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

Comments (131)

Links to this Post

  1. Harold Camping Rap Tour 2011 | Exploring Our Matrix | May 24, 2011
  1. Well this time he won’t saturate the media for weeks/months in advance because he probably won’t get much more money. The date will come and go with minor media attention by the time October rolls around. Just another guy making crazy claims for a little attention before his life fizzles. Being as old as he is, you have to wonder if he’ll even make it to October. I mean ultimately if he keeps pushing the date forward he’s going to out-prophesize his lifespan…

  2. thetentman

    I don’t get it. Camping says god did not want people to suffer for the next 5 months, so he’s delayed the destruction. But why wasn’t Harold Camping raptured? Maybe because he is a demented, lying SOB or he just made it all up. Hmmmmm…………………..

  3. mph

    I’m still trying to figure out why he follows the first half of 2 Peter 3:8, and ignores the second half.

  4. Ryan H

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you and roughly 280 million other people in this country “called it” that Camping would rationalize why his Rapture didn’t happen on the 21st. That’s about as difficult a prediction as saying the sun will rise tomorrow.

  5. Georg

    “”as saying the sun will rise tomorrow.”"

    Is this another prediction of that Camping?
    Georg

  6. Adam

    The problem is less that the believers are unfamiliar with Matthew 24 so are wrongly predicting the day and time of the rapture, but rather that they are expecting a rapture at all.

  7. Evan

    He has always said Oct 21 was the End of the World. The 21st of May was to be the Rapture followed by a period of Tribulation that culminated on October 21st as the End of Everything. What he is now saying is that instead of a Rapture, Jesus returned – but only ‘spiritually’! – and has decided he loves mankind too much to put them through the Tribulation. But the End will still happen as scheduled.

    At least until the schedule passes.

  8. Peptron

    I prefer the interpretation that the rapture DID happen, it’s just that none of them were “True Christians(TM)”, nor did they know any.

  9. You’ve got to wonder why some people stick with him even though he’s now been wrong twice and is making the same claim for a third time. I’m guessing it’s the same rationalization that happens when someone falls for a Nigerian scam. You could either admit that you were a chump and sent $10,000 to a scammer or you could believe that this extra $1,000 will free up the millions headed your way. It hurts too much to admit the former so you dig even deeper into the fantasy and send more money.

    With the Rapture-That-Wasn’t, he’s bound to have lost followers. Some people weren’t dug in deep enough to admit to themselves that they were duped. And some people hit rock bottom and were forced to face the cold, hard truth that they’ll be in debt for the rest of their lives thanks to believing in Camping’s nonsense. But some people will still buy his garbage and will prepare for the New Rapture on 10/21.

    When 10/22 comes, though, how many people will stick with him as he claims “Oh wait… It was really this other date in 2012″? How many bad predictions can he make before the rest of his followers realize he’s pulling dates from his posterior?

  10. Larry

    “Of course, now he says October 21 is The Day”

    Just for clarity, October 21 was “The Day” before. The “Rapture” was suppose to happen on May 21st, where the “true believers” would be whisked away and spared the five months of hell and torment the rest of us would receive until the Earth is destroyed by fire on October 21st.

    The only change he is making is that May 21st was a spiritual rather than physical rapture, so no twofer. At least not until October 22nd.

    I’ve got mixed feeling about the whole thing. Part of me wants to hear what he has to say on October 22nd, while the other half wishes the media never gave this guy the time of day. The second half also blames the first half for why the media gave him the time of day.

  11. @Peptron,

    In the spirit of the “Rapture bombing” that happened on 5/21 (Google it, there are some funny photos out there), I propose that people near Camping’s residence “rapture bomb” him on 10/21. Sometime late in the night, sneak up to his house or church office and lay out clothes (ones you don’t care about getting rid of) to simulate a person having been taken to heaven right out of their clothes. Maybe he’ll think the rapture really did happen and he didn’t get taken. ;-)

  12. Chris

    You are much better at predicting the future than he is!

  13. Jim Shaver

    “So he claimed his date was off and it was, in effect, a test of faith.”

    Pardon me, BA, but it does not look to me like Camping is claiming his date (May 21) was off at all. He just moved the goalpost, so to speak, from something extraordinary and sensational to something invisible and uninteresting. I’m not sure which excuse is more pathetic.

    So in my opinion, you only get a one-fer, but you have to share it with several million others. :)

  14. eyesoars

    Wait a minute… how do we know it didn’t happen?

    If God took 144,000 people from around the earth, out of (maybe) 7 billion, who’d notice?

    That’d be about 0.002% of the population. If you limited it to just the Christians, that’d make it around 0.01%.

    According to my back of the envelope calculations, approximately twice that many people die every day.

    Further, Jesus told people to *do* things, and seemed to think his message was important. I know *nobody* who has done those things.

    Until someone proves otherwise, it’s my belief that the rapture happened: that a few nuns, some homeless people, a Tibetan holy man or two, and a bunch of pets got raptured.

    /es

  15. October 21st is good for me – it’d get me out of a dental appointment…

  16. Daffy

    I have a friend who is a Christian minister—and who swallowed Camping’s nonsense hook, line, and sinker. Is he now mad at Camping? Not a bit; he is angry with me for “mocking” Camping. I realize this is naive of me, but I am only just now realizing how truly irrational millions and millions of people are on this subject; I thought it was more isolated. For the first time, I am genuinely frightened for my country—I don’t see this trend ending well at all.

