Since time immemorial people have been predicting the end of the world. Fuelled by Bible verses, astrological alignments and a whole lot of mumbo jumbo, soothsayers have foreseen the coming apocalypse hundreds of times in the past. So far, they have all been mistaken.
I remember, as a child in the 1970s, reading about Nostradamus, a famous 16th Century mystic. He predicted (according to the book I read) Napoleon, Hitler and the Great Fire of London. He also said that the world would end in July 1999. By the time 1999 came around I waited with baited breath for a terrible disaster. None came. So much for Nostradamus!
If you spend much time on the internet then you may have come across another prediction. Viral videos, evangelical Christians, new age devotees, numerologists and all manner of folk are expecting the world to end – today! Yes, that’s right. According to some, Saturday 23rd September 2017 is the beginning of the end for our planet.
So, what do they base their predictions on? The answer is a whole lot of things, none of which are scientific. Firstly, there is a bit of astrology mixed with some obscure Bible verses. The Book of Revelation says, ‘And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.’ Well, it just so happens that today the constellation Virgo (a woman) has in it the Sun, the Moon and 12 stars (if you count Mercury, Venus and Mars as stars). So, that proves the prophecy – doesn’t it? Well, no. You see, this particular astronomical alignment occurs approximately once every 250 years. So why didn’t the world end on previous occasions?
Other predictions for today include the appearance a mysterious planet which will collide with Earth and destroy it. The problem with that is, were a planet about to hit us, we’d have known about it for a while – we’d have seen it coming. Unless the planet is invisible (I know – but we have to make some allowances!) then there’s no such thing.
So, should we be worried about the end of the world? Yes, and no. The Earth is in serious danger. As you’ll have read here in Nature Matters, climate change, overpopulation, habitat destruction and much more besides are causing mass extinctions of species. There’s no reason why mankind will not be amongst the casualties if we do not change our ways. But falling planets, Biblical prophecies, numerology and deluded predictions don’t pose us any threat. My advice – ignore them. If I’m wrong and the world does end today, then I’ll eat my words tomorrow. You can hold me to that!