I remember a TV show I watched a few years ago. It was one of those pseudo-documentaries. They pretend to reveal something striking when all they really are is entertainment.
The show was all about doomsday prophecies and what people are doing to cope. For example, one guy was preparing for the worst by placing all his consumables down on the floor, just in case the earth's gravity suddenly increases in strength! It was funny stuff.
The show also focused on some biblical prophecies foretelling the end times, and that most of them have come true. This I believe, not because there is anything special or unusual about our time, but because almost all of the biblical prophecies regarding the end of time were based on signs that are not only present today, but always have been.
There have always been wars and rumors of war; there have always been famine and pestilence; floods and drought; earthquakes and volcanoes. In fact, some of the floods, droughts, earthquakes, and volcanoes of the past would make the episodes we are familiar with seem rather puny.
Everybody knows about the earthquake that produced the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean back in December. But it was nowhere near as powerful as the explosive force that formed Yellowstone National Park about 600,000 years ago.
Ever since I was very young, I have heard rumors of the destruction of the earth, or of the “end of the world.” I read a book a couple of years ago written in the 19th Century by a woman who had absolute proof, as outlined in numerous bible verses, that the Second Coming would be sometime in the year 1842. She couldn't predict the exact day, but she could narrow it down to the year and the season.
Every generation has had false prophets that foretold the swift approach of the end of time. And there have always been those who have misinterpreted the prophecies of the bible in such a way that it becomes apparent to them that the end of time is nigh.
But even in the days of the Apostle Paul, the early Christians were convinced that the Second Coming would be in their generation. Yet how many generations have passed since then?
There were those who were thoroughly convinced that the year 2000 was going to be it. But here we are, firmly planted in the year 2005.
The point is that there will always be, in every generation, signs of the end of time. When I was young, these predictions of doom scared me a little. But as more and more of the predicted cataclysms came and went, I came to realize that all of the predictions were false, and will continue to be false.
I recently watched a Science Channel documentary about the possibility of an asteroid strike that would wipe out civilization. The odds have been calculated at about one in 26,000. It sounds pretty safe, but those are better odds than getting killed in a plane crash, and much better than winning the state lottery.
I guess if one must worry about the end of the world, it’s better to worry about the scenario we might have control over, like building early detection systems to spot those rogue asteroids.
Besides, it seems more likely to me that those biblical prophets weren’t really predicting anything. They just wanted everyone’s undivided attention, and scaring us is one way to get it.