I’ve avoided thus far talking about this particular nonsense, so as not to give it any credence, and so as to scrub away some of my image of being an arrogant, know-it-all asshole who simply wants to point and laugh at the ignorant theists who believe this nonsense. But with the din of the crowd rising yet again in mockery of yet another fact-free, Bible-based belief, I need to throw my two cents in. Especially on this, the day before it’s All Supposed To Go Down. I’m nothing if not timely.
A 89-year-old preacher by the name of Harold Camping has evidently used the Bible, some incredible formulae, and I’m guessing a liberal belt of whiskey, to predict that tomorrow, on May 21st, 2011, the good Christians of this world will be Raptured away and the rest of us will be Left Behind(tm) to enjoy the armageddon pre-show that is the Tribulation. The whole planet will be shaken at 6pm local time — meaning a calamitous earthquake will occur in each of the time zones one at a time starting at the international date line. (I plan on live-tweeting the destruction as it travels from time zone to time zone, for the record.)
TIMING OF IMPORTANT EVENTS IN HISTORY
11,013 BC—Creation. God created the world and man (Adam and Eve).
4990 BC—The flood of Noah’s day. All perished in a worldwide flood. Only Noah, his wife, and his 3 sons and their wives survived in the ark (6023 years from creation).
7 BC—The year Jesus Christ was born (11,006 years from creation).
33 AD—The year Jesus Christ was crucified and the church age began (11,045 years from creation; 5023 calendar years from the flood).
1988 AD—This year ended the church age and began the great tribulation period of 23 years (13,000 years from creation).
1994 AD—On September 7th, the first 2300-day period of the great tribulation came to an end and the latter rain began, commencing God’s plan to save a great multitude of people outside of the churches (13,006 years from creation).
2011 AD—On May 21st, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture (the taking up into heaven of God’s elect people) will occur at the end of the 23-year great tribulation. On October 21st, the world will be destroyed by fire (7000 years from the flood; 13,023 years from creation).
Note that 1994 passage. Know why it’s there? Because of Camping’s last failed prediction. He predicted the world would come to an end sometime between Sept. 14th and 17th in 1994. This is his nod to the fact that he predicted 1994 before, rationalizing it away as being the end of the first period of the great tribulation and the beginning of the latter rain. I’m guessing it started raining on or around the 7th and kept raining through his end of the world dates.
Camping owns Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting outlet spanning 150 radio stations throughout North America (name even a merely purely secular, much less explicitly atheist, outreach program with as much reach!), and has teamed up with a website named eBibleFellowship, using both to spread his particular eschatology to evidently great effect. Given how many media outlets have picked this nonsense up, it’s plain as day that people love a good apocalypse story. (How else can you explain the 2012 nonsense, or the movie 2012?)
There are a few key passages on eBibleFellowship’s website that remove what little wiggle room other folks have had in post-hoc rationalizations for why the world did not in fact end on the predicted date. The clobber passage that will be used most frequently against Harold Camping is found on one of his billboards:
The Bible guarantees it, huh? And how do we know it’s guaranteed? Because apparently a few numbers match up if you convert them to the Hebrew Calendar:
On May 21st, 1988, God finished using the churches and congregations of the world. The Spirit of God left all churches and Satan, the man of sin, entered into the churches to rule at that point in time. The Bible teaches us that this awful period of judgment upon the churches would last for 23 years. A full 23 years (8400 days exactly) would be from May 21 st, 1988 until May 21st, 2011. This information was discovered in the Bible completely apart from the information regarding the 7000 years from the flood.
Therefore, we see that the full 23-year tribulation period concludes on May 21st, 2011. This date is the exact day that the great tribulation comes to its end, and this is also the most likely landing spot for the 7000 years from the flood of Noah’s day.
Keep in mind that God shut the door on the ark on the 17th day of the 2nd month of Noah’s calendar. We also find that May 21 st, 2011 is the end of the great tribulation period. There is a strong relationship between the 2nd month and 17th day of Noah’s calendar and May 21st, 2011 of our Gregorian calendar. This relationship cannot be readily seen until we discover that there is another calendar to consider, which is the Hebrew (or Biblical) calendar. May 21 st, 2011 happens to be the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Hebrew calendar. By this, God is confirming to us that we have a very correct understanding regarding the 7000-year timeline from the flood. May 21 st, 2011 is the equivalent date to the date when God shut the door on Noah’s ark. Through this and much other Biblical information, we find that May 21 st, 2011 will be the day when God takes up into heaven His elect people. May 21st, 2011 will be Judgment Day! This is the day God shuts the door of salvation on the world.
Because May 21st coincides with the 17th of Iyyar, the second month, and because the Bible says in Genesis 7:11 that Noah’s ark was closed on that day, and because of the completely arbitrary date assignment developed by Camping (completely different from the Ussher Chronology by the way), that day is apparently exactly seven thousand years after the date Noah’s Ark supposedly shut its doors. And we all know a thousand years is as a day in God’s eyes, therefore the seven thousand year number.
It’s all self-cannibalizing nonsense.
Never mind all the specifics of this particular bit of nonsense for a moment though. What is it that attracts so many adherents about the idea of this world ending suddenly? Is it really a big draw, the idea that this universe was just a test to see who gets to sit around for eternity praising some deity, and that everyone else (e.g. everyone that doesn’t believe the same things you do) will be tortured for eternity? Looking through my mental rolodex of predictions about the end of the world, evidently so, given the numerous predictions of asteroid impacts, Mayan calendar roll-overs, et cetera. Despite a mountain of evidence showing that we’re actually in a good deal of trouble with regard to our actions harming this planet that is our life support system, though, the “world ending in an instant” crowd are way ahead of the game. We humans are so attuned to imminent cataclysm, from long years of evolution where a local calamity might wipe out our local tribe, that we can’t see long-term threats. It is well possible that one day, humankind will cease to exist. It will not be due to the actions of a capricious, vain and malevolent deity, but more likely due to a cosmic event that we cannot predict or deter. And more likely than a cataclysm, simply because we have naturally selected ourselves out of our niche environment by destroying that environment.
There’s nothing particularly special about May 21, 2011, to make it a particularly important roll-over date, save for some very specious math derived from a very old book of poetry by some particularly ignorant Bronze-age tribes in the Middle East. When May 22 is here, and none of either Camping or his followers are bodily disappeared from this planet, the question will not be “why do people go on believing these just-so stories”, the question will be “where in his math was he wrong?”
The answer, ultimately, is simple: they went wrong when someone believed the very old book held some deep mathematical formula that could predict the end of the world. If they want the real answer to how the world will end, they should have looked to T S Eliot.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.