As talk of nuclear war ramps up, technology spirals toward science-fiction, and natural disasters batter the globe, many people don't require a fervent belief in Christian numerology to fear that the end is nigh. In case you need convincing, though, a strange prophecy has begun to circulate suggesting that the apocalypse will begin on Sept. 23.
Here's everything you need to know about Doomsday: 2017 Edition.
Why do people believe the world is ending on Sept. 23?
Good ol' numerology, a favorite method of doomsday predictors. A "Christian conspiracy theorist" named David Meade claims he discovered that the world will end on Sept. 23 by combining Bible passages with astronomy — chiefly, the total solar eclipse over the U.S. in August. "Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible]," Meade explained to The Washington Post. And Sept. 23 will mark 33 days since the eclipse. Voila!
Sounds iffy. Are there other signs?
You bet! A "code" in the pyramids points to Sept. 23 as well (it's unclear how, exactly). The Book of Revelation also supposedly points to Sept. 23 as the beginning of the end because it is a day when a number of celestial bodies — including the sun, moon, and constellations of Virgo and Leo — all line up. "The alignment in question will actually happen," National Geographic writes. "But the significance of the astronomy is debatable. The Biblical sign depends on the number of stars in play, and even astronomers don't agree how many stars officially make up Leo." Plus, this alignment happens for a couple days every September and October.
How exactly is the world supposed to end on Sept. 23?
There are a few different opinions on how we might greet oblivion. One is simply that Sept. 23 marks the day the Rapture will begin. Another says that a mysterious planet called Nibiru, also known as "Planet X," is going to crash into the Earth, The Sun reports. Meade claims that the solar eclipse marked the moment when Nibiru entered our solar system, and we've been rapidly approaching the end of the world ever since.
The rigor and reliability of Meade's "calculations," however, are not without their flaws. He originally thought Nibiru was going to collide with Earth in October, but then moved the date up to Sept. 23. In fact, people have been talking about Nibiru long before Meade set Sept. 23 as Earth's expiration date — Planet X was also supposed to collide with Earth in 2003 (a miscalculation, presumably).
For its part, NASA maintains that there is no such thing as Planet Nibiru. Then again, NASA probably doesn't even believe in the Anunnaki either.
What is an Anunnaki?
Anunnaki are ancient space aliens that created the human race, as Zecharia Sitchin describes in his book The 12th Planet, The Sun reports. Oh, and the Anunnaki live on Planet Nibiru.
What do Anunnaki look like?
Okay. So is the world actually going to end or what?
No, probably not.
Humans have been predicting the end of the world since at least 65 A.D., when Seneca said the planet was poised to "burn in [a] universal fire." (Pompeii was, anyway). More recently, humans survived the Dec. 21, 2012 Mayan apocalypse unscathed.
Professor Anthony Aveni of Colgate University told National Geographic that Sept. 23 doomsaying is just another example of people searching for a narrative rather than accepting the randomness of the world and universe at large. "Everybody wants to know the chemical composition of the burning bush, or where exactly is the Ark of the Covenant," he said. "We want the final story, the bottom line."
NASA senior scientist David Morrison has a whole list of reasons why Nibiru (which doesn't exist) isn't poised to collide with Earth — namely that you'd be able to see it by now if it was. "If Nibiru were real and it were a planet with a substantial mass, then it would already be perturbing the orbits of Mars and Earth," he told The Washington Post.
As cool as it would be to meet the Anunnaki, the world is probably only as likely to end on Sept. 23 as it is on any other day of the year. We could fall victim to a once-in-10-million-year meteor strike that NASA somehow failed to spot. The Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt. The poles could flip. We could start, or be pulled into, a nuclear war. But very probably none of these things will come to pass anytime soon.
Perhaps the most compelling reason the world won't end on Sept. 23 is that we have so many other doomsdays ahead of us. Psychic Jeane Dixon predicted Armageddon would occur in 2020. The Messiah Foundation International says an asteroid is headed our way in 2026. Isaac Newton placed his bets on 2060. Biochemist Rashad Khalifa's studies of the Quran led him to settle on 2280.
So I guess it couldn't hurt to invest in an apocalypse survival kit ... just to be safe.