The book of Revelation has fascinated Christians for centuries. Its cryptic messages and warning signs of the end times have been a subject of debate almost since the book was written. Skeptics, however, are quick to dismiss the entire thing as nothing but fantasy. They often point to the books poetic and symbolic language as proof that all the events described therein are impossible. This, however, is not true. Much of Revelation is actually perfectly possible from a scientific standpoint.
War and ConquestMankind has been fighting since the first human being picked up a stick and figured out that they could hit their neighbor with it. Before that, early humans fought with their fists. Sadly, war has been a part of human experience from the beginning. As such, it is more than possible for people to “take peace from the earth and make people kill one another.” The unfortunate reality is that it really is not that hard. The idea that war would return on a massive scale during Revelation is not just possible, it is probable. Humans are always fighting, and advances in technology simply mean that people have gotten much better at killing the other guy first.
EarthquakesThe Earth is a giant jigsaw puzzle floating on really hot liquid. Since the liquid is always moving, the puzzle pieces rub against each other. From a global perspective, this is business as usual. For the unfortunate humans living on fault lines, the shifting of tectonic plates can be lethal.
Earthquakes have been a part of Earth’s existence since the crust first cooled. The tectonic plates that make up Earth’s solid outer layer are constantly moving. This means that there is almost always an earthquake happening somewhere. Most of them, thankfully, are so small that they cannot even be detected by humans much less do any damage. Occasionally, though, the plates rub against each other and release a massive amount of energy that is capable of leveling cities. There have always been massive earthquakes. The idea that the number would simply increase during the end of the world is horrifically plausible.
Black Sun, Red Moon, Falling StarsEclipses have been associated with the end of the world since the first time a human being looked up and wondered where on earth the sun had gone. That said, the world has yet to fall to pieces because of an eclipse, and there have certainly been a lot of chances for that to happen. The Earth averages roughly four eclipses every year and can have as many as seven. Most of those are lunar eclipses where the moon turns a bloody red color, but there are always at least two solar eclipses when the sun turns “black like sackcloth made of goat hair.”
Eclipses are a certainty in life, as are what Revelation dubs falling stars. The Earth has several major meteor showers every year where the stars do appear to be tumbling out of the sky. As such, these events from Revelation are not just possible. They are routine.
Fall of WormwoodAccording to Revelation, at the end “a great star, blazing like a torch, [will fall] from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood.” This is another celestial event that, from a geological perspective, is routine. Wormwood likely describes the impact of either a large meteorite or, worse, a head on collision with a comet. Neither of these have happened since the rise of mankind to the top of the food chain, but Earth is no stranger to being pelted by giant space rocks. The moon tends to take the worst of the beating, but Earth’s surface is littered with craters where asteroids got through. The impact of a massive asteroid or comet would do catastrophic damage to life on Earth. In fact, Wormwood alone could be enough to wipe life off the face of the planet depending on its size. After all, the evidence suggests it was an asteroid that wiped the dinosaurs off the map.
Rise of the BeastOne of the parts of Revelation that has most captured Christian imaginations is the identity of the Beast or the Antichrist. This ominous figure is said to rise to prominence and lead the world into bloody wars and turn humanity against the surviving Christians. Unfortunately, similar events have happened repeatedly in history. Hitler rose to power in Germany, sparked the largest conflict ever fought and did his level best to exterminate an entire people. Further east, Mao similarly gained power only to slaughter tens of millions of his countrymen. Sadly, men who win power with charisma and then keep it with bloodshed are nothing new to humanity.
Revelation has fascinated the Christian world since it was first written. The idea of knowing what the end will look like and being able to predict when it will occur have captured the minds and hearts of millions. People will likely continue to debate the identity of the Antichrist and guess at which natural disasters are business as normal on Earth and which are supernatural warning signs until Revelation actually occurs. Considering how much of the book is perfectly plausible, the debate may not even end then. People might well be continuing to argue about whether or not the world is ending until the dead come marching out of the sea, and even then there will no doubt be a few people insisting that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything that does not involve, horror upon horror, religion.