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 #3: Waiting Room Battle Royale
The Raëlians are close to my heart. One of their subsidiaries, the biotech company Clonaid, announced in 2002 within spitting distance of my hometown that they were growing an army of human clones and were picking out an island off the coast of Brazil to finish their project. Naturally, the clones never materialized, nor did any way to verify that they were not blowing smoke up people's nether orifices, but this stunt kept genetics at the forefront of people's minds for another decade and kept my neck of the woods in the news, so I can't complain too loudly. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Raëlians are mostly in the news lately for their occasional parades of topless women (in protest of laws that criminalize female but not male toplessness) and advocacy of comprehensive sex education.
For those who don't know, the Raëlians are a UFO cult founded by former French car magazine writer and teen pop star Claude Vorilhon in 1973. He founded the cult after an encounter in a volcanic crater with a flying saucer, which convinced him to rename himself "Raël, messenger of the Elohim." This encounter totally did not involve enough LSD to convince a sperm whale it could fly, no really.
Raël's endworld scenario posits that, at some point in the future, the extraterrestrial civilization of ultra-advanced humans known as the Elohim, who have been using their ultra-advanced supercomputers to record terrestrial humanity's memories and DNA for the past eon, will clone all of the humans that ever lived, transpose the stored memories into the appropriate bodies, and proceed to pass judgment and render punishment on the accumulated set. In some versions, humans whose contributions to the world's balance of good and evil are exactly zero will be spared this ordeal.
Apparently, we're supposed to buy that the Elohim's Cosmic Justice Facility (of Justice!) will hold some substantial fraction of the world's 106 billion accumulated humans for processing as part of a single judgment event. Positing a generous per-person processing time of 20 minutes and individual attention, they'll be at this for several million Earth years—approximately 40 million if no one's "good/evil sum" is actually zero, which the super-genius Elohim would undoubtedly realize.
40 million years. In the universe's waiting room. For person number 106 billion's sake, I hope the Elohim have a well-stocked magazine rack or 26,000. Then again, with Genghis Khan, Moses, John Wayne Gacy, Simo Häyhä, O. J. Simpson, Adolf Hitler, and Binyamin Netanyahu in the same room for longer than the lifespan of most Earth species, perhaps the serially repeated bloodbaths will be enough to keep everyone entertained. The betting pools on gladiator bouts between increasingly improbable historical pairings must be priceless. Here's hoping that whoever manages to impale George W. Bush with a "Mission Accomplished" banner, bury Ogedei Khan under a pyramid of skulls, or strangle Pope Benedict XVI with Torquemada's intestines gets at least a slightly lighter judgment, for creativity. The ultra-advanced human-aliens with a name out of the Bible who inspired all of Earth's "prophets" and who think it's a good idea to put 106 billion people in the same room to await their cosmic just desserts value creativity, right?
On the bright side, amidst the million years of watching Winston Churchill and Emperor Haile Selassie beat Muammar Gadhafi to death with Montezuma's arms on a space station waist-deep in billions of years of gore, while humanity is sampled one by one to receive rewards and punishments from a race decadent enough to watch this nightmare, there will probably be lots of nudity and free condoms. So…there's that.