Instead of the world physically coming to an end on May 21 with a great, cataclysmic earthquake, as he had predicted, Harold Camping, 89, said he now believes his forecast is playing out “spiritually,” with the actual apocalypse set to occur five months later, on Oct. 21.
Reflecting on scripture afterward, Camping said it “dawned” on him that a “merciful and compassionate God” would spare humanity from “hell on Earth for five months” by compressing the physical apocalypse into a shorter time frame. (Photo: Reuters)
End may be nigh — but we’ve been wrong about these things before There are now only a few days before the world comes to an end, at least according to 89-year-old Harold Egbert Camping, president of Family Radio, a California-based Christian broadcasting network with 150 outlets. Billboards around the world have been proclaiming for months: “Judgment Day May 21, 2011.” Underneath is a quotation from the New Testament: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”
The scenario is supposed to play out something like this: the chosen will be lifted to heaven to be with Jesus for eternity and everyone else will be cast into a lake of fire, or at least something uncomfortably warm. In this version of the future, Mr. Camping and his believers follow a long tradition of prophets who have done complex calculations to show that the end is nigh. He is also part of a lineage that (a) is almost always wrong, and (b) will make multiple attempts to get it right. Mr. Camping originally predicted the world would end in September 1994. The best argument in his favour this time is that the world has to end at some point and May 21 is as good a guess as any. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)