It seems like the past few decades more and more people mention “the end of the world.” But what does that mean? Frankly, it’s pretty vague. This essay will, I hope, provide you with some food for thought, some questions, and some refinement on the whole notion.
I will analyze as many scientific and religious reasons as I can think of. However, in this first installment, I mainly analyze the possibilities from a scientific perspective.
First, it’s important to categorize the different types of endings. “End of the World” can mean a number of different things. Here is a list of them:
Scientists do predict a definite end of the planet. However, when the sun exhausts (or nearly exhausts) its fuel, turns in to a red giant, grows to many times its current size and consumes/vaporizes our solar system, it won’t be for billions of year.
Hm… That’s a long time. Long enough for some other possible tragedies to occur. However, most of the other science-based “end of the world” scenarios are not planet ending, just life ending, or at least seriously devastating it.
It’s possible a large object is hurtling through space and smacks the planet hard. As most of you, I guess, know, thousands of tiny particles and space stuff hit our planet’s atmosphere every day. From what I’ve read, most of it burns up in the atmosphere and goes unnoticed, but from time to time, larger objects do hit the surface. Some objects leave no craters, some objects leave very large craters.
It’s possible a large object hits the planet and just destroys the life, or most of the life. It’s also possible for the whole planet to be obliterated. It’s also possible the collision could be serious enough to destroy the atmosphere, magnetic field, or disrupt the orbit enough to cause deadly climate change.
For a while it’s been known the planet is spinning slower and slower. However, I am not aware of the predictions/calculations as to how long it will take for the planet to slow down to the point of stopping. I am also not aware of any predictions as to how many years it will take for one day to be 25 hours, for example. But clearly as the planet rotates slower and slower, there exists the possibility the ecosystem will be severely or catastrophically damaged.
Even though we are not (officially) aware of extraterrestrial organisms. Many scientists recognize that it’s possible—some say “probable”—that life exists which didn’t originate on our planet.
However, what form alien life takes is open to speculation. Big monsters? Infinitesimal organisms? Then there is also the notion of the vastness of space and the length of time it takes to travel it.
In addition to those questions are others such as, will they be friendly or will they be conquerors? Will Earth’s life be compatible with them, or will they somehow poison things?
Humans have long been blamed, rightly and wrongly, for causing all sorts of damage. In the past humans didn't really have the power to ruin the whole planet, just parts of it. But it's been written that many societies have been instrumental at destroying other societies; for the destroyed societies it could be said they faced the end of the world, but that is more of a figure of speech since the world, the planet, still exists.
However, as civilizations have grown in uncivil ways, this includes manufacturing and maintaining huge weapons caches. This includes humongous nuclear weapons. Humans have exploded nuclear devices, on rare occasions, and one at a time, but some people speculate that if many nuclear bombs are exploded in succession, it could cause a “nuclear winter” or some other effect that is disastrous for all life on the planet, and perhaps even the entire planet’s ecosystem.
With too many nuclear weapons lying around and aging parts, in addition to the fact there are eager newcomers to the nuclear scene, there is much opportunity for disaster. However, most of the problems humanity’s had so far have been contained (for the most part) to specific areas of the planet, and haven’t been a disaster to the whole planet.
Due to the greenhouse gasses and the greenhouse effect, it seems we could bake ourselves to death, perhaps causing the planet’s atmosphere to go away
It’s possible humans do something in some outrageous experiment that causes world-wide destruction: chemical, biological, or physics related.
Every once in a while the earth burps up some really noxious gasses, some of those gasses are detrimental to organisms on the planet, and some are detrimental to the atmosphere and thus life on the planet. In the latter category is methane gas, among others (see the previous link).
Yes, the Bible mentions, in more than a few places, things sounding like “End of the World.” In fact, there are so many references I’m going to write the rest of this essay later and include them.
But for now here are some pointers.
There are some descriptions of events called “The Last Day” also “The Day of the Lord” also “Judgement Day” and some other references.
If you are interested in reading about them you will find plenty in Revelation, and the Gospels in the New Testament. Be sure to read the Old Testament prophets as well, start with Isaiah and read through to the end of the Old Testament.