Failed Apocalyptic Predictions

5 min read
Failed Apocalyptic Predictions

“The world is ending!!!!”

We hear it constantly. Doomsday is about to happen. There are people who will always believe that mass death & destruction is only seconds away from happening, no matter how many buckets of logic and rational thinking you dump on their heads. They are very resilient in their belief in the worst-case scenario.

The following are (obviously) incorrect predictions of the end of the universe. There are four predictions based on religious beliefs, and five based on science or pseudo-science.

Religious Predictions

4) Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley was one of the founders of the Methodist church. He knew the world was going to end in 1794. The Shakers also predicted 1794 as the end of the universe. They were wrong, but that didn’t stop Charles’ brother John from predicting that the year 1836 would be that the Great Beast would come to earth, marking the beginning of the end.

Fun Fact: Charles Wesley may have helped start the Methodist church, but he is known to have begged an Anglican minister to bury him in an Anglican graveyard. Late in his life, he confessed that regardless of perception, he always was, and always would be, a Church of England member.

3) Jehovah’s Witness Predictions

Jehovah's Witnesses

This is a group that regularly tells us when the world will end. They started in 1914, using information from the book of Daniel.  When their prediction proved false, they changed the meaning of the prediction to the date that Jesus would begin to rule invisibly. (You did read that correctly.) In addition to 1914, Jehovah’s Witnesses have stated the end would come in 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. One member as part of the end times even built a house for the Jewish prophets to live in upon their return to earth.

Fun Fact: Cult founder Charles Taze Russell sold “Miracle Wheat” at stupidly high prices, because the wheat could perform miracles.

2) The Great Disappointment

The Great Disappointment

Baptist minister William Miller predicted the return of Jesus and the end of the world multiple times between 1831 and 1841. He based these on the prophecies in Daniel 8:14. “My principles in short, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, purify, cleanse, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, some time between March 21, 1843 to March 21, 1844.” When nothing happened that day, the group just moved the goalposts. After further “research,” the date was changed to April 18th. Again the day came with no apocalypse. Again the goalposts were moved, this time to October 22, 1844. Miller died in 1849 without seeing the Big End.

Fun Fact: Miller’s religion eventually morphed into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They’ve re-written history to call Miller’s prediction an event in Heaven not on earth. They still believe this. The Baha’i Faith also believe it referred to the coming the Bab, a forerunner of their own religion.

1) Joanna Southcott

Joanna Southcott

In the King James Version of the Bible, Revelation 12:1-6: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”. Joanna Southcott was a self-proclaimed English mystic. She was born in 1750 and was a Methodist. Later, she became convinced that she had supernatural powers and declared herself the woman spoken of in the above Bible verse. Joanna foretold that she would give birth to the Messiah on October 19, 1814, which would mark the end of the world. The world didn’t end on that date, and Joanna died two months later. Her disciples, hoping that she would raise herself from the dead, held on to her body. When she started to decompose, they turned her body over to authorities.

Fun Fact: Joanna left behind a sealed box. She said it contains a series of prophesies. That cannot be examined until 24 Anglican Bishops gather only for that purpose. We may never know what’s in Joanna’s box.

Scientific Predictions

4) Planetary Conjunction

Planetary Conjunction

On December 17, 1919, a six-planet alignment will “cause a magnetic current that would pierce the sun, cause great explosions of flaming gas and eventually engulf the Earth.” That was the prediction of meteorologist Albert Porta. This prediction led to some suicides and mob violence. Further, Porta lost his job as a “respected” meteorologist. He settled into a career of writing the weather column for a local newspaper.

Fun Fact: The first book on meteorology was written by Aristotle in 350 BC. Stunningly, the book was called “Meteorology”.

3) The Jupiter Effect

The Jupiter Effect

Astrophysicists John Gribben and Stephen Plagemann wrote The Jupiter Effect in 1974. They wrote that all nine planets would align on March 10, 1982 to create a gravitational pull which would cause a huge increase in sunspots, solar, flares, and/or earthquakes. Although author Gribben even came out and said it was a theoretical “what if” festival without any real substance, people believed it was going to happen.

Fun Fact: On March 10, 1982, high tide was calculated at 0.04 millimeters higher than normal. Not quite the disaster some expected.

2) Hale-Bopp Comet

Hale Bopp Comet

The Art Bell radio show is a one-stop-shop for wild conspiracy theories. When the Hale-Bopp comet was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek “observed” a companion object following the comet. He called the show to report his findings. Of course, this had to be an “end of the world” sign, right? The internet helped spread the word. The Heaven’s Gate cult felt this was their signal to commit mass suicide in March of 1997. The cult believed the companion object was a spaceship coming to pick them up but would only pick them up if they were spirits who had left the human body.

Fun Fact: You can watch a fascinating video clip of the Heaven’s Gate cult on YouTube.

1) Year 2k

Year 2k

The best-known seer that ever lived was Nostradamus. He predicted Armageddon would occur in July of 1999. A “great King of Terror” would descend upon us. August arrived with no terror demon showing up. So the doomsayers said the Cassini space probe was going to crash on Earth. The Cassini probe was filled with radioactive fuel, so this would fulfill the prophsy in Revelation 8:11 “And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

You may also recall at least one “end of the world” prediction each of the last 3,000 days of the 1990s. None of those worked out, either.

Fun Fact: Nostradamus was an apothecary by profession – in other words, a pharmacist.