The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is not my go-to publication for calculating the world’s immediacy to “The End.” But I do find the discourse of physicists enticing, especially when the brainy guys and gals pontificate the fate of the modern world. The great thinkers should know when the planet is about to blow, so it’s only fair that they take time to warn us annually by moving the hands on a clock.
The Doomsday clock debuted in 1947, on the cover of the premiere issue of the Bulletin. Designed by artist Martyl Langsdorf, the timepiece of terror first placed the minute hand at seven minutes until midnight. Martyl was the wife of Alexander Langsdorf, one of the physicists who helped develop the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project. From it’s inception, the clock has advanced or recoiled according to the predictions of people who might be the ones to literally bring about Doomsday. The simple rendition of a clock with its dots, hour hand and minute hand has given report as to the nearness of the end of life as we know it from that first magazine issue until today. Last week, on the cover of the Bulletin, the smart people moved the minute hand to a new position: two minutes until midnight.
The clock has taken this position before, in 1953 with the advent of the hydrogen bomb. In 1991, the countermove to seventeen minutes until midnight purported the safest year since the clock began ticking out it’s predictions. Overall, the countdown has brought us closer to Doomsday than it has to worldwide security.
This latest forward motion toward destruction was based on “the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.” Of course, Trump will take the heat for…whatever. I agree, along with the people of Hawaii who were wise enough to take cover in the recent misidentified drill, that somebody might drop a bomb one day. But I’m not convinced that what used to be called global warming has any real chance of ushering in the apocalypse.
The magazine, the scientists, the clock, the bombs, the weather—that’s all interesting and it brings a bizarre sort of excitement to our mundane lives. I’m guilty of pouring literary fuel on the theoretical fire with my own novels. But only one publication offers substantial vision for the future of us. In the scriptures, a thrill-seeking end-timer might get pumped up when prophecy and current events collide. As for me, it’s where I find peace and security. Not the kind the world seeks, but true rest in the knowledge that God has things under control. Bombs have already been deployed to annihilate human life. The earth has already survived periods of life-altering change. And we are still here to live or die according to God’s plan.
Now, were closer than we were yesterday to “The End” if that’s what you want to call it. Perhaps as close as two minutes. Something’s going to happen. Life as we know it is going to change. I’ll agree with the scientists in that regard. I might even help sound the alarm. The clock is ticking. But I won’t cower in the darkness or succumb to the anguish. My Deliverer is coming!
“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28