Table of Contents

Chapter 21: The Apocalypse and End of the World Theories.


By: David B. Weed


I. Abstract


1.A Family Waiting for a Plane By Zygmunt Kubasiak (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It is the end of the world as we know it, these are lyrics to a popular song as well as the subject matter of this chapter. The following chapter instigates a detailed investigation into the pseudoscience of predicting the end of the world. From a definition and separation of terms to a look at the fallacies that comprise them, to a roll call through the ages of failed beliefs, this chapter explores the reasoning behind some popular and obscure apocalyptic predictions, and why they all fall firmly under the domain of pseudoscience. Finally, the readers are given a warning, a final prediction, and the only one that is supported by the scientific community.

II. Introduction

Welcome to the apocalypse; please note the location of the survival bunkers located at the sides and rear of the civilization. In the event of an end of the world phenomenon, please proceed calmly towards the exits in an orderly fashion. If such an exit is unavailable, please take cover under the closest desk or table or next to a solid wall or outcropping of rock or concrete. Once cover has been achieved, remember to place you head between your knees and… you know the rest. Sing and dance, it’s the end of the world as we know it! What, no R.E.M.? Very well, let us try that again.

Welcome to the apocalypse; the end, almost, of the book and the world. In this chapter, we will be discussing the pseudoscience of Apocalypse and End of the World Theories. Hopefully by now the term pseudoscience should be an old hat, but to be thorough, the question must be asked again; what is pseudoscience? Pseudoscience is the term used to describe, in this chapter, predictions based on procedures and methods that sound scientific and thus deserving of the respect and authority usually reserved for science. The key differences between pseudoscience and science for end of the world predictions include the strengths of the hypotheses, failure to accept disconfirming information, and the misapplication of the burden of proof (Shermer, 1997). Again, what do these mean?

Science derives its authority by its self-correcting nature, hypotheses are set up in such a way that they can be disconfirmed, and through their failure to be disproven, are accepted as plausible explanations for the way things work until something comes along to disprove them. With pseudoscience, the hypotheses are set up in such a way that they cannot be disproven, only proven should such events happen that have been predicted (Presti, 1989; Shermer, 1997). It should be noted here that a significant portion of the end of the world predictions discussed here do not fall under this definition of pseudoscience as many of the theories demonstrated decided to risk reputation, often with the effect of gaining greater audience credibility, by giving a specific date for their predictions. Interestingly enough in some cases, the predictors provided multiple dates beforehand or revisions afterwards for their particular flavor of the end of the world, providing evidence for skeptics that something was amiss. Instead, the majority of end of the world theories fall under the aegis of pseudoscience due to a propensity to utilize logical fallacies in their makeup. A selection of these fallacies will be discussed later in the chapter.

The burden of proof refers to the obligation of the accuser, or the proponent of a theory, to provide evidence of sufficient magnitude to prove their theories or accusations correct (Shermer, 1997). This is seen in science as the proponents of a new theory bearing the burden of proof to support their theory against the dominant paradigm. For example, if one were to claim that the earth was round when the dominant theory of the time stated that the earth was flat, the burden of proof lies on the round earth proponents to prove their theory correct, not on the dominant flat-earth believers to prove it incorrect. The latter is what pseudoscience often practices, a new theory is developed, and then the developers place the burden of proof upon their opposition to prove them wrong. The reason that these aspects of pseudoscience exist and work well is because the normal population do not understand these distinctions between science and pseudoscience and more often believe the more numerous, and, thanks to the media which reports pseudoscience more often because of its entertainment quality, the more highly visual practitioners of pseudoscience.

Before we really get into the end of the world theories, there are a few terms we need to discuss that will be used throughout this chapter. These terms are Apocalypse, Armageddon, and End-of-the-World. Why do we need to define these terms you ask? Because according to the dictionary, even though they started out with different meanings, the first two terms currently mean the same thing; a great war between good and evil and/or a group of writings from widespread religions depicting a great war between good and evil (Apocalypse, n.d.; Armageddon, n.d.). Both definitions are not very helpful for the current endeavor, and both include the terms End of the World, which in this chapter we will use to describe something else, so we need to change them a bit.

For the purpose of this chapter, we will use the term Apocalypse to describe an event of such magnitude that it ends civilization as we know it. The way of life as we currently know it will cease to be a viable option and the survivors of the apocalypse event must adapt to a new world, or die. The difference between this and Armageddon, as defined for the purpose of this chapter, is that Armageddon will refer to an event of such magnitude that it ends all life as we know it. No more humans, most of the plant and animal life is gone, and more than likely the highest form of life left is somewhere in the cockroach area, if the Earth remains at all. This is an important distinction that in their normal meanings the terms do not possess but in the context of this chapter are necessary with different flavors of the end of the world theories. Finally, we have the term End-of-the-World. For the chapter we will use End-of-the-World to describe a theory does not require massive amounts of devastation to bring about a change in the world as we know it, most often the change results in an event which increases enlightenment and brings humanity into a golden age or a higher plane of existence. Interestingly enough, through a study of world ending theories, we see that most fall under the categories of Apocalypse and End of the World. Apparently, even though it is supposed to be the end, the doomsayers still like to have a little hope.

III. The basics of the end of the world – Something bad’s gonna happen!

So what makes a prediction an end of the world theory? Well, naturally as the section title suggests, the prediction is something bad will happen. But it is more than that, it is not just something bad, it is the end of society, people, life, and the world as we know it, or as anyone not of this planet would know it. The prevalent belief of this chapter is that at least the majority of readers would agree that these events would fall under the heading of a bad day.

As shown later in this chapter, the earliest recorded examples that survive to this day are based mainly off what the predictors seen as signs of the degradation of their society. For most predictors, this perceived degradation is a signal that the predictions made by prominent religious texts are about to occur. The most commonly referenced religious text for these predictions is the book of Revelation in the bible. In the book of Revelation are the predictions about the coming of the arch-enemy, or antichrist, his rise to dominance, the return of Jesus, his rally of the remaining faithful and then the epic battle between the forces of good and evil and the subsequent changing of the earth into a paradise for the surviving forces of good. Based on our earlier terms, all of the predictions made by reference of the book of Revelation are classified under the Apocalypse term, which is thought by some to be the origin of this term in its common use. Indeed, in its original intent, the term Apocalypse, derived from the Latin apokalypto, means to reveal, leading to the book of Revelations, or the Apocalypse of John (Van de Blessen, 1907), and from the contents of that chapter we have derived the term Apocalypse to mean the final battle between the forces of heaven and hell.

