Friday, January 01, 2010

The world ends again

Just as I was getting the hang of it

In 1994 I was teaching an evening math class at my college in addition to my usual day schedule. By some divinely inspired coincidence, this put me on the road at just the right time to catch Harold Camping holding forth on the radio with his Open Forum question-and-answer program. Camping's dry-as-dust mode of declamation is probably dangerous to listen to while driving, for fear of falling asleep and causing a traffic accident.

Nevertheless, I faithfully tuned in for several days in a row because of Camping's fascinating topic. He had, you see, figured out the day the world would end. As a clever Bible scholar, he had apparently figured out a way around Matthew 24:36 (“But of that day and hour knoweth no man”) and had computed that Jesus was getting ready to return on September 6, 1994.

Camping was giddy during the September 6 broadcast, knowing, as he did, that he might not even manage to finish the program. The blast of God's last trumpet could preempt him at any moment. But finish it he did. September 6 passed without a redeeming revisit.

Camping refused to be crushed by his experience of rapture interruptus. He did some more mystical math and announced he had found an error in his calculations. The second coming of Christ would actually occur between September 15 and 17.

Again, Jesus was a no-show.

It was only fair, of course, that Harold Camping suffered the fate of all false prophets. In brief, he just kept plugging along in his ministry, still leading his flock of credulous sheep.

It's a tradition! History gives us the example of Charles Taze Russell, who promoted the idea that the end of the world would occur in April 1878. When the great disappointment occurred instead, despite some defections, the Russellites soldiered on. The loony door-knockers known today as the Jehovah's Witnesses are their direct descendants.

They never learn. Their failures merely demonstrate the need for stronger faith.

In token of their invincible ignorance, believers are now being presented with Harold Camping's brand-new prognostication of the end of the world. This time it's going to be May 21, 2011. (Perhaps I should hold off on grading the final exams for the spring 2011 semester, just in case.)

Camping's new prediction was featured in an article by Justin Berton in today's San Francisco Chronicle. It appeared on the front page of the newspaper's C section (“Bay Area”).
Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.

“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that's 1,978 years.”

Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days—the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

Camping realized that (5 × 10 × 17) × (5 × 10 × 17) = 722,500.

Or put into words: (Atonement × Completeness × Heaven), squared.

“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved.

“I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,” Camping said.
And I just about fell of my chair when I read that in the morning paper. Camping thinks this is some kind of proof. It's both amusing and sad.

Berton does a good job in his article in conveying the pseudoscientific environment in which Camping's mumbo jumbo flourishes. Unfortunately, the journalist makes one significant mistake in his reflexive application of the balanced treatment approach to reporting:
Camping is not the only man to see truths in the Bible hidden in the numbers. In the late 1990s, a code-breaking phenomenon took off, led by The Bible Code, written by former Washington Post journalist Michael Drosnin.

Drosnin developed a technique that revealed prophecies within the Bible's text. A handful of biblical scholars have supported Drosnin's theory, lending it an air of legitimacy, and just as many scholars have decried it as farce.
Hold on just a second there, Justin. Did you really mean to equate the detractors of the Bible code with the “handful of biblical scholars” who accept it? It's demonstrably false to say “just as many scholars” denounce it. Very few embrace it. Many disbelieve it. There is no parity. (Only parody.)

Apart from that one faux pas, however, the Chronicle's report on Camping's apocalyptic prediction gives us a clear perspective on religion's ability to erode a man's thinking processes. Until a stupid pill is developed, religion can serve that purpose.

Those of us who are not befuddled by a religion can make plans to get together to celebrate the post-apocalypse on May 22, 2011. See you there!


Mark said...

Some other good ones can be found here:

Looks like the bit on Harold Camping needs to be fleshed out a bit...

Eamon Knight said...

I remember Camping. There was one local guy (an engineer, of course) who was a big booster. Went real silent after Sept 30. Same on soc.religion.christian, which I was reading at the time: lots of "You'd better be ready!" from the Campingites, as if even Christians who didn't believe him would be in trouble. The moderator plaintively expressed the hope that if Jesus didn't return on schedule, these folks would come back and apologize. To my knowledge, none ever did.

Vjatcheslav said...

I wonder why there is no correction for the change to the gregorian kalendar...

Miki Z. said...

He's holding that in reserve, so that when the world doesn't end, he'll be able to explain why: it's the Pope's fault.

An Anonymous Coward said...

Unfortunately, of course, this isn't likely to deter Camping or his followers. The religious always like to believe the end is just around the corner, and never seem to be bothered much in the long term when it doesn't come as scheduled.

