I've mentioned before that I have a long-standing interest in apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories. I'm not as fond of the genre as I used to be, but I still see the appeal. And frankly, there are days when watching cities get reduced to rubble, or overrun with zombies, or emptied by a mysterious plague, or... well, whatever, there are days when that's actually therapeutic.
I was recently reminded, however, that for a lot of people the appeal of the end of the world isn't just about seeing civilization fall, or about the fantasy that if things were different I could just pick up a weapon and go kick ass. For a great many people, the end of the world goes hand-in-hand with the return of Jesus, the judgement of the living and the dead, and eternal life (either in Heaven or on a redeemed version of Earth).
And how are you to know when the end of the world might be eminent?
2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
This struck me as funny even back when I was a Christian. Wars and rumors of war? Famines, pestilences, and earthquakes? Persecution and betrayal? False prophets and iniquity?
...That's pretty much all of Human history, right there. I mean, it's not until we get to verse fourteen that we find anything that distinguishes one historical era from another. The only thing in that passage with any sort of predictive value is the statement that the gospel shall be preached in all the world.
...And hey, if that's actually the case, then we probably owe the continued existence of the world to the Sentinelese.
We can't thank them, of course; that would pretty much defeat the purpose.