Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Mayan Calendar and Doomsday by Edward Wood

As we enter into the year of 2012, I am certain we will have a particularly renewed
 interest in the Mayan calendar and its supposed connection with the end of the world. In order to get a clear  picture of just what this calendar is and is not, we’ll have to embark on a little astronomy lesson first.

When you were in school, do you remember being taught about being able to locate any place on the earth’s surface by using latitude and longitude? Your north or south position was determined by degrees of latitude the equator being 0 degrees, the poles being 90. If you were halfway between the equator and the North Pole you were at 45 degrees north latitude. A similar situation exists for places south of the equator, except now you would be 45 degrees south if you were equidistant between the equator and South Pole.

Your east and west coordinates were determined by your distance on either side of the Prime Meridian which is 0 degrees longitude. The International Date Line lies on the other side of the planet at 180 degrees. Degrees are further subdivided into 60 minutes per degree, 60 seconds per minute, just like a clock. The location of New York City is 40 degrees, 42 minutes, and 51 seconds north latitude; 74 degrees, 0 minutes, and 23 seconds west longitude. If you have a map or globe, you can see this for yourself.

Similarly, the sky has been divided up, but a little differently. It’s equivalent to latitude is declination, of longitude is right ascension. I am not going to torture you with a big involved explanation, but I mention this just to illustrate that we can locate stars, planets, the sun, moon, and anything else up there with correspondingly great accuracy, just as we can things on Earth.

The point I want to make with all this is that though for all intents and purposes (ignoring continental drift) the Big Apple will always be at the same geographical location I mentioned above, this is not so with the stars relative to the position of the sun. This is due to our planet’s slow (26,000 year) wobble on its axis. It is this gradual motion that the Mayans were careful enough with their observations to discover and incorporate into their amazingly accurate calendar.

They determined that on this December 21st (winter solstice) for the northern hemisphere which is the point at which the sun appears at its southernmost in the sky) the sun will appear to be superimposed over the equator (or rim, if you will) of our galaxy because of this slow axial drift.

Another major effect of this motion has caused Earth to have a progression of different North Stars. Around 4000 B.C. a small dim star named Thuban in the constellation of Draco had this honor. Today, it is Polaris, located on the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper. If the Lord tarries for a very long time, in 14,000 A.D. it’ll be Vega, an impressive star in the constellation of Lyra.

The thing is, this shift is so slow that the sun appeared virtually at this very same place during the winter solstice in 2011! (There is more about this in Item 4 below.) As far as I can tell, the planet and I are still here though for many people in areas where disasters struck all during that year, some may rightly wonder.
With this background information, let’s take a look at three of the most extreme prognostications coming from the Mayan doomsday proponents.

1) SHIFTING MAGNETIC POLES. It has been long known that Earth’s magnetic poles wander about and even reverse at times. During these reversals they can disappear. This has already happened over the course of Earth’s existence and the fact that it and life upon it is still here clearly demonstrates that they are not extinction level events.

What is true, however, is at these times when the fields are diminished is that our atmosphere and surface are subject to increased effects of particles blowing out of the sun, CME’s (coronal mass ejections) and the like in particular. A civilization dependent on electricity and electronics is particularly vulnerable. The fact of the matter is that a large enough eruption of plasma from the sun could affect us adversely at any time even when our magnetic field is still intact, and as we approach the next solar maximum the chances for this do increase. However these maximums generally come in eleven, not 26,000 year cycles.

What is important to realize over all is that the condition of our magnetic field is governed by mechanisms within our planet itself which are unrelated to where the sun happens to appear amidst the stellar background.

2) SHIFTING GEOGRAPHIC POLES. This is the implication that the actual axis of Earth’s rotation somehow gets dramatically and rapidly shifted from its present orientation. The slow shift of precession is already a fact and it is this slowness which keeps it from doing the planet any cataclysmic harm, though it may be a factor in Ice Age cycles. An abrupt shift is another matter.
To give you an example of a worst case scenario, consider what happens to the wheels of your car when you apply the brakes. The rotational energy of the spinning wheel which is also bearing its share of the mass of your auto is converted to thermal energy by friction between the wheel and the brake pads (or shoes for those of you with an older vehicle like mine) and as a result, the wheel slows
down and also heats up in the process. If allowed to continue too long, the brakes will catch on fire, something drivers of the big rigs must take into account when descending long, steep grades. To reduce the need for their conventional brakes they can either downshift, or use “Jake brakes,” if so equipped, to use the engines to hold back their speed.   

Now consider what would happen to the Earth should something “apply the brakes” in such a way to alter the orientation of its axis. To get an idea, we need only to examine Jupiter’s moon which is caught in a gravitational tug of war between Jupiter, itself, and Europa, the next moon out. It is the most volcanically active celestial body in the Solar System as a result. Though Earth does have its
own share of volcanic activity, all of it is due, once again to forces within the planet itself. Furthermore it would take some very massive body passing quite close to modify the position of our axis to the degree that I have heard suggested. Some have said it would be a complete reversal, the effect of which would be to have the sun rise in the west and set in the east! If this did happen the sun would likely be rising over an Earth whose surface had liquefied into molten lava as a result.