Heck, to take an example from my own religious background (before my deconversion), Joseph Smith said in 1835 that the Second Coming would happen within fifty-six years. The church doesn't really talk about that nowadays.


Camping had made 10 date predictions from 1994-1996

1. 1978 - Camping declares to his Alameda Church that the rapture would occur in 1978

2. September 6, 1994 - Camping prediction # 2 - Based on 1994?

3. September 15, 1994 - Camping prediction # 3 - Based on 1994?

4. September 29, 1994 - Camping prediction # 4 - Based on 1994?

5. October 2, 1994 - Camping prediction #5 - Claimed Christ was born Oct 2, in 7AD and would return exactly 2000 years later.

6. March 16, 1995 (Purim) - Camping prediction # 6 - Camping claims this is "Watch # 1" of a new wave of dates.

7. September 24, 1995 - Camping prediction # 7 - Camping claims that there is Biblical evidence of Christ returning "383 days" after September 6, 1994.  Camping also claims that September 24, 1995 is 721 + 91 Ceros(A ceros is little over 18 years - 223 lunar cycles or revolutions. A ceros is the complete revoluation of the sun, moon, stars and planets) - Camping claims that these revolutions can predict the end.  Camping also states that if you divide the 2300 days of Daniel 8 by the number "6" you get 383.  Thus, according to Camping, you can add 383 days to September 6, 1994 and come to September 24, 1995.  September 24, 1995 ends the magic 383 day period. Camping starts to look to astrology to predict the end..

8. December 25, 1995 - Camping prediction # 8 - Camping claims that Christ will return on Christmas and the Bible supports this

9. April 3, 1996 - Passover (Watch # 3)- Camping prediction # 9 - Camping claims that there is Biblical evidence of Christ returning 191 days after September 25, 1995 on the Passover.

10. May 3, 1996 - Camping prediction # 10 - Camping claims that there is a 30 day grace period after April 3, 1996 which Christ can return.

Date setters all believe in the false doctrine of "progressive revelation" after the Bible was completed in violation of Revelation 22:18.

April said...

Good post. I left the following comment for Justin Berton:

The real story is not that Camping thinks he's the god Chronos and that he will be proven wrong once again. The real story is the darker side of his message which has those who lack faith in his prediction enduring a world-wide earthquake on 5/21/2011, followed by 5 months of hell on earth until the world ends on 10/21/2011. "It will happen" he insists, and those who don't believe it will be "left behind". Watch for a spike in the suicide rate as the date approaches a la Jim Jones' People's Temple.

Barry Leiba said...

My question, with all of this, is why the Chronicle, or any other serious news outlet, thinks this silliness is worth giving any ink (or phosphor) to. Justin Berton and the SF Chronicle may, indeed, have treated this as the laughable crap that it is, but why did they choose to cover it at all?

It's the fact that they get coverage that keeps these idiots going. We need to ignore them, simply and totally.

Priyank said...

Jesus Christ hung on the cross on April Fool's day?


Christ hung on the Cross April 3, 33AD in the Julian Calendar that converts to April 1 in our Gregorian calendar.

Camping feels that 722,500 days from the Cross to May 21 means something, because it breaks down to prime numbers

Well, 722,400 breaks down to 43x7x5x5x4x4x3x2....that does not mean now that something special is going to occur here.

You can find all sorts of numbers that break down.

Secondly, Camping's calendar is 100% wrong to begin with. 2011 is not 7,000 years to the flood.

Among the many errors that he makes is that the 430 years of Exodus 12:40 begin with Egypt, while Galatians 3:16-18 shows that it begins with Abraham in Canaan.

That throws Camping's calendars off my 215 years.

Camping also states that the father of Moses is "missing" in the Bible. When the Bible says 4x that Amram is the father of Moses - Exodus 6:20, Numbers 26:59, I Chronicles 6:3, I Chronicles 23:13.

The fact that Amram is the father of Moses is also supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus (who owned the original Temple scriptures after Jerusalem's 70AD destruction), as well as the Book of Jasher.

Just by the lone fact that Amram is the father of Moses, ruins all of Camping's dates.

The Dead Sea Scrolls also also in the writings of Levi, Kohath and Amram, that Camping's chronology is 100% wrong.

In addition, Camping assumes that there are no errors in the current masoretic text, as far as the geneologies of Genesis 5 and Genesis 11.....Josephus who owned the Nehemiah Library mostly agreed with the Septuagint and not the MT text, as far as Gen 5 and 11.

So, what does all this say?

