I know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that the universe will come to an end at some point - astrophysicists theorize that the universe - and the space which it occupies - may continue to expand until everything is so far away from everything else that (and I know I'm simplifying this to a dizzying degree) the available energy will be unsupportable, and the lights will effectively dim out. With a similar level of certainty, I'm as sure as I can be that there will not be an 'end of days' ending to...well to anything. Nothing in the world that I experience, nothing in the scientific lexicon, and nothing in the realm of that rarest of things - common sense - gives me any reason to believe for a nanosecond that a biblical apocalyptic end is likely.
Interestingly, the word 'apocalypse' is derived from a Greek word (pronounced in much the same way) which has a meaning of exposure and sharing of knowledge. It could almost be describing the purpose of scientific study, couldn't it? Unfortunately, it has come to be regarded as the word representing some kind of appalling wreaking of terrible judgement by a merciful God (who presumably wakes up with a hell of a hangover one day and decides that enough is bloody well enough). In North American culture - and particularly in American evangelistic culture, the assumption that an apocalypse is just around the corner has come to assume almost mainstream popularity. As the late and rather marvellously blunt Christopher Hitchens pointed out, Christian belief in its purest form requires that believers yearn for and anticipate with a great sense of anticipation, that horrific climax within which all life perishes, and we are all brought to a final judgement. presumably, the 'yearners' all consider themselves to have lived a life virtuous enough to have guaranteed themselves a place in the clouds rather than a red hot lavatory seat somewhere near the centre of the earth, with a nasty case of piles, and permanent constipation. Much the same kind of thinking has people believing in psychics (all of them, of course, charlatans) who only ever seem to 'contact' relatives in heaven. You never hear a relative tell their earthbound loved one that it's bloody hot where they are, and to stop watching MMA fights because the big guy, having slaughtered millions of people thousands of years ago, has changed his mind about violence and no longer approves.
Whatever the thinking (if there is much) going on inside people's heads, I'm getting extremely fed up of hearing the term 'end of days' every time there is some kind of natural disaster. It's emblematic of a lack of thought, a lack of analysis, and a lack of common bleedin' sense. Hopefully the frequency of hearing this phrase is more a feature of our 'let's report everything' media society than it is a growth in stupidity, but I'm not sure. I'm not confident that people are not devolving into a species which, having hardly read anything in a book (and yet, perversely, devoured everything which they get fed on Facebook and believed it to be true) tend to be shocked by anything unfamiliar, and are 'grossed out' by anything not contained in a plastic wrapper.
Yesterday I watched a program which illustrates fascinating unusual features of the natural world. One was a sandstorm which engulfed a major city (a major city in a very hot and dry continent, by the way), one was a lake which disappeared down a naturally-occurring sink hole, another was locust swarm, and another was a very surprising arrival in a small town, of hundred of dead birds overnight. In each case, a 'witness' was on hand to describe what they saw, and to tell us that they thought that it was a sure sign of 'the end of days'. Just to be clear - it was a different 'witness' each time: it wasn't the same roving moron who happened to turn up at each event by pure chance - that WOULD be weird.
It's enough to make me despair. I've lost count of how many predictions, just in my lifetime, that we have had about the world ending on such-and-such a date. Religious people (using the same immensely arrogant assumption that they know something that the rest of us don't know which allows them to believe in invisible beings with very nasty tempers) have repeatedly told the world - with an admirable level of certainty (usually 100%) - of impending doom, only to be proved wrong on every occasion. Surprise, surprise. It's fascinating and depressing to note that no matter how many times people churn out such utter bollocks as this (and are proved to be 100% wrong), there are always significant numbers of people waiting to believe the next idiot who has seen the future in the swirly patterns on a cheese croissant crust.
On this very continent, a deluded but very persuasive man has just succeeded in building (with a great deal of tax incentives courtesy of local stupid politicians) a 'replica' of Noah's Ark. Noah, you may recall, is the guy who, having built an ark, went on to live for around 950 years. Clearly, he didn't do much of the building himself, then...It is anticipated that as many as two million people will visit the ark each year, pay $40 each, and tour it, to see for themselves how a pair of every species of land animal/insect fitted inside something significantly smaller than today's largest cruise ships. And if you're wondering how the animals even got to the ark, stop it - we'll have none of that defeatist thinking here at ArksRus. It was magic, OK? That'll be $40, by the way - thank you very much...
Of course, my personal end of days will come a lot sooner than the actual end of the universe that we know. I don't, however, expect to see four angry horsemen, and neither do I anticipate the dead rising from their graves (I wonder how all those billions of people will be re-assembled from the compost and plant matter that they became?), but it seems that great many people still genuinely believe that this will take place before they die a natural death. People have been believing this shit for a long time now, which means that an awful lot of people have died before such a thing has taken place...
It must have been a terrible disappointment.