Doomsday prophecy fails: Apocalyptic preps and predictions over the years

During the last days of 2016, a computer programmer made headlines for claiming that the world was ending that year. Nora Roth, the programmer behind the doomsday forecast, alleged that at the end of 2016, Jesus will return to Earth and guide the people to heaven. It would be the beginning of a new era of everlasting righteousness, she said.

Jesus second coming Earth
Photo Credit: Buzz Nigeria News
Roth based her calculations on the Book of Daniel, the same biblical book that inspired Isaac Newton’s own projections of the world’s demise. Like many other Armageddon prophecies, Roth’s prediction ended up being just another hoax. However, it wasn’t the only one that made headlines last year.

Earlier in 2016, a YouTube video claimed that a magnetic rolling cloud and a polar flip would herald the second coming of Jesus. It proved to be another disappointment for those who anticipated this version of the apocalypse.

Still, speculations remain, and the doomsday countdown continues to be readjusted with new deadlines for the end of the world.

An enduring fascination for the end of times

Sacred writings and other works all over the world have talked about the end of times, but none were as controversial as the collection of bodements by French physician Nostradamus and the 2012 apocalyptic prediction of the Mayan Calendar.

Among religious texts, one that sparks much curiosity, interpretation, and debate is the Book of Revelation, which narrates the triumph of good over evil and the beginning of a new heavenly reign.

The vivid scenarios of collapsing orders, an epic clash between good and evil, and the rebirth of a new heaven and earth has such a grip on the popular imagination that even men of science like Newton were inspired to make their own forecasts.

Joining Isaac Newton on the list of prominent people who made apocalyptic prophesies are Protestant leader Martin Luther, explorer Christopher Columbus, Methodist founder John Wesley, and Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin.

Preparing for the inevitable

Since the decline and fall of existing orders signals the beginning of the end, the need for preparation is given utmost importance.

Such a mindset became characteristic of the Survivalism movement, which looked at events like the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the Cold War as examples for the need to prepare.

Mounting tensions between the US and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War later led to the building of fallout shelters, which were meant to provide refuge to those caught in the crossfire.

During the 1980s, when the Cold War was still ongoing and the two superpowers were pursuing a renewed nuclear arms race, books like Howard J. Ruff’s How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years and Bruce D. Clayton’s Life After Doomsday called for the necessity of preparation in case of a nuclear war.

The survivalist movement reached another turning point in the 2000s with tragedies like the September 11 attacks in 2001, as well as natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004, which raised concerns over safety, preparedness, and the need to learn survival skills.

In the Philippines, preparing for large-scale catastrophes has become urgent especially concerning a potential magnitude 7.2 earthquake called the Big One that is due to happen along the West Valley Fault. Between 2015 and 2016, the Philippine government led a nationwide earthquake drill to improve preparedness for this major disaster.

Seizing the day

While many doomsday preppers focus on outliving large-scale disasters, others have adapted a YOLO (You Only Live Once) attitude to live life free of regrets.

No Tomorrow

University of South Florida psychologist Nathan Heflick said this mentality is often linked to risky behavior. He recalled an incident where a young woman was arrested after storming the field of a football game while intoxicated. She later tweeted YOLO after being released from detention, Dr. Heflick said.

Carpe diem, however, is not always reckless, or something exclusive to millennials. A 2016 survey by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA) revealed that one out of five Australian baby boomers admitted spending their children’s inheritance to go on an adventure abroad. Four out of five also didn’t feel worried about it, and over half ascribed to a YOLO mantra.

One show that explored the best and worst of living YOLO is No Tomorrow, which tells the story of unlikely duo Xavier Holliday (Joshua Sasse) and Evie Covington (Tori Anderson). Convinced that the earth would soon get hit by an asteroid, Xavier made a list he called the “apocalyst” which included the things he wanted to do before the imminent crash.

No Tomorrow

When Xavier met Evie, he inspired her to make each day count and do things she never did before, such astraveling to see the Northern Lights, moving to the Philippines, and pursuing her dream job.

In case you missed it, you can catch the first five episodes of No Tomorrow on March 10, from 9:00pm to 12:45am on RTL CBS Entertainment available on SKYcable channels 53(SD) and 196(HD), Destiny Cable channel 53, Dream Satellite channel 17 and Cablelink channels 37(SD), 313 (HD).

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