Recently I read an article that a friend sent me about human extinction.
This long, well-written and intelligent article starts like this:
For much of my life, I thought our species would soon go extinct. I assumed we might last another hundred years if we were lucky. Now I suspect we are facing extinction in the near future. Can I speculate as to exactly when that might happen? Of course not. My sense of this is based only on probability. It might be similar to hearing about a diagnosis of late stage pancreatic cancer. Is it definite that the person is going to die soon? No, not definite. Is it highly probable? Yes, one would be wise to face the likelihood and put one’s affairs in order.
So while human extinction may not be definite, claims Ingram, it is highly probable and we should prepare ourselves. The article then gives evidence for this diagnosis by sharing well-researched data about climate change.
So what do we do in the face of probable extinction? According to Ingram, we join movements that have woken up to the crisis like Extinction Rebellion or other groups which are similar, find calm in activities like nature-walking and meditation, avoid watching too much news on climate change, serve others, be grateful and realise that evolution will take its course. In other words, enjoy life and love others because soon humanity will cease to exist.
I found this article deeply disturbing for many reasons. A journalist from the Triple J Hack program also took a personal journey into the rabbit holes of these extinction movements. I was left wondering about people’s mental health as they join these groups which believe in the end of all things. With shows like Years and Years coming to our screens, we are continually presented with images and visions of death, despair and pessimism.
Whether or not you believe that humanity will cease to exist in around 100 years or less is a secondary issue for me. What is crucial however is deciding what posture we are going to take in the midst of doomsday prophetic movements, the effects of climate change impacting the earth more and more, and insufficient action by governments and citizens.
Will we be prophets of doom or prophets of hope?
Without a doubt, Christianity sits on the side of hope.
This posture provides an alternative for all people of course, not just Christians – that even though many things will end, God’s Spirit is at work today in the renewal of all things. Yes things are dying, but yes things are also being renewed and being brought to life daily. What we need to do is to courageously participate with God at this time in the renewal of all things even when our culture woos us to bask in melancholy, pessimism and doomsday messages.
What do we do?
I agree with Ingram in many ways, we love, we serve, we become grateful. But we also work for change, we hope not only in an emotional sense, but with the assurance that things can transform because there is a God whose grace and love sustains this world. Our hope leads us to turn to God and also work with God’s Spirit for the transformation of our world, even in the midst of the immense suffering that could result from climate change. And how do we do this? We get involved in local ways in the neighbourhood such as building community, finding ways to recycle waste and reducing our consumption. We point to the truth that things do need to change if we want to restore our world.
Instead of joining doomsday movements, we become a movement of hope in our communities and do works for the good of this world. This is our call in this age of extinction despair.