RAPTURE or RUPTURE? DOOMSDAY DEFERRED
“I made a
decision to make the Bible my university.” (Harold Camping, President
of the Family Radio Network)
“Each of us
views the world through cognitive ‘goggles’ — lenses constructed
from the theories and hypotheses in our journey through life.” (Bob
John H Williams
(Investigator 139, 2011 July)
21/5/2011 brought no rapturous joy to fundamentalists when the prophecy
by ‘The Datesetter’, 89 year old retired civil engineer Harold Camping,
of “the most important day by a billion times more than the world has
ever known” went through to the keeper.
The stress of
this non-event affected Camping’s health and he’s been hospitalized
with a stroke, so his working life may be over.
At 6pm, rolling
westwards with the Earth’s time zones, 207 million “faithful” (3% of
the world’s population) were to be swept up, while the “faithless”
would later be swept away. It’s not been explained why only 207 million
would be “knockin’ on heaven’s door”, and why 6.6 billion, including
children, were to be consigned to oblivion, pulverised by earthquakes
and other calamities until October 21st. Camping kindly invented a
neologism for it, annihilationism.
“flabbergasted” on 22/5. Then on 23/5 he offered the “Plan B” he’d
insisted he didn’t have, in favour of October 21st, 2011, when the
“physical rapture” is to occur, coincident with a vast rupture causing
an Earthly and a universal Long Goodbye.
“spiritual judgment” happened in a sky location on May 21st, an
exculpatory device borrowed from the prophecies of American Baptist
preacher, William Miller. Some 100,000 Millerites awaited The End,
which was to have happened between May 21st 1843 and March 21st 1844.
Then, when the new date of October 21st, 1844 passed, splits occurred,
out of which three groups formed:
The Advent Christian Movement (Christ would come again in 1849),
What became Jehovah’s Witnesses, and
What became the Seventh Day Adventists.
The SDAs argued
that Miller’s original date was correct but referred to Christ’s
activities in heaven. (Source: Dr Bob Potter’s summary of his D.Phil.
on fundamentalism in the Solidarity Journal, 1985)
campaign was well financed from donations of around US $100 million,
with many giving all they had since they believed it wouldn’t be
needed. So, would his company return the money? “We’re not at the end,
so why would we return it?” So good to see a compassionate Christian in
In 1992 Camping
predicted ‘Finis’ for September 6th 1994 in a book, 1994?
He hedged his bets, citing September 15th (Jewish Day of Atonement),
September 25th (Jewish Feast of Tabernacles), October 4th (Jesus’ birth
date, according to Camping), December 25th, February 25th 1995 (Jewish
feast of Purim), May 3rd (“four watches”—see Mark 13:35), then
full circle to September 6th 1994, the right date after all! This
turned out to be just “the beginning of the Great Tribulation”, not
Judgment Day! New dates were required, and eventually they became May
21st and October 21st 2011.
fantasy, given with a “biblical guarantee” as the “Word of God in its
entirety”, and “absolutely trustworthy”: for many literalists,
hard to resist. However, Camping’s key to its correct interpretation
(a) “the Bible as a whole” and
(b) “its spiritual meaning”.
To explain his success in conning a large number of people, it’s said
that when he talks he is compellingly believable, while his biblical
knowledge is second to none. A 2008 PEW survey showed that 41% of
Americans believe that Jesus will return before 2050, so any prophecy
will raise the expectations of millions, and prophesying doomsday will
As the bases
for his predictions, Camping analysed biblical, King James Version
(KJV), data, plus his version of the ancient Hebrew calendar’s feast
days, and used a crucifixion date of Friday April 1st AD33. Many
biblical scholars believe that it happened in 29AD or 30AD, so the
rapture, according to Camping’s numbers, should have already happened.
His book Adam When? dated Creation to 11,013 BC and the Flood
to 4,990 BC, based on a bizarre analysis of the Old Testament’s
“begats”, leading to a “reference patriarch” idea in which “the next
ruler could be a distant grand-son who was born in the same year as the
are notoriously impervious to common-sense notions about what’s real,
like the practicalities of teleporting to a mythical sky residence, and
they have profound ignorance of much not found in the KJV. For example,
who’d look after their pets, since heaven is believed to have a No Pets
policy? For US$135, Eternal Earthbound Pets of New Hampshire will
re-home your gerbil, golden retriever or goldfish. The fee covers your
pet for ten calamity-free years.
with fundamentalist beliefs is that they’re based on a literal
interpretation of the Bible, leading to an intolerant yearning for a
good cathartic clean-up of people like me. Fundamentalists use lots of
words which don’t represent anything that exists or existed, in my
opinion. These nihilonyms are: heaven, hell, the devil, God,
soul/spirit, sin, eternal life, creation, creator/designer, rapture,
lake of fire, apocalypse, holy ghost, salvation, Armageddon, virgin
birth, resurrection, Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, Noah and the
If only those
who were taken in about being taken up could have somehow developed a
modicum of skepticism. Some will go through it all again on October
Bob. Exploration of Fundamentalism, Investigator #40, January
Kayla Apocalypse Weekend: Harold Camping Says the World Ends
Saturday. He’s Said It Before. Time Magazine 20/5/2011