Monday, May 9, 2011

Doomsday Predictions

     When I read in yesterday's newspaper that the Rapture was coming on May 21st at 6 pm, I thought about calling my attorney to make sure that my estate, such as it is, would go to persons among the chosen few. Then I realized that I had no way of telling who would be chosen and who would not.
     Further reflection convinced me that it doesn't matter – those chosen would not need what little pittance I had planned for them, while those remaining behind would be too busy suffering the events of the Tribulation.
     Perhaps a little digression would be good at this point. According to Wikipedia, the Rapture is a reference to 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17, in which Paul cites "the word of the Lord" about the return of Jesus to gather his saints.
...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be raptured (or "caught up") together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.
     The Tribulation refers to Matthew 24:21 and other passages of the New Testament. Christian doctrine varies on the timing of the Tribulation, but generally it is described as:
...a period of worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain and suffering, which will wipe out 75% of all life on the earth before part two of the Second Coming takes place.
     Doomsday predictions have been ongoing since the beginning of Christendom, and probably long before. Here are a few recent ones:

  • 1982 - Pat Robertson said "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world."
  • 1997 – The 39 members of a San Diego UFO cult (Heaven's Gate) determined that the comet Hale-Bopp was being followed by an alien spacecraft which would take them all to Heaven. In preparation for liftoff, they committed suicide. For them, the world did end between March 24th and 26th, 1997. Whether they were picked up by the UFO has been neither proved nor disproved, although the probability is considered to be very low.
  • Circa 1600 – Famed psychic Nostradamus wrote, "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." This was taken to be the psychic's vision of Armageddon.
  • Y2K – Who can forget the many predictions that the failure of computers world-wide would result in catastrophe at the turn of the century? Perhaps because of the predictions, computers were reprogrammed to make the century ending changeover with only minor glitches.
  • 1992 – Harold Camping published the book 1994?, in which he made the statement, "No book ever written is as audacious or bold as one that claims to predict the timing of the end of the world, and that is precisely what this book presumes to do." He dated this catastrophe September 6th, 1994. Obviously, it didn't happen.
     Go to The Doomsday Listl for many more such “audacious” predictions.
     Returning to the newspaper article I mentioned above, the Rapture prediction was made by non other than Harold Camping, back again for another try. He based his corrected prediction on certain Jewish feast days, the lunar month, the Gregorian Calender, some unclear Biblical information, and what appears to be numerology. (He admits he may have made some calculation errors on his 1992 prediction.)
     His arithmetic may have improved, but because of his track record, I don't think I will call my attorney just yet.
      The atomic nuclei which followed were somewhat less stable. The hierarchy continued with the capture of electrons, the accumulation into stars, the formation of the heavier elements, planets, etc. Each tier in the hierarchy, although still relatively stable, was somewhat less so than its predecessors.
     Matter Matters – The Spirit Runs Through It.

“The Spirit Runs Through It” and “There Are Only Seven Jokes” are available in paperback, or at the Kindle Store.

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