  17. Dan I.

    I do wonder about the Octboer date. If Camping has been nothing else he’s been consistent that on October 21 the world will “cease to exist.” He hasn’t really been equivocal about that at all.

    He always had a way out so far. Be I’ll be very interested in the dance he does on October 22 when the world still exists.

  18. Scottie

    “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.” Scam artist…

  19. C.T. Russell

    Camping’s isn’t even an original excuse. Jehovah’s Witnesses have used this when their 1914 prediction didn’t fulfill, and then 1918 and 1925. Then they claimed it happened but nobody could see it because it was in the spiritual realm. Ingenious if you think of it. They still teach that.

  20. Scottie

    @13. Not sure if trolling, or just really …

  21. Coincidentally, Gearbox Software announced today that Duke Nukem Forever has finally gone gold. Didn’t realize the apocalypse included hell freezing over.

  22. Sigmund

    “Maybe they — and Camping — should read the Bible more carefully.”
    He might have noticed that the bible has Jesus claiming it will happen within the lifetime of his then followers. If Jesus can’t get it right then what hope has Harold!

  23. ceramicfundamentalist

    “a few nuns, some homeless people, a Tibetan holy man or two, and a bunch of pets got raptured.”

    pets can’t get raptured – that’s blasphemous. good luck getting into heaven now!

  24. KC

    “invisible judgment day”? I’d like to give him and indivisible kick in the crotch!

  25. Anybody wondering why people are still sticking with Camping would do well to read “When Prophecy Fails”, or at least read the Wikipedia article on that book.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails

    Cognitive dissonance. People hate admitting they’re wrong. No, worse, when people have staked a lot – including social ridicule, a significant amount of money and, in their eyes, their mortal souls – on a belief, they can’t admit they’re wrong.

    Let the rationalizing begin!

  26. Anybody wondering why people are still sticking with Camping would do well to read “When Prophecy Fails”, or at least read the Wikipedia article on that book. (I get stuck in moderation purgatory when I include links, but go and look it up.)

    Cognitive dissonance. People hate admitting they’re wrong. No, worse, when people have staked a lot – including social ridicule, a significant amount of money and, in their eyes, their mortal souls – on a belief, they can’t admit they’re wrong.

    Let the rationalizing begin!

    (Speaking of moderation purgatory, does anybody have any advice on avoiding it? Phil never answers my emails on the topic… I don’t blame him; he’s got to be very busy and get TONS of emails… but it’s very frustrating.)

  27. Andy

    This is, of course, nearly identical to the course of events described in Festinger’s “When Prophecy Fails” from way back in the 50s. Doomsday scare that didn’t happen and so the group just says, “Well God must have spared us because of our faith and preparation.”

    But even if there were in fact any real possibility that it the Rapture could happen (May 21st or otherwise), why, WHY couldn’t he just come out and say, “Well, I guess I was wrong” and be done with it. That’s the problem with expressing extreme certainty in the lack of any information–you’ve committed yourself to it. But just acknowledging your own fallibility and moving on with life…what’s wrong with that?

  28. ND

    I wonder how many of the followers used up any of their life savings, or sold their home or something drastic.

  29. Daffy

    I worked 4 years in religious broadcasting at the start of my career—in that time I did not meet one preacher—not one!!!!—who actually believed what he was saying. They had tapped into a gold mine and they were working it for every last nugget. Nothing more than that. I don’t know if Camping believes what he says, but I do know that most if these snake oil salesmen absolutely do NOT.

  30. Tim G

    This October date isn’t new. Listen to the first minute of a May 2nd SETI radio show Phil was a guest on, Mayhem and Octoberhem

  31. #26, Daffy:

    so you’re saying that they are… hypocritical?! *gasp*

  32. Daffy

    Worse—completely, utterly dishonest with the morals of rutting weasels.

  33. Matthew

    I have some hope for the people who followed him. I am a former doomsdayer-beliver myself. I fell for the Planet X mumbo-jumbo several years ago, and when the doomsday came and went after the “planatary allignment will destroy the world”, I started listening to reason.

    Don’t be too harsh on his followers. If even one comes to his or her senses and starts looking at things logically, it is a victory for the rest of us.

  34. Quiet Desperation

    I realize this is naive of me, but I am only just now realizing how truly irrational millions and millions of people are on this subject;

    Well, to be blunt, you seem to be projecting your anecdotal case of *one* person to millions. Is that rational?

    Coincidentally, Gearbox Software announced today that Duke Nukem Forever has finally gone gold.

    Does this mean they can finally talk about Borderlands 2, which is what people really care about? Well, co-op gamers, anyway.

  35. Number 6

    The way that Camping stated the Rapture would occur, at 6 PM in one time zone and then at 6 PM in an adjacent time zone, and so on and so on, gave it the moniker — Rolling Rapture — a nice bit of alliteration. Also, made it sound like a new thrill ride at Six Flags Great America.

  36. blorg

    He’s not really any crazier than all the other Christians – they all believe that the rapture will occur, they simply haven’t put a date on it yet. All the “no-one can know the day” stuff seems a bit ironic to me. Like, the only problem with his crazy theory is that he got the date wrong.. right.

  37. KiltBear

    Dude! You’re so proud of your call on this? Do you brag about shooting fish in a barrel? ;)

  38. kirk

    Can we switch to two weeks of daily ridicule of people who play the lottery?
    Can we talk about ignorant people who play bingo?
    Can we talk about my laundry; it is in the dryer but I forgot to turn it on. You could make fun of that.

