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Skeptic History: Armageddon! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Farley   

The world did not end last Sunday, May 27th. Once again, this comes as no surprise.                                                                    Skeptic History Icon

Last year around this same time, one practically could not avoid news coverage of Harold Camping's prediction of Judgment Day for May 21, 2011. Driven by the Christian minister's broadcasts on his Family Radio Network and billboards around the country, many of his followers sold their belongings and traveled around to spread the word of a looming disaster that ultimately never came.  Camping had previously botched predictions for May 21, 1988 and September 6, 1994.

The prediction this year for May 27th came from a Church of God pastor named Ronald Weinland (born May 30, 1949) who has been promoting a pair of free e-books about how the world will end. I'm sure he is quite disappointed his prediction did not come true, not the least because it would have prevented the start of his trial for federal tax evasion, which is currently scheduled to begin Monday, June 4.

No rational person is surprised when these predictions fail to come true. They've been made all through history, literally thousands of times.  Appendix III of Randi's Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural lists no less than forty-four of them.  There is a website called A Brief History of the Apocalypse that lists hundreds more.

Of course, much has been written about the ridiculous Mayan apocalypse predictions for later this year, which have been promoted for years. These are based on a flawed interpretation of ancient calendar systems by new age believers. And just this month, a previously unknown Mayan ruin was revealed that contains murals which further contradict the bogus 2012 story.

But even with that debunking, we're still not done with doomsday predictions for this year. Another religious sect known as Growing in Grace International (led by one Jose de Luis de Jesus) has erected billboards in Toronto and elsewhere that predict a "transformation" for June 30, 2012. This group, perhaps more accurately called a cult, claims that adherents will be granted superpowers on that date, such as the ability to walk through walls.

Though it might be tempting to simply laugh at Weinland, de Jesus and their followers, these predictions are not without consequences.  Their adherents will make life decisions based on the predictions, such as selling all their belongings, just as Camping's followers did last year.   

These peoples lives will be devastated by this ridiculous misinformation.  Think about them after the next prediction proves wrong.
You can get a daily dose of the history of skepticism with JREF’s free Today in Skeptic History app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Or subscribe for a daily fact on Twitter or Facebook.

(This is adapted from a segment that originally appeared on the Skepticality podcast episode #156)

Tim Farley is a Research Fellow for JREF.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Sympathy is Hard to Muster
written by Jim Shaver, June 01, 2012

Yes, time and time again, people who are taken in by these ridiculous apocalyptic cults end up taking major financial injury. But try as I might, I find great difficulty in conjuring any significant sympathy for them. The truth about reality is usually not only available to them, it's all up in their faces. Yet they still stubbornly, arrogantly cling to their superstitions and their contempt for those who try to help them. They get what they deserve, I say.
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Where are the Fraud Prosecutions?
written by StarTrekLivz, June 01, 2012
I would like to know how this activity is NOT a species of fraud: Harold Camping made over US$100,000,000 (yes, I made sure it was the right number of Zeroes) on propagating this deception. TAX FREE. Meanwhile, some of his followers gave away their 401(k) and/or pension funds (which means they will be applying for various kinds of social services our tax dollars pay for), their kids' education funds (a hit not just to the kids but to society in general).

But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.' You may wonder, 'How will we know whether the prophecy is from the LORD or not?' If the prophet predicts something in the LORD's name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)

I bet THAT'S a verse Camping doesn't quote ...
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written by Xiphos, June 03, 2012
eventually but not because some scared wackos torture meaning from silly religious texts.
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