Harold Camping: I Was Wrong About That Whole ‘World’s Gonna End’ Thing

Guess who’s half-heartedly apologizing for his idiocy?

Harold “The World’s Gonna End on May 21st” Camping:

The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible’s warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.

“Ridiculed” is right. Camping made a mockery of a faith that needs no help getting people to laugh at it. It’s pathetic to watch him try to spin it into something positive:

But we got people to talk about the Bible!

Yeah, and so do the God Hates Fags people. They, like Camping, make people rethink the association they have with Christianity. So for that, at least, atheists owe Camping a debt of gratitude.

He added that Family Radio is no longer speculating about future apocalypses. Because that would just be crazy.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa

    I have often wondered about the woman who I had a brief exchange with when she tried to give me the Family Radio brochures on the mall in Washington DC.

    “I don’t believe in something so utterly ridiculous,” I said dismissively, and kept walking.

    “You’ll see in May,” she said ominously and gloatingly, as if she were envisioning me getting sucked into hellfire. “You’ll see who’s right then!”

    And I already thought right then “her life is going to be ruined when she finally understands she put so much effort into a lie.”

    I wonder if she snapped out of it when the May date came and went, or if she was strung along till October.

    It’s really quite sad that he thinks it’s a good thing “millions if not billions” heard the message of Christ’s return only to have it associated with a specific date For Absolutely Definitely Certain For Sure. They really shot themselves in the foot :)

    • Anonymous

      I would love to see a journalist do a follow-up with the people who sold everything to spread the word about the end-times.  Before the Great Disappointment in 1844, thousands of people gave away their possessions in anticipation of the end.  There was some anger and ever violence against the Millerites afterwards, but the Millerite movement eventually spawned the Adventists (up to 16 million members worldwide) and other apocalyptic forms of Christianity.

      • kaelef

         I’ve wondered the same thing, and have been surprised that no one (that I know of) has yet followed-up.  There were interviews with people just prior to The Day who clearly indicated they were giving up their jobs, homes, possessions, lives…

        As badly as I feel for these people, they’re ultimately responsible for their own lives and decisions.  The bigger victims are the children of all the believers.

  • Leena Hölttä

    Ok so now the world is going to end on the 21st and 27th of May according to two nuts and also in December… oookkkeeeyyyyyy…..

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      Yeah, well the Christians have THEIR apocalypse and I have MAYAN.

      • Thackerie

         Ewww! That’s a horrible pun!

        I will be repeating it at every opportunity ;-}

  • Anonymous

    I love this guy.   Anytime they make themselves look crazy I’m all for it. 
    Those wacky Christians!

  • Gus Snarp

    What’s the psychological term for what he’s doing here? This process of creating a completely false reality in justification for his prediction being wrong? I know there’s something very specific that fits this statement perfectly. Unable to accept that his false prediction caused people to believe he’s a lunatic and that his kind of thinking is wrong, instead he manufactures a reality in which his prediction gets people to read the bible and become Christian, when in all likelihood the opposite is true. I especially love the bit about people who’ve never read or seen a bible. Just where does he think his message was playing? Remote villages in Africa or Indonesia? Where on Earth is there a place left that no one has seen a Bible or heard at least some version of the Christ story from it?

    The question remains, is he self deluded, or is he consciously manufacturing the reality his followers need to continue to delude themselves?

    • Anonymous-Sam

       

      What’s the psychological term for what he’s doing here? This process of creating a completely false reality in justification for his prediction being wrong?

      I think ‘cognitive distortion’ is what you’re looking for. The description is a bit too generalized to draw a specific diagnosis, though — delusions are part of a number of disorders.

    • icecreamassassin
      • Anonymous-Sam

         Cognitive dissonance is when someone holds contradictory beliefs and the two cause discomfort, so they alter one to coincide more with the other. In the context we would generally use the term, it would apply to, say, slavery in the Bible. “Slavery is wrong,” acknowledges the Christian, “But the Bible is the perfect word of God. So slavery is acceptable if God wills it.”

        In this case, cognitive distortion feels more accurate.

  • Youwish

    If I wandered the earth, warning people of impending death and destruction from a creature from another dimension…I’d soon find myself in a padded room, being force fed pretty-colored pills and asking “what’s a competency hearing?” But when christians do it….it’s okay…?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andre-Goncalves/100001285488169 Andre Goncalves

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  • CJ Klok

    Should it not be time now that pressure is put on Camping to reimburse all who have donated to his delusional “cause” – often to the pint of financial ruin?

