The world just won't seem to end on schedule [excerpts]
The 2012 Mayan apocalypse was a total bust. The "super blood moon" of September 2015 failed to lead to rains of frogs and fire. And the May 2011 predictions of judgment day by an Oakland, California, radio preacher failed to pan out. Or did they?
Falling into a long tradition of repurposing and revamping old doomsday predictions, an online Christian group is insisting that the now-deceased preacher, Harold Camping, was right, and that his prophecies forecast the end of the world. [Today.]
Yes, Oct. 7, 2015, is the new go-to date for Doomsday, at least according to the Pennsylvania-based eBible Fellowship. According to the group, Camping was correct that May 21, 2011, was an important day, spiritually speaking. On that day, they hold, God saved his last soul and closed the door of heaven. The group believes in the notion of predestination, which holds that God decided who would be saved from the start and a person's actions have no bearing on their afterlife. [Oops! 11 Failed Doomsday Predictions Recounted]
In 2011, Camping claimed that after the May 21 day of judgment, there would be only about five months until the world's end on Oct. 21, 2011. The eBible Fellowship has recalculated that second date, putting it at Oct. 7, 2015, "in all likelihood."
Nevertheless, the revised doomsday date highlights how end-of-the-world predictions persist. Previous failures rarely chasten new apocalyptic prophets. Often, doomsday groups retrench and reinterpret their failures.
One example involves today's Seventh-day Adventists: In 1822, a farmer and preacher named William Miller predicted the end of the world by 1843, a calculation later revised for Oct. 22, 1844. When the day came and went, it was dubbed "The Great Disappointment." Miller died five years later, still sure that the end was coming soon.
One offshoot of Miller's followers, the Millerites, became the Seventh-day Adventist church. The group still believes that a process of divine judgment has been ongoing since 1844 and will eventually culminate in the apocalypse, though it doesn't predict dates for the end of the world.
Likewise, Jehovah's Witnesses have survived as an organization, despite multiple failed doomsday predictions. One of these doomsday dates, in October 1914, is now seen as the beginning of the end times.
Often, when the end fails to come, doomsday believers blame themselves, experts say. Sometimes, they blame the "oops" on faulty math or say they misinterpreted the message. In one famous 1954 example, a woman named Dorothy Martin prepared her followers for a world-ending flood one December night. When nothing happened, she announced a new revelation: Their group's prayers had been so successful that God had called the whole thing off. The group eventually fell apart, but Martin kept prophesizing until her death in 1992 — illustrating that once doomsday beliefs start, they're hard to shake.