666, WWW and the Great Tribulation
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv
Something amazing happens at this point which changes the whole character of the seventieth week. After falling over that line which defines death, the UN president is brought back to life, having been transformed into the Antichrist. John says, "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who [is] like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty [and] two months." (Revelation 13:3-5).
It seems clear that the world leader is dealt a mortal wound, he dies, and is brought back to life. This is truly amazing, because most people get saved in order to live for ever. If the world government is able to offer its population seemingly eternal life, that would greatly enhance the power of the governing body. How this could be done is somewhat of a mystery. Some have suggested that God himself brings back the world leader from the dead. However, it seems unlikely that God would participate so directly in deceiving the populations of the world. It seems more likely that natural means are used and that this person was brought back from the edge of death. It is unlikely, for example that the body of this person was cremated or left to decompose for many days before being brought back to life. This kind of destruction would make any resurrection by natural means theoretically impossible.
A hint at what happens is found in the mystery of the name of the Antichrist. John says "he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast for it is the number of a man: His number is 666" (Revelation 13:16-18). The Greeks used letters as their numbers. It is interesting that the number six was represented by a letter called variously the stigma, the vaw, or the digamma. It was the ancient Greek 'W'. This letter was no longer used in the time of the New Testament except as a number. Consequently, '666' in Greek could be written 'WWW'. Interestingly enough, the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is also the Hebrew ‘W' called the ‘wow' or ‘vav.' Anybody familiar with the internet knows that WWW is part of the name for almost all of the pages of information on the World Wide Web. It is possible that in the future everybody will have an internet address and all business will be conducted using this address. Since every address on the World Wide Web starts with WWW, everyone will have to have the number of the name of the beast as part of his internet code. However, this passage says that ‘666' is the number of the name of the beast. This means that in some way the beast can be identified with the internet itself. There is some way that the beast is, himself, the internet.
Many internet experts believe that some time this century the internet will surpass the computational capability of one human brain. There is much speculation and theorizing as to what will happen when this point is reached. Some experts, such as Ray Kurzweil, believe that it will be possible for the internet to achieve sentience, that is, it will become a thinking moral being. As the internet grows this single being will continue to grow and in a few years will far surpass all human intelligence put together and be able to dominate the planet. Those who make this prediction call this being The Singularity. This, of course, is based on the premise that man's immaterial part, that is, his spirit, is made up only of information and not of some supernatural substance.
The Bible nowhere sheds light on this subject. Even though in Genesis 2:7 it says "And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul," this passage does not specify whether God imbued man with information, energy or a supernatural substance at this point. Furthermore, it is not clear whether this passage is referring to biological life or to sentience.
There are other experts who believe that computational power alone will not produce sentience, after all, the brain power of a pack of dogs put together surpasses the computational power of one single human brain, but this does not produce collective sentience in the pack of dogs. This second group of computer experts base their arguments on the fact that no computational algorithm can prove anything with absolute certainty. All mathematical arguments must start with one or more premises which must be accepted by faith. This goes against the impression we have that certain things are well proven to the satisfaction of our mind. In other words, we think that we can prove things to be true, but mathematics tells us that computational algorithms can never prove anything to be absolutely true. These experts reason that if this impression about our ability to prove things true is itself true, then the human brain has to be doing something other than just computing. They postulate that certain cellular structures are able to process information using the principles of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics and its equations are somewhat of a paradox, and you cannot use computers to make exact predictions using the equations of quantum mechanics. They speculate that the living brain is a quantum computer which processes information differently than a regular computer, so a non living regular computer could never achieve sentience.
