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End of the world prophecies on or about 2012-DEC-21

PART 1: Interpretations of the significance
of the precise date of 2012-DEC-21

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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An updated assessment as 2012-DEC-21 approaches:

A group of archaeologists, anthropologists and other scientists met on 2012-SEP-28 in Merida, southern Mexico, to discuss the "final" date on the Mayan calendar. 1

Alfredo Barrera, from the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico said:

"The Mayas did make prophecies, but not in a fatalistic sense, but rather about events that, in their cyclical conception of history, could be repeated in the future."

He was referring to predictions of droughts, disease epidemics, hurricanes, etc.

Anthropologist Geoffrey Braswell, from the University of California, San Diego said:

"There are many ancient Maya monuments that discuss events far into the future from now. The ancient Maya clearly believed things would happen far into ... [our] future ... The king of Palenque, K'inich Hanaab Pakal, believed he would return to the Earth a couple of thousand years from now ... Moreover, other monuments discuss events even before the creation in 3114 B.C."

Braswell compared the calendar to the six-digit odometer on his first automobile. He said:

"The Maya long count system is like a car odometer. My first car (odometer) only had six wheels so it went up to 99,999.9 miles. That didn't mean the car would explode after reaching 100,000 miles."

Anthropologist Alexander Voss, from the University Of Quintana Roo in Mexico commented on the lack of apocalyptic visions among the Mayan:

"This is thinking that, in truth, has nothing to do with Mayan culture. This thing about looking for end-times is not something that comes from Mayan culture." 1

Among the authors predicting an end event on 2012-DEC-21, there are some who actually appear sincere. What seems to have motivated them is their concept of time which was the result of a merger of two very different beliefs from Middle Eastern and Native American cultures:

  • Within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam there is a common belief that:

    • Time had a beginning at the time of creation as described in the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, Genesis.

    • Conservative elements within these religions believe that civilization as we know it will end at some point in our future. It is viewed as a time of massive violence:

      • Most conservative Jews anticipate the arrival of the Mosciach (Messiah or anointed one), at the time of the "End of Days." Many expect this to occur sometime during the next two centuries. His arrival will be proceeded by great misery and chaos. The war between God and Magog will occur. He will redeem Israel. Jews will return to strict observance of the Torah. Non-Jews will observe the seven Noahide laws. Peace will develop.

      • Fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians anticipate the return of Jesus, followed by extreme violence during the War of Armageddon with the loss of more than 2 billion lives. This will be the greatest genocide in history.

      • Many Muslims -- primarily in the Shi'ite branch -- anticipate the return of the Twelfth Imam, the Madhi, who was born in 868 CE and is currently in occultation (hiding) until the Day of Judgment. There will be massive violence until Islam is forced on non-Muslims to become the universal religion.

  • Among the Mayans, other Native Americans, many Neopagans, and others, there is a belief that time is cyclical. It repeats continually in cycles.

These authors seem to have taken the Middle Eastern concept of an end to civilization and equated it to the end of one cycle and beginning of the next within Mayan and other religions. The result is a hybrid belief system concerning time which, in the opinion of many anthropologists and theologians, doesn't make a lot of sense.

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NASA weighs in:

As the final weeks before 2012-DEC-21 approach, David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, commented on the prediction that the world will end when the Mayan calendar comes to the end of its current 5,125 year cycle. He said, with little room for ambiguity:

"There is no true issue here. This is just a manufactured fantasy." 2

However, he warned against "the dark side" of end of the world predictions. He receives many emails from people, many of whom are young. Some are so terrified by the predictions that they cannot eat, or cannot sleep. Some are even suicidal. He said:

"While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned. ... I think it's evil for people to propagate rumors on the Internet to frighten children."

Lika Guhathakurta, a heliophysicist -- a scientist who studies the sun's behavior -- notes that we are currently reaching the latest peak in a regular 11 year cycle of sun activity. However, he says that this particular solar maximum is the "wimpiest" in some time.

