1. The meanings of the expression “end of the world”


The idea of the end of the world transcends the temporal, spatial, cultural and religious barriers. It is a concept incessantly discussed. Now, in the age of information, we have probably read about it in books or on the Internet, we heard about it at church or on the radio, or we have seen it in various forms on TV. A lot of people debate about the end of the world. But what does this end of the world actually mean?

The expression “end of the world” may refer to a multitude of things, depending on the meaning of its two terms. The first term, “end,” may signify: disappearance, extinction, destruction, (radical) transformation, migration, extermination or death. In turn, the term “world” can be used with the meaning of: humanity, mankind, civilization, the Universe, Earth (planet) or a group of people. Hence, the expression “end of the world” may refer to any combination between the possible meanings of its two terms, as it follows: the transformation of humanity, the extinction of the human race, the destruction of Earth, the transformation of the Universe, the fall of civilization, a significant change in the environmental conditions and so on.

The meanings of the expression “end of the world” vary according to time, place and especially religion, which has often been an essential part of a group’s culture. For example, during the Middle Ages Christians believed that the end of the world would come when the Christian religion would be destroyed by a Muslim or a Jewish invasion. By contrast, the contemporary Christian doctrine depicts the end of the world as a total destruction or renovation of mankind.

The idea of the end of the world, generally speaking, may arise from two independent roots: empirical observation and divine revelation.

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