Looking Forwards, Getting it Backwards

or, Concerning a Lecture Concerning Biblical Prophecy Concerning the End of Days and the Second Coming, Part the Second (Coming)

In the last post, I looked at the religious quirks of the “Incredible Prophecies”—their emphasis on Prophecies, mine on Incredible—lecture, entitled “…And the Time of the End.” Check it out, then check back here.

After bemoaning the lack of “true” Christians (though not as much as you might think; more on that in a bit!), speaker Dan Bentzinger unfurled a body of what he called evidence: various facts, figures, and events from recent history that prove Beyond a shadow of a doubt! that these are indeed well and truly the Last Days.

Never mind that he had just read some verses from Scripture condemning false prophets. Never mind that he had used Rapture-guy Harold Camping as an example of a latter-day false prophet. Never mind that 7DA itself is the product of a failed Rapture prophecy (called the Great Disappointment, of all things). Shhhh. Let’s just examine the “evidence.”
In short, it was garbage. The conclusion (coming before the evidence, naturally) is that events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ will become more frequent and more severe, like how contractions precede childbirth.

True to form, we breezed through statistics on earthquakes, diseases, wars, famine, and hurricanes. Those darn calamities always seem to be getting more frequent and more severe as you shift the scope of history back to the present day!

Well, a bunch of the more natural stuff—climate change, severe weather, famine, even certain aspects of disease outbreaks—have human causes. Same with war. And while the absolute numbers are bad, in relative terms we’re not living in atypically awful times (as difficult as that is to believe!), there are just more people to be affected by the same old stuff.

Take war. While there are violent conflicts around the world, and the 20th century was pretty brutal in terms of the nature of those conflicts, there remains an inescapable fact: for a long time now, large swaths of human-inhabited lands have known no war. The United States and Canada. Western Europe, post-1945. That’s far from trivial; in the case of Europe, it’s nothing short of an astonishing turnaround.

Or consider earthquakes. Contrast an itinerant tribe of hunter-gatherers getting tossed around by a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, with a sedentary village of mud-and-thatch huts in that same earthquake. I think the village would’ve had more casualties. Then there’s the problem of records. It just so happens that people didn’t fully understand, or care to meticulously record, earthquakes until the late 19th century. And then it took a bit for sensitive instruments to be developed and propagated over the earth’s surface. Should we be shocked, then, that recorded instances of earthquakes increased sharply in modern times? Ahhhh, lack of critical thinking must be a fun thing.

So there’s the central irony, the internal contradiction of End-Times thinking. Things, bad as they may seem, are getting less bad. We’re muddling through, and we will improve—if zealots and pessimists don’t lead us astray. Not only do apocalypse-fetishists believe that the opposite is happening, but they crave it! They welcome it! Some (only a few, but some of them powerful) want to ensure it!

I worry a bit.