So Camping just “misunderstood” the kind of Judgement?

May 24, 2011

He’s still attempting to still cash in on his latest apocalypse fumble.

Justifying all previously failed doomsday predictions, Harold Camping has said that God did come in 1994 and that He has come this time too for the final ‘judgement’.

“May 21 is the spiritual coming, but we thought it was physical coming. But He HAS come, he now has the world under judgment,” Camping said as he addressed media for the first time after his doomsday theory failed.

He’s still spouting talk that the end day for the world is October 21st and will really, truly, be the final day for everyone.

Well, at least it means we’ll still get to see the second half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but won’t have to see the damned sparkling vampires in Breaking Dawn. The films open on July 16th and November 18th, respectively.


Are prophecies more likely to appeal to gamblers?

May 17, 2011

I don’t have any stats to back that up but it’d be interesting to investigate, wouldn’t it? Maybe someone qualified will consider tracking that after May 21st. If researchers go back into the lives of people fleeced (and possibly bankrupted) by Harold Camping’s latest idiocy, I wonder how many of them would have a history of monetary risk taking, or risk taking in general.

I found an article at the Vancouver Sun noting work done in the 1950s by a psychologist named Leon Festinger, who had an opportunity to study a different end times cult. I can’t recall if his name ever came up in my university Psych classes but I was also in the habit of ditching them for coffee with a friend instead so who knows. Anyway, he and his team determined that cognitive dissonance had a big part to play in a person’s ability to buy into beliefs anyone else might scoff at. Why? Because when those beliefs fail to deliver the expected results, hard-core followers don’t usually conclude that they’ve been betrayed. They’ll find a way to rationalize it, turn it around, and stay positive. Again, and again, and again. It’s not even limited to prophecies. People rethink and reanalyze this way on a daily basis to justify any number of bad/sudden decisions.

Which is why I thought about problem gamblers who expect their luck to turn “any minute now” rather than conclude the game is rigged for failure and quit playing. Maybe playing this prophecy game is evidence of impulse control issues, too. Studies done with rats have found links between good decision making and serotonin levels, comparable to what humans experience in gambling situations.

Believing we stand at the end of the world is a hell of a gamble and it’s not going to pay off for anyone.

When Judgment Day is not in May, will the Camping trip be over?

March 13, 2011

I missed this story when it came out but journalists from CNN joined a group of people on their way to a festival in Florida. They left every possession behind, and their families, to caravan around the States until the end of the world. They believe Judgment Day is coming and, thanks to their favourite Christian radio show, they gladly joined Family Radio’s Project Caravan and are spreading the word.

Starting with one station in Oakland, California, in 1959, Camping’s Family Radio now boasts 66 stations across the United States. Thanks to strategically placed satellites, shortwave radio and the internet, the message has gone global in 61 languages.

“We pretty much blanket the whole world,” says Camping, 89.

This degreed engineer, who calls the Bible his “university,” believes the church age ended and the “Great Tribulation” (the years leading up to the end, he says) began on May 21, 1988, when Satan entered the pews. Truth, he says, can be found only in the Bible and not through the mouths of clergy.

He has dissected scripture and crunched his biblical numbers to come up with the fateful dates. He rattles off mathematical explanations of how he did this work, throwing out Bible verses and calculations that leave an outsider’s head spinning.

But Camping also happens to be the man who once said September 6, 1994, would be the big day.

I thought that name sounded familiar. I’ve written about Harold Camping and his lame prediction and bad math before.

MSNBC interviewed 32 year old Army veteran Marie Exley about why she’s doing this:

“A lot of people might think, ‘The end’s coming, let’s go party,'” said Exley, a veteran of two deployments in Iraq. “But we’re commanded by God to warn people. I wish I could just be like everybody else, but it’s so much better to know that when the end comes, you’ll be safe.”

No, Ma’am, I think you’re commanded by an aged kook who should have been put to pasture rather than passed a microphone. Her military training has come in handy for this, though; she was instrumental in sorting out the “logistics challenge” of telling people where and when to drive their RVs.

Back to CNN and Camping, explaining his botched first attempt to predict this event:

He explains now that he originally thought 2011 was the year, but a few verses tripped him up and he concluded that the Great Tribulation might get cut short. There was still scripture he was grappling with, end-time signs that were to come — he points to the gay pride movement as one of them — and truths that had yet to be revealed, “but because of the urgency of time I had to get it out quickly,” he says of his previous warning.

