Yeah, I know: we’re ALL going to die sooner or later. No one gets out of here alive. But that doesn’t stop people from saying the end is nearer than we expect. Right around the corner, in fact.
The latest Magical Event being touted online (which event is absolutely not like all those others they predicted in the past…) starts December 21 (apparently “the week of Hanukkah in December 2019” because nothing says Jewish festive occasion and worship like the Christian end of the world…), according to wingnut and serial false predictor David Montaigne.
Montaigne has written six books of “prophecies” including several that predict the end of the world – most recently in June, 2016. Oops. They have catchy titles like, Antichrist 2016-2019: Mystery Babylon, Barack Obama & the Islamic Caliphate and End Times and 2019: The End of the Mayan Calendar and the Countdown to Judgment Day.
Like the other times it ended, December’s End of the World will be courtesy of Jesus. Well, sort of. It’s the oddball version of Jesus that some fringe religious wingnuts have cooked up. You know: the one where the dead guy returns, blaze of glory, takes all the white Republicans into heaven then tortures the rest of us for all eternity. Yet despite numerous predictions, the Republican Jesus has so far failed to end the world and take his Chosen Few White Dudes up to heaven. Maybe it’s the thought that counts, not the actual Rapture.
Yeah, that Rapture thing those wacky Xtians invented to scare each other with. An event that comes with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink-all-your-sins-forgiven for the faithful and eternal damnation for anyone not White Republican. Did I mention this is mostly an American delusion? Yep, and widely believed among those folks who voted for Donald Trump. Imagine that.
Oh, and don’t forget the Antichrist they throw into the mixture: their favourite demon. Someone liberal. Or Barack Obama.
Seriously: Obama. Why? because he’s not a white Republican. He’s black. And a Democrat. And smart, well-spoken and witty, too! Who knew there were white supremacist religious nuts in the Repugnican party? Okay, we all did. But back to David Montaigne.
Montaigne also wrote Nostradamus And The Islamic Invasion Of Europe and Nostradamus World War III and The Two Witnesses of Revelation: Will Elijah and Moses Return in 2016? Spoiler alert: the answer to the question posed in the title is NO.
And Nostradamus? Come on. That long-debunked 16th century astrologer? Yep… and before you put any credit into ANYTHING from the vague Nostradamus, I suggest you read some articles about his many failed predictions and the numerous fake predictions attributed to him by charlatans. Remember when the world ended in 2016 because of the predicted “Nostradamus comet” striking earth? Neither does anyone else.
(In case I forget to mention it again, let me state it here: astrology is bunk.)
Like with everyone else who has predicted The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI), Montaigne’s earlier dates of doom didn’t happen. Rather than be discouraged, he just wrote another book with a new date. Throw in some astrology, some Mayan silliness, a dab of pseudoscience, some dire warnings of global disasters (pole shifts, oh my!*) and a few Biblical quotes. Easy, peasy: ka-ching go the Amazon sales because people who believe this stuff just love to throw their money at someone who gulls them. As noted on Wikipedia:
Any individual or religious group that has dogmatically predicted the day of the rapture, a practise referred to as “date setting”, has been thoroughly embarrassed and discredited, as the predicted date of fulfillment has invariably come and gone without event. Some of these individuals and groups have offered “correct” target dates, while others have offered excuses and have tried to “correct” their target dates, while simply releasing a reinterpretation of the meaning of the scripture to fit their current predicament, and then explain that although the prediction appeared to have not come true, in reality it had been completely accurate and fulfilled, albeit in a different way than many had expected.
Stop for a second. Let’s not call anything any of these wingnuts say a “prophecy.” Anyone can announce the date for the rapture or End of The World based on any Bible conspiracy or Biblical numerology** just as long as you pack your announcement with a lot of hullabaloo and woo hoo to appeal to the tin-foil-hat brigade. Calling it prophecy is misleading: that makes it sound like they’re divinely-inspired Old Testament prophets, instead of just wingnuts. Even calling it a prediction is incorrect because a prediction implies some sort of predictive model***
Over at A Science Enthusiast, Montaigne’s predictions are gently debunked with a touch of satire. “I never thought of a catastrophic apocalypse as being an opportunity to cash in with a bunch of ridiculous books. Maybe he’s on to something here.”
On his Amazon page, Montaigne calls himself an “…investigator, prophecy scholar, historian, and author of several books.” Well, at least the last one is true.
I can’t find any evidence online that he has a degree in history or theology (you’d have to have the first to legitimately call yourself a historian and the latter to call yourself a “prophecy” scholar – whatever that is), or a licence to be a private investigator. He claims to have graduated from Penn State University, but coyly doesn’t say what degree he received (if any). But I suppose in a world where homeopaths call themselves healers, and Donald Trump calls himself a “very stable genius”, an electrician calling himself a historian or a scholar is just following the popular trend of overstating your qualifications.
