Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Smile of a Lass

Adorning a smile on her face,

with a poise, worth inspiring any sculptor,

an adorable lass stood there, retying her loose lace;

As I saw her; stretched my neck towards the sky, to salute the Creator.


My heart, at that moment, deified this angel

for her very sight seemed to expiate all my sins;

My tactful speech fell in her spell,

as I went dumb, for what seemed like aeons.


No levels of adrenaline seemed able to fight my numb

limbs, albeit I longed to perambulate

in her vicinity, without disturbing her divine aplomb

to experience her aura, that could, in the least, intoxicate.


Suppressing my cerebral activity, garnering all my courage

I knelt before her, caring a damn for pertinence,

implored for love with my eyes, that surrendered to her bondage;

even refused to blink, awaiting her countenance.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Brief History of Doomsday predictions

In the wake of the hysteria created by the 2012 myth more so by the Hollywood movie ‘2012’ that has leveraged the scientific advancement (technology) to disseminate an unscientific idea, an article on a topic as this is almost as imminent as the proclaimed 2012 catastrophe. The situation thus demands an equally inclusive and effective dissemination of the scientific perspective, at least to nullify the pernicious effect it has had on the millions of innocent minds who’re unfortunately not equipped to sift the work of pure fantasy from the mystical and ostensible ‘unraveling of the imminent future’. It is in this light that the following article has to be read and understood.

Ancient Times

Predictions of doomsday, Apocalypse, Armageddon is neither new nor restricted to any religion, region, and cult. Just that they are in the fervor of the culture and language in which it originated. This statement will be corroborated with interesting nuggets of information that supports and reinforces my above statement.

According to Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts (1979), an Assyrian clay tablet dating to approximately 2800 BC was unearthed bearing the words "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.". This is one of the earliest examples of the perception of moral decay in society being interpreted as a sign of the imminent end.

It may be difficult to believe that people had predicted the ‘end of world’ almost 4800 years ago but the available evidence (of the clay tablet) compels any rational mind to accept it. This is not just one-of-it’s-kind. There has been incessant flow of predictions about doomsday across cultures and civilizations.

There was a myth that 12 eagles had revealed to Romulus a mystical number representing the lifetime of Rome, and some early Romans hypothesized that each eagle represented 10 years. But later, some Romans figured that the mystical number revealed to Romulus represented the number of days in a year (the Great Year concept), so they expected Rome to be destroyed around 365 AUC (389 BC). (Thompson p.19)

1st Century onwards

In the first century, Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28) This implies that the Second Coming would return within the lifetime of his contemporaries, and indeed the Apostles expected Jesus to return before the passing of their generation which never happened.

In the late 4th century, St. Martin of Tours (ca. 316-397) wrote, "There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power." (Abanes p.119). Yet another failed prophecy!
In 1005 – 06, a terrible famine throughout Europe was also seen as a sign of the nearness of the end. There are legends which say that apocalyptic paranoia had gripped people around the year 1000. However, this point seems to have been refuted by Richard Lendes of the early 20th century in his scholarly article “Giants with Feet of Clay: On the Historiography of the Year 1000”. (
Then in 13th century, Pope Innocent III expected the Second Coming to take place in 1284, 666 years after the rise of Islam. (Schwartz p.181)

There were more than 16 predicted doomsdays between 1504 – 1600.
A painting titled “The Mystical Nativity” by an Italian artist Sandro Botticelli wrote in the caption of this painting
“I Sandro painted this picture at the end of the year 1500 in the troubles of Italy in the half time after the time according to the eleventh chapter of St. John in the second woe of the Apocalypse in the loosing of the devil for three and a half years. Then he will be chained in the 12th chapter and we shall see him trodden down as in this picture.”

Modern Times

In the 18th century, Rapture Predictions became more rampant. A brief background and a selected list of famous rapture predictions are provided below.

Rapture Predictions

The rapture is a Christian belief that forms a major part of the current teaching and expectations of fundamentalist and other evangelical denominations. In its most popular current form, the doctrine involves Jesus Christ returning from Heaven towards earth. In violation of the law of gravity, saved individuals -- both dead and alive -- will rise up in the air and join Jesus in the sky.

There are several Rapture predictions since 18th century, all of which has miserably failed. Despite such consistent failures, it has undeterred many of the believers yet. Following is a list of Rapture predictions from 1700 onwards.

• 1792 - Shakers calculated this date.
• 1844 - William Miller predicted Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, then revised his prediction, claiming to have miscalculated Scripture, to October 22, 1844. Miller's theology gave rise to the Advent movement.
• 1977 - William M. Branham predicted in 1962 that the Rapture could take place by 1977.
• 1981 - Chuck Smith predicted that Jesus would probably return by 1981.
• 1988 - Publication of 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, by Edgar C. Whisenant.
• 1989 - Publication of The final shout: Rapture report 1989, by Edgar Whisenant. More predictions by this author appeared for 1992, 1995, and other years.
• 1992 - Korean group "Mission for the Coming Days" predicted October 28, 1992 as the date for the rapture.
• 1993 - Seven years before the year 2000. The rapture would have to start to allow for seven years of the Tribulation before the Return in 2000. Multiple predictions.
• 1994 - Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles predicted June 9, 1994. Radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted September 27, 1994.
• 2011 - Harold Camping's revised prediction has May 21, 2011 as the date of the rapture.
• 2060 - Sir Isaac Newton proposed, based upon his calculations using figures from the book of Daniel that the Apocalypse could happen no earlier than 2060.
Nostradamus Predictions on End of World

Nostradamus was a popular seer (also a French physician) of 16th Century whose first almanac for the year 1550 became so famous that he began writing one or more of them annually. Later, he began writing a book of one thousand French Quatrains “Les Propheties”, which constitute the largely undated prophesies for which he is most famous today. There seems to be NO particular quatrain which predicts the end of the world. However, he mentions that his predictions will go on till the year 3797 AD which is wrongly interpreted as to mean the doomsday. He uses a mix of languages and rhetoric thus obfuscating his quatrains making it extremely porous allowing for varied interpretations.

It must be noted that the veracity of all prophesies mentioned above may not be established here. However, it should be seen in the light that if at all such prophesies did exist albeit with a different date, it has all so horribly failed without exception.

Prophesies vs Scientific Predictions

As illustrated above, mankind has had a rich history of prophesies and eschatological expositions that gained acceptance by a large majority from the early times to this day. Present day prophesies that use pseudoscientific reasoning is proving to be more perilous and its effect more pernicious.
It therefore becomes an imperative of every rational mind to fight against obdurate malevolent forces and thus save the innocent minds of needless misery. In order to do this, one must be equipped with the subtleties of pure science so as to defend the scientific predictions which stands on a firm ground of logic and reasoning held by objectivity against a loose soil of mystical obscurantism.

Such prophesies tend to give false hope to the oppressed and the deprived for at least one reason - the impending catastrophe (apocalypse) supposedly does not discriminate based on the social stratum but on the firmness of belief, thus allowing an equal playing ground.

We can probably find relief in Winston Churchill’s words – “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Sources of Information