CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Socratic Club will sponsor a debate on the topic, "Will the World End Soon? Apocalyptic Visions of the Future" on Monday, Oct. 17.

The free public debate will take begin at 7 p.m. in Gilfillan Auditorium on the OSU campus. A panel of four experts will discuss and evaluate widespread claims that the end of human life on Earth is near.

A radio preacher recently predicted that Jesus will return to Earth on Oct. 21, 2011 (after an earlier date of May 21 didn't materialize). Some believe that the Mayan calendar predicts that cataclysmic events will take place in 2012. Still others predict that the world faces environmental disaster within a generation because of man-made global warming.

Four experts will examine these claims and debate their credibility. 

Nicole von Germeten, associate professor of history at OSU, will discuss the Mayan calendar; Gary Ferngren, professor of history at OSU, will discuss Christian prophecies of the future; Allen Thompson, assistant professor of philosophy at OSU, will examine apocalyptic claims of environmental disaster; and Martin Emmrich, minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church, will discuss reasons for the popularity of end-of-the world scenarios.

Their presentations will be followed by a dialogue between the panelists and by questions from the audience.

The Socratic Club is beginning its 10th year as a student organization at OSU. It offers a forum for a variety of points of view on subjects at the intersection of Christian belief and contemporary culture. For more information visit

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Gary Ferngren, 541-752-7224