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.
If this causes the pizza delivery dude to be late do I still get the pizza for free? It should be hot tho, right?
herman cain will get you a pizza on time.
I kept thinking his name was Herman too, for some reason. But it is Harold. Our reading skills are lacking today.
Harold Camping is "dabbling" with numerology. I believe he believe's he is correct, although there is not one word of scripture that supports Mr. Camping's "prophecy".
Mr. Camping has already proven himself to be a "false prophet" as stated in Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJV), i.e. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
People should ignore Mr. Camping and there is no reason for the media to give him further attention.
Come the Rapture we'll have the earth to ourselves.
How does this idiot keep getting press. I want to be famous and make money off of other idiots too. I PREDICT THE WORLD WILL END SOON, GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY, DONT WORRY YOU WONT NEED IT, YOU ARE GOING TO HEAVEN. BUT WAIT, WHY WOULD I NEED YOUR MONEY IF I AM GOING TO HEAVEN TOO. OH, CRAP. YOU CAUGHT ME. LOL. MY BAD, NOW GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, BECAUSE THE WORLD IS ENDING. OH, CRAP. YOU GOT ME AGAIN. LOL.....RELIGION ALLOWS THE STRONG TO PREY ON THE WEAK MINDED. SORTA LIKE THE GOVERNMENT. GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, SO WE CAN FEED THE HUNGRY, OLD and SICK. OH CRAP. YOU CAUGHT US, GAVE IT TO THE BANKS, THEY NEEDED IT MORE. NOW GIVE US MORE MONEY SO WE CAN FEED THE HUNGRY, SICK and OLD. WOOPS, CAUGHT US AGAIN. WE USED IT TO CREATE JOBS THAT ARENT REALLY THERE. NOW GIVE US MORE MONEY.....AND IT GOES ON and ON. JUST LIKE THE ENERGIZER BUNNY.
Yes its very irritating, but remember we are trying to help these sick religious people.
Many are now turning away from the horrible church
It's happening! I'm being raptured up!
With my iPod!
Way to go maroons.
I have no idea what you are saying, but your name and yur post made me laugh!
i've got my marshmellows wait'g for the fire & brimstone, my un-tossed salad wait'n for the earthquake, and my boogie board wait'g for the giant tsunami..... bring it on
damn, now i have that rem song stuck in my head.
once again – religion shows its true nature
Religion does not believe in the Earth or trees or animals, they believe in heaven and praising their lord for eternity.
YES they are VERY sick
While I don't believe in false prophets like Camping and others...I still do believe in God. Your choice is yours to make and my choice is mine to make. For those who truely believe in the Word of God, they know that He will come at a time only known unto Him.
On another note, I ask all those who choose not to believe in a deity: Why do you have morals? Why aren't you killing, raping, stealing, and anything else conisdered immoral? What in your heart/soul or whatever you choose to call it compels you to be "good"? If evolution is real, why aren't monkeys talking? Why aren't single-celled organisms evolving and crawling out of the sea like you say they did millions/billions of years ago?
Most scientific explanations dealing with evolution are theories. They cannot be proved because there was no witnesses to what is claimed by evolutionists.
My explanation about my God has actual history written by believers and non believers about the miracles my God has performed. Thousands of people witnessed formally or informally.
Look around and witness the awesome wonders. Why are humans more special than any other creature on this earth? Can any single animal other than humans bring about the extinction of a species...or all of them. No they can't. But humans can. And we have the ability to change course too. No other animal in the history of the world has been able to do what humans can...and never will. Humans are at the top of the food chain for a reason...and its not because of evolution!!!
Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy as well?
Its very sad to note that you 'believe' that ALL the innocent children in the world that don't praise your lord are going to burn in hell for eternity.
Wake up man, there is no god.
i always wonder how you folks decide who the "false prophets" are. does some magazine publish a yearly list?
AMEN!!! Competely agree with you, Brad. Well stated
Brad, read a couple of philosophy, biology, and neuroscience books. And get out more often.
Anyway which of the make believe gods do you believe in?