That explains the Apocalypse term under the heading of something bad happening, what about the other two terms. The term Armageddon also originally came from the description of battles between good and evil resulting in a total change of life as we know it. Recently however, there have come predictions that needed a new term. These predictions stem from knowledge of powers, gained originally though sciences, which have the potential to completely wipe out all life on the planet earth or remove it from the cosmos completely. These powers include, but are not limited to; nuclear power, nuclear weapons, super diseases, viral weapons, asteroid collisions, planetary collisions, radiation emissions, supernovae, solar expansion, etc. The term End-of-the-World is necessitated because of relatively recent developments in predictions that could be related to the advancement of scientific and pseudoscientific theories about the existence of extraterrestrial life and psychic phenomenon, as well as the popularity of the consumption of science fiction as a leisure activity. This is the optimistic category: through some action of our own or intervention from an outside force, the world is changed to a better place, with little to no bloodshed on the part of humanity, peace and love for all. Examples of this include, but are not limited to; visitation and adoption by friendly extraterrestrial life forms, discovery of a link to the Akashic Field, or repository of all knowledge, the development of psychic powers, etc., which brings about a golden age for humanity. Unfortunately for humanity, this last category is the least populated, it would appear that most predictors think that humanity must shed some blood for its golden age, if it gets one at all.

A. Why are end of the world beliefs so popular – Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Northwest Crown Fire Experiment By (Photograph used by permission of the USDA Forest Service.) [CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
As shall be investigated later in this chapter, there are many examples through the ages of predictions about the end of the world being made. Also further in, this chapter describes the multitude of people who believed these predictions. One of the biggest questions is why are these beliefs so popular? Do people really just want to see the world burn? The evidence would point towards no, thankfully. However, humanity is often the unwitting subject of both fear and fallacies in thinking. Fear can be easily understood in this context, fear of an end, of an unknown. People want to know when the end is coming to hopefully either prepare for it or avoid it completely, this sense of knowing could provide a sense of security and control over the future. This fear affects everyone, and, combined with the fallacies in thinking discussed next, lead often to predictions that have all so far been proven false.

B. Fallacies in Thinking

The phrase fallacies in thinking refer to the common mistakes in reasoning and argument that humanity commonly makes. More than likely, the mental mechanisms that allow the fallacies to occur developed along humanities evolutionary pathway to make the lives easier of those who used them. They would reduce the amount of energy required to think about problems and let people use that left over energy in the process of living. However, as can be seen throughout history, these fallacies cause us harm as well as save us energy, especially when exploited, whether knowingly or not (Shermer, 1997). While there are many logical fallacies that are used, and exploited, by humanity, there are only a few that show up repeatedly with doomsday theories.

1. Appeal to authority – “But he has a Ph.D./the backing of the Church/10 books out on this subject, so he must know what he is talking about.”

Al Gore October 2006 By Steve Jurvetson (Flickr: Goring Bush) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Appeal to authority is a common fallacy present in many doomsday predictions. In early times, the people making the predictions borrowed their authority from prominent sources of the day such as the pseudoscience of astronomy, analysis of religious texts like the bible, and direct communication with a deity. As human knowledge and science progressed, the sources of authority changed to mathematics, scientific observation, psychic powers, communication with extraterrestrial life, and the near mythic status of the high intelligence quotient. Even though the sources change, the process of the prophecy stays the same; because the prophet has consulted this source of authority, whatever that prophet says gains that authority. This leads to what Michael Shermer calls an over reliance on authority and a failure to examine the evidence (1997). Because these doomsayers have this perceived authority, the population as a whole is more likely to believe what is said instead of examining the evidence for themselves. It should also be noted that the ability to examine evidence personally is a relatively recent luxury, which as shall be shown, does not always let people disprove doomsayers, but add their own flavor to the next top Armageddon.

2. Ad populum -“Next up, on Worlds Next Top Armageddon, we take a look at the most popular doomsday prediction and why you should believe it; because everyone else does!”

Audience By Wikimania2009 Beatrice Murch (originally posted to Flickr as Audience) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Appeal to the people, to the masses, to everyone else. This is the bandwagon of humanity’s fallacies in thinking (Carroll, 2009). This aspect of thought could be a holdover from humanity’s social nature and need to fit in; if everyone else believes something, the person is likely to adopt the same belief to fit into the group and not become an outcast. This fallacy is often seen as the next step from the previous, an authority figure makes a prediction, and because of this person’s authority, the group starts to believe it, any newcomers to the group are then given a prediction on a second hand basis, merely because everyone else believes something, they should too. This adds another obstacle in the path of self-examination of evidence that the otherwise rational individuals might use to protect themselves from the belief in the end of the world.

3. Groupthink – “Well, we all here agree, so we must be right.”

George W. Bush Cabinet 2008 By White House (Eric Draper) (White house) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Groupthink is the fallacy in logic that appears in a highly cohesive group that fails to check their internal reasoning against the external world. Because of this failure, the group ignores alternative actions or ways of thought, they become locked into their own reasoning and see it as the only logical conclusion to whatever they are facing. A well known example of this include the United States failing to anticipate an attack on Pearl Harbor in the face of evidence that it was a possibility because they were locked into the notion that Japan would never attack them. Other examples of this are the Bay of Pigs invasion, escalation of the Vietnam War, and multiple decisions made during the Bush administration. Groupthink is also seen in the formation and decisions of some of the cults in the following sections. They are examples of like minded individuals in a group setting with high group cohesion, and more often than not think highly of each other, that make bad decisions because of a failure to think of alternatives (Kida, 2006). The murder of a congressional representative and four others, followed by the murder/suicide of the rest of the cult in Jonestown is one example, as is the mass suicide of the Heavens Gate.

4. Appeal to age – “They must have known something back then that we don’t now”

Archimedes Bust See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
While not a formal fallacy as such, this is a common occurrence in pseudoscience in general and doomsday theories in particular. This way of thinking assumes that peoples of an ancient civilization, the Mayans for example, had access to special knowledge back then that society today does not possess (Morrison2009). This also ties into the appeal to authority because it is common to co-attribute age and authority, therefore granting ancient civilizations and prophets of old with an almost mythic status when it comes to predictions. Unfortunately, it is also the case that if one thinks things through, which so rarely happens, that if ancient civilizations knew more than we did, they would probably still be around and if ancient prophets knew what was going to happen, why are there so many misses in their predictions.

