Why are we so interested in predictions about the end of the world?

Predictions about the end of the world come and go. The one getting all the attention just now says the end will begin at 6 p.m. this Saturday. Today’s Question: Why are we so interested in predictions about the end of the world?

  • Al

    We’re not. Don’t cover it.

  • Kathy

    My first thought was, “We’re interested?” I see, however, that Al beat me to that comment.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I’m more interested in hearing about the kooks who think they know when the end of the world will be.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Because many of us can’t see, immediately, what complete nonesense this is.

    My guess is, if you are interested (wondering if it’s possibly true), it’s because you may have been taught what to think instead of how to think.

    Please stop covering this nonsense.

  • GaryF

    Because we don’t want to face the fact that our country is massively in debt, that the Muslim Brotherhood will be setting up shop in Tunisia, Egypt and many of the other African/Asian countries that have had political unrest, that people born after the baby boom will get little or no Social Security, and………….

    Or it could be that American Idol and Survivor have jumped the shark or that the Twins suck so there is little small talk for around the water cooler at work.

  • Zeke

    The graveyard of dead deities we call mythology is filled with gods and religions that people once took as seriously as Christians take Christianity. It is 2010. The majority of intelligent people are just being polite and trying to not to hurt religious peoples’ feelings at this point.

  • Wait………6 p.m. in what time zone?? Oh God I hope it’s not central time!

    Oh and Zeke, it’s actually 2011, if only it were 2010 then we wouldn’t be talking about this.

    This stuff happens because many christians out there can’t understand that the bible is not there to be read like a cookbook, or a step by step guide that applies the same today as it did then. Most biblical scholars don’t even think that the Gospels were written by the actual apostles and the writers used their names (like John and Luke) to make it seem more authoritative.

    They are accounts written MUCH later through and extremely foggy cultural lens and if people can’t examine that culture and bias before they go thinking everything they read is 100% fact then they end up like these wackos who think they have a forumla for how the world will end.

  • George

    Waste of time. These losers crave attention, don’t indulge them.

  • Nate

    Agree with Al, Kathy, Rich: don’t cover this BS. There’s already too much religious nonsense on NPR/MPR. It’s long past time to put superstitious people and their asinine beliefs in their proper place: with astrology, divining, and chicken scat reading.

    Stop being so polite to such crap.

  • Chris in StupidMaine

    I can only echo the overriding theme of the comments: Please don’t encourage these non-thinking fanatics by passively promoting this nonsense.

  • Bruce

    Because the future is so unknown. It sell books, fills TV slots and brings people to church. When the end comes it will be a wild ride!

  • Philip

    Harold Camping, the heretic who made the prediction for this Saturday, will be remembered with all the other “prophets” who have twisted scripture to support their own whacked view of the bible. He is an embarrassment to the Christian faith.

  • Rich

    ‘Everybody should believe in something – I believe I’ll have another drink.’

    – W. C. Fields

  • Zach

    The problem is not that we raise questions about belief. It’s that so many beliefs are just plain dumb.

  • Jim

    There will be an end to the world, but it won’t involve magical beings – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/science-explains-the-end-of-the-world/2011/05/10/AFaLvBiG_blog.html

  • Laurie

    Please don’t speak for everyone that no one is interested in this topic. I am not a fanatic but am always curious about what’s next. I think it’s natural to want to understand what’s coming. Just because you are a Christian and believe that what’s next is better doesn’t make you any less interested in what that might mean or when it might happen. I don’t believe the world will be ending tomorrow or that we will have any warning when it does.

  • Eric Ringham

    Travis: As I understand it, the prediction is for 6 p.m. local time — everywhere. Starting in New Zealand, and then moving around the planet. Some philosophers are quoting Charles Schulz: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

  • Heidi

    I believe that people are so fascicated with predicting the end of times, because we as people like to believe that some day “good” will tirumph over “evil.”

  • David

    It’s non-sense, but like the non-sense of buying a lottery ticket you get a few days of dreaming of what it’ll be like. In this case the death of all the road-ragey SUV driving jagoffs out in force now that gas is back under $3.80 a gallon, douche nozzle politicians who care more about who marries who than doing anything that actually puts people to work or would balance the budget. The list could go on and on. This planet would be real great if it wasn’t for the humans.

