I have noticed that there is this fascination among masses of people to locate the anti-Christ. Ok, at least among my work colleagues there seems to be this fascination. Alright, maybe only one of my work colleagues. And really its not even a fascination but more of a one time amusing conversation we had involving an email that had been circulating in which, somehow, with some type of numbering scheme, the letters in Bill Gates name were added up to a whopping total of 666, the sign of the anti-Christ. The anti-Christ meaning all that is not good, holy, compassionate, loving, and of God.  

Hmmmm….don’t know if I buy into the entire Bill Gates as the anti-Christ thing considering he tends to be a disgustingly generous philanthropist. Not really anti-Christ kinda behavior.  

This conversation with my work colleague caused me to contemplate this entire notion of a final “day of reckoning”.

There is a the recognition of a final day in almost every faith tradition that I am aware of, the sign of the anti-Christ being the most significant. Within my own Muslim tradition there is discussion of the ending of our time in both the Quran and the Hadith, and  the descriptions are not very pleasant, with significant emphasis given to natural resources becoming scarce and the earth in turmoil.  

Here’s what troubles me around these doomsday predictions. If, eventually, the ecological structure of the earth is set for destruction then what influence do individual or collective actions have? Does it even matter what I do if the final outcome is pre-determined? I want to be able to influence my future. I want to be able to, individually and collectively, create a sustainable, ecologically friendly planet in which the concluding outcome is value for all life. An interpretation that calls out our eventual self-destruction does not work for me.  

But wait a second! What if the interpretation we have been using all this time is actually incorrect. Is it possible we have been lulled into a false sense of future? What if these accounts are of a possible future and not a definite future? What if these future accounts are given to serve as a warning? The warning being; if we keep walking down this current path then, indeed, we will be faced with a future that is very similar, if not exact, to what is laid out in our sacred text.  

The other part of it (that is somewhat disconcerting to me) is if the future is pre-determined then that would mean I have no free will to determine what I want the future to look like. I really enjoy having fee will as I can do what I want and experience the goodies of my actions afterwards (it’s a totally selfish reason I realize). The idea that we are headed towards pre-ordained self destruction goes against this entire concept of free will.  

Of course we have a choice in all of this. We always have a choice. We can freely and willing choose another future, and we can do this every single morning that we get up, and we can do this with every single action. We also have a choice regarding how we wish to understand different aspects of our sacred text. We can choose to follow an interpretation that will never benefit us,  or create one that serves us and serves this planet.  

Author: Anila Muhammad