Religious information & conflict
||"About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies,
and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition." Sir Isaac Newton
(1643-1727 CE) 1 Newton predicted that the end of the world will occur in 2060.
||"The prophecies are to be unintelligible to the ungodly but
intelligible to those who are properly instructed." Blaise Pascal (1623 -
1662 CE) 2
||"The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound.
Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and
it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching." Allegedly,
this came from an Assyrian tablet, c. 2800 BCE.
However I seem to recall that an almost identical message was said to have
appeared as graffiti on a wall in Pompeii.
||"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." A statement attributed to Jesus. Mark 13:32, King James Version. 3
Predicting a specific date for the end of the world:
Most humans follow one of two concepts of time:
- Today's Neopagan religions, including Wicca; Native Spirituality; many ancient Pagan religions; and some other cultures -- including the Mayan -- view(ed) time as cyclical. They follow(ed) -- the Earth's seasons and other cycles of nature, ranging from the daily cycle of light and darkness to seasons, to the intervals of drought and famine that lasted for years. In the case of the Maya and a few other groups, they were aware of the "Great Year" or "Platonic Year" which repeats every 25,765 years. It is seen in the "precession of the equinoxes," which in turn is caused by the Earth's axis slowly wobbling on its axis like a top.
- Today's monotheistic religions and some other faiths view time as having a start -- at the time of creation -- and an end -- typically in some form of apocalypse involving chaotic events and great loss of life. For millennia, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others have been predicting the year, the month and
sometimes the day when the end will come. In the case of Christianity, the end is predicted to involve the War of Armageddon -- God's massive genocide that will exterminate over 2 billion people on Earth, cause incredible suffering, and generate many devastating upheavals.
Richard J. Hooper in his book, "End of Days: Predictions of the End from Ancient Sources:" describes a typical scenario predicted by some religions involving an:
"... apocalyptic drama -- destruction, cosmic warfare, the coming of a messiah, the judgment of humanity, and the ushering in of a new world."
He writes that this:
"... sounds like the drama that takes place in the New Testament's book of Revelation. But an almost identical story can be found in the sacred texts of Zoroastrians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists."
Focusing 2012-DEC-21 as a specific date of the end:
One problem can arise when futurists from a Christian or other monotheistic tradition anticipate the end of time and search through ancient information from a Pagan or Neopagan religion -- the Maya for example -- for a date on which to hang a prediction. This appears to have been responsible for the increasing concern over events predicted for the date 2012-DEC-21. That date marked the Winter Solstice. It ended the Mayan calendar's current cycle and began the next cycle. Dozens of authors have coupled that event with Jewish/Christian/Muslim apocalyptic concepts, and have predicted chaos and destruction on that date. Those predictions generated increased stress and fear in the lives of tens of millions of people as the date approached. They caused some individuals to have an emotional breakdown. It drove Isabel Taylor, 16, from Neston in Wiltshire, England to commit suicide. 6 Mark Van Stone delivered a speech "Doomsday 2012 and Cosmophobia: Challenges and Opportunities for Science Communication at a conference of the Astronomical Sociiety of the Pacific. He said that a poll taken in 2012-MAY revealed :
"... that two out of ten Americans participating believe that that Doomsday is on the way and one in ten do not expect to survive past December 21 of this year. Every elementary and middle school teacher that I have talked with says that their students are all talking about the December doomsday, and many are greatly upset by the prospect of dying in just a few months along with their families and everyone else. One California teacher told me that the parents of two of her students had told her that they were planning to kill their children and themselves before the December 21 catastrophe." 7
We suspected that bookstores and online booksellers would have major sales of books in late 2012 about apocalyptic events on 2012-DEC-21. They probably wanted to unload their inventory because these books will suddenly lose their value on 2012-DEC-22.
Other authors use the same date but predict some type of positive spiritual transformation.
Dirk van Tuerenhout is an anthropologist and curator of the exhibit "Maya 2012: Prophecy Becomes History," at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Commenting on the 2012-DEC-21 speculations, he said:
"There are all kinds of lines of thought. ... It's absolutely not the end. This is just one calendar being exchanged for another."
To the ancient Mayans DEC-21 merely represents the end of one cycle of their calendar and the beginning of the next cycle. It resembles the process of removing a 2012 calendar from the wall on New Year's Day and replacing it with a 2013 calendar.
As a word of comfort, we would point out that down through history religious leaders, scientists, fiction writers, and others have made tens of thousands of predictions of apocalyptic scenarios that were supposed to have happened in our past. All have failed 6 including that for 2012-DEC-21. We see no likelihood that predictions of such disasters in our future will occur, with two exceptions:
- We expect that if people don't learn become religiously tolerant and learn to coexist with individuals and groups of different religions, then World War III triggered by religious hatred may be inevitable. It would be a religiously motivated war which tend to be much more vicious than ordinary wars because both or all sides would believe that they are acting on behalf of their God, and carrying out his will. If both or all sides possess nuclear weapons in sufficient numbers, billions could die.
- Scientists estimate that the Sun has reached about half of its life span. They predict that in about 5 billion years, the Sun will become unstable, become a red giant, and enlarge to encompass (or nearly overtake) the orbit of the earth. No life could survive.
We suspect that cira 2016, stories will start to circulate about some new date for the end of the world, probably in the early 2020's.
Millennium and TEOTWAWKI topics covered in this
Introduction to TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)
Related essays on this web site:
A charming, skeptical, and imaginative web site dealing with "The End:"
Loren Madsen has created a web site at http://www.manyendings.com dealing with TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it). It includes both prophecies from religious figures, academics, etc. and is graphic intensive. It is well worth visiting; a lot of fun.
Amazon.com lists the following books about the end of the world:
Sometimes, these searches of the Amazon data base produce rather humorous book selections that are unrelated to the search topic.
- Quotation found on the web site of the "Ancient of Days UFO Conference"
in Roswell, NM for 2003-JUL-4. We are uncertain of its validity. Original
source is unknown.
- Quotation found on the "Blessed Hope Ministries" web site at: http://www.bhm.dircon.co.uk/ Original source is unknown.
- Serendipity, "New Age Truth," at: http://www.newagetruth.com/ Well worth reading!
- Richard J. Hooper, "End of Days: Predictions of the End from Ancient Sources," Sanctuary Publishing, (2011), Page 20. Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
- S.J. Gould, "Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist's Guide
to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown.", Harmony Books, (1997) You can read a
review and perhaps buy this book from amazon.com online bookstore
- "Teenager who feared the world was about to end," Bath Chronicles, 2012-MAY-18, at http://www.thisisbath.co.uk/
Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published 1996-MAR-03
Last update: 2013-JUL-12
Author: B.A. Robinson