IV. Doomsday Cults and Examples.

Before we get into examples we must, once again, define the term. So, what is a doomsday cult? For the purpose of this endeavor, a doomsday cult is defined as the cult following of a leader who has tendencies to announce that the end is nigh, or a group of people who, using any of the fallacies above, have come to the group decision that the world will end on a specific date or just plain soon. Michael Shermer has an excellent definition of a cult that we will borrow from for clarification of the term. The characteristics include the veneration, inerrancy, and omniscience of the leader; the person is the best and never wrong, about anything. The group employs persuasive techniques to gain and retain membership. They have hidden agendas and employ deceit and often include exploitation of group members including financial resources and sexual favors. A final component of these groups is that they have discovered as a whole absolute truth and morality (Shermer, 1997). Another interesting piece of information from Shermer about cults, both regular and doomsday, is that members tend to be on the young side of the age scale.

1. The Montanists, 2nd Century CE

Founded by a man known as Montanus, this is the first recorded doomsday cult of the Christian persuasion. Based on prophecies made by Montanus and others within the cult, the Montanists believed that Jesus would return within their lifetime and establish the promised New Jerusalem within a city called Pepuza. Even though the timetable predictions failed to pan out, this cult is interesting in that it remained a viable movement for long years (one reference states centuries) after the death of the founder (Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005; Robinson, 2010). One can conjecture from the readings that this group materialized through appeal to authority, the bible passed to Montanus, and maintained through groupthink, predictions made by others and longevity, during their times.

2. The Woman in the Wilderness, 1694-1740 CE

Founded by German prophet Johann Jacob Zimmerman in the year 1694, this cult‘s original purpose was to travel to the America and welcome Jesus back to the world based on their founder’s predictions. Leadership of the group passed to Johannes Kelpius when the cult founder died on the day they were to depart for the new world. Kelpius successfully led the group of forty scholars to America, where they founded a small settlement in the wilderness of Germantown, on the very spot that was predicted where Jesus was to return. The settlement was originally a small tabernacle where the group lived, worshiped, and taught the children of neighboring settlements for free. After the expected season of Jesus’ return had passed and still no sign of the son of God, Kelpius revised the date of the second coming multiple times, until his death in 1708. The small settlement was said to have lasted until the end of 1740, when the remainder disbanded to join conventional groups in the surrounding settlements (Armageddononline.com, 2010; Nelson, 2005; Rupp, 2010). Again, a group founded on appeal to authority, the scholarship of Zimmerman, moved based upon groupthink, moving to America, and founding a settlement, and remained due to the group cohesiveness of the previous decision, they liked each other to move across an ocean after all.

3. The Millerites, 1840-1845 CE

The Millerites, founded by William Miller, were a cult based upon Miller’s interpretation of the bible leading to specific dates for the second coming of Jesus to this world. The cult gained significant nationwide membership after the distribution of Millers work in 1840. Miller originally posited that the second coming would occur between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. When the final date passed without any sign, the prediction was revised by a Millerite by the name of Samuel S. Snow to October 22, 1844. When the predicted date came and went without any sign of the second coming, an event called the Great Disappointment, there was much turmoil within the Millerite movement. Three major factions formed with different theories about why Miller’s predictions failed. Out of the three splinter groups, at two have survived and became the Advent Christian Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Arnn, 2000; Nelson, 2005, Crocombe, 2007). Appeal to authority yet again infers the founding of this group, Miller through scholastics and the bible, and groupthink held it together, at least until it tore it apart.

4. Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1874 CE -present

While this group is a currently practicing and respected sect of Christianity, they also fall under the heading of doomsday cult because of specific predictions made about the end of the world. Founded by Charles Russell, the Jehovah’s Witness movement could be considered a theological offspring of the Millerite movement, as Russell was said to have been inspired by Miller and motivated by the Great Disappointment. Russell made his first prediction in that he felt that the end times had started in 1874 and that the end of the world, according to the events in the book of Revelation, would occur in 1914. Russell and others later revised this date, many times. The revised dates include 1915, 1925, 1936, 1953, 1973, and 1995. Somewhere in this string of failed predictions (the 1995 prediction was made at the same time as the 1915 prediction) the Jehovah’s Witnesses officially changed their stance on the events in revelations to something along the lines of, God said no man would know before it happened, but that the end times were occurring now (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008; Abba II, 2003). This is an interesting case in that it is the first offshoot discussed, and thus has some ad populum and appeal to age aspects, all of those people could not be wrong, and they believed it way back when. Also present, of course, is appeal to authority through its founding, Russell, via Miller from the bible, and aspects of groupthink would be necessary for cohesion.

5. The People’s Temple, 1950’s – 1978 CE

Founded in the 1950’s by Jim Jones, the People’s Temple originally started out as a mission to help the sick, homeless, and jobless in Indiana. The People’s Temple earned the status of a cult of personality because of the massive charisma of Jim Jones. Under his leadership, the People’s Temple over 900 member while in Indiana, and kept that as a mostly constant figure throughout the majority of the time the cult was in existence and through at least three relocations. Cult status combined with Jones’s penchant for prediction that the world would end in nuclear fire, such as one prediction stating the summer of 1967 would see the bombs fall, earns the People’s Temple the exalted status of doomsday cult. After establishing the settlement of Jonestown in Guyana, Jones developed a belief called translation, which stated that the followers of the People’s Temple would all die together and in this death be transported to another planet, which resembled a new Eden, peace and love for all. The end of the People’s Temple is well known, in November of 1978, after the shooting death of a congressional representative and four others, the inhabitants of Jonestown committed mass murder and suicide with very few survivors (Nelson, 2005; Robinson, 2007). The argument can be made that this is a cult not founded with appeal to authority, rather from just the massive charisma of its leader and his observation and knowledge of established religion and its practices. There is evidence of groupthink present in the move to a different country, and the events which led to the demise of the cult as a whole.

