“New” Mayan art contradicts 2012 deadline

May 11, 2012

Good news for those who might have been worried: archeologists in Guatemala have announced the discovery of a mural there that suggests the earth’s inhabitants still have another 7000 years to prosper.

Working with epigrapher David Stuart and archaeologist and artist Heather Hurst, the researchers noticed several barely visible hieroglyphic texts, painted and etched along the east and north walls of the room.

One is a lunar table, and the other is a “ring number”—something previously known only from much later Maya books, where it was used as part of a backward calculation in establishing a base date for planetary cycles. Nearby is a sequence of numbered intervals corresponding to key calendrical and planetary cycles.

The calculations include dates some 7,000 years in the future, adding to evidence against the idea that the Maya thought the world would end in 2012—a modern myth inspired by an ancient calendar that depicts time starting over this year.

“We keep looking for endings,” expedition leader Saturno said in a statement. “The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset.”

Bad news for “the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach.” Their village had been picked as the potential Noah’s Ark for scared hippies the world over. Back in March, the Independent reported that

Upwards of 100,000 people are thought to be planning a trip to the mountain, 30 miles west of Perpignan, in time for 21 December, and opportunistic entrepreneurs are shamelessly cashing in on the phenomenon. While American travel agents have been offering special, one-way deals to witness the end of the world, a neighbouring village, Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, has produced a wine to celebrate the occasion.

Jean-Pierre Delord, the perplexed mayor of Bugarach, has flagged up the situation to the French authorities, requesting they scramble the army to the tiny village for fear of a mass suicide. It has also caught the attention of France’s sect watchdog, Miviludes.

It’s believed by these people that aliens have a spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach and that they have the capability to “beam away” anyone in the vicinity on that day. No wonder there’s some worry. Nobody wants to see another Heaven’s Gate happen. (Their website is still up and running, by the way.)


It’s already October 21st in Australia

October 20, 2011

No end of the world events have been reported over there yet. Australia is stepping up support for Libya as it experiences the end of tyranny, but no end of the world.

Relief all around, then. And perhaps a lager.


Countdown for the end times still on in 5, 4, 3, 2…

October 16, 2011

October 21st is still being touted by Harold Camping and his ilk as the last day of humanity’s long and lively existence on this planet. Judgement day is upon us at last. Really, truly, and honestly. Time’s up.

Yeah, right. He said time was up on May 21st, too, and what happened? Nobody got raptured and not long afterwards, Camping had a stroke and is still recovering from it. Thanks, God. Way to come through for a true believer.

His Family Radio website offers up an explanation of what really went on with God’s ultimate plan for that day:

We always look at the word “earthquake” to mean the earth, or ground, is quaking or shaking violently. However, in the Bible the word “earth” can include people as well as ground.

In Genesis 2:7 we read:

And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground…

Thus the word “earthquake” can also be understood to teach that mankind shakes.

Oh, so God’s ultimate purpose was to shake the people to the core, not the earth itself? Glad we got that sorted out. Sounds like a bunch of ludicrous backpeddling to rationalize why they were so damned wrong, but maybe that’s just my interpretation of the big fat nothing that actually happened.

the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011, on the last day of the present five months period. On that day the true believers (the elect) will be raptured. We must remember that only God knows who His elect are that He saved prior to May 21.

I’m sorry, but that day just doesn’t work for me. For one thing, Saskatoon Freethinkers has organized an apocalypse karaoke night and if I can’t sing my Patsy Cline standards, I won’t be in a very good mood for the birthday events planned for the weekend itself. And Tom Waits’ new album is getting released next week, besides. God has shitty ass timing, if I do say. Bottom line, I’m too busy to deal with the end of the world right now, dammit!

MSNBC offers up a bit of information regarding this whole doomsday belief habit people tend to fall into:

Believing in the end of the world even without evidence may seem strange, but sociologists say that a belief in doomsday gives followers a clear sense of the world and their place in it. Others have suggested that apocalyptic worldviews stem from the overwhelming feeling that one’s problems are too big, and, as such, the only possible solution is a clean slate. Over the past 40 to 50 years these doomsday beliefs have increased, according to DiTommaso, though not all “believers” are as extreme as Camping.

And yet protesters are taking to the streets in droves to occupy any piece of property that gives them space to raise a sign, so it’s not like there aren’t thousands of hopefuls still out there trying to boost more people into giving a damn about what’s going on with the economy and the world at large. To the best of my knowledge, they’re not asking for a clean slate. I don’t really know what any of them are asking for, beyond the chance to be heard. It has not been an easy few years for many people. I certainly count myself among the fortunate ones who haven’t had to deal with major financial issues like excessive mortgage debt or job loss, but I’m looking at what’s coming down the pipeline in terms of my own chosen “career” and it’s starting to look like I ought to be investing in a life preserver just in case it becomes necessary to jump ship, you know?

