According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press/Smithsonian Magazine, 40% of Americans think Jesus will return to Earth by 2050. Telephone and online interviews were conducted with 1,546 adults this past April. The Daily Telegraph highlighted some of the other findings:
By mid century, 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured, 66 per cent say artificial limbs will work better than real ones and 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.
But Americans are also braced for a major energy crisis and a warming planet, according to the survey. More than half, or 58 per cent, fear another world war in the next 40 years and 53 per cent expect a terrorist attack against the United States using a nuclear weapon.
The poll also shows a sharp dip in overall optimism from 1999, when 81 per cent said they were optimistic about life for themselves and their families.
I can certainly understand why Americans today would be less optimistic about their future, but I can’t help but wonder if Christians — especially in tough times — always believe Jesus will return in their lifetimes. Haven’t we been thinking this since the days of the apostles? A priest friend of ours — who happens to be a brilliant astrophysicist — thinks humanity is still young and we’re only at the beginning of history. It’s an interesting perspective to consider, given that many Christians seem to flirt with the suspicion that we live in the end times.