Commentary By Gery L. Deer
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California pastor Harold Camping has been in silent seclusion ever since his predicted time of the end of the world came and went without incident. The 89-year-old founder of Family Radio Worldwide has spent considerable money, time and effort over the last several months to convince people that the Christian rapture would occur on Saturday, May 21st.
According to the Bible no one will know the exact date and time of Christ’s return to earth or the end of the world. In Matthew 25: 13 it says, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes." Matthew 24:44 continues the concept, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes."
The biblical language may be a bit over the top, but the intent of the passage is pretty clear. Then again, that’s the thing about biblical quotes; they have a tendency towards the melodramatic. After multiple claims by what would have to be referred to as less than reputable religious leaders over the years, so far, nothing has happened.
Like so many others before him, Camping’s prediction may not haves come true, but the faithful refuse to given up hope. To many of the devout, the excessive number of natural disasters now plaguing the world is doubtless a prelude to the events described in the book of Revelation.
From massive earthquakes in the Pacific to deadly tornadoes in America’s south and Midwest, at a glance, the world does appear to be coming apart at the seams. The recent torrent of man-made problems in the Middle East only exacerbates the panic and theological speculation about the final moments of man’s reign on planet earth.
A broader view of the situation by an observer who is less indoctrinated to religious mythology might reveal a totally different interpretation of recent events. Remove any kind of supernatural influences and one would see that our big blue marble in space is, for lack of a better description, a living entity.
Scientific observations tell us that earth is constantly changing. There is indisputable proof that through the millennia, the planet has experienced ice ages, mass flooding and continent-wide drought, not to mention fluctuations in climate and changes in animal species and population. In fact, earthquakes are a real-time indication that the crust of the earth is always shifting.
But man’s rule over a 6.4 billion year old planet must certainly have a shelf life. So how long will it last? Well, that’s one point that the Bible probably has correct. No one will know.
My guess is that the end will not come about in some predictable, easily recognizable sequence of events leading up to a final end. Instead, the fall of man will probably be far less grand, ending in a long, gradual extinction. And the end of man certainly does not mean the end of the world. Millions of species have come and gone on earth, why should humans be any different?
Experts say that before they mysteriously died out, the dinosaurs had free run of the world for over 200 million years, versus man’s roughly 200,000 year occupation. In theory, we’re smarter than the previous tenants and should be able to hold out at least as long. Or will we?
Animals don’t spend their time looking for new ways to ruin the atmosphere or build atomic bombs to kill each other off in pointless arguments over religious differences. So, it’s always possible that we may shorten our time here because of sheer stupidity.
Then again, I’m not really a fan of the fatalistic view of the future. I would like to think that we will adapt and grow as we always have. It might not be as elegant an ending as the rapture and elevation to a heavenly plane but, after all, we’re only human. And maybe that’s the word that best describes us.
Gery L. Deer is a columnist and business writer based in Jamestown. Read more at http://www.gerydeer.com.