The world isn't ending
May 21, 2011 | 10 comments
Image Credit: NASA
[!gad]Depending on when you’re reading this, the end is supposed to be coming May 21, 2011 at 6 PM Pacific Time…or that time has already passed and nothing has happened. Go figure. Now you’re probably thinking “Well of course not, it’ll end in 2012” but here’s a big hint to when it’s going to end: we don’t know, we won’t ever know, and the best guess is probably millions of years into the future when our sun explodes.
So why, then, are we so determined to figure out when the end times are? Why do so many people come to these conclusions of something happening? Let’s first look at the history of the end of the world.
The end of the world, or fear of it, likely began by ideas in religious texts. You can find the end of time in almost all religions: Christianity believes in the return of Jesus and the end times, Protestants believe in the Rapture, Mormon leaders are claiming we’re nearing the end of our time, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe we’ll see not an end of the world but an end of how the world works, Islam has signs for Judgment Day, Hindu states the world will fall into chaos, Greeks had Zeus overthrown- Jews, Catholics, almost all religions have something. And each of them have signs that could be interpreted differently depending on which religion it is followed- signs that could mean the end has already happened, like those that follow Preterism and believe the end times occurred in 70 AD when the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans.
The end times actually began as early as 500 BC with Zoroastrianism, which spoke of a time similar to those in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts. So we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of years waiting for the end of the world, and yet here we are pulling numbers from the Bible and other texts, doing some math and wah-la- the end of days is here, right? Wrong. Then how could there be so many people who are certain we’re going to perish soon?
Alright, take a second and go look up The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin. It’s a painting from 1853 that depicts the end of the world by natural events and is one of the first bits of media you’ll see depicting the end times.
Then you’ve got Doomsday by Warwick Deeping in 1927, plenty of movies showcasing the end of the world. And did I forget to mention the media growing in the 1900s showcasing the problems of the world more readily and easily?
World Wars seen in theaters, then televisions in your living room- how could you not come to the conclusion we weren’t going to die? Especially with all of that scare that the Soviet Union would nuke us (but it’s OK, hiding under your desks will protect you from all that radiation!) And that lasted until the 1980s. Now what do we have to worry about?
Well if you watch your local news or get on the Internet recently (though I have no idea how you found this article if you’re not on the Internet…unless a classroom teacher printed this off and in that case: I hope you pass your pop quiz on this tomorrow) you’ll see that now we have crises everywhere: oil prices, wars are popping up every other day, a revolution in another country, and in our own neighborhoods it seems like someone gets killed by something every few hours or the threat of “severe weather” keeps us on alert. We’ve been thrown into a world where we’re scared of birds falling from the sky, global warming turning up the heat to deadly, and that nice young man walking down the street turning around and stabbing us with a knife he got off a junkie.
Then add in the cable networks needing something to do programs on, millions watching the prophecies unfold, and you have a waiting for the end times. We all know a comet is going to hit Earth, or Artificial Intelligence will take over and destroy us, or some disease will come out of nowhere and kill all of us (I sat by someone who had swine flu for a week and never caught it), or a SuperVolcano, Megatsunami, or a triggering earthquake will destroy everything. Or maybe we’ll just have a huge economic crises because crops fail, we become overpopulated, antibiotics stop working, or maybe the Hadron Collider will spit out a black hole and we’ll all be sucked into it.
Let’s forget about the fact that there’s a movie called 2012 or that R&B singer Jay Sean wrote a song all about how 2012 isn’t going to be the end of his love for you, girl (or something like that). We have bigger fish to fry (literally, there might be a giant shark that will engulf California in one bite!) in the media that puts the end times into our minds and has for years.
Numbers? Who needs numbers?
So OK, we have all these things telling us it’s the end- but what about all the prophecies that are coming true! We’re getting all these numbers that mean something! Guess what? They don’t mean squat.
The whole numbers game is about as superstitious as walking under a ladder or opening up an umbrella inside. We can do all the math we want with numbers in books, but so what? I’ll link all the numbers to the number 5 just to prove it.
1: Upside down it looks like a J, 10th letter of the alphabet and divisible by 5. 2: Flip it around a couple times…it’s 5. 3: Flip it around and it’s the letter E, which is…5th letter in the alphabet. 4: How many parts of the number 4 are there? 5 parts full separated. 5: Duh. 6: 6 flips to 9, so we’ll ignore that until we go there. 7: 7 is T and T? Well it’s the 20th letter of the alphabet, divisible by 5! 8: Totally looks like a B…2nd letter. And we know how 2 works. 9: Well, we all have to work 9 to what? 5! Bam. Done. Every number connected to 5 (and if you need 0, well that’s O and that’s the 14th letter…and 1+4 = 5). From there you just add numbers until you get one number and then follow the above map. Yes, so obviously this all means the world ends on May 5th 2005! Oh no!
But we’re forgetting one big factor about calendars and dates and numbers: it’s all relative. We’ve been using different calendars to tell what the dates are for thousands of years. Right now we use the Gregorian calendar, but we’ve before used the Julian calendar. Some people use the Hindu calendar, or the Hebrew calendar (it’s actually the year 5771 in that calendar). So how can we predict these dates with math? We can’t. I know what you’re thinking know: but May 21st was totally prophesized! And 2012 is the ending of a calendar!
Bad Conclusions from Even Worse Arguments
Let’s start with 2012 and this whole Mayan calendar thing. The argument, in a very simple form: the Mayans made a calendar all the way up until December 2012 which would mean that they believed that would be the end of the world. And since they were so far ahead of their time, they have to be right.
Wrong. First off, did any Mayan come out and say “Oh, that’s the end of the world. Last day. Afterwards we die.”? No, because they were all killed before they got a chance to. So we’re just assuming this then? Of course we are. Then the likely response is: why then that date?
Picture it this way: you’re making a calendar to plan for crops in the future. You make a calendar over and over and over again…and you teach others to make it. You wind up making it up until that fateful day in December of 2012 (Gregorian calendar of course). Then someone comes and kills you and everyone you taught to make the calendar. Guess that means something significant will happen on the date you were able to get to, right? Or…were you just not finished? Oh, I’m sorry…did you want to keep going and making calendars? Well too bad, you’re dead.
And just because someone is “far ahead” of their time doesn’t mean they’re right about everything. If you read that someone like Beethoven said the end would be on a certain day, would you believe it? No? But he was so far ahead of his time!
The reason the Mayans get all the flack: Native American culture has a huge veil of mysticism around it and the Mayans- who died so quickly- have so many questions surrounding them. So with so many questions, we come to conclusions without actually finding any relevant information.
“What about the prophecies!?”
Right. Because if we believed every person who claimed they were a prophet, we’d probably be in a UFO behind Haley’s comet right now. Or maybe we could’ve believed Centro, a religious organization that believed the world would end in 1998- or believe Edgar Casey who predicted a pole shift (which would cause destruction) the same year. Or maybe believe the House of Yahweh, that thought the same thing and that people would mostly be dead in 2001 by nuclear warfare.
Still, I do plan to have a car full of gas, a baseball bat, and anything else I would need in case of a zombie attack come Saturday. And ya know, if Jesus returns I guess I’ll be all “Jesus, I have a shirt that says I’m your homeboy. You know me, dawg.”
Hopefully He’ll have a sense of humor.