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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, July 1, 2004

The End of the World

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 Feb. 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's 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 Dec. 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 in which 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 1978, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club announced that the world would end in 1982. 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.

Hal Lindsey, writer of Christian prophecy, wrote a book in 1970 titled The Late, Great Planet Earth in which 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.

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 -- the world will end the day I receive my first Social Security check.