Apocalypse: Introduction (01:58)
Morgan Freeman says that the world’s end has been predicted many times over the millennia. He will explore why many religions predict an apocalypse and how these prophecies still reverberate today.
Jewish End of Days (06:02)
Jerusalem, the site of major monuments and events for Abrahamic religions, plays a role in the end of the world. Yoram Hazony says that Judaism invented the idea of the Messiah, a mortal who will rebuild the temple and bring justice and peace to the world.
Essene Apocalypse (04:51)
The Essenes, a Jewish sect, settled in the desert near the Dead Sea around 100 BC. Their writings describe an apocalyptic war and remains of the city show they were prepared for the end. In 68 AD, the Romans wiped the city off the map.
Number of the Beast (04:35)
The Book of Revelations describes the apocalypse as a battle with the Antichrist, whose name can be determined by the number 666. Kim Haines-Eitzen, using ancient Greek and Hebrew numerology, says that the number refers to the Emperor Nero.
Mark of Nero (02:45)
Christians despised Nero because of his persecution of them. Freeman says they feared Nero’s return, even after his suicide, and equated him with the Antichrist. The Christian idea of the apocalypse took hold under the oppression of Rome.
Maajid Nawaz, facing violent racism as a teenager, joined a radical Islamist group. After four years in prison, he realized that a new theocratic caliphate would be hell on Earth. This utopian dream has become the dystopic nightmare we see with ISIS.
Islamist Ideological Recruitment (03:15)
Nawaz says that Islamist groups use the apocalyptic prophecies of Muhammad for ideological ends. Young people who feel powerless and disenfranchised are drawn to groups like ISIS because they feel that they are taking control of their destinies.
Reaction to Threat (02:37)
A test of people’s responses to a threat shows that in unpredictable conditions, they exhibit greater brain activity. Professor Stewart Shankman concludes that trying to make the unpredictable predictable gives people solace. Freeman says this may help explain doomsday cults.
Mayan Time (04:23)
Stanley Guenter describes the Mayan calendar as a series of time cycles, each one denoting a new beginning. He debunks the idea that they predicted the end of the world.
Non-apocalyptic Time (01:49)
Freeman says that the Judeo-Christian-Islamic sense of time that envisions an apocalyptic end is not universal. Hindus believe that after billions of years, the world ends and starts again. The Buddhist apocalypse is personal enlightenment, not a revelation of God’s judgment.
Tibetan Buddhist holy man Gyalwang Karmapa is the seventeenth reincarnation of a great teacher. He tells Freeman that the key to enlightenment is meditation. Freeman comes to the conclusion there is no end, only change.
Learning from Katrina (06:55)
When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Charles and Angela Marsalis suffered for several days trying to survive. Their experience made them see the power of faith and they returned to start their own church. Freeman says that the word apocalypse in ancient Greek means lifting the veil, which relates to enlightenment.
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