He also calls himself a “professional electrician” – as opposed to an amateur one, I suppose. From that we have to assume he’s also in the union with appropriate papers (at least we hope so). It does make me wonder why anyone would assume someone whose day job is an electrician has more credibility than, say, an actual historian, theologian, scientist or scholar.
Spoiler alert: He also claims that, as the son of two preachers, he “learned not to gloss over the scientific and mathematical clues in the Bible and other ancient texts.” Yep: dead giveaway when anyone claims there is scientific authority in a 2,000-3,000-year-old book in a dead language, the youngest part of which was written at least 1,500 years before either the telescope or microscope was invented.
From this same book, flat-earthers (the wingnuttiest of the wingnuts) also claim authority for their beliefs. It’s the same book creationists use to attack the proven science of evolution. It’s the same book that claims (in Leviticus) insects go about on four legs (they have six). That says people think with their hearts (Sirach). That indirectly gives pi the value of 3.0 instead of its actual value (3.14159 and a few billion more digits).****
The same book that says (Genesis) there is a solid roof – the firmament – over the world and the earth was formed before the sun. That stars are tiny objects that will fall when Jesus returns (Revelation). That the earth sits unmoving on a solid foundation (Psalm 104). Or the sky is a bronze mirror (Job). That light was created (Genesis) three days before any light producing objects were made (the sun and the stars on the fourth day). That the sun rotates around the earth (Ecclesiastes). That hares and coneys chew their cud (Leviticus and Deuteronomy – and they don’t). And that all of creation took a mere six days (Genesis) instead of the 13.7 billion years we know about. To name a few of the more blatant errors.
So much for its vaunted science. But I digress.
Even the UK’s infamous Sun paper called Montaigne a “crackpot” and his predictions “bizarre.” It takes a very special sort of wingnut for the Sun – which thrives on this sort of claptrap – to call them names. The Sun’s competitor-in-gossip-and-claptrap, the Express, merely labelled Montaigne a, “Christian conspiracy theorist.” However, they did conclude:
…it may be worth taking Mr Montaigne’s prediction with a pinch of salt as his other predictions including the anti-christ would come to Earth on June 6, 2016 and that Barack Obama was in fact Lucifer.
There’s that tired Repugnican white-boy meme again: Obama as Lucifer.
Montaigne has his followers, though. Most are as batshit crazy as he is. One wacky site calls Montaigne a “well known historian” even though that’s blatantly untrue (although judging by the online articles that mention him, he is well known, at least among wingnut watchers and skeptics). Then the author notes with clickbait-like dramatic flair (although less attention to reality) notes: “The startling part of Montaigne’s prediction for many is the fact that it appears to be so carefully planned out and assessed. His website lists Bible references, the Mayan calendar, and more. It appears to be a carefully researched and formulated theory… Could there be something to his prediction?”
Uh, what many are we talking about? The online troglodytes and tinfoil hat brigade? And how many is many? Carefully planned as in “to make the most money from the gullible”? Assessed as in “let’s make stuff up and throw in lots of Biblical quotes and references where logic and science are missing”? The Mayan calendar as in the long-debunked “New Age woo hoo”? Or as NASA notes on its official site:
The Mayan connection “was a misconception from the very beginning,” says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. “The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date.”
Spoiler alert: the answer to the question, “Could there be something to his prediction?” is NO. It’s all New Age and fringe-Christian claptrap. Biblical references are irrelevant to geology, astronomy, physics. Period.
That same laudatory author goes on to tell us about a YouTube post by someone claiming to be a time traveller from 2030 who “predicts” that “the world’s largest snowstorm to date will move in this February 2019, wiping out many cities.” With that her credibility didn’t just fly away; it fled from the page at the speed of light. Time travellers. Sheesh.
The author who wrote this pap also has written other like-minded articles on finding your “soulmate” through astrology, extolling the “predictions” of “Mexico’s Grand Warlock,” about an eclipse being “A True Celebratory Message From The Cosmos,” and “What Snoop Dogg Has To Say About The Government Shutdown.” Pretty much the sort of New Age woo hoo one expects online these days.
Even a lot of Christians don’t fall for this end-of-times bunk. An article in Christianity Today titled, “It’s Time to End the Stupid about the End Times,” and criticizing reaction to David Meade’s prediction of TEOTWAWKI last year, noted:
As Christians, buying into these notions only hurts our credibility and prevents the culture at large from trusting us when it truly matters. It damages our reputations and hinders people from hearing and accepting the message of the gospel which, we all know, is no conspiracy theory.
Similarly, the US Catholic church published an article that said,
The Rapture idea is based on creative but erroneous interpretations of three Bible passages (1 Thess. 4:13-18, Matt. 24:40-41, and John 14:1-2). In a desperate attempt to cling to a supposedly “literal” approach to interpreting the Bible, the proponents of the Rapture engage in an absurd “biblical hopscotch” by isolating and then re-assembling snippets from very different biblical books… What is troubling about the popularity of the Rapture theology is that it has led far too many Christians to believe in what Rossing calls a “shoot-’em-up Terminator type of Jesus who comes back to kill all the bad guys and blow up the world.”