But the chances of something that massive “sneaking up on us” are very slim. A rogue planet, brown dwarf, or moon would be detected visually long before it reached us. A black hole would likely affect the other bodies of our solar system in a way that we would know something was up before coming to cause havoc with Earth. If there were any of these things en route to get us in 2012, we would already know about them. Even if there was a conscious effort to keep this information hidden, it is unlikely a secret this big would remain that way for very long. Does it also make sense that the U.S. would have chosen to give up its manned space program in 2011 under such circumstances?

3) THE GALACTIC ALIGNMENT. Some are claiming that the upcoming alignment of the Earth and sun with the galactic equator will unleash some kind of forces from the center of the galaxy that will cause havoc on our planet. One claims that the gravity from the black hole which resides in the center of our galaxy will somehow be “amplified” and cause all kinds of natural disasters to our world. There is, in fact, a massive black hole in the center of our galaxy, but there is no known scientific principle which could “magnify” its gravity. It has been there since the galaxy’s infancy and the total combined effect of this black hole, and all the other matter in our galaxy causes our solar system to orbit about its center every 250 million years. With due deference to those who subscribe
to a 6000 year old cosmos, the physical evidence suggests it is actually 13.7 billion years and that our solar system, including Earth, is around 5 billion years old. (I have already discussed this topic in a previous article so I won’t belabor the point here: If I am correct, then we’ve already made around 18 orbits and here we still are.

4) THE BEST FOR LAST. According to my research the sun was closer to appearing to rest over the galactic equator in 1998! Checking Will Tirion’s excellent “Sky Atlas 2000” confirms that it was certainly already there in the year 2000. The actual center of the Milky Way is a few degrees away and Earth’s axis is insufficiently inclined to appear to have ever appeared be in front of this point,
precession notwithstanding. It is a classic “close but no cigar” scenario. Where were all the warnings of dire consequences for 1998? As one last nail in the coffin, it takes about 35 YEARS for the sun to completely pass any particular point against the stellar background as viewed from Earth’s perspective. That means this perceived alignment is actually a 35 year event!

Please don’t misunderstand me to be saying that 2012 will be a calm and peaceful year. Quite to the contrary the signs of unrest and turmoil in the natural, political, economic, and religious realms have been cascading, particularly since the turn of the century.  What I am saying is that none of these things can be reasonably attributed to the astronomical predictions of the Mayan’s ancient calendar. But I do believe there is a real answer to what we see happening in the world today. I direct your attention to Genesis 3 and suggest you take a few minutes to read it for yourself.

To summarize what it tells us, everything we see wrong in the world today can be traced back to Adam and Eve’s initial rebellion. When that happened it opened the door to let the monster (Satan) in and gave him the legal authority to being the systematic corruption of the once-perfect universe God had created. Jesus himself refers to the devil as the “prince of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11).

Satan may have even deluded himself into thinking he will ultimately win the war to keep this title and based on his success so far, we can understand why. In these last days we are seeing an intensification of his actions “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). It will become even more vigorous (Revelation 12:12) as he begins to consider the possibility that he might actually be doomed to lose as the Tribulation years grind on and even his worst efforts cannot wipe out that small remnant that comes to believe in Jesus and refuses to take his 666 mark or bow down to him or the image he sets up in the “holy place,” presumably in the rebuilt Jewish temple.

Even when he is locked away for 1000 years (Revelation 20:7-10), he will still not concede defeat. Immediately upon his release, he will once again raise up an army for one last assault against the saints and Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-10). But at long last he and his allies will be overcome and cast forever into the Lake of Fire for eternity!

Until then, Satan will use every means, every tool at his disposal to try to deceive you. He first and foremost will try to get you to believe the Bible is nothing more than a bunch of obscure writings of purely human origin. He’ll even try to convince you that God himself is nothing but a figment of human imagination or that there are other gods. Other “truths.”

The thing is that God gave you the ability to reason. Use it to search out the truth for yourself. Start with God’s Word, the Bible, as the wise psalmist once said:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

And remember Paul’s equally wise words to his young protégé’ Timothy:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
I hope that my presentation has also exploded another myth – that the study of science and God are incompatible and that the study of one represents infidelity to the other. In their extremes this can indeed be the case. The Roman Catholic Church once believed the idea of the Earth orbiting the sun was a heresy because it misinterpreted the meaning of the Bible references to the sun rising and setting, meting out harsh punishments to those who subscribed to a sun-centered solar system. Science, on the other hand, has for some become an idolatrous god of its own when it declares that the marvelous order and precision of the universe – including the development of life and humanity “just happened!”

A much more reasoned and rational approach for me is to believe without a shadow of a doubt that God must have created all things and that science represents our limited efforts to try to understand how they work. From this approach we can come to the same conclusion that Paul did:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so they (unbelievers) are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, Parentheses added).