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Happy Anniversary of the World Not Ending

Congratulations—we all made it! If you’re reading this, the world didn’t end on Pentecost (May 19, 2013) as Ronald Weinland predicted. If you want to find out why the world will end two days ago, you can read all about it.

But don’t mock Weinland. Here’s what he said to mockers in the heady days before his spectacular failure: “you will suffer from sickness that will eat you from the inside out, and you will die; your death will not be quick” (video, 1:15).

The world also didn’t end on Pentecost 2012, Weinland’s previous prediction. He’s since tap-danced away from his latest embarrassment with a much vaguer statement about the future: “It is my hope that next Pentecost we will see the return of Jesus Christ.”

If this all sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of our old pal Harold Camping, winner of the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics. Yes, Harold and his Family Radio ministry got us in a tizzy about the world ending. He spent more than $5 million on 5000 billboards announcing the rapture on May 21, 2011, then Armageddon, and then the end of the world five months later. (Of course, when I say “he spent,” I mean “he, using not his own money but money donated by his followers.”)

Today is the two-year anniversary of Camping’s rapture not happening.

Despite Camping’s confidence, some of us weren’t buying it. During the months leading up to the claimed rapture, the Ask an Atheist radio program highlighted the insanity with a weekly “Countdown to Backpedaling” review of the latest on the story. Members of Seattle Atheists helped spread the word with a “The end is nigh” sandwich board sign, and they collected money to help during Armageddon.

Who better than atheists to help out after a rapture, right? You can be pretty sure that they’re not going anywhere.

When the end didn’t come as predicted, the sign was updated (as shown in the photo above) and the money donated to Camp Quest Northwest to help raise a new generation who will be a bit more skeptical of claims without evidence.

While Armageddon didn’t happen, Camping has had his own slow-motion Judgment Day. Assets of Family Radio have dropped from $135 million in 2007 to $29 million in 2011 (IRS 990), they’ve sold their three largest radio stations, and donations have dropped 70 percent since the false alarm.

It reminds me of prominent Seattle-area anti-gay pastor Ken Hutcherson. In a news story reporting Hutcherson’s battle with cancer, one comment read, “Ain’t karma a bitch?”

I wrote about the aftermath of Camping’s failure here. What infuriated me most was Family Radio not asking themselves, “What would you do if there were no tomorrow?” Because, for them, there wouldn’t be after May 21. Many of their followers got themselves right with God, selling all their assets and using the money to spread Camping’s message. Curiously, Family Radio didn’t … almost as if they didn’t believe their own message. Given the actions that they knew their followers were taking (which included at least one attempted murder/suicide on May 22), doesn’t that sound like fraud?

Imagine this: what if Camping had put his money where his mouth was? Since he wouldn’t need anything after the rapture, he’d have liquidated his assets and created a foundation to help people in need. And now, instead of it being a pathetic memory of an old man’s overconfidence in numerology, it’d be an ongoing foundation.

Every private foundation is obliged to distribute five percent of its assets annually. If we imagine that he started with $100 million two years ago, that’s five million dollars each year to actually help people. Y’know, like Jesus did. But that opportunity was missed, and Family Radio will now be remembered most for the harm it did.

Don’t forget that the first prediction of the end times failed as well:

There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom (Matt. 16:28).

If these end-of-the-world prophecies don’t stop, people will soon stop listening to end-times prophets.

Gotcha! I’m kidding, of course! “The sky is falling” is as compelling to the Chicken Littles of today as it’s been for the last 2000 years.

If you don’t want your religion laughed at,
don’t have such funny beliefs.

Photo credit: Ask an Atheist podcast

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick

    Sounds like you agree with Jesus on this one. He said, concerning the end of the world, “… no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”

    Therefore, anyone who proclaims a specific date can immediately be branded as not having a clue.

    So thanks for posting something that agrees with what Jesus said. It is good to be on the same page with you on this one.

    • RichardSRussell

      It agrees with ONE of the things Jesus supposedly said. Of course, since that particular quotation is coming from the Big Book o’Horrors — AKA the world’s longest-running and least reliable Rorschach test — you’re practically guaranteed to be able to find another one that directly contradicts it (like, for example, the one Bob quoted in his essay).

      But the very people promoting the idea of the 2nd Coming are apparently incapable of reading their own holy book (Matthew 24:30-34), where Jesus clearly says he’ll be returning during the lifetime of his own disciples. But guess what? He didn’t! Didn’t come back then, hasn’t come back since, isn’t back now, and won’t be coming back in the future.

      And why not? Because he’s DEAD, you fools! Dead, dead, dead! Dead and gone. Dead and buried. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a rock. Dead as a dodo. Flatlined like Kansas. Belly-up like a dynamited carp. Dead and never coming back!

