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Survey: One in three Americans see extreme weather as a sign of biblical end times
December 13th, 2012
02:55 PM ET

Survey: One in three Americans see extreme weather as a sign of biblical end times

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – More than a third of Americans see recent extreme weather as a sign that the world is in biblical “end times,” according to a survey released Thursday.

Thirty-six percent of Americans say that the severity of recent natural disasters indicate that we are at the precipice of Jesus’ second coming and the end of the world, according to the survey, released by Public Religion Research Institute. The survey found that 15% of Americans believe the world will end, as predicated in the book of Revelation, in their lifetime.

“Theology plays an important role in how we view the world,” said Daniel Cox, the survey firm’s research director. “We have had a number of really severe weather events in 2012, and we thought that might affect how people respond.”

In late 2012, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the east coast, killing 106 people in the United States and causing up to $50 billion in damage. The year also saw a major drought in the Midwest and southeastern United States, wildfires throughout Colorado that provoked tens of thousands to evacuate and June floods that washed out roads and bridges and inundated neighborhoods in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A belief that the end of the world is near does not necessarily rule out acceptance of global warming, however. More than six-in-10 Americans said the severity of recent storms is caused by global climate change.

“To some, climate change is one way that we are experiencing end times,” Cox said.

Beliefs about climate change and the end times are largely split along religious lines. While most white mainline Protestants (65%) and Catholics (60%) say recent extreme weather is born of climate change, a large majority of white evangelical Protestants (65%) say the storms are proof of “end times.”

The book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, paints itself as a prophetic look at the second coming of Jesus Christ. The apocalyptic book says that believers will be saved and that nonbelievers will perish in a struggle between good and evil.

Many Christians believe the end times will be marked by drought, famine, storms and floods, as well as economic failures.

Though they disagree on why it’s happening, most Americans agree that the weather is intensifying. According to the Public Religion Research Institute survey, 63% of Americans say the weather is getting “more extreme,” while only 6% said it was getting “less extreme.”

“While there is disagreement about the causes of, and to a lesser extent the existence of, global warming, there is nonetheless widespread agreement about the need for action,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of the polling firm, said.

The survey found that eight in 10 Democrats and more than 6 in 10 independents say the government needs to do more to combat global warming, though most Republicans disagree.

The telephone survey of 1,018 American adults was conducted from December 5 to December 9. The poll’s margin of error is 3.2 percent.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Bible

soundoff (792 Responses)
  1. rasko41

    Wishful thinking

    December 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  2. steve

    1 in 3 about fits the number of fanatic religious nuts. Even if our species dies out, it does not mean it is the end of the unverse. Another species will replace us; and they will have some god and predicted end time also.

    December 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Gawd Almighty

    I hate the public. The public is stupid. Uninformed voters picked Obama twice. "Nuff said.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • steve

      You are part of my public and I feel the same about you. I did vote for Obama.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • You are confused.

      These nutjobs are the people that voted for Romney.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      He does have one point. The public did vote twice for Bush. (Not I)

      December 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  4. jpzipp

    delusional people..........

    December 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  5. GodFreeNow

    Yet another statistic supporting the low-education, high-ignorance demographic that makes up the religious construct.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Dave

    The end times are already here. It's 5PM and I am going home.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      So you worked hard to do nothing, hindu, crook

      December 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • steve

      8 more days and we all die.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Dave

      OK, I'm home now. I like the end times, you get to go home right after...

      December 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  7. TampaMel

    This poll is unbelievable. This poll has no credibility. The number of Americans that actually believe that deeply in any religion is far few than any poll like this would suggest. This is a National Inquirer moment. Sensations sells.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  8. John Deatherage

    You believe 1 out of every 3 people believe our weather indicates the end of times? Who the heck are they asking? Survivalists living in caves? I know a great many people and none, NONE believes we are nearing the end of humanity.

    Do you publish this nonsense to pump up ratings?

