Mudcat Café message #1221798 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #71422   Message #1221798
Posted By: Don Firth
08-Jul-04 - 08:39 PM
Thread Name: BS: The end of the world is nigh.
Subject: RE: BS: The end of the world is nigh.
This "Repent! The End is Near!" stuff is from nominal Christians who have spent more time reading The Book of Revelation than they have reading the Gospels, which, to me, calls their "Christianity" into question. The core of Christianity is to be found in Matthew 25:35-40, and Matthew 5:3-11, not in The Book of Revelation, which, historically, was less of a religious text and more of a polemic against the Roman Empire. There are many Bible scholars who maintain that it doesn't even belong in the Bible and wonder why the geezers back then chose to include it.

Will the world come to an end? Most certainly. Life, of course, could be obliterated on earth any number of ways:   some group of morons at the helm of some aggressive and/or paranoid nation could start an all-out thermonuclear war, precipitate a "nuclear winter," and wipe out all higher forms of life, but will probably leave a few life forms about to begin evolution again (unless, of course, radioactive saturation of the planet is sufficient to destroy all life); with our polluting of the oceans and the atmosphere, we could poison the planet's ecosphere and wipe out most or all life (what would be particularly lethal would be for humanity, through carelessness, stupidity, and greed, to push the planet beyond the point-of-no-return into a runaway greenhouse effect, in which the earth could become like Venus, where there are no oceans and the atmosphere is somewhat hotter that a well-stoked pizza oven); the planet could be struck by any one of a number of earth-orbit crossing asteroids big enough to blast away much of the atmosphere, cause tidal waves thousands of feet high, and earthquakes of a power beyond imagining. Or maybe some tenacious, virus, undetectable or unstoppable by medical science could sweep through both human and animal populations of the world, leaving only plant life. Or perhaps some equally unstoppable blight might evolve and destroy all plant life on earth( the basis of the food chain), in which case, animal life (including us) would starve to death. Or maybe—

But earth abides. If we humans cause a planetary catastrophe and obliterate ourselves, the earth, following the natural processes it has followed for billions of years, will cleanse itself, heal, and quite probably evolve many new species—possibly a species far wiser than we.

But even than, the world will come to an end—when the sun has used up all of its fuel and begins to implode into a white dwarf. In the first phase of this, the sun bloats temporarily into a red giant, with its outer atmosphere expanding as far out as the orbit of Mars or beyond. This, of course, will blow away the atmosphere, boil off the oceans, and incinerated all life on earth. Following this, the sun's outer atmosphere will dissipate into space, leaving a hot, dense, white star not much larger than the earth. It will continue to burn intensely for many billions more years, then gradually fade into a red dwarf (famous in British telly), a brown dwarf, then fade into a dark cinder that continues to drift through space. But not a black hole. The sun does not contain enough matter to implode that violently.

And when will all this begin to happen? Approximately five to seven billion years from now.

When this happens, it may be that we, should we manage somehow to transcend our own flaws and acquire wisdom, or that inherently wiser species I spoke of, will have survived long enough to have spread to many other planets, and are living in peace among themselves and the others they may encounter in the Universe.

There is the joke about the astronomy class, in which the professor outlined the eventual death of the sun, as I have above. A hand went up in the back row. "Yes?" asked the professor. "How long will it be before this happens?" asked a tremulous voice. "Well, astronomers estimate that it would be five to seven billion years." "Oh, thank God!" said the tremulous voice, "I thought you said five to seven million years!"

I wouldn't sweat it a lot.

Don Firth