It’s a stress I’ve really been hoping I could avoid but maybe the moment is coming when I can’t anymore. Outsourcing is a bitch… I’ve been in a full time term for the past three and some years but after January (unless the miraculous happens) I have to return to my halftime hours elsewhere which will result in a pay increase, but hardly good news when compared to working half the hours I’m used to doing now. I’m not really looking forward to this. I’ve been enjoying my standard of living and wonder about what I’m going to have to give up in order to stay in the black, or what else I’ll have to do job-wise in order to keep afloat. I’m not losing sleep over it, but I keep thinking it’s going to be a good idea to update my resume, just in case…

I see why doomsday preaching becomes such a persuasive voice in people’s hearts and minds. Wipe the slate clean. Wipe away the debt. Wipe away the worry of where the food will come from tomorrow. You may already be a winner in the rapture sweepstakes and God’s ready to take you away from all this with barely a moment’s notice. Hot dog! Come and get me!

Sadly, October 21st is going to come and go like every 21st before it, and nothing will change for anyone. Those who happen to die that day will be gone from the world (not raptured, just dead) and the rest of us will have to think about what’s on tap for the morrow. Rent’s coming due, TV bill wasn’t paid last month, why did we even buy that cell phone for our text-addicted daughter… The world will keep on spinning, and the debt will keep on burning a hole in our collective pockets and people will seek out the next prophet who offers a chance of relief…


“Rain and rainbows are great reminders…”

May 8, 2011

that refraction is pretty damn cool. Which reminds me.. ever watch this?

Hopefully kids today are learning about sunlight and the prism effect of water droplets. “That wasn’t happening 20 years ago.” Sure it hell was. I was a sprinkler dodger in my youth and well familiar with the phenomena. It’s happened for as long as there’s been sunshine and water droplets. So, at least 6000 years, dontcha know…

I’ve taken my blog post title from the title of a different article, one about Noah’s Ark by Barrett Vanlandingham.

Genesis 7:11-12 tells us, “–On that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

When the water receded, Noah left the ark and sacrificed some of the animals on an altar.

God was pleased. So, He placed a rainbow in the sky as an agreement between Himself and all life on earth (ref: Gen. 9:18) that He would never again destroy the earth by flood (v.21).

A rainbow must have been quite an impressive sight since it may also have been the first time one had ever appeared.

This wonder of nature is still an incredible sight today.

It certainly was for the woman in the video. Wow. I wonder what her reaction would be to sun dogs. I expect she’s too far south to ever see them, but she’d probably blame contrails or something.

Given what we know about the way light acts when it passes through water, “incredible” isn’t really the word for it. It’d be far more incredible if conditions were right to create a rainbow and one did not appear where we were looking for it. They are typical, not atypical. They are expected. Not because God’s happy. Not because he apologized to what he let live on earth and thought they’d be amused at this point by some pretty colours. Because it’s the way our eyes and brain translate and display the passing of light through water droplets. That is all it is.

The message it has brought for over four-thousand years now continues to paint a beautiful picture of hope for believers, and should strike fear in the hearts of non-believers.

The colors that arch through the clouds remind us that God keeps His promises.

He promises he won’t flood the planet. He’ll just allow the descendants of the sinful Adam and Eve do it, as an effect of humanity’s curse on the world.

No wonder we’re supposed to do what the author suggests next:

So, what does this mean to us today? The message of Jesus Christ is true! But sadly, scripture says that most people will not choose the righteous path that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:13-14).

Yes, this fact poses a challenge for Christians who spend their lives telling their friends and family the Gospel story of salvation through Jesus Christ.

But, it will be a bigger problem for non-believers who, just like in Noah’s days, refuse to listen until it is too late. May God bless your efforts to win souls this week.

Which reminds me, supposedly the countdown is on to Judgement Day (May 21st), so there aren’t many days left for this soul winning competition. I wonder if they participate on an individual level, or compete as church teams for the grand prize.

I don’t really care who’s in the running to “win” that. When the end of the world does not happen on October 21st, I’ll be laughing my ass off watching believers move the goal posts somewhere else. This November’s a contender, too, and there’s still December 21st of 2012 to get ready for. Still gotta worry about those Mayans. Pascal’s wager leaves room for the possibility that all these Christians should have been worshiping Chac, just to be on the safe side.

Bringer of rain, as it turns out:

Very important for harvests and growing, CHAC sends rain into the world by weeping from his large benevolent eyes.