  • Jessica Sundheim

    Interesting inquiry regarding the human mind, and a question that has persisted over time. My thoughts on why we do this: Looking back at the times in my life when I was fixated on this kind of thinking and prediction, I realize that I really disliked humans. During those periods, I often focused on all the potential we have for destroying the planet and each other and it was hard for me to see all of the potential (and acutal) love in the world. So, predictions like this, for me, came out of a place of hatred for myself and mankind, and for a sad desire to see everyone get their come uppance.

    My prediction for tomorrow at 6pm – love shall prevail over all the earth, as it always has. Peace.

  • CJ

    Oh come on, you guys, lighten up. This stuff is a hoot and it’s really okay for some of the news to be silly and joke-provoking. If you want to get upset, get upset about that dingleberry pastor who tipped the state house applecart this morning with his hate prayers.

    I say let’s all get together Sunday afternoon (those of us not chosen for the rapture) for a BBQ! There’ll be plenty of coals! And we can laugh at whatever lame-o explanation is issued as to why the chosen are still around, there’s no scorpions stinging the heathens and it’s just another day on big mamma earth. Cheers!

  • Death is the great unknown – and most everybody is fascinated and terrified by the unknowable. Add to that the typical unpredictability of each of our respective ends, and the prospect of an apocalyptic forecast (potentially) grants us an insight into the mystic.

    It’s kind of like zombie movies; fear doesn’t feel good, and the prospect of the walking dead scouring the earth in search of living flesh is absolutely horrifying, we thrive on that excitement of what-if. We buy into the notion that it COULD be the end, and we feel more alive because of it.

    What I would personally enjoy most is a live telecast of Harold Camping as the clock strikes six o’clock… then six-oh-one… then six-fifteen. I would really like to watch his reality crumble in the way the rest of our’s do not. But that’s just me.

  • H. Edgar Hix

    In her poem “Celestial Music,” Louis Gluck wrote, “The love of form is a love of endings.” Endings are unavoidable and a fundamental part of our lives, our rhythms. We know the world will end. We are interested in when this particular movement will finish.

  • Living in the “end of times” is a way for humans to romanticize and find meaning their life. In our quest for significance, in our fear for what comes next (whether it be an afterlife, or nothing at all), it is comforting for us to think that such exciting times–the end of existence–would actually happen to US in OUR lifetime.

  • Jack Goldman

    There will be an end of MY world. There will not be an end of THE world. I believe in science not faith in the real world.

    Each person is hard wired with the knowledge of their own end, their own death. Cells die each second in the body. Individuals wish for the end of THE world because misery loves company in MY world.

    THE world cycles back and forth like a heart beat, the breath, cycling in winters and summers. What a great time to be alive. To end now or thirty or one hundred years from now is no difference. WE are all going to die. THE world is going to carry on. Humans, like 95% of all life species have, will go extinct. No big deal. THE world carries on without dinosaurs and will carry on without you, me, or humanity. No big deal.

    MY world will end. To live and love is mysterious. THE world is a parasite on me and my world, taking my children, taking my taxes, debasing my currency, securing debt with my children, working me and MY family to death. Predators and prey cycle.

    THE world is not going to end. MY world is going to end. People confuse MY end, with THE end. THE world is older than the 4,000 years the flat Earth faith based believers of the Old Testament believe in.

    Beliefs do not create truth. Wikipedia’s do not create truth by faith or votes or belief. Science, not faith, is the best path to a better life. If a third party can verify by experiment something is true I believe it.

    If some flat Earth Old Testament crack pots believe they are God’s chosen people or the world is going to end by belief I don’t believe it.

    You be the judge. I believe in science and experiments, not flat Earth people who believe faith is truth. Protect yourself. No one else can or will.

  • Kirk

    I wasn’t aware that anyone actually paid any serious attention to these type of things. Perhaps those who do are snacking on left-overs from earlier religious indoctrination.

    NOTE to CJ…. I LOVE YOUR POST which starts with “Oh come on, you guys….” posted at 10:44 AM.

    CHECK IT OUT everybody. Kudos, CJ.

  • Kyle D.

    In my opinion, it’s because the stakes for such predictions are as high as they can get.

    If you believe the predictions, then nothing else really matters– nothing will outlast the ending of the world.

    If you don’t believe in the predictions, then you get to easily brush off a threat more grave

    than anything that you’re actually facing; a bit

    of catharsis in troubled times with complicated problems filling the imagination.

  • Stan

    Every and any day other than the first day is one day closer to the end day.

  • Tony

    It could be really sad when the world doesn’t end. Just think of all the poor people whose beliefs will have been crushed the moment they find out they’re still here with the rest of us.

