Shuck and Jive

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Armageddon 2

Within the last 100 years or so, science has given us a picture of Earth and the Universe that is far beyond what the ancients imagined, or even the Reformers or Founding Fathers of the United States could have imagined. Now we know that
  • Earth is about 4.6 billion years old
  • The universe is 13.7 billion years old
  • Earth is on the arm of the Milky Way Galaxy
  • The stars we see are millions of light years away
The Galaxy Song is a good reminder.

Not only has Earth been spinning and revolving around our star for 4.6 billions years, there is no reason to think it won't spin for billions of years more. When our star finally uses up its energy, the galaxy and the universe will continue on its way.

The picture was far different when the biblical texts were written. At that time Earth was conceived as flat with heaven above.

One could easily imagine this Earth and Heaven coming to an end as it came in the beginning by the Word of God. Humanity has been de-centralized by our scientific understanding. Human beings and the planet we inhabit is no longer the center of the universe, nor are human beings the crown of creation. Who knows what is out there? Who knows where evolution will take us?

Yet, the majority of Americans do not "believe in" evolution according to polls. As if we we could not "believe in" gravity! A vast number (whether it is a majority or not, I do not know) think that Earth will come to some kind of "end" and soon. This shows that Americans are deeply ignorant of science and the Bible.

The Bible is often used as a source (the Book of Daniel, Revelation, and the little apocalypse of Mark 13). It is not difficult to find preachers who by referring to passages in the Bible, suggest that the "end times" are near. Christ will come in a literal way to make a new Heaven and a new Earth. The popularity of the Left Behind novels, televangelists such as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, and others continue to intepret political events in the light of so-called biblical prophecy as if the Bible was talking about us.

The basic picture in a nutshell is this:

The world is going to get worse and worse, wars, famine etc.
The "true believers" will be raptured up into the clouds.
There will be a period of tribulation for those left behind.
There will be a big war (Armageddon) on the plains of Megiddo in the Holy Land.
Finally, after a lot stuff, Christ will return and establish an everlasting peace.

The Islamic tradition also has an endtime scenario.

I offer two websites of thousands that offer their version of "the end":

Answering Christianity (one Islamic point of view)
Left Behind (LaHaye and Jenkins--a Christian point of view)

If you read these folks, you find common themes:
  • The world is divided up into good and evil.
  • Good and evil will clash in a final battle.
  • There is nothing you can do about it except to get on the right side.
  • No bother saving the environment, negotiating peace, looking toward the future.
  • It is all fixed.
Here is an excellent video by PBS, Apocalypse: The Evolution of Apocalyptic Belief and How It Shaped the Western World

Signorelli's depiction of the antichrist as jesus' demonic twin

Take the AntiChrist quiz!

A scientific approach to the future.
  • Who knows what the future holds?
  • We can be certain that if humans fry ourselves into a crisp, the Universe will go on.
  • Earth is home.
  • Earth is home for future generations.
  • Yet, we are headed for challenging times.
  • Energy, Food and overpopulation will challenge us.
  • And, we have the capacity to actually destroy life--completely.
Check this out.

Some of the endtime enthusiasts think that nuclear war is part of God's plan.

Do you?


  1. I think that anyone who persists in asserting that they know God's plan should have one of two things done to them:
    1) slap them until they turn blue or: 2) wrap them in a warm, soft blanket, guide them gently to a big, soft LaZboy, pry their clasped hands apart and give them a gentle laxative, such as a warm cup of "Natural Calm" (available at the Natural Food Store in Johnson City) with a little locally made honey.

    I advocate for the 2nd option. As Vonnegut might have said, "It's easier for everyone to clean up and get on with their day".

    Thanks for the information about Armageddon, John. I will re-read it when I have a clear head. For now, I will appreciate the Galaxy Song and will invest my two cents in the bank so that I may jump through time to make my reservation at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

  2. I love option 2. I would like that to happen to me!

    Thanks Sandra,

    Peace, Shalom, Shanti,
    Arthur D.

  3. It can be done, John. Just come on up to the house some time!

  4. "Some of the endtime enthusiasts think that nuclear war is part of God's plan. Do you?" (John)

    I think it is not part of the plan - and even if it was - we have to honor the present time God has given us - which would include aspects of caring for the environment and the 'poor'.

    I think it is almost inevitable that humanity will us the bombs they have created - it's a bleak outlook but it's not without merit (WW2). But for someone to say this 'God's plan' needs to re-evaluate their view of God.

  5. Sometimes in my darker moments I echo your bleak outlook. Ultimately, I do not share it.

    This is why I work for nuclear disarmament. We must find a better way to share this house (Earth).


  6. You've neglected a rather virulent strain of modern-day apocalypticism: Environmentalism. The eco-freak notion that Gaiea is going to set the balance straight by killing off most of us is a common form of insanity. It simply jibes a bit better with current thought patterns than some of the others you mention.

    It seems like little more than chronological snobbery to find current concerns more valid than ones expressed in more ancient ways.