2012 - Will the World End on December 21, 2012?
Mayan Calendar and 2012
Will the world end in 2012? Some people believe that the ancient Mayans predicted the end of the world on December 2012. They base this belief on the fact that the Mayans calculated the years based on a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar
The end of each long cycle corresponded to the end of one world. The Mayans believed that they (and we) were living in the Fourth World and that there had been three previous, somewhat unsuccessful worlds or ages, that had been created and then destroyed by the gods. This Fourth World would also come to an end when the long cycle of 5,125 years was completed. Obviously the Mayans did not use the same system of dating as we do, and so the year 2012 has no meaning or direct correspondence to any specific Mayan date. In other words, there is no Mayan calendar that explicitly says that the Fourth World or Age will end on December 21, 2012. So why then do some people believe that the world will end in 2012?
End of the World
Even assuming that the end of the Mayan long calendar correspondence with or predicts the end of the world, how do we know when that will be, in relation to our own calendar? Some historians and archaeologists have attempted to translate the Mayan calendar or convert it into our system of dating in order to place Mayan history into context. They have done this by a number of methods, but mainly by trying to locate known events and astronomical markers such as eclipses within the Mayan calendar. Based on these deductions, many believe that the Mayan Long Calendar ends on December 21, 2012. However, there is no consensus on exactly how the Mayan calendar corresponds with our notion of dates.
So even if the world will end with the last year of the 5125 year cycle, it is by no means certain that we know that the last year is in fact 2012. If we are off by one year it may end in 2011 or 2013.
Did the Mayans Really Predict the End of the World
Did the Mayans actually predict the end of the world?
Much of the unease about the upcoming 2012 date arises from the belief that the end of the world cycle means that our world will end and we will all be dead. But that is not necessarily an accurate interpretation of the Mayans' concept of World Ages. While it is true that the Mayans believed that there had been previous worlds which had been created and then destroyed, it is not certain that they believed that we wold all be dead after the the end of this latest cycle. Some Mayan codices have been found which refer to future dates and events beyond the end of the current world age. If the Mayans had expected the world to end in 2012 (or whatever other date corresponds to the end of the Fourth Age) they presumably would not have bothered to calculate the date of even more distant astrological and astronomical events.
Learn More About the Mayans and 2012
Can the End of the World be Predicted?
A better question might be, even if the Mayans thought that the world would end in 2012, so what? Why should we assume that they were right?
There have been many predictions of the world ending on a specific date. During the Middle Ages, the approach of the year 1000 was widely seen as the coming of the Apocalypse and the end times. Many people were gripped by panic as they believed Doomsday was at hand.
Such panics have usually been created by the approach of significant dates. For example, the ancient Romans were fearful that the world would end in 634 B.C. and then experienced a similar panic as the year 389 B.C. approached because these dates were significant anniversaries in the foundation of Rome. These panics have continued into recent times, and have fueled great tragedies including the Heaven's Gate suicides.
Since you are reading this article, it is obvious that these predictions have proved false in the past? Why then should we assume that the Mayans had any better skill in predicting the future?
While it is true that the Mayans were great builders and had sufficient knowledge of astronomy to create a sophisticated calendar, they were not a truly advanced society. The Mayans practiced human sacrifice (though not in the same scale or with the same blood thirsty zeal as the Aztecs) and they did not have any concept of the wheel. They were primitives who did not know that the world was round. Whatever their powers of prognostication, the Mayans failed to predict the demise of their own civilization, which collapsed suddenly even before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
It is a measure of our gullibility, and our unease at the warning signs in our own own times that something is not right with the world, that we are so willing to believe that the Mayans may indeed have accurately predicted the end times. Strangely, even some Christian groups have bought into the 2012 hysteria and tied the Mayan predictions to the Christian concept of the Apocalypse. This is odd given the fact that the Mayans were pagans who practiced human sacrifice; their predictions should have no relevance to Christian beliefs.
The End of the World
One thing I can safely predict is that the world will end someday. It may be tomorrow, when a computer glitch unleashes an unintended nuclear holocaust, as has almost happened several times, or it may be billions of years from now when the sun runs out of fuel and becomes a red giant, burning the world into a cinder. Or the end of the world may come from some completely unexpected cause.
But whatever causes the end of the world, and whenever it happens, it will not be on December 12, 2012
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