End of the World

The Legend: 

It's coming... the end of the world as we know it. Massive upheavels, death, destruction, and maybe a new world order. The only real question is... when? Luckily, many gifted prophets have left clues; properly examined, these can give us the date of the end... and possibly the means to prevent it.

It's the end of the world as we know it?

As the year 2000 approached, so also did a large number of predicted ends of the world. Rather than going into too much detail about them immediately, though -- I might have been on an awful tight deadline, after all -- I instead compiled a chronological list of end of the world predictions, in order by the predicted date of doom. I ignored vague dooms -- such as worries of a super virus, computer or otherwise -- unless a specific date had been predicted for the doom. On the approach of another big end of the world prediction -- Dec. 21, 2012, the media screamed -- I started to expand on the dates in the original list, giving a brief detailing of the stories behind each prediction. I also discovered a huge number of additional predictions that I am forever adding to the list... it's getting quite full! 

        As always, it should be noticed that there are some definite repeating themes; namely, most predictions are attributed to variations of an end of the world predicted in the Holy Bible. As a matter of fact, cultures heavily based on Biblical belief systems -- Catholic, Christian, Protestant, etc. -- are far more likely to have people expecting the world to end soon than any other cultures on earth... so a belief in the divine nature of the stories in Bible, and especially the Book of Revelations within it, may be a necessary requirement for a culture to become obsessed with the immediate end of the world.

Main types of end of the world predictions 

        Most of the predictions I have at the moment fall into definite groupings based on just how the end is expected to come. Most are variations on how the world is predicted to end in the Book of Revelations within the Bible.

  • Antichrist -- Many people see the end as being predicted by the appearance of an Anti-Christ, the evil opposite of the Biblical figure, Jesus the Christ, as mentioned in the Book of Revelations in the New Testament. I find this interesting, mainly because I was under the impression from actually reading the Book of Revelations that the Anti-Christ wouldn't appear until after the end of the world had started. 
  • Judgement Day -- This refers to a day when the Biblical God will call up all the dead to stand side by side with the living; then God will judge each person, sending them either to hell or heaven, leaving no one behind on Earth. This is also mentioned in the Bible's Book of Revelations. 
  • The Second Coming -- This is a variation on the idea of the Judgement Day, as mentioned above. In this version, Jesus the Christ reappears on Earth to do the judging; in a popular version refered to as "The Rapture", it's believed that Christ will then re-ascend to heaven with all worthy humans, leaving the remainder of humanity to suffer and die on Earth, presumably then to go to hell or simply cease to exist. As early as the 3rd century, followers of Christ were telling each other that he would return around one thousand years after his first time on Earth and, though efforts were made to refute this belief, great panic and bizarre behavior attended the predicted end of the world in the year 1000 AD. Ever since then, new dates have been continually predicted for the return of Christ, all ignoring the words of Christ himself on the matter: "But of that day, and that hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." In short, no one knows the date of the return... not even Jesus himself. 
  • Second Great Flood -- This is a far less common belief, but one I wanted to point out for one reason. The first great flood is an event told of in the Bible's Book of Genesis that alledgedly almost destroyed humanity; but the people predicting a second great flood probably forgot the part of the story where God distinctly promised never to destroy the world in that particular fashion again. Whoops.

In addition, there are a few repeating ideas that are not directly based on Biblical beliefs.

  • World War III -- Many predictions feature the idea that a major war/conflict will trigger the series of events leading to the end, though there is some difference in opinion as to how the actual end will play out. 
  • Comet Collision -- The idea that comets were unlucky and harbingers of doom is an ancient one... so worries about being cursed, hit, or poisoned by a comet cover a surprising range of history. 
  • Astrological Allignment -- For some reason, astrologers seem to be constantly worried about the points in time when all the planets in the sky are theoretically lined up together on the same side of the sun... and a number of doomsdays have been predicted around such lineups.