How will the world end? Forget about bangs and whimpers—we need to know who the culprit is. Will it all come to an end through acts of God or acts of man? Should we be watching for Jesus to ascend from on high or keeping an extra close watch on those nuclear weapons to make sure we don't do ourselves in?
Revelation falls squarely on the side of a God-sponsored end of life as we know it. Christ will ascend from the heavens, wage war on the wicked, and reward the righteous. End of story. Thank you for playing.
Lots of world religions believe that God or some other supernatural deity will bring about the end of the world. Hindus believe that we are living in the last of four periods that make up the current age and Shiva will destroy the world at the end of it. Jews have the Book of Daniel to explain their end-time scenario. Muslims wait for Qiyamah, a Day of Judgment when time will end and God will sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Some people have even tried to predict when God will end the world, using Revelation as a handy dandy guide) A radio evangelist named Harold Camping first calculated that the world would end sometime in 1994. When that didn't happen, he revised, this time going with May 21, 2011. Sadly, people listened to him. Some even quit their jobs or donated their savings to spread the word. We're guessing they weren't very amused on the morning of May 22.
A supernatural apocalypse has been portrayed in books like The Last Battle or The Left Behind Series. Also see the movies The Golden Child, Constantine, or Dogma for people desperately trying to keep supernatural forces of good and evil from destroying the world.
Or you could take science's word for it. There is no God, so he couldn't possibly destroy us. Or else there is a God, but he has no intention of coming down and destroying the world he worked so hard to create. Hey, you try fashioning continents from scratch and then consider whether you'd smash them after only a few billion years.
Proponents of this side think that eventually the planet will just expire (in thousands and thousands of years, so no worries) or face some other cataclysmic event. Maybe aliens will invade us. Perhaps a meteorite will hit the Earth and block out all sunlight, slowly killing the Earth and all the people living on it. A cheerful thought.
Or maybe we'll be the authors of destruction. Nuclear war. Genocide. Global pandemic. Climate change. Overpopulation. Just pick your poison.
Who digs this view? See Dr. Strangelove (the bomb gets us), Armageddon (it's an asteroid… almost), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (another pesky asteroid), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Earth destroyed by an alien fleet paving the way for an intergalactic highway. In their defense, they did have all the proper paperwork).
There really is no way to settle this one except to wait. Until the end of time. Hopefully, this won't be happening any time soon (we still have way too many shows in our Netflix queue to catch up on). Though we wouldn't doubt that, as Earth drops off into the abyss, one side will be there yelling "told you so!" as we all plunge into the darkness.