6. Branch Davidian 1950 CE - present

Famous for the siege at Waco in the spring of 1993, the Branch Davidians are another intellectual offshoot of the Millerites, being a splinter group of the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, themselves a splinter of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Both splinters of the Seventh Day Adventists believed that prophecy was a necessary part of the church leadership, and the further split came from disagreements over diet, observance of the Sabbath and family structure. They earned the status of doomsday cult when in 1981, Vernon Wayne, who would later become known as David Koresh, joined the church. By 1985, Koresh and his followers had split from the rest of the Brach, calling themselves the Davidian Branch Davidians, but did not publically splint with the Branch, indeed no differences were known until after the 1993 raid. Koresh claimed that he was a prophet and seized control of the Branch and their compound in Waco, Texas. There he practiced polygamy, stored weapons, ate meat, and made prophecies about the end times, going so far as to rename the Waco compound to the Ranch Apocalypse because he foretold that the final battle mentioned in the book of Revelation would start there (Robinson, 2008). Appeal to authority and groupthink are once more found within this example.

7. Heaven’s Gate 1975 - 1997 CE

Beginning in 1975 with the near death experience of Marshall Herff Applewhite, this doomsday cult experienced three iterations before its demise in 1997. With the help of his nurse and later partner, Bonnie Trusdale Nettles, Applewhite founded the Human Individual Metamorphosis movement based on the Applewhite’s belief that aliens had visited him during his near death experience, and they had told him the true history of the Christian faith and how the world was going to end or be recycled. According to Applewood, Jesus was in fact a host for an alien sent by a High Father to spread the word of what must be done to survive the recycling. The aliens again appeared in the 1920’s inhabiting Applewood and Nettles, and they were on a quest to reunite their crew and save as many of the people of the earth as they could. The method of this saving humanity was to leave the mortal shell behind and be picked up by the founder’s ship. An interesting note, the cult did not believe in suicide and advocated that their belief was merely an abandonment of one form of transportation for another, not death or self killing. The members of the cult put their belief into practice during the month of March in 1997. Reports by an amateur astronomer of an object trailing behind comet Halle-Bopp were taken by the group as a sign that their new transport had arrived; the group committed mass suicide in three groups over three days in March, with two more members committing suicide two months later. In total, forty-one people died in this year following the teaching of Applewood (Robinson, 2009; Nelson, 2005). This appeal to authority comes from an interesting source, Applewhite through aliens, and groupthink is tragically evident in the mass suicide.

V. Prophets, mystics, and others

These are the people who have been perceived with the authority granted by science, science substitutes, math, visions from god, visions from drugs, etc., to make predictions about disastrous events and the end of the world that should be heeded by the masses. A good indicator of what grants a person the label of prophet is their vagueness. Some take their observations about what they view as a decline in the world around them and make a connection to a perceived greater authority, the bible, or scientific findings and hypotheses. Then, using that borrowed authority, they make a prediction, most often with no specific date, and lay the burden of proof on their detractors. Others make numerous vague predictions about disasters and end of the world scenarios, most often die, and then future generations take these vague words and find occurrences, after the fact, that, with only the slightest application of mental gymnastics, are then seen as an accurate prediction of that event. These kinds of prophets also benefit from the fallacy in thinking that allows people to remember hits yet forget the misses when specific dates are tied to predictions.

1. Girolamo Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola Fra Bartolomeo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican Friar who lived in the 15th century and made predictions that the world would end soon. These predictions were based on the combination of his observations of what he felt was the degradation of Italian society, the invading French armies of the time, and his own belief that God would soon no longer tolerate the wicked ways of the people of the world. To help save the people of Florence from the coming judgment he advocated their surrender to the invading French forces, which naturally went over well. This, combined with his declaration that Florence was the city favored of God, instead of Rome, brought about his capture and death in 1498 (Weber, 1999).

2. Pierre Turrel

Pierre Turrel was a French astrologer who, in 1537, made several end of the world predictions based on his observations and guestimations combined with his knowledge of astrology. His predictions were centered on the years 1537, 1544, 1801, and 1814 (Armageddononline.com, 2010; Nelson, 2005). This wide range of predictions, some clearly long after he would have any hope of survival, are what earn Pierre a spot under this section.

3. Johann Jacob Zimmerman

Johann Jacob Zimmerman was a German student of theology and astrology who turned prophet in 1694 when, based on his studies, he predicted that Jesus would return to earth, somewhere in America in the fall of the same year. Armed with this prediction, Zimmerman organized a group of pilgrims to sail to America to welcome Jesus back to the world. Unfortunately, Zimmerman died on the day of his group’s departure, but they carried on without him. The group was again visited by disappointment, after having sailed the Atlantic and camping out well into winter, with the realization that Jesus had stood them up (Armageddononline.com, 2010; Nelson, 2005).

4. Joanna Southcott

JOANNA SOUTHCOTT-Devonshire Characters and Strange Events By Wm. Sharp [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Joanna Southcott was a woman from Devon, UK, who had made many predictions throughout her life based on her faith and study of the bible. Two prominent pronouncements that she made include that she was the woman spoken of in the book of Revelation who would birth the child “…who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5, King James Version). Joanna’s second major pronouncement, based on the first, was that she, at the age of 64 and still a virgin, was pregnant with the second incarnation of Jesus, and that the child would be born on December 25, 1814. This was indeed a momentous day for Joanna, as it was the day she died; autopsies later revealed that she was not pregnant (Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005; Cannon, 2004).

5. Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan 1991 cropped See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
That is correct; a former president of the United States can also be put under the category of prophet. Reagan earned his place on the prophets list with comments during interviews stating that he felt he was living in the end times and that the final battle would begin soon. In a comment to James Mills, Reagan is quoted as saying “For the first time ever, everything is in place for the Battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ” (Nelson, 2005). A chilling sentiment when one considers the powerful position Reagan was in as the leader of the United States.

6. Nostradamus

Nostradamus 1846 By Anonymous, after César Nostradamus (1555-1629) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This man is the big gun, as prophecy goes. Nostradamus was born in France in 1503. After growing up, he studied medicine and astrology at the University of Montpellier, where he graduated in 1522. For years afterwards, Nostradamus traveled the lands, practicing medicine very successfully, even turning the tides of plague in some areas, these successes helped build his fame among the people. He began writing in prophecies in 1544 in almanacs that he would write, outlining astrological phases of the year and containing his famous quatrains, four lined rhymes which supposedly contained predictions for the year and future. He began writing and publishing his books, called Centuries, in 1554. These books are still consulted to this day, after events occur more often than not, to see what Nostradamus had to say about an event. The reason why is because of a prediction he made about King Henry II, told to the king himself and the court so the word was out, that happened to come true. With this well documented and publicized hit, all of Notsradamus’ misses, both at the times and continuing to today, are disregarded while all the hits, both real and convoluted, are exalted (Encyclopedia of World Biography, n.d.)