    Or, it doesn’t have to be so sad. You know, it’s a really big tent. Big enough for even the believers. So my message to all the believers is this: When you find out you haven’t been raptured, I’ll still be here burning in hell. I’ll save you a seat by the fire, because there’s always room for one more. If you’d like to join the rest of us for some refreshments you’re welcome. But if you’re going to still be a wet blanket, you should probably go sit somewhere for a while and just watch.

  • Shawn

    We’re not. These predictions have no empirical basis and don’t deserve a minute of airtime.

  • Philip

    I KNEW IT! You talk about the end of the world and invariably SOMEONE will bring up zombies. Thanks Adam.

  • stuie klipper

    C’mon! Are we’ really so interested in this? Or, is the purported interest propmted by overlbown media attention and hype that makes it seem like we should be interested .. ad nauseum.

    What’s of more substantice imoprtace t is whether the World ends ‘with a whimper or a bang’, or, ‘with fire or ice’.

  • Here’s a silly question for a silly topic. The world will end at 6:00 p.m., but which time zone? New York, Hong Kong, Jerusalem?

  • The question is, “Why do the media, including MPR, cover this non-news?”

  • CC&H

    I second Kirk! Kudos to CJ!!

    CJ – where’s the BBQ? I’ll be there for sure.

  • ben

    Is that 6pm Central Daylight time or Pacific Daylight Time where Harold Camping is based?

    Or does it roll across the Earth like New Year’s Day does?

    Does Jesus even know about Daylight saving time?

    I would hate to miss the news from Lake Wobegon tomorrow if its at 6pm CDT. Maybe Garrison could move that segment into the 1st hour of his show…


    Remember to Party ALL day Sunday if you are still here.

  • Sue de Nim

    I don’t object to such things being covered. It’s good for a laugh. I do object to the way some folks point to nut cases like that as evidence that all people of faith are equally crazy. That’s just intellectually dishonest.

  • Noelle

    I’m with CJ. It’s been great for a laugh around the office today (speculating who will still be here on Monday, etc.). I think MPR is asking a valid, thought-provoking question. If they were asking whether we believe the kooks that came up with the date, that would be a different story.

  • jack Goldman

    I think we are so ignorant and misinformed about how to read a myth, a story of mystery, so we are interested in misinformation.

    The Jesus resurrection story is an exact copy of the Osiris myth who is also a resurrected deity. It’s a mythological story.

    The Adam and Eve story is a rip off from Mesopotamia, as well as most stories in the Old Testament. These flood stories and end of the world stories are common in all past religions and mystery views of the world.

    Learn to read a myth, myths of the Old and New Testament, as well as other belief systems. Water into wine, walking on water, healing the sick, raising the dead, virgin birth, beginning of the world, revelations, horsemen of the end of the world. It’s all metaphors and myths. Learn to read a metaphor. The Adam and Eve story, God’s chosen people myth, ten commandments, Exodus from Egypt, the whole Old Testament and New Testament, are all metaphors, not historical truths. They never happened. It’s stories meant to explain unknowns.

    Read mythological history. Read some Joseph Campbell. Learn to read a myth. Get educated.

    We are interested in the end of the world because we are ignorant, stupid, crude, primitive life forms still evolving toward the concept of science and experiments. Protect yourself.

  • Owen

    Count me as another supporter of what Nate says. And about the over amount of religious stuff on MPR, let me specifically mention Speaking of Faith which conveniently became Living. If that can be on, there should be a show called Speaking of Science.

  • Dan

    I agree with the others – we aren’t that interested. But, a small minority with enough money to spare on signs is interested. Just like the fool who talked about burning the Koran, this guy shouldn’t be getting the publicity.

    To Owens’ point about too much religious programming on MPR. The show is called “Being,” not “Living.” And, it fosters intelligent civil religious dialog, so it is definitely not the same thing as this end of the world prediction coverage. Also, there is a lot of science on MPR, like “Talk of the Nation: Science Friday.”

  • Al

    I’ve been thinking maybe this is actually a secret plot by REM to get radio stations to play “It’s the end of the world as we know it” so they can collect more royalty money.

  • Gee It’s Us


    Can what has no beginning really end? The world will end in an illusion, as it began. Yet will its ending be an illusion of mercy. The illusion of forgiveness, complete, excluding no one, limitless in gentleness, will cover it, hiding all evil, concealing all sin and ending guilt forever. So ends the world that guilt had made, for now it has no purpose and is gone. The father of illusions is the belief that they have a purpose; that they serve a need or gratify a want. Perceived as purposeless, they are no longer seen. Their uselessness is recognized, and they are gone. How but in this way are all illusions ended? They have been brought to truth, and truth saw them not. It merely overlooked the meaningless.

