On October 31, 2010, The Walking Dead (TWD) first aired on televisions all across the nation. It presented its modern viewers with a gritty, post-apocalyptic vision of the United States in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic (space spores). This particular alien-invasion turned its victims into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Filmed and based initially in and around Atlanta, Georgia, it visualized a modern American city in the aftermath of something gone terribly awry. Wrecked vehicles littering the highway, random fires, and the general unkemptness of a city abandoned. TWD presented its viewers the starkest picture of a city/nation devoid of life, save the few survivors and the lawless hordes of undead aimlessly wandering about in search of human flesh.
Still in production for its tenth season, The Walking Dead remains popular and continues to excite its audiences with what they picture life will look like when human history comes to its inevitable end. Granted, the television series is “entertainment,” and it is not the first, nor last, in a long line of post-apocalyptic stories that have become popularized over the 20th-century. Nevertheless, it begs a serious question. Why has a nation as blessed and prosperous as the United States become so enthralled with the idea of its own societal collapse?
This secular, Hollywood-ized, vision of the future has spawned extremely popular genres in modern entertainment. This genre is generally broken down into three subsections: Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic, and Dystopic. While these three genres often get confused, there are some notable differences. The stories usually center on some grand-scale disaster, but differentiate their narratives, on when the story takes place regarding the timing of some exceptional, global (or planetary) circumstances. Summarized from the Master’s Review Blog:
Apocalyptic: Humanity faces an extinction-level event. The story generally focuses on the lead-up and execution of said event. Some popular examples are the book World War Z, and the movies Deep Impact and Avenger’s Infinity War.
Post-Apocalyptic: Humanity’s story here, figures solely on survival after a world-altering / extinction-level event. The most popular scenarios are based on zombies, pandemics, and alien invasions. Some popular examples are The Walking Dead, Mad Max, and the book The Road.
Dystopian: According to Dictionary.com, the word dystopia means, “an imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be.” The dystopic genre generally pictures a futuristic, often idyllic, society that lives under a heavy-handed, governmental structure. There is usually some type of rebel/rebellion against this for a return to normalcy. Depending on the author (or director), the dystopic scenario can either closely resemble our own society (with some obvious twists and turns) or be shockingly different. Some popular examples are George Orwell’s 1984, and the movies, Soylent Green and Blade Runner.
In 2006, Mel Gibson produced a movie titled Apocalypto. This movie showed the Mayan conquest of a small Mesoamerican tribe in the heart of the Mexican Yucatan. What was interesting about it was that it presented the “apocalypse” at the micro-level, really dealing with the end of the world at the tribal-level. I remember seeing this in the theater back in 2007, and it having a very strong impact on me. Keep in mind that this was long before I had come back to my own Christian faith. It reminded me that everything, no matter how big or small, comes to its inevitable end. It reminded me of an inevitable consequence; something that hearkens back to the late 17th-century, Sir Isaac Newton, and his Laws of Thermodynamics.
The first law, also known as the Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of any isolated system always increases.
The third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches absolute zero. (Source)
As the late, great British scientist, Sir Arthur Eddington, once famously stated, “The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature.” Entropy, in regards to the natural and geopolitical order, represents disorder and chaos. It represents mankind’s relentless march towards maximum entropy as the constant rise and fall of nations and empires continues to fracture away at humanity and history. Perhaps the rise in popularity of the apocalyptic genres here in the 20th-21st centuries is because we live in one of these nations. If our own recollection of human history is to be trusted, then we, too, are doomed to our own demise. However, as the author R.L. Stine (of the Goosebumps fame) once put it, every good story has the same ingredients- the beginning, the middle, and the twist.
