The Apocalyptic Mind

Faith-based science seems a contradiction in terms, because the scientific worldview emerged as a challenge to religious superstition. But important scientific beliefs can now be said to be held religiously, because they feed our seemingly endless appetite for doomsday scenarios.

LONDON – It was only to be expected that former US Vice President Al Gore would give this month’s Burmese cyclone an apocalyptic twist. “Last year,” he said, “a catastrophic storm hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China....We’re seeing the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continual global warming.”

Surprisingly, Gore did not include the Asian tsunami of 2004, which claimed 225,000 lives. His not so subliminal message was that these natural catastrophes foreshadow the end of the world.

Apocalyptic beliefs have always been part of the Christian tradition. They express the yearning for heaven on earth, when evil is destroyed and the good are saved.

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