In Which I Predict the End of the World
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," counting down to Rapture on May 21! Yes, Rapture is scheduled, and we who are longing to be Left Behind can only hope that the 1,235th time is the charm.
The world will end some day. It surely will. You don't need "The Gods Are Bored" to tell you that.
Our planet has undergone several immensely significant extinction events, the most recent being the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. This wasn't a long, slow descent into darkness, but a catastrophic collision with an asteroid.
Think about it. One day, all the rich, varied plethora of dinos were out in their rain forests, munching those pretty big plants and gently nuzzling their babies, and the next day, the Earth said "ouch," and that was that. The large dinosaur species must have disappeared in a matter of months. Months, on a planet that has been rocking on for a couple billion years.
We've got fancy science now that could tell us if another asteroid might be on a collision path with Earth. But could we stop it? Oh yeah, that would get all of us to work together for awhile, or at least to view each other with more empathy. Once the impact occurs, though, it would be every Homo sapiens for himself, and none of us could cope with a sunless sky and the total loss of food crops. We're better organized than the dinosaurs, but we're still too fragile to survive a catastrophic extinction event.
Let's say Earth never gets hit by another asteroid. Well, we at "The Gods Are Bored" still predict that the world will end. The planet is warmed by a star that will change as it ages. One little burp that's bigger than usual will fry us one and all. It's inevitable that changes to the Sun will alter the surface temperatures on Earth beyond the survival capacity of biological life.
It might not even take a Sun burp. Humankind is its own worst enemy. Have you seen the population estimates for this century? Me too. The more crowded we get, the more meat we supply to an opportunistic bacterium or virus. In this era, a sickness that wiped out 90 percent of the population might cause the other 10 percent to die of attrition, since almost everyone on the planet now relies on some basic forms of technology. Would you know how to grow enough food and kill enough meat for ten percent of the people in your home town? Me neither.
We've got the Yellowstone caldera, global climate change, plate tectonics ... ah, face it, our rock is always in peril.
Notice this, however. I predict with 100 percent certainty the end of the world. I do not predict the exact date when it will happen. People who do this are foolish. Your better variety of deities never do it. Even the busy god says He has it on His calendar, but He's not telling anyone when.
The reason for not assigning a specific date to chaos is crystal clear. If you mark it on your calendar, and that day comes and goes with only the usual round of death and misery (off-balanced by birth and joy), you look like a moron. People may begin to doubt your predicting skills. Banquet halls might not want to book your daughter's wedding reception. The dry cleaner won't ask you when you plan to pick up your shirts ... heck, they might not even take your shirts in the first place! If you can't predict the big stuff with certainty, no one will trust you on the details either.
Casinos, however, will roll out the red carpet to you -- as will race tracks. You clearly, dearly love a long shot.
The world will end. Just not on Saturday. How do I know for sure? I don't know for sure. But the odds of me getting up to fix Sunday brunch on May 22 are astronomical. I like a safe bet.