The Independent reports:
The end of the world is nigh; 21 May, to be precise. That’s the date when Harold Camping, a preacher from Oakland, California, is confidently predicting the Second Coming of the Lord. At about 6pm, he reckons 2 per cent of the world’s population will be immediately “raptured” to Heaven; the rest of us will get sent straight to the Other Place.
This is no. 8 of my series Theological Questions To Which The Answer Is No (TQTWTAIN).
Harold Camping has long been into the End Times theology. But his reasoning not only puts him at the outer fringes of reason but there can be a real detrimental effect on people. Here is his “logic” for the second coming on 21st May (now read it carefully!) reported in the San Francisco Chronicle
Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he’d found: The world will end May 21, 2011.
So, first thing to note is that the Bible is now a mathematics manual. It’s no longer primarily an account of how people have met with God but its primarily now a mathematical textbook. Not sure it would have helped me with my maths degree!
So how does the maths come in to it?
The number 5, Camping concluded, equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.
Well we take a word and then apply a number to it. So we’re back to the Da Vinci Code? Even these numbers could be argued with (7 is completeness – which is why 666 comes about – its the number of the beast and the epitome of incompleteness)
Then comes the clincher:
“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”
Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.
Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.
Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.
Or to put it into words:
Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.
We’re not told why the number needs to be squared incidently.
To finish off
“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.
“I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,” Camping said.
Well I nearly fell off my chair too Mr Camping.
What absolute drivel and tosh. Apologies to my more sensitive readers but not only is the maths rubbish – we don’t know the date of Jesus’ crucifixion, these numbers are just made up. Now I’m sure that I can find the numbers 5 and 10 and 17 in the bible but this misuse of theology and mathematics is plainly just wrong. It brings both into disrepute. Indeed on the Family Radio website (the radio network he runs) it even has the temerity to say that the Bible “guarantees” that Jesus will return on the 21st May.
The bible clearly says that we don’t know when Jesus will return (inquisitive types can look at Matthew 24:36).
Of greater concern is what this sort of nonsense will do people and their faith.
Mr Camping’s argument has convinced Adam Larsen, 32, from Kansas. He is among scores of “ambassadors” who have quit their jobs to drive around America in Family Radio vehicles warning of the impending apocalypse. “My favourite pastime is raccoon hunting,” Mr Larsen told CNN. “I’ve had to give that up. But this task is far more important.”
Of course its nice for the raccoons that he isn’t hunting but what will happen to his faith when he wakes up on May 22nd? How will his trust and understanding be damaged?
Maybe also of interest is the amount of money that people have been giving to Family Radio (run by Mr Camping). The man has form. He last said that the world would end in 1994 and there seem to be questions about motives:
Just as in 1994, in months preceding May 21, 2011, Christians are again selling their homes and businesses and sending their money to Family Radio.
Of course my atheist friends and readers will do the “I told you its a load of rubbish” – but that really would just be a bad argument of taking something that is off the scale extreme and trying to pretend that all Christians believe it. A similar argument in return would be to say that all atheists would end up like the communist regimes of Russia, China and Cambodia that slaughtered millions. Both are lazy arguments.
Harold Camping does not represent anyone except his band of deluded followers. Unfortunately, on May 22nd they are likely to wake up to a life of debt, embarrassment and disillusionment. All because one man tells people that he is the only one that can see clearly. Very sad.
Update 20th May – new post:
Update 21st May – new post: