With the winter solstice of 2012 less than a year away and some people putting forth the theory that the Mayan calendar shows Friday, December 21, 2012, as the end of the world, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the failed doomsday predictions that were proclaimed to be absolute in their accuracy at the time.
Doomsday predictions have been around for many centuries. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say millenniums. No sooner has one prophecy come and gone without the earth coming to an apocalyptic ending than another one pops up to take its place.
Needless to say, so far none of these prophecies have come to fruition. Regardless of the dire predictions and the credentials of the doomsday prophet, the world is still here.
The Prophet Hen Of Leeds, 1806
For the last two thousand years many of the doomsday predictions have been associated with the imminent return of Jesus. One of the strangest is a hen in the English town of Leeds. In 1806 the hen began laying eggs that had "Christ is coming" written on the shell. Many people believed the miracle and claimed the end was at hand—until a curious neighbor watched the hen laying eggs and discovered that the entire thing was a hoax.
The Millerites, April 23, 1843
William Miller, a New England farmer, came to the conclusion that the date God had chosen to destroy the world could be determined by a strict and literal interpretation of scripture. He eventually had thousands of followers known as Millerites who decided the actual date for the end of the world was April 23, 1843. When the date arrived and nothing happened, the group disbanded.
Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
At a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835, Joseph Smith announced he had spoken with God and learned Jesus would return within the next 56 years and immediately afterward the End Times would begin.
Halley's Comet, 1910
In 1881, an astronomer discovered that comet tails include a deadly gas called cyanogen. This was of no particular interest until someone realized that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley's comet in 1910 which would subject everyone on the planet to the deadly gas.
Pat Robertson, 1982
Televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, informed his 700 Club television audience that he knew when the world would end. He guaranteed that by the end of 1982 there would be a judgment on the world.
Heaven's Gate, 1997
In 1997 with the appearance of comet Hale-Bopp, rumors circulated that an alien spacecraft was following the comet and NASA was covering up this fact. A San Diego UFO cult, Heaven's Gate, concluded that this meant the world would end soon. On March 26, 1997, 39 members of the cult committed suicide.
Y2K, January 1, 2000
With the turn of the millennium, rumors were flying fast and furious that the world's computers would fail and what they controlled would cease to function because the computers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the year 1900 and 2000. Catastrophic problems were predicted. However, the new millennium began with only a few minor glitches.
May 5, 2000
And just in case the Y2K bug didn't finish us off on January 1st, the year 2000 had another shot at it. A 1997 book titled 5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster assured us that specific date when the planets would be aligned in the heavens and would result in a global icy death. Guess they forgot about global warming. :)
Nostradamus, July 1999
The writings of Nostradamus have intrigued people for over 400 years. However, the accuracy of his predictions depends on a very flexible interpretation. One of his quatrains said,
The year 1999, seventh month
From the sky will come great king of terrorMany believed this was Nostradamus' vision of Armageddon.
God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008
Ronald Weinland, minister of God's Church, said in his 2006 book that hundreds of millions of people will die and by the end of 2006 there will be a maximum of only two years remaining before the world will be plunged into the worst time in all human history.
And most recently…
Harold Camping, 2011
On his radio program, Harold Camping proclaimed that Judgment Day would be May 21, 2011, and would begin with global earthquakes and a rapture of the faithful. This would be followed by months of catastrophe and the world would end of October 21, 2011. And again, we're still here.
So now we wait for December 21, 2012…