October 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET
The End, again? If it is, we thank you for your time
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - In case you are reading this, might we suggest you read really fast?
The world may end any minute now, if the latest doomsday prediction is on target.
We realize October 21 didn’t get the shout-out that May 21 did, so our apologies if this comes as a surprise. But if you had heard the complete message the first time, you would have known.
“The warning is out,” Dennis Morrell, 44, of Jacksonville, Florida, reminded us a couple of days ago. “There’s nothing else you can do.”
Earlier this year, and with the backing of the Christian broadcasting network Family Radio, billboards touting May 21 as Judgment Day dotted the landscape. RVs plastered with the fateful date crisscrossed the country as believers wearing T-shirt announcements and waving fliers sounded the alarm.
That was to be the day when a select 2% to 3% of the world’s population, predetermined by God, would be raptured up to heaven. Everyone else, the story went, would endure months-long judgment amid chaos, destruction and unspeakable suffering. A massive earthquake would ravage the land, bodies would be tossed about and terror would reign for the duration.
Five months or exactly 153 days later, it was said, the world would disappear – which brings us to today.
This was the schedule laid out by God’s word in the Bible, the faithful said. It was the plan deciphered and shared by Harold Camping, now 90, the founder of Family Radio, based in Oakland, California.
Camping, who has an engineering degree, had spent more than 50 years combing through his Bible and crunching numbers embedded in scripture. Sure, he’d made a similar end-of-the-world prediction for September 6, 1994, but who hasn’t been tripped up by biblical verses? With additional studying, calculations and new signs that would be revealed later, he said earlier this year that he had no doubts this time around.
“I know it’s absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true,” he told CNN before May 21. “If I were not faithful that would mean that I’m a hypocrite.”
Problem is, May 21 came and went, and the world remained the same. Soon the billboards disappeared. The T-shirts and hats worn by believers got tossed. The RVs were quietly parked, tucked away in storage yards, possibly sold.
Camping came forth, two days later, with an explanation - and his last news conference. October 21 would still be the end, he said, but a “loving and merciful” God had opted to spare humanity the five months of turmoil.
A couple of weeks later, Camping had a stroke. He is said to be recuperating at home after a hospital and rehab stay and has only made a handful of radio addresses in the months since. Family Radio declined our requests to interview him.
Fred Store, a 66-year-old retired electrician and longtime Family Radio listener, dedicated seven months of his life to sharing the “awesome news” that was the May 21 message. He led a caravan of believers, five RVs strong, on a tour of the United States for Family Radio. He was in Boston in May when he expected to be raptured up to heaven.
When nothing happened, “We were caught by surprise. ... But we realize now that it’s very possible that we misunderstood some of the things we thought were true,” Store said this week from his home in Sacramento, California, where he has put up a number of caravan friends.
“I believe that October 21 is the end, and I trust in God. Whatever way he chooses to end things will be perfect.”
On the Family Radio website, the May 21 events, or nonevents, have been clarified.
“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. ... For the next five months, except for the elect (the true believers), the whole world is under God’s final judgment,” the statement reads.
As for that massive, body-flinging earthquake anticipated by believers, well, it turned out to be less literal.
“We always look at the word ‘earthquake’ to mean the earth, or ground, is quaking or shaking violently. However, in the Bible the word ‘earth’ can include people as well as ground. ... Therefore we have learned from our experience of last May 21 what actually happened. All of mankind was shaken with fear. Indeed the Earth (or mankind) did quake in a way it had never before been shaken.”
No one was raptured on May 21, but that’s just because “universal judgment” will come on the last day. “The elect” or “true believers” are still guaranteed their day of rapture, and everyone else will be “annihilated together with the whole physical world.”
For Paul Anatiychuk, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina, the way this played out has been a relief, a blessing. A husband and father of two children, ages 8 and 9, he wasn’t sure if his own family members would be saved. The thought of leaving them behind on May 21, to suffer what would come over the next five months, troubled him.
“God tortures them while we’re hanging in the clouds?” he said this week. “It didn’t completely fit.”
Now, Anatiychuk said, he can take solace knowing that when he’s saved, sinners will simply die.
“Of course (the world) has to be destroyed and burned up by fire,” he said. “But it’s going to be very quiet.”
Finding a way to save faith, and face, is part of the process when a prophecy fails, said Lorenzo DiTommaso, an associate professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, who has been studying apocalyptic worldviews for a dozen years.
