ISIS and the Apocalypse: Some Comparisons with End Times Thinking Elsewhere, and a Theory

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ISIS and the Apocalypse: Some Comparisons with End Times Thinking Elsewhere, and a Theory

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2016-06-30

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International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations

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ISIS and Apocalypse: DRAFT - 6 Some Comparisons with End Times Thinking Elsewhere and a Theory by Michael Andregg, mmandregg@stthomas.edu for the ISCSC Annual Conference, June 30, 2016, at Monmouth University, NJ, USA abstract This paper will review “End Times Thinking” in Jewish, Christian and Islamic cultures to identify some common themes among myriad differing details. Simply put, some people have believed for hundreds or thousands of years that their prophets will return to earth someday to rescue humankind from sin (or in a common Shi’ite version, a son of the Prophet Mohammed will return, named or called the “Mahdi”). Some Christians think that Jesus will return to administer vast changes, ranging from “rapture” to annihilation; some Jews that a “Messiah” is destined for those tasks, but focused on saving the Hebrew people of Israel. Generally, the earth is supposed to be purified by these processes, so that some “true” religion can be manifest on the entire earth, which would then be free of war, famine and perhaps suffering of all kinds. Then, we present a theory based on behavior genetics and the “selfish gene” hypothesis. This suggests that such beliefs may reflect an ancient template that encourages some to believe that they alone are the center of both the universe and God’s love. Some think that God wants them alone to populate the earth, or rule everyone else as slaves. Such people are easy prey for demagogues who abound in desperate places and royal courts. Some notes on Mormon theology and on the Bundy family of Southern Nevada, USA, will show how this belief system can arise in churches of much more recent origin, and that it can change to better coexist with others. ISIS is killing far more people today than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, a.k.a. Mormons). But it was not always so. The Mountain Meadows Massacre of ~ 120 Christians on the way to California is a case in point. How the LDS church came to grips with modernity and literally decided to coexist better with others provides some clues to how any church or religion might moderate so that a real “end” to civilization (and possibly humankind) can be avoided. The presence and spread of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) lends urgency to this fix.

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Buried in the cases covered lies a theory that raw, evolutionary selfishness lies behind the "Manifest Destinies" so many religious enthusiasts claim for their fundamentalist, and often violent, forms of otherwise often peaceful religions. There is some interesting material there from contemporary survivalists in the desert west of the USA. But all that is set withing a comparative civilizations frame of reference.

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Andregg, Michael M.. (2016). ISIS and the Apocalypse: Some Comparisons with End Times Thinking Elsewhere, and a Theory. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/210178.

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