So far in our list of possible apocalypses, we’ve looked at worldwide nuclear war, environmental disaster, the zombie apocalypse, and a robot apocalypse in more detail. Now, let’s take a look at the possibility of a religious apocalypse.
Okay, to be honest, a religious apocalypse seems pretty unlikely. (But if I’m wrong and god rains hellfire on us, then it’s probably also not survivable. Sorry about that.) Sure, there always seem to be a few people telling everyone and their dog that the Rapture is on its way and we’re in the End Times (and don’t forget the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012!), but apocalypse by deity is, at this time, not the most likely.
That said, nearly every religion speaks about the end of the world – eschatology is included in most holy writings in some way. (And, admittedly, it’s my favorite part of theology…maybe this was why my theology professors were always bemused? Hmm.) Christianity, with its Book of Revelation, probably has the best known religious apocalyptic example. And really, it sounds long, involved, and possibly complicated, what with the Seven Seals and the four horsemen and all that. But most, if not all, religions include something about the End Times in their books/texts/teachings. Even “ancient” religions (I use quotation marks because reconstructionists are bringing some of those religions back to life), speak about the end of the world. See: Ragnarok.
Regardless of what the religious texts claim will happen afterwards (a new and better world where there’s actual, honest to god world peace, for example), the end result is always the same: the world as we know it will end. Maybe God/the gods and goddesses/the Goddess/Source/the Universe/what have you just gets tired of watching us doom ourselves and steps in with the reset button. Who knows?
What could it look like?
Who knows! (I’m being serious.) Religions do talk about the end times, but they don’t always agree on what will bring about the end of the world. Now, I’m not well-versed in a lot of other religions, so what I know of their eschatology is based on Internet research. But, a quick Google search gives me a worldwide flood, a river of molten metal, demons, the Antichrist, a Judgement Day (no, not that Judgment Day), the degeneration of society (hmm…), and the appearance of seven suns in the sky. And those aren’t even all of the possibilities.
So really, when talking about specifics, no one actually knows what a religious apocalypse could look like. What we do know is that there will be doom and despair and destruction.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Could a religious apocalypse actually happen?
Well, if there are deities out there watching us (and the end times haven’t started yet), I suppose there’s a possibility that they’ll throw up their hands in defeat and hit the reset button on human civilization because have you looked at us lately? We haven’t exactly been the models of modern major generals paragons of peace and love and kindness and friendship and all of those other general good things.
Okay, I suppose anything is possible. But I think it’s more likely that the gods will just abandon this sinking ship and pretend it never happened, so a religious apocalypse will probably not be a thing.
But if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. And if you find yourself sitting in a lovely handbasket during the end of the world, save a spot for me, will you?
What can we do to survive a religious apocalypse?
Repent, ye sinners. Or pray. Actually, I don’t know.