He said those who become disillusioned aren’t quick to talk, and the rest find a new way to spin what has transpired.
When nothing happened on May 21, Camping was left with a choice, said DiTommaso, whose book, “The Architecture of Apocalypticism,” is scheduled for publication next spring.
Camping could have admitted he was wrong. He could have said the calculations were off and needed further analysis. Or he could have spiritualized the apocalypse, which is exactly what he did, DiTommaso said.
That tack, that way of looking at the apocalypse, has a long history, he said, and dates back to early Christian theologians. Tyconius, in the late fourth century, took this approach, as - more notably - did Augustine in the early fifth century.
Augustine “preferred to understand the millennium predicted in the Revelation of John in spiritual and metaphoric rather than literal terms,” DiTommaso said. He “sought to diminish the emphasis on hard calculations.”
The obvious advantage of this sort of interpretation for a man like Camping, who has prided himself on his numbers, is that he can “divorce himself a little bit from the fact that he was so darn wrong.”
What Camping will say - if anything - come Saturday, assuming there is a Saturday, is anyone’s guess.
But DiTommaso said a new explanation, perhaps a new doomsday date, may be on the horizon. It would be just another in a long line of end-time predictions across the ages.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another attempt” by Camping, he said. “If he were an artist, this is his masterpiece, his life work.”
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
So, I can say home from work today...?
Faith: not wanting to know what is true.
I woke up this morning and realized .There was nothing left .So I am not typing this . Because we are all dead
I was going to reply until I realized that I'm also gone. Damnit!
Jesus said he did not know when that day would be ( the end of the world ), but only our Heavenly Father knows, so how dare someone to proclaim that they know more that Jesus and as much as God, total stiupidity on their part!
A better comment, how came people still believe in the Idea of gods in the first place....
Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
"how dare someone to proclaim that they know more that Jesus and as much as God..." Easy. My dog is smarter than your god. And Jesus is a loser. He's more of a no-show than Lindsay Lohan.
Jesus didn't give the day, but he did give a range of a few decades at most. He said he would return before his generation had passed. That was just under 2000 years ago. So either he wasn't god, he already came back, or god is really awful at predictions (maybe he forgot to carry a 1 or something).
All the signs of the end according to scripture are very obvious in the world today, but we will not know the time until it happens. Stay true and strong in your belief as the below comments show the path is wide for the decieved.
How dare someone purport to speak for god through a book of translated hearsay written by bronze age sheep buggerers, edited and translated by those with agendas
"All the signs of the end according to scripture are very obvious in the world today, but we will not know the time until it happens."
People have been saying this for 2000 years. What makes you think that this time is oh-so suddenly different from any other? That's the thing about prophecies that are as completely ambiguous as those in revelations – one can find signs of them in anything.
"Stay true and strong in your belief as the below comments show the path is wide for the decieved."
Ex: How do you know you are NOT one of the deceived?
I have a personal relationship with God, I am no longer a member of any church or sect as I have walked with and spoken with God. I know his existance and I know his plan, but the day the plan will be complete is not for me or any other to know. True signs have been for two thousands of years, but the return of the Jews to their homeland, the ability to travel all the world and the word being taught in every nation is scripture that can only pertain to the last 100 years.
@Ex – then since you talk to god, has he told you why he supposedly said in the bible that he would be back before his generation ended? Did he misspeak?
Ex: If you have this "true relationship with God", what are you doing here? Is he not waiting for you?
I believe all of us forever are of Christs generation, but that is my simple and obviously unprovable belief, also I dont question the Lord, that is not my place. I stay true and wait his actions. All I can do is be a good man to all I meet, my family and be as honest and good man as possible. I am a sinner like all men and will never live up to Gods expectations but i try. I love God, work hard, and care for all I meet. It may sound siimple and niave to many, but I live happy and hope that I bring happiness to others thru being a good person.
Ex: Next time you and God are sucking down beers, ask him why he doesn't tell everyone at once what he thinks rather than depending on man's writing, editing and translating?
"It may sound siimple and niave to many, but I live happy and hope that I bring happiness to others thru being a good person."
While we're clearly at opposite ends of the belief spectrum, I think we can all aspire to do that.
