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The End of the WorldPosted Saturday, January 10, 2009, at 9:26 PM
In the year 1514, Pope Leo IX wrote "I will not see the end of the world, nor will you my brethren, for its time is long in the future, 500 years hence."
If my math is correct, the world, according to Leo IX, will end in the year 2014.
Since the beginning of time, people possessed with a sense of pending doom and high certainty have predicted the end of the world. To my knowledge, it hasn't happened yet.
Near the end of the first millennium, many people in Europe predicted the end of the world would occur in the year 1000. As the date approached, Christian armies from southern Europe waged war against the pagan countries to the north in an attempt to convert them to Christianity, by force if necessary, before Christ returned in 1000. When Christ didn't return, those who criticized the church were labeled as heretics and exterminated.
In 1346, one-third of the population of Europe was killed by the black plague. Since this proportion seemed to correspond to Biblical prophecy, people presumed the end of the world was imminent. However, Christians had killed a majority of the cats in Europe at the time thinking the felines were associated with witches. Less cats, more rats. It was later discovered that fleas carried by rats caused the plague. The world didn't end after all.
On February 14, 1835, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, made a pronouncement at a meeting of church leaders that Jesus would return in 56 years. It didn't happen.
The Jehovah Witnesses claimed that the war of Armageddon would start in 1914, based on the prophecy of Daniel, Chapter 4. It didn't happen. They subsequently revised their proclamations, many times, to 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994, etc. It didn't happen, didn't happen, didn't happen, etc.
Seismographer Albert Porta of Italy concluded that the conjunction of six planets on December 17, 1919, would generate a magnetic current causing the sun to explode and engulf the earth. It didn't happen.
The founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, predicted that the "Day of the Lord" would occur in 1936. It didn't happen. Undeterred, he later predicted it would happen in 1975 instead. Many of his followers gave up all their earthly possessions in anticipation of the Rapture. It didn't happen.
Edgar Cayce, known as the sleeping prophet of Virginia Beach, warned his followers in 1942 that the earth would shift magnetic poles in the year 2000 and cause lethal worldwide catastrophes. It didn't happen.
David Davidson wrote a book titled THE GREAT PYRAMID, ITS DIVINE MESSAGE where he claimed the structure of the pyramid of Gizah foretold future events, including the end of the world in August of 1953. It didn't happen.
In 1974, astronomers John Gribben and Stephen Plagemann announced that multiple planets would line up on the same side of the sun in 1982, creating deadly global events. The planets lined up but nothing happened.
In 1978, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club announced that the world would end in 1982. It didn't happen.
Hal Lindsey, writer of Christian prophecy, wrote a book in 1970 titled THE LATE, GREAT PLANET EARTH where he claimed the Rapture would commence in 1988 (40 years after the creation of the state of Israel). It didn't happen.
Edgar Whisenaut, a NASA scientist wrote 88 REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE WILL OCCUR IN 1988. It didn't happen.
As we approached 2000, the year of the deadly Y2K bug, many people were convinced the end of the world was imminent. They built underground shelters and hunkered down. They hunkered for naught.
In September of 2008, Councilor Keith Martin and scores of scientists claimed that the large Hadron Collider built under France and Switzerland would cause the end of the world. The first trial of the collider took place on September 10, 2008. The end of the world didn't happen.
Other end-of-world predictions: St. Clement -- 90, Hilary of Poitiers -- 365, St Martin of Tours -- 375, Hippolytus -- 500, German Emperor Otto III -- 968, Gerard of Poehide -- 1147, Joachim of Fiore -- 1205, Pope Innocent III -- 1284, Benjamin Keach -- 1689, Charles Wesley -- 1794, Margaret McDonald -- 1830, William Miller -- 1843, Piazzi Smyth -- 1960, Charles Meade -- 1974, Lester Sumrall -- 1987, Peter Ruckman -- 1990, etc., etc.
Prophecy is a tricky business. Having certain knowledge of future events is a lot like purchasing a lottery ticket and making plans on how to spend the winnings. You don't know you're a loser until after the drawing.
My prediction made in June of 1972 -- the world would end the day I received my first real check from my first post-college job where I was making a decent chunk of money. It didn't happen. I was doomed to continue working and working and working, subconsciously yearning for the end of the world so I could escape the Treadmill of the Rat Race.
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We're all crew and we'll all go down with the ship.
On December 21, 2012, I will be hosting an "End of the World" party at my place. Bring snacks.
Quote for the Day -- "You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. To light a candle is to cast a shadow." Ursula K. Le Guin
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.