November 24, 2009

The Biggest Unsolved Mystery

2009 1533 32 caphe May 2009 issue of Wired magazine was designated as “The Mystery Issue.” It is a kind of ramped-up “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” for readers with a taste for the scientific and technological, packed with articles and sidebars (and even an occasional bogus advertisement, just for fun) that address a broad range of questions and issues for the inquiring mind.

 “Does my [electronic] gear know when its warranty ends—or does it just seem that way?”
 “There’s no magic in magic—inside the neuroscience of illusion”
“The strangest places on earth” (including, for example, Area 51 and the Bermuda Triangle)
And so on.
Among the features in this special mystery issue is a piece entitled “Apocalypse Then,” which begins: “It’s the biggest unsolved mystery: how the world will end. Here, we present our favorite expiration dates . . .”*
2009 1533 32This is followed by a series of ten of history’s memorable prophesied doomsdays, including Halley’s Comet, the “Jupiter Effect,” “Heaven’s Gate,” and even Adventism’s “Great Disappointment” of 1844. The dates range from 1000 A.D. to the next big one: 2012.
In fact, Wired isn’t the only representative of the media to note the significance of 2012. A great many people around the world have been intrigued by the Mayans’ 5,125-year “Long Count” calendar. The last day on this calendar is December 21, 2012, and some have interpreted this to indicate the world’s end.
Anthropologists have pointed out that the Mayan calendar is cyclical, that December 21, 2012, isn’t supposed to indicate the end of anything except the 5,125-year cycle, after which it begins again. But no matter. This hasn’t prevented a great deal of speculation about the end of days. At the time of this writing, a Google of that date brings up more than 143 million results.
This year Sony Pictures rolled out the blockbuster 2012 on Friday the 13th of November, raking in $225 million worldwide for the opening weekend. The film depicts with cataclysmic special effects a terrifying world’s end.
And the Discovery Channel aired a documentary, 2012 Apocalypse, five days before that. The TV documentary begins, “This is when and how the world will end if you believe in prophecies.” It then introduces 30 to 40 minutes of hair-raising scenarios—corona mass ejections of the sun, geomagnetic reversal, super-volcanic eruptions, crust displacement, planetary collisions, continental earthquakes, mega tsunamis—many illustrated with clips provided by Sony Pictures and introduced by NASA astrophysicists and an editor from Scientific American. It finally closes with dismissive comments from these scientists that discredit all but the remotest possibility of such occurrences in 2012, but the images of such potential destruction are difficult to remove from one’s mind.
All of this is a reminder that even in this so-called scientific era, humankind is still whistling in the dark about how the world will end. This existential question seems to be buried deep in the human genetic code.
Further indication of this is a TV series currently appearing in weekly segments on ABC entitled, simply, “V.” Fourteen million viewers tuned in to the series premiere on November 3.
2009 1533 32 “V” stands for “visitors,” more specifically, aliens from outer space. Coming in the assumed form of attractive human beings, they appear suddenly one morning in space ships, each shaped like a massive, metallic nimbus the size of many city blocks, over 29 of the world’s largest cities. Terror and mayhem erupt in the streets.
The mother ship, hovering over New York, is the headquarters of the visitors’ leader, an attractive young woman—teenage characters describe her as “hot”—who communicates directly with the world through her projected image across the flat undersurface of each space ship. Her message is heard in the language spoken of each city over which it is broadcast.
 “We need your help,” she says, with a beneficent smile. “We’re far from home and require water and a mineral which is common and abundant on earth in order to sustain ourselves. In exchange, we’d be willing to share some of our technological advances with you, technology that will help enrich your lives in all areas. After we’ve replenished ourselves and share with you what we can, we will leave you hopefully better than we found you.”
This reassures the masses, and with the fear subsiding, they break into applause.
But the calm reassurances of the visitors are a masterful deception to cover their intention to obliterate humankind. In fact, visitors have been living among humanity in sleeper cells for many years in preparation for this invasion.
The vast majority of the masses are drawn to the visitors’ promises of a better life. In the words of a newscast three weeks after the arrival of the space ships, “Host cities find themselves in the midst of a mini economic boom: tourism, spending on V merchandise, all a welcome shot in the arm . . . The newly opened visitors’ healing centers are drawing huge crowds. People afflicted with one of the 65 ailments the Vs can cure are jamming the centers hoping for their own personal miracle.”
But some question the timing of their appearance.
Noting an uptick in church attendance as some people seem to be turning to the Church for an understanding of the phenomenon, an elderly priest of an inner city congregation says, “I thank God for the visitors every day. . . . This church stood empty for years. Now look at it. The visitors are not driving people away from God. They’re driving people back to God.”
Jack, a younger priest is not so sure: “People are scared, Father. That’s why they come.”
“But they come,” the elder priest insists, “and that’s the blessing in disguise.”
“It bothers me that they showed up right when we need them the most,” Jack counters.

“The world’s in bad shape, Father. Who wouldn’t welcome a savior right now?”
2009 1533 32“They’re a godsend,” says the elder priest. “And we should be grateful.”
“But that’s the danger,” Jack says. “Under the right conditions and enough time, gratitude can morph into worship—or worse: devotion.”
In another exchange, Jack questions the decision of the Church to embrace the newcomers.
“We’re all God’s creatures, that’s how [they explain] these aliens? They decided that in a day?”
“Have faith in our leaders, Jack,” the elder priest admonishes.
“I do, Father, it’s just there’s not a lot of Scripture.”
Well, actually there is. Maybe not about aliens—unless angels would qualify as such.
In viewing “V’s” themes of deception and devotion, any serious reader of Scripture will almost certainly be reminded of Jesus’ personal counsel about the end of days: “ ‘False christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand’ ” (Mark 13:22, 23, NKJV). Certainly the careful student of Scripture should be prepared to face with courage and confidence what Wired magazine describes as “the biggest unsolved mystery.”


* Wired, May 2009, p. 18.