The Mayan Calendar and the End of the World – Myth or Prophecy
By: Dr. John Weldon
|By: John G. Weldon, PhD; ©2012|
|Much of the world seems interested (or amused) that the Mayan Long Count calendar allegedly predicts the literal end of the world on December 21, 2012.|
- “Time, which sees all things, has found you out.”― Sophocles, one of the great playwrights of ancient Greece
It’s a modern phenomenon, a bit reminiscent of Y2K.
Much of the world seems interested (or amused) that the Mayan Long Count calendar allegedly predicts the literal end of the world on December 21, 2012. Along with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists relative to its own interests, there are now one or more Mayan “doomsday clocks” counting down the days to humanity’s extinction event.
I recently read an article which calculated that if we subtract all the time we spend doing those things over which we have no control (sleeping, working, eating, etc.) then, when we turn around 35, we only have roughly three years left to do the things we really want. Some would tell us that the Mayans have taken a lot more of our time – now we are supposedly down to days.
Allegedly there are hundreds of thousands of websites on the subject, over 3,000 books published, and seemingly endless articles. There have been several TV specials (including by the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and Fox News); a number of museums have exhibits; various parties are planned (including one expecting up to 60,000 guests), and mainstream science is involved, albeit not enthusiastically. So much publicity has been generated that even NASA has a page of their website devoted to it.
Several polls may suggest that 10%-12% of the world’s population really is concerned about the end of the world—over 700 million people!
The complete end of the world? Really?
Here are the facts. Myths are incapable of telling the truth and “no lie comes from the truth” (1 John 2:21).
The most authoritative single resource in the world is the Bible because it is literally God’s Word, a revelation from an infinite-personal Being who is omniscient (all-knowing). He tells us the world is going to endure until the return of Christ and then it will endure for another thousand years after that, prior to God creating an eternal “new heavens and new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Jesus Himself warned against specific date setting (Matthew 24:36).
Further, Jesus isn’t just anybody; He is the most unique and authoritative Person in history. Why? Because He proved He was God incarnate (and therefore an infallible authority) by fulfilling scores of messianic prophecies given hundreds of years in advance, performing unparalleled miracles, and resurrecting physically from the dead, just as He predicted on numerous occasions. As an infallible authority, He also rejected the idea of the complete end of the world (Matthew 24:22). We may indeed be approaching the biblical “last days of Israel” but that’s a far cry from the Mayan end of the world.
Regardless of what anyone says or thinks about the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world, they’re wrong. We’ll all be here to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, and hopefully many more.
Further, the alleged sources for publicizing this modern rumor aren’t exactly credible: e.g., writers of the New Age, mystical, and astrological genre. For example, David Stewart (PhD anthropology, Vanderbilt University), taught at Harvard University for a dozen years and is currently professor of Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He is considered an expert on the ancient Maya and author of The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012. He told the Huffington Post that the doomsday predictions are “all mostly coming out of New Age interpretations and mysticism about Mayan calendars, which are not based on archaeology, anthropology or scholarship.”
Dr. Stuart further told EarthSky (a principal science website which retains over 1,000 global science advisors and partners with leading scientific organizations) that “neither the Maya, nor their calendar, ever predicted the end of the world.” Other scholars of various disciplines including Mesopotamian/Mayan history and culture also reject the idea that the “long count” calendar ends permanently in 2012, insisting that this constitutes a misrepresentation of Mayan culture and history; – besides, there are allegedly hundreds of different theories as to how all this supposedly works out.
Even the modern-day Mayans themselves believe such predictions are wrong—and are not a little bit upset over all the negative publicity.
Not only did the Mayan calendar itself never predict the end of the world; it turns out that an earlier (now the earliest known) Mayan calendar, just discovered, also offers no suggestion as to the end of the world (which might just be a lesson to many about looking before they leap). To be sure, archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered “calendars that destroy any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012”. National Geographic contained a recent article, “Unprecedented Mayan Mural Found, Contradicts 2012 ‘Doomsday’ Myth”, while an article in the leading science journal Scientific American continued the story, “Neither the Mayan Calendar – nor the World – Ends on December 21, 2012.”
It would seem that somehow there has been a conflation between the Aztec and Mayan cultures and calendars (which were quite different). Again, the Mayans never predicted the end of the world to begin with. It was the Aztecs (properly termed Mexica) who believed in the end of the world (and engaged in a great deal of human sacrifice apparently to prevent it). However, the Aztec calendar had no possible way to predict so far into the future as 2012.
In sum, the Aztec calendar couldn’t predict anything for 2012 and the Mayan calendar didn’t predict anything—it simply resets itself at the end of 2012 to begin a new cycle.
Scientific studies by astronomers, archaeologists and others have also shown the Mayan calendar does not have the ability to predict the literal end of the world. For example NASA’s website concludes, “For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.”
In similar fashion, the senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, David Morrison (PhD Astronomy, Harvard University), author of more than 155 technical papers and a dozen books, as well as winner of numerous prestigious awards and medals emphasized, “There is no scientific evidence backing up what these doomsday people believe.”
But there is evidence why these myths are believed. In the words of the noted writer, critic and socialist turned Christian Malcolm Muggeridge, “People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to.” But really, why trust in an ancient if archaeologically interesting calendar when it’s both possible and simple to personally know and trust in the one, true and infinite God Himself—the One who completed not just a calendar but the entire creation?
Why would anyone want to believe a falsehood when they can actually know the truth, which is ultimately a Person, Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), and “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3).