      It’s been TWO THOUSAND YEARS, people. Time to get over it. I’ve heard of slow learners, but this is ridiculous. Sheesh. Grow up and face reality.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Rick: It’s nice to agree with you, but let me add one quibble.
      You might well say that, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.… Destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3).

      But Brother Camping can quote the very next verse: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

      Proper Christians clearly can know. (I dunno what that makes Camping, since he clearly doesn’t know, but his argument is interesting. Just goes to show that the Bible is a sock puppet that can be made to say just about anything.)

      • Rick

        Not so much. It shows how little you understand the context of the verses you quote.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You could just slap down an empty “Nuh uh!” Or you could help us understand your point with some evidence. I’d prefer the latter.

    • Greg G.

      Matthew was written by a generation that wasn’t supposed to be there. No wonder they ztarted editting quotes.

    • SparklingMoon

      He said, concerning the end of the world, “… no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
      Therefore, anyone who proclaims a specific date can immediately be branded as not having a clue.

      ——————————————————————-
      It is not right to consider that Resurrection of Jesus in the ” End days” is a complete mystery. Jesus has said in Matthew :”no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” in relation of his Second Coming.

      And when it is said that no one knows the Hour of his Resurrection ,it does not imply that nothing can possibly be known about it and people have no source to recognize these days of his second coming. If such were the case, then all the signs mentioned by Jesus in Matthew Ch:24 regarding his Resurrection would stand rejected because the signs described by him constitute the very source of our knowledge about the proximity of the Day of Resurrection.As Jesus had told many signs about this time of his second coming, for example:
      ”You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren’t troubled,
      for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places.37 “As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 39 and
      they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

      We find that all these prophesies and signs have come to be fulfilled
      in our time.

      Second,the book of Quran and authentic Hadiths( the sayings of the Prophet of Islam) also help to recognise this ”End Days.”As Quran and Hadiths has also told about the coming of a Messiah at this time who will reform the whole nations of the world and will maintain justice among them as a judge. God Almighty has told in the Quran about this time that canals would flow, books and newspapers would be published in large numbers and camels would fall into disuse. We find that all these prophesies have come to be fulfilled in our time. Camels, for instance, have been replaced by other sources for commercial transport. Press and Internet have made it possible to spread knowledge.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Every day the world of that day ends, as does the world of each moment in earthly time. When people start looking at every second as an entree to new opportunities for new paths to rapture, maybe we’ll start enjoying our time on earth and living every minute of every day to the fullest.

  • Mick

    Camping’s children and grandchildren must be so pissed off that he squandered their inheritance the way he did.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Mick: Ah, well, they’ll be known for his legacy. How many of us will be footnotes in history like Brother Camping?

      Skywriting planes? $100,000
      5000 billboards? $5 million
      Ridicule? Priceless

  • Norm Donnan

    They were giving away Ron Weinlands book free last year,lt didnt take long to see why when he said the world was ending in 2008,He was also going to be one of the two prophets during the tribulation who is killed and rises from the dead three days later.He must be fairly old by now so l hope he doesnt die before hand otherwise he will miss his big event.

  • Greg G.

    Here’s what he said to mockers in the heady days before his spectacular failure: “you will suffer from sickness that will eat you from the inside out, and you will die; your death will not be quick”

    I love the contradictory prophecies.

  • JohnH2

    So how come it appears that these failed predictions are leading to the death of the organization as opposed to the various JW predictions which if anything strengthened the organization (or created it) or the Seventh Day Adventists with there various “Great Disappointments” being the impetus for the entire organization?

    • Greg G.

      Hi John

      That’s an interesting question. I suppose it depends on the spin. In his younger days, Camping could come up with excuses but he was too old to carry on the last go round. Some groups change the prophecy so they can say it happened metaphorically or that it didn’t fail yet as it will happen in the future. “This generation” means whatever generation happens to be around when the prophecy is fulfilled, for example.

      Sometimes it’s easier to change your perception of reality than it is to change what you want reality to be.

  • SparklingMoon

    Don’t forget that the first prediction of the end times failed as well:”There
    be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom ”(Matt. 16:28).

    ———————————————————————
    It is not right to concider that this prediction of Jesus ”There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom ”(Matt. 16:28)had not fulfilled. He was a true Prophet of God and a Prophet makes a prophecy always after having a knowledge from All knowing God and its fulfillment is not in the hand of a prophet but of God Almighty. This prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly in that form and meanings as Jesus had prophecied.

    ”Jesus had said:”Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”(Matthew
    16:28.)Likewise,the verse in John: ‘Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he (i.e.,the disciple, John) tarry (i.e.,in Jerusalem) till I come.”(John 21:22.)This means: ‘If I will, John will not die till I come again’.

    These verses show with great clarity that Jesus (peace be on him) had made
    a promise that some people would continue to live till his return; among these he had named John. So the fulfilment of this promise was inevitable.

    Accordingly, even Christians have admitted that in order that the prophecy may be taken to have been fulfilled, Jesus’ coming at a time when some of the people of that age were still alive was inevitable, so that the prophecy should have been fulfilled according to its promise. This is the basis of the clergyman’s declaration that Jesus, in accordance with his promise, had come to Jerusalem at the time of its destruction and that John had seen him, as he was alive at that time.

    But let it be noted that Christians do not say that Jesus really came down from heaven accompanied by appointed signs; they rather say that he appeared to John as in a vision, that he might fulfil his prophecy contained in verse 28 of chapter 16 of Matthew. But I say that coming of this kind does not fulfil the prophecy. That is a very weak interpretation which only avoids with difficulty the criticism leveled against this position. This interpretation is patently untenable and wrong, so much so, that there is no need to refute it, or if Jesus had to appear to anyone in a dream or a vision, a prophecy of this kind would be ridiculous.

    In such manner Jesus had also appeared to Paul long before this. It appears that the prophecy contained in verse 28 of chapter 16 of Matthew has caused a panic among the padres (Cristian Clergies)and they have not been able to give it a rational meaning in accordance with their own beliefs, for it was difficult for them to say that Jesus at the time of the sacking of Jerusalem had descended from heaven in glory, and that like the lightning that lights up all heaven and is seen by everybody, all had seen him; and also it was not easy for them to ignore the statement, namely: Some of those who were standing here will not taste death till they have seen the Son of man coming in his Kingdom. Therefore, as a result of a laboured interpretation they believed in the fulfilment of the prophecy in the shape of a vision. But this is not true; righteous servants of God always appear in visions to the elect and for a vision it is not even necessary that they should appear only in a dream.

    So, what actually happened was that Jesus knew that he would be saved from the Cross and would migrate to another land, that God would neither let him die nor would take him away from this world, so long as he had not seen the destruction of the Jews with his own eyes, and that he would not die so long as the fruits of the Kingdom, which the spiritually eminent are given by heaven, were not realised.Jesus made this prophecy so that he might give an assurance to the disciples that,presently they would see the signs that those who had raised the sword against him would be killed with the sword during his own life-time and in his very presence. If, therefore,evidence is of any value there is for Christians no evidence greater than this:that Jesus with his own tongue makes the prophecy that some of them would still be alive when he would come again.(Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed)

  • SparklingMoon

    If these end-of-the-world prophecies don’t stop, people will soon stop listening to end-times prophets.
    ——————————————————————————————–
    The descriptions of End time that are described,in religion or religious books, does not mean that our earth will come to end or universe will come to end. The End means the end of the circle of human progress that completes itself in seven thousand years and this circle of human progress takes place on earth again and again.

    There are two different chracters who are given the name of Adam in religious books. The very first life that came into existance on earth,millions years ago without mother and father, is given the name of Adam:”Surely, the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam. He created him out of dust, then He said to him, ‘Be!,’and he was.” (Quran 3:60)
    This verse of the Quran explaines about this first life( Adam )of the earth that had to pass through a long process of gradual creation also ,to reach to its final stage, as jesus (or a child) had to pass through a gradual process to turn in to a live being. The Quran rejects the spontanious creation of Adam (as is usually described by some people) God has described such notions against His Laws ”What is the matter with you that you expect not wisdom and staidness from Allah?While He has created you in different forms and ever varyingstates?(71:14-15) He describes:”That you shall assuredly pass on from one stage to another.”(84:20) Quran presents different stages that had to face this first human life on earth for many thousands or millions years to reach to its final stage of existance in an open atmosphere under the sky:”He created him (Adam) out of dust.”(360)After a time it turned into clay:”He created you from clay (moist earth)”(6.3 )This clay of human structure started to show gradually its hidden abilities: ”He created man from dry ringing clay like pieces of pottery.(55;15)When this first human life came into existance who was the Adam of our earth then other human beings were geneated from this life :”O ye people! fear your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and created there from its mate, and from them twain spread many men and women.”(4:2)

    The second chracter who is also called Adam and is called a vicegerent of God in the Quran is Prophet Adam. He had received first revelation among his people, about six thousands years ago from our time and had laid the foundation of our current civilization after having divine guidance. According to the descriptions of religious books, God has created the world in seven days and a day in the estimation of God is equivalent to 1000 years of human beings:‘Verily a day with thy lord is a thousand years of yours reckoning“ (Quran 22: 48) Muslims,Christian and Jews scholars are agreed that county from the time of Prophet Adam (of current generation) to this present millennium is the seventh . This gradual process of human progress of rationality and worldly civilization, from the time of Prophet Adam to our time,of six thousands years, is near to reach to its perfection. Seventh millennium on earth has started after 1850 (CE) After this time there has begun a great rapid progress in all fields and this human progress will soon turn the atmosphere of earth into a worldly paradise.

    The beginning of Seventh millennium is called by Jesus the time of his second coming and the End Time.

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