“There is a kind of universal answer to the question," Kirsch tells me in a phone interview. "End of the world prophecies do appear in all cultures; we experience the world and life forms in the world as having a beginning and an end. People are born, they grow old and they die." And it’s not just living things, more abstract concepts such as cities and civilizations go through this process of birth and death, Kirsch continues, "So we are imprinted by our own experience with the expectation that the world in which we live might come to an end too. That’s just a common sense approach to looking on the world.”—From "Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Then" by Brian Resnick, an Atlantic Monthly blog post that examines why Harold Camping was neither the worst nor the last to predict Armageddon.
Ian O’Neill of Discover.com blogs about the actual apocalypse currently underway in a neighboring star system to our own. NASA’s Spitzer space telescope has discovered signs of what’s called a “Late Heavy Bombardment”—basically, a comet shootout—that’s much like what happened in our own system about four billion years ago. The graphics and video are really gorgeous; check out “Comet Armageddon detected in nearby star system.”
Hint: A god is not necessary for an Armageddon. In fact, the real apocalypses—big endings—have all so far had nothing whatsoever to do with gods.
A Korean Armageddon cult making headway in Vietnam
According to this website, anyway, a Korea-based doomsday cult that promises to make its adherents safe from being run over by cars (!) has gained more than a foothold in Vietnam. In fact, it’s now being run by its Vietnamese adherents.
Jason Bruner brings up something that is related—if tangentially—to Harold Camping’s predictions.
When broadcasts by Family Radio were translated by Hmong Christians and interpreted in light of their understanding, they took it to mean that they were getting a homeland. The Vietnamese did not agree. It resulted in violence, which has been very poorly reported, not least because of the problem with getting journalists into Vietnam.
I think I can safely assume that for most Americans, Camping and his miscalculated (and then re-calculated) doomsday predictions are of more curiosity than true salvific concern. Camping has been buried by subsequent news cycles and is the latest member of a cadre of religious leaders whom the Apocalypse passed by. But while May’s Apocalypse seems to have skipped over most of the world, it did land squarely on a hilltop in north-western Vietnam. It would behoove us to take notice of the complex and unexpected ways in which this spring’s apocalypticism rippled across the world — in short radio waves, to be precise.
According to some European neuroscientists, we’ve got a predisposition to discount the likelihood of bad things happening to us. Bad things, you see, happen to other people.
And that means that, even though we love to watch the apocalypse destroy the world, we never really believe it will happen to us.
Basically, human optimism is a neurological bug that prevents us from remembering undesirable information about our odds of dying or being hurt. And that’s why nobody ever believes the apocalypse is going to happen to them.
There is one fascinating exception to this rule, though. As the researchers note, the only people who consistently offer accurate estimates of bad things happening to them are clinically depressed. So — perfect depression is perfect awareness?
Ultimately our neurological bugginess could serve an adaptive function, which is preventing us from becoming so depressed about the impending apocalypse that we can’t get out of bed in the morning.
“At bottom, that’s what Rapture belief is all about: the denial of death. That’s not a biblical notion. The Bible is filled with emphatic reminders of our inescapable mortality, urging us to be prepared and not surprised by the fact of it. People like Camping ironically take all of those passages meant to remind us of that fact and twist them into a fantasy of, as Irene Steele put it, “Jesus coming to get us before we die.”—from "It’s still not the end of the world" by Fred Clark at Slacktivist.
He has not learned that predicting the Rapture and Armageddon is a fool’s errand. Instead, he has learned to hedge his predictions with the word “probably.”
Apparently he’s been chastened somewhat by his last misfire—he now says the world will “probably” end on Friday. “We’ve learned that there’s a lot of things we didn’t have quite right,” he told his followers.
These photographs of seed vaults show where the ability to re-seed the Earth will come from, if it’s ever needed. The Svalbard “Doomsday” vault in Norway is designed to survive an apocalypse, should one ever arrive. via io9
“Apokaluptò, I disclose, I uncover, I unveil, I reveal the thing that can be a part of the body, the head or the eyes, a secret part, the genitals or whatever might be hidden, a secret, the thing to be dissembled, a thing that does not show itself or say itself, that perhaps signifies itself but cannot or must not first be handed over to its self-evidence.
