No, the Aug. 21 solar eclipse doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end.
This is according to NASA scientists who can predict the movement of our solar system’s bodies so precisely that they know to the minute when our moon will pass in front of the sun later this month.
But that hasn’t stopped a cadre of conspiracy theorists from pushing the claim that the solar eclipse is a portent for the end of times.
Paul Begley, a pastor at the Community Gospel Baptist Church in Knox, Ind., maintains a YouTube channel with more than 190,000 subscribers. In one video, citing research, he says there is “overwhelming evidence that Planet X will destroy the Earth in 2017.
“Now, I don’t know about that,” he adds, before spending a few minutes discussing faux research about Planet X.
Begley claims in another video that, in the darkness during the eclipse, Planet X will “potentially” be revealed.
David Meade, who writes that he studied astronomy at an unnamed university, maintains a website that suggests Planet X, also known as Nibiru, is a harbinger of an apocalypse. Meade claims Planet X also caused the torrential rainfall in the biblical story of Noah.
Meade said in an emailed statement that he’ll probably head to the Arkansas Ozarks to avoid large cities, where apparently the worst post-apocalypse conditions will be.
Theories about Planet X, Nibiru or other “wayward planets” are false, according to NASA.
Nibiru was also invoked ahead of the Mayan calendar doomsday of 2012, NASA’s website says. That apocalypse never materialized.
“Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax,” NASA states on its site, adding that if they were real, such planets would be visible to the naked eye.
Meade and other conspiracy theorists invoke verses from the Book of Isaiah when claiming this month’s eclipse is a portent.
“See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it,” the Book of Isaiah says. “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.”
Begley’s YouTube channel links to a PayPal account to submit donations, as does his website. Begley’s site also advertises a live show called “The Coming Apocalypse,” which runs on World Harvest Television and its local stations around the country. A spokeswoman for the company said she could not comment when asked whether the network endorses hoaxes broadcast on its channels.
Kenny Pfost, who works for the City of Knox, Ind., where Begley’s church is located, said he would be concerned if Begley were using people’s fear of an apocalypse to entreat donations to his church.
“I’m not a believer that money is going to influence ... whether we’ll be saved or not,” Pfost said.
Another Knox city official, who asked not to be named, said he’s been around long enough to see many end-of-world claims come and go.
“Unfortunately, I think some people want the world to end because then they’re proven right,” he said. “Then their faith is proven right.”
For a better bit of fiction in which an eclipse leads to destruction, read Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall.”