This time around, he has no doubts.

And, it seems, neither does anyone else who faithfully follows his ministry and its broadcasts.

Arianna Ramrajie, of Ocala, Florida was interviewed at the festival and shared this warning:

On May 21, the sun will “turn red like blood,” the Earth will open up, bodies will be strewn about and “some people will die for eternity,” she says.

“It scares me a little bit because some people are going to die, and I think I’m one of them,” she adds. “I’m trying to do good things, but I’m afraid I’m doing something bad.”

According to the article, she’s seven years old.

being good all the time cannot be easy. Her father stands next to her, nodding his approval.

Imagine the nightmares this kid must be having, the ridiculous level of fear she’s living under, even if she can forget for a little while and enjoy a parade. When the show’s over, Dad will have her handing out tracts again, warning people of the end times.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m appalled at that. What are these people going to do on May 21st when everything they think is going to happen doesn’t?

It alarms me how people crave the end of the world

December 17, 2010

There’s a group in the States that threw money at billboard companies in Omaha, Nashville and Detroit to advertise the Second Coming.

The Christmas-themed ads featuring images of the three magi and the star of Bethlehem tell people that “He is coming again.”

Allison Warden, whose family runs the website, points to 1Thessalonians 5:4, where it states “but ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” to justify their campaign.

Warden and her family are followers of Harold Camping, known for his controversial teachings on his station Family Radio Worldwide, which sponsored the billboards in Nashville.

Camping, who teaches people to leave their churches ahead of the end date, says that he arrived at the May 21, 2011, by using a mathematical calculation showing that day to be exactly 7,000 years since Noah’s flood.

And according to him, the world itself will end in October of that year. I’ve added the link to that website but I don’t know why anyone would want to go over there. More from the article:

Trying to predict the end of the world is not just unbiblical, according to Slater, but unChristian. He noted that in trying to live by knowledge, the group’s teaching looks more like agnosticism than Christianity.

I’ll argue it’s the opposite of agnosticism because Camping clearly believes in a god, something agnostics waffle on. I bold that other bit because it’s troublesome. Why? Dr. Thomas B. Slater, a professor of the New Testament, is about to blithely demonstrate why:

“I think the people are sincere but they also are making a grave mistake,” he said. “They are attempting to replace living by faith with living by knowledge. But knowledge of when the world ends cannot replace the power of living by faith.”

Slater considers the billboards to be misguided. I agree they’re misguided, but I think the real problem here has to do with how math and knowledge in general is being manipulated and mutilated to make Camping’s predictions add up.

Choosing to live by knowledge is a grand goal, one more people should strive toward, regardless of what faith they want to live under at the same time. Electing to live by a mockery of knowledge is not a grand goal. It’s a colossal mistake and an enormous waste of time and energy and Camping’s ludicrous prediction is going to ruin lives. He’s been wrong before and he’s going to be wrong again. Fat lot of good that’ll do his believers this time around, too.

Slater makes some good points, though.

“Jesus has told his disciples that they should not be concerned with the end of the world but they should be worried about making the world a better place. These people are doing the exact opposite.”

Slater referred to Matthew 25 where Jesus says that the righteous are those who feed the hungry, look after the sick, and visit those in prison.

“At every opportunity Christians should help other people,” said the New Testament scholar. “We should not just stop at being saved. We should continuously help people through life because we move toward sanctification. It doesn’t mean we ever get there but we are always striving to get there.”

If May 21 comes and goes, added Slater, the billboards are going to turn more people off Christianity if they haven’t so already.

Another problem I see here is how easy it is to warp the message of Christianity, assuming Slater is correct in his statement of what it’s supposed to be and what Christians are supposed to be doing to earn that righteous afterlife. If only the bible designers hadn’t thrown so many conflicting stories into it. Were four gospels absolutely necessary? Why didn’t they just draw lots and pick one? Did Paul, and the rest of them for that matter, correctly interpret things or did he misinterpret and tweak bits of history and folklore to justify his own actions and ideals? And then try to factor in everything done and said and taught in regards to that book by everyone since… yikes. No wonder there were so many schisms. No wonder they keep happening, too.