2012: The End of the World?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: There is a whole cottage industry growing around the belief that the world may come to an end in 2012.

Many new Web sites, books and even an upcoming blockbuster movie all delve into the theory surrounding the supposed doomsday. And one of these 2012 prophecies was made by the mysterious and ancient Mayan culture. Let's take a look.


HANNITY (voice-over): For decades, their cities have been excavated, their languages studied, their scripts decoded, yet this civilization still mystifies. So what lies behind the shroud of thousands of years of culture, astrology and architecture?

ROBERT GLEASON, AUTHOR: The Mayans' background is shrouded in mystery. They come out of nowhere a long time ago, and they suddenly have these incredible astronomical insights.

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HANNITY: Some say that behind the shroud is a prediction, a premonition that the world as we know it will come to an end in the year 2012.

According to Robert Gleason, who is the executive editor of the upcoming book "Apocalypse 2012," it all begins with their calendars.

GLEASON: They had one that was purely ceremonial. They had a second one called the Haab. And that was a solar calendar, and they needed that calendar to know when they would plant their crops. At the end of each long-count calendar, homo sapiens comes to a catastrophic and. And we are now toward the end of the fifth and final calendar.

HANNITY: So it would appear the Mayans knew their days were numbered. But when would this catastrophic end take place?

GLEASON: It's 11 — 11 p.m. universal time, December 21, 2012.

HANNITY: The Mayan calendar is very different from western calendars, but researchers have been able to line up the two.

ARLEN CHASE, PROFESSOR, UCF: The Maya have a vigesimal counting system. We have a decimal counting system. We count in — in tens. The Maya count in 20s.

HANNITY: A Mayan 1.0 represents 20 days. Two point zeros, 40 days. The zero date, when they started counting forward, is supposed to be 3114 B.C., and the last calendar round ends with what correlates to be December 21, 2012.

JOHN MAJOR JENKINS, AUTHOR: The calendar that concerns us with the 2012 question is called the long count calendar. And this gives us the cycle ending date December 21 of 2012.

HANNITY: And it's not just the end of the calendar that concerns true believers. It's also how the prophesies end.

GLEASON: There's two major prophesies. And they describe, among other things, the end of each of the sun ages, each of the five long-count calendars. And they all end catastrophically. The fifth one, our age, is supposed to — is supposed to end in fire.

HANNITY: But others see a happier explanation.

JENKINS: When we study the Maya traditions of time, we understand that they had a cyclic time philosophy. December 21, 2012, represents the ends of a large cycle of time. We can find that they conceived the cycle endings not in some kind of doomsday or apocalyptic concept, but with the idea of transformation and renewal.

HANNITY: John Major Jenkins, Maya expert and author of his recent book, "2012 Story," and it explores another so-called prophecy. The galactic alignment.

JENKINS: The galactic alignment is the alignment of the December solstice sun as viewed from Earth with the galactic equator. The galactic equator is basically the Milky Way, as its perceived in the sky. This is an alignment that is caused by the procession of the equinoxes, and it happens only once every 26,000 years.

HANNITY: According to Jenkins, Mayan lore says that the next time this will happen is December 21, 2012.

JENKINS: The evidence that we have comes from inscriptions and evidence from the early Maya site called Izapa that was involved in the formulation of the long count calendar.

HANNITY: The famous archeological site stretches more than 1.4 miles, but one of the most studied sections is known as the Ball Court. Many believe that those who designed it were aware of the future galactic alignment.

JENKINS: At the site of Izapa, the Ball Court is lined up with the rise position of the December solstice sun.

HANNITY: The massive pyramids nearby are believed by some to have been used as astronomical observatories. Although there is evidence that the Mayan people used the pyramids as altars for human sacrifice...

CHASE: The popular perception in the United States is of the Maya as — as bloodthirsty. But realistically, if you're going to talk about them that way, what you're actually showing is your lack of knowledge about the Maya. Because to the Maya, blood was the sustenance of life, and it was necessary in order for the sun to cross the sky.

HANNITY: And they used their calendars to track the very sun that they sacrificed to.

JENKINS: The Maya believed that, at the end of the cycle, the world needs to be transformed and inaugurate the new cycle.

HANNITY: So on December 2012, will the galaxy align and humans experience a transformation of consciousness, or will these predictions of a doomsday scenario, like an enormous earthquake or a massive volcano eruption or asteroid smashing into the Earth, will that happen? Most experts say, don't rush out and get your asteroid insurance just yet.

CHASE: On December 21st of 2012, you will wake up the next morning; and it will be December 22nd, and nothing will have happened.

HANNITY: Dr. Arlen Chase is a professor at the University of Central Florida. He's been studying this culture ever since he was in high school.

CHASE: The Maya never looked this far forward into the future in terms of foretelling. They were more interested in whether it was going to, in fact, rain. Pretty clear that it is not going to end on 2012.

HANNITY: So for now, these dueling theories will continue to be argued about on the Internet.

GLEASON: We do know from the other prophecies in the previous ages, died by — homo sapiens died by violence. There's no happy ending.

JENKINS: Many mainstream scholars criticize basically everything about 2012, because they're seeing it through the filters of what's happening in the popular press. The Maya did have very specific ideas about 2012.

CHASE: December 21, 2012, it realistically has no implications to our own society.

HANNITY: By as the clock keeps ticking, there's only one thing we can be sure of. We'll just have to all wait and see.


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