The Coming Collapse of Civilization
From the Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
Note: This page was originally posted as an Online Newsletter. It has been updated, expanded and improved for this posting.
In the "BABEL RISING!" section of this Website, it is said that all the progress we are making in science, technology, medicine, and especially space travel constitutes a new Tower of Babel rising. Unlike the first tower, which was simply meant to be very high, this one is literally reaching for the stars. This is creating a situation that demands massive divine intervention in the near future to stop it. If it is not stopped, history will go past the point where it will become impossible for the Biblical prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ to be fulfilled in any way that generally resembles Christian expectations. It is said in those pages that the only thing prophesied that will do what needs to be done is the Second Coming of Christ, or, more specifically, the Great Tribulation.
However, there happens to be an argument for the soon Second Coming of Jesus Christ that is also based on real world circumstances but with a totally different final reason why the situation at issue demands that Jesus come soon. This situation may well override the "BABEL RISING!!!" situation. Or it may be considered another reason why God has to step into history and stop our progress in science and technology. This is a situation that the author calls...
"The Doomsday Factors"
Quite simply, there are a number of things going on in the world right now that may have the combined effect of bringing about "The End Of The World As We Know It" in a way that has little (but not nothing) to do with what the Bible prophesies. The idea that this can happen is not based on opinions from Christian sources. Rather, it is based on real world issues that have received some degree of attention in scientific circles and in the mass media, and one in particular has already resulted in worldwide government action. Though with the exception of the latter item, i.e. global warming, none of these things is considered capable of bringing about the end of the world by itself, it nevertheless appears that together these things could produce a "vicious circle"* situation that would result in the collapse of civilization. The collapse would result in mass starvation and global epidemics on a scale unknown in recorded history, probably far greater than the Black Death of the Middle Ages. This would lead to hundreds of millions or even billions of untimely deaths, and plunge humanity into a new Dark Age which could take centuries or even millennia for us to recover from, if not lead to the extinction of humanity.
Understand that every possibility mentioned below has been raised in the mass media. None of this is the author's imagination. The author heard that ABC News hosted a two-hour special featuring a conference of scientists from all over the world discussing this overall issue sometime this past September (2008). The conference addressed the question, "Can We Survive This Century?" (Please understand that they did not use the term "The Doomsday Factors", as far this author knows.)
It is assumed in the "BABEL RISING!" pages that we will get these factors under control. If we don't, the "BABEL RISING!" concept will become meaningless, and "Doomsday", in the sense of the collapse of our civilization, will happen. It could also mean that the world will end, as an old quotation says, "not with a bang (as in "A Mountain Burning With Fire") but with a whimper". Or, we may actually reach the point of violating the Third Prohibition mentioned in those pages and yet the "Doomsday Factors" could bring the violating to a potentially tragic halt, i.e. people stranded on the moon by the collapse, and dying from starvation.
*Vicious Circle (or Vicious Cycle): a situation involving a set of simultaneous problems such that each has the affect of making the others worse.
The Doomsday Factors are:
Factor 1. Global warming. This problem is no secret. Although many Christians see it as a "sign of the last days", the origins of our awareness of the problem are totally secular. It is believed that global warming, caused by the release of prodigious amounts of "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere, gases that prevent heat from dissipating into outer space, could bring about a global social and economic catastrophe all by itself. Storms more frequent and severe than any previously known may wreak all kinds of economic damage, not to mention deaths and injuries. This, in fact, seems to be happening already. Injuries are actually more harmful economically than deaths. The injured need medical care, and that consumes resources. At the most extreme, it has been theorized that global warming could result in a runaway "greenhouse effect" that could cause a worldwide rise in temperatures so high that the entire world would become a desert with an unbreathable atmosphere and all life would be exterminated.