Camping's calendar is based on lots of "assumptions" and his assumptions are no more accurate than the evolutionists...

God does not make us look to "assumptions" by some self-appointed prophet to determine the end....

The end comes in an hour "we think not" - Matthew 24:44

It is outside our human reasoning when "we think" it might happen.

There have been over 200 dates of the end since the First Century, all with a 100% failure rate

The issue is not "May 21" as far as the Campingites. It can be some other date, and his slaves will follow along.

The issue with the Campingites is that they are trying to prove that Family Radio is the special appointed divine organization where God comes down to man. That is how the cults think.

There is no "special divine organization."

Just like with the Millerites in 1844, once May 2011 passes (assuming Christ does not come before this to their snare) Family Radio will break up and splinter into different groups, and many will go into the underground.

They never will be a credible witness again in the eyes of anybody.

They did not learn their lesson in 1994, 1995, 1996.....and 2011 will be their end. Financial support will plummet, and even the most die-hard supporters of Camping will forsake him.


Camping makes this statement in his apostate book 1994? (page 244)

"We may have already come into the final tribulation period, as indicated by the present development of events in the church and in the world.  However, we must not risk trying to be wiser than God.  God has given considerable Biblical evidence that may indicate that the end is near, but conclusions as to the timing of the end of the world are partially based on CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.  NO STATEMENT IN THE BIBLE PLAINLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY TELL OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE FINAL PERIOD."  1994? Page 244

Camping was much wiser when he was younger....he realized that there is "no statement in the Bible" that directly states of the arrival of the final end.

It is based on circumstantial evidence.....not Biblical fact

That is why when you ask Camping where in the Bible does it state that May 2011 is the end, no verse is quoted.

Just projections and math calculations via "progressive revelation"

Camping predicts the timing of the end, the way that financial analysts predict the future of stocks. And as one knows, such predictions can be 100% wrong.

When God told Nineveh that they would be destroyed in 40 days, that was a "direct statement"

No such statement exists on the timing of the last day.

Camping's now states that his date-settings are 100%.

As Camping becomes more senile, his understanding of judgment becomes warped:

"Great men are not always wise: NEITHER DO THE AGED UNDERSTAND JUDGMENT" Job 32:9

Monado said...

I'm going to quote you: "Until a stupid pill is developed, religion can serve that purpose."

Anonymous said...

Mr Camping is very incredible smart person,if this date 5/21/2011 is accepted by God,than is End,rapture and finish 10/21/2011.One thing I do,nt like with statments of Mr Camping,his comment about this day look like God comment,and not believing his date is not believing whole Bible.and not believing that Christ sheeded blood for his children Mr Camping loose one point that he is a human and Bible clerly say that every human is a lier and only God is the truth means without of any error or mistake.but Mr Camping human proud do,nt let him admitt posible mistake even one week,this type of sin can lead Mr Camping to the ground,because Bible is Gods Word and doubt question about Mr Camping 5/21/2011 is not against doubt about truthfulness of Bible or sheeded blood of Jesus Christ.I as past JW DEEPLY BELIEVE IN PATTERN TIME OF BIBLICAL CHJRONOLOGY of Mr Camping and my expectation as child of God that this time is as from the human love to heavenly Father is trutfull and 5/21/2011 will come as Judgement Day,but if human child of God love crated some kind of imperfect human error this day will pass away like other days of our earthly life,but I as child of God do,nt put Mr Camping in the ranks of false prophets or under question his lifetime serving JESUS CHRIST,he is not like JW predictions,because JW PREDICTED MANY times time of the end not on biblical chronology of time,only all foundation of this religion is based on chronology 12 century bishop Usher 7000 existency of earth.Bishop Usher chronology is false not biblical and all foundation of jw ORGANISATION BASED ON this 7000 years chronology is false,year 1914,144 000,1000 years reigning Christ on earth also is not biblical because 1000 years is fullness of 10x10x10 3 times Gods perpose lead us to 1000 years of fullness not literal number.144000 is based as fulness of Christ Ages not literal number product of 1914 and false teachings of Russel and Judge Rutheford who predict a lot false prophecies included building in California residence for Abraham and Prophets those all lies do,nt give any creditibility that JW is true religion. Bible NWT is also false interpretation of hebrew and old kojne greek language.
but Mr Camping teachings match exactly and truthfully whole Bible and I wish for him a lot of blessings by Almighty God,as teacher,Gods servant,and child of God

Zeno said...

I don't believe in God, Anonymous, but I believe in paragraphs. Ever heard of them?