Turn Back the Doomsday Clock
11 January 2012 (updated 4 July 2015)
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The Doomsday Clock has moved a minute closer to midnight. It’s managed by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who have since 1947 used the clock to communicate their assessment of the degree of global catastrophic risk facing humanity.
Humanity faces a broad set of extinction risks, both natural and artificial. While it seems obvious to many of us that it’s in our interest, both practically and morally, to seek to understand and mitigate these risks, some of us ignore or actively marginalize efforts to call attention to them. Such resistance is particularly common among conservative groups, sometimes driven by religious expectations that God will save us from these problems, regardless of our efforts. I hope my fellow Mormons will increasingly recognize that our religious texts clearly reject such passivity, as exemplified by Alma 60 in the Book of Mormon:
“And now, my beloved brethren — for ye ought to be beloved; yea, and ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people; but behold, ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance; yea, for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings — Behold, could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain. Do ye suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness? I say unto you, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain; for I say unto you, there are many who have fallen by the sword; and behold it is to your condemnation; For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God …
“Have ye forgotten the commandments of the Lord your God? Yea, have ye forgotten the captivity of our fathers? Have ye forgotten the many times we have been delivered out of the hands of our enemies? Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us? Yea, will ye sit in idleness while ye are surrounded with thousands of those, yea, and tens of thousands, who do also sit in idleness, while there are thousands round about in the borders of the land who are falling by the sword, yea, wounded and bleeding? Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.”
Let’s listen to the voices of warning. Let’s understand the challenges presented to us by our environment and technology. And let’s do what we must to make and preserve the better world to which we commonly aspire.