I have a special spot in my heart for End-Timers, who I will define as people who think that the world will end while they are alive to experience it. I truly despise – if not them, at least the way they think. And as Stendhal linked previously, this is no tiny minority. Pew reports that a staggering 41% of all Americans think the world will end by the year 2050. While those who are nonreligious and college-educated only answer about 20% (still very high, I would say), a full 52% of those in the South and 58% of white Evangelical Christians think it will happen. So why does this bother me so much?
1) The sheer egotism of it. The earth has been around for a long time. Obviously I think it’s billions of years old, but even if you think it’s a paltry 6000 years or so, that’s still a big chunk of time. And for all that time, for all that history, the world has not ended. Every generation has come and gone without an Apocalypse or Armageddon. And yet you think that you’re going to see it?! Why? Are you the only person who has lived in tough times? The only generation that thinks it is experiencing moral decay within society? If you are reading this, I contend that you will die before the end of the world, just as every other person who has ever lived has done before you.
2) It encourages a type of fatalism and disregard for the planet that I find repellent. If you believe that Earth has an expiration date less than 50 years from now, why recycle? Why bother to do anything about climate change (if you even believe it exists, that is)? Why bother to care much about anything at all if this life on earth is pointless and you’re just waiting for Jesus to come and save you? The implications for the environment seem obvious. It’s difficult to find concrete examples of this play out in politics. The best example I know of is the unholy alliance between fundamentalist U.S. Christianity and Israel. There are a lot of religious conservative Christians who are stalwart defenders of Israel, and it has nothing to do with their affinity for Jews or Jewish culture. Rather, they think that defending Israel is a necessary precursor for End Times.
I prefer to think this world is the only one we have, that we have to take care of it so that untold generations will be able to enjoy it, and that we ought to live this life as the only chance we get.