VI. From the Skeptical Point of View – Can you prove it?

Now we come to the real meat of the chapter, the prominent pseudoscientific theories delivered to the majority of people through various media outlets that, because of their pseudoscientific nature, are easily believed. In addition to the three categories as described in the beginning of this chapter, we can further divide these theories into two additional categories; Falsifiable and Un-Falsifiable. As always, we need to specify what our terms mean before we go on.

A. Falsifiable – Wait for it…

What is falsifiable? Falsifiable describes the design of a statement or theory that allows it to be empirically tested and possibly shown to be wrong (Falsifiable, n.d.). This is the main strength of science because the knowledge we gain comes through the use of hypotheses that can be proven wrong. If the hypothesis cannot be proven wrong through repeated and rigorous testing then that hypothesis becomes the best explanation we have until it is proven wrong and replaced by a new hypothesis. Many, but not all, doomsday prophesies fall under this category simply because a specific date is assigned to the world-ending hypothesis, to test their theories, all that is required is to wait for the date to pass.

B. Un-falsifiable – But he said…

What then, is un-falsifiable? Is it just the opposite of falsifiable? Well, yes, it is that and more. Un-falsifiable hypotheses are those that are designed in such as way as to be impervious to testing through the scientific method. In fact, as discussed previously, use of an un-falsifiable hypothesis is one of the primary facets of pseudoscience

VII. Falsifiable Examples – Armageddon through the ages.

A. Old and busted

The following list, which is by no means complete, gives an overview of the flavors of the end times that were given a specific date or brief period. Because of this assignation of specifics, the deliverers of these proclamations allowed their predictions to fall under a heading of able to be tested, and so far, all of them have been disproven. Now to begin the trek through the bravest of those in the doomsayer profession, enter the old and busted.

2800 BC
Apparently an Assyrian clay tablet was unearthed which stated, “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common” (Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). This is the oldest recorded prediction about the end of the world and also seems to be a trendsetter in that moral decay being an indication of coming end-times. It is unclear what category this prediction would fall under (Apocalypse, Armageddon, End-of-the-World).

1st Century CE
Literal interpretation of the Bible brings the prediction that Jesus would return and the events of the book of Revelation would come to pass within the lifetime of the original disciples of Jesus, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28, King James Version; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005; Robinson, 2010). Based on the description of the second coming of Jesus and the events in the book of Revelation, this prediction would fall under Apocalypse.

March 25, 970 CE
A group known as the Lotharingian computists did some math based upon what they thought were common dates in the bible, including the days when Jesus was conceived and crucified. Their prediction stated that the co-occurrence of Annunciation and Good Friday on the same date as previous events would be the beginning of the end, or just the end, depending on the materials referenced (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). It is unclear what category this prediction would fall under (Apocalypse, Armageddon, End-of-the-World).

1000-1033 CE
The first millennium saw many predictions of the end of the world though it is unclear how many that survive are in fact real and what have been made up recently to support claims of recent millennium predictions. What sources do agree on is that on the first, much like the second, passing of the millennium there was much panic. An interesting note here is that sources agree that the majority of the population, being uneducated, had no idea what the year was, and this prevented mass panic at the time outside of the Church. Another prediction, made after the failure of the end of the world was that, instead of being 1000 years after the birth of Jesus, the end times would come instead 1000 years after his death, so predictions were revised to 33 years later. Sources agree that this information was much more widespread and a sense of panic through the three decades gripped a large portion of the population (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Nelson, 2005). It is unclear what category this prediction would fall under (Apocalypse, Armageddon, End-of-the-World) though some references to the book of Revelation would make this prediction lean towards Apocalypse.

1284 CE
According to Pope Innocent II, this was to be the year of the second coming of Jesus and fulfillment of the book of Revelation. He apparently arrived at this date by adding the Number of the Beast (666) to the date of the founding of the Islamic religion (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005; Robinson, 2010). Based upon the invocation of the book of Revelation, this prediction would fall under the Apocalypse category.

1500-1504 CE
Italian painter Sandro Botticelli in a caption on his work, The Mystical Nativity, made this prediction. In this caption, he stated that he was living in the end times based on his observations of society of the times and the words of Girolamo Savonarola, and that the Millennium, the biblical triumph of good over evil, would occur within this time period (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). Based on the reference to biblical occurrences, which overall the bible could be considered a somewhat optimistic reference, this prediction would fall under the category of Apocalypse.

1524 CE
In this year, a group of astrologers in London predicted a biblical class flood would occur, starting with the Thames and engulfing everything in a rival to the flood endured by Noah. According to reports, around 20,000 people fled to the hills in anticipation of the precipitous event. Ironically enough, it is also reported that on the predicted date it did not even rain (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Nelson, 2005; Robinson, 2010). An interesting note found in one reference points out that the Englishmen were not the only ones to make a prediction about a second great flooding that would occur during this year. German astrologers made a similar prediction to occur later in the year in a different location, still no flood though (Moran, 2008). As this prediction is based on biblical matter of which survivors were present in a new world, this would fall under the category of Apocalypse.

1666 CE
Several members of the clergy and laypeople made predictions for the occurrence of the events described in the book of Revelation during this year. This is because the year was seen as being a combination of two significant factors, 1000 years after the birth of Jesus combined with the number of the beast, 666. The additional factors of war and plague in England during this time, with the Great Fire in London to top everything off, only helped the doomsayers of the time (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). Specifics about the predictions of the time are unavailable, but due to the combination of two biblically significant numbers this set of predictions would likely fall under the Apocalypse heading.

April, 5, 1761 CE
This prediction, made by a religious extremist of the name William Bell, claimed that earthquakes would end the world on this day. Bell came to this conclusion because of two earthquakes that had occurred twenty-eight days apart in the previous months; Bell’s reasoning was that bad things come in threes apparently. Londoners, taking the prediction to heart, fled their homes in droves, heading for the hills and escape on the Thames. When the date passed with no incidence, Bell was promptly committed to Bedlam, London’s famous asylum for the insane (Nelson, 2005). Due to the wording of the prediction, not that it would bring about the end times but that earthquakes would destroy the world, this prediction could arguably placed under the Armageddon category.

