Today in my Religion and Violence class we discussed fatalism, apocalyptic beliefs, and the 2012 phenomenon.  We brought up things like the role of human agency and New Age religious beliefs.  Fun stuff.  It got me thinking quite a bit about the topic.  With the recent news coverage of the failed Harold Camping predictions and the upcoming 2012 thing a lot of people seem to be interested in the end of the world.  To be clear, this is not new.  There are many people in every generation who think the end of the world will occur during their lifetime.  But why?

Many religious people look to the Bible.  They make a bunch of really complicated calculations and then decide the world will end in a few months or years.  How convenient.  You never hear of the person who predicts the world will end in 627 years, on June 9th at 10:26 am.  It’s always in the near future.  William Miller is a good example of this way of predicting the end of the world.  I could go on and on about William Miller (and often do), but I’m feeling lazy.  So here’s the Wikipedia article instead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Miller_%28preacher%29 (If you are interested in predicting the end of the world I suggest the books of Daniel and Revelation).  Seventh Day Adventists and the Branch Davidians (David Koresh) were some of the results of the Millerite movement.  David Koresh also used Revelation to predict the end of the world (in 1995 I think).

Other religious people look to New Age stuff like the Mayan calendar and the whole 2012 thing to predict the end.

Many secular people look at technology and globalization as a possible cause of our demise.  Y2K.  Nuclear holocaust.

Other secular people look to the natural world.  Global warming.  Super viruses and epidemics (AIDS).

Some look to social or political situations.  You get the point.

Some people look to popular culture or some combination of the previous categories….like me.  I’m thinking either robots (like Terminator), zombies, or some combination of the two (robozombies!).

What doesn’t make sense to me is the actions of many of these people who believe the world is going to end in a few days, months, or years.  You often hear about these people selling all their stuff.  If you think the world is about to end why sell your stuff?  Why not just give it away?  Why worry about getting rid of it at all?  If you truly believed the world was about to end you wouldn’t be concerned about your worldly possessions.  This is what makes me think that many of these people aren’t sincere believers.  Or they’re just idiots.  Or both.  If I truly thought the world was going to end you’d know it.  I’d be running through the streets naked, swimming in public fountains, having arguments with ducks, peeing on ATM machines, and so much more.

So when the world comes to an end at 10:26 am on June 9th 627 years from now (because of robozombies) make sure to think of me first when you are looking to sell all your stuff.

The End.

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