Forget 6-6-06: Every Day Is Doomsday


June 6, 2006 — -- Doomsday is coming, again and again and again.

Today is the sixth day of the sixth month in the year 2006 -- and as superstitious people are well aware, "666" is a number that signifies the mark of the Antichrist and the coming of the Apocalypse, according to the Book of Revelation.

Hollywood, of course, is taking advantage of the curious date to release a remake of "The Omen," in which parents discover that their adopted child is really the devil.

The original, starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, is a horror classic. In the new version, filmmakers are happily using the calendar to put the fright into people.

"There has never been a more salient time to remind people that evil is neither a concept nor a theory," said John Moore, director of "Flight of the Phoenix" and "Behind Enemy Lines."

"It has a human face and it empowers itself through human actions. The true nature of evil has never been more apparent," he said. "In just the past four years alone, the world has been hit with devastating events -- political, natural and man-made. One can't help but notice a certain momentum."

Oh my gosh! First a tsunami, now a remake. Run for the hills!

Of course, there has never been a shortage of bleak predictions that the end is near. Over the last 20 years, a long list of biblical prophesy groups, UFO believers, and Satanists, among others, have all foreseen the Earth's imminent and abrupt demise.

"Funny, these far-flung groups don't agree on much, but they do believe the world is about to end," said paranormal investigator James Randi, who held a big "End of the World" party in 1999 to mark the date that the 16th century prophet Nostradamus pegged as doomsday.

"The most interesting thing about these end-time predictions is that the same groups just revise their date for doomsday and never explain why their first prediction turned out to be wrong."

If Earth survives June 6, it still may end soon, depending on whom you believe.

Some students of biblical prophesy peg 2008 as a key year in the Apocalypse watch. That year is considered critical because it marks the first generation -- 40 years -- since the Jews returned to Israel.

Other biblical prophets are more focused on 2033, which would mark the 2,000th anniversary of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The year 2012 could be the end if ancient Mayan mysticism holds true. Centuries ago, the Mayans were the first to build a calendar, and that calendar ends in 2012. The Mayans disappeared suddenly and mysteriously around 900 A.D.

One of the largest groups of UFO believers, the Raelians, say aliens will begin arriving by 2035 to usher in a new world order.

Before you kiss your family and the world goodbye, just remember that doomsday predictions have been around since the dawn of time -- and we still haven't seen the sunset of all sunsets.

Remember the Y2K panic? When the year 2000 came, some thought the end was at hand -- some because of the coming of a new millennium, and some because they believed the computers of the world would discombobulate because of a programming glitch.

It's interesting to note that the same fear ran rampant in the late 900s -- the last time a new millennium rolled around.

Christopher Columbus, who shattered the flat-Earth society's planetary vision, pegged the end of the world at 1656. The religious sect known as the Shakers believed it would come in 1792, while Jehovah's Witnesses have made several preparations for Armageddon -- first in 1914 and again in 1925.

Edgar Cayce, America's most renowned psychic of the 1930s, declared that Earth would be devastated in 2001 by a massive polar shift, leading to many natural disasters that would bring the world to an end. Cayce also predicted Atlantis would rise from its watery grave sometime before 1969.

The superpsychic of the 16th century, Nostradamus -- who has been credited with predicting everything from the rise of Hitler to Ted Kennedy's indiscretions -- predicted the world would end in July 1999.

From his oft-quoted predictions, known as Quatrains:

Randi -- who wrote a book debunking Nostradamus -- says that the French psychic made 104 predictions with a verifiable name, place or time and that all of them have been wrong.

Believers say that Nostradamus wrote of the rise of a tyrant from Germany known as "Hister," who would devastate Europe, and that this prediction was a chilling vision of Adolf Hitler, about 300 years before the Nazis' rise to power.

Randi points out that "Hister" is also a name that's been used for Germany's Danube River. "For all we know," Randi said, "the rise of 'Hister' might just mean a flood." That could be one way to explain fascism.

Other doomsday predictions -- while equally false -- have nevertheless led to grave consequences for those who've believed in them.

In 1997, 39 members of California's Heaven's Gate Cult committed suicide shortly after their leader, Marshall Applewhite, proclaimed, "The end of the age, I'm afraid, is right upon us."

End-time visions have also been associated with such apocalyptic movements as the Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese cult that bombed a Tokyo subway with poisonous gas, in part to warn the world of a climactic nuclear war supposedly coming in 2003.

Doomsday visions have also been big moneymakers. Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth" was one of the best-selling nonfiction works of the 1970s, according to The New York Times, with publishers shipping out more than 35 million copies in 52 languages.

In the book, Lindsey boldly declared that "The Rapture" would begin before Dec. 31, 1981, based on Christian prophesy, astronomy, and a dash of ecological fatalism. He pegged the date to Jesus' promised return to Earth a generation after Israel's rebirth.

He also made references to the "Jupiter Effect," a planetary alignment that occurs every 179 years that would supposedly lead to earthquakes and nuclear-plant meltdowns.

When his biblical interpretation proved dead wrong, Lindsey revised his doomsday prediction to 2048, putting a new twist on the writer's adage of "publish or perish."

Assuming today's date of 6-6-06 is just a calendar quirk, "The Omen" hits theaters today. With any luck, on Dec. 12, 2012 (12-12-12), we won't have to sit through the sequel.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.

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