How fortuitous. Now you’re going to think I planned that. I assure you that I did not. It’s just funny how things work out.


It was naive to assume Saskatoon was immune to the lun…

April 28, 2011

…acy that is Harold Camping and his end of the world followers. Friend and fellow Freethinker Koinosuke snapped this puppy while on Circle Drive.

Sigh

Anyone who can afford to pay the price can advertise on a billboard but I’d love to see a small survey done of people who drive or walk by this thing and find out their opinions about it but I’m too chicken to set up something like that and do it. The aim wouldn’t be to judge anyone for their beliefs, but just to get a little feedback from the “regular” folks who aren’t living their lives up to their eyeballs in atheist/religious issues. I don’t even know what kinds of questions would be best to ask, though. Hypothetically speaking, it’d probably be along the lines of:

Do you believe this and why or why not?
If yes, have you heard the broadcasts on this station?
Do you know Camping tried predicting the end before and misled everyone?
What sort of signs do you think signal The End and why?

Anything else that could be asked?


If the world doesn’t end in May or October, try November

April 19, 2011

According to Harold Camping and his ilk, Judgment Day hits on May 21st of this year with the big end of world finish a mere five months later. Camping’s loons faithful followers been touring Bermuda these days.

The religious fellowship from New York attracted lots of attention as they spent yesterday warning people to “beg for Mercy” before the destruction of the world.

They stood outside City Hall in bright yellow T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as: “Judgement Day 5.21.11. The great day of the Lord is near.”

They handed out literature and CDs titled ‘We are almost there’ as they explained to passers-by they had quit their jobs to spend their final days with family and friends.

Fellowship members remain convinced that May 21 will be ‘judgement day’ or ‘the day of the Lord’s wrath’ when “being judged by God’s salvation comes to an end”.

They say this day marks the end of the 23-year period of great tribulation following the church age, which ran from May 22, A.D. 33 until 1988. They predict this will be the beginning of the end then the world will officially end on October 21, 2011.

There’s always a (big) chance they’re wrong about that but don’t start putting away your “The End is Nigh!” signs yet. A prophet in Ghana has predicted that all the elevens that happen in November this year is what will really pop the world’s population out of existence. He’s predicting a world-shattering earthquake.

Kumasi-based Prophet, Rev. Peter Anamo has predicted a catastrophe that will wipe out what he calls unrighteous people off the surface of the earth.

He said November 2011 will witness an earthquake on such a massive scale never seen before.

When this earthquake happens, which will be accompanied by a Tsunami, only the righteous will be saved, he told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday.

The prophet has consequently counseled all citizens of the world to mend their ways and live righteous lives for that is the only way they can be saved from the ravages of the impending catastrophe. The disaster will produce a new generation of righteous people and all must endeavour to be part of this generation by living righteous lives now! He stated.

So scrap election prep, environmental issues, poverty problems. Just get yourselves on the right side of God before doom strikes.

Grounding his argument, Prophet Anamo cited Japan which was hit by a disastrous earthquake on March 11 and also on April 11, and that that was a prelim to what will happen to the world on 11 November (the 11th month of 2011).

“The whole mystery about the numbers is that in November we are going to have four elevens appearing and it coincides with what Jesus has said and the number 11 is an irrelevant number, a confused number, that is why catastrophes happen in 11,” he stated.

“We are going to prove mathematically and scientifically and wise men’s reports in the past [as well as] with the Bible…that what we are saying is true,” he emphasized.

With the same bad math Camping’s been using for years to shill his end of times prophecy, too.

Interesting to note about Anama, though: he’s prepared to be prosecuted if it turns out he’s a fraud. That’s something, at least. I wonder if Camping or his believers would willingly do the same.


edit Nov 7/2011: Camping has since apologized for his actions and retired.


When Judgment Day is not in May, will the Camping trip be over?

March 13, 2011

I missed this story when it came out but journalists from CNN joined a group of people on their way to a festival in Florida. They left every possession behind, and their families, to caravan around the States until the end of the world. They believe Judgment Day is coming and, thanks to their favourite Christian radio show, they gladly joined Family Radio’s Project Caravan and are spreading the word.

Starting with one station in Oakland, California, in 1959, Camping’s Family Radio now boasts 66 stations across the United States. Thanks to strategically placed satellites, shortwave radio and the internet, the message has gone global in 61 languages.

“We pretty much blanket the whole world,” says Camping, 89.

This degreed engineer, who calls the Bible his “university,” believes the church age ended and the “Great Tribulation” (the years leading up to the end, he says) began on May 21, 1988, when Satan entered the pews. Truth, he says, can be found only in the Bible and not through the mouths of clergy.