Some of the recent predictions that seem to be completely without merit are:

  • Some planet or other near-Earth object will crash into the Earth on DEC-21. Actually an unusual event will occur on 2013-FEB-13 when an asteroid will approach the Earth, but will miss its surface by about 18,000 miles (29,000 km).

  • The Earth will suddenly move almost 30,000 light years into the center of our galaxy and fall into the black hole located there. One problem is that there is no available force in the Galaxy to cause such a movement. And even if there were, it would take the earth 30,000 years traveling at the speed of light to travel there. I personally find it a little hard to be concerned about something that might happen 30 millennia in our future.

  • The Earth will experience a complete blackout from DEC-23 to 25. Presumably this means that the sun will turn itself off. 2

  • The earth's rotation will reverse so that it will no longer go from west to east; it will switch and travel from east to west. However there is no known force that would be capable of stopping the Earth and make it go in reverse.

  • A supervolcano under Yellowstone will erupt and cover half of the U.S. with 3 feet (1 meter) of volcanic ash. There is a supervolcano there, but the chances of it erupting are extremely small. If it will happen on 2012-DEC-21, there would have been precursors detected long ago. 3

  • The Earth's magnetic axis will reverse so that the North and South magnetic poles will exchange position. Although this is expected to happen in the far future, such a reversal will take up to five millennia to finish. So the movement of each pole would only be a few miles per year, on average. 4

  • The star Betelgeuse will become a supernova and terminate all life on Earth due to the blast of radiation. It is inevitable that the star will become a supernova sometime in the future because it is a red supergiant and is in the final stages of its life. However, to be a threat to life on Earth it would have to be 25 light years from Earth or closer. Betelgeuse is about 600 light years away. 5

  • A galactic alignment will occur on DEC-21 that will create a massive gravitational effect between our Sun and the black hole at the center of our galaxy. In reality, the alignment actually happened in 1998. Also, the black hole is about 30,000 light years from us. It would have to be six million times closer before any gravitational disruption would occur to our solar system. 5

  • Some claim that the planets in our solar system will be aligned in some fashion on DEC-21. However, there are no known planetary conjunctions on or near that date. There were multi-planet alignments in the year 2000 and again in 2010, but there were no noticeable effects on Earth at the time. 5
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Beyond 2012-DEC-21...

If you wake up on DEC-22 and no disaster has already occurred, there is still a little while to go before you can feel really safe. Although the overwhelming percentage of scholars specializing in the Mayan culture believe that 2012-DEC-21 is the time that the Mayan calendar ends and restarts, a few use a different correlation which has the calendar starting at 3114-AUG-13 BCE -- two days later than the generally accepted date. This delays the end of the cycle to 2012-DEC-23. 5

Assuming that DEC-24 dawns without utter devastation, then the next date to worry about is some day in 2020. Jean Dixon who once predicted that the end of the world would happen on 1962-FEB-04, has since predicted that the Battle of Armageddon will happen in 2020 when she expects that Jesus returns to Earth. 6

And then there is the estimate by cosmologists that the Earth will be fried to a crisp about 5 billion years in the future as our sun swells to a red giant and expands massively in size. I personally believe that the human race will have exterminated itself in a religiously-motivated nuclear war long before that. Anyway, I doubt that any one of us will be still alive at that time. 6

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Adriana Gomez, "Experts: Mayas Prophesized, but Not End of World," Associated Press, 2012-SEP-29, at:
  2. Stephanie Pappas, "2012 Mayan Apocalypse Rumors Have Dark Side, NASA Warns," Live Science, 2012-NOV-28, at:
  3. "Don't Panic! 2012 Doomsday Myths Debunked by NASA,", 2012-JUN-27, at:
  4. "Will the world end in 2012, like the Mayan Calendar?," Time and Date, undated, at:
  5. "2012 phenomenon," Wikipedia, as on 2012-NOV-30, at:
  6. "List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events," Wikipedia, as on 2012-NOV-30, at:

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Copyright 1997 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2012-NOV-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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