On Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, the Rapture will be upon us. That's according to U.S. Christian broadcaster Harold Camping anyway.
Yes, that's the same Mr. Camping who "predicted" doom on May 21. But, as far as I'm aware, we're still here. So, Oct. 21 is the new Rapture. Right.
Postponing doomsday is not uncommon amongst doomsayers (religious or otherwise), especially when the original day of doom doesn't happen. And for Camping, "Doomsday Deferral" seems to be a fun trick he likes to play. He did, after all, also predict doomsday in 1994.
So, how did the ailing 90-year old explain away May 21?
On May 22, an obviously shocked Camping emerged from his home to say he was "flabbergasted" that the Rapture stood him up. But then, a couple of days later, like all good doomsday prophets, he had an answer: May 21 was just the beginning; the Rapture would take a lot longer; the real Rapture will happen five months later on Oct. 21.
"What really happened this past May 21st?" Camping asks on his Family Radio website. "What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen. That was to warn the whole world that on May 21 God's salvation program would be finished on that day."
Basically, "Applications for Salvation" closed on May 21. You see, even the Office of God has red tape.
After saying something about earthquakes shaking mankind ... and that the Bible refers to "earth ... as people as well as ground," (roughly translated as people, as well as the ground, were shaken) ... somehow there was a lot of shaken people on May 21...?
Regardless, it's unlikely we would have experienced anything because it was "an invisible judgment day." Clever. A subtle Judgment Day.
Unfortunately, though Camping's predictions are clearly based on an overhyped religious belief -- that mainstream Christians think are bunk, by the way -- he has a hardcore group of supporters that have sold their houses to pay for touring the U.S. in RVs, "spreading the word" of one delusional religious leader.
Like 2012, But Different. Kinda.
Since 2008, I have been writing articles debunking various doomsday theories, but my focus has always been on the science failings of all the harbingers of doom surrounding the much publicized "end date" of the Mayan Long Count calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.
If you listen to the idiotic ramblings of a handful of 2012 doomsayers, everything from asteroids, planetary alignments, solar flares, Planet X, polar shifts to flaming sheep (or a combination of any of the above. Apart from the flaming sheep, 'cuz that would be silly) will destroy the world in some weird and wonderful way that surpasses even Roland Emmerich's vivid CGI imagination.
I have bent, pulled and prodded every single doomsday theory, and have yet to find a single thread of proof that we could ever predict one of them happening in 2012. In fact, many of the theories (like a marauding Planet X or spontaneous polar shift) are fundamentally flawed or completely fabricated.
But when taking about religious doomsdays like Camping's ramblings, no scientist can debunk them as they are not based on any physical event. They are based on a belief that some supernatural being will decide to punish us for our "sins."
Camping may have generated a big enough media buzz for me to feel compelled to blog about his silly End of Days nonsense, but most of the world doesn't live in the Dark Ages when prophesy and mysticism ruled, so this whole saga is just a silly sideline. But the impact of this kind of misinformation and religious dogma can cause alarm.
At best, Camping is delusional and enjoys the attention, at worst -- like many doomsayers that have a book to sell -- it's about money and fear.
In advance of the May 21 nonevent, supporters donated money to Camping's nonprofit company to help promote the impending Rapture. Alas, their donations do not have a money-back guarantee in the event of a doomsday dud. "We're not at the end," he said in a New York Times article on May 24, "Why would we return it?"
What a brilliant business plan.