He has dissected scripture and crunched his biblical numbers to come up with the fateful dates. He rattles off mathematical explanations of how he did this work, throwing out Bible verses and calculations that leave an outsider’s head spinning.

But Camping also happens to be the man who once said September 6, 1994, would be the big day.

I thought that name sounded familiar. I’ve written about Harold Camping and his lame prediction and bad math before.

MSNBC interviewed 32 year old Army veteran Marie Exley about why she’s doing this:

“A lot of people might think, ‘The end’s coming, let’s go party,'” said Exley, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq. “But we’re commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it’s so much better to know that when the end comes, you’ll be safe.”

No, Ma’am, I think you’re commanded by an aged kook who should have been put to pasture rather than passed a microphone. Her military training has come in handy for this, though; she was instrumental in sorting out the “logistics challenge” of telling people where and when to drive their RVs.

Back to CNN and Camping, explaining his botched first attempt to predict this event:

He explains now that he originally thought 2011 was the year, but a few verses tripped him up and he concluded that the Great Tribulation might get cut short. There was still scripture he was grappling with, end-time signs that were to come — he points to the gay pride movement as one of them — and truths that had yet to be revealed, “but because of the urgency of time I had to get it out quickly,” he says of his previous warning.

This time around, he has no doubts.

And, it seems, neither does anyone else who faithfully follows his ministry and its broadcasts.

Arianna Ramrajie, of Ocala, Florida was interviewed at the festival and shared this warning:

On May 21, the sun will “turn red like blood,” the Earth will open up, bodies will be strewn about and “some people will die for eternity,” she says.

“It scares me a little bit because some people are going to die, and I think I’m one of them,” she adds. “I’m trying to do good things, but I’m afraid I’m doing something bad.”

According to the article, she’s seven years old.

being good all the time cannot be easy. Her father stands next to her, nodding his approval.

Imagine the nightmares this kid must be having, the ridiculous level of fear she’s living under, even if she can forget for a little while and enjoy a parade. When the show’s over, Dad will have her handing out tracts again, warning people of the end times.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m appalled at that. What are these people going to do on May 21st when everything they think is going to happen doesn’t?


False prophets hurt the Lord apparently

December 15, 2010

False prophets hurt everyone, really. Maybe the Lord should have been a little less cryptic when planning his return trip and thus save us the trouble of guessing when he’d be needing the guest room.

I found a couple letters to The Muskegon Chronicle worth a look. The first is all about how Judgment Day is mere months away and the second is complaining about that letter, but not for a reason that makes much sense to little ole atheist me.

First letter first (breaks added):

Sure, we know that Israel became a nation again in 1948 and that was to be a big fulfillment of prophecy of His imminent return, and a gigantic sign of the end of the world (Matthew 24: 32-34, Luke 21:25-32), but it’s been over a half century now since “The Fig Tree came into leaf.” What is there more specific to update us? I

I Peter Chapter 3 deals with God’s judgment upon the world in Noah’s day with a flood and says it’ll be by fire when Christ returns. But there’s a very cryptic statement in verse 8. “But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

We know from Genesis that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month of the 600th year of Noah’s life and that God told him, “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain 40 days and 40 nights.” From the year of the flood, in 4990 B.C. to 2011 is precisely 7,000 years.

The seven days that Noah had to get into the ark are 7,000 years that the world has to get into Christ, the ark being a type of Christ. The 17th day of the second month of the Jewish calendar corresponds to our May 21.

At least the second writer makes an attempt to mock this guy’s hobby, but he’s still buying into the idea that a second coming is coming. He just doubts the rightness of setting such a specific date.

You see, this does more harm than help. Some people laugh and ridicule the Bible and make fun of Christians because of these false prophets. This hurts the Lord. Jesus said “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angles (sic) of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt. 24:36)

By the way, the seven days were the time Noah was loading the animals in the ark, before the flood came. What about the seven days Noah stayed in the ark after the dove did not return?

Seven thousand years after the Judgment Day before a new earth? Crazy!

Never mind days on the ark, apparently it was 40,000 years of rain then, too, yes? That’s kind of more than 7000, so this is several stops past Crazytown and it bemuses me to think that people care enough about this issue to compose letters to newspapers. Aren’t there any overgrown yards to winge about over there? That is at least a problem with a solution.


Mayan calendar possibly “misinterpreted”

October 13, 2010

Maybe by 50 to 100 years, according to a new book called Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World. Gerardo Aldana, an associate professor at the Univ. of California at Santa Barbara focused on tackling the astronomical practices the Mayans used at the time.