Doctrines of Devils
“Most Americans are unaware of a decline in individual liberty, and the reason is obvious: the decline rarely takes the form of sudden personal deprivations but, instead, takes the form of unnoticed erosion, and thus we come, as do the Russians, to regard whatever state we are in as a normal condition.” – Leonard E. Read
Real life rarely resembles Hollywood. In real life, there is no soundtrack music to mirror the day’s events. It would be nice if some ominous music would start playing in the background when things are about to go sideways. It would be nice if there were obvious super-villains and superheroes. True justice rarely happens. The bad guys are not always ugly, and the good guys are not always attractive. Things here in the 21st-century are rarely black and white issues anymore, despite their seemingly obvious nature. Everything has become varying shades of gray. It would be nice if there were some obvious threat (such as zombies) that humanity could rally against; but alas, our great enemies are not alien invaders or flesh-eating zombies; they are the pale riders, the subtle destroyers known only as incrementalism, uniformitarianism, and the normalcy bias. These three have and always will be the greatest threats to humanity.
Incrementalism: a policy or advocacy of a policy of political or social change by degrees: gradualism. (Source)
Uniformitarianism: a geological doctrine that processes acting in the same manner as at present and over long spans of time are sufficient to account for all current geological features and all past geological changes. (Source)
Normalcy Bias: is a tendency for people to believe that things will function in the future the way they normally have functioned in the past and therefore to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects. (Source)
Before I go any further, there is another enemy that I have not listed as of yet, and he is as real as the ground you and I stand on. He is a cognizant, intelligent, and thoroughly evil, sentient being, who has at his disposal, legions. He has made a specialty of getting us humans to not believe he exists, and presents his “truth” to every culture and civilization in such a way that they think is unique to themselves. I will address this more at the end in Author’s note.
Human nature is sequential, finite, and momentary. We are born, we live our lives (if we are lucky, up to eighty-years or so), and then we pass on into the eternal realm. As such, our temporal, physical natures very rarely ever get the “big picture.” The Bible makes several comments regarding the stature of all men. Here are a few:
“Like a flower, he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain” (Job 14:2).
“My days are like a lengthened shadow, and I wither away like grass” (Psalm 102:11).
“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).
The exception I will make is for the born-again Christian. When a natural man becomes born again, he or she receives in them the Person of the Holy Spirit. The born-again is purchased by God and sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:11-14, 4:30). Their dead spiritual natures are reborn (or restored), and they have become whole again. What is also restored in them is their spiritual awareness of their temporal nature. Where the natural man receives not spiritual understanding, the spiritual man (who has to be born again), has this understanding of eternality reimaged in their soul so that our natures are changed. We begin to seek after the things of God, rather than chasing after our own tails to satisfy our own carnality.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
[As an aside, humans are born with tri-partite natures: body, soul, and spirit (1st Thess. 5:23)].
In the grand scheme of things, man is but a vapor. Even the greatest of men are whispers on the wind. Our lives here in this physical reality are fleeting at best. Thus, man’s brevity of life, mirrored with our own sin natures (i.e., self-seeking), propels us to reimagine our own importance, in our own eyes. Therefore, human nature, and by necessity, human history, is riddled with the rise and fall of kingdoms, driven by momentary humans, no matter, how good or great the rulers were. Take, for example, Alexander the Great. He took over the throne from his father, Phillip of Macedon, at a young age. He conquered the entire known world and then died at a young age. His total span of life was 33 years and his kingdom, as vast as it was, was then divided amongst his four generals (because he had no living heir). After much conflict and infighting, the generals finally divided his kingdom into four parts.
So how does incrementalism, uniformitarianism, and the normalcy bias fit the bill as man’s great enemy? Because, no matter when a man lives, he finds himself coming to believe all three of these things are true. He believes this because man can only live sequentially (one day after the next), and rapid, dramatic change rarely happens. We can make exceptions for those brief times of dramatic change, like when the Romans sieged Jerusalem in AD70, December 7th, 1941, or September 11, 2001. At the national level, we can generally count on one hand the moments in our history where life as we know it radically changed. Almost all of the change we see is gradual (or incremental). And although we can say definitively that the year 2020 looks radically different from the year 2000, that change came over the course of twenty years. This reminds me of the oft-quoted line from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, in which the characters say,
“How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
I doubt seriously that the American public (and I cannot speak for any non-Americans here) would have tolerated being x-rayed and strip-searched at the airport just to catch a flight before 9/11. Americans would not have tolerated living under the Orwellian Patriot Act prior to 9/11. Americans would not have tolerated X-rated drag shows at Public Libraries, self-identifying male women, or legislation supporting post-birth abortions before Barack Obama. Nor would Americans have tolerated city/state/federal mandates prohibiting our constitutional rights to gather publicly, go to work, or attend church prior to this recent Coronavirus “pandemic” panic. Yet here we are by way of incrementalism.
