• 68°

Profits, not prophets, driving doomsday talk

The world is supposed to end today — or at least it’s supposed to be the beginning of the end. If you’re reading this I guess it did not, or God saw fit to spare you and your copy of the newspaper.

A man who calls himself a “Christian numerologist” has set today as the start of earth’s final moment in the sun. I’m not certain what a “Christian numerologist” is but I am certain he is full of it.

David Meade has supposedly based his prediction calculations on the number 33 and the planet Nibiru.

“He believes that a constellation will reveal itself over Jerusalem on Saturday, triggering the launch of a series of catastrophic ‘tribulations’ that will mean the end of life as we know it. NASA, meanwhile, has repeatedly said that the planet Nibiru does not exist,” Slate reported.

I don’t know of anyone who actually believes in this nonsense, but news reports and TV programs are filled with these predictions. For those unfamiliar with Christianity, it appears all Christians are buying into Meade’s huckster-like math.

The Bible, especially its last book, is filled with things that appear nonsensical to those unfamiliar with it. The Book of Revelation remains a mystery to even the most devoted believers, so of course it seems a bit crazy to non-Christians.

Throw in a bold prediction about the earth ceasing to exist and you’ve got a recipe for crazy. That’s what these “Christian numerologists” are peddling. Their need for attention leads them to create outlandish theories that will fascinate the media and draw the attention of the world.

But these doomsday prophecies have more to do with profits than prophets. Had anyone heard of David Meade before he cooked up his prediction? Of course not.

When you consider the recent natural disasters, including earthquakes and hurricanes, the fact that we just witnessed a solar eclipse and the fear of nuclear war, it’s the perfect time to get some doomsday attention. And that doomsday attention can mean big bucks.

If you’ve read much of the hype about the earth ending, you have probably stumbled across advertisements for few things: books about surviving the apocalypse, kits for surviving the apocalypse and even bunkers for surviving the apocalypse. And, of course, these items are available for a limited time so you better act now.

Doomsday predictions feed on the universal fear of death. When you ramp up that fear to include the death of the entire world, it can elicit an illogical response from even the most logical people. “Maybe I should stock up on freeze-dried beans even if I think this man is nuts.”

Doomsday prophecies are not new. Nostradamus’s writings are believed to have wrongly predicted the earth’s demise. There were also plenty of predictions as the year 2000 approached. Remember the Y2K panics? Then there was Harold Camping, a radio personality who got it wrong twice in 2011. Isaac Newton also reportedly believed that Christ will return in 2060. We’ll see.

According to Russell Moore with the Southern Baptist Convention, none of these predictions has anything to do with biblical Christianity.

“Jesus, and then his apostles, told us to expect a day of final judgment, to look for the return of Christ to our present reality of space and time,” he wrote. “But the key to all of this is the unexpected nature of it. Jesus said that life would go on, just as it always does, until, suddenly — like a thief in the night — the eastern skies explode into light. The Bible verses the prophecy-mavens use to fix their dates — wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and so on — are spoken of by Jesus as the exact opposite. When you see these things, Jesus said, ‘see that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet’ (Matt. 24:6). Upheavals of this nature will happen in every generation, as ‘but the beginning of the birth pains’ (Matt. 24:8).”

That should be enough to convince anyone that Meade is a crackpot. I’m making plans beyond today. I suggest you do the same.

Luke Horton is publisher of The Daily Leader. Email him at luke.horton@dailyleader.com