Many see the fields of science and religion as opposing sides in the war to accurately describe how the world works, but their relationship is far closer than you might think. Practitioners of both science and religion seek to discover what is true, and although they go about this quest through different means, their paths sometimes cross.
One of those crossings may just lie in predicting the end of the world.
The Bible is full of descriptions of possible world-ending events, and it’s common to see Christian leaders speaking often of the impending end with fervor and urgency. What’s interesting is that, as of late, the scientific community has been sounding strangely similar, with prominent scientists and researchers warning of our impending doom.
It’s no secret that God reveals Himself through the natural world, and so it’s important to consider scientific viewpoints as we read scripture. In that light, we’re going to take a look at a few of the Biblical signs of the end, and see how they compare to what the scientific community has to say about the possibilities of an apocalypse.
In the areas in which they agree, we may just find a revelation.
The concept of a global lack of food appears in Luke 21:11, where Christ warns of “famines and pestilences” which will precede the end of our world. This idea appears again in Revelation 6:5-5, where it is suggested that food prices will be around twelve times higher than normal. A food shortage is likely the cause of such price inflation.
As it turns out, scientists are just as worried about this as theologians.
In a study by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported concerns about the growing population of the world. Looking ahead, the U.N. says that global population levels will continue to grow quickly for the foreseeable future, and is projected to reach around 12.3 billion by the year 2100.
This is unsustainable. Many scientists estimate that the maximum number of people that Earth’s food resources can support is between 9 and 10 billion.
And we’re almost there.
This means that we’re headed toward a world that cannot feed us, just as Christ predicts, and as is foretold in the book of Revelation. In this, science and religion agree.
Think the Bible has nothing to say about environmental pollution? Think again.
Take a look at Revelation 8:8-11, wherein the oceans are poisoned, causing the majority of sea life to die. Further, in Revelation 9:20-21, plagues will begin to spread throughout the world, killing many.
The scientific world agrees that this may be one way in which our world will come to an end. Aside from consuming Earth’s resources at an unprecedented rate, mankind is also polluting her waters and air.
At our current rate of pollution, we’ll not only hasten the end by destroying our own resources—again, going back to famine—but we’ll poison ourselves.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution alone kills more than 7 million people each year, worldwide, causing 1 in 8 deaths. And this “plague” is only getting worse.
Even worse, once our oceans are polluted with chemicals that bind to water molecules, the water cycle can no longer clean our water supplies. And according to The Guardian, we’re currently dumping around 22 million tons of fertilizers and chemicals into the seas each year. Without intervention, this will continue to increase, slowly decreasing our usable water supply.
Is water pollution the cause of Revelation’s poisoned waters? Only time will tell, but it may very well be that science backs the Bible in this case.
The Threat From Space
There is an alternative explanation for the poisoning of Earth’s waters. Those same verses in Revelation 8:8-11 speak of something like a “huge mountain blazing with fire” falling to Earth, poisoning the oceans, and even sinking ships.
That sounds exactly like a meteor impact.
Consider the recent meteorite explosions in Russia. These objects were only around 18 meters in diameter, but produced blast waves that damaged buildings and caused skin and retinal burns, as well as shock trauma, to around 1,500 people. Anything larger than that could cause massive devastation.
With the countless hunks of rock and iron hurtling through space, there is no “if” involved in this—only “when.” Of the millions of near-Earth asteroids, only around 500 have been catalogued, and if one of the larger ones—1.2 miles in diameter or above—were to strike Earth, it could devastate a large area of the planet. And if it’s over 60 miles in diameter, that’s the end of all life.
In response, NASA is developing an asteroid re-direct mission that may reveal how we can change the path of these planet-killing space rocks. Until we’re successful at that, however, the Biblical prophecy of the “huge mountain blazing with fire” might just be the way our world goes out.
Finally, scripture and science agree wholeheartedly on this one—war is the most likely, and most immediate, cause of the apocalypse.
Chris warns of “wars and rumors of wars” in Matthew 24:6, and Revelation is packed with references to human warfare, and its devastating consequences. There are allusions to the sun and stars being darkened in Revelation 8:12. There is imagery of trees and grass being burned up in Revelation 8:7. There is described the deaths of everything living thing in the sea in Revelation 16:3
All of these are also the results of large-scale nuclear war.
Computer models show what Earth might be like after such a war. A team of four U.S. atmospheric and environmental scientists have modeled what will happen after a limited nuclear engagement—the effects include a global drop in temperature, the release of 5 megatons of black carbon into the atmosphere, decreased atmospheric UV protection, and mass starvation.
That’s speaking nothing of the radiation poisoning of air, land, and water around each explosion.
The darkness, nuclear winter, and poisoned environment following a large-scale nuclear war would certainly fit right in with Biblical predictions of the end of the world.
The End of the Chapter, Not the Story
While science is perfectly capable of predicting and describing the end of human history, only scripture can pick up from there. And it does, ensuring us that there will be hope after all is gone—the end of our world is only the beginning of a new and better one as God remakes all of creation.
But in the end, science and faith agree—the end is coming. The question is only how and when.