Vol. 1, Issue 25, November 4, 2003
Theologians Perplexed by World's Failure to End
After nearly two millennia of apocalyptic predictions, theologians are struggling to reconcile the continued existence of the universe with mainstream religious philosophy, say experts at a Fordham University conference held this week.
"It is getting kind of hard to explain," said Professor Edwin Mahoney, of the Philosophy department. "And, may I say, a bit frustrating."
Western civilization was gripped with a widespread sense of imminent doom as early as the final days of the Roman republic, in the first century B.C. During this time of transition, a variety of messianic figures appeared, prophesying various cosmic end-game scenarios. The Book of Revelations was conceived in the aftermath of this climate, and people have been eagerly awaiting the realization of the signs ever since.
"It has been written that in the end times, many will be the agitations among those of rank, and among the peoples, the churches; that wicked shepherds will rise up, perverse, disdainful greedy, enjoyers of idle speech, boastful, proud, arrogant, plunged in lewdness, seekers of vainglory!" said conference participant Jorge Castillo. "Sounds like Washington, actually, so why are we all still here?"
Many promising events seemed to correlate to the promised end of the world, including the advent of the year 1000; the year 2000, with the added bonus of concerns about the Y2K computer bug; World War I; World War II; the Black Plague, which swept Europe in the 14th century; and, of course the perennial problems in the Middle East.
Many feel that events in the Middle East, particularly the invasion of Iraq, strongly correlate with events in the Bible. However, since the Middle East has been a site of unending social and military turmoil for three millennia, it is difficult to pin down the exact signs of an apocalyptic schedule.
"Now don't get me wrong; I'm not exactly rooting for the end of the world," Mahoney hastened to add. "However, people are constantly asking whether such-and-such an event heralds the end times, and frankly we are weary of coming up with answers."
The Fordham conference raised several proposals for accounting for the continued existence of time and space, but none evinced more than intellectual curiosity.
"It might be that the best approach is some kind of plausible deniability cop-out, like they used in The Matrix," Castillo mused. "But I think it preferable to stick to plain old physics and metaphysics, and schedule another conference next year."