I recently had a discussion with a friend about the supposed impending approach of the end of the world, as allegedly foreseen by the Maya and represented by the “end” of their calendar on December 21, 2012. In a nutshell, this calendar is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a shooting target for a rogue planet heading our way.
Already more than a half dozen books on the subject are marketing astronomical fears about the supposed 2012 end time. And of course there was the film “2012” which heavily promoted a focus on this particular date, along with cracking continents, plunging asteroids, burning cities, and a tsunami throwing an aircraft carrier through the White House. This is not much different than the Millennialism that was prevalent leading up to January 1st, 2000.
As a Christian, I can say without reservation that these claims are completely without merit. In Is.a 41:22, God says “Let them (doubters) bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things (of times past), what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come (in the future). Here God is defying those who claim to know things in advance, or in the past. He alone claims this power and man has no such ability.
However, I will also show that these claims also have no scientific merit either. The non-ending of this calendar ( as promoted by hucksters), mixes in a bit of mysticism, some astrology, some mayanism, and numerology, along with utter nonsense. The result is an incoherent mess of ideas and baseless claims, many of them contradicting each other.
The Mayan Calendar Explained
“The Mayan Calendar was constructed by an advanced civilization called the Mayans around 250-900 AD, who viewed time as a meshing of spiritual cycles. While the calendars had practical uses, this represents the Mayan date of approximately 1012 years, 7 months and 1 day.
So what does this have to do with the end of the world? The Mayan Prophecy is wholly based on the assumption that something bad is going to happen when the Mayan Long Count calendar runs out. Experts are divided on this issue, but as the Maya used the numbers of 13 and 20 at the root of their numerical systems, the last day could occur on 22.214.171.124.0. When does this happen? Well, 126.96.36.199.0 represents 5126 years and the Long Count started on 0.0.0.0.0, which corresponds to the modern date of August 11th 3114 BC. Have you seen the problem yet? The Mayan Long Count ends 5126 years later on December 21st, 2012.”
“Archaeologists and mythologists believe that the Mayans predicted an age of enlightenment when 188.8.131.52.0 comes around; there isn’t actually much evidence to suggest doomsday will strike. If anything, the Mayans predict a religious miracle, not anything sinister. Mayan archaeo-astronomers are even in debate as to whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to 0.0.0.0.0 after 184.108.40.206.0, or whether the calendar simply continues to 220.127.116.11.0 (approximately 8000 AD) and then reset. As Karl Kruszelnicki writes:
“…when a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So 18.104.22.168.0 in the Mayan calendar will be followed by 0.0.0.0.1 – or good-ol’ 22 December 2012….” – Excerpt from Dr Karl’s “Great Moments In Science.”” (universetoday.com)
“We also have to consider that this is a theoretical reconstruction of the Mayan calendar, since it hasn’t been in use for hundreds of years. The Mayan epoch shown above was hotly debated by archeologists for many decades. The date shown is a consensus date, originally proposed by J.E.S. Thompson, and supported by carbon dating and other methods. However, this particular date for the Mayan epoch could still be off by some amount, possibly by years. Thus any eschatological theories based on this calendar would have to be adjusted accordingly.” (SacredTexts.com)
One thing to note for Christians: the Mayan calendar, as we have seen, dabbles heavily in pagan mythology and use, whereas the Bible tells us in Exod. 20:3 that we should have no other gods before the true God.
And Exod. 23:24 states: “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and break down their images.”
Common Misrepresentations About 2012
On the Griffith Observatory site, it lists the five most common misrepresentations about the 2012 end of time date:
1. The Maya Calendar is “Ending”
FALSE. The Maya calendar is not spooling up the thread of time. It is coming to the end of a particular cycle in an unending sequence of cycles. According to the rules of the Maya calendar system, a primary interval, Baktun 13, for all practical purposes ends on the winter solstice, 2012. Although pseudoscientific claims have linked this calendrical curiosity to a Maya prophecy of the end of time, there is no evidence for ancient Maya belief in the world’s end in 2012 or even in any unusual significance to the cycle’s completion.
