World to End on May 21? Skeptics Not Buying It

Doomsday preacher's timetable for the Rapture has some serious religious and academic doubters.

If faithful listeners of the Christian broadcasting network Family Radio are to be believed, then the organizers of the Skokie Festival of Cultures picked the wrong date to kickstart the festivities on Saturday.

On that day, May 21, 2011, the world will come to an end, according to the Christian group Project Caravan, which has been crisscrossing the U.S., including the Chicago area, to spread its message. It is a claim widely received with skepticism if not outright dismissal from other religious and scientific communities.

"The end of the world is almost here," Project Caravan proclaims on its radio station, its billboards, its leaflets and its website. "The bible guarantees it."

Five months of natural disaster will commence on May 21, and earthquakes will cause widespread death among nonbelievers, while the believers will be saved from damnation and punishment.

According to the Oakland-based group headed by preacher Harold Camping, only about 200 million people or 3 percent of the world's current population will be saved and "will be caught up [ruptured] into heaven."

Amer Olson is the director of the Skokie-based Jews For Jesus. He told Skokie Patch that setting a definite date for the world to end "seems foolish and contrary to the scriptures."

Olson notes there have been many claims of doomsday scenarios that "have not come to pass."

Jews For Jesus, a missionary group, believes that only God can determine when the exact Judgment Day will come.

"His return is imminent. That means it could be in the next five seconds, it could be 500 years or anywhere in between," Olson said.

"I will not pack my bags and sell all my possessions on May 20," Olson said. "But if the Messiah does return that's great. He's gonna return any day."

Such predictions "doesn't have any meaning" in Islam either, said Arshi Mujtaba of the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove.

"In the Islamic perspective, we don't believe that there's a certain date given to us," she said.

Mujtaba also said while the Muslim holy book, the Quran, states that the world will eventually end, God alone--and not any human being--can decide to punish or extend forgiveness for mankind's offenses and shortcomings.

Mujtaba also said that her religion does not profess that only Muslims can be saved either.

Camping, the Christian preacher, based his May 21 end-of-the-world prediction on his analysis of the biblical texts. He arrived at the 7,000-year time frame by juxtaposing biblical passages and calculating the exact date using his own mathematical formula.

The first passage comes from the Book of Genesis that states:

"And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the Flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."

Using a second biblical passage from Peter, Camping theorized that each of the seven days mentioned in Genesis is equivalent to 1,000 years.

The preacher further explained that since the great biblical flood, which prompted Noah to build the Ark occurred in 4990 B.C., the 7,000-year mark is the year 2011. He did not explain his method for reaching the date of 4990 B.C.

"Amazingly, May 21, 2011, is the 17th day of the second month of the biblical calendar of our day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the second month, in the year 4990 B.C," Camping explained.

Professor Emile Okal, a leading scientist at Northwestern University's Department of Geological Sciences, told Skokie Patch that Camping's prediction "has absolutely no scientific value."

"You can always predict that there will be an earthquake tomorrow. But if you don't tell me where and how big, it's tantamount to saying, 'It's going to rain somewhere tomorrow,' " said Okal, who has published 200 journals about seismology, volcanic activities and tsunami among other subjects.

Despite many years of studies, the professor said that the scientific community has not yet discovered a reliable and consistent method or instrument to predict earthquakes.

"If in the past they have predicted the end of the world, and the end of the world hasn't arrive since we are still talking today, it sounds like this prediction have absolutely no scientific value," Okal said.

If an earthquake occurs on May 21, it will merely be a coincidence, he said.

Citing astronomer Galileo, whose studies about the Earth and the Sun were dismissed by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, Okal said many religious beliefs have been proven to be scientifically unfounded. 

Turning philosophical, he said, "I would venture to say that a successful religion has to be Darwinian." The author added that a "smart religion" can survive by embracing a society that is "progressing scientifically."

