Did Ancient Mayans Know Something We Don't About 2012?

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 17, 2010 Updated Nov 17, 2010 at 6:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The countdown is on to 2012, considered by some to be the year of the apocalypse.

A publication called "An Encyclopedia of claims, frauds and hoaxes of the occult and supernatural" lists 44 distinct “end of the world” predictions that all went unfulfilled.

But that doesn’t stop the speculation from occurring.

The movie “2012” treats you to a feast of death and destruction.

Judie Doyle of Fort Wayne is not impressed with the premise behind the action thriller.

Judie Doyle/2012 End Times Skeptic: " I think it's ridiculous. I'm not that kind of a believer in that kind of thing."

End times predictions come from many sources.

16th Century Frenchman Nostradamus, who followers credit with predicting the rise of Napoleon, Hitler and the 9-11 terrorist attacks, say he forecast a comet will strike the earth or pass closely in 2012, with cataclysmic repercussions.

Critics say Nostradamus' prophecies are often dead wrong, or are so vague as to have no value in predicting events in advance.

Much of the 2012 “end times” uproar revolves around the Mayan culture's long count calendar and the fact it cuts off December 21st, 2012.

James Adams/Mayan Scholar: " Nowhere were they suggesting that in 2012 there was going to be the end of anything."

James Adams, a retired Manchester College professor, led numerous excursions to study the fascinating Mayan civilization.

He says the fact there are dates beyond 2012 written on Mayan monuments diminishes talk of the 2012 apocalypse.

James Adams: " I think the Maya would be surprised that they've been so helpful to Hollywood."

But the doomsday dialogue is alive and well.

Among the eye-popping theories, a mysterious planet will enter the solar system and disrupt planetary orbits, causing earthquakes and tidal waves, and that the earth's magnetic field is about to flip, leaving us vulnerable to solar flares.

Dr. John Platt/USC Professor of Earth Sciences: " Solar flares are very, very powerful events."

Lawrence Joseph/Author, Apocalypse 2012: " My great fear is the domino effect, where one thing leads to another, leads to another and we plunge into chaos."

Chris Highlen, with the University of St. Francis planetarium, sees no scientific evidence that mass chaos is just around the corner.

Christ Highlen/Fort Wayne Astronomical Society: " We've had millions of years of earth's history and nothing has wiped out life on earth yet, so I don't think we need to worry about 2012 particularly. It could happen tomorrow, it could never happen."

Jeff Neumeyer: " Mainline churches don't subscribe to the notion that December 2012 has any special apocalyptic significance. But that doesn't mean churches will necessarily ignore the subject altogether."

Pastor Rick Hawks, with The Chapel, arranged a sermon series in conjunction with the launch of the movie "2012" last year.

Hawks says the Christian church believes Jesus Christ holds the answers to "end times" questions.

Pastor Rick Hawks/The Chapel: " We believe he's bringing history to his glorious conclusion. We also believe nobody knows when that's going to happen."

Just in case the church is wrong, Chris Highlen downloaded an application for his phone that counts down the hours and minutes to horror or hoax.

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