Could a volcanic eruption lead to a revival of Christianity in Ireland?!

A huge volcanic eruption pumps massive volumes of ash and sulphur into the atmosphere. Unprecedented disruption to life across Europe follows as an ash plume covers the continent.

But could a volcanic eruption lead to a religious revival?

What if the ash cloud goes all the way to the Middle East and Asia. What if the world’s temperature drops. What if catastrophic effects follow for up to 10 years  – famine and a dim sun make it appear as life is about to end.

What if the unexpected sudden show of the power of nature makes people ask questions about the unpredictability of life and they begin to question and reassess what they believe as their assumptions about life are shaken to the core.

What if, in Ireland, in such circumstances, people turn to the message of Jesus Christ?

Well incase you think I’m getting a tad carried away, this all actually a very serious suggested scenario. Except it is based around evidence for a cataclysmic eruption in 536AD. Have a look at the RTE documentary The Secret of the Stones [episode 2 from minute 16 on]. [thanks Seamus]

Back in prehistory, I studied for a degree in Irish Archaeology at QUB. Prof Mike Baillie was one of our teachers and he is a world expert on dendrochronology. All the evidence points to a global natural disaster – tree rings across Europe and further afield show dramatically stunted growth right up to the mid 540sAD. Ice deposits also show evidence of ash deposits.

It’s Mike’s guess on the RTE documentary that these events caused ‘the wholesale Christianisation of Ireland’ as people abandoned their gods of nature and embraced the new Christian God.

Now this of course is fairly wild speculation far beyond the bounds of strict archaeology and full of  all sorts of naturalistic assumptions about how religious changes happens.

But it’s sure topical.

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