Ex: I do the same without any concern or expectation of punishment or reward
I dont drink Rick so that will not be possible and I dont question God, Many translations have been changed and manipulated and I agree that an explanation to why things are like this would be amazing, but it is not to be. Or maybe it is, but not yet. I do believe one day we will have those answers and the answers to many other questions. I in my time have asked many things of God and have gotten some amazing answers thru experiences in my life, but that is going to different for all of us. Your journey is not the same as mine, but I wish you peace , love and happiness thru all your journey. I can only say thru prayer if that is something you choose to do, you may get answers that I can not give you.
Why don't you question God? Do you never ask your friends questions that you reasonably expect answers to?
Hello Shadow, I believe I have spoken incorrectly earlier, I do ask questions of God but I dont question how he chooses to answer me. I will be the first to say honestly that sometimes I am very frustrated with aspects of the world or my life, but I have also learned over the years and am still learning that answers are there and for some reason God chooses to have me look long and hard for them. Why, I cant tell you, I can only say that it has many times stregthened by belief and relationship with God wether I got the answer I wanted or not.
Shadow I can give you one example even tho its very personal to me and Im not always so comfortable speaking of such things publicly. 7 years ago my grandfather was in hospital passing away, this man was still very young only 65 and was my best friend in life. I questioned God as to why he would take him away from me, I questioned how it was fair, i questioned him of all the same things we all do when losing someone we love with all our hearts. At his funeral a man I did not know came up to me and said that he wanted to tell me that he in his life and never experienced a relationship with any other male that was as close as he had seen between me and my grandfather. That moment turned into many lunches and dinners and eventually he now celebrates all events in my life as more then a friend, like my brother. He had a life that was not being what a good person should be.. in that moment that he saw me saying bye to my grandfather he saw something and felt something he had never before. He is now a great family man and a pilar of our community and I have to believe God answered my questions about my grandfather by this being a way to get thru to a man that had alot of sadness and contempt for everything. Was this how God answered my prayers? I believe it was, but that is a choice you must make thru your life experiences.
Ex: In that case, peace be to you
CAN ANYONE tell me (us) why the dinosaurs and all the billions of years before where left out of the bible?...
"CAN ANYONE tell me (us) why the dinosaurs and all the billions of years before where left out of the bible?..."
Jeebus skipped archeology class?
why stop at jesus? what about zeus, thor, rah? What makes yahweh jesus and allah any different than the other hundreds of gods man created?
"OUR IS THE ONE TRUE GOD" BS. You have no proof your god is any more real than any of the others.
They're all fairy tales, they're all made up. Its time to put aside bronze age mythology and accept that when you die, most likely it will be just like before you were born – nonexistence
there is no soul, your emotions are an aggregate of complex biochemical reacitions in your brain. There is no "good and evil", morality is a combination of socially constructed norms and evolved social norms which protect the species (not killing each other for instance is something as a species we are predisposed to want to not do, those who enjoy killing others for reasons other than perceived self-defense are a minority).
Stop wasting your life trying to get to a different life. There are so many possible "afterlives" conceived by the hundreds of religions throughout history, the idea that somehow yours is real is just insane.
Forget the argument "it's worth a shot to try to get into heaven" because many other religions would say you are worshipping a false deity and will end up in their hell (for instance the ancient greek religions would have you bound to wander hades for eternity, if islam is correct you will go to hell for not worsihpping allah, if the jews are correct you will go to seoul (or one of the many spellings of it) since there is no hell in the old testament, and you will not go to heaven because jesus is a false prophet.
There is no use in trying to predict which is the correct religion, in all likelihood they are all fairy tales, just enjoy your life because most likely this is it. When you die it's just over, so don't waste so much time praying and waiting for the world to end
Hey.....I thought Jesus was God?
A book says, that someones said, that jesus said is the real way to start that sentence.
griz5106 – Even Christians can't agree on which mythical character is supposed to represent who. That pretty much sums up religion: contradictory bulls**t.
Can anyone tell me what time this is going to start? I need to do a few things before and.... well you know.... no one wants to be late to the judgement, I dont think it would look very good. Any information would be great, thanks.
This is just too funny......and as an engineer I apologize for camping, he must be one of those rare biblical engineers, 99% of real engineers wouldn't buy into this hocus pocus bs. To me, personally, anyone who tells me they think the bible is 100% true and real, down to every last word written, is a complete and total moron, they are totally missing the point of the bible. It's merely a very subjective collection of stories (see how many "books" were "conveniently" left out of the bible because it didn't "fit" the idea that someone already had in their head about God) to illustrate how we should ideally live and interact with each other on a daily basis, that's it, nothing more, so anyone who wastes their time hanging on every word written can only be a fool. As evidenced by people finding the "real" dead sea scrolls, the words of the bible have been miscopied and are full of other errors, so how can that make it "divine"? My idea of anything divine is perfection, and I have yet to see anything divine, with the exception of young children, as humans that's about as close as we will ever get to seeing something that is truly God like....
