- What You Need To Know
- Visions of the apocalypse share at least a couple of general traits.
- Every apocalyptic prediction that has been made has failed to come true.
- The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been wrong the most.
“The Bible Code gives proof of Oswald’s destiny as JFK’s killer”
Today, not only will 207 million people, or about 3% of the world’s population, be plucked from the earth — five months of earthquakes and other disasters will follow, until the world officially ends on October 21, 2011. Lucky for humankind, 89-year-old Harold Campingisn’t the first apocalyptic theorist.
Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once advised us: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today; it’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
Traditional visions of the apocalypse share at least a couple of general traits. For one, predictions are set for the near future. We are a selfish, self-serving life form, so if the end isn’t in our near future, we don’t care. To that end, the apocalypse becomes a handy tool of manipulation.
The second trait is the most obvious: Every apocalyptic prediction that has been made has failed to come true. When this happens, true believers are fast to explain why, often suggesting that the world took various steps, such as prayer, to curtail or delay the event. Sadly for them, if any prophecy alleged to be the word of God can be upended through simple human intervention, there’s only one conclusion: God sucks at executing his will.
Here are five things about the apocalypse that you may not know.
1- The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been wrong the most
The Jehovah’s Witness began in 1876 as a ”Bible Student” movement, but today it’s operated by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTS), a mess of a prognosticator. The WTS has predicted that the apocalypse would arrive in 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1925, 1932, 1941, 1975, 1994, and 2004. In case you weren’t counting, they’re 0-for-13.
You might imagine that just one failed prophecy — much less 13 — would spell the end of any group, but according to Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory, the opposite is often true. Festinger’s study found that a failed prophecy has the tendency to strengthen groups like the WTS. He argued that it can be impossible to convince someone with real devotion to their convictions that those convictions are somehow flawed, regardless of how unimpeachable the evidence. One reason is because the devotee is so invested in his convictions that any challenge to them is perceived as a call to arms to defend them. They can even begin to see this challenge as part of the prophecy.
2- 2012 looks like one hell of an eschatological year
A brief, incomplete survey of these prophecies includes the following:
An aspect of the polar shift theory claims that on December 21, 2012, a shift of the axis of the Earth’s rotation will bring a host of devastating natural disasters.
The Orion Prophecy is a book that claims the Earth’s magnetic field will flip-flop in 2012, causing mass chaos. The truth is that the magnetic field will in fact reverse at some point (it has done so many times), but this does not happen overnight.
According to algorithms extracted from the bible and mentioned in The Bible Code, a big asteroid will strike the planet in 2012. The Bible code is the belief that messages, warnings and predictions were encoded in the Hebrew bible by E.T. and his friends (who also gave us our genetic code). The decoding technique was described in a paper entitled “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis” by Professor Eliyahu Rips of the Hebrew University in Israel. Incidentally, supporters claim The Bible Code gives proof of Oswald’s destiny as JFK’s killer, and it also predicted the apocalypse… in 2006. Remember that one? Me neither.
Some Hindus regard 2012 as the year an avatar — a god in human form — will appear on earth and usher in a new age, one presumably favorable to the Hindu faithful.
Meanwhile, alien devotees believe that 2012 is the year when those aliens who first gave human civilization a kick start will return to see how we’ve done. Some believe they’ll give us another boost or two if we haven’t lived up to potential, while others expect mass slavery as punishment for our slacker ways.
Finally, Nostradamuspredicted the apocalypse for 2012, but you’ll have to wait until 2013 to see how it ends. What a cliffhanger.
3- Nostradamus never accurately predicted an event
Nostradamus, the 16th century apothecary, gets a lot of press for making accurate predictions on virtually every major event since he died in 1566. But his followers consistently commit three overwhelming flaws. The first is that some of them work from poor French translations. The second lies in interpretation — Nostradamus was no idiot, and his quatrains are so ambiguous that they allow for the extraction of virtually any event. The third, and most damaging to his status as a ”seer,” is that his followers engage in “postdiction” — it is only after a major world event occurs that his believers begin to search his works for the ”prediction.”
If Nostradamus can’t be understood prior to an event, he can’t be said to have predicted it. An alleged, loosely interpreted prediction ex post facto is not only without any merit, it also fails to qualify as a prediction.
At his core, Nostradamus was little more than a thief and a plagiarist who stole from the likes of classical historians Livy and Plutarch, medieval chronicler Jean Froissart, and every contributor to the Mirabilis Liber, a book of predictions that dealt with Christianity and the French Revolution.
4- Many scenarios feature an ambiguously evil duo
Talk about your major, high-profile players. I don’t care who you are, if you run into either Gog or Magog, say your prayers. Variously represented as people, monsters, demons, or nations, Gog and Magog are a force to behold.
Although first appearing in the Hebrew bible, they’re featured heavily in the New Testament, which provides what is by far the western world’s most influential apocalyptic vision. Revelations (20:7-8) defines them as the nations in the four quarters of the earth, which Satan sets out to attack and destroy by deception (sounds a lot like Ezekiel in the Old Testament).
In Islam, their arrival is one of the major clues of the coming apocalypse. Once again, according to scholar Gharm-Allah El-Ghamdy, “Gog and Magog (two hidden tribes of people) will break free of the dam that holds them back and ravage the earth. They will drink all the water, and kill people until Allah sends against them a worm which will wipe them out.”
Other scholars have identified Gog and Magog as Koka and Vikoka, servants of an apocalyptic demon in a minor purana in Hinduism called the Kalki Purana. They have also been identified, with some challenge from the research community, as representing Russia, the Mongols, the nations of Europe, the Goths, the Khazars, and the Jews.
All told, Gog and Magog most often are situated as the fall guys, the greatest enemies against whichever organization is making the prophecy.
5- The end is near when a hairy animal approaches
In Islam, both hadith (hadith is a collection of oral tales that relate the life of Mohammed) and the Qur’an feature numerous clues to the coming apocalypse.
One of the major clues in the Qur’an is the arrival of an animal so hairy that you can’t tell if it’s coming or going (in Arabic, he is described as Dab-ba). His appearance coincides with a large number of Muslims who have turned away from Islam (apostasies) and this animal will beckon them “back to Islam,” according to the scholar Gharm-Allah El-Ghamdy.