Writing in New Scientist, he says:
Emotionally, the end of the world is actually a renewal, a transition to a new beginning and a better life to come. In religious narratives, God smites sinners and resurrects the virtuous.For secularists, the sins of humanity are atoned through a change in our political, economic or ideological system. Environmental prognostications of calamity are usually followed with reproaches and recommendations for how we can save the planet.
… Cognitively, there are several processes at work, starting with the fact that our brains are pattern-seeking belief engines.
… Apocalypse thinking is a form of pattern-seeking based on our cognitive percepts of time passing. We connect A to B to C to D causally because they are connected chronologically, and even though occasionally they form false patterns, in the natural world they are connected often enough that in our brains time and causality are inseparable.
Shermer believes apocalyptic visions help people make sense of “an often seemingly senseless world.”
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Drawing: Albrecht Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse