What Do Many Fear?

“You don’t have to be a religious believer to think that we’re headed for disaster.”​—STEPHEN O’LEARY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. *

DO YOU agree with the above statement? This series of articles will review some of the reasons why people fear the future. But it will also show why you can be confident that life on earth will not end. There is good reason for optimism, despite the sobering facts you are about to read.

The threat of nuclear war remains high. In 2007, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned: “Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices.” Why the concern? The Bulletin reported that in 2007, some 27,000 nuclear weapons still remained and that 2,000 of those were “ready to launch within minutes.” If even a small percentage of those weapons were detonated, the effect would be catastrophic!

Has the threat of nuclear war decreased since then? The five most prominent nuclear powers​—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—​are all “either deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so,” says the SIPRI Yearbook 2009. * * But the yearbook claims that those countries are not the only ones to own nuclear weapons. Researchers estimate that India, Pakistan, and Israel each own from 60 to 80 nuclear bombs. They also state that, worldwide, a total of 8,392 nuclear weapons are now deployed, just waiting to be launched!

Climate change may bring disaster. “The dangers posed by climate change,” states the above-mentioned Bulletin of the Atomic  Scientists, “are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons.” Respected scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, and Sir Martin Rees, Master of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, echo those stark warnings. They feel that mismanagement of technology and the human impact on the environment may irreversibly change life on earth or even end civilization.

Predictions of doom worry millions. Type the phrase “end of the world” and the year “2012” into one popular Internet search engine, and you will discover hundreds of pages of speculation about the end coming in that year. Why so? An ancient Maya calendar, known as “the Long Count,” is calculated to end in the year 2012. Many fear that this somehow signals the end of civilization as we know it.

Many religious people believe that the Bible teaches that the literal earth will be destroyed. They feel that all faithful believers will be taken to heaven, while the rest of mankind will be left to suffer on a chaotic earth or be thrown into hell.

Does the Bible, in fact, say that the earth will be completely ruined or destroyed? “Do not believe every inspired expression,” warned the apostle John, “but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” (1 John 4:1) Rather than merely accepting what others say, why not open a copy of the Bible and see for yourself what it says about the end of the world? What it teaches may surprise you.

[Footnotes]

^ par. 2 From the article “Disasters Fuel Doomsday Predictions,” published on the MSNBC Web site, October 19, 2005.

^ par. 5 SIPRI stands for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

^ par. 5 The report in SIPRI Yearbook 2009 was written by Shannon N. Kile, senior researcher and head of the nuclear weapons project of the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme; Vitaly Fedchenko, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme; and Hans M. Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists.

[Picture Credit Lines on page 4]

Mushroom cloud: U.S. National Archives photo; hurricane photos: WHO/​League of Red Cross and U.S. National Archives photo