The end of the world is a common religious idea. The end of this planet and the end of time itself are ideas not unknown to cosmologists, but are not exactly an immediate threat.
To certain religious groups, the threat is now, and is welcome. “Signs” are everywhere. Of course, we’ve been down this road before, in the 9th century, a few times in the 19th century, and of course in 2000.
Turn on the TV any Sunday—there are plenty of preachers reading and reading and reading, and of course finding signs of the imminent apocalypse. Hey, there’s that whole “Left Behind” series of books reveling in the end of the world.
Aside from the fact that no one has yet correctly predicted The End, there are a few problems here. First, if God wanted you to know when the end was coming, wouldn’t he have just written a date clearly in the Bible, like, “HEY, MORTAL FOOLS, REPENT! THE END IS NIGH! 8 PM, FEBRUARY 22ND, 2010. I MEAN IT!”
Or perhaps he doesn’t want us to know, and to look for it would be a sin against him?
Or maybe, just maybe, all of this “End times” stuff is just human interpretations of human works and human fears. After all, since God hasn’t bothered to inscribe it on the clear blue sky, or appear on ABC during “Desperate Housewives”, all predictions of the End must necessarily be those of people, not a supernatural being who would know such things.
So, here we are, on our usually pleasant little globe, worrying about when it will end. That’s just lovely. But perhaps—just maybe—we should worry about what happens if it doesn’t end. Cyclone Nargis in Burma/Myanmar, Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., famines, floods, fires—all of these so-called natural disasters, while not entirely preventable, are things we can plan for. This type of large-scale planning (such as the Dutch flood prevention systems) requires casting ourselves far into the future, and actually sacrificing present comfort for future survival. Of course, if the end is near, who cares? Wait for God to take us bodily into his arms, and to Hell (literally) with everyone else.
I, for one, can’t live with that. Just because some sweaty preacher in a studio says the world is ending doesn’t make it so. I have kids, and I care what happens to them, so it really pisses me off when others say, “just come to Christ, and all will be well.” It won’t. If you put your head in the sand hoping for immediate Rapture, you are admitting that you don’t care a whit for your fellow human beings. How Christian is that?