In a possibly relevant factor, climate changes are causing long droughts in some places that are causing reservoirs to go dry, preventing water from being used for irrigation and for generating hydroelectric power. For example, for the past several years there has been a drought in the American Southwest, which is causing the Colorado River to run low. Lake Powell in southern Utah is so low that if the drought continues, the famous Glen Canyon Dam will not be able to generate power. Not only that, but water from the Colorado River is used for irrigation in both of the U.S. states of Arizona and California, and is the principle source of drinking water for the city of Los Angeles. If the Colorado River gets too low, there will not be enough water to meet the demand. Farms will be put out of operation, reducing the food supply for the U.S. and other countries. Many people may be displaced, that is, forced to move, because of water shortages.
It should be noted that as this was originally written, scientists were attributing the cause of the Midwest flooding to global warming.
The climate change from global warming is blamed for the many wildfires that have been plaguing the United States and other countries. Ironically, these wildfires release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which accelerates global warming.
Of course, there are being all kinds of outcry about global warming, and again, some government action, plus continual demands from many sources for more action. But will there be enough action? Not likely! More likely, it will be "too little, too late".
Update, 12/22/09: The failure of the recent Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark to achieve any significant concrete goals affirms the accuracy of this analysis of our prospects for something being done about Global Warming and the Doomsday Factors generally: The action will be "too little, too late".
Furthermore, scientists are worried that global warming is heating the artic tundra regions, where the land has been permanently frozen for millennia. It is thawing the ground and causing the release of enormous amounts of methane, another greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Again, global warming is accelerating itself.
As previously stated, the extreme peak of the global warming problem is the fear that it could result in a runaway Greenhouse Effect that would turn the entire world into a desert and exterminate all life. The problems just mentioned seem to increase the likelihood of such a catastrophe.
Meanwhile, all the disasters that have been happening have already produced a situation that has been called "disaster fatigue" or "donor fatigue". That is, people are becoming so tired of being asked to make donations to help the victims of disasters that they are ceasing to give. The funds to help the victims don't materialize. This makes the impact of the disasters worse, long term, and makes recovery more difficult.
One of the causes of the present economic crisis (December, 2008) may be the impact of all these disasters on the insurance companies. They are getting so many disaster claims that they don't have the money to pay them all, and they are being driven into bankruptcy. This too makes the impact of the disasters worse. Victims can't rebuild because they have no money.
The one mitigating factor in this, as expressed in the "What Should We Expect?" page, is that disasters can boost the economy by creating new markets for durable goods. However, this can also hasten the exhaustion of natural resources, and push prices higher. See below.
A little known side effect of global warming is global dimming. The concept is that rising global temperatures and melting global icecaps will result in increased evaporation of water from oceans, lakes and rivers worldwide. Rising sea levels will increase the area of the seas, adding to the effect. The water vapor in the atmosphere will keep sunlight from reaching the ground. The problem with this, it has been theorized, is that this will make it more difficult to raise necessary crops. This will increase the problem of mass starvation. Scientific measurements have shown that this is already happening.
Ironically, the problem of global dimming could solve the drought problem in the American Southwest and elsewhere, but not in a good way. There could come a critical point where drought may be replaced by violent, torrential thunder storms and flash floods on such a scale as to render presently habitable semi-arid regions too dangerous to live in. That would displace even more people.
It must be acknowledged that there are people who are saying that the threat of global warming and resulting climate change is vastly overblown. There are even some who have called it "the global warming swindle". This author regrets that he is convinced that those people, however well meaning they may be, are sadly mistaken. Worse yet, their efforts may have the effect of hindering efforts to deal with the problem*, resulting in the solutions being "much too little, much too late".
*For this reason, some of them have been accused of secretly being on the payrolls of the oil companies.
Factor 2. Shortages of Fuel and Energy. Already, as this is written, global demand for petroleum fuels has pushed the price of crude oil, and hence diesel fuel, gasoline, and heating oil, much higher than they had ever been. Meanwhile, experts are predicting that we will run out of natural petroleum during the third quarter of this century, or soon afterward. The price of oil has also produced an unusual kind of famine: it has pushed the price of food up in some places to the point that poor people can't afford to buy enough food. People are already giving up other things to pay for food and fuel. This could lead to unemployment in the luxury product industries, making the economic consequences worse. The price of oil and the potential for future shortage is driving the search for alternate sources of energy. However, it will take billions of dollars to develop the alternate energy sources we will need to solve the crisis. Ironically, this situation is already causing farmland to be used to raise corn to produce ethanol fuel instead of food. This too is already pushing the price of food higher.
