Harold Camping, the radio evangelist who prophesied that Judgment Day would fall on May 21, 2011 and that the world would end five months later — that's tomorrow — still stands by both assertions.
"October 21, that's coming very shortly, that looks like it will be, at this point, it will be the final end of everything," he said in a podcast earlier this month, according to SF Gate.
If he sounds a little less confident in the claim than he did prior to May 21, well, he probably is. When that date passed without a single true believer rising from his or her church bench and ascending to heaven, Camping told the press he was "flabbergasted" and reconsidering his calculations of the dates, which were based on numerical clues in the Bible. He then had a stroke on June 9 that kept him hospitalized until September.
Since his recovery, the host of the Christian talk show "Family Radio" seems to have regained most, if not all, of his previous conviction. Back on the air, he now refers to May 21 as a "tremendous event" that was simply spiritual in nature, rather than the start of five months of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and general mayhem as he had previously envisioned. [ When Doomsday Isn't, Believers Struggle to Cope ]
Camping says the end of the world will be similarly anti-climactic. "I really am beginning to think as I've restudied these matters that there's going to be no big display of any kind. The end is going to come very, very quietly," he told listeners.
The question is, can Camping really still believe in the second half of his doomsday prophesy, despite the total flop of the first half? Analysts say he probably really does.
"I would not be surprised to discover that Mr. Camping sees this prediction as his life's work, the culmination of decades of intensive Bible study, filtered through the sieve of faith," Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal, told LiveScience, a sister site to Life's Little Mysteries. After all that effort, "human ego doesn't easily admit to error," DiTommaso said, so Camping has simply constructed a creative re-interpretation of his prophecies.
The 90-year-old preacher's self-delusion may also stem from a fear of what will happen to him if his prophecy doesn't pan out. According to Stephen Kent, a sociologist at the University of Alberta, "belief in the Rapture means that Mr. Camping would escape the fate that befalls all human beings, which is death."
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