Gradualism is equally dangerous because it presents a false narrative of man’s history. It shows that all the geological, archeological, astronomical evidence we see (or 99% of it), is through eons-long, slow, gradual changes. That all things continue as they have from the beginning. No rush, no fuss, things will continue ho-hum as they always have. The Apostle Peter took note of this and addressed it headfirst two-thousand years ago:
“Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth, which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2nd Peter 3:3-7).
As a consequence of gradualism, the normalcy bias falsely reaffirms man’s ignorance that the way things were yesterday will be the way things are tomorrow. It would be akin to building a home next to a volcano, and ignorantly believing that just because it did not erupt yesterday, it will never erupt in the future. We should probably note that that line of thinking did not work out too well for the ancient Pompeiians who lived in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
Our great adversary the Devil, while not eternal, was immortal from his creation. While he has a great many tools for deception at his disposal, he has been very effective at manipulating our understanding of time to his advantage. In fact, if we were to summarize the most dangerous words man ever uttered down to two words, it would be, perhaps tomorrow.
Despite the often catastrophic happenings that increasingly frequent us in our sin-fallen world (think earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc.), our momentary “woke-ness” often appears extremely short-lived. You would think, with as many terrible events we have been witness to over the last hundred years, that we would be hypersensitive to the lateness of the hour in which we live. Yet, the overwhelming majority of people live their lives thinking that the way things are today will be the way things will always be. Fewer and fewer pulpits even talk about the Rapture or the Second Coming as a real thing. Even fewer warn their congregations about what is about to come upon the earth.
Satan, the father of lies, has been religiously whispering these three doctrines of devils into the ear of man for centuries. Paradoxically, just when mankind is closest to the Lord’s return, Satan seems to have found an enthusiastically receptive audience to listen. A generation who: embraces only relative truth, desires Lukewarm, ecumenical worship, and craves to have their ears tickled by soft, self-serving sermons. Furthermore, we have become a generation who calls good evil, and evil good. We are the generation who has willingly traded liberty for security.
We live with a growing number who violently demand we embrace transgenderism because the science is not “settled” on what differentiates males from females. Yet, these same thugs demand the science be settled on whether we evolved over the course of millions of years from pond scum, to monkeys, to cavemen, and finally humans. We are a generation who has been hardened by decades of cynicism and laughs at the signs of the times, yet panics at the threat of man-caused global climate change. We are a Romans 1 culture, increasingly unable to come to the truth because their consciences have become increasingly seared.
Collectively, our nation is being given over by God to a reprobate mind, which is our new normal, and about the most fearful place a nation could ever find itself. This new normal reinforces the biblical view that this world will continue to wax worse and worse until Christ returns and finally rights all wrongs. It represents the birth pangs to which Christ spoke of regarding the last days (Matthew 24). These birth pangs will continue to increase in frequency and intensity until it culminates with His return to the earth at the Second Coming (Zechariah 14, Revelation 19).
The nations of the world are, indeed, headed toward the apocalypse, but it is not something we can legislate away or vote to delay. It is coming, because the original apocalyptic book, the Bible, said it would. Incredibly, there appears to be a growing majority within Christendom who reject the very idea of Christ’s triumphal return, even joining with the mockers in making light of His return. These same folk neglect to understand that the very Bible they claim as their faith is, by its very nature, apocalyptic and warned as far back as 3500BC that the end would come, and Christ would be the One to bring it.
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’” (Jude 1:14-15).
Even so, Maranatha!