While in Africa the past month I heard only two bits of news. The first was that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Good riddance. The second was that Harold Camping and his followers were preparing for the end of the world on May 21.
This concerned me given that I was in a plane for most hours on May 21 and wondered whether the rapture would result in turbulence severe enough to bring down the plane. Alas, I am safe.
Camping’s followers now must put their lives back in order after doing silly things like selling property, quitting jobs, and wasting assets. Camping, for his part, has not been seen in public nor issued a statement. Perhaps he alone was righteous and has ascended to heaven.
Lost in all the laughter over Camping’s most recent failed prediction is the fact that almost immediately after Jesus’ death, Christians have been predicting the soon to come apocalypse and eagerly awaiting rapture. There have been tens of thousands of such predictions in Christian history, and all of course have been wrong.
A two thousand year series of failed predictions constitutes a data set of sorts. But rather than learn from such failures, Christians will continue to believe the end is near and predict a coming judgment. Indeed, a third generation evangelist from the Billy Graham tree has already offered solace to the disappointed believers, announcing that Camping’s date was wrong but his prediction is right.
Some people never learn and Christian eschatology will continue to be big business.