Most of the data found in the archeological record amount to ritual events timed by astronomical phenomena; architecture oriented to observable astronomical events; or numerology tying together science, history, and religion with hieroglyphic inscriptions carved in stone.

“One of the principal complications is that there are really so few scholars who know the astronomy, the epigraphy, and the archeology,” says Aldana.

“Because there are so few people who are working on that, you get people who don’t see the full scope of the problem. And because they don’t see the full scope, they buy things they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s a fun problem.”

Aldana turns the lens away from just the archaeological record to include a critical attention to the methods used by modern scholars to access the astronomical events viewed by ancient astronomers.

I bold that because he makes an valid point. Like my art history lesson in the last post illustrated, interpretations can vary. It doesn’t matter how many people like the end-of-the-world scenario that’s been made popular by so many authors and films over the years, that doesn’t make it right. Aldana might not be right, either, of course. Maybe everyone reads more into that calendar than is needed.


The Palmdale prophecy that failed

September 28, 2010

Somehow I missed this story when it first broke last week:

Officers had been searching a wide swath of southern California since Saturday after family members found letters saying the group was awaiting an apocalyptic event and would soon see Jesus and their dead relatives in heaven.

The group of Salvadoran immigrants, described as “cult-like” by sheriff’s officials, was led by Reyna Marisol Chicas, a 32-year-old woman from Palmdale in northeast Los Angeles county, sheriff’s captain Mike Parker said.

Members left behind mobile phones, identification documents, deeds to property, and letters indicating they were awaiting the ‘Rapture’.

“Essentially, the letters say they are all going to heaven to meet Jesus and their deceased relatives,” Mr Whitmore said. “Some of the letters were saying goodbye.”

Did she brainwash them? Presumably. They were all found safe and sound in a park, though, so that’s good at least.

Ms Chicas apparently had formed her own religious group. About 12 to 15 people would gather at her home in Palmdale, a high-desert city of 139,000, and one night about a week ago, they didn’t leave until 2am, said neighbour Cheri Kofahl.

Others who knew Ms Chicas said she was devout but hardly fanatic in her religious beliefs.

Former neighbour Ricardo Giron said that Ms Chicas became increasingly religious after she separated from her husband four years ago, but added, “everywhere she was going, she was taking her kids with her. You felt like you could trust her”.

I seem to recall people thought Jeffrey Dahmer was mostly okay, too. Everyone assumes their neighbours are, until they aren’t.

Anyway, the Kansas City Star has an article about Chicas and her end times schtick, something so many people have tried and failed with before, sometimes the same person has failed more than once and believers just keep on believing. From the Star:

Richard Flory, a University of Southern California sociologist who studies religion in America, said the idea of the rapture can be a persuasive tool for conversion.

“It brings a subliminal fear,” he said. “It says you better be ready because this thing can happen at any time.”

Those who expect the end of the world also often believe that there will be signs that it’s coming, the scholars said. Natural disasters, such as major earthquakes and fires, often bring spikes of apocalyptic forecasts.

They mention raptureready.com and its list of sources for proof the end truly is nigh. Then they quote Tim LaHaye of “Left Behind” fame who takes a theological approach, but still makes a good point:

“They’re disobeying the Scripture, which says no man knows the day or the hour. Anytime anyone sets a date, they’re wrong because no one knows that date,” LaHaye said. “It’s just unguided enthusiasm. Every day you read the newspaper, and ask, ‘Is there any hope for the world?’ It’s just getting worse and worse, and people think there’s got to be something better.”

Sadly, what they often think is better is the earth destroyed by Jesus so they can all ascend to heaven while the devil tortures those who never got saved. They’ll sit around waiting and praying for proof that day is around the corner instead of doing something useful to help the world while they wait. That would defeat the purpose, after all.

The article also makes the point that these kinds of beliefs hold the most sway in impoverished, uneducated populations, where improved situations are even less likely than the apocalypse is.

The idea can be a comfort to the disenfranchised, a guarantee that justice will be served and scores settled, said theology scholar Cecil Robeck Jr. In a time of joblessness and economic frustration, Robeck said, that pledge can be particularly appealing.

“People are desperate. When someone says, ‘You’re in a terrible situation now, but if you’ll follow me, I’ll make it OK,’ people are hungry, they need hope, they’ll follow,” said Robeck, a Pentecostal minister and professor of church history at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.

There aren’t any easy solutions, obviously. People are going to be fleeced by anyone who offers them relief, even through something as perplexing and impossible as rapture. Everyone needs something to believe in, I guess. It’s just unfortunate that this is what they get.


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