  39. CR

    It’s really sad that in this day and age of instant information, more and more people seem less educated, less able to think for themselves, less WILLING to think at all. I’d almost say that people deserve what they get in situations like that, but the problem is that those people are also dragging their families & friends–who may not have a choice in the matter–along with them.

    On the other hand, why can’t peddlers of this kind of junk–who make a profit by pretending to be a prophet–get punished for fraud? Or do they just hide behind the “it’s what I really believe, you can’t persecute me for my religion” card?

    If I could let go of my scruples, I could also bilk people of their money in some scam. I could certainly use the extra cash! It would be so easy…

  40. CR

    @33 kirk

    DANG! (Runs off to start dryer…)

  41. Daffy

    QD, I didn’t make myself clear—I am largely basing it on the number of people on tv and radio and print who are coming out to defend Camping. It’s shocking. But I grant not a statistical universe. Room for hope?

  42. Um, so this is special pleading, right? Or is it an appeal to authority? No wait, this is moving the goalpost. Meh, I’ll just opt for “indubitably fallacious.”

  43. John P

    He forgot Jesus was at the Last Supper and had to redo the math.

  44. Number 6

    @CR….

    I think you’re right!…Camping’s campaign and similar religious efforts could be the near-perfect scam….because it might be more difficult to prove fraud than in most cases…Camping and his ilk could simply say…”This is what I believe, and because my followers believe, I cannot stop these good people from showing their support by showering money on me. They are doing it of their own free will.”

    Is there an attorney on this blog who could give us an opinion on the fraud issue without being on retainer? :)

  45. This is basically a repeat of “The Great Disappointment” of the 1840′s. Eventually it got respun the same way — a heavenly judgement — and the Seventh Day Adventist church was born. It’s still going strong, despite the whole thing being a complete f*ck up, like this time.

  46. Jon

    October 21st is the first day of Blizzcon. With Diablo 3 coming out this year, maybe this is all one big marketing push by Blizzard.

  47. Corey

    “Rolling Rapture” does sound like a great name for a female fronted metalcore band.

  48. Legion

    Uh, no. You shouldn’t brag. Predicting that the doomsayers will rationalize would be like predicting that someone who sucks at video games will say that something is wrong with the controller.

  49. NoAstronomer

    In the long run I think it’s a good thing that Camping is getting this media coverage. Sure he’s getting some donations now and some gullible people are being fleeced. Let’s face it though, as the saying goes : ‘A fool and his money are some parted’. Anyone who gave their money to Camping probably wasn’t going to hang on to it for much longer anyway.

    The upside is that a lot of people are learning about critical thinking skills. There’s plenty of stuff floating around on blogs and even on news sites pointing out the flaws in the argument. In 1840 a large section of the population, possibly even a majority, believed the prediction. in 2011 it’s mostly ridicule. Or pity.

    Mike.

  50. jess tauber

    So cynical, you people. Shame shame!! The truth is that God has to deal with the hopes and prayers of gazillions of otherwise doomed mortals from umpteen worlds scattered across the visible universe and beyond, and across all time. So you need to expect he’s a little busy. The real answer is simple- Christians have been wait-listed.

  51. As I recall hearing on NPR, though, Camping’s group said they would try to help pay back the people who donated some of their donations. They spent a ton on billboards and such, but I recall hearing on Sunday’s All Things Considered (I believe it was) that there was a recognition that there were at least 5 more months people had to live before the End of Days ™.
    I heard a couple of things in the story as well – that they “prayed hard” and delayed it (which Phil noted would happen as a rationalization) and that the Oct 21st date still applied. I’m with @13 – Jim Shaver – I give you a one-fer on this one as well. :)

  52. Rift

    #36 “He’s not really any crazier than all the other Christians – they all believe that the rapture will occur”

    Not true. There are a lot of christian denominations that do not believe in a rapture, or a trinity, and a bunch of other stuff that’s not in the bible that came centuries later. I was raised in one. The word Rapture isn’t even in the bible. Revelations is about the (then hopeful) downfall of the Roman Empire, the big enemy of the early Christians.

    Not that I don’t agree with you that most Christians are crazy, most theists for that matter, christian or not.

  53. Grizzly

    It’s called cognitive dissonance. A coping mechanism that isn’t good or bad, it just… is. We all have it. So this was, in fact, predictable.

    There’s face-saving, (faith-saving) that is bound to happen when people who desperately believe or have a great deal of personal capital invested in and evidence proves them wrong.

    It takes a great deal to admit that you’ve been fundamentally wrong and to re-orient yourself.

    I read an interview of one of Camping’s followers and he impressed me with his ability to admit that he had made a mistake and that he’d have to re-evaluate ALL of his assumptions. That is something that is rare.

    And this isn’t just something that afflicts believers, it affects all of us.

  54. Indy

    Clerical error!

  55. Miko

    Not so. He’s claiming that the day was correct (just that the effect was invisible) and that faith is now completely irrelevant (since the final judgment was made already), so you’re actually 0 for 2.

  56. AF

    Guyz. I don’t think the point is that Phil is proud of his prediction. I think it is a rhetorical device.

  57. Phil… really? Refuting crazy with more crazy?

    You might as well say the rapture didn’t happen because the Mayans said the world isn’t ending until 2012.

    You’re making as much sense.

  58. Michael Swanson

    I had put my money on him moving the next date to sometime well after his own death to save face. Good thing it was only figurative money, because the old coot is an even bigger fool than I had surmised.

    Harold Camping is a jerk, and it makes me glad that we cease to exist upon death. Once the old bastage is gone, he’s gone, and neither heaven nor hell nor any other “soul” will have to put up with his garbage.

