I ask this quite seriously and for completely different reasons than I postulated that the current mid-east conflict might lead to Armageddon. (Without either Ben Affleck or Liv Tyler in sight)
No, I simply watched the Tom Brokaw special on Global Warming last week and it's led me to this question.
I'm not particularly religious, nor am I a sreligious scholar. I'm not a scientist either. I'm just a person asking a question, and I think the answer could be quite frightening to all of us regardless of our theocratic persuasion when we simply look at the facts and science regarding the condition of our world and the very rapid changes that we face in the very near future.
First, let define some terms - wether the End Times and the Rapture are in fact real, it has become quite clear that Global Warming is very real and leading this world toward something called The Sixth Mass Extinction.
Otherwise known as Death - the first Horseman of the Apocolypse.
There still remain many like Peggy Noonan who would prefer to promote the idea that Global Warming is merely a myth.
From Think Progress:
In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan asks why all the top scientists can't get together and decide if global warming is real:
During the past week's heat wave-it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday-I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world's greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not? If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous?
Actually, Ms. Noonan, that's already happened. It's called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which involves thousands of scientists from over 120 countries who develop detailed reports on climate change. Their most recent report (from 2001) was reviewed by more than 1,000 top experts, including so-called "climate skeptics" and representatives from industry. Here's what they concluded:
There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
The IPCC predicts that global warming will increase temperatures worldwide between 2.5 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit between 1990 and 2100 if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases. This amount of warming, according to the IPCC, could raise sea levels by as much as three feet. That's extraordinarily dangerous.
Many people - but obviuosly not Noonan - have found the images of Manhattan underwater from "An Inconvenient Truth" chilling, but what about what's already occured?
Severe weather pattern changes have already turned Chinese Farmland into deserts, have bleached sections of the Great Barrier Reef, created massive floods in Indonesia and even New England, Islands in the South Pacific have literally begun to disappear while draught conditions have appeared in the South American Rain Forest, the "Lungs of the Planet". More and more Crops around the world will die from lack of water and the ever increasing heat, leaving massive dust bowls in their wake.
That's called Famine.
More from Think Progress:
Scientists say earth is losing species "faster than at any time since 65 million years ago" as a result of human activity.
The ability of Polar Bears in Greenland to feed succesfully prior to Winter Hibernation has been severely curtailed due to collapse of the ice sheath on which they hunt. As weather patterns change many species will have to migrate to new hunting/grazing grounds by geographic barriers - oceans, mountains and human civilization - will prevent many from finding these new fertile ground. We're already seeing examples of this in Florida as Alligators from the Everglades have begun to migrate into human areas and attack people more and more frequently.
If this continues the food chain may eventually become broken. Many species will be face extinction, while the population of others will begin to explode particularly insects and birds who may lose their natural predators. The likelyhood of diseases spread by these overabundant animals (West Nile Virus, Malaria, Bird Flu) will also increase bringing us ever closer to a global pandemic.
Now all we need is a War...., particularly one right in the middle of the Holy Land.
On the religious side of the equation, the first thing to note is that "The Rapture" isn't literally mentioned in the Bible. During a section on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, John 20:19-21, states the following:
19 Then on that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace to you!
20 So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture).
21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.
This clearly is not exactly the Rapture that many who believe fervently in The End Times are speaking of. They are speaking of Revelations, and the moment when the true Children of God are called home - by the sound of Seven Loud trumpet blasts.
6Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
7The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
The best description of a Ball fo Fire mixed with Blood that I can think of, and have considered for some time - even mentioning it once when calling in to the Randi Rhodes show - is the ball of fire that the Twin World Trade center towers turned into on September 11th as they fell to the ground.
The sound of this first trumpet is intended to mark the beginning of The Tribulations, the seven years of darkness before God returns to reclaim earth as his kingdom.
If this is to be taken literally - which I don't - we are already in year number four of the Tribulations.
We get to the heart of the matter - the second trumpet.
8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
My first impression of this is that it sounds like a meteor striking the ocean, but the "seas ablaze" line could also describe the bleaching effect of gradual global warming, which could also kill many of the seas living creatures.
Some of this is already happening.
10The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- 11the name of the star is Wormwood.[a] A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.
"Wormwood" in Russian is Chernobyl. A nuclear accident which contaminated the air and water. This too, has already happened.
12The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
If horn number three isn't Chernobyl, but is instead a limited nuclear exchange (Bunker-Buster Bombs hitting Iran?) there would be dust thrown into the area to create a temporary "nuclear winter" which would fit this description.
Again, much of this is highly speculative - and many Christians disagree as to exactly what the Tribulations are and how they relate to the Rapture - but my own impression is that shit doesn't get really funky until after this point.
13As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: "Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!"
The good news is that we have some time left, both before supposed Rapture and before we reach the Rubicon of no return on Global Warming. There are things we can do now, even if people like Noonan remain deliberately ignorant of them.
Noonan also laments that, if global warming is real, scientists won't tell us what we need to do in response. Actually, they've done that too.
If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing.
But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy.
Actually, the blame should go to people like Peggy Noonan who give our leaders the political cover to do nothing in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.
I myself am not entirely decided on the accuracy of any of the Revelation Prophesies. I see much of the Bible as parable, filled with stories and fables which were passed down orally for generations (and were embellished in each re-telling) which are intended to be instructional - not literal. Did Jonah actually live inside the belly of a whale? Was the entire earth covered in a flood that Noah managed to avoid and successfully protected enough animals inside an Ark to regenerate the entire biosphere?I'm not saying there wasn't an Ark or that there wasn't a deluge -- some science tends to indicate there was -- but two each of every single living creature?
Are you fucking kidding me?
If you can believe that, you might was well believe in aliens named Xanthu who are coming to save us from ourselves... or something like that.
Still, Belief is a powerful thing and I don't intend to mock it - I only intend to point out that the lessons and value of books like the Bible may sometimes be lost if we look to closely and miss the broader point.
When St. John wrote Revelations, it was during a time when Christianity was a fledgling religion battling against the broad power of the Roman Empire. Many historians have pointed out that his mentioning of "666" being the "mark of the beast" coincides with the manner in which Roman Currency under Ceasar was marked. His "Great Satan", which would eventually be overcome by the Kingdom of God may have very well been the Roman Empire itself. In this context, Revelations can be seen as a rousing adventure story - where there is much drama and conflict, but in the end the Good Guys win and receive their just reward of every lasting peace and happiness, while the bad guys get what's coming to them.
It's a like John Wayne Film during WWII such as "The Fighting Sea Bee's", although it could also be seen as deliberate propoganda as his later Vietnam era film "The Green Berets".
Heck, it's practically a Bruckheimer production. All we need now is for someone to write a book about it, then maybe find some under utilized, but highly "pure and virtuous", young star to make it into a film series. Somebody like Kurt Cameron.
Yeah... that would work great.
And while we keep everyone distracted, that pesky Global Warming problem will just continue to fester -- until finally we get what we really truly want.
Hell on Earth.
Hallelujah. Praise the Lord and pass the tax cuts.
But seriously folks - and here's the zinger - if the Rapture is already occuring and the people who've been called home were those in the World Trade Center Towers, those people who drowned and starved in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina, and those people who were killed by the Indonesian Tsunami, then most of the neo-con/christo-fascists who are the most desperate to bring on the End Times have already missed the exit ramp -- and are going to be stuck here, Left Behind with the rest of us.
Hmm, I guess the bad guys really are going to get what they deserve - to be trapped here in the Tribulations with the rest of us! And maybe if they realized this, they just might realize this entire "End Times" thing isn't such a good idea after all, ya think?