    December 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  9. Dave

    sherrrrrrr. The "end times" have been predicted since John of Patmos wrote "Revelations" about the fall of Rome. It is no more valid now that Rome has fallen.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  10. Sue

    There is zero valid prophecy in the bible. Anyone can predict all kinds of things, and enough stuff happens over time that something resembling their prediction will eventually happen. Present prophecies with exact dates in them on which the event was predicted to happen, and then show that the event happened on that date, or else just stow your steaming bullshit and shove off. K. Thanks.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Geofyzzix

    Has anyone on this thread pointed out that 1,018 people does not count as a significant statistical population. I could conduct that survey and probably find completely different numbers. I love worthless information...

    December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  12. rob c

    oh get a grip...they're just storms.. we build things and storms destroy them... but if we built them better, then the storms wouldn't destroy them and then we wouldn't call them natural disasters
    ... and jesus is a hoax .. apparently the biggest one of all-time
    ...i spit on religion !

    December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      Religions are hinduism, corruption of truth, by hindu's, criminals to make human their gentile, slaves, and every hindu ignorant love it.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. ThyWord isTruth

    Religion was created man to control and oppress the poor. Why change a good thing?

    December 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  14. tesla1908

    2000 years of 'any day now'.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • there is no other truth but truth absolute, and truth absolute is LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      Keeps business of hindu Mithra ism , savior ism rolling.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  15. Superintendent Chalmers

    ...and 3 out of 3 rational thinking atheists went about their daily lives.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  16. ThyWord isTruth

    The value of public education has shown itself very clearly. We are unable to think for ourselves, and hope that some mythical sky friend will save us, or making the connection that the same mythical sky friend supposedly caused the issues.

    Another reason why the US, as a nation is doomed are ripe for a demigod.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Interesting that you tie public education to the dumbing down of America. Are you proposing that if school vouchers allowed more people to be educated privately, which I suppose means religiously, that our mean intellect would improve?

      December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Sue

      Religion and other superstitions merely diminish our "mean intellect" by causing believer brains to stop questioning the absurd fictions such as much of the bible represents.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  17. MakoTen

    So many people fear the end, but true believer's of Christ wait for it patiently and enthusiastically. When Jesus returns he brings with him heaven to earth and it is written.."what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what the Lord has in store for those who love him!" The thing is thats all that is left to happen according to the Bible, because in my opinion the 7 year leader of the world is already in play, the internet. Who knows though when it will happen, but I can't wait.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • OccupyEverything

      Hold your breath until it happens.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You'll be Mako Twenty before anything happens.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  18. Apple Bush

    Christians, on a post human Earth, will God still be creating, or does God lose interest when humans are extinct?

    December 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Conrad Murray

      why didn't the god character make people first....before the dinosaurs and such?

      December 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Russ

      @ AppleBush:

      1) there will not be a post-human earth, according to Rev.21-22.
      God will redeem all of creation & bring heaven to earth.

      2) time is subject to God, and not vice versa.
      Gen.1 makes a not so subtle statement that "the beginning" of v.1 is only the beginning for us. time is a created thing, not something to which God is subject (as if there were anything greater). and, God is referred to as the "Lord of hosts," there are angels (literally, "messengers") & other created beings aside from humanity. Jesus even references Satan "falling" from heaven (in Luke 10:18), an event that happened b/f Gen.1:1.

      so, it's clear in the Bible that there are histories (other than our physical reality) prior to ours. we are not told everything we want to know, but we are told everything we need to know. we only get glimpses of a deeper river. honestly, i think that's where JRR Tolkien got the idea of just dropping references into LOTR, only some of which get explained in the Silmarillion.

      Similarly, CS Lewis gave a very creative & intriguing perspective in "The Magician's Nephew" (the Chronicles of Narnia). The chapter called "The Wood Between the Worlds" paints a picture of a vast, innumerable series of various, unending creations of God. That eternity with God is not sitting around playing harps on clouds, but rather is watching & participating in the creative active of the Infinite Mind that dreamed us up – and watching him spin out new existences, worlds, universes, etc.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Sue

      Russ, re your claims, first present your proof of the existence of your particular sky fairy. So far no one has been able to do that. K. Thanks.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • ?

