2012 is, of course, the latest "final date" in popular culture.
What's interesting about prophecies and the expectation of Finality is that they are important to believers and people of faith because they promise signs that will (hypothetically) -future tense-provide evidence for their beliefs.
That is because the present offers no proof of anything beyond the material world.
Hope is also future-tense. It is a magical expectation of something not currently had.
Hope exists because faith desperately needs evidence and can find none in the present.