So – another arbitrary passage of time, another arbitrary set of resolutions. For many Exeter girls, this is the year that they will try and find a way of losing weight that does not involve their fingers. For many Exeter guys, this is the year that they try and gain weight in muscle, and ergo, ego. Personally, this is the year I save money on tissues by masturbating or crying less – or at the very least, refraining from doing both at the same time. But for some, this is the year when your delusional doomed promises are even more meaningless than usual. The world will end in 2012 – according to those citing politics or religion. The trouble is, they’re either politically over-exuberant, or… well, religious. The world is not going to end in 2012 – at least not for the aforementioned reasons, and here is why.

In terms of politics, 2011 was quite an interesting year. You may have noticed that something happened in the Middle East – except this time we appeared to be on the side of the lunatics firing their guns into the air haphazardly and proclaiming how great their God is, which, considering their circumstances, seems a bit generous. On the Burqha-covered face of it, the changes that have been made affect us directly. One of the biggest state sponsors of terrorism is no more, although, balancing things out somewhat, neither is one of the biggest state sponsors of American imperialism in the area.

Either way, NATO needs some other Muslims to bomb, and who better than a country who wants to bomb us just as much? We’re pretty sure that Iran has nuclear weapons, although definitely not on 80’s Mutually Assured Destruction levels. For any war with Iran (which is distantly plausible) to reach apocalyptic levels, we need it to escalate to a point where it includes Pakistan. This is a country who – sufficiently embarrassed by their failure to find one of Bush’s bearded Horcruxes hiding in their back garden – are unlikely to try anything too silly, despite not being best pleased with America killing its citizens with remote-controlled planes. Or so it would seem. Since I originally wrote that sentence, further evidence has emerged to suggest that Pakistani military intelligence in fact actively dicks about with the Taliban in Afghanistan, teaching them how to kill or maim ISAF troops. This is the sort of diabolical activity that makes the situation so unpredictable, and UN meetings so awkward.

Recently, the focus has shifted increasingly to a less religious but no less insane regime – that of the late, Great Leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-il. Hilariously, his other official titles have included “Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have”, and my personal favourite, “Amazing Politician”. Preoccupied with simultaneously devising a list of over fifty lovable nicknames and starving his own people, it seems unlikely that he would have had time to scrape together more than a couple of nukes. Again, close, but not enough to obliterate the world entirely. So, this model of escalation against the West requires China – North Korea’s most powerful and visible supporter – to get involved. However, would China, whose lending power exceeds that of the IMF, actually destroy the civilisation that owes them so much money, and with whom they enjoy such lucrative trade?

And so the onus shifts finally to the most armed but ironically least threatening state – Russia. Never really the risk during the Cold War, Russia was always the more reluctant to push the button, having lost 20 million comrades in the Second World War. Nuclear weapons have only been used twice in history, both times by America. But fortunately, America’s government and populace believe in a familial theme park in the sky after you’ve died a burning, blistering, radioactive death.

So who is responsible for running this celestial Center Parcs and its hellish equivalent (Butlins)? A god, apparently. An omniscient, omnipotent, but nonetheless incompetent god. A capricious god who, depending on the place and time of your birth, has done this sort of thing (complete world annihilation) before, out of spite and/or ineptitude.

If you aren’t aware of His credentials (female believers you should be asking yourselves why it is a He), and have never worn the latter day equivalent of the electric chair round your neck, his plan involves impregnating his mother and sacrificing himself… to himself, for an original sin committed by two proto-humans with no concept of sin.  A plan which, in all its genius logic and professed love, culminates in an act of genocide beyond the perverse proportions that the Abrahamic religions enjoyed so much.

Many believers point to the environment as being proof that god has almost completely given up on us. However, the perceived increase in natural disasters can, in actuality, be attributed to their increased media coverage. It seems that the only way for us in the West to feel better about ourselves in a time when our money increasingly resembles Monopoly money, is to watch people of the third world wade through debris/ stagnant water/lava.

Having experienced a couple of natural disasters myself, I reserve a special kind of hatred for the cunts who look forward to them, and even cite them as a sign of their impending celestial ascent. One such man is Harold Camping – a wanker of the absolute highest pedigree, who makes his money out of conning the mentally deficient into believing that they require his specific brand of belief to prolong their existences.

For a man who has spent his entire life staring at the Bible, he’s done a great job of applying his prophetic knowledge, having used it to predict the Apocalypse would occur in 1988, 1994, and twice last year. Men like him abound, and he’s only one you may have heard of. Nostradamus had a go, albeit mostly relying on his drug-addled mind, and has left vague ramblings which have been hazily translated and extrapolated to retro-actively predict whichever world event had just occurred. Meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and nowhere is this more true than with religious texts written decades after the events they apparently describe – the fact that they can be interpreted in such an alarmingly divergent manner, demonstrates how nebulous they are.

But let’s discuss something marginally more ludicrous. The most cited “evidence” for a 2012 world-ending event is the Mesoamerican Long Count narrative – the Mayan Microsoft Outlook. The fact that this obscure South American culture’s calendar (which we obviously do not use, despite it featuring scantily clad Aztecs) ends this year, has led some degenerates to deduce that everything ends this year. Like the Judeao-Christian Jehovah, saying that these gods know the future, they are really bad at avoiding catastrophe. And hence our current existence is apparently their fourth attempt at not completely fucking up the universe.  Despite being a religion slightly more obsessed with blood sacrifice than Catholicism, there is nothing but the vaguest of references towards an Apocalypse – and even then, within the context of a continuing cycle. Recent scholarship corroborates this. But why in Western civilisation do we need a Daily Mail article stating “Scientists say something is bullshit” before we actually realise something is bullshit?

The null hypothesis should never be used to lend credence to superstition. If you find yourself doing so, then ask yourself – how is this, or any other example, different to any of the prophecies predicting the end of the world every single year for the past several hundred? Maybe you went to a minor public school, but stop pretending it was Hogwarts. You cannot predict the future.  You can, however, predict what will not happen, based on the fact that it has never happened – which is not a fallacy if you admit the ludicrousness of the alternative position. Once this year comes and goes people will hopefully begin to question what is so special about the other religions – like Islam, Judaism, or Apple.

Political developments in the Middle East this year will hopefully replace dogmatic, autocratic states with rational, democratic ones. Advances in education in these states, as well as a year in which yet another belief system becomes irrelevant, will hopefully lead people to realise that their religion is no different than any other – especially if it is governed by equally useless deities with surprisingly suspicious demands and male failures.

What if the world does end though, Tom? In our moment of doom we will remember your obscure, opinionated (but admittedly well informed and cogently argued) little piece in Exeter’s best magazine. Although if this is what comes to mind when told your existence is more finite than previously thought – then, well, you didn’t have much to live for anyway. With the knowledge that we are alone, hopefully we will all begin to live our own lives – free of dated doctrines and socially inflicted body dysmorphic disorders which comprise the bulk of New Year resolutions. 2012 will almost certainly not bring the end of the world – what it will bring, I hope, is the beginning of the end of idiocy. Either way, I’ll still be spending a lot of money on tissues.