I remember the first time I was disappointed in an apocalypse prediction. I was sold on all the computers around the world collapsing during the W2K. It seemed like such a good rounded number for Christ to come back and so forth. But nothing, nada, zilch.
I’ve been quite partial to the Strauss–Howe generational theory; and the great trauma that is in essence a big reset button for our nation (personal interpretation). According to their theory and past trends, we are due for a great crisis in this nation; according to their theory that crisis was a combination of the Great Recession and the War on Terror. And while many people have been affected by the recession and continue to be affected; those citizens affected by and participating in the so-called War on Terror, is in the single digits.
Looking at these millennials and hipsters I often feel that we need an epic crisis here and now; one that will separate the boys from the men, the girls from the women, and teach us again what really matters in life; hint, it is not the latest Apple product.
Below is a great list of disappointing apocalypses that I came across through reading, and thought they would be fun to share. One caveat is that this list is not complete, as there have been hundreds of end time predictions recorded in history by individuals and organizations; this is only a selection. But don’t let that discourage you from prepping. Some do it as a hobby, others for a sense of security; but either way, it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
On a personal note, and intertwined with religion, is the realization that not every calamity is a sign of the end times. For example, there has been organized civilization in the Middle East for at least 5,000 years, and for at least 5,000 years they’ve been fighting each other. Every new war does not necessitate the return of Christ, nor does every hurricane and earth quake. But that doesn’t mean we can’t believe the predictions in the bible; but reason out your own interpretation and limit the influence of other people’s opinions and theories.
Matthew 24:36-44King James Version (KJV)
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Simon bar Giora, Jewish Essenes (66–70)
The Essene sect of Jewish ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66–70 in Judea as the final end-time battle before the arrival of the Messiah. By the authority of Simon, coins were minted declaring the redemption of Israel.
Martin of Tours (375-400)
Martin stated that the world would end before 400 CE, writing, “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power.”
The Millennium Apocalypse (1000, 1033)
Even though Jesus himself tells his followers that nobody knows when the world will end, occasionally church leaders will take it upon themselves to know better than their own Messiah. This isn’t new, though. While it probably wasn’t the mass panic that historians of the 1800s made it out to be, around the year 1,000 and the year 1,033 Christians across Europe geared up for the end of days.
Fifth Monarchists (1666)
The presence of 666 in the date, the death of 100,000 Londoners to bubonic plague, and the Great Fire of London led to superstitious fears of the end of the world from some Christians.
Joachim of Fiore (1260)
Joachim of Fiore was a monk who wrote about the ages of the world—the time before Christ, the time after, and the part where the Antichrist shows up to wreck stuff before Christ comes back. He felt in particular that the last bit was coming along pretty soon. There was an unpopular Roman Emperor, Frederick II, that he thought was the Antichrist. When the emperor died in 1250, Joachim’s theories just sort of faded.
The Great Flood (1524)
Of course, apocalypses aren’t solely the province of the religious. Johannes Stöffler was a mathematician and prominent astronomer at Tubingen University. In 1499, his calculations led him to believe that the world would flood on February 20th, 1524. A few arks were built across Europe, and thunderstorms the day of caused panic. Ultimately, nothing happened. 20,000 Londoners left their homes and headed for higher ground in anticipation.
Halley’s Comet (1910)
Halley’s Comet visits Earth every 74-79 years. In 1910, we passed particularly close to the comet. People worried that the end of the world was near, an assumption that wasn’t helped by the discovery of poisonous cyanogen gas in the comet’s tail. In the end, the only person who died was Mark Twain, who predicted that he would go out with the comet, just as he had been born in its wake.
Brahma Kumaris (1976)
The Brahma Kumaris founder, Lekhraj Kirpalani, has made a number of false predictions of a global Armageddon which the religion believes it will inspire, internally calling it “Destruction” but externally presenting it as “Transformation”. During Destruction, Brahma Kumari leaders teach the world will be purified, all of the rest of humanity killed by nuclear or civil wars and natural disasters which will include the sinking of all other continents except India. All other religions will also be destroyed, so that they alone will inherit the Earth for 2,500 years. These predictions are generally hidden from outsiders and, as they have failed, have been removed from their literature.
The Jupiter Effect (1982)
In 1974, John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann wrote a popular book (The Jupiter Effect) which predicted that when all the planets aligned in March 1982, there were going to be global catastrophes. This included a giant earthquake along the San Andreas Fault. The alignment wasn’t news, and scientists everywhere believed it would have little effect on our gravity. None of their predictions were realized, and in April 1982 they released The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered.
Nobody declared the end of times more often than Harold Camping, a civil-engineer-turned-evangelist who promised the end of the world on September 6, 1994, September 29, 1994, October 2, 1994, March 31, 1995, May 21, 2011, and October 21, 2011. Towards the end of his life, he apologized for his attempts, which he called “incorrect and sinful.”
Heaven’s Gate (1997)
Heaven’s Gate was a cult founded in San Diego in the ’70s that believed the Earth was about to be recycled and wiped clean to make way for something new. They came to think that the comet Hale-Bopp was towing a UFO in its wake—their last chance to escape Earth with the friendly aliens. Tragically, some 39 members of the group took their own lives in 1997 trying to hitch a ride on the comet, a stark reminder that these predictions aren’t always harmless.
Nostradamus (1999 Jul)
A prediction attributed to Nostradamus stating the “King of Terror” would come from the sky in “1999 and seven months” led to fears of the end.
Not only did the year 2000 mark a new century, but there was also the computer problem. To save space, early computers only used two digits for the date. This meant that there was no way for them to distinguish the year 2000 from the year 1900. “Y2K Compliance” became a big deal. There were fears about train derailments, bombs going off, etc. Luckily, they were all wrong. Newton predicted that Christ’s Millennium would begin in the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.
In 1995, Nancy Lieder came forward with a website claiming that she was contacted by aliens as a young girl, had a communications device in her brain, and that the Hale-Bopp comet was a lie made to distract people from the imminent collision with a planet on the edge of our solar system. She predicted the planet would pass in May 2003. When the whole month proceeded without incident, she called her timeline “a white lie…to fool the establishment.” Earth remains resolutely un-smashed.
Mayan Apocalypse (2012)
The Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 was based on one of the biggest misunderstandings possible. It’s true that on Dec. 21, 2012, the 13th b’ak’tun of the Mayan calendar ended. That closed out a “long cycle” of the Mayan calendar that lasted about 400 years. Some took this to mean that the Mayan calendar had “ended” and that the world would also end. All it really meant was that it was time to buy a new calendar. Sure enough, whatever vague doom was supposed to befall us never happened.