A brief history of the end of the world

A look back at apocalypses past SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow, Mayan apocalypse, Mayan calendar, end of the world, ,

A brief history of the end of the world (Credit: Wikipedia)

The world did not end! That is great news! Besides meaning that we will all live to see the next season of “Girls,” today’s notable absence of earthquakes, floods and other apocalyptic ephemera connects us to a long, happy tradition of losing our minds about the end of the world. From 2800 B.C. to 2012, a look back at the apocalypses that got away.

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    Probert Encyclopaedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    2800 BC

    An Assyrian clay tablet dating back to 2800 BC reads: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.” Bribery and corruption remain common. Teenagers are still total ingrates. And perhaps more than ever, every man (and woman) wants to write a book. (Thanks a lot, blogs.)

    Britannica

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    389 BC

    Through a revelation involving 12 eagles and one-half of Rome's mythological founding duo, Romulus, many Romans believed their city would be destroyed around 389 BC. Boy were they disappointed to find that Rome wouldn't be destroyed until 476 AD! Close, but no cigar, Romans!

    Wikipedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    1504

    The Mystical Nativity, by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, doesn't appear on many Christmas cards. And with good reason: Botticelli laced his nativity scene with plenty of devils to foretell the end-times to come. The inscription reads: “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 twelfth chapter and we shall see him trodden down as in this picture.” Happy holidays, indeed.

    Wikipedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    1736

    English theologian, historian, and mathematician, William Whitson, predicted that London would be destroyed in a flood on October, 13 1736. Spoiler alert: He was wrong! But that didn't stop many Londoners from boarding boats on the Thames to wait out the rising waters.

    Wikipedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    369, 1184, 1789, 1962, now, etc.

    The Antichrist is such a tease! As evidenced by false revelations spanning centuries, we can safely conclude that the Second Coming is the biblical equivalent of Charlie Brown and the football. Equally elusive: the name and identity of the Antichrist himself. Popular predictions from recent history include: the Pope, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

    Stereogum

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    1975

    1975 was a big year for the apocalypse! According to Jehovah's Witnesses, failed doomsday prophesier Charles Taylor and Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong, this was supposed to be the end! But it wasn't. Instead, Minnie Ripperton releases "Loving You" and leaves the world wishing they were right.

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    2000

    On January 1, 2000, computer systems around the world were supposed to shut down, and the world as we knew it was supposed to end. But, alas and alack, the clock struck midnight and we barely registered a blip. And Millennials everywhere continue to wonder why their parents have so many canned goods marked "1999" in the basement.

    Wikipedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    2007

    In addition to regularly blaming environmental catastrophes and national tragedies on gay people, Pat Robertson also happens to dabble in Armageddon predictions. In his 1990 book The New Millennium, Robertson suggests April 29, 2007 would be the date of Earth's destruction. It wasn't! He's not any better at calling election results, either. Robertson walked back his statement that God told him Barack Obama would lose in 2012 by saying, “So many of us miss God, I won’t get into great detail about elections but I sure did miss it, I thought I heard from God, I thought I had heard clearly from God, what happened? What intervenes? Why? You ask God, how did I miss it? Well, we all do and I’ve had a lot of practice.”

    Center for Scientific and Religious Studies

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    2011

    Harold Camping, Christian radio personality and failed harbinger of the apocalypse, falsely predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011. (And September 6, 1994 and October 11, 2011, but who's counting?) Camping might have been wrong, but that didn't stop thousands of his followers from liquidating their life savings and selling their homes to prepare for the end of days.

    Wikipedia

    A brief history of the end of the world slideshow

    2060

    Sure, none of these other predictions have been right. But none of these other prophesiers were Sir. Isaac Effin' Newton, either. The inventor of gravity himself has some rather grave predictions for the year 2060, so watch out. According to a recently published letter, Newton believed the Apocalypse would come in 2060. For this prediction, it seems the famous rationalist relied more on faith than science, using the Bible's Book of Daniel to calculate an approximate date, writing: "It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner."

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Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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