The end is nigh? How prediction all adds up

2011-05-21 00:00

WHEN the credulous stop wondering what happened to today’s Judgment Day, the rest of the world will still be wondering where the notion came from that the righteous — which totals three percent of humanity — will be ushered into the hereafter, while everyone else will be pummelled by tsunamis and all sorts of natural disasters for five months.

And then, on October 21, God would have destroyed anything and anyone that’s left.

The originator of this God delusion is Harold Camping, head of Family Radio broadcasting network, which has 150 stations in the United States.

Camping claimed on his website that he had “infallible, absolute proof” of the end. Camping says that because Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 1, 33 AD, and that it takes exactly 365,2422 days for the Earth to complete one orbit of the Sun, we can conclude that, on April 1, 2011, Jesus was crucified exactly 722 449,07 days ago. Add 51 days to this to get to May 1, and you get a figure of 722 500,07.

Round that down to the nearest integer, and you get 722 500, which is an important number because it is the square of 5 x 17 x 10. The number five, says Camping, represents atonement. Ten represents completeness, and 17 represents heaven. Multiply all these together — twice — and you get 722 500. Therefore the apocalypse kicks off on Saturday, May 21.

Sceptics might ask why the date of the end of the world is linked to that of Jesus’ crucifixion, why the numbers five, 10, and 17 represent what Camping claims they represent, why they should be multiplied together, why they should then be squared, and, for that matter, why the Bible would contain esoteric numerological references predicting the end of the world in the first place.

They could also point out that April 1, 33 AD was actually a Wednesday, and that, under Camping’s method, April 1, 2011 gets counted twice.

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