Forget Armageddon. Asteroids, volcanoes far more dangerous.

Forget Armageddon. Asteroids, volcanoes far more dangerous. June 27, 2019

I watched an interesting 2014 “Ted Talk” video on YouTube recently that reminded me how enormously improbable Bible prophesies are, and how counter-productive it is to spend too much time fretting about them.

The real world is infinitely more hazardous than the fantasy one.

Castle Geyser erupts at Montana’s Yellowstone National Park, which overlies a super-massive volcano. (F. Delventhal, Flikr, CC BY 2.0)

For example, rather than the prophesied biblical Armageddon, an epic world-ending conflagration between massive human armies of good against evil, the end will far, far, far more likely — almost certainly, I’d say — come in the form of a cataclysmic natural event.

Like an eruption of the enormous killer volcano that quietly underlies America’s Yellowstone National Park, or a city-sized asteroid crashing into the planet at 20 miles per second.

Keep in mind that science tells us an asteroid six miles across is what wiped out the dinosaurs and most other species on our planet some 65 million years ago. But it wasn’t the devastating impact that did most of the killing — it was the slow starvation of life afterward.

The cloud of debris that the impact kicked up changed the climate, blotted out sunlight through the atmosphere and destroyed photosynthesizing vegetation — food for dinosaurs and other creatures — for “100 years, maybe 1,000,” according to Ted Talk speaker and reputed “dark futurist” Stephen Petranek in his presentation, “8 Ways the world could suddenly end.” (See a video of his talk below)

Of note here is that there is real evidence undergirding potential natural catastrophes that pose existential threats to all life on Earth. Biblical Armageddon, on the other hand, is simply made-up, a literary mosaic pieced together over thousands of years from ancient stories in so-called “holy books.” Unlike prior asteroid strikes (“abundant” geological evidence” exists for this), no objective evidence backs up biblical prophesies.

And those are only possible species-decimating calamities that threaten us. There is another one that’s certain: in about 4.5 billion years our Sun will expand so expansively that it will engulf much of the solar system, completely incinerating planets within its girth, including Earth. That’s how stars, which is what our sun is, behave.

Nothing alive will survive that gargantuan solar scenario.

Besides those huge worries, however, Petranek also listed other alarming possibilities for human and planetary destruction, including nuclear explosions detonated by rogue regimes, global warming and its runaway greenhouse gas effect, pandemic infectious diseases (like the 1918 global Spanish flu epidemic) and self-replicating and self-evolving new biological species created in labs without proper safety systems and ethical guidelines.

To emphasize the grave threat some of these potentialities pose, Petranek noted that the Spanish flu epidemic came in three waves during 1918-19. In the second one, “every single person” infected died, he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates about 500 million people — a third of the world’s population at the time — became infected in the epidemic, and about 50 million died worldwide, some 675,000 in the U.S. alone.

So, unlike the stories in the Bible, which, as far as can be confirmed, are largely fictional, these natural worries are demonstrably real.

We should be spending more time identifying such actual threats to our species and planet, and identifying — and executing — solutions, as Petranek strongly recommends.

Spending time and resources worrying about invented religious prophesies under these far more dire circumstances seems a monumental waste, as well as wholly irresponsible.

Not that true believers are going to stop fantasizing because of evidence, or lack of it.


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