Are you a Allah worshiper ?
bradley, over the course of history (ok, so my view of mankind goes back further than the 6000 years you believe) most humans decided that living collectively was a better survival mechanism than going rouge (not intended as an palin pun). over the millenia, our brains physically adapted to that way of life. that is why we have morals. by the way, why didn't this god of yours stop hitler before he murdered 6 million innocent people?
I have morals because I believe in honor. I believe in honor because it gives my life meaning. It gives my life meaning because I have arbitrarily deemed that it will be so, and I am content.
I am not the be-all and end-all of existence. Humans aren't special; we are animals, highly evolved, but with no particular reason to treat the rest of the earth like garbage. Awareness of my animal nature brings me humility. Evolution takes place over time (millions/billions of years), if I had a billion-year lifespan then it *would* be happening before my eyes. I do the right thing because it is right, because it keeps society together and because it prevents the world from exploding via careless nuclear holocaust. No religion necessary.
Atheists of my breed are far more noble than theists who have to be motivated by the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell.
And yes, I sleep very well at night.
to kimsland: All innocent children WON'T burn in hell. If you take the time and read the scripture, My God says that we should all be like the innocent children of the world. It states also that whoever accepts one of these children, also accepts Christ. So please get your facts straight about my religion.
To dude: Only an idiot would reference something like the tooth fairy. My God, at least has walked and talked with His people and preached to them the values that are considered our morals today. Believe if you want, don't believe if you want. It really doesn't make a difference to me. The blind will stay blind and the meek will stay meek and the righteous will glorify His name throughout eternity.
We have morals for two reasons – evolution and reasoning. No deity required. No cosmic pre-programming needed. We have an inherent sense that, say, murder is wrong because murder is bad for soceity. Our species could not have evolved into one capable of forming civilized soceities otherwise. Recent studies have shown that religion is evolutionary beneficial. Essentially, before societies were able to establish rigorous systems of laws and justice, religion served the purpose of keeping people in line. Today its more like an appendix – it has some value, but it's not necessary, and sometimes it kills.
BTW – saying that since you don't know why we don't have morals therefore god must have programmed us is about as weak of an argument as the ancients saying that we don't know why the river floods, so god must have done it.
to philojazz: You mean read books that reference that person's belief? So you want to criticize me for believing what I want, and could very well be the truth, which has thousands of years of history?!?! But you want to believe in books written by the beliefs of those people?!?! So what about this makes sense in your world. Criticize me for my beliefs, but you can say what you want cause someone wrote a book and its true...Lmao!!!
I DON'T accept this idiocy christ spirit.
My kids DON'T either
No one in their right mind would.
Grow up and take responsibility for your own life (and sins!)
By the way we are not going to hell either (as per your obvious next ludicrous comment)
You misunderstand the concept of a scientific theory.
A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. Unfortunately, even some scientists often use the term "theory" in a more colloquial sense, when they really mean to say "hypothesis."
In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.
The theory of evolution (which contains 5 laws, by the way) has been independently verified by multiple branches of science.
Clinging to creationism in the modern world is as ridiculous as believing in geocentrism.
at kimsland: actually billions of people in this world believe in something or someone. You are in the minority when you don't believe in anything. And no...i'm not gonna say you are going to hell because I'm only a man and I cannot pass judgement. I'm saying: whether you choose to believe or not...its your right as a human and as an American (if you are from America), but its also my right to believe on what I think to be true. No one knows until that day comes whether they were right or wrong. But its also my duty as a Christian to preach the Word of God. If you choose to dive in deeper and study my theology, go right ahead. I welcome you. I'm not throwing insults your way and I and billions of others around the world would appreciate it if you didn't throw them our way. Do what you want with your life.
"Most scientific explanations dealing with evolution are theories."
You do realize that gravity is also a theory, correct?
I'm not throwing insults your way and I and billions of others around the world would appreciate it if you didn't throw them our way.
Brad, you come in here and attempt to criticize science and then when people point out the obvious flaws in your arguments you get upset? Dude, don't dish it out if you can't take it.
hellbent: gravity is a law! And it didn't evolve!
Do you remember before you were born, Brad?
The idea that man is the predilect object of creation is a comforting one, isn't it?
