“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine” … so sang the group REM. Over mankind’s history the end of the world has been predicted many times, most recently in the hype over the supposed end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012 (see our article The Mayan Apocalypse that never was ). In this article we look at just 6 of these gloomy ‘predictions’.
One of the earliest doomsday predictions was made by Hippolytus, a member of the Church of Rome. He calculated that the amount of time between Adam and Christ in the bible was 5,500 years, and assumed that Christ would return in the 6,000th year. This meant that the return of Christ, and therefore the apocalypse, would occur in 500 A.D. He made this prediction in 236 A.D. and was martyred soon after for his beliefs.
The coming year of 1000 A.D. caused some panic among rulers and nobility,especially when Pope Sylvester II predicted the end of the world on January 1, 1000.
However , when nothing happened, Christians modified the date to 1033 A.D. to account for the lifetime of Christ. A mass pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem occured in that year, with tens of thousands gathered expecting the return of Christ.
Another Pope connected to a false doomsday prediction is Pope Innocent III. He hated Islam and claimed that Muhammad was the beast from the Bible’s book of Revelation.
Because of this hatred, he predicted that the world would end in 1284 by adding the number of the devil (666) to the year Islam was founded (618). He used this as an excuse to stage a crusade against Islamic nations.
The number of the beast once again is linked to apocalypse predictions, this time in 1666 A.D. Puritans of the time were extremely superstitious, so that number had everyone on edge. When the Great Fire of London broke out that year along with the resurfacing of the Bubonic plague, it’s no surprise that people thought the world was coming to an end. A huge portion of the city was destroyed, countless people died, and many of the rest lost their homes.
The year of 1844 A.D. became known as the “Great Disappointment” when William Miller, a famous American Baptist preacher, incorrectly predicted the date of the apocalypse. This eccentric preacher used a series of calculations to determine that Christ would return by March 21, 1844.
Believers of his teaching sold all their possessions and camped out in tents to hear Miller speak. When nothing happened, Samuel Snow determined that Miller’s calculations were just slightly off and revised the date to October 22, 1844. When nothing happened again, the “Millerites” were mocked and persecuted for their beliefs.
And finally … enter Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster who made multiple bold claims about the date of the apocalypse. His first claim was revealed in a book published in 1992 that set the date for Christ’s return as September 6, 1994. The book also stated that the end of the world would finally occur on May 21, 2011. When nothing happened on September 6, he revised the date three times and has, ofcourse, been proven wrong each time.
Before you scoff at all the above ‘predictions’ as a symptom of the ignorance of people in the past just recall the recent Mayan calendar frenzy along with the predictions of civilizations imminent collapse over the year 2000 computer bug. A computer glitch that was supposed to cause planes to fall out of the sky and life-support machines to fail.