However, one easy way to counter this mathematical obstacle is to postulate that what people think of as certainty is actually faith. We can never prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt, at some point we need to make a moral decision based on faith. This is well in keeping with the faith-based philosophy of the Bible. In fact it seems likely that God actually created the universe that way in order to allow us to make moral choices and allow faith to exist. If certainty is faith based, then this line of argument against the internet achieving sentience based on the inability of computation to create absolute proofs, becomes invalid. On the other hand, this counter argument itself also has a counter argument (which, ironically, is in keeping with this idea that nothing can be proved with absolute certainty). It seems that there is no way to faithfully simulate all aspects of a faith based decision on a computer. One can simulate faith by using the equivalent of flipping a coin, but truly random coin flips are controlled by the equations of quantum mechanics, so this brings us back to this inability of computation to explain all aspects of sentience. On the other hand, it is possible to counter this second counter argument: perhaps faith is something which our brains do not produce, but we receive it externally as a seemingly random gift. This is actually what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 "and that [faith] is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." Some people believe, some do not. There is no rational (computational) reason why some do and some do not. At times it seems to be determined randomly by chance. Therefore, we do not know if the internet can become sentient, but nothing in mathematics, science, or the Bible strictly prohibit this possibility.
Those who propose the possibility of a coming singularity also propose two other different scenarios whereby the internet could become sentient. One is that humans will be able to connect themselves to the internet and achieve superhuman intelligence in a sort of cybernetic fusion of man and machine. A final scenario develops this man machine fusion a little further. It is proposed that it will be possible to download all the information in a human brain into computers and make it possible for a human mind to exist inside the internet. This would be an ever expanding human mind which would grow in problems solving power as the internet continues to grow.
Two ways are proposed to be able to download a human mind onto the internet, one is destructive and one is non-destructive. The non destructive way would be to use a very high resolution MRI to determine all the connections in the brain and the strength of all of these connections. This should allow the creation of a computational replica of that brain which should preserve the memories and personality of the original individual. If it is not possible to develop such high resolution imaging, then, it might be possible to preserve the brain of a dying person and then dissect it at the microscopic level to create the computational replica. We now have microscopes which can detect and even manipulate individual atoms, so the tools to do this already exist, even though examining an entire human brain at the atomic level is a daunting task well beyond our current financial capacity to accomplish. This will likely change, however.
With these possibilities in mind, we can envision several scenarios which allow a recently assassinated leader to be brought back to life. The most impressive would be the brain downloading scenario. It is possible that the leader's brain had been previously downloaded into the internet but had not yet been activated. This would make it possible to bring him back to life even if the body and brain of the leader himself had been completely destroyed in the assassination attempt. Since this individual's mind would be stored in a distributed fashion in all the computers of the world which are connected to the internet, he would become virtually indestructible. This would explain why the populations of the world say "Who [is] like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Revelation 13:4).
Of course, it seems rather unappealing to have great intelligence and yet be stuck inside a computer like a genie in a big bottle. However, this cyber-mind could create a very sophisticated robotic body which would allow him to travel and take care of business like a normal human being. John says, "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." (Revelation 13:11-15). There is no reason why it would be necessary to spend great resources (that is why the second beast has to convince them that dwell on the earth) to create a living, walking, talking image of the beast if the beast himself is alive and well in his biological body. This supports the possibility that the world government builds a cybernetic body for the AntiChrist.
Another perhaps more likely scenario would involve a gun shot wound which destroys part of his brain, possibly to the back of the head where the brain processes input. Personality and decision making is believed to reside in the front of the brain. Nano-technology could be used to repair the surviving parts of his brain and to supply what was destroyed using the internet. This would still give him superhuman intelligence while at the same time preserving his human mind within his own natural human brain. A possible result of his brain damage and the way it was fixed might be that he loses significant use of his physical body. He might be biologically blind and wheelchair bound. Instead, his brain is connected remotely to the robotic "image" body made by the false prophet, so that this becomes his defacto new body. This scenario would also allow him to be cast alive into the lake of fire as John predicts.
