Well, January 31st has passed. Officially we are no longer part of the EU. Negotiations will continue for some time regarding what that might mean but the world hasn’t fallen apart yet. In fact, the announcements of doom (economic meltdown) concerning our departure from the EU have been swiftly replaced with announcements of doom about the new variant Corona Virus epidemic. I must admit that I am not too concerned about this new variant Corona virus, perhaps because I was at one time a clinical microbiologist. We have known about Corona viruses for decade – they are one of the causes of the common cold. They mutate regularly – hence why it is nigh on impossible to develop a vaccine for the common cold – and some variants are more lethal than others. Although the death toll from this variant is growing, given time, I believe, we will discover a way to control the virus and limit its lethal effectiveness. This is not the first infection that has caused an epidemic and it won’t be the last. I remember working with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the late 1980s and early 1990s and with patients who were infected with the virus. Many of them died and we found it hard to imagine a day when a diagnosis of being HIV+ could be anything other than a death sentence. Many prophesied that this virus would wipe out the human population. Well, it didn’t wipe out the population and we have thousands of patients who have been able to live a relatively normal life with HIV.
There is something within humanity that finds it very easy to think of the world in apocalyptic terms – we are all doomed – be it deadly infections, economic or political disasters, or climate change. The world has certainly seen some apocalyptic-type events: the holocaust, Hiroshima, the Spanish flu epidemic, the great North Sea flood of 1953… Horrendous as these and many other events have been the planet has not been totally destroyed; the population has not been wiped out… there have always been survivors.
I have been reflecting on these ideas recently and I wonder where God is in any discussion about the state of the world. In Christian theology we speak of a world created by God but marred from its perfection through human greed and disobedience. We speak of a God who has the power to destroy this world but who has chosen not to (read the Noah story). We speak of a God who chose to save humanity and the world for himself (read the Christmas and Easter stories). When I hear people say ‘we’re all doomed’ because of … I wonder where God is in their arguments. The most famous verse in the Bible (John 3:16) begins ‘Go so loved the world that he sent his son…’ Even when this world seems black and that we are all doomed this central tenet of the Christian faith we must hold on to. If the prophets of doom cannot take account of this central tenet of our faith, then their logic must be flawed.