By Frans Snackers
December 21, 2012 was the date of the Apocalypse according to interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar. The date gripped the world, resulting in various media outlets jumping on the bandwagon, like the producers of the film 2012. However, the date passed and nothing happened. While this might be disappointing to people that truly believed the world was going to end and consequently spent all their wealth on living it up one last time, the rest of the world was not really surprised nothing actually had happened. Throughout the ages, a lot of people have set dates for the end of the world, so far none of them have had it right.
Predicting apocalypses has been a hobby of many doomsday-preachers throughout the ages. This started off as early as in the Roman days, and still continues to this day. People might assume that these predictions are only made by people who will either benefit from people believing them, or people that would generally be considered lunatics. However, persons of note have also dabbled in the art of predicting the end of the world. Examples are Christopher Columbus and Isaac Newton, the last of whom predicted the world to end in 2060, based on his study of biblical scriptures. Let’s hope the apple missed his head on that theory.
Many predictions for the end of the world have had religious backgrounds. For example, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather, alumnus of Harvard and the university of Glasgow, was a prediction-enthusiast. The first date the minister set was 1697, which he revised to 1716 when that prediction failed. When 1716 came and passed, the minister rolled the dice once more and set the date on the year 1736. Unfortunately for Mather, he struck out on his third try as well.
So when can we expect the end of the world? Scientists have set the date in approximately one billion years from now. By this time, the sun will have swollen to such size that the surface of the Earth will have been burned to a crisp. However, well before it has come to this, the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere of the earth will have dropped too low to support any plant life, and thus have already eradicated all life on earth.
Richard Abanes, End-Time Visions. Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 1998. p.338