      Sue, why don't you read your fairy tale of evolution with new eyes to see that it's a take off of the reproductive of humans. The sperms are your worms that were the survival of the fittest to penetrate the egg ... the ocean is the water that breaks when you give birth.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Sue:
      NOTE: Apple Bush asked for a Christian's opinion. I gave it. Don't over-react to solicited input.

      per your claim that there's no evidence... I'd encourage you to read the Gospels for yourself.
      Christmas is all about God coming to us. If he did... that's plenty of evidence. So, did he?

      if you're a skeptic who already has read the Gospels and yet is willing to actually do more extensive reading (b/c, after all, a skeptic wants to actually be skeptical even of his own skepticism, right?), check out some of these scholarly works:
      "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" by Richard Buckram
      "The Resurrection of the Son of God" by NT Wright

      or here's a website with Tim Keller responses (the guy Newsweek called "a 21st century CS Lewis") to such questions:
      http://www.questiongod.info/index.php

      December 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Russ

      correction: Richard Bauckham, not "Buckram" – spellcheck... ugh.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Russ, that is fascinating but it is not consistent with reality, sorry.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Apple Bush:
      thanks for your interest in the Christian faith. but I find your criticism without basis.

      so what about your faith? upon what philosophical basis do you appraise "reality" (since you clearly believe Christianity fails your categories)? Naturalism? Scientism?

      Since science itself does not preclude the things we believe (yet you clearly do), I'm curious what your philosophical basis is.

      December 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Sue

      Russ, that website that you cited is rubbish. Now stop dodging the issue and present some evidence ifor your sky fairy f you can. The bible is not valid evidence for your god, and you should know that already.

      Grow some courage and stop dodging the question, you cowardly wimp.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Russ

      @ Sue:

      1) when you say everything in bold, nothing actually has emphasis.

      2) did you actually engage *any* of the content on that site?

      3) even Bart Ehrman (one of the most self-proclaimed skeptical biblical scholars out there) recognizes that the person of Jesus existed because of the available evidence. while he remains an agnostic "with atheistic tendencies", even he is dumbfounded that people can't see the clear evidence. here's a link to the foreword for his new book "Did Jesus Exist?" where he basically says no one who is engaging the scholarly material doubts the historical reality of the person of Jesus.
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/30/the-historical-evidence-of-the-existence-of-jesus-of-nazareth/

      4) Christians have "an embarrassing wealth" (as this NT scholar says) of resources in comparison with virtually any other ancient religion. the sheer volume of extant manuscripts is categorically higher than any other such ancient text – and much closer to the source. it's TONS of evidence. do you similarly doubt MOST of ancient history for having many less sources? or is it only the miraculous that you filter out?

      since you don't seem to want to do the lengthier project of engaging the source materials, here are two overview articles that give you some of the scholarship in brief.

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/
      NOTE: you don't have to agree with Daniel Wallace to simply take note of the numerical data being presented.

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/07/08/an-interview-with-craig-blomberg-on-jesus-and-the-reliability-of-the-gospels/

      December 14, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      You said, "even Bart Ehrman (one of the most self-proclaimed skeptical biblical scholars out there) recognizes that the person of Jesus existed because of the available evidence."
      The question isn't really about whether Jesus existed, but if he was in any way special if he did.

      Without establishing that the person(s) that the Jesus myth was built on, was/were in any way connected to a god, all you have is a story of someone who may have very well been equally deluded as your average street corner preacher. David Koresh isn't in any way special, just because he amassed a following. Neither is Warren Jeffs.

      There isn't a single shred of evidence that your Jesus was the son of any god. All you have is hearsay from his followers. It wasn't until the first Nicene Council that it was "determined" that he was divine. Until then, a large fraction of his followers regarded him as just a mortal.

      December 14, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Russ

      LinCA: you can't have it both ways.

      Bart Ehrman is making a clear case that Jesus existed & anyone who claims otherwise has simply not done the scholarship. Why? b/c of the source material. Now, let it be noted that Ehrman doesn't believe in Jesus – and there I bluntly disagree with him. But we do agree on this: "certain things can be said with clarity." So, then we must ask what the sources say with clarity...

      you claim basically that Nicaea created the divine Jesus – that prior to that "a large portion" of Christians didn't believe. Your problem is that his divinity is interwoven in the VAST number of manuscripts PRE-dating Nicea for centuries. Both in contested & non-contested texts. While some have argued these are just lies, what cannot be argued is that the miraculous (including & especially the claim to divinity) are there from the earliest manuscripts. It is a core teaching of the Christian faith from the outset.