  59. Ad Hominid

    @8 Peptron Says:

    I prefer the interpretation that the rapture DID happen, it’s just that none of them were “True Christians(TM)”, nor did they know any.

    That was my supposition.
    These fundy quacks wouldn’t know Jesus Christ if he showed up in person on the doorsteps of their McMansions. They would probably call the cops and have him arrested for vagrancy or inciting to riot or something. After all, the long-haired agitator did disrupt and assault those good, solid property-owning business people who had legitimate franchises to work the Temple courtyard.

  60. I almost feel sorry for the guy. He made these promises, believed completely in them as he’s believed in Christianity his entire very long life, and they didn’t turn up.

    But then I remember he’s bilked people out of millions, and so deserves all the scorn he gets.

  61. To further elaborate:

    Phil you wrote: “Maybe they — and Camping — should read the Bible more carefully.”

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

    Do you see the mountain of cognitive dissonance you’ve just tossed out there?

    You’re playing both sides of the coin, and that’s crap.

  62. Horse (62): Actually, no, I don’t see your point (seriously). I make two points there: one is that the Bible precludes the type of prediction Camping is making in the first place (and it’s the Bible on which Camping relies to make his prediction), and the second is that we already have evidence of how Camping and his camp will react when October comes and goes with no Rapture. Those are two separate points on two separate topics.

  63. artbot

    So, in keeping with The American Way, Camping gave us an IOU for the Apocalypse? Figures!

  64. Floyd

    Personally, I prefer the “Rapture,” Debbie Harry/Blondie style.
    Debbie Hary was good looking, had a good backup band, and sang way better (maybe she still does) than Harold Camping. No flimflamming either.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  65. Ray

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

    Oh please. Anyone with half a brain called it.

  66. dirk

    What happened to climate science after many predictions of water levels and population trends made in the 1970s failed to materialize? They said they miscalculated and kept on.

  67. Maria

    I’ve been thinking about this a bit. The desire for rapture comes across as seriously sociopathic.

    It strikes me that anyone who’s core belief, self worth and very god, depend on the certainty of my and everyone else’s agonizing deaths by horror; well, they are not the sort of people I feel like giving the time of day to or ever being around. I can’t shake the feeling that those who wish for the rapture, who strive for it and want it to happen, might be a wee bit sick.

  68. Cambrico

    18 Million USD donated to his Radio station?
    You can run a whole hospital in a poor country with that money or make a lot of good in the US focusing in some needy people.
    Yes, I know. Why expend that money in the poor or the needy if all are going to die in a few months.

  69. Phil,

    It’s like calling a LOTR fan crazy for trying to sail off into the West because he’s sailing out of California, rather than from Europe.

    Saying, “Maybe they — and Camping — should read the Bible more carefully.” is like telling that LOTR fan he should read LOTR more carefully.

    Them reading the Bible more carefully does not change the delusion. It does not remove the con that bilked and will bilk people out of their livelihood, cause people to commit murder and suicide over the notion of the rapture, and generally wreck families and lives.

    Are you seriously saying the evidence that nothing will happen in October is because the bible says no one can know the date or time?

    Or are you saying that we know nothing is going to happen because we have ample evidence that it’s all utter myth?

    Do you not see how your post is constructed ambiguously to play both sides of the coin?

  70. Jonathan Latimer

    Trafalgar Day?!?!?!?

    Noooooo…

  71. Puddlejumper

    October 22, 1844, RM.
    I appreciate the freedom to express opinions here. What I find perplexing is the negative reaction to opinions that are different from yours. But I will give mine anyway.
    I doubt that Camping was doing this for the money or for the fame and that he was sincerely concerned. He was probably wrong. That there are still people who are compelled to predict the end of the world baffles me. The world ended for 117 in Joplin.
    The warning I want to give is this: do not follow or depend on someone else for what you believe. What you believe is your responsibility alone.

  72. Jason

    Yunno he really is starting to lose all credibility here. October? Really?

    At least May was -somewhat- believable, because everyone knows from watching Buffy that May is apocalypse season.

  73. @Puddlejumper

    Because not all opinions have equal weight or validity. Opinions lead to all sorts of faulty thinking and bad laws. Opinions can be formed from horrible logic and be terribly unsound.

    Being able to pound on them, having to defend them – it’s the spice of life and discourse.

    It’s what causes people’s intellect and understanding to grow.

    I’m pleased as punch that Phil would take the time to push back against my opinion and make me not only understand where he is coming from, but perhaps, show my where MY thinking is wrong.

  74. ASFalcon13

    @ CR

    “It’s really sad that in this day and age of instant information, more and more people seem less educated, less able to think for themselves, less WILLING to think at all.”

    I was thinking about this a day or two ago. If anything, we might be at the point of information overload. There’s lots of information flowing freely, but there’s not necessarily a whole lot of quality control going on. Sadly, not everyone knows of the importance of verifying information – if it’s on the internet, it must be true! – so the upshot is that no matter how misguided or idiotic your idea is, there’s probably some information out there that supports it. Whether that information is valid or not is usually left as an exercise to the reader.

    Another upshot of this relatively free flow of information is that quacks who might not have been known outside a few mindless followers a few years ago can now easily peddle their nonsense to a worldwide audience.

    So, in other words, the abundance of information doesn’t necessarily guarantee an increase in critical thinking at all. And, believe me, I don’t at all think that we should censor or restrict this flow of information. Rather, this underlines the importance of critical thinking, and shows that it’s something we need to actively teach; we can’t just rely on technology or information to make it happen.

