Matthew Munson: The end of the world?


Prophecies about the end of the world abound; there are those, religious or otherwise, who have studied some ancient text or interpreted a mysterious rune which tells us that Earth is going to end the day after tomorrow at seven minutes past midnight. The fact that these souls aren’t able to fully comprehend how end times aren’t likely to be predicted by a tablet or a scrap of paper tells us that they need remedial lessons in scientific literacy or, failing that, a couple of months in a secure facility located in pleasant grounds and with top-of-the-range medical supplies on standby.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are an example of a religious group whose roots are at least partly rooted in biblical interpretations of end of the world prophecies, centred around the second coming of Christ. Watch Tower Society publications have made, and continue to make, predictions about world events they believe were prophesied in the Bible. Some of those early predictions were described as “established truth” and “beyond a doubt.”

Pat Robertson, the one-time Republican presidential candidate and religious-right media mogul in the USA, has repeatedly tried to predict the future, with roughly the same accuracy as a dart-throwing monkey. In 1980, he predicted the start of World War III, telling his audience that the year would be full of “sorrow and bloodshed that will have no end soon, for the world is being torn apart, and my kingdom shall rise from the ruins of it.”

To be fair, when it comes to end-of-the-world hysteria, it’s not just devotees of the Rapture and the Antichrist who’ve dropped the ball, as it were. The supposedly significant date of December 21, 2012, saw a surge of excitement and dread among New Age devotees, many of whom flocked to holy sites all around the world in the hopes of surviving whatever they believed was going to happen. (My favourite story was about the mountain of Bugarac  in rural southern France: pilgrims believed that there were alien ships hiding out underneath, biding their time until Doomsday when they’d emerge and whisk people away from the planet.)

More recently, on Saturday 23rd September 2017, the world was meant to end. It didn’t.  When a certain correlation happened involving the constellations Leo and Virgo, and the alignment of several planets, all this could apparently have triggered the Rapture. People also pointed towards the Bible passage Revelation 12: 1-2 which predicts a huge astrological event; “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.”

If, like me, you’re scratching your head, the woman represents Virgo, the crown is Leo, and the feet is the moon. The final part of the puzzle is the sun, which passed through the alignment on 23 September, (allegedly) bringing with it destruction and suffering.

That obviously didn’t happen. but the man who claimed it would has now adopted a slightly different angle. Whilst the Anti Christ didn’t arrive and punish all the sinners, he says Saturday was actually the start of something much more catastrophic.

Doomsday writer David Meade told the Washington Post: “The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending. A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.” Meade points towards the various hurricanes, earthquakes, and even the solar eclipse to justify his reasoning.

His prediction is based on a verse of the Bible and a numerical code found in the Book of Revelations, specifically the number 33. Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God for the Jews, is mentioned 33 times in the Bible. So Meade argues, 23rd September was exactly 33 days after the North American solar eclipse, and the day that a mysterious planet – X, also known as Nibiru – passes by Saturday, which was going to unleash a torrent of tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

I hate to break it to Mr Meade, but Nasa has repeatedly denied that Nibiru exists, as astronomers would have definitely seen it by now. That’s fairly compelling logic.