Will the world end on December 21st? An interpretation of an ancient Maya calendar has been used, for several years now, to suggest that the end of the world will take place on (or around) December 21, 2012. The film “2012,” starring John Cusack, made the idea popular with many movie goers. The warnings are linked with the Mayan calendar turning over on that day. A Mayan inscription from a small ruin was,at least according to some experts, mistranslated to imply big events surrounding that date. These big doings then evolved into doomsday scenarios made popular through various forecasts. Add to this the popular movie “2012” and there you have the buzz about the end next week.
So what should we make of this forecast regarding 2012? First, and I might surprise you by saying this first, it could be right. We do not know the day or the hour of the Lord’s return. In Matthew 24:30-31 we read:
Then a sign will appear in the sky. And there will be the Son of Man. All nations on earth will weep when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. At the sound of a loud trumpet, he will send his angels to bring his chosen ones together from all over the earth.
Jesus further warns in verses 35-36: “The sky and the earth won’t last forever, but my words will. No one knows the day or hour. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows.”
The Son of Man will come again and the Gospel text says this will be at an hour “no one knows.” The whole December 21, 2012, scenario is unlikely to be true precisely because so many people are talking about this date but someday He will come again and we do not know when. So it could be December 21st.
Second, this particular date is likely wrong for a number of reasons. Mayan expert David Stuart, author of Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012, says, “The end of the world isn’t something Maya made prophecies about.” In addition, expert scientists in general suggest that various theories about the end are almost all very bad theories.
A Wisconsin woman (hold the “cheese head” jokes, please) claims contact with aliens and says the ancient Sumerians discovered a planet named Nibiru. She says this planet will soon collide with earth. But astrophysicists have seen nothing like a planet headed toward earth. Further, the Sumerians didn’t even know about Uranus, which astronomers first spotted in 1781. There are dwarf planets in our universe but they are 4o times more distant from Earth than our sun.
What about the “killer asteroid” theories? The popular movie, “Armageddon” (1998), suggested a collision with an asteroid would be catastrophic. A prominent scientist says the question here is not “if” we will be hit by an asteroid but “when.” He says this will happen in the next 100 million years but it will not be likely this year. We are watching these events and, he adds, “we can do something about it.” NASA says there are 4,700 “potentially hazardous” asteroids that are at least 330 feet wide and within Earth’s 5-million-mile neighborhood. But none of these is big enough to destroy the planet, though serious damage could follow if one actually hit a major city. A prominent astrophysicist adds, “They whiz past us all the time.”
What about a comet? A large comet was detected in September but the closest it will come to the Earth will be 37 million miles. It might provide a wonderful light show next year but there is no evidence that it will hit Earth or destroy us.
Some doomsday theories suggest the poles could flip. Most scientists believe that this actually happens every 400,000 years or so. When it happens this is because of the changes in the planet’s iron core which reverse the magnetic poles. But the problem with this theory is that NASA says it takes centuries to completely shift North and South and there is no evidence in the geologic record of extinction events that resulted from such shifts.
Perhaps the sun will do strange things and a solar storm will end our planet? Every eleven years there is a “solar max” that produces major activity. The next such time will be in 2013. NASA says it looks like “ a relatively mild one.” NASA actually sends out routine “space weather” warnings days ahead of time. We seem to have survived any previous “solar maxes” and now we even have time to plan for such an event should it threaten us.
What if spontaneous black holes pop up and eat up everything in their vicinity? Europe has a large collider that smashes atomic particles. It has been running for three years now. The bottom line is that the gravity of a major black hole threat is greatly distorted. Some doomsday theorists have suggested that the sun, Earth and moon will all line up with a jumbo black hole at the center of the Milky Way on December 21. But what these doomsday people do not tell you is that this has happened on the same day of the year, every year, for the past century! Besides this, gravity does not turn off like a light switch. This has actually been demonstrated because of another hoax based on the popular 1970s book, The Jupiter Effect, which forecasted the end of the world in 1982 as a result of all the planets lining up.
The real facts are different than all these doomsday theories suggest. We survived a drought in 2012 that affected 80% of U.S. farmland. We had blackouts in India that left 620 million people without power. And we got hammered by a superstorm named Sandy that destroyed homes and took lives on our East Coast and flooded New York City. No one predicted any of these events in advance. We had only hours to prepare and then we could do nothing to stop the storm.
What should we do about all these (seemingly harmless) theories? I suggest we really and truly listen to Jesus’ warnings (which may have had the destruction of the temple in view in the first place): “Don’t let anyone fool you.” This is always good advice for those who follow the Lord.
We should be ready to live or die every day. But we should also be busy serving others, loving our neighbors and doing good. Someday we will all die or we will meet the Lord in his coming again. Will we be ready? So far as I can tell trying to figure out doomsday scenarios will do nothing to make us more like Jesus. I think on December 21st you will be far better for the day if you go about your business, celebrate the Advent, and give true love and life to others as real followers of Jesus.
Now here’s a novel idea. Take your eyes out of the heavens and focus them on people who are in need all around you and then let God be God. Sadly, more than a few naive Christians have been overcome by doomsday scenarios. The odd thing is that Jesus warned us about this and then clearly told us to not be fooled. Will we ever learn?