At some point everyone searches for meaning to life and something that transcends themselves. Further, everyone is seeks love and happiness. But these can never be found in a calendar. Yet they are exactly what God wants to give you—love and happiness forever—plus much more. Nothing in life can possibly be better than knowing God personally through Jesus Christ, and learning of the infinite love He has for you (John 3:16). Regardless of what happens in this life, that is the beginning of the joy that lasts forever (Psalm 16:11).
If you are not yet certain that you have individually transferred your personal trust to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and inherited the free gift of eternal life and the joy that never ends, please see the homepage of www.JAshow.org.
For Additional Reading
John Roach, “End of World in 2012? Maya ‘Doomsday’ Calendar Explained”, National Geographic, December 20, 2011; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/12/111220-end-of-world-2012-maya-calendar-explained-ancient-science/
- Oedipus Rex.
- Doomsday Clock Overview”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; http://www.thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/overview.
- The Bible is established as the revealed word of God because it’s content can’t rationally be explained in any other manner, given: hundreds of specific prophecies fulfilled hundreds of years in advance (Dr. J. Barton Payne, The Encyclopedia Biblical Prophecy); medical and scientific prevision ( there are numerous books and websites by scientists on the theme of science and the Bible e.g. http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/; http://www.scienceinthebible.net/); its unique preservation, characteristics and impact; the existence of the Jewish nation; Jesus’ view of the Old Testament as the word of God (John 17:17) who again, being God incarnate is an infallible authority. See also the standard works on the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture by Benjamin B. Warfield, Rene Pache and the earlier work by Clark Pinnock, Biblical Revelation. Also the standard defenses on inerrancy written or edited by Dr. Norman Geisler; Gregory K. Beale, The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority; Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority (6 Vols); Craig D. Allert, A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon.
- While the Bible does predict the seven-year great tribulation period prior to the return of Christ, the world itself survives – along with billions of people. Yes, it does look like we are approaching the biblical end times of Israel but that’s something entirely different than the Mayan end of the world. (See John G. Weldon, “Are We Living in the Last Days.
- John Ankerberg, John Weldon: The Case for Jesus the Messiah: Incredible Prophecies That Prove God Exists; Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology; Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic?
- Craig S. Keener, Miracles: the Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (two volumes); Norman L. Geisler, Miracles in the Modern Mind: A Defense of Biblical Miracles; C. John Collins, The God of Miracles: an Exegetical Examination of God’s Action in the World.
- John Weldon, “The Resurrection As Historical Fact?” http://jablog.flywheelsites.com/guests-and-authors/dr-john-g-weldon/the-resurrection-as-historical-fact-2/title=The_Resurrection_as_Historical_Fact%3F.
- Jaweed Kaleem, “Mayans Protest ‘Twisting of Truth’ Over 2012 Doomsday Predictions”, Huffington Post, October 31, 2012; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/mayans-protest-2012-doomsday-predictions_n_2050519.html.
- In the words of EarthSky; Interview, “David Stewart on the Mayan Calendar and 2012 Doomsday Predictions”, EarthSky, November 23, 2012;http://earthsky.org/human-world/david-stuart-on-the-mayan-calendar-and-2012-doomsday-predictions.
- On the Fox News TV special: “Debunking the doomsday scenarios are astronomer Anthony Aveni, physicist Michio Kaku, archaeologist Christopher Powell and author Graham Hancock.” (“Fox News Reporting: Countdown to Doomsday”, November 15, 2012; http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-reporting/2012/11/15/fox-news-reporting-countdown-doomsday.
- “Maya Demand an End to Doomsday Myth”, October 25, 2012; http://phys.org/news/2012-10-maya-demand-doomsday-myth.html.
- Brian Vastag, “Mayan Prophecy: The World Won’t End, As a New Found Calendar Goes On and On and On”, Washington Post, May 10, 2012; http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/mayan-prophecy-the-world-wont-end-as-a-newfound-calendar-goes-on-and-on-and-on/2012/05/10/gIQA03s3FU_story.html.Tyrone Turner (National Geographic), “The World May Not End Soon Predicts Newly Found Mayan Calendar”, May 11, 2012, The Telegraph; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/guatemala/9259069/The-world-may-not-end-soon-predicts-newly-found-Mayan-calendar.html.
- Erik Vance, “Unprecedented Mayan Mural Found, Contradicts 2012 ‘Doomsday’ Myth”, National Geographic, May 10, 2012; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/120510-maya-2012-doomsday-calendar-end-of-world-science/.
- Erik Vance, “Neither the Maya Calendar – nor the World – Ends on December 21, 2012”, Scientific American, July 6, 2012; http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=neither-maya-nor-world-calendar-ends-december-21-2012.
- It may have assumed a new beginning in the manner that we celebrate a New Year, but certainly not the end of the world. Erik Vance, "Mayan Calendar: World Will Not End in December 2012, Expert Says", Huffington Post, July 8, 2012 [apparently a reprint or summary of an article in Scientific American]; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/08/mayan-calendar-world-will_n_1655135.html.
- NASA Scientists, “Beyond 2012: Why the World Won’t End”, NASA.gov, November 13, 2012; http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html.
- “David Morrison”; http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/2007/morrison.html.
- Cited in Rebekah Sanger, “Mayan End of World Hype Is Causing Real Fear among Children”, Fox News Latino, June 12, 2012; http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2012/06/12/mayan-end-world-prediction-is-frightening-children/.