  75. Tim

    It’s interesting to me that I heard more about Camping from these types of websites and news sources than from the source (for that, I saw a single print ad). That is, if the news websites simply ignored him just like every other loonie, there would be no news.

    I think he just took urban legend authorship to a new level. No longer is ignoring the aunt who forwards us annoying emails adequate from shielding us from the world’s idiocy. I bet he’s chuckling to himself how he took so-called reputable news organizations for a ride.

  76. The famous P.T. Barnum quote comes to mind. A wise man. (Yes, I know he may not really have said it, but it describes his (and Camping’s) business model perfectly.

  77. Rift

    The number of comments thinking that Phil is really bragging about being right leads me to the conclusion that a lot of people posting don’t know Phil very well. It’s called irony and sarcasm people, look it up. We all knew this would happen, and those of us who have followed Phil for over a decade also knew a blog post like this would happen after the 21st, and will happen again after Oct 21st.

    Phil is being funny not serious. (well except the part where these kind of beliefs are dangerous)

    And no, Phil isn’t playing both sides of the coin, nor does he believe any tripe the bible says about no one shall no the hour. He’s simply stating that even their own stupid holy script contradicts what they are saying.

    I still think we need a reading comprehension test before letting anybody comment here.

  78. Liath

    [Kiltbear #37}

    Ever try to shoot fish in a barrel? Try it. If you actually hit one you have the right to brag.

  79. Coda

    Wait…is it just one fish in the barrel? Or is it an entire barrel of fish? And are we shooting down into an open barrel, or trying to pierce through the side? And this is all assuming that it’s a traditional wooden barrel, as well. And we haven’t even started talking about projectiles yet…arrows, bolts, bullets…quick, someone call Adam and Jamie!

  80. SlimJim

    Well, it would’ve happened if Macho Man Randy Savage hadn’t died the day before. After Randy made it to heaven, Jesus was way too busy snappin’ into Slim Jims to waste his time here on Earth.

  81. @ASFalcon13 & @CR,

    There’s also the problem of information filtering. Let’s say there are 1,000,000 articles on a subject. Obviously, I can’t read them all and evaluate all of their arguments, so I just choose a handful. Chances are, I’ll wind up choosing the ones whose previous arguments lined up with my opinions. Thus, my future opinions would wind up being heavily influenced by the same sources over and over, completely ignoring (in most cases) opposing arguments.

    It is tough to counteract this because it is part of human nature to group into packs and regard the other pack as “the enemy”, not as “that group with some valid points.”

  82. @SlimJim,

    No, Macho Man Randy Savage elbowed Jesus and pinned him, thus preventing the rapture. Ooooh yeah! (Search Google for “macho man stops rapture” for a nicely done illustration.)

  83. @NoAstronomer,

    Sadly, if the past is any indication, people will learn not to take doomsday prophesies seriously… until the next doomsday prophesy comes along.

  84. gia

    This isn’t just about money. There are already stories coming out about people who comitted murder-suicide because of the drivel this greedy psycho is spouting and their blood is on his hands.

  85. @Rift

    “And no, Phil isn’t playing both sides of the coin, nor does he believe any tripe the bible says about no one shall no the hour. He’s simply stating that even their own stupid holy script contradicts what they are saying.

    I still think we need a reading comprehension test before letting anybody comment here.”

    Given Phil’s infamously soft stance on religion as opposed to his take on other pseudo-scientific bs, I think it deserved being called out.

  86. truthspeaker

    “TechyDad Says:
    May 24th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    @NoAstronomer,

    Sadly, if the past is any indication, people will learn not to take doomsday prophesies seriously… until the next doomsday prophesy comes along.”

    Yep. Including doomsday prophecies from prophets who have been wrong before – like Camping was wrong in 1994.

  87. gdave

    @Coda:

    Actually, Adam and Jamie did try to shoot fish in a barrel. The result was that shooting a fish in a rain barrel full of water is actually nearly impossible – but the shockwave from the bullet will probably kill it.

  88. Liath

    [Coda #80]

    Adam and Jamie set up the fish in a barrel myth. I think they only used one fish though. I’m not really sure. I do remember it was no easy “shoot from the hip” thing to do. Perhaps shooting fish in a barrel should come to mean a thing is hard rather than easy.

  89. James Hammond

    Hey Phil — as others have pointed out, Camping hasn’t budged on the dates, but rather has gone with the “invisible fulfillment” dodge that the remaining Millerites settled on following the “Great Disappointment” of 1844.

    As for Matthew 24:36, Camping was well aware of it (and also Acts 1:7). It’s the obvious response to rapture date-setters. There’s no link from the revamped home page, but his response is still available on his website, if you link to it directly:

    http://www.familyradio.com/graphical/literature/nomanknows/nomanknows.html

    Basically he goes with what I think of as the “Daniel Gambit”. He cites Daniel 12:4 & 9 to say that the day and hour are “sealed” only until the end times. When the end is near, people with “discernment” will be given the knowledge to figure out the day of judgement.

    To me the funny thing is that these verses of Daniel were used by the pious fraud who wrote it sometime around 165-168 BCE to be the excuse for why no one had heard of the book of Daniel before, when it was supposed to have been written by a 6th century BCE visionary prophesying about the end of days brought about by the 2nd century Greek empire.

    See you at TAM.

