Religion and SpiritualitySkepticism

What Do Jesus, Mayans and Particle Accelarators Have In Common?

There seems to be something ingrained in human nature that makes us completely obsessed with death. Maybe it’s something about its inevitability that fascinates us- or maybe we’re all just kind of morbid. Either way, it can’t be denied that every time a new theory about how the world is going to end emerges, thousands of people buy it hook, line and sinker.

Apocalypse predictions come in many shapes and sizes, but they all seem to have an irresistible appeal for a lot of people. Take the Large Hadron Collider, for instance. Remember when this was first set to be switched on back in 2008? I certainly do- because a load of my classmates came into school crying and being generally dramatic about how it was going to create a massive black hole that was going to SUCK IN THE EARTH! Oh wait, hold on a second; that didn’t happen. It’s actually been fairly promising and is still being used now- almost without incident. Scientists said all along that fears were unfounded. The main problem there is that tabloids see “black hole”, and report as such. The public at large pay attention to the newspapers, not the scientists.

Mayan Zodiac Circle.

Then there are the Mayan predictions. We’re all supposed to die on 21st December 2012 because that’s when their calendar ends, which is somehow assumed to be a death sentence for us humans. Even assuming that the Mayans had been amazingly accurate in their predictions (they weren’t), the end of this calendar still doesn’t signal the apocalypse. The consensus opinion between scholars is that this was just when their date cycle ended, signalling the beginning of “the 13th era”. It’s a similar concept to having centuries or millenia in modern culture. Besides, would the Mayan gods be cruel enough to kill us all in the holiday season? We could try to sate their thirst for blood with a big cup of eggnog instead.

Lastly, there’s the reason I chose this week to blog about apocalypse predictions- Harold Camping and the somewhat anti-climactic “rapture”. If you haven’t heard about this guy- as I hadn’t until last week- I suggest looking him up. Camping predicted that Judgement Day was coming back on the 21st May 2011, but unfortunately for him all of the non-believers are still here- in fact, nothing happened at all. He then revised the date to October 21st this year, as only a silent, spiritual judgement had taken place. In October the real rapture is going to happen, and that’s when all of the sinners are gunna get it.

People have freedom of religion of course, and if Christians believe that Judgement Day will come, nobody should persecute them for that. However, guessing when it’s going to come is a different matter. It seems downright silly that after predicting the rapture in 12 different years since 1844, they haven’t given up yet. Why are people so eager to have the world end? It certainly doesn’t seem to be something that most folk would look forward to.

However, there’s no use denying that life as we know it can’t last forever; it can’t. But in reality, the earth has around 7 billion years left. That’s a really, really long time. The bad news is that life on earth is only supposed to have another billion or so years left- but then again, that’s also a really long time. Who can say what science will bring in that sort of time? We might have civilisations all over the universe and beyond, or we might find a way to save our own little planet from destruction. At the moment it looks like we still have a good few years left- and the end of the world should probably be the least of our worries.

Images: Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. June 13, 2011 at 2:02 am —

    I thought his October 21 date was the one for the “end of the world,” while May 21 was just when the believers were going to be sucked up.

    Anyway, I don’t think it’s fair to say “Christians” as a group believed Judgement Day would come, as Harold Camping and his followers are just one small sect within the religion. I actually didn’t hear many Christians talking about it (save a few morons on STFU Believers); most of what I read and heard about the Rapture came from fellow skeptics making fun of it. There was a hilarious Facebook event called “Post-Rapture looting.”

    • June 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm —

      It seems like we were silently judged in May, and we’re gonna be called up on that in October.

      Also, I absolutely agree- I wasn’t at all trying to say that all Christians believed what Camping was trying to say. I know that it was simply a minority, however I thought that that would be assumed. Sorry if that caused any offence- I was simply referring to the specific sect of Christianity who listen to that guy! (:

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