From Abracadabra to Zombies
Why the world didn't end yesterday
22 May 2011. A retired engineer, Harold Camping, who said it is absolutely certain from his deciphering of the Bible that the Rapture would happen yesterday at 6 p.m. (local time everywhere on the planet), hasn't come out of seclusion yet. Perhaps he was the only one taken up to heaven to spend eternity ... doing what exactly? Praying and worshipping his creator? Sounds lovely. We now know Camping's wife has told his an associate that Camping is "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that events did not unfold as he had predicted, but he won't be making any public statements today or tomorrow.* [See below for the lame rationalization he came up with.] I'd say this fellow has been bewildered and mystified his whole life. He's probably redoing his numerological calculations so he can explain to us that he was actually right even though he was wrong. Maybe he should have squared this prime or cubed some radical before inserting his pencil into his ear to clear out the dust..
Anyway, the world was supposed to begin its final act yesterday with some 200,000,000 earthlings boarding the express elevator to heaven. The billions of us left behind would suffer earthquake upon earthquake, volcanic eruption upon volcanic eruption, tsunami upon tsunami, cascading across the oceans and continents for several months until the final final on 21 October 2011. Those left behind would get to go to hell, there to burn and suffer indescribable torments for eternity. Why? Apparently, because we didn't follow the Ten Commandments well enough or we angered Jehovah with our pride.
Jesus may have appeared yesterday as predicted, but if he did so he chose his usual manifestations in burnt pizza pans, urinal stains, and tree trunks. Outside of a volcanic eruption in Iceland, a landslide in Malaysia that buried alive 5 children and one adult, and a few other tragedies, it was a pretty quiet day on planet Earth.
Judgment Day has come and gone and the judge didn't show up. You'd think this would bring joy to those who live in fear and trembling that Jesus won't choose them to be on his eternal team. But no, some are disappointed, not because they followed another false prophet, but because they don't like life on earth.
Keith Bauer, a tractor-trailer driver in Maryland, drove his family 3,000 miles to Camping's headquarters (Family Radio International) in Oakland, California, for the Rapture. "I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth," said Bauer. Lucky for Bauer, Camping's building is sandwiched between an auto shop and a palm reader. He can get his car fixed up for the return trip home. On the other hand, if he gave up his home and is homeless, he can ask the palm reader what he should do next. Apparently Bauer and many others need somebody else to tell them what they should do with their lives.
Maybe we shouldn't put too much blame on Camping. He may have been misled by forces beyond his control that deluded him into thinking he could do what can't be done: use a religious book instead of scientific information and knowledge to predict the future. Maybe the palm reader sent telepathic messages to Camping and caused him to misread his Bible. Or maybe he was a victim of psychic drift from the nearby Berkeley Psychic Institute or the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
Some considered the failure of the prophecy to be a test of their faith. Others, no doubt, will respond as Marian Keech (real name: Dorothy Martin) did when the world didn't end by a massive flood on December 21, 1954, as she had predicted. She told her small band of followers that the world was spared because of their profound faith.
A Zambian apocalypse enthusiast, Sahejna Jadoo, said she felt Camping's prediction was a publicity stunt . She's not banking on the world ending in "2012" either. "I'm disappointed, there's no mystery left after this," she said. Really? What a pity to be so shortsighted. How can anyone live in this world and not be overwhelmed by mysteries? Only someone completely ignorant or indifferent to chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy, cancer research, and a million other things would find life not mysterious unless the end of the world were near.
Some of Camping's followers sold their wordily possessions and spent the proceeds on advertising the end of the world. Did they think the would earn extra credit for spreading the word of the failed prophet? Robert Fitzpatrick of Staten Island was one such fellow. His response to failure of the Rapture to happen: "Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here." Obviously. But he may be missing the point. He and many others will probably see the problem as Camping did the last time he predicted the end and it didn't happen: miscalculation when interpreting the secret code of the Bible.
That seems to be the response of Camping's PR aide Tom Evans who said "we're pretty disappointed, but the word of God is still true. We obviously went too far, and that's something we need to learn from." Right. Learn from your mistakes. Somehow, I don't think that's possible with these folks.
For the record: in 2009,Camping's outfit "reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities." Apparently, Camping will now have to start over; he reportedly spent over $100,000,000 advertising his math error.
Many Christians and non-believers are mocking Camping and his followers, but the Christians might want to examine some of their own beliefs before they fall off their chairs. The non-believers, if they know their science, know that there will indeed be an end to this planet some day and it will not be pretty.
The sun will slowly expand into a red giant, pushing the Earth farther out into space, but not far enough. Our home planet will be snagged by the sun's outer atmosphere, gradually plunging to its doom inside the fiery stellar furnace.
Don't worry, though, by the time the planet is vaporized, there won't be any humans left to enjoy the fireworks. Our species and all other species will have been long extinct by the time the Sun swallows up the Earth in 7.6 billion years or so. In about one billion years from now, the Sun will have dried up our oceans and the planet will be an uninhabitable cinder. That should cheer up even the most depressed of doomsday thinkers.
From LiveScience: End Times Math: The Equation That Predicts May 21 Judgment Day
Here's the gist of Camping's calculation: He believes Christ was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D., exactly 722,500 days before May 21, 2011. That number, 722,500, is the square of 5 x 10 x 17. In Camping's numerological system, 5 represents atonement, 10 means completeness, and seventeen means heaven. "Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story. It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved."
What kind of person puts his faith in numerology?
update: 24 May 2011. Here's the rationalization Camping provided for why the world didn't end as predicted: the world did end, Judgment Day did happen, it was spiritual not physical. Why waste any more time on this moron?
* AmeriCares *