Apocalypse. This is described as “a revelation, signifying the end of the world; a grand, violent event.” Its frightful usage dwells in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, wherein angels and horsemen descend to warn of great dangers facing a sinful humanity – the ultimate danger being the apocalypse and the fall of Babylon.
Fearful revelations now circulating from a series of international global warning conferences (eg Paris 2015, Bonn 2017, Poland 2018) attract new year’s attention in conjuring images of an apocalypse. And when coupled with pulpit-driven doomsday chants, it seems that Babylon will fall. Rising temperatures, erratic flooding, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and deep cracks along the earth’s surface – appear as divine punishment.
The Bible’s Revelation warns: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand,” with one angel saying, “Babylon the great is fallen and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit.”
There is a growing literature around the world – religious and scientific – pointing to the imminent apocalypse. The religious rest their case on Revelation about the “sinful world.” Some scientists rest their case on climate-change severity, rapid rise in world-wide pollution and the rise in natural disasters. Few even point to the closeness of the nuclear button to intemperate hands and heightened international tensions. Of course, “end of the world” claims are nothing new, except that since the last century, there is growing scientific evidence that climate change and toxic pollution are causing temperatures to rise dangerously beyond the tolerable 1.5 centigrade level.
And this, as some governments around the world still rely on the self-serving belief that nature will take care of itself, or they would not be around if the world does end. Many claim it’s too expensive, standing in the way of economic development. One president called it “a hoax.” It is therefore a betrayal of the next generation.
Many Asian cities are now choking beneath heavy pollution. Duke University Professor Ariel Dorfman provides one example from Chile of the impending catastrophe. He writes: “Never before have so many natural catastrophes hit this country sitting at the end of the world. All our unprecedented woes have been man-made.” He added: “Stray dogs dying from thirst, a gigantic crack has deepened in the Antarctic, we are heading into cataclysms of epic proportions.” (New York Times, April 1, 2017)
At this rate, it is not too far-fetched to think that smoke-filled industrialisation and hazardous technologies would help destroy our 4.5 billion year old world. Of course, it is also a world that has provided several people-loving changes – comfort and prosperity to large numbers, satellite television making the world smaller, wireless communication systems making business more efficient, from Underwood typewriters to Apple computers, home appliances bringing domestic relief, improved international transportation, etc.
However, at the same time, there are famines, the refugee catastrophe, mass production of sophisticated war-like weaponry that bring death and suffering to under-developed countries, world fragmentation, murderous terrorism, world-wide anti-establishment protests and civic collapse from greed and vulgar materialism. “End of world” speculation therefore depends on how optimistic or pessimistic you are. Nostradamus had his prophesies. Notwithstanding their vagueness many people believed them – world wars especially.
While the whole world may not reach the apocalypse, certain countries seem likely to implode mainly because their governments have grown increasingly distant, immunised and insensitive to their respective populations’ concerns. Many governments, even elected ones, have left their populations too far behind.
As some religions have it, Armageddon signifies the battle between Satan and the church, with the downfall of Babylon, that “sinful world of corruption, greed, slothfulness, envy, promiscuity,” etc. While to many people all this preachy stuff may not really matter, there are thousands of church-people here who do and whose behaviour affect the politics. Last week, Pastor Regis of the Full Gospel Church warned: “Satan is on the rampage around us. They have created their own genders. Satan has trapped the world… indoctrinating our children into accepting their abominable lifestyles.” (Newsday Jan 2) This battle will continue. Will the apocalypse really come? When? From physical collapse of the earth? From biblical prophesies? Or from both?