    I would propose that someone more familiar with the legal issues involved formulate a petition on Change.org to urge Camping and his colleagues to repay those who lost their life savings due to his scams.
    It is of course quite possible that Camping will ignore that. In such a case getting a few lawyers involved to file a class action lawsuit might be the most appropriate action.

  • Anonymous

    The crazy thing about people like Harold Camping is that they always have a backup plan.  The brilliance of believing in something/someone that is there/not there is that can be used in many ways for when a date comes and goes and nothing happens…  “it was a warning…  the Bible is more popular than ever now”

    The sad part is the people that have little or no money sending it to this manipulative fucker for his own greed.  Yeah, that’s what Jesus would have done….  NOT!

    • Anonymous-Sam

       Not to mention a martyrdom complex. “All I tried to do was warn you of your wicked ways, and instead you turned on me, cast me down when I dwelt in righteousness. Shame upon you and your sinfulness! Well, you’ll see. Oh yes, you will see.”

    • Marguerite

      I don’t know if Jesus would have had a problem with this, actually. From Luke:

      “And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.’”

      Jesus seems to have been perfectly okay with people giving up all their worldly goods for their faith, probably because he, like Camping, had an apocalyptic viewpoint and believed the world wouldn’t exist much longer.

      • Anonymous

        You bring up a good point and something else that Camping and his camp can use as a way to bring in funds from those that feel like giving everything they have for the cause. Of course this still doesn’t make Camping anything remotely like Jesus.

      • Anonymous-Sam

         Jesus also teaches that worldly possessions lead to materialism, which is what makes your average televangelist and politician such a bullshit artist.

      • Pseudonym

        FWIW, part of the context of that story is in the passage right before it, where Jesus roundly condemned people who feign piety to steal from widows.

        • Marguerite

          There are other similar passages in Luke.  “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” And so forth.

          It seems to me that Camping isn’t that far off from the Biblical message, honestly, except that I have a certain nagging suspicion that he intends to profit from getting people to “sell everything they have,” and so I tend to doubt that his motives are pure.

      • BA

         Once again, read the Bible.  Christ clearly stated he did not know the time of the end, only the Father in heaven. 

        You may not believe Christianity but please understand Orthodoxy (not Liberalism) before you comment.

  • David B.

    Well, he confirmed the accuracy of one part of the bible at least…

    “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
    Proverbs 16:18

    I certainly agree with him that questioning or ridiculing the bible’s authenticity is never a bad thing, but I completely fail to see any benefit to him or his brand of craziness Christianity. Surely seeing the very people who claim to know and follow God’s message best humiliated like that can only act to dissuade people from taking that route.

    Sometimes there is such a thing a bad publicity!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Crietzman/849630012 Steve Crietzman

      David, I agree with you completely, save for one thing.  You crossed out the wrong word.  You were right with ‘craziness’, but I’d cross out Christianity.  Most Christians I speak to say that no man can predict when the end times will come or when Jesus will return.  *It even says so in the Bible* , a fact that Harold Camping conveniently chooses to ignore.    His selective messing around with scripture in such a blatant manner means he deserves to be discredited.  But I think it’s unfair to laugh at all Christians more after this; few of them subscribed to his ridiculous beliefs so it’d be unfair of us to accuse ‘Christians’ of being nuts because of something Harold did.

      • David B.

        I agree that not all Christians should be tarred with Camping’s brush, I hoped I had that covered by referring to “his brand” of belief.

        But why is “Jesus will return on May 21st!” worthy of ridicule and “Jesus will return but we don’t know when!” somehow not? Does it work for the other variable as well, if Camping had claimed that “Someone will end the world on May 21st, but we don’t know who!” would he still deserve his discredit or not?

        As far as I can tell, Camping’s mistake was make his religious claims testable. But surely it is the purveyors of untestable claims that should be taken to task; Camping at least had the confidence to throw his hat in the ring with reality.

        • Anonymous

          Exactly. The whole idea is absurd and deserves ridicule. Not just the people who pick a definite date

        • Pseudonym

          But why is “Jesus will return on May 21st!” worthy of ridicule and “Jesus will return but we don’t know when!” somehow not?

