“Apocalyptic beliefs have been on the rise for the past 40 to 50 years,” according to research professor of religion and author Lorenzo DiTommaso. “What ties these desperate groups together is a sense that the worlds problems are too big to solve.”
Many believers perceive the world’s problems, as hopelessly out of control, with no solutions in sight, and human beings are unable to solve these problems. From a biblical point of view, God is going to solve them and to many this usually means some sort of global apocalypse.
The apocalyptic worldview springs from a desire to reconcile two conflicting beliefs. “The first is that there is something dreadfully wrong with the world of human existence, says DiTommaso, on the other hand, there is a sense that humans have a higher good or grander purpose for existence, a hope for a better future. Viewing the world as a flawed place headed toward some sort of cosmic correction reconciles these two beliefs.”
“Despite fire, death and destruction, the god of apocalyticism is a god of order, not chaos,” and that’s the reassurance to believers because believers usually expect that they’ll be among those saved from the torments of an ending world, were as Secular doomsday-fearers, on the other hand expect to fight for their survival,” states DiTommaso.
“We stress being prepared.” said Jim Rawles, the proprietor of SurvivalBlog.com, an online clearinghouse for advice on survivalism and preparation.
“Anxiety spurred by the recent natural, economic and terrorist disasters makes apocalyptic thinking more popular. It becomes easier to convince people that things are becoming worse (despite all the many advances human beings have taken in the right direction) and that the answer will come through divine dispensation, rather than face the fact that humanity must fix its own problems,” states Gary Alderman, chairman of the department of religion at Emory University.
“The story of ultimate reckoning is very popular in religious texts and recently in popular culture. It’s a scenario where you can pinpoint the heroes from the villains, the good from the evil. It’s a powerful story that people identify with. Its not so foreign for Americans to be fixated on the end of the world, our society today even fixates on it in popular culture with Armageddon movies,” says Alderman.
For many individual believers, focusing on the end of the world can have serious consequences, as one ex-fundamentalist related:
“For me, it came down to a very personal level, a sense that it wasn’t really worthwhile to do the things to make the world a better place or to make much effort at self- improvement because it’s all going to burn. That was a favorite term I repeatedly heard when I was growing up, “It’s all going to burn.” Meaning that when Jesus returns, the whole world’s going to disappear anyway, so why bother painting pictures or making music beyond what’s religious, because the nonreligious will cease to exist in the near future. I was interested in archeology, but my fundamentalist friends told me I was crazy. Why should I look into the past, to uncover the past of secular societies, when Jesus was coming back and none of it was going to matter anyway? The world was coming to an end. Why bother? With such a belief system, it makes no sense to treasure the planet, preserve a healthy home for future generations, or work for peace.”
Are apocalyptic beliefs an excuse for inaction?
If you believe that the world is going to end, what effect does it have on your motivation to improve life on earth, or in your own community?
Will Orthodox Fundamentalist Bring About Armageddon?
A poll conducted last year by the Public Religion Research Institute found an incredible 44 percent of Americans (and 67 percent of white evangelical Christians) believe the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence that we are in what the bible calls the “end times.” Many Christian groups even get excited when war breaks out, hoping that it might be the fulfillment of prophecy; the beginning of the end.
One, out of many examples of apocalyptic psychosis, can be found at RaptureReady.com.
Considering for a moment the reality of recent religious terrorism, recent religious wars, and in light of the Christian, Judeo and Islamic groups that hope to usher in Armageddon, and finally taking into thought the fact that each have politicians and leaders blinded by beliefs of exclusivity and absolute truth; would you agree that, for the first time in human history, there exist the potential for man (not God) to bring about his own delusional divine Armageddon?
Brien’s articles for FāVS generally revolve around ideas and beliefs that create unhealthy deadlock divisions between groups. He has received (minor) writing awards for his short stories and poetry from the cities of Portland, Oregon and the city of (good beer) Sapporo, Japan. In 2010 he was asked to present several articles for the California Senate Committee “Task Force for Suicide Prevention” and has been published by online magazines and a couple national poetry anthologies in print form.