This week, I finished an intriguing new book by Robert Harris, called “The Second Sleep.” It is a work of speculative fiction set in Britain 800 years into the future, after a “systemic collapse of technical civilization” known as the Apocalypse.
After reading Harris’s earlier Cicero Trilogy about ancient Rome, there is a similar theme in the message of The Second Sleep: “All civilisations consider themselves invulnerable; history warns us that none is.”
In a message from a Prof. Morgenstern, Nobel prize winner, we read some of his reasons for a total collapse of our society.
“We have broadly identified six possible catastrophic scenarios that fundamentally threaten the existence of our advanced science-based way of life:
1) Climate change
2) A nuclear exchange
3) A super-volcano eruption, leading to rapidly accelerated climate change
4) An asteroid strike, also causing accelerated climate change
5) A general failure of computer technology due either to cyber warfare, an uncontrollable virus, or solar activity
6) A pandemic resistant to antibiotics
We regard our society as having reached a level of sophistication that renders it uniquely vulnerable to total collapse. The gravity of the threat has increased vastly since 2000, with the transfer of so much economic and social activity to cyberspace, and yet there has been no corresponding contingency planning at government level.
A prolonged general interruption to computer networks, for example, would lead within twenty-four hours to food and fuel shortages (especially in urban areas); a dramatic curtailing of money supply (due to the loss of ATMs, credit card transactions and online banking), communications and information breakdowns, transport shutdown, panic buying, mass exodus and civil disorder. Interruption of food distribution in particular, which relies upon computer-based information networks for round-the-clock resupply, would have serious consequences within a matter of hours. Thirty years ago, the average British household contained enough food to last eight days; today the average is two days. It is no exaggeration to say that London, at any time, exists only six meals away from starvation.
Our fear is that an initial collapse could spread exponentially and at a speed that might rapidly overwhelm any official response. Vital workers might desert their posts, or be unable to reach them. Data might be lost irretrievably. Key sectors and technologies could be affected to such an extent that our chances of finding our way back to the status quo ante could diminish alarmingly quickly.”
Daniel described ‘the end’ as an era when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) Both parts are actually happening today. Knowledge has rapidly increased and spread wide via technological communication. People are also ‘running to and fro’- flitting from one piece of information to another – from one ‘tweet’ to another – without getting any deeper insights.
Prophetic events are casting their shadow right now. Financial technology is very vulnerable in our digital financial world.
Daniel provides the answer to this in the previous verse, “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3) Wisdom is found in a Person (Proverbs 8) and the way to righteous living can be found in the Bible.