Unraptured, Part II: The Rationalizationing

By Phil Plait | May 24, 2011 7:00 am

So last week, I said:

I have no doubt whatsoever that when the Rapture fails to materialize, the group surrounding Camping will find some way to rationalize it. Perhaps they’ll claim the date was off. Perhaps they’ll claim it was a test of their faith (a common excuse, actually). Maybe, if they’re lucky, some will leave the movement. But no matter what, excuses will be made.

Well, I don’t want to brag, but: I called it.

Here’s what Camping had to say after it was clear his prophecy was dead wrong:

Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.

"We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."

So he claimed his date was off and it was, in effect, a test of faith. If I were so inclined, I’d give myself a twofer on this one. [UPDATE: I didn’t mean to say here that Camping changed the date to October, but it seems to me that he is now stressing that this is when things really happen, and not May. So it’s still moving the goalposts in the form of the date that we will see events transpire. Some folks in the comments below and on Twitter were asking about that, so I hope that clears it up.]

Not that this is any big surprise; as I said in my first post, rationalizations were just as inevitable as the Rapture wasn’t. This is not the first time such predictions were wrong, and it wasn’t even the first time Camping himself was wrong.

One thing is pretty sure: the people who believed in Camping and donated more than 18 million dollars to his radio stations last year won’t be getting their money back. Nor will many of them have their faith in him shaken, even when shown point-blank he was wrong.

Maybe they — and Camping — should read the Bible more carefully.

Of course, now he says October 21 is The Day. And what will happen when that date, too, comes and goes?

We know quite well what will happen. And it’s not a matter of faith; the evidence is very, very clear.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Religion, Skepticism

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