Friday, October 5, 2012

Experts Agree No Maya Apocalypse in Sight

This is exactly what I've been saying all along. The latest findings from a group of experts on Mayan civilization show that the Maya never predicted any sort of an apocalypse for the year 2012. Maybe this will silence the apocalypse enthusiasts who refused to listen to what the actual Maya had to say back when they were first asked about the supposed prediction - that the whole thing is made up and has nothing to do with their calendar or their religion - but I somehow doubt those folks are going to listen to reason until the date actually passes without incident.

That calendar is made up of 394-year periods known as baktuns, the UK newspaper explained, and began in the year 3114 BC. On or around December 21, the calendar would have completed 5,125 years of 13 baktuns, and while those with an in-depth knowledge of Maya culture say that 13 was a “significant” number for them, they see the date ending of this period as “a milestone — but not an end.”

“Fears that the calendar does point to the end have circulated in recent years,” Associated Press (AP) reporter Adriana Gomez Licon wrote on Friday. “People in that camp believe the Maya may have been privy to impending astronomical disasters that would coincide with 2012, ranging from explosive storms on the surface of the sun that could knock out power grids to a galactic alignment that could trigger a reversal in Earth’s magnetic field.”

However, National Institute of Anthropology and History archaeologist Alfredo Barrera told Licon that, while the Maya people did make predictions, they did not do so in “a fatalistic sense.” Rather, they foretold events such as disease epidemics, droughts, or other events that they believed could occur again sometime down the road. Additionally, other experts told the AP that there are Maya monuments that discuss events much further into the future — well beyond the December 21 apocalypse they supposedly prophesized.

The bottom line is that if there are indeed Maya predictions that happen after this year, I think we can ditch the whole thing right there. Obviously if later predictions exist the apocalypse idea has to be abandoned. It's obviously not what the Mayans believed, even before the conquistadors arrived. But unfortunately I'll make another prediction here - gullible New Agers are just going to keep pushing it, because the idea has developed a life of its own.

As a related question, I'm always left wondering what the appeal of an apocalypse is for those who seem so attached to the concept that they can't let it go. Are their lives really so terrible that the end of everything would be an improvement? Do they imagine they will survive, and somehow be happier living in a world that looks like the set of The Road Warrior? If the latter is the case, perhaps they don't realize that even in the United States there's plenty of desert to go around and if somebody really wants to live that way they can - it's just a really bad idea that could get you killed.

Even though I often make fun of rapture-apocalyptics, at least their worldview makes some sense. If you really think that when the apocalypse comes you'll be whisked away to paradise that at least constitutes a reasonable motive in the context of those beliefs. On the other hand, folks who seem to be drawn to the idea of a world-ending disaster without a mystical paradise waiting on the other side seem to lack anything of the sort. It's like they just want to watch the world fall apart.

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Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

Even before I encountered conclusive information, such as you have provided, that debunked the idea that the calendar predicted a 2012 apocalypse, I always regarded the date, if it had any significance, as a marker of a new era. And not one that happens over night, either.

I also look at it loosely in conjunction with other ideas -- the procession of astrological ages, and the New Aeon. They can be understood to be, as it were, the death of an era, but the birth of a new one.

I don't know, I don't give it too much thought. But I feel that you are unfortunately right about the gullible new agers.

Scott Stenwick said...

For whatever reason, it seems like you can't go wrong predicting the end of the world, even if your explanation is complete hogwash. It's like even a substantial portion of the non-religious are looking forward to the world ending, which I simply don't understand. There are aspects of modern civilization that are problematic, but I don't see how tearing the whole thing down would make much of anything better.

As a Thelemite I agree with you that the New Aeon concept is a better model of what's really going on. Since 1904, the reception of The Book of the Law, our civilization has been transforming quite rapidly. In 1900 there were no conventional aircraft, the only cars were prototype "horseless carriages," and there was no mass media aside from local newspapers.