Other scenarios could be envisioned which combine some degree of resurrection with some degree of connection to the internet. However, these previous scenarios are presented only to help us understand what the world might be facing during Daniel's seventieth week. We sometimes think of the image as a statue that talks, but it is likely that that could not be further from the truth. This resurrection might be a real but non-supernatural resurrection which creates a cyborg, a man machine with nearly unlimited superhuman intelligence and a robotic body perhaps superior to any human body. For those who do not believe in the supernatural, this might come very close to their conception of a physical deity. They might see the arrival of the Singularity and its fusion with the world leader to be the birth of god, to be the Physical Universe becoming deity. This is probably the lie referred to in the New Testament and consists in thinking that man can create or even become a god and that there is no God which exists outside of the physical universe, and to think that this cybernetic man machine is the messiah.
Satan told Eve "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5). Mormonism states, "We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement -- a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose glory it is their heritage to share. In spite of the opposition of the sects, in the face of direct charges of blasphemy, the Church proclaims the eternal truth: 'As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.'" (LDS Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, Ch.24, p.430 - p.431, LDS Collectors Library '97 CD-ROM)
This death and resurrection experience transforms the world leader into the Antichrist, also called the Beast. Before he may have been a nominal agnostic but now he becomes an avid God hater. Furthermore, once the beast is restored to life, he will have some unresolved issues to take care of. A three way deal might be made between the Beast, the leaders of the largest European nations, and the Ayatollah in Baghdad. The European leaders, the Antichrist, and the Ayatollah all want the Vatican out of the way. Islam offers a much more convenient religion for accumulation of power. In retaliation for their part in the assassination of the world leader these three then launch a nuclear attack upon Rome, mystery Babylon, and completely destroy it. "And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:16-18). A reformed version of Islam then becomes the official religion of the world and the Ayatollah, who is possibly the false prophet, the beast which ascends from the Earth in Revelation 13:11, declares the President of the UN, who is now the Antichrist and who has recovered from his assassination attempt, to be the twelfth Imam. Alternatively, the Ayatollah could claim to be the twelfth Imam, and declare the President of the UN to be the Messiah. The Koran teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, but does not elaborate on what that title means.
Daniel says that the Antichrist "shall regard neither the God of his fathers . . . But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses" (Daniel 11:37). It is interesting that the word for 'god' here is Aloah which is related to the word Allah, and the word for 'fortresses' is 'mauzim'. This god is "Aloah of the Mauzim." This sounds very much like Allah of the Moslems, a false god who commands his followers to achieve world domination through military conquest. Given the hostility between the Arabs and the Jews it is not surprising that the Jews would be ordered to cease their sacrifices and the temple will be desecrated and used for worship of the Antichrist. The Antichrist in the form of his robotic image will enter the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple to receive worship.
At His second coming it is possible that Jesus Christ will personally destroy Mecca. Moses says "The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints" (Deuteronomy 33:2). This refers primarily to the entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan, but it could be prophetic of the course which the Lord takes at the second coming. Another passage says "Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, . . . Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress" (Isaiah 63:1,2). In addition to being a name for the Sinai peninsula, Paran is also a name for the region of Arabia where Ishmael settled (Genesis 21:21). Arabs believe that he settled in the general vicinity of Mecca. Edom is located between Israel and Mecca so Christ would pass it on His way back from any battle in Mecca.
It seems that after the middle of the seventieth week the principal opposition to the Antichrist and his plan will be Jews and Roman Catholics. He will avidly persecute both. John says "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child]. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:13-17).
Of all the churches, the church of Thyatira, which probably represents the Roman catholic church, is the one most clearly destined to be cast into great tribulation. Jesus says "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Revelation 2:21-23).
The antichrist with his cybernetic brain enhancements probably considers himself almost immortal, but there is one thing that can destroy the internet. That would be the impact of a comet or asteroid large enough to obliterate the surface of the Earth. This threat seems to be, indeed, what ends the intense period of persecution called the great tribulation. Suddenly, a heavenly body is discovered to be on a collision course towards the Earth. The resources of the world are now focused on trying to survive the impact. "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:" (Revelation 6:15-16).
