Debunking the 2012 ‘Apocalypse’

Cave painting — Predicting the end of the world has been a recurring event since the Old Testament days. Cartoon by Philip Andrews

Now that 2012 has finally arrived, the world turns its watchful eye to Dec. 21.

The end of the Mayan calendar, and the end of the world — or so some believe — is only 11 months away.

But in all seriousness, there are some very real aspects to consider about this whole “doomsday” business.

First and foremost, the Mayan calendar most certainly does not predict the apocalypse.

Originally, the Mayans used something called the “Calendar Round.” It was a 52-year cycle arranged to cover the lifespan of the average Mayan.

Frustrated with the restrictions of such a short calendar, the Mayans, who were brilliant astronomers and mathematicians, created a calendar based on numbers rather than time. This let them manage dates further into the future. And this “Long Count” was set to last 5,126 years.

But the Mayans — whose empire only lasted from about 250-900 A.D. — never had the opportunity to see the closure of the first Long Count cycle.

For some reason, they set the calendar as beginning in 3114 B.C. Add 5,126 years to that, and the first Long Count comes to a close in 2012. This is where the debates about the end of this calendar begin: no one knows what — if anything — will happen once it concludes.

Here is where the end-of-the-world theories begin. Many people discuss the prediction that a “Planet X” will crash into Earth. On top of this, a deadly solar flare and a complete shift in the geomagnetics of Earth’s poles are also scheduled to occur on Dec. 21, 2012.

Now certainly, if any one of these things actually occurred it would have catastrophic — or, dare I say, apocalyptic — consequences on life as we know it. The only problem is that there is absolutely zero proof that any of these things is likely to occur this year, or any year after 2012.

Obviously aware of the smorgasbord of theories floating around the internet, NASA made a New Year’s resolution to debunk these hoaxes on their website.

“Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012 … Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after Dec. 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on Dec. 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on Jan. 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar,” NASA said on its website.

In response to the questions about “Planet X” and a planetary collision, NASA was more than clear on the fictitious nature — and the background story — of this alleged doomsday prediction.

According to NASA, the story began with claims that Nibiru — a planet supposedly discovered by the Sumerians 6,000 years ago — was headed toward Earth. A collision was predicted for May 2003, but when no planet appeared, the catastrophe was moved to December 2012. This was then tied into the end of the Mayan calendar, resulting in an imaginary doomsday dated Dec. 21, 2012.

“Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist,” NASA said.

To wrap up the questions, NASA focused on the biggest query of them all: How do scientists feel about the suggestion of a pending doomsday?

“For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in Dec. 2012,” NASA posted.

Admittedly, the Mayan calendar is coming to a close. The 5,126-year Long Count is coming to an end. However, the Mayans had no ties between this and a doomsday — it was simply a way for them to mark time and events beyond the original 52-year calendar, and all of the end-of-the-world stuff was tacked on later.

The doomsday theories, if the experts are to be believed, can be thrown out with the bathwater. And according to Dr. David DeWitt, professor and Chair of Biology and Chemistry at Liberty University, apocalypse theories should not be the least bit disturbing to Christians.

“God’s promise to Noah, to never again destroy all living creatures includes in Gen. 8:22 the promise that as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, day and night will not cease. God has created the earth with protective and compensatory mechanisms so that it will persist and life will persist until Judgment Day, when Christ returns and there is a new heaven and a new earth. That is how the earth will end,” DeWitt said.

With this promise in mind, the suggestion that the Mayans could predict what our top-of-the-line planetariums, thousands of dedicated scientists and the Bible cannot is preposterous to even consider.

“In my opinion, global warming alarmism falls into this category as well. The earth goes through warm and cold periods. Being from Michigan I am well aware of the glaciers that covered parts of the Midwest, carved and melted to form the Great Lakes. This was not caused by SUVs and burning fossil fuels but a natural process that God put in place. Christians are called to be good stewards so we should not pollute or try to destroy the earth, but neither should we fear a natural catastrophe that would destroy the planet,” DeWitt said.

From a Christian perspective, the conclusions we should draw from all of this ought to be obvious by this point.

Yes, the Mayans were brilliant astronomers. And yes, the end of their Long Count calendar is fast approaching.

But most assuredly no, the world is not ending on Dec. 21 because of planets aligning or magnetic poles reversing.

Mark 13:32 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And that makes all of the apocalyptic predictions just a load of superstitious nonsense to help the doomsayers get attention and sell their books — just look at Harold Camping’s predictions.

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