ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
I have head several people mention that the world will end in 2021. This means any children I have will be teenagers during the Apocalypse. Should I just not have kids?
You know, I hear 2021 or I hear 2012. I am wondering if one or the other is a dyslexic transposition. One of these date projections comes out of Mayan Astrology. Apparently this ancient civilization of Central America developed some kind of mystical world calendar which predicts our demise in one of these two years. I am not sure which number is correct and I do not have time to look it up, but I am pretty sure the Mayans predict 2012.
Another place for you to look up if you have time, are web-sites operated by either Hal Lindsey or Jack Van Impe. In a television broadcast Jack Van Impe calculated the end of the world to come in 2021. He did this by taking the year that modern Israel occupied Jerusalem, 1967, and he added to it the average length of a Biblical generation computed through one of its genealogies. It turns out that this average length is 54 years, which added to 1967 equals 2021. I think this means that anytime beginning January 1, 2014, the Rapture clock begins to tick.
Of course, when January 1, 2022 rolls around and neither the Rapture nor the Apocalypse has occurred, a lot of people are going to be asking Jack Van Impe for a refund of their donations. He can spin that (if he is still around himself) by taking even longer generation gaps recorded in the Bible. For example, Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac "the child of promise" was born. It follows that the generation of Jack Van Impe's theory is actually a full hundred years until the "promise" is fulfilled. This means 2067, with the rapture clock not starting to tick until 2060, and I will already be in my nineties.
From a strictly literalistic point-of-view, the longest Biblical generation of parent to child is 500 years. (I am not even looking this up!) The beginning of the Bible's flood story states, "And when Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem…." Jack Van Impe should pay close attention, because this is the story of a family chosen to survive the apocalyptic judgment of the flood. This theory I employ is not Jack Van Impe's, but it does use his model and method for interpreting scripture. I find it just as likely to conclude that one can add 500 years to 1967 and still be within the Bible's definition of "generation" -- especially when it is the generation of the coming apocalypse, a cataclysm of such a scale that only Noah's flood can be viewed as its Biblical antecedent.
If I lost you in that last paragraph, forget about it. All I said is that our world is going to exist until 2467. Go ahead and have children.
Casting an end-time date of 2467 gets me off the hook. Even though this prediction is falsifiable, no one alive today will be able to determine whether I have predicted falsely. I can say with equal assurance that in 2467 the United States of America will not exist as it does today.
That is to say, the USA will not have deployments of troops in 120 foreign nations. Unless western civilization collapses, I am pretty confident that the USA will have continuity for the next 500 years. After all, England has enjoyed continuity for nearly a thousand years now, having seen its fortunes rise and fall. The same can be said of Japan and even Egypt. In all of these cases these enduring nations are different today from what they were in their distant past, in everything from law to lifestyle. I believe the same will be true of the USA.
There are two models by which, short of the end of the world, the USA could still come to the ruin that brings an end to its constitutional charter. The first model is that western civilization could collapse, of course, as it did at the demise of the Roman Empire. What I say next is going to sound ethnically insensitive; I do not intend it so. My patriotism is actually quite objective: I have no convictions about an inherent superiority of western empires over the enduring nations of the east—ancient realms such as India and China. These non-western powers have now developed nuclear weapons. Half of the world's population lives between Pakistan and the Pacific seaboard, including the archipelagos that divide the Indian Ocean from the Pacific.
This first model of collapse simply acknowledges that when western civilization has been convulsed or destroyed, it was usually due to an inability to cope with human tidal waves from the east. These massive armies were referred to as "hordes." Attila the Hun contributed greatly to Rome's fall even if German barbarians finished the task.
Will such a convulsion occur again? I do not see that anything exists today to prevent it, and after all, 500 years is a long time. Just because the USA outlives you and me does not mean it will outlive our great-great grandchildren.
The second model of the USA's collapse is the fall of Atlantis. According to Plato, this gleaming civilization of the West was idealistic and wealthy. (I'm not looking this up either. How about that liberal college education? I'm putting it to work!) Atlantis fell for three reasons: 1) The pride in wealth and idealism made them complacent and greedy. 2) Political factionalism paralyzed the once utopian model of government. 3)Environmental upheaval. Atlantis literally sank beneath its own weight. As the cataclysms gathered energy to bring total ruin, the citizens of Atlantis could not overcome the paralysis caused by their systems of greed and complacency.
The USA and Canada are, together, one Atlantis. Canadians and Americans share a lifestyle that most in the world would find fantastic and mythical. Yet, while we bicker along party lines over divisions of the entitlements pie, the fact is we are a few disastrous earthquakes away from real hardship. Some of our tectonic fault lines have been quiet, too quiet, over the past couple centuries.
And then there is the threat of global warming and blah blah blah. Anyway, the point is, nothing in the Bible states that the United States will exist as a nation when the world ends. The USA could fall long before that happens.
But what is that to you? Children are part of life; they are part of what completes the human experience. Perhaps your children will be the ones who cope well and will make their world a better place. I say go ahead and have them.