Vatican Skeptical of Mayan Apocalypse Rumors

Carved blocks uncovered in Guatemala show scenes of Mayan life and political history. (Image credit: David Stuart)

A number of experts have weighed in on the purported, though not scientifically grounded, Mayan apocalypse that some believers fear will strike the Earth on Dec. 21. Not to be left out, the Vatican has joined the growing chorus of doomsday skeptics urging people worldwide to remain calm.

The Rev. Jose Funes, the Vatican's official astronomer — yes, the Vatican has an official astronomer on staff, presumably for just such emergencies — called rumors of the planet's impending doom "not even worth discussing."

Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, also acknowledged that the universe is expanding, and some people fear this may cause parts of the universe to "break away," he added that these accounts of apocalyptic gloom should not alarm Christians because, as he told the Associated Press, "death can never have the last word."

If that statement fails to reassure you, consider the comments of David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley: "There is no true issue here," he said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event concerning the alleged doomsday. "This is just a manufactured fantasy."

According to some (mis)interpretations of the Mayan calendar, a calendar cycle called the 13th b'ak'tun comes to an end on Dec. 21. Most Maya scholars agree, however, that the ancient Maya would not have construed the end of this calendar cycle as an alarming or apocalyptic event. 

Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.