“Apokekalummenoi logoi are indecent remarks. So it is a matter of the secret and the pudenda.”
—Jacques Derrida, “Of an Apocalyptic Tone in Recent Philosophy.” Semeia 22 (Studies in Ancient Letter Writing), ed. John L. White (Society of Bible Literature, 1982). 63-97.
Films about the end of the world are essentially thought experiments. They prompt inevitable questions about how we would face the end. Some suggest that how we die says something about how we have lived, while others question the wisdom of finding meaning in endings. It’s easy, in any case, to see the appeal to storytellers of a narrative template with a ready-made conclusion, a definitive sense of closure.
Against the mystery of the abyss, apocalypse movies promise the clarity of finitude.
Yet another way to make money from end-of-the-world fears
Check out this tour by “Mayan Elders” who are going to share information from their culture about “crystal skulls” (Indiana Jones, anyone?” and the transformation that’s coming about as the Mayan Long Count calendar finishes a cycle.
But, hey! If you register this month, your name will go in for a drawing for a “real” crystal skull—just like in the movies!
“So what does the future really hold? Every generation of Jesus’s followers has claimed that they would be the last generation on Earth, and they have all been wrong. As for our own generation, we are facing environmental catastrophe, population increase, and potential epidemics the likes of which this planet has never seen before. Are we dooming ourselves into extinction by our own destructive habits? Or is this another example of the human tendency to only see the worst possible scenario?”—Jessica Fostvedt, “Doomsday, Apocalypse and Rapture, Oh, My,” blogging for Scientific American.
The Christian Post has this article about concern among fundagelical Christians that Harold Camping’s End Times predictions have led Christian beliefs to be more openly mocked.
Family Radio broadcaster Harold Camping’s faulty predictions about the end of times is somewhat of an embarrassment for Christians who blame the California Bible teacher, and other fringe believers, for attracting more mockery of Christians and Bible-based beliefs.
Uh, yeah. About that mockery thing.
There hasn’t been a single end-times prediction, from Christian Bible believers or anyone else, that has been accurate. There is no need to worry about Harold Camping. Those of us in the evidence-based world don’t need any additional reasons to mock.
In this update from the Christian Post, we learn that Rev. Harold Camping has “restudied” his calculations, and is now convinced that October 21 will be the real end of everything. Believers will be Raptured, and everyone else on the planet will be killed.
The California Bible teacher, who confessed that he has “restudied” his predictions, said in the recording that the rapture will be quick and quiet. “Probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God,” Camping said.
He added, “This is very comforting to all of us because we all have children, we all have loved ones that are dear to us that we know are not saved and yet we know that they’ll quietly die.”
I don’t expect to hear from Rev. Camping, though. He is still recovering from a stroke suffered shortly after his predicted date for the Rapture, May 21, came and went with, uh, nothing happening.
It is important to remember, of course, that failure does not discredit prophecy. Instead, the prophecy is simply reinterpreted. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, known by more bald terms as a daisy-chain of bullshit.
That driver's license is the work of the Antichrist!
Well, at least the high-resolution biometric photograph is the work of the Antichrist, as predicted in Revelation 13:16-18 and 14:9-11. Who knew the number of the Beast (which is the number of a man) would be on our driver’s licenses.
In Oklahoma, anyway.
The Rutherford Institute has filed suit on behalf of Oklahoma resident Kaye Beach, who asked for a religious exemption to Oklahoma’s high-tech driver’s license law, and was denied.
"Whether a biometric ID card in the form of a driver’s license or other government-issued form of identification is the mark of the Beast or merely the long arm of Big Brother, the outcome remains the same—ultimate control by the government," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "As Kaye Beach’s case makes clear, failing to have a biometric card can render you a non-person for all intents and purposes, with your ability to work, travel, buy, sell, access health care, and so on jeopardized."