As it turns out, December 21, 2012, isn’t the end of the world after all. Are you really that surprised? If history is any indication, people have thought the world was coming to an end hundreds of times in the past few thousand years. Click through to read about some of these predictions.
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1. December 21, 2012: The “End” of the Mayan Calendar
As I write this, December 21, 2012 isn’t even over yet in most of the world, but suffice to say it probably won’t happen. If it does, though, no one will be around to correct my mistake, so it’s a bet I’m willing to take. One of the prevailing theories goes that the Mayan calendar abruptly ends on 12/21/12. The Mayans were astute scientists — if they didn’t bother to continue their calendar after that date, the theory goes, — it’s because the world won’t exist any longer.
The part that’s left out of this theory? Well, the Mayans didn’t mean for December 21, 2012 to be the end of the world, they meant it to be the end of a cycle of time. A new cycle will start on what we refer to as December 22, 2012, and what the Mayans, would call Day 0. Think of it as, well, New Year’s Day on steroids.
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2. 1806: the Prophet Hen of Leeds
You don’t always have to be a charismatic leader to convince people that the rapture is coming. You don’t even need to be a human, apparently! In 1806, a hen purportedly started laying eggs with the words, “Christ is Coming” written on it. Believers in this “prophet” came soon after, convinced their time on earth was numbered. Not everyone was so gullible, however — a few men snuck to see the egg away from prying eyes and quickly discovered that the eggs had been written on and forced back into the hen.
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3. January 1, 200: Y2K
Looking back, the threat of Y2K — that the incorrect date on computers would essentially end down the world — seems pretty silly. After all, none of the worst-case-scenarios ever happend: bombs didn’t go off, banks didn’t lose our money, the electric grid didn’t shut down. And, certainly, plenty of these fears were probably overblown. But that’s not the entire picture. Governments and corporations spent billions of dollars to thwart any of these potential problems. So if nothing had been done, would life as we (knew) it been forever lost? No one one really knows.
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4. 1994, May 2011, October 2011: Harold Camping
How do you cover your butt when the day you predicted would be the end of the world comes and goes and nothing happens? By claiming you got the date wrong, and revising it to a time in the near future. That’s what Harold Camping, president of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, has done time and again. September 26, 1994, May 21, 2011, October 21, 2011.. all days Camping claimed to be Judgement Day. And he’s not the only one: Herbert W. Armstrong had 4 different predictions over the span of a few decades; Pat Robertson has done so a few times, the Bible Student Movement had at least 7 predictions.. the list goes on.
Image Credit: O’Dea at WikiCommons
5. March 26, 1997: Heaven’s Gate Cult
In March of 1997, police in San Diego came across a grisly scene: the bodies of 39 members of the doomsday cult known as Heaven’s Gate. Its leader, Marshall Applewhite, had convinced his followers that aliens were going to destroy the earth. In order to be saved by a UFO spaceship that was trailing the Haley-Bopp comet, they had to commit suicide.
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6. July 1999: Nostradamus
People across centuries have credited this famed seer with successfully predicting major world events, such as the September 11 attacks, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the French revolution. So it’s no surprised that his prediction for the end of the world was taken seriously by many. Nostradamus once wrote,
“The year 1999, seventh month,
From the sky will come a great King of Terror:
To bring back to life the great King of the Mongols,
Before and after Mars to reign by good luck.”
So why didn’t the world end? Well, for one thing, he probably didn’t mean that. In the original French printing, Nostradamus used the word for “defraying the costs of something,” not the word for “terror.” The word “ciel” is translated to mean “sky,” but it could have also meant “region,” or, perhaps, “higher social class.” In short? Nostradamus never really predicted July 1999 as the time the world would come to an end, his work has been mistranslated.
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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
7. C. 5,000,000,000: Generally Accepted Scientific Theory
Even scientists believe that nothing can last forever, including our planet. But don’t start prepping for doomsday just yet — that probably won’t happen for another few billion years. So what will judgement day look like? Well, the sun will continue to get brighter: raising the temperature on earth, evaporating the world’s oceans, depleting carbon dioxide and generally making the earth uninhabitable.