1881CE
This was a very eventful year, prophecy wise. Pyramidologists, people who study the geometry of the great pyramids and extract predictions about world events based on that geometry, predicted the end of the world in this year. Also, a prediction by a 16th century prophet, Mother Shipton, was supposed to predict the end of the world during this year as well, though it was later revealed that this prophecy was a forgery (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). Since no specifics are given about the Pyramidologists predictions, and Mother Shipton’s prediction was a hoax, the category of this prediction is unclear.

May 18, 1910 CE
On this date Halley’s Comet once again became visible from earth, and despite its numerous appearances in the past, something made this year special in that somehow Halley’s Comet would spell doom for the planet. Some believed that it was a sign from God signaling the end times or would somehow poison the earth’s atmosphere with cyanide, which would in turn kill all life on the planet. This prediction is significant not because of the comet foretelling the end times, but rather that it was the first scientifically oriented doomsday prediction (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). Because this date is primarily remembered for its scientific underpinnings and that it would kill all life, this prediction falls under the category of Armageddon.

December 17, 1919 CE
Meteorologist Albert Porta determined this end date. Porta postulated that an alignment of planets would create powerful magnetic emission, which depending on the source, would cause the sun to; flare and incinerate the earth’s atmosphere, erupt in great gouts of flaming gas which would engulf the earth, or just plain explode, taking the solar system with it. All sources agree that some people, upon hearing these predictions, committed suicide rather than face their fiery demise head on, quite unfortunate considering the failure of the prediction (Robinson, 2010; Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). This prediction, including the keywords; explode, consume, and destroy as it does, clearly falls under the heading of Armageddon.

December 21, 1954 CE
According to Dorothy Martin, leader of a small UFO cult predicted that massive flooding on this date would end the world. Obviously, Martin’s prediction did not pan out, and many have not heard of it. However, the reason it makes this list is because this prediction and subsequent failure were the subject of a case study and book by Leon Festinger that investigated what mental effects a failed prophecy had on its true believers (Nelson, 2005). This would fall under the Armageddon category, the prediction, not the book.

1967 CE
This year was a large one as far as end of the world predictions go. Starting in the summer months there is the prediction of nuclear war by People’s Temple leader Jim Jones. Next, in August, George Van Tassel, who claimed to had been visited by aliens who imparted this information to him, predicted that the Soviet Union would launch the first attack on America, and the resulting exchange would change the world. Finally, for December 25th, Knud Weiking, a Danish cult leader, claimed that there would be a nuclear war on the celebration of Jesus’ birth. He also claimed that he received this information from a being he named as Orthon (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). While the prospect of nuclear war would lean towards an Armageddon classification, all three predictions show a preference towards the Apocalypse category, as the followers of the prophets/channelers made preparations to survive the foretold trials.

1980 CE
This is another busy year for the end times. In this year, there is the general assumption by one Charles Taylor that the rapture and events of the book of Revelation would commence. Also in this year, there is the specific prediction of April 1st as the day of the second coming of Jesus, also in accordance with events in the book of Revelation. Finally, there is the leader of a small sect named Leland Jensen who, with a mixture of pyramidology and bible prophecy, comes up with April 29th being the day that a nuclear war would kill a third of the population and kick off, once again, the events described in the book of Revelation (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). 1980 is also the seat of many future dates being set aside for the end of the world. Psychic Jeanne Dixon, with what could be an influence from a quatrain from Nostradamus, predicted that within the decade there would be a great world holocaust and the rise of a middle-eastern world leader. A teacher from North Carolina, Colin Deal sets dates for the return of Jesus and the kickoff of the book of Revelation. His predictions include dates in 1982, 1983, 1988, and 1989. Funnily enough, during an interview on March 17th, 1989, Deal revised his dates for roughly eleven more years out. Finally there is author Charles Taylor, who predicted that the rapture would begin in 1988, with the events of Revelation playing out and ending with the reign of Jesus sometime in 1995 (Armageddononline.org, 2010). The prophecies made in this year, both pertaining to the year and decade, all fall under the Apocalypse category.

March 10, 1982 CE
Another pure science, or science fiction, prophecy was made in this year. Authors of the book The Jupiter Effect, John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann speculated that an alignment of the planets would occur on this date. This alignment, they said, would cause an amplification of the normal gravitational pull normally experienced by the earth, causing it to rip apart, or at least suffer continent rearranging earthquakes. These predictions, remarkably similar to those in 1919 caused similar panic as was seen when those predictions were circulated, apparently no one learned the first time (Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). This prediction would fall under the province of the Armageddon category.

April 29, 1987 CE
Once again, around comes Halley’s Comet, and once again it is tied to the annihilation of the earth, this time with the help of Leland Jensen. According to his calculations made earlier in the year, on April 29th, 1986, on this particular pass, the dirty snowball would be caught in the earth’s gravitational field and begin a quickly decaying orbit. The first signs of this would be chunks of the comet breaking off and colliding with the atmosphere followed by earthquakes due to the influence of a new gravitational field in close orbit. The symptoms would gradually worsen until, exactly a year later; the comet would finally collide with the planet (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). Fortunately, the comet kept on its merry way, and the earth was spared an event that would more than likely fall under the Armageddon category.

1988 CE
Again comes a year which sees more than its fair share of predictions. In 1970, author Hal Lindsey predicted in his book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, that the rapture, the pregame to the events described in the book of Revelation, would occur exactly one biblical generation, 40 years, after the founding of the state of Israel. In another book, Final Shockwaves to Armageddon, author and would be prophet, Canadian Doug Clark also suggested that this would be year of the rapture. The rapture is a common theme in books for this year, the third such being in J. R. Church’s Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms. In this book, Church works from the claim that each of the Psalms corresponded to a year in the 20th century to arrive at this year for the rapture. The fourth book forecasting the end times in 1988 was written by author Colin Deal and was titled Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why. It is obvious what he thought would happen. A fifth book was indeed written, this time by Edgar C. Whisenant, titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988. He even wrote a follow up the next year about why his first book was wrong. Finally, there were two people, David Webber and Noah Hutchings, both personalities of the Southwest Radio Church, who did not write a book, but still suggested that 1988 would be the year of the rapture (Moran, 2008; Nelson, 2005). All of these claims have something else in common; they all come under the aegis of the Apocalypse category.

