop that seems to occupy too many government offices, including those armed with the ability to render vast swaths of the world uninhabitable for decades. Apparently the Three Stooges are prophets of slapstick.
But apparently, this surge in incompetence results in a steady decrease in human height and lifespan from a "historic" high of 10 meters and 80,000 years. Buddhism claims that eventually, human beings will be reduced to dwarflike stature with a lifespan of ten years, reaching sexual maturity at five, as a result of "unskilled" behavior and general iniquity. This culminates in these stunted people hunting each other for sport.
So…the world will collapse into an anarchic hellscape of scrabbling vermin-humans the size of small dogs, unable to deal with each other reasonably and with a generation time of less than a decade. It sounds like we'll need the general loss of the Buddhist prohibition on "perverted lust" just to keep the species going through the Dwarf Somalia that we're apparently in for.
Can you picture it? A world swarming with tiny, savage imps, coupling wantonly to undo the damage that sequential lifetimes of killing each other for food, shelter, and fun will do?
Oh, and at some predetermined "sword-interval," swords will appear in their hands. I prefer to imagine it as the goblin-people's hands turning into swords, leading to an epidemic of growth-stunted, sex-crazed anarchists karate-chopping each other to death in a scene that is probably someone's album cover.
And somewhere in there, a righteous few watch, having somehow escaped being murdered by an entire planet of bloodthirsty blade-fingered pygmies, and wait for them to finally finish killing each other off to usher in a new age of enlightenment. And people the size of houses. Who don't have swords for hands. And who attain sexual maturity at age 500.
I don't know what's worse—the feverish insistence that little people are mass-murdering psychopaths who will eventually grow metal blades from their bodies to aid in their world conquest, or imagining several decades of puberty as the part that comes AFTER the total destruction of civilization.