About 2 years ago I had a dream. I was walking with a group of Christians. There was another group of people who I identified as not being Christians. They decided to not walk with our group so followed their own path rather than come along for the walk with us. Initially the walk started in the countryside and I did not see any buildings – just fields and open space. Suddenly I found myself and the group that was with me, in a major city. This was evidenced by the large skyscraper buildings, and people going about their daily business. We were somehow standing on a hill and looking down onto the city (although in another sense it felt as if we were at ground level). Suddenly I saw (in the distance behind the city scene) a very large and powerful wave coming towards the city. The people in the city were totally unaware that the massive wave was coming and went simply went about their business as usual. I remember thinking “ why do these people not see what’s coming?”. Suddenly the wave hit and destroyed everything in its path. I saw people being washed away (in some detail). I then realised that because of where we were standing, we were safe and that the wave would not reach us. The credit crunch hit the world about six months later!
I find the combination of financial devastation and a physical wave of water very compelling. In light of current global events, and in the context of Biblical prophesies, there is little doubt that we are rapidly moving towards the end of the age.
The Normalcy Bias
What does this have to do with the coming Tsunamis of financial collapse, extreme changes in weather patterns, cosmic disturbance in the heavens, chaos on the earth which will all be signs of the end of this age? The normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans. Even when all these things are in place, individuals with a normalcy bias often refuse to leave their homes. Studies have shown that more than 70% of people check with others before deciding to evacuate.
The normalcy bias also causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right, while information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reason to believe there is a risk. This creates a cognitive dissonance that they then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the danger. The possibility that some may refuse to evacuate causes significant problems in disaster planning.
Examples of this principle in action
Jewish Populations in World War I
This is a excerpt from a book written by Barton Briggs – Wealth, War & Wisdom. He says: “By the end of 1935, 100,000 Jews had left Germany, but 450,000 still remained. Wealthy Jewish families … kept thinking and hoping that the worst was over. Many of the German Jews, brilliant, cultured, and cosmopolitan as they were, were too complacent. They had been in Germany for so long and were so well established, they simply could not believe there was going to be a crisis that would endanger the them. They were too comfortable. They believed that the Nazis’ anti-semitism was an episodic event and that Hitler’s bark was worse than his bite. They reacted sluggishly to the rise of Hitler, for completely understandable reasons. Events moved much faster than they could imagine.”
Just think about what was going on at this time. Jews were arrested, beaten, taxed, robbed, and jailed for no reason other than that of practising a particular religion. As a result they were shipped off to concentration camps. Their businesses were seized. Yet most Jews still did not leave Germany because they simply did not believe that things could get as bad as they did. Quoting again from Barton Briggs’ book: “This is the most tragic example of the devastating effects of the normalcy bias the world has ever seen.”
The same thing happened with Hurricane Katrina. Even though it became clear that the levee system was not going to work, tens of thousands of people stayed in their homes, directly in the line of the coming waves of water. As a result, nearly 2,000 residents perished.
In both these cases, these people never thought that these things could happen to them or in their countries. Once again, this is how the normalcy bias works. We simply refuse to see the evidence that it right in front of our face. because it is unlike anything we have experienced before. The normalcy bias kicks in and we continue to go about our lives as if nothing is unusual and out of the ordinary.
This is further evidenced by an event in the Bible. God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. He decided that he was going to destroy all living creatures on the earth, along with the earth and he told a man called Noah about his plan. He said to Noah “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die.” (Gen 6:17).
Noah had to decide whether he believed this direct warning from God and whether he would prepare himself accordingly, (in obedience to God). “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Gen 6:22). Then, what God had warned Noah about, came: “For forty days the flood waters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally the waters covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks. All the living things on earth died – birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground and all the people. … All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. And the flood waters covered the earth for 150 days.” (Gen 7:17-24)
We can well imagine the response of people on the earth at this time when they saw Noah preparing for a catastrophic event that seemed very far-fetched and very unlikely to happen. It is interesting to note that the Bible refers to the story of Noah as a lesson from history.
Matthew 24:37-43 “
37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.”
The Bible also has more to say about complacency:
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
“‘On that day messengers will go out from me in ships to frighten Cush out of hercomplacency. Anguish will take hold of them on the day of Egypt’s doom, for it is sure to come.
What Does The Bible Say About The Future?
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus is Coming
The Bible gives us many warnings of what will come upon the earth in future. Every person on earth has to decide whether or not to take the warnings and claims of the Bible seriously and there will always be sceptics that will reject any warnings arguments of coming danger. The good news is that God has made a way of escape from the judgement that is coming upon the earth. Furthermore, the decision we make for or against Jesus Christ will determine our eternal destiny. Jesus himself said that the only way to enter the Kingdom of God is to be born again – not of the flesh (i.e. not by way of natural childbirth) but a spiritual rebirth.
You Must Be Born Again
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.