That an anthropocentric God fashioned the universe just to have us in it has been a basic precept of most religions because it can seem disheartening to accept our ultimate insignificance.
Alas, it simply isn't so.
The answer to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything has yet to be found.
Why must your life have some kind of cosmic significance for it to be a fulfilling one to you personally?
Again, you have misused scientific terminology.
Theories do NOT graduate into laws.
Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.
Newton could use the law of gravity to predict the behavior of a dropped object, but he couldn't explain why it happened.
There are 5 laws in the theory of evolution.
1) Evolution as such.
This is the understanding that the world is not constant, nor recently created, nor cycling, but is changing; and that the types of enti.ties that live on it also change.
2) Common descent
This is the understanding that every group of living enti.ties that we know of on this planet descended from a common ancestor.
3) Multiplication of species
This is the understanding that species either split into or bud off other species, often through the geographical isolation of a founder species.
This is the understanding that changes take place through the gradual change of population rather than the sudden production of new individuals.
5) Natural selection
This is the understanding that individuals in every generation are different from one another, or, at least some of them are. In every generation some individuals survive and reproduce better than others. Their genes multiply.
Brad: I suggest you should treat your religion as you would your manhood. Be proud about it if you want but please don't pull it out in public.
Just based on what any moronic person would believe when it comes to this cr@p, I wonder why humans are at the top of the food chain...
Every generation has thought they were the last, even as far back as the 15 and 16 hundreds people were predicting the end of the world. As a generation reaches their mortality they selfishly want the world to end with them. Sorry. You're all going to die and the world is going to keep going. No matter what your imaginary friend in the sky "told" you.
Actually in a few billion years the world could collapse
But hopefully if science is able to continue and not be hindered by religion we may be able to populate another planet by then.
Christians can only damage the future of humankind, and therefor religion should be abolished as soon as possible.
Hmmm....ut oh I feel a rumble! Oh wait......no thats just my stomach, sorry everybody LOL.
This is akin to yelling fire in a theater.
There should be legal consequences for this liar.
I look forward to this lying thiefs impending death.
Luckily, most of us wont be going with him.
With every false prediction, it hastens the demise of the Christ Cult.
Keep predicting, please!
Why do Christians want the world to end? Because they are miserable people who have wasted their lives following the delusions of a 3000 year old desert dwelling people. They want to end their ignorant existence and the existence of anyone who has had a more fulfilling life than they have had.
Well Christians, there is a solution, it is called suicide.
Christians are not for this life and therefore should not be in politics or be judges etc.
They can't wait to die.
If you want to live a full and happy life don't be religious.
to DUDE and KIMLAND: you talk of ignorance in Christianity. But the ignorance is that you have no clue what you say when you say it. If you think Camping or the people from Westboro Church in Kansas represents the majority of Christians, well you are very well mistaken. The true Christian theology is one of compassion, love, mercy, and unselfishness. Most Christians represent this ideal exceptionally well, but it takes one or two who want to take our beliefs and twist them into something its really not. Before passing judgement on all Christians, why don't you study the Christians in your community and get to know them a little better. You might just find a friend waiting for you. And you'll find we like to live life to the fullest as well.
I was a Christian, and a Young Life group leader for 4 years.
Then I got educated. Sadly I was only able to save the lives of 4 of the kids I helped lead down the road to the Christ Cult, but I will continue to try and help others from living a lie.
Why do you think anyone "wants" the world to end ? And if you are a non-beleiver, why do you seem to be so upset by what others beleive ? I think you should do yourself, and the rest of us, a favor – turn off your computer, get up, and go DO something, something worthwhile. That's what I'm going to do, instead of trying to talk sense to someone like you.
Well dude any real christian knows that you can't predict the day of the end. The doomsday people are crazy fools. You think all christians are fools and that's your right. I believe in God and if I die tomorrow and there is nothing after death well then there is nothing. If you die tomorrow and there is a God how are you going to explain your behavior against him? To not believe fine, but to actually say things against him is a different matter. I'd rather be in my situation. I don't believe there is a God or Creator just for religious reasons. Everywhere I look in nature I see complicated wonderful things (even a blade of grass) that couldn't have happened just by chance. And I don't know any normal christians who are in a hurry to die. ; )
Itngrl, "If you die tomorrow and there is a God how are you going to explain your behavior against him?"