    –James

  90. Bandsaw

    #52 Bill,
    I would be interested to see if his group actually does give any of the money back. The paper in the area where he is based (Oakland Tribune in Oakland, CA) included in their article on the subject:
    “As for anyone in destitution as a result of having given everything away, Camping said: ‘People cope.’”
    In other words, he’s keeping their money, even if they gave him every last penny. To me, that shows the nature of this fraud more than anything.

  91. chris j.

    it all reminds me of my favorite line from a laurie anderson song:

    “paradise is exactly like where you are right now,
    only much, much better!”

  92. Robert

    It’s like an infection when people don’t take the entire course of antibiotics. The weaker germs get killed off, leaving the stronger ones, and the infection bounces right back. When preachers make false prophesies, some people leave the group – analogous to the weaker germs being killed off. But others, the hardcore who follow the leader despite evidence, remain, and the group rebuilds from that core stronger – and crazier – than before.

    Some groups like Jim Jones’ People’s Temple or Heaven’s Gate are led by people who are so extremely crazy that there is no one left to form a new core. And other crazy groups can mutate toward being less crazy over time.

  93. Bryan D

    If Dante is correct then “prognosticators” like this fellow end up getting there heads sewn on backwards in Hell. Sounds like an apt punishment.

  94. @ Liath, et al:

    With regards to shooting fish in a barrel, doesn’t that entirely depend on what you are shooting them with?

    One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, if I aim a 155mm howizter at ‘em, they are going to get hit.
    :P

  95. katwagner

    @66 Ray

    “Oh please. Anyone with half a brain called it.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Jeez. Hahahahahaha!

    But I still REALLY need more raptors over here. The voles are incredibly bad in the south central Idaho mountains.

  96. Robert

    The crazies are very good at getting their message out. The mainstream churches, which do not promote belief in the ratpure – the rapture interpretation only dates back to the 1800′s – don’t spend a lot of time or energy keeping people informed about their view. As a result, a lot of people are sitting in the pews at mainstream churches, but their views are informed more by what they heard on the crazies’ TV and radio stations. The mainstream churches theology is based on many centuries of philosophy, on people actually THINKING about things. The fundies base things much more on “visions” and the personal authority of the preacher. Perhaps the mainstream churches are wrong too, but they have a more solid footing than the fundies do. The fundies are the Andromeda Strain of religion.

  97. Mark

    D.J. Grothe did a great interview on my local NPR affiliate yesterday on the topic of how people are duped into this sort of thing. Here’s a link to the MP3 podcast. Interview starts about 60 minutes in.
    http://www.wdetfm.org/audio/craigfahle/382/CFS_PODCAST_5-23-11.mp3
    I didn’t know it prior to hearing the interview, but Grothe actually grew up in a doomsday cult, so he has a unique insight into this topic beyond just being president of the JREF.

  98. Angrychef

    I think we should all be greatfull that this guy is not a dooms day leader in the sence that he didn’t ask all his followers to top them selves. Last thing we need is more people dying in the name of God!

  99. Angrychef

    Also no matter how localized these things begin as once the media gets involved and it goes “viral” you will also find a spate of suicides the follow these BS predictions. Think of all this family’s that sold up and waited on there knees praying fervently only for the time to come and to go and for nothing to happen. What do they do? People like this guy might think they have good intentions but the sad face is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

  100. Archangel

    “My dog ate my Rapture….”

  101. I couldn’t help myself. I made a line of Rapture Cards ;)

    zazzle.com/nottaken … am I going to hell now?

  102. @ Christopher Ambler:

    Ha!

    And yes, yes you are.

  103. Liath

    [kuhnigget #95]

    Ipso facto no fish. They all got raptured by the prophet kuhnigget . Or perhaps that is ruptured. No matter, no fish. Are fish awaiting rapture? Are they even now relating to each how the Ichthyosaur loves them and is saving a place for them?

  104. lloydgeuk

    So an old man made a poor prediction based on a some vague and obscure text. – It’s not the end of the world is it? :)

  105. Menyambal

    The term “Rapture” isn’t even in the Bible. It was invented by a preacher, Darby, in the latish 1800s. The concept was based on some Bible verses, which are actually a massive retcon written AFTER the First Jewish-Roman War and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. As often in the Bible, a bunch of prophecies were made up after the event, written down and backdated by putting them into the mouth of an historical figure.

    Some of the verses were an attempt to show prophecy, some were propaganda, some were intended to explain away uncomfortable facts–such as the fact that a lot of Judeans were taken away to slavery, and the fact that more Judeans killed each other than were killed by the Romans (the Romans were more restoring order in “their” province than putting down a rebellion). Christians made the most of that by writing it into their “scriptures” their way.

  106. Sharon

    I really want to see somebody who lost all their money try to sue Camping because the world didn’t end. What would that be – breach of promise? Can you imagine that trial? It would be epic.

  107. Cindy

    So is Camping predicting that the Cubs will win the World Series?

    (Sorry to Cubs fans, I couldn’t resist. I’m a Red Sox fan so I know all about suffering.)

  108. Digital Atheist

    @cindy 108

    Madam, thou needest get thyself to a monastery. At some point in time, all of the jibes and jokes spouted at the Cubs will come back to haunt you American Leagues types. Just because Chicago has often been Completely Useless By September, that is no reason to taint their bad luck streak with prattle about World Series wins! (Just be glad that Camping didn’t predict the Red Sox to win the WS this year.). :P

  109. Rift

    #86 Horse? Soft stance on religion? Are you kidding me? He may not be as rabid nasty an atheist as P Z Meyers, but you are mistaken in this case, and Phil didn’t need ‘calling out”. You seriously believe Phil thinks Matthew 24 is right???? You’re new around here, aren’t you?