1989-1998 CE
This period of time, the majority of the decade leading up to the second millennium mark, shows a sharp spike in predictions of all natures, indeed to list them all here would take up more space than is strictly needed, or wanted, so just a few highlights are listed. April 29th, 1992, the day riots broke out in Los Angeles in response to the Rodney King trial verdict; white supremacist group members viewed the riots as a kickoff to a final apocalyptic race war. June 9th, 1994, Pastor John Hinkle revealed to the world that God had informed him personally that the Almighty was going to unleash a cataclysmic event to cleanse the world of evil. December 13th, 1996, would see David Koresh resurrected to lead his people again, what was left of them. David was a no show. November 27th, 1997, a captured space alien gave this date, according to the Sacerdotal Knights of National Security, as the day an alien would attack the earth to strip it of its resources and make all humans submit to their new alien overlords. July 5th, 1998, the Church of the SubGenius declares that on this day aliens from the planet X would arrive and destroy everything, sparing only those who had paid their dues to the church and been ordained (Obviously a joke, but well played, SubGenius). Again, these are just samples. A quick count of this time period shows, not including those mentioned above, at least 19 predictions of the rapture, 14 proclamations of the second coming, 5 forecasts of the book of Revelation coming to pass, 9 events involving nuclear war or natural disaster of such as scale to destroy the world, and at least 4 claims of aliens coming with their purpose ranging from bringing humanity into a golden age to wiping humanity from the cosmos (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). The wide range of predictions falls under all three categories, with more than one finally entering the End-of-the-World category.

1999 CE
The end time proclamations made in this year dwarfed even that of the previously discussed decade. The classic millennium fear, combined with the worldwide media, gave rise to the number and variation of ways the world would cease than at any other point in history. Again, to list all of the predictions made during this year would be counterproductive, one could just pick a month for some entertaining reading. What are covered here are just a few select highlights and another breakdown of the available theories. The first highlight would have to be a revelation by none other than the first president of the United States. According to the tale, George Washington reviewed a vision from an angel that depicted the invasion of America leading to the final battle of the apocalypse and finally peace settling over the world. The second highlight comes from India on May 8, when an astrological pamphlet circulated claimed that the world would meet its end by a series of unspecified natural disasters on this day, causing many readers of the pamphlet to panic. Third, in addition to George Washington, Nostradamus weighed in that the world would end in July of this year. On August 6 of this year, David Koresh was once again supposed to return to the earth; once again, he missed his deadline. To close out the highlights there was the Cassini space probe. which was foreseen as the star named Wormwood, as told in the book of Revelation, and would crash to the earth on August 18th, spilling its plutonium and contaminating one third of the earth’s population and water supply, luckily those 2 billion people dodged a bullet that day. In this year, based on a quick perusal of the sources, there were roughly fourteen end of the world predictions with no other qualifiers, ten world ending natural disasters, mostly asteroids, nine counts of rapture, seven dates set and revised for Nostradamus’ prophecy, four world wars, three second comings, two books of Revelation and finally a single visitation and annihilation by aliens. (Armageddononline.org, 2010; Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008) Like the previous entry, the forecasts for this year fall under all three categories for this chapter.

2000 CE
Welcome to Y2K, the year 2000, the new millennium. The big prediction about the end of the world for this year was actually for its very first day, its first minute even. Fueled by a misunderstanding of technology and media coverage, the Y2K bug was expected to hit at 12:01 am, January 1st, 2000. What this bug would do is less than clear, as most of the sources about what would happen have vanished, but from what is left over there is a sense that anything tied to a computer would fail. Airplanes would drop from the sky, nuclear reactors would go critical as their regulation systems failed, infrastructure controlled by computers such as sewage systems and traffic lights would go haywire. It was also a popular belief that the computers controlling the largest weapons of mass destruction would go nuts and fire off all of the stored missiles, destroying the world multiple times over. Semi-mass panic ensued, and a small portion of the less than technologically literate secured themselves in homemade bunkers to await the coming Armageddon. The rest of the world, secure in the knowledge that the people who actually knew what they were doing when it came to the computers had fixed the small error which had spawned the slew of Y2K bug madness, partied like it was 1999. It is easy to see, in hindsight, which group had more fun while bringing in the New Year. After the spectacular failure of anything significant to fail, there is a hope that the doomsayers would take some time off. Sadly, this was not the case, as the year 2000 had roughly the same number of predictions about the end as the decade before, yes, even including 1999. In keeping with tradition to this point, highlights must be examined. The late, great, Sir Isaac Newton weighed in on the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, stating that Jesus’ millennium of rule would start in the year 2000. A man by the name of John Worldpeace posted on internet boards that when Jesus failed to return in the beginning of this year, humanity would finally abandon war and hate and instead pursue peace and love for all; great name, great idea, unfortunately did not happen. May 5, 2000, Finally, to round out this selection from the time period, Richard W. Noone (really? Yes, really.) foretold that this was to be the end of the world in his book Ice: the Ultimate Disaster. He postulated that a combination of ice buildup in the polar regions would leave the earth on the verge of losing its balance, and an alignment of planets on this date would cause the earth to spin uncontrollably, unleashing torrents of ice across all the continents. Fortunately, Noone seemed to have failed to factor global warming into his analysis, and yes, you may laugh. (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008).

February 12, 2006 CE
This date in history was foretold by one Clinton Ortiz, who claimed that the anti-Christ would rise to power on this day, kicking off the events described in the book of Revelation. Prince William of England, whom Ortiz predicted would take power on this date, was also supposed to be the anti-Christ (Nelson, 2005; Moran, 2008). This would fall under the Apocalypse category with the evocation of the anti-Christ and Revelation, poor Diana.

B. New hotness

This next section investigates doomsday theories which, at the time of this writing (Fall of 2010) are predicted to happen in the future.

2010 CE
This prediction became known while trying to discover more information about the hysteria surrounding the year 2000. In the companion website to his book, The Millennium Prophecy, author Gilbert Eriksen, describes portions of his predictions for why the events described in the book of Revelation are soon to be upon us. Only portions though, because he still wants to sell his book, which is currently 19.95, and available as an e-book. Anecdotal evidence of natural disasters over the world, murky scientific sounding language, reports from anonymous experts, crudely done animations, and horrible grammar are all on the website to support his book. What is stated plainly is the assertion that:
“In 2010 one third of the Earth will be incinerated. Asteroids will impact the oceans destroying many ships. Meteorites will poison the land so that water supplies will become unfit to
drink. New species of insect will invade the land stinging people and infecting them with viruses that make them sick for months. War will erupt killing off one third of the Earth’s
population. Governments of the world will turn against their own citizens and begin exterminating their own people. A set of nasty changes come to the earth in 2012 that change
the physical layout of the Earth such that maps will have to be redrawn. Finally it all ends for the current political power structure with the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord
of Lords. Once He arrives He will rule the world with a rod of iron but political and financial corruption will end and he will bring world wide peace. If there is any good news after
all of the upheaval, then His return is about it. (Erikson, 2010).”
Cheerful thoughts indeed, but the question arises; what has he based these predictions on? Based on his murky scientific terminology and experts, Erikson claims that there is a brown dwarf which will pass through our solar system, and that this brown dwarf is the foretold Wormwood from the book of Revelation (Erikson, 2010). From an initial perspective, this one is pretty bleak, almost an Armageddon. However, because of repeated invocations of the events in the book of Revelation, this prophecy falls under the category of Apocalypse.

