<caption: Mark Allen Wright, a BYU religion professor who earned a Ph.D. in mesoamerican archaeology, says the Maya never prophesied the world will end in 2012.>
Most BYU students do not think the world will end in 2012, but there has been much speculation and even a Hollywood movie on the subject.
“I don’t necessarily think that we’re gonna have some like, ‘Oh, we have one year left’ day,” said Lloyd Grubham, a BYU student majoring in electrical engineering. “I personally think we just need to look at each year as an opportunity. As a student, if the world was to end, I don’t know if I’d be as diligent in my homework.”
Off campus, however, the topic seems to be a bit more serious. Camille Schulz, a 32 year-old mother with three children, living in Clearfield, thinks there could be something quite catastrophic in 2012, although she doesn’t believe the world will end this year because of her LDS beliefs.
“I have been doing a lot of History Channel watching and looking on the Internet,” Schulz said. “From what I’ve heard it’s a change of life [that] is going to be between December 21st and March 13th, there’s going to be some sort of lack of communication, like with computers and whatnot. So whatever it is, it sounds like it’s going to wipe out our technology, if that makes sense.”
This so-called “2012 doomsday” phenomenon began with the interpretation of an ancient Mayan monument. The original translation was misunderstood and caused some to argue the Mayan calendar ended in 2012, and it would mean either a time of destruction or the beginning of a new age.
Mark Allen Wright, a BYU religion professor who earned a Ph.D. in mesoamerican archaeology, said this interpretation is simply false.
“The Maya themselves never said anything about destruction at any point,” Wright said. “So all the things you hear about 2012, the Maya never said any of it at all, and I just try to make it very, very clear that it’s not open to interpretation basically.”
According to Wright, the monument commemorates the dedication of a sacred structure. It uses the word B’ak’tun, which is roughly 400 years in the Mayan calendar. The inscription records the dedication in reference to the 13th B’ak’tun, which marks the end of one major period and the beginning of another. However, this means nothing more than when our calendar hit Jan. 1, 2000.
Wright said a loose translation of the inscription is “the building was dedicated 1,343 years before the ending of the 13th B’ak’tun; the god Bolon Yokte’ witnessed it.” The date by itself, the ending of the 13th B’ak’tun, equals Dec. 21 or 23 of 2012, depending on which correlation is used. Wright said it is syntactically similar for us to say, “When the Kirtland temple was dedicated 150 years before the year 2,000, Christ was there.”
Studying the ancient Maya has helped Wright picture better what the Nephites or Lamanites may have been like, but it does not affect his testimony of the Book of Mormon.
“I think it’s good evidence, but the only true evidence [of the Book of Mormon] is the Spirit,” he said. http://universe.byu.edu