Time is running out!Harold Camping, a presumed Bible scholar who runs a network of Christian radio stations, claims he knows when the Second Coming of Christ will take place: May 21, 2011. He and his ministry are so confident in that prediction that they’ve taken out bench advertisements around the country to warn people of it. Lauri Lebo at Religion Dispatches has the story (WebCite cached article):

A friend snapped this photo on the way to work in Colorado Springs:

Date of rapture announcement (2011-05-21)

Apparently, these pictures have been popping up around the country, with sightings from Erie to Waco to the Bay Area.

Lebo points out that Camping’s past predictions have not panned out too well:

This is not the first time Camping has predicted Judgment Day:

On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping’s believers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.

But the world did not end. Camping allowed that he may have made a mathematical error.

Camping’s ministry’s Web site also proudly announces the May 2011 date (cached), and he appears to want to beat the New Agers and their “Mayan prophecy 2012 doomsday” at their own game:

We are living at a time when mankind seems to sense that the end of all things is very near. Just about everyone has a theory as to how the world is threatened and when that end might come. The media and the Internet are full of doomsday speculations concerning the New Age “Mayan Calendar” and the year 2012.

The crap about the Mayans predicting the end of the universe in December of 2012 is complete bullshit, as I’ve already blogged. The Mayans themselves couldn’t even predict the coming collapse of their own civilization, which happened around 900 CE, so one can hardly expect them to have been any more accurate about the end of the universe.

Camping and his followers claim he’s some sort of Biblical scholar, however, he — and they — appear not to have read this important verse, concerning the coming of the Son of Man:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36)

Thus, the Second Coming cannot be predicted. Anyone who says s/he knows “the day” or “the hour” it will happen, can only be lying, because only “the Father” knows when it is. Jesus admits even he does not know when it will be! It also means the name of Camping’s Web site — “We Can Know” — runs contrary to scripture.

Not only is this not the first failed prediction Camping has made, the history of Christianity is littered with past failed predictions of when “the End” was supposed to have come — but didn’t. James “the Amazing” Randi compiled a list of some of these, and they comprise Appendix 3 (cached) of his Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (which is available online for free). “End of the world” predictions are common and apparently easy to rationalize away when they fail. My guess is that, on May 22, 2011, Harold Camping will be rationalizing away the failure of his Jesus to show up and vacuum the Christians off the surface of the planet.

Update 1: I’ve set up a special page on my blog, counting down to Camping’s predicted Rapture and Armageddon. Just so everyone is prepared … to laugh at Camping’s idiocy, when they fail to come to pass as he predicts.

Update 2: I’ve posted a static page on my blog explaining — in terms of scripture itself — why all “Bible prophecies” are baloney. Have a look, if you’re interested.

Update 3: Camping’s followers are now trolling the country, trying to stir up apocalypticism, as part of their “Project Caravan.”

Update 4: The Rapture is now less than a week away. I’ll bet you can’t wait!

Update 5: As one would expect, non-Campingite Christians are angling away from Family Radio and their Rapture prediction. Unfortunately for them, they can’t do that; such predictions have been part of Christianity since its inception, Jesus himself made some of them!

Top photo credit: Sister72. Middle photo credit: Religion Dispatches.

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