Earthquakes and Rumours of Earthquakes
It seems to me that one of the passages which is most misunderstood and misused in the whole of the New Testament, is Jesus’ discourse on the Mount of Olives, which can be found in Matthew 24 (or Mark 13). There are numerous theories regarding the return of Jesus which are drawn from (or more often, imposed upon) this passage. One common idea is that Jesus taught that there would be an increase in the number of earthquakes just before he returned. Not only that, but we are seeing an increase in the number of earthquakes today; so Jesus’ return must be imminent. QED.
This superb article by Austin and Strauss, rather knocks this theory on the head. Not only did Jesus not say that there would be an increase in earthquakes, but also there is no demonstrable evidence over time that earthquakes are on the increase. This is a brilliant example of theology and science going hand in hand – love it!
A number of prophecy teachers say that a pronounced increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes has occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century, a worldwide trend fulfilling a prophecy made by Jesus. Contrary to these prophecy teachers, no obvious trend is found indicating an abnormal increase in the frequency of large earthquakes during the last half of the twentieth century. Neither is there a noteworthy deficiency of earthquakes in the first half of the century. Graphical plots of global earthquake frequency indicate overall a decreasing frequency of earthquakes through the century. The decades of the 1970s, 80s and 90s experienced a deficit of larger earthquakes compared to earlier decades of the century. The 70s, 80s and 90s are precisely those decades that many prophecy teachers suppose, erroneously, show a dramatic surplus of larger earthquakes. Regional earthquake data from California and Japan also do not argue for increasing earthquake frequency in the latter decades of our century.
HT Antony Billington who has a few more interesting links on the same subject.