          Of course it’s worthy of ridicule, and as is invariably the case, the Christians are way ahead of you on this.

          • David B.

            Just as I don’t condemn all Christians on the antics of Camping and his followers, I don’t laud them all for the actions of an equal or smaller sample.

            Steve Crietzman’s post (above) cast Camping as an ‘outlier’ based on his experience, however in that case McGrath is equally an outlier.

      • BA

         Fair response.  Thanks from a Christian.

  • Anonymous

    This guy, through his church, took money from people who they cravenly manipulated through fears and lies.  It’s no less wrong than any other confidence scam.  Now, we can point and laugh at the people who were tricked into it, but the fact remains that scam artists are criminals.  Camping is a criminal.

  • Wild Rumpus

    Man… I really, seriously think that most Christians don’t read their Bible and that’s the only thing that keeps them believing….

    Job 24:1 “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

    Matthew 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    Mark 13:32 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    Acts 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

    Read your own book and you shall be set free, Christians!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      Nope.  If you’re using nonsense to refute nonsense, you’re still in the trap.

    • Xeon2000

      …but aren’t the son and father the same?

      That wacky trinity and its metaphysical nonsense. Hindu gods as I understand it are all emanations of a single god as well, but Christians still call them polytheists. I guess that’s how cognitive dissonance works.

      • BA

         Understanding the Trinity is difficult and we admit it is a theological piece doctrine of the early church fathers.  Do remember they were attempting to put together various data from the New Testament and the early witness of the church from Jesus time in order to prepare a logical and philosophical answer to the critics of the day.  You will either believe it or not.

        The three persons of the Trinity are not emanations of some remote god as in Gnosticism or Hinduism.   The Jews knew Jehoval the one God who released them from Egypt, the early church knew Christ who claimed  “I and the Father are One” and “before Abraham I Am”, and the early church knew the action of the Spirit from Christ’s baptism and from Pentecost. Putting these three facts together in a consistent and logical doctrine was not easy and is highly nuanced and to Christians, successful.

        You may disdain Christianity but first you should first understand it in depth before you dismiss it.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny because I had never heard of this thing they call “The Bible” until May 21, except for the many thousands of times that I saw a Bible, read a Bible, had someone refer to the Bible, saw a Bible Store, etc….  It must be a strange kind of reality-distortion field that Christians live to make them think that the Bible is in “the shadows”.  Seriously…WTF?

    • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa

       Same line of thinking that causes them to go up to native English-speaking people in America and ask them if they know the “reason for the season” every Christmas.

      No, I have never heard the Baby Jesus story, despite our entire culture being freaking SATURATED with it, geeeez.

  • Fargofan

    There’s always a rationalization: “We prayed so hard, God spared us” or whatever. Does anyone remember the non-disaster of Y 2K? It wasn’t only Christians, but they did get lots of mileage from it. I still remember the funny sight of a pile of Y2K warning-type books on sale at a Christian bookstore, right after nothing happened.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Down/100001310114443 Bob Down

    I guess the family have moved all the cash into the Swiss Banks where no-one else can get at it, so now it’s OK to let grandpa off the leash for a little while.

  • Richard Wade

    But we got people to talk about the Bible!

    Actually, what’s important to Harold Camping is that he got people to talk about Harold Camping.

  • The Other Weirdo

    The Bible has come out from under the shadows? What world has this joker been living in for the past 1,700 years? Seriously.  Not surprisingly, however, he still claims to be right, only the date he randomly picked out of his brain is wrong. He learnt nothing from this experience.

  • Seladora

    Is he not the ugliest old S.O.B you’ve ever seen? 

    • Pseudonym

      When 90 years old you reach, look as good you will not.

  • T-Rex

    That old geezer looks like he’s already been through the end times. The media needs to stop giving this old fool the time of day. Religion is so messed up. I just don’t understand how or why any sane person would live their lives based on archaic rules found in ancient texts. Seriously, just look at all the discourse and violence that is the direct result of the teachings found in these texts. WTF is wrong with some people?

    • kaelef

       I’ve seen corpses in better shape.

  • T-Rex

    I bet he smells like rotting flesh. Just an observation.

  • Religionisthesourceofallevil

    Let’s face it Harold Camping and his totally freaked out nutjob followers must just fell like huge limp knobs!


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