Third Time Isn’t the Charm: The Mayans Are Wrong
By Dr. Dennis E. Hensley
The Mayans predicted that the world would come to an end of December 21, 2012, so the media are scrambling to find someone who can tell them if this is accurate or not. In situations like this, I am the go-to guy, so let’s go to it.
As a journalist and futurist, I’ve covered this sort of thing twice before, and we’re all still here, alive and kicking.
The first time it occurred was in the summer of 1978. Two Cambridge University professors of physics co-authored a book called The Jupiter Effect. They predicted that the world would end in March of 1982, which upset me greatly because I wasn’t even going to have my car paid off by then.
The “logic” behind this book was that it just so happened that all nine planets in our solar system were going to be on the same side of the sun at the same time in 1982. These physicists figured that when all that gravity pulled against the sun simultaneously, it would cause massive sunspots that would send off huge clouds of protons and electrons deep into space. Once those clouds reached the earth, it would cause the earth to rotate erratically, causing earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and avalanches.
I interviewed several physicists here in the states about this book, and Dr. Dwight Beery of Manchester College (IN) critiqued it with a solo word of scientific jargon: “Hooey.” Dr. Beery gave me a sheet of calculus and trigonometry that was so complex, I wasn’t even sure I was holding the paper right side up. However, he pointed to his calculations with great pride and said defiantly, “See, it doesn’t add up.” And who was I to argue with the same guy who had become nationally famous a year earlier by explaining how the Bethlehem star had been formed? (Yes, I wrote that story, too, so the good doctor owed me some time on this Jupiter Effect situation.)
I wrote “Doubting the Jupiter Effect” for the magazine section of The Indianapolis Star, quoting Dr. Beery liberally and then dumbing down his “explanations” for the lay reader. That ran on a Sunday, and on Monday both United Press International and Associated Press picked up my story and ran it nationwide. Once again I had made Dr. Dwight Beery nationally famous. Needless to say, Dr. Beery was correct and the Cambridge guys were wrong because 1982 came and went without incident. And I was able to pay off my car.
And Then...Round Two
Fifteen years later, I got a call from a New York editor asking me if I was the guy who had debunked that Jupiter Effect hype back in the 1970s. I confirmed that I was, and he asked me if I had a take on the Y2K predictions about how the whole world was going to collapse on January 1, 2000, when the computers would not be able to reboot themselves. I gave him a very scientific response: “Hooey.”
He offered me a contract to write a whole book about what we could actually expect during the 21st century. I contacted a lot of people far wiser than me, including Dr. Dwight Beery, and these experts actually guffawed at the idea of the world imploding because someone would be tearing a page off a calendar. I wrote Millennium Approaches, and it sold like wildfire for two years and then became dead meat once the 21st century arrived (which it did with no problems) and the suspense was all gone.
What I discovered this time around, however, was that people loved to know about the future, so long as it bode well for them. However, because my book was gut-honest about radical changes on the horizon, I drew a lot of harsh criticism. For example, in 1998 when my book came out, I said that newspapers would be disappearing off the face of the earth within ten years because the next generation would get all of its news from handheld screens. Publishers and editors despised this prediction because it meant the end of their livelihoods. So, they attacked that part of my book. Now, nearly a dozen years later, both magazines and newspapers are going the way of the Dodo bird and I’m having the last laugh, although I’m not gloating over a situation I, personally, find sad.
And Now the Mayans
As a reporter, I always look to the obvious first. And for this current story the obvious is this: If the Mayans knew so much about the future, why weren’t they ready when the Spaniards landed and took all their gold and made them slaves? They weren’t too far ahead of the curve on that one. Furthermore, how much faith can you put in a calendar that is carved in stone, weighs two tons, and doesn’t even have the name of your insurance agent on it?
I called Dr. Dwight Beery about this, but the school said he was long retired and that he had grown weary of being made nationally famous anyway. So, you’ll have to settle for my own insights on this matter.
The scriptures tell us that no one knows the exact time of the return of the Lord (Matthew 24:36), and I’m confident that that includes the Mayans. More importantly, we are told that we don’t even know for sure what tomorrow will bring — H1N1 virus, food poisoning, jets crashing into your Twin Towers? As such, forget about 2012 and start focusing on now. Personally, your end could happen this week. It’s important to be ready for it.
I’m now 61. I was only 22 when I served a year as a sergeant in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. A buddy of mine spent the whole year doing a countdown. “If I can just survive this year and get back to the States, I’ll have it made,” he must have said to me a hundred times. He did survive Vietnam, then went back to the States and was killed in a car accident eight months later. I rest my case. Be ready.
In conclusion, let me share this perspective: I don’t know a single Mayan who is worried about December 21, 2012, so why should you be?
Do you need hope for the future? Find peace with God
More on 2012 and the End of the World
Related ChurchWatch Blog: 2012: The End of the World?
Bring it On: End Times Questions
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Dr. Dennis E. Hensley’s book on futurism, Millennium Approaches (Avon, 1998), was a best-selling paperback during the Y2K controversy, and was quoted extensively in USA Today and on TV and radio. Dr. Hensley is a professor of professional writing at Taylor University and the author of more than 50 books. He has been a distinguished visiting professor at Regent University (VA), Moody Bible Institute (IL), and Oxford University (UK).
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