A lot of fiction in the bebble
Used to be a Jehovahs Witness, and this organization has predicted the end 5 times.. Its funny how I heard the other day they were condeming Harold Camping, as they have said the same thing. They believe Christ returned invisibly in 1914 and that was to be the last generation.. As it is almost 100 years since then, that generation is dead and gone. Of all the sects, the JW's are one of the most dangerous because their mind control techniques are excellent, I could go into details of how strongly commited members become but I could write examples all day. Beware this cult, maybe more then any other. They could easily become the next Jones Town, except with over 6 million people. Camping and his predictions are stupid, but actual believers are few. The Jehovahs Witnesses are large and believe that around 11 men in Brooklyn New York speak the word of God and should be followed without question. That is dangerous and scary. Also as a group their percentage of child molestors that are members known to the organization dwarf the Catholic Church.. Thats scary.
We had neighbors that were JW's. They had a little girl the samer age as my daughter and they longed to play together but the parents would not allow it. Sad. Sadder still is a year after they moved across the street the police hauled the father away for beating is wife near to death. I helped her get a job in the company I work for and she & her daughter were able to move on with their lives and heal. She told me he always ranted how the women were to submit to their husbands in everything, even a beating. Jerk! I was in the broom closet back then, I'm Pagan. I just don't understand how people can follow the words and rules of oppressive individuals.
Your actions for your neighbour were of great kindness. I know many still in the witnesses that are good people and pray they stay true to themselves and not fall into the lies of an organization. I know whe you are in this group its hard to leave, I lost many friends and even family when i left, but i still love them all and always will.
I used to be a Wittness, I'm inactive. I never fully felt that I belonged and now that I read what you had to say I understand why. I'm very easy going but I don't follow blindly. I have always felt God in my life even as a small child. I think I was meant to learn scriptually from them to give me a deeper understanding and relationship with God. Like they were a tool or a step but not where I was supposed to stay. As I studied to be baptized I suddenly lost the desire to be with them, but I didn't listen to my gut feeling that something was wrong. I thought it was just cold feet and it would pass. It didn't. I don't regret my experience with them. I learned alot. I was raised Catholic and I really didn't learn much there. Now I know how to use my bible to look up information I want to know or research it at the library. There's a book called "Embraced by the light" by a woman that died for a short period and went to heaven. She asked about all the religions and was told that they all serve their purpose for someone depending on where they are spiritually and what their needs are. (my wording, I don't remember the exact wording) But to me that makes complete sense. There's good and bad in everything and power and control sadly are always abused some how, especially in the name of religion.
"........we misunderstood some of the things we thought were true"
I guess that about says it all for these kooks.
Kind of sums up the whole religion thing.
"Kind of sums up the whole religion thing."
Ding, we have a winner!
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hahahaha, that is awesome!
the year i graduate, 2012, an the my birthday, december 21, someone told me only i was gonna die, so the worlds fine. lol
This is just some of the most extreme of beliefs out there. But it's not that much more insane than any religious belief.
It's 2:30 PM here on the 21st and everything is fine. What time is this supposed to happen?
Last I heard it was in 1984, after that I stopped listening to these ongoing ridiculous statements.
Is that eastern time or GMT? I ask because it is already October 22nd in some parts of the world LOL
"It's the end of the world as we know it." Harold was actually predicting the unexpected breakup of REM.
Best response yet.
Pat, that was AWESOME! I think I peed myself a little. LOL
"Now, Anatiychuk said, he can take solace knowing that when he’s saved, sinners will simply die."
“Of course (the world) has to be destroyed and burned up by fire,” he said. “But it’s going to be very quiet.”
I cannot think of more ignorant, self-important words. The use of the words "simply" and "quiet" in this context shows total disregard toward your fellow man combined with a naiveté often found in the mentally handicapped.
He is a fervent believer. Of course he is mentally handicapped
Sadly, individuals like that are thoroughly divorced from their fellow man, unless they're (insert X religion here) as well. Divisions like religious belief poison the mind and create illusions of differences and separateness where there otherwise would be none.