"I will talk to you next week after the end of the world. How about that?" Okal said.

c May 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Everyone should stop focusing on when the world will end. Instead focus on living life. The present is all we have, the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Every day, do something that makes you happy. Every day, appreciate the little things. Every day, laugh.
Rev. Daniel W. Blair May 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM
I am very sad for those who have been following this lie that the rapture will occur on May 21st. Even if they attempt to explain away “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32), they cannot explain away that most every Christian, theologian, scholar, and prophet from the first Century until the Nineteenth Century all believed that the church would go through the Great Tribulation and not escape through some secret rapture that would leave the world paralyzed. I pray that they will take a moment and read my book, “Final Warning” because the hour of is His judgment has come. http://www.revelation-truth.org
Evashini May 20, 2011 at 01:19 PM
the bible does not give a date either and people who make preditions like this, lets the world believe that christians are fools, Gods word is there for a purpose to give us guidance on how to live our lives, and these peeps are definately not following it, they should try and focus on their lives and not get other peeps worked up about things they have no control over.
imawesome May 20, 2011 at 01:23 PM
ill check in an 3 days so ill c u here
Evashini May 20, 2011 at 01:24 PM
Well said Rev, tiered of peeps that make the Lord look like a fool
imawesome May 20, 2011 at 01:25 PM
2 morro my lil brother b day dangggggggg
imawesome May 20, 2011 at 01:26 PM
eat cake too = )
imawesome May 20, 2011 at 01:27 PM
my favortie color purple dangggggggg
fsdf May 20, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Trish May 20, 2011 at 01:50 PM
"According to the Oakland-based group headed by preacher Harold Camping, only about 200 million people or 3 percent of the world's current population will be saved and "will be caught up [ruptured] into heaven." Gee, I hope that "ruptured" was a typo....
metehcoolest May 20, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Does any one know how they predicted this well here it is. The number 5 equals “atonement”, the number 10 equals “completeness”, and the number 17 equals “heaven”. Christ hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years. If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year), the result is 722,449. The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days. 51 + 722,449 = 722,500. (5 × 10 × 17)2 or (atonement × completeness × heaven)2 also equals 722,500. Thus, Camping concludes that 5 × 10 × 17 is telling us a “story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we’re completely saved.” That is a load of BS anyone can take a set of completely random numbers and multiply add subtract or divide them and get a desired number and outcome. You just can't do that. This date is completely false and was thought up by some radical who is just trying to get his 15 minutes of fame.
jessie May 20, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Only god knows when its time. People are trying to be smarter then god
Dago Farinas May 20, 2011 at 02:10 PM
Live your day all way like is your last one.live is viutifull Dago Farinas
felix staime May 20, 2011 at 02:25 PM
people need to stop making predictions on the end of earth if thats the case those who want to make predictions should just go kill thereselves and stop messing with other peoples lives like their our god. god said in the bible only he knows when the world is going to end not jesus not the angles not the devil god nd only him.those predicters should go get a life my name is felix staime and im 15 and tired of there BS!
cecelia May 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
people just live life and dont suck into the bad... god knows what he is doing up there and has a plan for everyone!!!!
dan May 20, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Ok it does say no man knows the day or the hour but god is a good and lovin god and god give us warns in 1 thessalonians 5:2-3 of the day of judgment coming to dtroy those who deny that near the end of the world the true believers will know the time the hour of chris coming to bring to heaven so please have jesus in your life and ask 4 forgiveness and get saved
Trust Comes1st May 20, 2011 at 10:33 PM
All is fake.Only god knows when the right time has come.He will help all of us humans cause he made us and we will stay focused on our ordanary life and pretend none has been true.SO GO AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE!you've got nothing to lose
Wrong dates May 20, 2011 at 11:39 PM
Will it be on may 21 inthe USA (may 22 on the other side of the international date line) or may 22 in USA since the bible is based upon events that happened in europe, so the dates would be a day behind. Understand.
J C May 21, 2011 at 06:38 PM
When will people wise up and stop believing this bronze age superstition and hocus pocus ...Frankly I find it amazing anyone buys in to this nonsense. It's the biggest lie ever told, Made up by fearful ignorant peasants , With poor personal hygiene I might add....
J C May 21, 2011 at 06:40 PM
J C May 22, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Sunday may 22......Huh, How about that........


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