The End of the World

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Where are we going? This is a fundamental question, one of several asked by the founders and thinkers of the world's largest religions. Each of the major religions has its own answer, and the study of these answers is called eschatology. In this essay, I'll take a secular look at the eschatological evolution of the Abrahamic religions, from Judaism to Christianity and finally to Islam. I will discuss the impact of these apocalyptic scenarios on people who do not practice each faith, and show that ultimately, answers to life's questions come from within.

The Abrahamic religions are those that claim Abraham as the forefather of all men, and their original prophet. More generally, they worship the same God as the biblical Abraham and fight bitterly about it. They believe in the Garden of Eden, Original Sin, Heaven and Hell, and the Arc of the Covenant. As Robert E. Van Voorst notes in the class text, Anthology of World Scriptures, “Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam foresees a literal resurrection of the body from death; soul and body are rejoined to face judgment” (Van Voorst 317). Since the Torah, Old Testament, and the early chapters of the Qur’an are essentially the same document and tell the same story, one might expect that the eschatology would be similar. Combined, these religions hold about 54% of the world's population, who take the contents of these books as absolute truths. There is much debate within each of these religions about whether the apocalyptic scriptures should be taken literally or interpreted as an allegory, and how their veracity would impact people who belong to other faiths. Christians and Muslims alike hold that the apocalypse is imminent and inevitable. By using examples from the texts themselves, a...

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...understand. It is important, however, that you do not interpret these allegorical accounts literally. It is equally important to avoid allowing other people to shape your interpretation. If you take one thing away from this essay, it should be that the answers provided by the Torah, New Testament and Qur'an are only possible answers, and divine truth can only be derived from personal introspection.

Works Cited

McKay, John P. A History of World Societies. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.

Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. Print.

Van, Voorst Robert E. Anthology of World Scriptures / Robert E. Van Voorst. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2011. Print

"Major Religions Ranked by Size." World Religions Religion Statistics Geography Church Statistics.
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