As Christians around the world prepare for Christmas Eve tonight, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have survived yet another ancient astronaut catastrophe. You may have thought you were safe after the Maya apocalypse failed to happen on December 21, despite an endorsement from Ancient Aliens and its pundit David Childress. But another danger lurked. Erich von Däniken had darkly warned in his 2009 book Twilight of the Gods that yesterday, December 23, was to have been the day that the aliens returned to earth to deliver a “god shock” that would change the world!
What’s going to happen on Sunday, December 23, 2012? Will Bolon Yokte and his cohort of Mayan gods really come back down to Earth? Will we experience a "god shock" in a couple of years? How can we prepare for this? Prepare? I recommend this book!
The date December 23, 2012 was von Däniken’s mistaken version of the December 21, 2012 end date for the Maya calendar, derived from sources that used slightly different conversion methods to change Maya dates to Gregorian dates. (I do not know his exact source because he cites only German books I have not read.) His December 23 claims apparently first appear in his un-translated book Der Gotterschock (“The God Shock”) which I have not read but which he admitted he copied from in creating Twilight of the Gods.
What did von Däniken expect to happen yesterday? Here’s what the mad prophet worried would transpire, and, most importantly, why:
Society has become sluggish and lazy, overfed by the Internet, and crushed by a zeitgeist that immediately stifles any enthusiasm—too lazy to take notice of anything important or groundbreaking.
Even the mad prophet of the alien gods wasn’t willing to commit fully to a specific date, hedging his bets in case the prophecy (as it inevitably would) failed. But lest you think that von Däniken used this “out” to complete avoid culpability, consider these lines from earlier in the book:
"We'll be back!" they [the aliens] said to some of their students. The Maya have preserved this promise literally and even give a date for it: December 23, 2012. If our calendar is right, then this is a date that we could pretty much rely on.
We could “pretty much rely on” the aliens returning yesterday and causing a “god shock.” How do you think readers in 2009 were meant to interpret that? With the wisdom of hindsight, von Däniken will claim that “our calendar” was wrong, that the gods are still coming, even when prophecy failed. But that’s not what it sounded like in 2009.
We could “pretty much rely on” von Däniken’s prophecies.
They didn’t happen.
But no one will ever hold him accountable for being wrong.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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