      1 Cor.15:1-3 states it plainly. The resurrection happened. And that's just 15-20 years after Jesus' death. Paul even names names & says Jesus appeared to over 500 at once – certainly many of those were still alive. What's he doing? inviting fact checking. or do you deny that correspondence & travel was a reality within the Roman Empire (and much more so in the tight knit He.llenized Jewish communities in which Christianity began)?

      Php.2:6-10 states his divinity bluntly. And that's also within 20 or so years of Jesus' death.
      Even the demons state it bluntly throughout Mark (which many believe is the earliest Gospel).
      John throughout states his divinity – even putting the very name of YHWH on Jesus lips as self-description ("I Am") throughout his Gospel.
      The very ti.tle "Lord Jesus Christ" which is used throughout the entire NT is a reference to the Greek version of the OT (the Septuagint) which uses the term "kurios" (Lord) in place of YHWH.

      No, the scholarship is clear. You may disagree and say the disciples lied from early on, but you can't claim the conclusion of Nicaea was a minority view that got the upper hand or it was just a creation of later generations. it was there from the outset. that much is clear from all the EARLIEST manuscripts – despite Thomas Jefferson's greatest hopes otherwise...

      December 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Russ

      You'll excuse me if I decline to take your attempt at using your mythology as proof of your mythology very serious.

      I'm sure a large number of people believe(d) that your Jesus was special, but the fact remains that you have nothing to establish that he was. The various god delusions were very strong at the time, and indoctrination is a powerful weapon. I have no problem believing that the authors of the early manuscripts were, in fact, strong believers of what they wrote, the fact that it's clearly nonsense notwithstanding. But even 20 years is long enough for a myth to form, especially in a time when very few could read or write.

      I find it far more likely that the accounts of his supposed divinity were written with an agenda, than that there was any truth to it.

      Feel free to believe whatever you want; I doubt I'll convince you otherwise. The case for the divinity of Jesus is uncompelling. Doesn't your god feel the need to remind his creation every now and then of its existence? It would be child's play for it to occasionally and unambiguously, show its might.

      December 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  19. xirume

    Drought, famine, storms, floods and economic failures can destroy the world. That is a logical observation, not a biblical prophecy. Believing these events are caused by magical beings up in the sky, playing chess with humanity, borders on delusional insanity.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Francisco Decastro

      That is a logical observation that was written in a biblical time where it was NOT logical. Are you smart? In the bible, it talks about humans destroying the earth. Back then it was impossible to have a human being destroy the earth. IMPOSSIBLE.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Concern

      The Bible predicts those conditions as to signs of the end times. Why compare our belief in God to magic? No Magic about it, I will pray for your salvation, sir.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • martin

      According to the string theory there may be numerous universes, invisible to each other yet existing in close proximity. Some thing these universes are permeable some extent, at least by gravity, at most by....??? this could be God, no?

      December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Sue

      Francisco Decastrated, that's baloney. There is zero valid prophecy in the bible. Anyone can predict all kinds of things, and enough stuff happens over time that something resembling their prediction will eventually happen. Present prophecies with exact dates in them on which the event was predicted to happen, and then show that the event happened on that date, or else just stow your steaming bullshit and shove off. K. Thanks.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • OccupyEverything

      @Concern You're delusional, but if you want to believe in fairy tales, I guess that is your prerogative.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • ?

      xirume, the famine in the Bible means not hearing or knowing Jesus' truth. You atheists prove this fact of biblical prophecies in end days.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  20. Chris

    People are idiots. The govt has been controlling our weather for years, but people blindly believe whatever the media and their govt tells them and fail to open up their eyes to the truth.

    December 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Francisco Decastro

      Yes, the government is controlling our weather. Oh no!

      December 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Concern

      Really??? Stop thinking, the world will be much better off.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Emeljay

      I laugh in your general direction. Very good.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I really hope you are being sarcastic. Really sarcastic.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.