Scientists from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Science and Security Board have set the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to two minutes before midnight, the most dire setting since the US and the Soviet Union stood poised for nuclear apocalypse at the height of the cold war.
“We’ve made the clear statement that we feel the world is getting more dangerous,” said Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors and director of Arizona State University’s Origins Project at a press conference on Thursday. “The danger of nuclear conflagration is not the only reason the clock has been moved forward.”
“The greatest risks last year arose in the nuclear realm,” he added. “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program appeared to make remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks for itself, other countries in the region, and the United States.”
The Bulletin was founded in 1947 by a group of researchers, some of whom had participated in the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear bomb and were cognizant of the destructive power of the weapons they helped to create. The scientists set up the Bulletin as a means of warning the public about the consequences of using these weapons.
Every year, the organization sets the clock as a visual representation of the likelihood of a manmade global catastrophe. Since 2007, it has also reflected the dangers of climate change as well as new developments in the life sciences and technology industries that could inflict irrevocable harm on humanity.
The farthest the doomsday clock has been from midnight was in 1991 when the Cold War was ending with the Soviet Union’s collapse. At that time, the clock was set at 17 minutes to midnight. The only other time the clock has been as close as it is currently is to midnight was in 1953 when the Soviet Union conducted its first Hydrogen Bomb test, surprising the US.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, disputes the Bulletin’s assessment of mankind being a mere two minutes away from midnight on the doomsday clock, pointing to a secret spiritual weapon that keeps armageddon at bay.
“There are hidden tzaddkim (righteous Jews) in Israel today, people who know the secret names of Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’), who are are working to bring the geula (redemption) closer,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News.
“There have always been such men, but the end is delayed because they are praying to bring the geula in a way that is full of mercy and loving kindness,” he continued. “In order for this to happen, the prayers of the righteous are not sufficient; regular people have to be part of this process.”
While Rabbi Berger concedes that the world will most certainly not exist forever, he contends that the scientists are ignoring man’s spiritual capability in implementing positive change to potentially dire scenarios.
“The world will certainly end, and in this they are correct,” Rabbi Berger said, citing the Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin which states that the world will exist for 6,000 years and be destroyed in the 7,000th year. “But the problem with this scientific clock is that it does not take into account Man’s relationship with God, which is an essential element to the end-of-days. How it happens and exactly when is dependent on our tshuva.”
“If the last possible date for Moshiach arrives with only the righteous praying, it will come as the scientists said; with a horrible bang,” Rabbi Berger elaborated.
“God created the world, and He will choose when to end it. We are partners in this process but not the masters.”