    There is freedom of religion in the USA, after all. People have a constitutional right to be stupid. I believe strongly in that, and if that makes me soft on religion too, then so be it.

  110. TheVirginian

    The Raptoring is Oct. 21!!!!!! The Velociraptors will eat us all on the 21st!!!!!!!
    My birthday is not until the 24th!!!!!
    I won’t get my birthday cake, my presents, my all-the-sex-you-can-#@$%^* at the local bordello, the end-of-month office mass birthday party, and all the other accustomed goodies!
    Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh! (Insert a Lucy Ricardo crying jag video here from “I Love Lucy”)
    It’s not fair.
    IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!!
    Zeus knows I’ve been a faithful worshiper at his shrines for years. I’ve offered incense, birds, cattle and virg ….. uh, vegetables, to him on his altar. He could at least wait until the morning of the 25th.
    That would let me enjoy my birthday orgy and drinking party, but end the world before I wake up suffering from my annual gigantic hangover!!!!!!

  111. QuietDesperation

    Dude! You’re so proud of your call on this? Do you brag about shooting fish in a barrel?

    I have to admit I was thinking the same thing, but didn’t want to say anything. ;-) My friend’s 14 year old daughter last week said, “What excuse will they make when the Rapture does not happen?”

    With regards to shooting fish in a barrel, doesn’t that entirely depend on what you are shooting them with?

    Dynamite.

  112. JB of Brisbane

    @Archangel #101 – “That din-go’s got my RAP-CHAH!”

  113. Avi

    I could not read all this crap.
    A few good quotes though:

    “To any of my friends who believe the Rapture is taking place this Saturday- I am 100% sure I will be staying behind, so if you have any money or material possessions you’d like to give to me. Just let me know and I’ll swing by and pick them up. Thanks, and have fun in heaven!”

    “I’m still here, as expected. My money grab was a fail, also as expected. Taking pre-placements for 2012.”

  114. realta fuar

    I’ll join in with many others: why not just shoot fish with an atomic bomb then brag about your prowess?
    Second: trying to match Bible quotes with a bible-thumper is a chump’s game that no intelligent athiest ever engages in.

  115. Messier Tidy Upper

    Not that this is any big surprise; as I said in my first post, rationalizations were just as inevitable as the Rapture wasn’t.

    Yup. Very predictable indeed. ;-)

    No apocalpyse , lots of excuses. same thing every durn time – and there’s been so many of them! ;-) :-P

  116. Messier Tidy Upper

    @5. Georg :

    ”as saying the sun will rise tomorrow.””
    Is this another prediction of that Camping?

    Actually, I think Camping predicted that our Sun wouldn’t rise tomorrow! (Or yesterday or the day before or the day before that ..)

  117. Messier Tidy Upper

    There’s been a few explanations for why the apocalpyse Rapture didn’t occur on schedule :

    http://imgur.com/zf7B9

    But my fave has to be this explanation :

    http://www.satirewire.com/content1/?p=3062

    From Mr Apocalpyse himself! ;-)

    (In case folks missed it on the last thread here on this topic. Apologies if that breeches netiquette but I think it bears repeating or rather relinking.)

    Via PZ Myers Pharyngula blog :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/doh_we_should_have_known.php

    which also reports in the thread immediately before that linked one some of the tragedies caused by those poor fools who took Camping’s rot seriously and were apparently genuinely terrified the world was ending. Silly them – but their poor kids. :-(

    PS. As for shooting a fish in a barrel that depends upon a lot of factors – notably how big is the barrel, how big is the fish, is it more than one fish, do we count them being killed by the shockwave, is there water in the barrel too, etc .. ;-)

  118. John EB Good

    @36 blorg: If you ask a Jesuit,(which is a form of Christian with an education), especially the one who’s Director of the Vatican Observatory in Nevada, he’ll tell you “Yes, for sure rapture will come, in some 3 to 4 billions years, when the Sun will inflate into a Red Giant!”

    That’s the kind of reasoning you go through when you’re both religious and have an education to top it off. Unfortunatly, this guy gets way less publicity than those Sectarian Leaders. (Not sure I can call him anything close to a Pastor. A millionaire that understand fiscality better than Donald Trump? Maybe.)

  119. Messier Tidy Upper

    @67. dirk Says:

    What happened to climate science after many predictions of water levels and population trends made in the 1970s failed to materialize? They said they miscalculated and kept on.

    Check out this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XB3S0fnOr0M&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33

    when it comes to what they were or weren’t saying inthe 1970′s climate ~wise.

    See also this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9SGw75pVas&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33

    for what we do know about climate change and how and why we know it.

    Plus this one :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0HGFSUx2a8&feature=related

    which covers more predictable predictions.

    Oh and this one :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGVgrRAyQmw

    gives you more y’know actual scientific evidence too. Want to compare predictions? Check that out. Hope this helps, really – please do watch and consider these, okay.

    PS. I was a climate contrarian myself once. I was wrong then.

  120. Margie

    Wondering what part of: ” Matt. 24:36″ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” …….did he not understand?

  121. truthspeaker

    Robert Says:
    May 24th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    The crazies are very good at getting their message out. The mainstream churches, which do not promote belief in the ratpure – the rapture interpretation only dates back to the 1800′s – don’t spend a lot of time or energy keeping people informed about their view. As a result, a lot of people are sitting in the pews at mainstream churches, but their views are informed more by what they heard on the crazies’ TV and radio stations. The mainstream churches theology is based on many centuries of philosophy, on people actually THINKING about things. The fundies base things much more on “visions” and the personal authority of the preacher. Perhaps the mainstream churches are wrong too, but they have a more solid footing than the fundies do.

