NASA has devoted part of their web site to debunking the hoax that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012.1 David Morrison, a NASA astrobiologist, noted that the agency has received emails from young people who said they were too worried to sleep or eat, and some said they were suicidal. He writes, “We worry about the effect of this fear on impressionable children.”
Let’s do a fact check on the Mayan calendar hoax. The Mayans had a fairly accurate calendar which used the base 20 numbering system rather than our base 10. Think of it in this way. We count all our fingers (up to 10) and start the cycle again. They counted all their fingers and toes and started the cycle again. One of the units of their calendar is a B’ak’tun which is equivalent to 394 solar years. We have various cycles too like decade, century, and millennia. Although December 21, 2012 represents the beginning of the 14th B’ak’tun for the Mayans, there is no indication that it represented the end of their calendar or the end of the world. I have a calendar hanging on the wall which ends on December 31, 2012, but that is not evidence for the end of the world scheduled on or after that date.
But what about the cosmic events predicted for 2012? Promoters of the 2012 idea are touting planetary alignments, the sun’s alignment with the galactic center, the reappearance of Planet X, and maximum solar flares. All of this is supposed to bring disaster to our planet. We have to remember that we live in a world where we are free to claim anything and sell lots of books doing so. But we need a reality check. Just as no credible archaeologist believes that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world, I know of no scientist concerned about these so-called cosmic events. The NASA web site deals with each of one of these and debunks the claims.
Why does this kind of thing gain traction in our world? We are going through uncertain times. We have terrorism, wars, and economic problems that cause all of us to have concerns about the future.
Will the world end some day? The Bible does predict the passing away of this earth (2 Peter 3:10-13), but it is tied to Jesus’ return. It is not a day for Christians to fear. For those who are in Christ, it will mean being with the Lord, and Jesus warns us about trying to predict his coming (Matthew 24:36 ). We are encouraged to live for Christ and not to engage in idle speculation. I don’t’ know what the future will bring, but I believe that God is in control, and in God I trust.