Factor 3. The "Population Bomb" and Exhaustion of Natural Resources. As this page was originally being written, the Associated Press released a News story that began with this statement:
"The world's population will reach 7 billion in 2012, even as the global community struggles to satisfy its appetite for natural resources, according to a new government projection."
The fact is that the human population of the earth is at an all time high, and for all the "wars and rumors of wars" and all the disasters we hear about, it is still growing. The population is now such that there are more humans living on earth, according to some estimates, than lived on earth between the time of Moses and the time of Christ. More than that, because of the globalization of the economy and culture, and, as stated above, "our appetite for natural resources", we are using up our natural resources at a rate that cannot last. This includes oil and many other things. Metals such as iron, copper and aluminum and other substances extracted from the earth are being used up. Recycling is helping to reduce the effect, but not enough.
Meanwhile, it has been estimated that we are using the renewable natural resources at a rate that is 25% higher than the rate at which they are naturally renewed. Many forms of seafood fishes and other edible ocean life are in danger of extinction, because of over fishing. The problem is likely to get worse. Sources of drinkable water are already being overused, and pollution is ruining others. In many areas farmland is being rapidly taken over for housing developments, industry, and other commercial uses. This makes it more difficult to raise more food, which the growing population will need. People are already starving. The problem is going to get worse.
More than that, the rise in sea levels that is expected from the melting of glaciers and arctic icecaps due to global warming will flood many coastal regions, including much land that is now cultivated. This will also add to the shortages of food. It will also force mass evacuations on a scale without historical precedent, which will lead to even more problems.
The factors above, it is feared, could lead to wars as people fight over arable land, declining natural resources, and places to live. As arable land turns into desert, people will migrate from these areas seeking places they can farm, but there may be no places left for them to farm. The people who will be forced to evacuate lands submerged by rising sea levels will also be seeking places to live, and there may be no places for many of them. As natural resources, such as sources of fresh water, are exhausted in some places, entire populations may go looking for water. The end results of the migrations are expected to be wars. These wars may increase the consumption of natural resources, and at the same time lead to many untimely deaths, including, in some cases, the deliberate slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians.
Factor 4. Biohazards. This includes both pollution and disease. Pollution, of course, causes global warming and contaminates sources of fresh water. People are already dying from diseases spread by contaminated water. Unfortunately, pollution does more than that. Pollution from insecticides kills wildlife, including edible fish. It cause food to be contaminated, resulting in various illnesses. Pollution causes cancer and other diseases. Lead poisoning from paint is already a common cause of severe health problems in children. Meanwhile, disease spreads today in ways that it could not a mere century ago. A flu epidemic that originates, say in Hong Kong, can spread to London or New York before it is detected. Meanwhile, the widespread use of antibiotics has resulted in the proliferation of "superbugs", germs resistant to most antibiotics. Fortunately, quick and conscientious action by such agencies as the World Health Organization, with the cooperation of most governments, is keeping the problem under control. But suppose that the means to deal with such problems started to become scarce or unavailable because of the other problems discussed above and below? For example, what if it should become impossible to obtain the vaccines that are now used worldwide to protect children from contagious diseases? Then what? The answer is that children will start contracting the diseases and dying like flies.
Not long ago, there was a hit movie called "I Am Legend" that was based on the scenario of a biological weapon, i.e. a contagious manmade virus, getting loose and nearly exterminating mankind. There have been several other films generally based on this premise. The scary part of this idea is that many people believe that it could really happen. It could be accidental, or, as is feared by some, it could even be caused deliberately! Even a limited disaster of that kind could wipe out a significant portion of humanity, and cause terrible suffering for many more. It would also disrupt the global economy if it happened. Such an event seems unlikely, but is by no means impossible.