- What if the real "God" is Allah?... or Ra, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any one of the tens of thousands of gods that people have dreamed up over the centuries? How are you going to explain your behavior against them?
"And I don't know any normal christians who are in a hurry to die."
- Why not? That's where all the good stuff is, according to you all.
What a pathetic morons are those that believe in this idiot. Probably tomorrow he will come up with an explanation that he made "a tiny" mistake in calculations and that the end of the world will come at 21st May 2012.
As a Christian, I find Campings predictions a little unsettling. However, what is more disturbing is the view of all the non-Christians on this site. You are not alone in dismissing one mans absurdities. However, years ago the most knowledgeable men believed the earth to be flat. Should we have dismissed science for this fact being overturned? Non-Christians should start with a healthy dose of education. A good start is 'The Case for Christ'. A great investigation written by an atheist. God Bless America!
Ha Ha Ha Ha
"However, years ago the most knowledgeable men believed the earth to be flat. Should we have dismissed science for this fact being overturned?"
Huh? Science, by definition, is subject to change. Most religious beliefs are not. I think you'll find that most atheist dismiss not only your religion, but every other one, for more reasons that the fact that scriptures tend to be bad at predi.ctions.
Funny in a sad pathetic way, yes.
wait a minute. back then, most "science" had to be approved by the vatican(stated by the current pope to be the ONLY true faith). and scientists who dared to oppose their views didn't always fare too well. the church was the foremost proponent of a flat world. today xtians are the ones who oppose scientific facts as a matter of policy. so using the flat world argument in the way you did doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
IIt was Christians that challenged the theory that the world was round! Just like they challenged the theory that the earth revolved around the sun! They lock Galileo away for the rest of his life even after he had conclusive evidence. Yeah, Christians are awesome. Let's be open minded just like them!
You write "However, years ago the most knowledgeable men believed the earth to be flat. Should we have dismissed science for this fact being overturned? Non-Christians should start with a healthy dose of education." I agree, science books and philosophy books form a great part of my library.
Actually it wsan't the brightest minds that though the Earth was flat, it was just the dim collective mind of the human race (which as a whole always lags a few steps behind thanks to intellectual inertia), some of the greatest thinkers of ancient Greece knew, and mathematically showed, that the earth was round, hundreds of years before a cgurch that would deny it and claim the earth was flat even existed.
"Should we have dismissed science for this fact being overturned?"
Of course not, since it was the scientific method (in practice if not formally) that allowed the shape of the world to be determined in the first place. The notion that the Earth is flat didn't arise from science. It was simply common belief. And even if it was, the whole point of science is that it's self-correcting. Everything is provisional, and any conclusion can change given sufficient evidence. That's not a weakness or a reason to dismiss science. In fact, it's science's greatest strength, and what differentiates it from religion's inflexible, "I continue to have faith despite evidence to the contrary" dogma.
It was science itself that allowed us to determine that the world is spherical, unlike the Bible, which points out that there are four corners in the world and pi is equal to 3.
Can we please trade Florida for Puerto Rico? Or just drop it altogether. 49 states doesn't sound too bad. If the answer is no, can we at least build a school down there? Please?!?
these folks seem to be wishing for an end to their own lives. i guess they are miserable for some reason that they keep locked inside. and misery loves company.
For a better understanding when the world will end we invite you to read the article ‘When Will the World End?’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
Also, to give people a better understanding of the issues that divide this world we have recently added the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’ to our listing of articles.
All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).
Trolling for cult victims again?
You are a parasite.
The Bible was written by a bunch of white men used as a tool for...well, tools.
Why does the media continue to give this old fool another "15 minutes?" It's generally considered bad form to mock people who haven't got all their oars in the water.
Oh, I think Camping is fully in his right mind. He's a genius. A morally bankrupt genius – but he's made millions off of this con.
i'll be sitting here in my cubicle waiting.