    Nonsense. They have exactly the same footing as the fundies – zero. Age does not make a soft footing stronger.

    Mainstream church theology may be based on centuries of philosophy, but that’s not what they preach from the pulpit, which is part of the reason their parishioners get their theology from the sources you mentioned.

  122. AL

    It’s interesting to me that I heard more about Camping from these types of websites and news sources than from the source (for that, I saw a single print ad). That is, if the news websites simply ignored him just like every other loonie, there would be no news.

    I live in San Jose, CA, and just on my 5 mile commute to work, there are five of Camping’s billboards (one for each mile, I guess). So he’s definitely making it difficult for the media to ignore. I’m certain a lot of people saw the billboards and called the news stations to find out what it is.

    In any event, I support the media covering these types of things. I don’t think looneyism should be ignored in principle. In practice, sure, there are so many loonies out there that there just isn’t enough time to give them all coverage so inevitably the media have to ignore some of them, but a choice select few one or two loonies given coverage about their spectacularly bad prophecies might do a little good for skepticism and critical thinking.

  123. I wonder how many of the people who’ve been laughing at Campings prediction take the 2012 nonsense seriously.

  124. mike burkhart

    I knew he would do this and when the world dosen’t on Oct 21 he will set another date. I have heard hes getting millons of dollars from all this, so I am atarting to think he’s doing it for the money. Off topic I see that the creationist museum is advertising Phil I think you need to say something the ad blast all the other museums for there suport of evloution.Also I’ll be watching horror movies on Oct 21 (my Halloween custom) so if the world dose end I won’t notice.

  125. ND

    Weatherwax,

    Sounds like something best described using Venn diagrams.

  126. T-storm

    Maybe God and the ‘ol J man are up there laughing their asses off?

    G: Hey Jesus, convince them the world is gonna end in the yr 1400.
    J: Got it.
    G: They bought it!
    G&J: Ha! Burn.
    J: What next?
    G: Ummmm how about 1612?
    J: Priceless.

    And so on.

  127. Jimmy

    Harold Camping’s Rapture Hoax

    Hidden behind the rapture date-setting fizzle of May 21, 2011 is one of the greatest untold religion stories of all time!
    Of course “rapture” to 50 million American evangelicals is the “pretribulation rapture view” – a secret return of Christ said to occur several years before the final Second Coming to earth – but most are unaware that it was never a part of any Christian theology before 1830. And their leaders fight hard to cover up recently uncovered facts about its shady 181-year-old history – facts about its rampant plagiarism, devious revisionism of early “rapture” documents, and other dishonesty that journalist/historian Dave MacPherson (known as the “Rush Limbaugh of the Rapture”) has been uncovering since 1968.
    The mainstream media have somehow overlooked his highly endorsed research even though No. 1 religion expert Dr. Martin Marty featured it in 1980 in Christian Century and said that Time or Newsweek should air it. And even though rapture promoters like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye have published their muddied-up versions of it. And even though Bill Moyers touched on it in 2005 in the Minneapolis paper in his article “There is No Tomorrow” which mentioned the “fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers” who have “captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.”
    If this fringe-British-invented “pretrib rapture” escapism had never existed, American fundies could never have had fun (or built fortunes) with their mega-selling books and date-setting games. MacPherson’s bestselling nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot” is in libraries and bookstores, and his many articles on Yahoo, MSN etc. include “Pretrib Rapture Politics” (showing how anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim the rapture is!) and also “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”

  128. Nigel Depledge

    Weatherwax (124) said:

    I wonder how many of the people who’ve been laughing at Campings prediction take the 2012 nonsense seriously.

    Yeah, but … isn’t the 2012 prediction why most people didn’t believe Camping?
    ;-)

  129. MaDeR

    If pressed, I could found someone that believe in both. Simultaneously.

  130. Bill

    Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture !

    Many assert that the “rapture” promoted by evangelicals was first taught, at least seminally, by a Jesuit Catholic priest named Francisco Ribera in his 16th century commentary on the book of Revelation.
    To see what is claimed, Google “Francisco Ribera taught a rapture 45 days before the end of Antichrist’s future reign.” (Oddly, many claimants are anti-Catholic and merely use Ribera in order to “find” much earlier support for their rapture which actually isn’t found in any official Christian theology or organized church before 1830!)
    After seeing this claim repeated endlessly without even one sentence from Ribera offered as proof, one widely known church historian decided to go over every page in Ribera’s 640-page work published in Latin in 1593.
    After laboriously searching for the Latin equivalent of “45 days” (“quadraginta quinque dies”), “rapture” (“raptu,” “raptio,” “rapiemur,” etc.) and other related expressions, the same scholar revealed that he couldn’t find anything in Ribera’s work even remotely resembling a prior rapture! (Since the same scholar plans to publish his complete findings, I won’t disclose his name.)
    Are you curious about the real beginnings of this evangelical belief (a.k.a. the “pre-tribulation rapture”) merchandised by Darby, Scofield, Lindsey, Falwell, LaHaye, Ice, Van Impe, Hagee and many others?
    Google “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Walvoord Melts Ice,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived” by D.M., “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” – most of these by the author of the 300-page nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot,” the highly endorsed and most accurate documentation on the long hidden historical facts of the 182-year-old pre-tribulation rapture theory imported from Britain during the late 19th century.

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