The Maya calendar relied on multiple cycles of time. In Maya tradition, these cycles of time run far into the future, and there are ancient Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions that project time into the future well beyond 21 December 2012. At the end of Baktun 13 (a period of 144,000 days or 394 years), a new baktun will begin. There is no Baktun-13 end of time. The notion of a Baktun-13 transformational end of time is modern. It originated in Mexico Mystique, a book published in 1975 by an American writer, Frank Waters, who made computational errors.
2. We Are Emerging from a Galactic “Beam”
FALSE. In 1987, the notion of the Maya forecast of the end times was linked to a “beam” from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The writer who introduced this galactic element also promoted it through 1987’s Harmonic Convergence. According to him, we emerge from the beam on winter solstice, 2012 because that’s when the Maya calendar “ends.” In reality, there is no galactic beam either observed or predicted). There is no astronomical or observational fact here, just assertion.
3. The Sun’s Pathway Through the Milky Way Is Somehow Related.
FALSE. Others have also noted the gradual precessional shift of the Sun’s position at winter solstice across the Milky Way. They have claimed the winter solstice Sun will coincide with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy in 2012. This is not true. The winter solstice Sun never coincides with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. There is no “galactic alignment” on winter solstice, 2012. There is no meaningful midpoint across the Milky Way. A midpoint for the winter solstice sun’s precessional passage across the Milky Way cannot be defined to a century, let alone a single day (and certainly not to 21 December 2012).
4. A Planetary Alignment Will Destroy the Earth.
FALSE. Some have claimed an alignment of planets occurs on winter solstice, 2012, and will cause a catastrophic reversal of the earth’s magnetic field. There is no such planetary alignment on winter solstice, 2012, and even if all the planets did align in this fashion, it would not cause such a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field. There have been numerous planetary alignments and they have had no effect on the Earth.
5. The Mysterious Planet Niburu Is Headed Our Way.
FALSE. Conspiracy fatalists are convinced that the imaginary planet Niburu is out there and headed our way. According to this bizarre scenario, NASA, the astronomical community, and presumably everyone else “in the know” allegedly have observed the approach of the planet, placed an embargo on this knowledge, and are deliberately misleading the public. Of course all of this is nonsense as there is absolutely no evidence of the existence of such a planet at all.
“The primary source of the idea that the world will end on 2012 comes from Monument 6 of the Mayan ruin known as Tortuguero in the Mexican state of Tabasco. Monument 6 has the only known inscription depicting the end of the current 13-baktun era in 2012.
An incomplete inscription refers to “the end of the 13th b’ahktun which we will see in the year 2012,” along with the word “utom,” translated as “it will happen.” A crack in the inscription makes reading what follows difficult if not impossible, though there is a phrase translated as “he [perhaps a god] will descend.”Some see that as an indication of a cataclysmic event. But other Maya experts point out that the same verb (descend) is used as part of many Mayan dedication events and seems to not necessarily have a destructive connotation.
Many have taken that fragment of a sentence carved in stone and run with it, adding the supposed Maya knowledge that, according this sfgate article, “the Earth’s axis wobbles, slightly changing the alignment of the stars every year. Once every 25,800 years, the sun lines up with the center of our Milky Way galaxy on a winter solstice, the sun’s lowest point in the horizon. That will happen on Dec. 21, 2012, when the sun appears to rise in the same spot where the bright center of galaxy sets.”(Examiner.com)
Responding to all that doomsday talk with a healthy dose of skepticism, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have launched a Web page to dispel the myths surrounding the momentous occasion. NASA explains the calendar ends like your kitchen calendar ends on December 31, 2009. That does not mean the world is going to end in 2009. It means you need a new calendar.
On an FAQ page called, “2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won’t End?” they point out that the Planet Nibiru was predicted to hit the Earth in May of 2003, and as far as we know, it didn’t. And someone just pushed reset, and now it’s coming in 2012. Even if a collision with Nibiru were real astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.
NASA also states that the Earth reverses its magnetic polarity once every 400,000 to 500,000 years. There’s absolutely no reason to think it will happen now, [and] no reason to think it will cause a problem if it did.
As for dark rifts, this is just a place where there are dust clouds in the Milky Way. When did someone decide to be afraid of that?
So to lay it to rest, their website explains succinctly: “There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.”
So it seems that the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, Internet doomsday rumors and overhyped TV specials that cleverly mix predictions from Nostradamus and the Mayas to fool the unwary.