Gordon Holmes: It’s the end of the world as we know it ... and I feel fine

Gordon Holmes
Gordon Holmes
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Welcome to the end of the world.

That’s right isn’t it? This is 2012, the year when ancient prophecies come true and the earth as we know it will cease to exist?

To be precise, if you go by the ‘End Times’ prophecy of the Mayans, the date shall be December 21, 2012 - which is a bit of a bummer if you have already splashed out on all your Christmas presents.

Why this date exactly, well nobody knows but apparently one possibility is it is to do with magnetic fields and pole shifts which is what the Maya based their calendars on and December 21 is when it all aligns again.

What happens then, well some theories believe it will be the total end of civilization, as we know it, while others believe it is simply a change of enlightenment in this current time when mankind moves to a higher plane of understanding and intelligence (now that really would be a miracle...).

Truth is, we will all just have to wait and see what happens when the end date finally arrives - my own theory is that on the morning of December 22, we’ll be waking up to the same trials and tribulations of daily life as always and another doomsday prophecy will have come and gone.

River of lava

I have no time for organised faith systems and my natural cynicism means I usually need some hard evidence before I accept, well, anything, so I suppose if the world does end, I still won’t believe it until the river of lava or 100 foot wave is spotted coming down Kirk Wynd.

Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time we’ve been told that Armageddon is almost upon us and that the end of the world is nigh (there are old blokes with long scruffy white beards and sandwich boards who have practically made a living out of proclaiming such an event).

A little research unearthed an incredible list of failed prophecies, some from the ancient world (if you’re going to make wild predictions, base them hundreds of years in the future and if you’re wrong, what do you care...), to much more modern ‘scientific’ based theories, which have proved equally unfounded.

The Maya aside (who clearly knew when the end of the world was coming but not the extinction of their own race), the most well-known prophet of doom is probably Nostradamus.

His year was 1999 but we survived that and the doom merchants who predicted catastrophe when we entered the new millennium in 2000 - if you don’t count the birth of the expression ‘the noughties’ as a catastrophe I suppose.

Cleansing

My personal favourite false prophet, however, is probably New England Baptist minister William Miller who proclaimed the ‘cleansing’ of the earth would take place between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.

When that time span came and went, he, and his followers, the ‘Millerites’ (!), concluded their calculations were a bit off and Judgement Day was going to be April 18, then October 22, then sometime in March 1845, then June... and so on.

Miller kept believing the end was coming right up until 1849 when he died... and it did.

While we of rational thought can joke about these ‘prophecies’, sometimes it can lead to tragedy among those who, for whatever reason, are compelled to believe.

In 1997, the Heaven’s Gate cult believed an object spotted following the Hale-Bopp comet was a spaceship coming to pick them up but only if they left their Earthly vessels behind - 39 members of the group committed suicide in order to do so.

Most recently, 89-year-old Harold Camping predicted the end of the world on May 21, 2011, backed by a $100m advertising campaign across the globe, funded by his followers.

Even after he had already done something similar in 1994, there were still people willing to part with cash and give up their lives to await ‘The Rapture’.

So, should we be worried about what might happen this year?

Well, if you ask me, the biggest disaster connected to 2012 has already taken place - John Cusack, what were you thinking..?

* Gordon Holmes writes for the Fife Free Press