- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
End of World Scenarios
Over the last few decades, the public has been sold on one apocalyptic scenario after another in rapid succession to see them fail. Some of the years that were regarded as the end of the world are 1844, 1883, 1914, 1962, 2000, 2005 and 2012. In the more remote past, the years 1666 and 1000 were considered end points. For the Aztecs,1519 was considered the end. Even in the time of Jesus, we read in the New Testament today that he said that there would be some who lived in his time who would see the end. In that case, the fall and sacking of Israel by Rome at the time in 70 AD was the fulfilment of that particular prophecy. He never gave a year, but indeed, some who were alive when the prophecy was made, lived to see it come to pass in the apocalypse of Israel. There were a few real apocalypses in the mix as well, such as the one of 535 AD that changed the course of entire civilizations and history. Another one occurred on or about 1646 BCE when the super volcano Santorini blew up and again altered history. More recently, there was a close call in October of 1962 with M.A.D. under the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 2011, there were two calls for the rapture and end of the world scenarios that both failed. There will no doubt be more for the future. Newton in his study of the Bible suggests 2034 and 2060 as two possible dates, which no doubt, someone will play up.
Some apocalypses are real, but regional and some more universal. For the world at large, the detonation of the super volcano Krakatoa was to bring ruin to civilizations around the world. As far as has been determined to date, no one predicted the date of this apocalypse. It came as a thief in the night and was to result in a century of change. The disaster was noted by Asian kings of the period, in ancient Britain, France and the remnants of the Roman empire that was already well into decay. Archeologists note that there were significant changes in the world at this point in history and it was world wide in extent.
For the Aztecs of 1510s their prediction for the end of the world in 1519 with the return of Quetzalcoatl came to pass when Hernando Cortez arrived to sack and scatter their empire. Too late they learned that he was no returning god and they were scattered to the jungles while the wealth of that nation was removed. Whether or not the neighbouring Maya had a similar date, is not expounded, but it took the Spanish over a century to bring down all their city states. The incidents of the collapse of the three great First Nation civilizations in the early 16th century under Spain was the beginning of the end for all First Nations in the western hemisphere. Many were to succumb to strange diseases, famine, diaspora and death by superior technology.
Around the same period, Europe was going through an extended cold snap that resulted in famine and an outbreak of plague. At this time there were witch hunts across Europe. In 1666, people thought the end of the world would come and London England did indeed have a local apocalypse in the form of the London fire of 1666. London was rebuilt, so it was not final, certainly not the same finality that was being experienced by the First Nations in the New World in which Britain was becoming increasingly involved.
As far as we know, no one outside perhaps Nostradamus forecast the 1776 American and 1789-93 French revolutions. Other than in his obscure quatrain on the two events, the apocalypses arrived almost unannounced. In America, it was in rebellion to unfair and heavy British taxation and involvement in the early colonies. In France, it was against a corrupt monarchy. Britain lost their direct influence in the colonies and was forced to sign the Paris Peace Accord in 1783. Less than a decade later, France was to lose almost all their holdings in the new world due to a bourgeois revolution against the monarchy in France. The royal family were by and large almost all beheaded by guillotine, so for them, the apocalypse was near total by 1793 when the reign of terror commenced.
To the Millerites, 1843 was considered to be the time of Jesus second coming and toward the end of the year, they prepared for what they though would be the end of the world. In the previous decades there was cold and drought that caused uprisings in France in the 1810s to 20s. Similarly there were difficulties in the New World. These were caused by the 1815 eruption of Tambora. Waterloo also happened in 1815, but was not inspired by the harsh conditions. However, the British arm of the Rothschild family made a killing on Waterloo that was to be the watershed of a financial apocalypse for many others around the world that reverberates to this day. By 1844 to 1848, many countries in Europe were in turmoil. 1843 came and went and no returning messiah arrived. What started in earnest in the early US, crashed by 1844. There was no apocalypse except for the Indians who were being pushed out of their lands by the aegis of the Indian Removal Act passed in 1830. By 1890, it was essentially over for them as almost all their nations had been obliterated and conquered.
In 1883, another event, this time near Jakarta in the Sudra Straight was to have world changing consequences with cooler weather and famines. Others, such as the First Day/Seventh Day Adventists thought that 1914 was the end of the world. The most significant event of that year was WWI that was to drag much of the world into conflict and some countries into ruin. The world did not end in that apocalypse either, but out of it was born the 1917 Russian revolution. To the Tsarist family of Russia, the revolution was the end of the world as every single member of the extended royal family was systematically rounded up and executed, man, woman and child. Out of this revolution would come the rise of Stalin who would go on to murder many millions of his own countrymen. It is not known if the Japanese predicted the 1945 events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as these two cities were ruined under the apocalypse of atomic destruction. Even so, the rise of the USSR as a balance of power against the mighty US was to culminate in a near apocalypse of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The standoff between the US and USSR nearly resulted in Mutual Assured Destruction of global thermonuclear war.
Few people beyond a mere handful saw the collapse of the Soviet Union for 1989, but one of them, William F. Raymond, predicted a huge change for that country for that year back in the late 1970s. Though the country did not disappear, however, a huge shift in politics and finance stood the country on its head and the Russian oligarchs emerged by buying state resources for pennies on the dollar and became overnight billionaires, an emerging new power elite. For the ordinary people, everything disappeared such as guaranteed employment, housing, health and jobs that was born out of the 1917 revolution that similarly turned the country upside down. Many wound up dying in the streets in the bitter winters of the early 90s. Russia thus had two apocalypses in the 20th century, one in 1917 and the other beginning in 1989 and culminating in 1991. By 1991, the age old war of Christendom and Islam, that began 1,400 years ago, reignited in Desert Storm. There was a 74 year respite during the existence of Communism in the USSR that became the new enemy; Godless communism, versus a God fearing alternative. Hidden powerful interests with vested interests were involved in the entire process from start to end.
2000 AD was considered to be another end of the world apocalypse, but that destruction did not come until September 11th, 2001 with the levelling of the World Trade Center in New York that sparked plenty of controversy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the perpetual war against terrorism. Out of this single act, came the end of civil rights under the Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act, loss of Habeus Corpus, the Extradition Act and the National Defence Authorization Act and a lot else. The USA is divided over these issues that have been exacerbated due to the September 2008 financial collapse of the housing bubble that went on to engulf the rest of the world in a depression at least as severe as the 1929 stock market crash.
December 21, 2012 looms and many think that the end of the world is at hand again. Big changes are already underway and for many, it may well be, but the apocalypse weary old world will likely survive and carry on with or without things as we know them now. Climate change appears to be at the bottom of the latest crisis with world wide crop failures. But we have been there before. We appear to be in a world of perpetual apocalypse that take various forms of natural and man made causes. There will be more, some forecast and some will come on is by surprise. History is shaped by these events. We are not equally effected by them either, unless it is of world shaking proportions.