About the Book

We live in a genuinely unique period of human history, one in which the alarmist's hackneyed warning that “The end is near!” could actually come true. The world is cluttered with increasingly powerful advanced technologies. Global warming and biodiversity loss are unchecked catastrophes that will likely push society to the brink of collapse. How are we to respond to this situation? What can we do to maximize the probability of a positive outcome for our species? The End surveys the expanding wilderness of big-picture hazards before us. It offers a comprehensive and detailed analysis of our evolving existential predicament, which includes risks from synthetic biology, nanotechnology, nuclear weaponry, and (possibly, soon) superintelligence. But understanding the science of risks isn't enough to effectively mitigate them: one must also understand the social, political, and, especially, religious contexts in which advanced technologies are being developed. The End provides this knowledge by showing how faith-based belief in religious eschatologies (or end-times narratives) is inching us ever closer to a secular apocalypse. Action needs to be taken immediately to avert a disaster. The question is whether humanity will choose reason over faith, observation over revelation, and science over religion.

About the Author


ISBN: 978-1634310406 (paperback)

SRP: $14.95

Page count: 288 pages

Trim size: 6 x 9

Pub date: February 2016

Ebook availability: Yes

Audiobook availability: Forthcoming

Phil Torres is a philosopher who writes about emerging technologies, existential risks, and religious eschatology. He's published articles in a wide range of academic journals, is a regular contributor at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and is the author of A Crisis of Faith: Atheism, Emerging Technologies, and the Future of Humanity. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.

“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. . . . People interested in the apocalyptic world views of groups like ISIS and the Christian Right need to read this book to understand how contemporary science will be woven into the eschatological narrative. People interested in ensuring that humanity successfully navigates the 21st century need to read this concise and comprehensive contribution to catastrophic risk literature.”

James Hughes, Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and author of Citizen Cyborg

Thoughtful, incisive, scholarly—and a pleasure to read.”

David Pearce, Oxford philosopher, co-founder of Humanity+, and author of The Hedonistic Imperative

“If science and religion agree on nothing else, they agree on one singularly important thing: the world will one day come to an end. Any agreement stops there. As Phil Torres compellingly and forcefully argues, the surest way to avoid—or rather, delay—this inevitability, is to remove religion from the entire conversation. Only then will we begin to have a chance of accurately setting and slowing the Doomsday Clock.”

Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists

“Phil Torres takes us on a fascinating journey through some rather alarming territory. His fear that the human race may soon be extinct is all too clearly justified—but so also is his message that we can do many things to minimize the danger.”

John Leslie, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and
author of 
The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction 


“Here’s how the world will end—let me count the ways. Wait, no need; Phil Torres has enumerated—and analyzed—the bulk of them in his masterful new book The End. With the realization that human beings are unplanned, undersigned, and solely responsible for ourselves comes another recognition: There’s no guarantee how long the human adventure will continue. Torres examines a broad selection of ways it could all come crashing down, be it next week or after generations—and he makes what could be a grim journey as entertaining as it is enlightening. If humankind is to avoid any of these possible apocalypses, it will have to engineer its own (pardon the expression) salvation. Of course that is doubly challenged when so many of the possible threats are of our own making! Risk analysis of the caliber Torres demonstrates in The End may well equip us to respond more capably to the next existential crisis we face, no matter what it turns out to be.”

Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry, Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, and editor of The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief

“I love this book. Torres is a rare communicator who handles big topics with extraordinary skill. In this stunning, scary, and fun book, he tackles nothing less than the end of us. From irrational religious claims about one apocalypse or another to sober, science-based possibilities of real doomsdays, Torres covers it all in grand style. This must-read book answers many questions while also spurring readers to think of new questions—exactly what a great book should do. Don’t hesitate. Hurry and read The End before the clock strikes twelve!”

Guy P. Harrison, author of Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to Be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser and 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

“Torres does an excellent job introducing the potential dangers of superintelligent machines, without expecting the reader to be an expert in artificial intelligence, but without dumbing down the topic.”

Roman Yampolskiy, Director of the Cybersecurity Laboratory at the University of Louisville and 2015 Research Advisor at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute


“Phil Torres’ interesting and highly original book incorporates religion, science, and thoughtful science fiction (the kind that might someday become science). He illuminates the dangers of a religious apocalypse (laughable, were it not for the possibility that believers in a fictional, god-induced apocalypse might acquire the scientific technology to bring about a nonfictional, human-induced apocalypse). Warning of inherent worldwide dangers in the increasing number of people who dismiss science and don’t care to distinguish fantasy from reality, Torres motivates atheists to go beyond simply criticizing and making fun of fundamentalist religions. Though generally pessimistic about the future of our planet, Torres provides the reader with strategies to maximize the likelihood that future generations will continue to have a quality life on earth—or, if necessary, on another planet.”

Herb Silverman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the College of Charleston, Founder and President of the Secular Coalition for America, and author of Candidate Without a Prayer


“This one-of-a-kind-book provides an accessible yet expert education into several global doomsday threats, both secular and religious, both real and possible. Highly enlightening and very highly recommended!”

John W. Loftus, author of How to Defend the Christian Faith

The End is a fascinating read. It provides a detailed account of the biggest issues confronting civilization and their various causes. This is an important read for anyone interested in making sure the promises of advanced technologies are fully realized and the perils effectively eliminated.”

Zoltan Istvan, author of The Transhumanist Wager and 2016 Presidential candidate for the Transhumanist Party

“David Hume famously said that mistakes in religion were dangerous. He didn’t know how dangerous, nor did we until Phil Torres explained it in The End.”

Alex Rosenberg, R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and author of The Atheist’s Guide to Reality and The Girl from Krakow

“Like Dickens’ famously dire Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Phil Torres provides humans with a glimpse into our unenviable future. How are we doomed? Torres counts the ways in a surprisingly enjoyable and readable journey through the minefield of modern-day apocalyptic hazards. By the way, Torres couldn’t be clearer that escaping religion’s thrall is an essential step to humans surviving a very dangerous century. So let’s give it a try, shall we?”

Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science


“Phil Torres has a knack for lucid presentation. For the purposes of the book, the balance between keeping things simple and paying attention to details and complications is just perfect.”

Matthias Steup, Department of Philosophy Head, Purdue University


“With this work Torres has given us not just a hair-raising survey of the multiple dangers facing humanity in this century and beyond but a way of thinking that might allow us to escape them.”

Rick Searle, Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History at Delaware Valley College and affiliate scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies


“With this treatise, Torres insightfully illuminates the many potential perils, both present and on the horizon, that we face as a species.”

Jønathan Lyons, Assistant Professor at Bucknell University and Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

Advance Praise

“In atheism, as in many religious traditions, the end of the world has a special significance. For us, the goal is to make sure it doesn’t happen. Phil Torres’ book is a great start. It’s a provocative look at existential risks near and far, and is sure to get people thinking about these important questions.”

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech

and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe