A Daylight Atheism Public Service Announcement

I have some urgent news to pass along to my readers:

If you have any vacation time accrued, you may want to use it before May 2011.

Why, you may ask? Well, because the world is ending – again:

I learned this important news from a pamphlet that a street preacher was passing out at the Veterans’ Day parade the other week. (You can read the full thing if you’re really interested: pages 1-8, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7.) This information was brought to you by Family Radio, the “Bible-based Christian broadcasting ministry” whose founder, Harold Camping, has been slowly but surely getting crazier as the decades pass. One of his more notable eccentricities is his belief that the “church age” has ended and that all faithful believers should therefore stop going. Needless to say, this hasn’t endeared him to his fellow Christians.

Camping last predicted the end of the world in 1994, as I wrote in “Coming Soon to an Apocalypse Near You” – but hey, we all make mistakes, and this time he’s really sure he’s got the date right. How can he be so confident, you ask? Well, Mr. Smart-Aleck Atheist, just you try to argue with this irrefutable logic:

See? All you have to do is take the date of Noah’s Flood (which really happened, and the date of which Harold Camping knows precisely, down to the day), add 7,000 years, and there you are. Just try to find a logical hole in that!

Since he seems so confident about himself the second time around, I wonder if I could interest Mr. Camping in the purchase of a Rapture Bond, or otherwise making some sort of wager on his certainty. I tried, but failed, to find contact information for him on his website, which also looks like it was designed circa 1994. If you care to look and have more success than me, please do let me know.

If Camping was just one lone kook, I wouldn’t bother discussing him. But he’s still the president of a large ministry on dozens of radio stations nationwide, which means he must still have thousands of followers willing to fund him, despite his 1994 failure. That’s the way it usually is: to believers enraptured by prophecy mania, even repeated failures of their prophet are no discouragement. When 2011 comes and goes and nothing happens, Harold Camping, if he’s still alive, will probably just pick a new date, and his true devotees will faithfully follow for as many times as this charade is repeated.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • bubalus

    I am assuming you didn’t find this address then “Family Stations Inc. 290 Hegenberger Rd. Oakland, CA 94621– For more information call toll free 1-800-543-1495″

    I used the map to find further info.

  • http://theorangesashford.moonfruit.com Steve Bowen

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m cancelling my pension contributions. Might as well spend the money now.

  • Katie M

    Well . . . at least it’s not yet another 2012 prediction :)

  • Scott

    Man, couldn’t it be the 23rd, my birthday is the 22nd. If it ends on the 21st, I will miss my party!

  • http://gremlin.net Gremlin

    So, Camping hasn’t heard that ‘our calendar’ is off by about five years, making his little prediction three years out of date already?

  • Kevin Morgan

    All ye sinners repent, rePENT, REPENT!!!! AHHHHHH. Please send all your money to me since you won’t be needing it in heaven. Unless Pat Robertson and all those TV evangelists are right and GOD really DOES need some cash!

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    Amazingly, May 21, 2011 is the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar of our day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the year 4990 B.C. (Emphasis added – D)

    Now, I’m not a doctor, but am I the only one who finds it totally un-amazing that a day of the year will match up with the same day of the year X years later? Or am I missing something?

    In any event, what a goddamned lunatic.

  • random guy

    Your right D. The Julian Calendar didn’t come about till ~50 B.C.E. The previous calendar was short ten days. Even though it had a better leap year system it still lost days due to rounding errors of the length of the year. Then the Gregorian Calendar was accepted by different parts of Europe starting in the 1500′s. I think when it was accepted by England in the 1700′s they basically skipped all or part of the month of October in order to get caught up to the new calendar. The Gregorian Calendar also changed the date of the new year. On the Julian Calendar the second month would have been April.

    I have no idea what kind of calendar systems were used in the middle east before the Romans. Anyone who says this day and month will match precisely to that day and month 7000 years ago is a complete ignoramus. The amount of scholarly research required to match dates like that would be enormous and I’m not entirely sure it would even be possible given the holes in our knowledge about how some ancient peoples kept time.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    But — but — he talks to God.

  • http://www.waialeale.org MikeK

    Just wait, you scoffers. When you wake up on the 22nd and God looks you in the eye and sez, “Your ass is mine!”

    Just be thankful as you burn in hell, that God is merciful. Image how bad hell could be if God was a vengeful, vindictive, mean SOB.

  • http://www.skepticaloccultism.com pendens proditor

    May 22, 2011: The day he’ll have an excellent opportunity to learn an important lesson and will almost certainly squander it.

  • Jennifer

    This makes me want to do MST3K fan fiction. I’ve never tried it myself, but this looks like a good target.

  • Joffan

    Hmm, if one day is a thousand years, does that mean that the Great Flood was the result of 40,000 years of rain?

    Here’s the KJV for the start of Genesis ch 7; v4 higlighted:

    1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

    2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female (Huh? what about the other 5?): and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

    3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

    4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

    5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

    Same verse; so no excuses. The thousand years crap is even more fictitious than the original Flood story.

  • http://she-who-chatters.blogspot.com/ D

    Thanks for the education, random guy! You learn something every day.

    pendens proditor, I don’t think any religious person has ever made so accurate a prophecy as your reasoned prediction. I love outliving doomsday prophecies!

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    I stopped writing all the “end-of-the-world” dates in my calendar because, after I entered all of them, I didn’t have space for any other notations.

  • http://www.jewelisms.com Jewel

    Aw, man. That’s the day before my 41st birthday. Well, I guess I had better make 40 count! ;-)

  • 2-D Man

    I think Mr. Camping is off by a day.

  • http://rocketpropelledpeacocks.blogspot.com/ CRL

    I guess I don’t have to worry about 2012 anymore. Such a relief!

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    So funny to see how they explain away all the times they are wrong and so sad to see that these explanations are accepted by their brain dead flock.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Jeez. They still haven’t learned. If you fashion yourself a prophet make sure your predicted Last Day falls well after you’re sure to have kicked the bucket. Then it’s somebody elses problem when you’re wrong. In the meantime, cha-ching!

  • Andrea

    @Modusoperandi, but it’s much more exciting and glamorous to live in the end times, and you can get your flock to give you all their money because hey, they don’t need it anymore.

    But THANK you for calling and sharing.

  • McGee

    “But THANK you for calling and sharing.”

    HA! And shall we take our next call, please?

  • http://monkeycheeks.blogspot.com round guy

    Well, Camping (strange dude doesn’t begin to describe him by the way) also believes in predestination, so according to him we’re all screwed anyway.
    C’est la vie.

  • http://notmommyanymore.wordpress.com/ Tabitha

    Thanks for the writeup…I linked to you. I got this pamphlet in LA 6 months ago, and today it showed up in my mailbox too! I’m not worried about it. I’ve already been to Disneyland, so I’ve done everything.

  • Pingback: The World Will End May 21, 2011? « I'm Not Mommy Anymore

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    I guess this puts a damper on Barack Obama’s re-election hopes.

  • T

    How did that work out for you?