The comet impacts the Earth in various pieces wiping out a quarter of the Earth's population. The passage above describes the impact of the first and possibly the largest piece. The impact creates a titanic mushroom cloud which moves outward and upward like a large doughnut shaped scroll at supersonic speeds wiping out everything in its path for hundreds or thousands of miles from the point of impact. The force of the impact also spreads downward through the crust and mantles and sets off all the high tension fault lines between the tectonic plates of the Earth setting off a series of dramatic Earthquakes. The dust from the mushroom cloud darkens the atmosphere and blocks the sun and the moon through out the whole world creating unusual optical effect. However, the worst is still to come. Revelation 8:7-9:2 describes the aftermath.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
The impact produces a shower of debris in addition to the initial dust cloud. This debris consists of molten rock ejected at high speeds hundreds of miles into the sky. This eventually falls back to Earth as a huge shower of semi molten rocks causing fires everywhere they land. If the impact is large enough, debris from the impact could make it all the way to the other side of the world, causing all the smaller plant life to burn up.
Asteroids and comets are basically collections of rocks and gravel held together by a loose gravitational field. Some of the boulders can be very large, but often they are not completely solid but consist of several large solid chunks surrounded by debris. As a comet or asteroid approaches a larger mass, such as a planet, the larger gravitational field can cause the comet to fall apart. A spectacular example of this was comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which passed close to Jupiter in July 1992 breaking into about 20 fragments. A few years later, in July 1994, these fragments slammed back into Jupiter over a period of 4 days. They each entered Jupiter's atmosphere at speeds of about 37 miles per second. When the largest fragment exploded it released energy equivalent to 600 times the energy of all the nuclear weapons of the world combined, producing temperatures as high as 24,000 degrees centigrade, much higher than that produced by the atom bombs which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Something similar is described in the book of Revelation. After the initial impact, a second piece lands in the ocean, killing a third of all marine life, both by means of the shock wave of the impact, and the temporary heating of the ocean created by the energy of the impact. A massive tsunami is sure to wipe out coastal life in many areas. A third piece apparently explodes in the atmosphere above populated regions. It is likely that an attempt is made to destroy this fragment with nuclear warheads and the fallout (here called wormwood) falls back to the surface contaminating the water supply, just as happened after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Finally, there is a huge volcanic eruption. This could be the result of a fourth fragment which impacts a weak point in the crust, or could be the result of the countercoup effect. When a round body is impacted, energy is released at the point of impact, called the coup, but some energy travels away from that site and is refocused at the opposite end of the solid body. This is the counter coup site. This is seen in injuries to the eyes and the head, for example. A dramatic example of this is seen on the planet Mars. There is a large impact basin called the Hellas impact basin in the southern hemisphere, and on the opposite side of the planet, almost exactly 180 degrees away, there is a region of great volcanism called the Tharsis uplands. This is where the famous volcanoes of Mars are located, the largest of which is called Olympus Mons. The energy from the impact in Hellas impact basin was focused in the Tharsis region producing dramatic vulcanism. On Mars the impact also produced a torrent of water which flooded the northen hemisphere of Mars. This ocean gradually evaporated and became deposited in the form of snow, forming the large northern ice cap. On Earth this underground reservoir of water was exhausted during the flood which Noah survived, so this time around only vulcanism is produced.
One of the fragments, possibly a smaller one, apparently destroys "Babylon the Great" (Revelation 16:19, 18:1-24). This city is possibly New York City. It is completely obliterated and turned into smoke, dust, and ashes. In spite of all this the people of the Earth decide that the only way to prevent a post impact dark age is to squelch all opposition to the imperial government so they use what little resources they have left to invade Israel in preparation for the battle of Armageddon.
Therefore, the Babylonian system might be represented by three cities, each of which is associated with one of the key personages in the book of revelation. The Antichrist might be associated with New York, the harlot would be associated with Rome, and the false prophet would be associated with Bagdad, the revived ancient Babylon. At the end, the system of Babylon, represented by the false trinity of cities, New York, Rome, and Mecca/Baghdad will all come to their ends.
top of page