The end of the world has been heralded for thousands of years. Prophecies, scientific formulas and biblical translations have all been used to determine the ending date of life as we know it, yet, here we are today. Apocalypse dates have come and gone, some on bated breath and some without notice. Here is a list of some of the many end-of-the-world predictions you or your ancestors have lived through.
Jan. 1, 1000: Christians in Europe believed that Christ would return to earth on this day. The coming judgment day spurred the church to send armies to pagan lands and convert them to Christianity in order to save them—even if it was by force. While Christ never showed, the Christian religion received a boost in numbers of followers.
1843-1844: Preacher William Miller used the Bible to calculate that the end of the world would happen between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. Needless to say, it didn’t happen and after March 21, 1844 passed, he extended the doomsday deadline multiple times. It still didn’t happen and Miller’s prophesied doomsday was referred to as “The Great Disappointment.”
March 10, 1982: All of the planets were on the same side of the sun and people got it into their heads that “The Jupiter Effect” would cause endless natural disasters. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and more were foretold effects to be caused by the planets’ positions. Fortunately for the earth and humanity, that didn’t happen.
1997: The Hale-Bopp comet appeared in our sky, and fuzzy pictures of the comet led UFO enthusiasts to believe that a UFO was following the comet and that the extraterrestrials would bring about the end of the earth. This belief led 39 people in The Heaven’s Gate cult to commit suicide so that the aliens wouldn’t get them.
Jan. 1, 2000: Known as Y2K, this was the day that technology and especially computers would bring about the end of the world. It was believed that computer systems wouldn’t be able to register the change from the 1900s to the 2000s and thus wreak havoc on our modern world. Judging by the fact that I’m typing this article on a perfectly functioning computer, no such incident ever occurred.
June 6, 2006: While Satanists may have reveled on this date, others were convinced that it was the day of the Antichrist. The sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year (in the 2000s) was expected to bring the end of the world because the date (kind of) made the Devil’s number, 666. Besides the fact that doomsayers blatantly disregarded the 200 preceding the third six in the devil’s number, nothing happened.
May 21, 2011: Another biblical calculation gone wrong, Harold Camping used the Bible and mathematical formulas to foretell the second coming of Christ and Judgment Day. Like many disappointed doomsday fortune tellers before him who witnessed their prophesied doomsdays pass without incident, Camping pushed the date back further, in his case to Oct. 21, 2011. But once again, he was let down (and so were a few students hoping that they wouldn’t have to turn in their homework).
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