I fear that the human species is headed for its untimely end.

We, as a species, have some serious delusions of grandeur. I mean, for a long time we have believed that we have some kind of entitlement to the planet, that we can do whatever we want. We poison our air, destroy our forests, kill off entire species, and all this without any regard to what it might do in the long run. I think that ultimately, the real source is that we have just lost all humility.

I’m not usually so philosophical, but lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the things that have happened to the human race due to this lack of humility. The movie Titanic has been on HBO a lot lately, and that’s what primarily got me thinking about all of this. Here is a perfect example of hubris run amok: We just had to build the largest and most luxurious ship on the planet. We just had to load it with every amenity available to the wealthy that would be strolling its decks—except for the one that it really needed, in the end: lifeboats. We just had to get it into New York harbor ahead of schedule by pushing its engines to unsafe speeds, and on a night when there was no wind and therefore no waves, and therefore no way to see icebergs by the water crashing up against them.

It’s prophetic, in a way. On the evening of April 14, 1912, the whole of the human race suffered a gigantic blow to its ego. Not only did we overreach, we did so with such callous disregard for what might go wrong. And as a result, we were smacked down hard.

Are you familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel? It comes from the Bible, and it goes something like this: (Genesis 11:1-9) After the Great Flood (you know, Noah and the ark, all that good stuff), the descendants of those on the ark were all from the same tribe. Because of this, they all spoke the same language and were easily able to communicate and cooperate with each other. They decided that it would be best if they built a great city for all of them to live in; and they would build a great tower to the heavens. This way, they could all be together in one place and not scattered around the world.

But God saw them building this great tower and said to Himself, “Man, if they can accomplish this, I don’t think there’s anything that they can’t do,” and He didn’t like that one bit. (Remember, kids, this is the Old Testament God. Old Testament God was a real prick.) After all, if they could do anything, they might be able to rival His power someday. So what did God do to combat this? He made them all speak different languages and He scattered them all over the earth so they couldn’t build their city. The city was named Babel because of the differing speech. (“Babel” is similar in sound to the Hebrew verb balal, which means “to confuse or confound” and is one of the roots of the word babble as in “to babble on” or speak gibberish.) And in this way was God able to win out.

So yeah, that whole story is really just a metaphor for how our pride and hubris can be our own downfall. And yet I don’t think people pay much attention to it or its message. Not that I think that everybody needs to be a Biblical scholar or believe what it says, but I don’t think that anybody can argue with me that the message is a pretty apt one.

I’ve been thinking about this story quite a lot in the last couple years as I read of the various scientific achievements we’ve made or as I see the movies that have been released. The Day After Tomorrow addressed this, in a more direct sense of “we’re ruining the environment” and not so much in the generic “we need to pay attention to what our actions do” sense, but it was there nonetheless. But for the most part, we don’t even think about it. I’ve read stories over the past few years about how scientists want to be able to recreate the way the universe looked in the moments just after the Big Bang. You know, I’m no astrophysicist or anything, but I’m really not comfortable with making it happen again. I like the Earth right where it is and I’d rather not start recreating an entire universe just so we can know what it looked like. But that’s just me.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess what I’m trying to say is, does it feel to anybody else like we’re about due for another one of these things? Is the human race headed for another cosmic smackdown from the Almighty? It’s been a while since we’ve had one. Some might argue that 9/11 was one, but I can’t really agree with that theory, given that it was based more on the views of a bunch of crazies and less directly related to our own conceit as a species.

I suppose it’s going to be a race against time to see whether we can get our own act together before we destroy ourselves. I do have a small degree of faith that we can do it, but in truth I’m more worried that we’ll end up deploying our nuclear arsenals and destroying ourselves that way before God can ever get the chance to do it. I guess in some way that counts, right?