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IDST 390: The Ends of the World

Reflective Writing: Natural & Scientific Ends

After engaging with this week’s readings, please respond to the following items.

1. One way or another, this world will end someday. In this course, we are contemplating an inevitability. Based on your reading of Kyle Chapter 9 (and perhaps your own background, biases, and assumptions), respond to the following:

a. Setting religion aside for the moment, which scientific end or seems the most plausible? Give a few reasons supporting your choice.

b. How much does your choice above have to do with your own existing interpretive grid (IE, your worldview, your assumptions, etc.)? Consider your upbringing, courses you have taken, “preferences” for The End, amount of perceived knowledge about a given End, or other potential assumptions or biases in your worldview. In other words, how much does your limited knowledge factor into this choice?

2. After engaging with the material in WEEK 4 (especially Astronomy-based material), respond to the following:

a. How does grappling with the sheer size and age of the universe inform thinking on The End? 

b. What specific insights have been gained by taking an astronomical perspective? (List two)

c. Write two new questions can you now ask after engaging this material? You do not have to answer these, just write two questions. The point here is to create new questions based on the new insights you have gathered.

3. What was the most memorable moment from Martin Rees’ TED Talk? What stuck with you and why?

4. In two solid paragraphs, briefly outline how something like the “Mayan 2012” phenomenon takes hold. Note the scientific factors, religious factors, and other components which fuel such phenomena. Again, to be overly intentional, the Mayan 2012 phenomenon is a good area for IDST as you are now combining religious studies, history, and scientific insights from our first few weeks of this course. Try to identify the various disciplinary and cultural pieces that combine to create such an occurrence.

5. In one or two paragraphs, discuss how the development of the Mayan 2012 phenomenon connects to how people have used the book of Revelation to predict or relate to The End. How are these two phenomena similar?