2012 CE
The current favorite for the next top doomsday is set to occur on December 21, 2012. This date has been concluded to be the end of the world because of an ancient Mayan calendar that ends on this day. Well, why would that mean that the world is ending on this day? Because, also in this calendar there is evidence that the Mayans who created it also predicated with great accuracy astronomical events that would occur, such as eclipses, far into the future. Therefore, based on their accurate predictions about astronomical events, the end date of the calendar must be significant, it must mean that will be when the world ends! Ok, hold that thought, it will be discussed later. First, the question must be asked; now that there is an end date in sight, how will the world fall apart? As for that, there are multiple predictions. A popular one states that there is a brown dwarf, Nibiru, floating through the solar system that will severely disrupt the earth with its gravity well, wrecking unknowable havoc upon the poor blue marble. This one sounds familiar, does it not? A similar prediction renames the dwarf Wormwood, yep, knew it sounded familiar, which would signal the start of the events listed in the book of Revelation. There are also theories that do not involve rogue planets, but rather the earth’s magnetic sphere, according to the fear mongers it will shift due to an event, which varies from alignment with the galactic core to the sun freaking out on us, and this shift will cause untold catastrophe on our fragile, electronic bound world. Unfortunately, for the doomsayers, not so much for the rest of the population, these all fall under the highly improbable side of the likelihood scale. Starting with the Mayan calendar first, things start to unravel when it is revealed that we have calendars that also predict with great accuracy upcoming astronomical events, not because they are prophetic, but because they were designed with the backing of math and observation of those phenomena through the years. Also, with the end of the calendar, the ones people make today do the same, they show the end of the year and that it is time to get a new one, not that the world is ending. The end of the Mayan calendar signifies a special event in their society, the end of their long count calendar which has 6000 year cycles, so, if they Mayans were still around, December 21st would be their national hangover day, much as our January 1st, 2000 was for those who chose to enjoy it. For the rest of the items, which no longer have their support, there is evidence provided by NASA that dispels them with good science and some very cool photographs (Morrison, 2009). Both Apocalypse and Armageddon scenarios are considered possible in 2012, at least by those who think they are possible.
This just in sports fans, in the latter part of 2010 (indeed, while this was being written) 2012 doomsayers everywhere were given a most precious gift: a way to save face. In a press release on October 20, 2010, it was revealed that researcher Gerardo Aldana has cast a shadow of doubt upon the conversion of the ancient Mayan calendar, which was the fuel for the doomsday fires, to the Gregorian calendar that is used today (Heussner, 2010). This shadow, arguably more than some previous prophets have hidden under, casts doubt upon the reckoning that 2012 will be the end of the world, and pushes that date at least 50 to 100 years away.

VIII. Un-Falsifiable Examples – Look to the signs!

Un-falsifiable examples of end of the world predictions have already been discussed in part. The greatest numbers of these are prophets making predictions and giving no set date for their grand unveilings. There are, however, more examples to be made in the area of un-falsifiable. Remember, un-falsifiable refers to the aspect of these theories that throw them fully into the realm where science cannot compete, because they are not even playing the same game, they cannot be disproven through testing. The best examples of these kinds of predictions come from organized religion and mythology.

A. Christianity

The Christian end of the world theory is the best example for this section because it is the most widely known, and it is also the progenitor of most of the previously discussed doomsday predictions. The tale of the Christian doomsday is set out in the book of Revelation. This book, which was written by a man who was said to have received the vision from a divine source, tells a classic tale, perhaps the classic. The great evil, in this case, the antichrist, comes into the world during a time of great strife and loss of life and rallies the world to him, appearing as a savior, yet those who remain faithful know the truth. Eventually, when things are really bad, along comes the savior, Christ, who gathers the remaining faithful and the hosts of heaven and duke it out with the forces of the antichrist. Thankfully, in this vision of the end, the good guys win and peace on earth reigns for the survivors (History.com, 2010).

B. Islam

There is also the Islamic story to consider, which is remarkably similar to the Christian, called the hour. To start things off, Christ comes to the city of Damascus to slay the antichrist, who, instead of playing the hero in a time of crisis, put the world in that crisis. This is followed by a time of harmony, more peace and love. Finally, Jesus dies a natural death and the world tries to follow suit with a host of destruction leading to what is known as the Hour (History.com, 2010).

IX. Conclusion – The end is nigh… finally.

Through this journey into the realm of wishing to know the end, many topics have been covered. First, what exactly are the Apocalypse, Armageddon, and End-of-the-World. A brief discussion of science and pseudoscience ensued, with a lovely discussion of the more prominent logical fallacies. A journey exploring prophets, mystics, cults, and debunked predictions lead up to upcoming predictions and popular theories that could not be disproven. Through this journey, hopefully a few things have stuck, namely to think for yourself. Look at the evidence, look at what the real experts, the ones granted degrees from real universities and working in prominent places, have to say. Again, do not trust them, but hopefully they will provide evidence backed by more than authority and anecdotes. One thing to remember above all about end of the world predictions, until something comes along that is substantially proven to be true, there really is nothing to worry about on that front. However, if worrying is needed to be done, there are a few things that are offered by the author and various sources that could very well spell the doom of our planet. These include, global warming, loss of biodiversity, the statistical chance that an asteroid can hit the planet (luckily NASA has a program to look for that), and finally, the explosion of our sun from its placid little yellow self to a massive red giant (expected around 4,500,000,000 CE). Now that is something to worry about, eventually (Nelson, 2005; History.com, 2010).

Castle Romeo By United States Department of Energy (U.S. DOE/NNSA Photo Library (image XX-033)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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