Meade – a self-described “Christian numerologist” – is another of those charlatans I wrote about in previous posts. And like his other “predictions” nothing happened when he said it would. He has a rather long history of getting it wrong. Like the world ending on Sept. 23, 2017. Okay, he didn’t say that exactly. What he did “predict” was “…the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks.” Yeah, well, like the end of the world, that didn’t happen either. Nor did his “rapture” in October 2017 which he quickly rewrote to November when October passed us by without it.
Montaigne wrote a blog post in which he whines, “Are My Books Being Discredited Because I’m Actually Onto Something Important?” Well, no, David. You’re being discredited because what you write, in the immortal words of Conrad Black, is just “diaphanous piffle” being sold to gullible people.
The world isn’t going to end next December. We’re killing it with climate change, sure, and that might kill us off in a few decades. It might end because we choke it with plastic waste, eat up all our natural resources and pollute ourselves to death. Or if some politician starts a war that escalates to nuclear disaster. But it won’t end because of some fringe Christian eschatological event. No rapture to carry away the faithful.
The Bible is a book of legends and laws, history and ethics, and some beautiful poetry, and a fair bit of sex and violence, but not science. Treating it like its some magical key and cherry-picking bits to suit your beliefs (and boost your book sales) is disrespectful and self-serving.
* Wikipedia calls the “cataclysmic pole shift hypothesis” a “…fringe theory suggesting that there have been geologically rapid shifts in the relative positions of the modern-day geographic locations of the poles and the axis of rotation of the Earth, creating calamities such as floods and tectonic events.” NASA tells us “Magnetic Pole Reversal Happens All The (Geologic) Time,” adding, “…there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the 2012 doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously. A reversal might, however, be good business for magnetic compass manufacturers.” The article also notes:
Sometimes the field completely flips. The north and the south poles swap places. Such reversals, recorded in the magnetism of ancient rocks, are unpredictable. They come at irregular intervals averaging about 300,000 years; the last one was 780,000 years ago. Are we overdue for another? No one knows.
Montaigne blames pole shift for the last ice Age: “…a great deal of evidence suggests this happens based on a cosmic cycle every 12,900-13,000 years, and it has been over 12,900 years since the last pole shift moved the North Pole from Hudson Bay to its present location.” But as an article in Scientific American explained, a comet may have been the culprit:
…nanodiamonds found in the sediments from this time period point to an alternative: a massive explosion or explosions by a fragmentary comet, similar to but even larger than the Tunguska event of 1908 in Siberia.
The last such reversal event did not happen 12,900 years ago: it may have happened 41,000 years ago, and took 440 years to complete. Most other reversals take between 1,000 and 10,000 years to complete. Also interesting is the comment that during this event, “…the field strength was only about 25% of today’s field. The actual polarity lasted only 250 years, which is remarkably short. During this 250-year period, the magnetic field was only at 5% of today’s field strength.”
** Biblical numerology is a curious and wildy wacky thing. Given that the Bible itself (Deuteronomy) commands the faithful to shun such practices, it seems an open violation to engage in Biblical numerology:
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or who consults the dead.
And as noted in the Washington Post:
Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, first took issue with how Meade is described in some media articles. There’s no such thing as a Christian numerologist,” he told The Post. “You basically got a made-up expert in a made-up field talking about a made-up event.… It sort of justifies that there’s a special secret number codes in the Bible that nobody believes.”
Clearly no real Christian would practice the dark, daft art of numerology (it’s not a science) because the Bible says not to. But let’s be clear about what numerology actually is and why no one should even give it a passing mention: it is claptrap. Period. As noted on Rational Wiki:
Basically, numerology’s “value” consists of the incredible woo experienced by people when shown that the number of letters in their names, when manipulated, show how important they are in the universal scheme of things.
***The bible apparently contains 1,817 verses of “prophecy” or 28.6% of its total. Keep in mind that the division into chapter and verse happened much later: chapters in the 13th century, verses in the 16th. And the divisions in the Jewish bible (the Tanakh, which brought in divisions in the text in the early 10th century) differ from those in the Christian. However, these divisions are not agreed upon by every sect and some scholars call them “incoherent.” A lot of these so-called “prophecies” are vague and the list of failed prophecies is long (see here also). This is not the same as the list of unfulfilled Christian predictions.
**** No, it wasn’t just “rounding up” as some apologist try to explain the error. If you believe the Bible is infallible and God’s holy word, then you can’t believe he/she/it/Cthulhu makes “sort of” statements and rounds up important figures. If one number was “rounded up” then maybe they all were. Six days of creation was actually six days, three hours and 17 minutes. Noah’s flood lasted 156 days, not 150. Gideon had 310 men with trumpets, not 300. And so on.
But maybe the Bible is simply the result of human, not divine, agency and that’s how the mistakes and rounding errors got in.