What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)
1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.
2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.
3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.
4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.
5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.
6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.
7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.
Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?
I think you numbers are off a bit. Most of the astiroid belt object a stable and pretty far away. It the near earth ones that are the trouble. There is plenty of Hydrogen it not do to run for like 14 trillion years when the atoms are just to far apart to make stars anymore.
I can't wait till yellowstone blows up. I have seen the fallout projections you should head south now.
References needed to support the 14 trillion year outlook?? Note the ? mark on the 100 billion year estimate of hydrogen depletion.
Religious people are the absolute nuttiest! Why the f*&k would ever believe this nonsense! The world is a scary place because of the this misguided belief in god(s)
Ya something's wrong with celebrating the end of the world.
These "end of the world" people seriously need to shut up.
Or at least force the issue by taking themselves out.
That way, they get to heaven
And the rest of us have a heaven on earth without the religious parrots
Lions and tigers and bears , oh my !!!!
Another clear sign of the end times!
That was in Ohio yesterday.
We all know it ends December 12, 2012.
Thats Dec 21st, not the 12th.
I'll probably have a nice party that day. See you on Dec 22, 2012, when we're still on earth.
So God's plan for ending the world is to ruthless torture is children for 153 days and THEN make the world disappear? Geez...God's a pretty sick and twisted fkcu.
Joe, I really don't think you ever have to worry about being with God anyway!
Neither do you Jimmy. There is no sky fairy. You use that explanation because someone told you it was true, and you are too lazy to go figure out a better explanation, and you NEED an explanation. You can't live with "we don't know yet". Too bad.
"Joe, I really don't think you ever have to worry about being with God anyway!"
Who would want to? The way Christians describe this being, you would think it is just another petty punk.
smh @ atheism... I understand that some things of your past never happened after you prayed, you must understand that God works in ways that are hard for anyone to believe & if God is a fairy tale i rather die & thinking i will meet HIM & the SON of MAN & find out he doesnt exist vs. living in non-belief 7 finding out he does it exist.... dont bring others down because your life is cursed... I've seen death in the eyes & GOD showed me the light & a better way to go about it... < no comments needed.. As for today being the end, everyday is the end for someone somewhere, so rapture today or not im prepared... SELLAH
"if God is a fairy tale i rather die & thinking i will meet HIM & the SON of MAN & find out he doesnt exist vs. living in non-belief 7 finding out he does it exist"
Please google pascal's wager.
"dont bring others down because your life is cursed."
It takes an extreme amount of arrogance to make a comment like that.
Also, most atheist that were former believers that I know of didn't drop their beliefs over unanswered prayers.
@ HellBent thank you for your time.. God have mercy on your soul... because your life is a waste of sperm.. bless up.. SELLAH...
His life is a waste of sperm? How frigging godly of you. Get back on your knees, slave
@ RICK... Im not GOD so how could that be godly of me.. Meanwhile Im a Human with the Intellectual Mind Power of knowing Im not perfect.. however i will defend my beliefs in God & his SON Jesus Christ forever & beyond.. Life is what we make it not what others feel is right... And if that mean one is a waste of sperm accidently created to be a failure to life so be it.. im knocking anyone beliefs but im prepared for a full debate on defending my religion which is Christianity... Try Again RICK..
"i will defend my beliefs in God & his SON Jesus Christ forever & beyond"
You're not defending or debating. You're tossing out fallacious arguments (google'd about Pascals' Wager yet)? And then throwing insults to mask the fact that you clearly have no defense or real understanding of what you're talking about. Certainly not godly of you, and definitely not christian of you. It's rather ... sad.
KSMKO.... QUOTES THE RAVEN NEVER MORE... YOU ARENT READY.. THANK GOD FOR LIFE.. & THANKS FOR YOUR REPLY.. IM SURE SOMEONE WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT IS GOING ON & HOW TO DEAL WITH IT.. ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS THEN GOOGLE ME... & WE CAN TALK.. BLESS UP IM OUT
@JAH: Does your book of fables not teach you to judge not lest ye be judged? We, as Atheists, are the most honest...we admit to not knowing whereas you claim to have divine insight...care to provide the proof that has been backed with evidence for your claim? You are a true hypocrite to come on here and say nasty things about people and in the same breath claim to be so pure. Your ignorance of the real world is amazing...science and reason and logic trump your delusions any day.
I think JAH is high on a little more than god's love.