Evangelists, neo-conservatives and other Bible-bashers can start dusting off their old sandwich-boards proclaiming, front and back, that “The End is Near !” Scientists are now telling us it is imminent : 2040 – 2050 ! Within just a few decades, Sunday sermons will have one exclusive theme, based on the Bible’s final book’s title : “Apocalypse”. They will be filled with texts like the following :
“Finally, the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the empty air. From the throne in the sanctuary came a loud voice which said, ‘It is finished’. There followed lightning flashes and peals of thunder, then a violent earthquake. Such was its violence that there has never been one like it in all the time men have lived on the earth. The great city was spilt into three parts, and the other Gentile cities also fell. God remembered Babylon the great, giving her the cup filled with the blazing wine of his wrath. Every island fled and mountains disappeared. Giant hailstones like giant weights came crashing down on mankind from the sky, and men blasphemed God for the plague of hailstones, because this plague was so severe.” (Apoc. 16 : 17-21)
“Babylon’s plagues will come all at once, death and mourning and famine. She shall be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who condemns her.” (Apoc. 18 : 8)
“You are to eat the flesh of kings, of commanders and warriors, of horses and their riders; the flesh of all men, the free and the slave, the small and the great.” (Apoc. 19:18)
Even Catholic preachers will break new ground, quoting for the first time the terrifying texts of the Book of Revelations. They will try, desperately, at the same time, to reassure their flock, but not by promising salvation from starvation, civil war and massacre by hungry hordes intent on postponing their own death by feasting on the said flock of Paschal lambs, viz. themselves. The only reassurance they will be able to offer will be that if they repent, they will have all the pie in the sky they want, after becoming themselves the Last Supper of cannibals.
More and more experts are convincing more and more people that time is literally running out for our survival. The new buzz-word is “collapse” – the implosion of the world’s economic systems, when food production and delivery stop either because we will have run out of fuel to plant, harvest and deliver food, or because air-pollution, temperatures and sea-levels have swollen to catastrophic proportions. (Internet estimates of petroleum reserves, however, are closer to 50 years : small comfort !). The Pope himself used the word in his ecological encyclical “Laudato si”, when he wrote that current demi-measures “succeed only in slowing a little the final collapse”.
There are, of course, the optimists who, as in the Monty Python song, “always look on the bright side of life”. . . Denial is no solution.
Many people, including some erstwhile atheists, will no doubt turn to God, in a last-ditch, futile hoping against hope. Others, having abandoned the myths they once believed, will curse God and those responsible for their former blind faith and blind folly, and die in despair. Others, resigned to the inevitable, will find in suicide and euthanasia the only reasonable escape from pointless suffering. The Armageddon of our sacred texts and our worst nightmares is just around the corner.
It is to be hoped, however, that world-leaders will be jolted, in the immediate future, into finally taking the measures they should have taken years ago. It is even possible, should such a miracle happen, that a remnant of the human race will survive after all. Will a post-apocalyptic world still find people ready to believe in a loving God ? Of course it will ! After all their survival will be proof of His existence if not mercy, will it not ? Tough luck for those who didn’t make it.
P.S. Skeptics who find it literally unbelievable that we could be facing extermination within 30 years, in worldwide famine and fury, chaos and conflict, destruction and despair, should watch the latest news from Yemen and Afghanistan. You might object that Iran and Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and the Taliban could agree to stop the fighting. But can world leaders agree to stop the pollution ? It may not yet be too late for Yemen and Afghanistan. Is it already too late for the planet ?