Factor 5. Greed. Quite simply, no matter how bad a situation is, there will be some fools who will try to make money from it and thus make solutions more expensive. Greed is one of the main driving forces behind our economy. It must be admitted that this is what has produced the prosperity we are enjoying, but it can backfire. It has already backfired in high prices for oil and petroleum products. As this is written that problem has peaked, and is in decline. But it is now backfiring again in the present economic crisis. The crisis, incidentally, is curtailing efforts to fight global warming. That is, government programs meant to combat global warming have already been postponed or canceled completely because of the need for money for "bail outs". Moreover, as has been noted, one of the effects of both problems has been to make food more expensive almost everywhere. The greed problem may never completely go away. If it doesn't, it will hasten the collapse. More than that, we are likely to see more waves of problems from greed, and as other raw materials, become scarce, as in Factor 3, the same situation of exaggerated prices may occur with those things.
Factor 6. Politics. The problem is that politics can impede efforts to deal with problems like those mentioned above. We have seen a nasty example of this just lately in the refusal of the government of Myanmar to allow foreign aid to reach the victims of the cyclone. In extreme cases, adherence to political agendas can actually cause the problems. This happened on a large scale during the Stalinist era of the Iron Curtain countries, and during the Maoist era of China. In both cases, their policies caused mass starvation and poverty, not to mention the millions of innocent people who were imprisoned and murdered for no other reason than that they would not accept communism. Although humanity is known historically to avoid mass suicide, adherence to political agendas, political squabbling, and political inertia could delay critically necessary action until it is too late. In terms of the Doomsday Factors, although the politicians are in fact calling for measures to deal with some of it, especially global warming and the energy crisis, and there has been some action, there is still widespread disagreement about the causes and significance of the problems and what to do about the problems. The response still appears certain to be "too little, too late".
Factor 7. The Threat of Fundamentalist Islam. The problem here is, first, that Islamic terrorism is demanding so much attention from so many governments that it is diverting attention and resources away from dealing with the problems above. Just about every nation on earth that is not predominately Muslim has some kind of Muslim terrorism problem. It even happens in the more moderate Muslim states, such as Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Just how successful the "War on Terrorism" has really been is not at all clear. There is a real possibility that the "jihad' movement is actually growing stronger. If it is, the long term results will be to consume the resources of nations and otherwise interfere with efforts to solve the problems above.
The Overall Long Term Result of the Doomsday Factors
In all of the last three cases, the perpetrators may eventually realize the mistakes they are making, but probably not until they are starving to death which will be too late for both them and the world as a whole. In the case of Factor 7, other Muslims realizing it may be the doom of Islam.
These things may produce a situation that could result in not just the end of the Christian Faith, but of all the major religions. Even if the human race survives, the survivors may be too busy surviving to have any time for religion. They may not have the money for it, either. Eschatological beliefs have always been part of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For Christians, especially, the impact of the collapse will be such as to totally eliminate all eschatological beliefs. This will happen because in the thinking of most Christians, the social and economic disaster will not fit into any existing view on Second Coming Prophecy. Many Christian survivors will renounce their faith. Muslims and Jews will probably do the same. Followers of Eastern religions just wont have the time and resources for their religious activities. Hindu monks, for example, are the backbone of Hinduism. They usually acquire their livelihood by begging. When the collapse begins, they may be faced with the options of working or starving to death. In fact, in many places working will not insure survival. In such a situation, stealing food may be too likely to bring lethal reprisals to be an option for most people. And it may happen that in many places there will be no food to steal.
The Biblical Perspective
However, it just may be that the Bible prophesies this! In Isaiah 24:4 - 6 it is written that...
The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
This passage certainly sounds like the global threat that this page addresses. The significant thing is that, although people are starting to become aware of the problem (In fact, alarmed!) too little is really being done about it. The catastrophe may in fact already be starting to happen. The recent rash of severe storms, floods, and tornadoes, the earthquake in China, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, combined with the skyrocketing price of oil and the resulting starvation, seem to say that the collapse is near. As stated, this could ultimately bring about the end of the world as we know it in a way that has nothing to do with what the Bible or any other religion ultimately prophesies. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to see the entire Doomsday Factors situation as a sign of the soon Second Coming of Christ. If it is, this is another major reason to believe that...
Jesus REALLY is coming soon. BE READY!!!