Column Date 2011-05-26


Somebody, someplace, is always predicting the world is about to end.


In fact, people have been obsessed with this idea since the human race first started taking notes:


An Assyrian clay tablet, from 2800 BC, says “Bribery and corruption are common. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.”


In Rome, around 200 AD, the theologian Sextus Julius Africanus said the world would end exactly 6,000 years after the Creation.


Jehovah’s Witnesses figured the world would end in 1918. After that, they figured it would end in 1925. And when that didn’t happen, they changed the date again, to October 2, 1984.


The leader of a Danish cult, Knud Weiking, said that a ‘being’ named Orthon told him the world would end on Christmas Day, 1967, when a planet-wide nuclear war would push the earth out of its orbit.


A group of Australians reckoned that the Second Coming of Jesus would take place at 9 AM, March 31, 1991. He would, conveniently, return through Sydney Harbor.


The leader of a Vietnamese cult, Ca Van Lieng, predicted an apocalyptic flood in the year 2000. Unfortunately, he and all his followers committed suicide together in 1993 and never found out what happened.


Pat Robertson, still going strong, wrote a book titled “The New Millennium,” in which he suggested that the earth would be destroyed on April 29, 2007.


And last week, of course, Harold Camping, the American Christian Radio mogul, was at it again.


He spent over $100 million on ads to tell us that “The Bible Guarantees the Rapture is coming on May 21st.” His previous predictions of the Rapture, first in 1994 and then again in 1995, were somehow overlooked by millions of his followers. the world going to end soon?


Well, many people are convinced that since the ancient Mayan calendar mysteriously ends on December 21, 2012, the world will end on that day, too.


I do know one thing for sure -- some day, some prophet will turn out to be absolutely right.


That day will be approximately 5 billion years from now.


That’s when our sun, an ordinary, main-sequence G2 star, runs out of nuclear fuel, swells up (like all G2 stars eventually do) and engulfs our planet.


The end is near. But it’s not too near.



© 2011 Peter Tannen



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