IEET Affiliate Scholar Phil Torres has published a book on Existential Risks, titled The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse. The Foreword was written by IEET Fellow Russell Blackford.
To date, no scholar has written a non-academic book that explores all the most pressing existential risks to humanity’s future. Phil Torres does precisely this with his forthcoming book, The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse(Pitchstone Publishing; Foreword by Russell Blackford). The End provides a comprehensive snapshot of contemporary Existential Risk Studies. It’s replete with new ideas and memorable aphorisms, yet it covers all the old territory — from nuclear weapons to molecular manufacturing, synthetic biology to superintelligence — in entertaining and accessible language. The majority of the book is, indeed, a detailed exploration of these “big-picture hazards.” But Torres argues that the tools of mass destruction are only half the picture: one must also examine the agents who could wield such tools to bring about a catastrophe. This leads to a discussion about the influence and prevalence of apocalyptic extremism in the modern world. From terrorists in the Middle East to “dispensationalists” in the United States, a shocking number of people believe that, in the end, the world must be destroyed in order to be saved. Torres argues that religious beliefs of this sort are especially dangerous in our rapidly changing world situation marked by environmental degradation and increasingly powerful dual-use technologies. The fact is that much of humanity already believes in the apocalypse — they’re just preoccupied with the wrong apocalyptic scenarios, and this “epistemological” failure is nontrivially inflating the probability of an existential catastrophe in the coming decades.
Ultimately, The End is a page-turning adventure through the wilderness of twenty-first century existential risks, and it’s sure to generate a productive conversation between riskologists, transhumanists, and the secular community.
“Phil Torres’ The End is the most chilling reality check on over-optimism I’ve ever read, a gripping narrative that could be a Hollywood blockbuster lm script but in fact is grounded in facts and data about what threatens to send humanity the way of the dinosaurs.” - Michael Shermer, Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of The Moral Arc.
“Secular Westerners who study catastrophic risks largely ignore the fact that, for the majority of people on the planet, the risks to the future of human existence are seen through a religious lens. Torres makes an enormous contribution with this explanation of the relationship between those eschatological belief systems and attempts to create a science of catastrophic risk estimation around threats from both technology and the natural world.” - James Hughes, Executive Director of the IEET and author of Citizen Cyborg.
“Thoughtful, incisive, scholarly — and a pleasure to read.” - David Pearce, co-founder of Humanity+ and author of The Hedonistic Imperative