Monday, 31 October 2011

I was wrong about the Rapture, says Harold Camping

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Harold Camping
Predicting the end of the world should be a fairly unambiguous enterprise. If you forecast Doom for a given date, the question of whether or not it has happened is not really open to interpretation – if you wake up the morning after and there aren't crows stripping the flesh from the corpses of those left behind (I don't know why you'd be just waking up and looking out of the window in this situation, but let's just run with it), then the world hasn't ended and you need to hold up your hands and admit that you got it wrong.

With that in mind, it shouldn't really surprise you to hear that the California-based preacher Harold Camping has apologised for wrongly predicting the Rapture for 21 October, except that in his case we are talking about someone who has form in the field of failed Apocalyptic calculation. Camping famously predicted the End for 21 May this year, only to move the goalposts when life on Earth persisted on the 22nd, and previously made a failed forecast for 6 September 1994.

This time, however, it seems that Camping, who suffered a stroke in June of this year, will not be offering up another date, having admitted, albeit in a rather incomprehensible and roundabout way, that he got things wrong. In an audio message on 28 October, he told followers of his Family Radio ministry that his prediction had been inaccurate, and said that the continuation of life on Earth after 21 October had unfolded according to God's plan:
"Why didn't Christ return on Oct. 21? It seems embarrassing for Family Radio. But God was in charge of everything. We came to that conclusion after quite careful study of the Bible. He allowed everything to happen the way it did without correction. He could have stopped everything if He had wanted to.

I am very encouraged by letters that I have received and [am] receiving at this time concerning this matter. Amongst other things I have been checking my notes more carefully than ever. And I do find that there is other language in the Bible that we still have to look at very carefully and will impinge upon this question very definitely. And we should be very patient about this matter. At least in a minimal way we are learning to walk more and more humble before God."
So it seems unlikely that we will be receiving any more Armageddon predictions from Camping, who also apologised for saying that those who didn't believe in the 21 May date would not be saved. But fans of the Apocalypse need not despair – there is no shortage of people willing to forecast our collective demise, and with the link between 2012 and the Mayan calendar, next year ought to be a bumper one for predictions of The End.
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