The world didn’t end and we knew it wouldn’t. Here we all are on this planet and it’s still spinning the way it should spin and we’re all still online with working Internet connections, just as we should be. Cue Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.”
Now that the unfortunate chunk of history wherein we misinterpret the Maya people and make their culture popular for all of the wrong reasons has come to a close, perhaps now we can continue in earnest learning about the Maya people. After all, the Maya people did have beliefs and practices worth noting and discussing – but the world ending on December 21, 2012, was just never part of their ideology. Even if the Maya people had predicted that the world would end, what credence would that prophecy have deserved?
False prophecies always have been and still are rampant. The past is behind us and although there is much to be learned from history, great gains have been made that have led us to the present and these gains shouldn’t be undermined by overemphasis on past Doomsday predictions. At this point in technology, it’s incredibly unlikely that the end of Planet Earth will come without modern warning. Objects coming from space will be seen, man-made weapons can largely be tracked, and a number of natural disasters can be predicted before the fact. We’re not as advanced this year as we will be next year, but that same logic applies retroactively and should be used when considering the impact of prophecies made in the past. Before some of us attach ourselves to the next Big Doomsday Prophecy, let’s take note of some of the more popular End Times predictions that have come and gone while humans continued to procreate.We have documented apocalypse predictions at least back to 634 B.C., but let’s just take a look at the failed Doomsday dates of the last couple hundred years, give or take. National Geographic and Wired are just a couple of publications that have outlined some of these failed predictions nicely.
1843: The Millerites. William Miller, a New England farmer, predicted the world would end between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. The date was later changed to April 23, 1843. Thousands of followers went with him down this path and they all, for better or for worse, lived to see the light at the end of the rabbit hole. Some of the “Millerites” went on to form the Seventh Day Adventists.
1910: Halley’s Comet. A fear spread through the media and populous that the Earth would pass through the tail end of Halley’s comet in 1910 and that the End Times would be triggered.
1982: Pat Robertson. Televangelist Pat Robertson, from Virginia, told his “700 Club” TV audience that he knew when the world would end. In fact, he guaranteed that end to be 1982.
1994: Pastor John Hinkle. In 1994, John Hinkle, from California, predicted that the Biblical End Times would be upon us as of June 9, 1994.
1997: Heaven’s Gate. San Diego’s UFO cult, Heaven’s Gate, concluded that the Hale-Bopp comet’s falsely reported tail-end UFO was a signal that the world would end soon. All 39 members committed suicide on March 26, 1997.
2000: Y2K. People have long speculated the influence technology might have over the end of mankind and during the months leading up to the year 2000, these theories were everywhere. Nuclear holocaust and worldwide blackouts were just some of the End Times predictions made related to Y2K.
2000: Icy End. Richard Noone wrote a book in 1997 titled “5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster” and the idea took on, for some. He predicted we would suffer an icy death cued by the aligning of the heavens.
2008: Biblical End Times. The minister of God’s Church, Ronald Weinland, predicted in a 2006 book that 2008 would see the end of the world. Weinland went on to predict that the real date was May 27, 2012.
2011: Harold Camping. A radio minister from California, Harold Camping, predicted in May 2011 that the End Times would begin on May 21, 2011, and that the world would totally end on October 21, 2011.
And now, with the December 21 prophecies that have been tied to the Maya out of the way, I’ll continue in my series, “Life At The End Of The World: Destination Yucatan,” by exploring the Yucatan region and culture.