    Until forgiveness is complete, the world does have a purpose. It becomes the home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed. A gentle Savior, born where sin was made and guilt seemed real. Here is His home, for here there is need of Him indeed. He brings the ending of the world with Him. It is His Call God’s teachers answer, turning to Him in silence to receive His Word. The world will end when all things in it have been rightly judged by His judgment. The world will end with the benediction of holiness upon it. When not one thought of sin remains, the world is over. It will not be destroyed nor attacked nor even touched. It will merely cease to seem to be.

    Certainly this seems to be a long, long while away. “When not one thought of sin remains” appears to be a long-range goal indeed. But time stands still, and waits on the goal of God’s teachers. Not one thought of sin will remain the instant any one of them accepts Atonement for himself. It is not easier to forgive one sin than to forgive all of them. The illusion of orders of difficulty is an obstacle the teacher of God must learn to pass by and leave behind. One sin perfectly forgiven by one teacher of God can make salvation complete. Can you understand this? No; it is meaningless to anyone here. Yet it is the final lesson in which unity is restored. It goes against all the thinking of the world, but so does Heaven.

    The world will end when its thought system has been completely reversed. Until then, bits and pieces of its thinking will still seem sensible. The final lesson, which brings the ending of the world, cannot be grasped by those not yet prepared to leave the world and go beyond its tiny reach. What, then, is the function of the teacher of God in this concluding lesson? He need merely learn how to approach it; to be willing to go in its direction. He need merely trust that, if God’s Voice tells him it is a lesson he can learn, he can learn it. He does not judge it either as hard or easy. His Teacher points to it, and he trusts that He will show him how to learn it.

    The world will end in joy, because it is a place of sorrow. When joy has come, the purpose of the world has gone. The world will end in peace, because it is a place of war. When peace has come, what is the purpose of the world? The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears. Where there is laughter, who can longer weep? And only complete forgiveness brings all this to bless the world. In blessing it departs, for it will not end as it began. To turn hell into Heaven is the function of God’s teachers, for what they teach are lessons in which Heaven is reflected. And now sit down in true humility, and realize that all God would have you do you can do. Do not be arrogant and say you cannot learn His Own curriculum. His Word says otherwise. His Will be done. It cannot be otherwise. And be you thankful it is so.

    A Course In Miracles


  • Kevin VC

    I suspect the Fundamentalists of any religion that keeps ‘wanting’ the end are really full of ‘pride/hubris/ego’ and want to rub it in the face of others that they were right and everyone else was wrong…..

    ….Only they keep getting the dates wrong…

    You would figure people in the Christian side would see the verbage about ‘not knowing’ when it will happen.

    Kinda sad.

    Wrong on 3 accounts: Sin of pride, lieing about knowing the mind of god (lieing in any event), and then failing to read actual words.


    Why do we NEED to anticipate a end of the world to do right?

    How about doing the right thing because… well … its right? Reward or not.

    Altruism is reward in itself. Money a illusion.

  • unk in Fairfax

    We are interested in this as a society, because if the End is Here, we won’t have to face the truth that for most of us, are lives are insignificant. We will have no effect on anything beyond a few family and friends, so we wish 4 greater meaning, through a fantasy “life after death”, the ultimate contradiction. Hope has made us stupid.

  • David

    CRAP! the world is still here. I knew I shouldn’t have put off all that work on Friday.

    On a searious note, why don’t you news people interview these wackos now that they are all still here and find out what happen. That would be WAY more interesting then their original misguided story.

  • kennedy

    “…there should be a show called Speaking of Science.”

    Have you heard of Science Friday?

  • michael

    Because it can take your mind off of living….and others, you become focused on your needs/desires. It’s kind of like some members or our state legislature, it’s easier to spout platitudes and rhetoric than to actually take care of people and there business. But these people wouldn’t have known if a rapture had occurred or not, having spent the wknd with their collective heads up their………..!

  • Jason

    We are compulsively curious creatures, fascinated by “what ifs” regardless of how ridiculous they may be.

    I was just hoping all day that I would run into a self-described chosen one who would put their money where their mouth was, give me a bag of money, and say “Take it, I won’t need this any more”. That also didn’t happen.