Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5=Atonement, 10=Completeness, 17=Heaven

I'm sure you've heard that the world is going to end on May 21- five days after my husband's birthday. We've decided to sell the house and everything in it and celebrate his birthday in Vegas. Put it all on black, baby, it's all gonna burn anyway! Whoooo!

This is how Harold Camping came up with that date:

“The number 5, Camping concluded, equals "atonement." Ten is "completeness." Seventeen means "heaven." Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.

How he came up with that is not explained. I've always thought 27 would be completeness. (It's 33!)

"Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.," he began. "Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that's 1,978 years."

Here's the thing, well, things. First of all, given what's said in the Bible about Jesus' birth, including the mention of Herod, Jesus had to have been born prior to 4BCE, because we do know that Herod died in that year. (The Romans kept great records.) So, if Jesus died 33 years later, it could not have been after 29CE.

Also, there's the problem with calendars. Geds could give a better explanation, I'm sure, but we have not been using the Gregorian calendar straight from year zero. It was put into effect in 1582. Other calendars were used between year zero and 1582, and it looks like those calendars didn't handle the leap year issue very well. That makes it a bit difficult to pinpoint exact dates 2,000 years ago as Camping has.

Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days - the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

Apparently, Camping thought 10 is a prime number, which it is not. He dropped the bit about 722,500 being composed of two sets of prime numbers (as explained at the Refute Camping website), so now he's saying that 722,500 is, well,

Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

Well, it's squared. That makes it true.

"Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story," Camping said. "It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved.

"I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that," Camping said.

Yeah, maybe we shouldn't burn the house down and run to Vegas.

Also, this isn't the first time Camping has predicted the end of the world.

On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping's followers gathered around the country to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had been promising for two years. His followers dressed in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven. Of course, the world did not end that day.

That's really sad. Really stupid, but really sad. And now a whole new group of people will be sitting around in the Sunday best waiting for nothing.


  1. Using Camping's numerology and correcting for the (supposed) crucifixion year, plus an accounting for the fact that the Hebrew calendar is lunar, not solar, I came up with the actual date of the Rapture falling on February 21st, 1955.

  2. Hmmm . . . so, 56 years later and nobody's noticed. You'd think somewhere between 1/3 of the stars falling from the sky and the oceans turning to blood, somebody would have noticed something was off.

  3. So, if Jesus died 33 years later, it could not have been after 29CE.

    One of the big problems there is that it's simple Christian tradition that Jesus began his ministry at the age of 30 and died three years later. And that he was actually born in The Year of Our Lord. He cannot have been born later than 5 or 6 BCE, as you rightly pointed out due to Herod the Great's death, plus the fact that the Murder of the Innocents was ordered for anyone under two.

    Then there's the bit where Joseph and Mary had time to flee to Egypt, then receive a message saying, "Hey, come back. Herod's dead!" It's not outside the realm of possibility, then, to say that Jesus was as old as ten in the year of his birth.

    Of course, the real trick is that the closest thing most people talk about that's in the historical record to the census in the Gospel of Luke was the Census of Quirinus, which took place in 6 or 7 CE. So that doesn't help the Bible's case or, by extension, crazy Harold Camping. Interestingly, Augustus did command a census in 8 BCE, but that may or may not have impacted Judea, as it was a nominally independent client state at the time, with Herod the Great as its leader. The whole bit with making everyone return to their homes is dumb as hell and goes against everything the Romans understood. Still, if Augustus' 8 BCE census counted the people of Judea, it's entirely possible that Luke placed the birth of Jesus at that time, which would have then given ample time for the bit with the Murder of the Innocents and Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, then finding out Herod was dead.

    Also, there's the problem with calendars. Geds could give a better explanation, I'm sure, but we have not been using the Gregorian calendar straight from year zero.

    That doesn't even get in to the bit where the Eastern Orthodox Church still uses the Julian Calendar. Or that the Jewish Calendar is still in effect.

    But, yeah. I'm guessing that if Harold Camping doesn't know that 10 isn't a prime number and that even most Christians don't think Jesus was born in the year 1, then he probably doesn't know that we haven't been working on a straight-line Gregorian calendar for the past 2000 years. Since we've actually lost a couple weeks in translation, we'll probably know if Camping was right in about three weeks.

  4. See, I knew you would have a better explanation than mine! Thank you.

    So . . . there's no year zero? It just goes from -1 to 1? (That's probably a remarkably ignorant question, but there you have it.)

  5. So . . . there's no year zero? It just goes from -1 to 1?

    Correct. Zero as a calendar concept is nonsensical and fundamentally impossible to use. We're not looking at a number line, but a time line, so if you move to a different system/new epoch in an existing system, you always start with the first year, or Year 1. The lack of a 0 BCE would have a similar explanation, it's just harder to parse out.

    Basically, though, when you're dealing with BCE numbers, you're not actually dealing with negatives. You're simply counting backwards. So 1 BCE is Year 1 Before the Common Era, not Year Negative 1. As such, you cannot conceptually have a Year Zero.

    Of course, that's somewhat meaningless, anyway, since no one was born in 1 CE or 1 BCE. We simply say that now because that the system we put in place many years later and it's a common language.

  6. « And now a whole new group of people will be sitting around in the Sunday best waiting for nothing. »

    Eh, worst that happens is they end up bored, or disappointed (or happy?) that the world didn’t end. I’m sure they’ll be fine, at least compared to other cultists where were led down rather more disturbing paths of insane beliefs by their deranged “prophetic” leaders.

  7. @ Joé McKen - you're missing the part where a lot of them have left their jobs and sold off their possessions in order to travel around and warn people. So while it isn't exactly Jonestown, there is some harm being done.

  8. @MM,

    I've often wondered if Harold Camping is pocketing any of the money. I know they've rented RV's and had them wrapped in adverts and put up billboards and such. I don't know what other forms of advertising they're using.

    @Joé McKen,

    Those deranged cultists planned mass suicides. I just wonder if any of these people might do the same when they wake up on May 22 and realize they've given up everything they own for nothing.

  9. @Michael Mock & D’Ma —

    Eh. I admit that I don’t have much sympathy for such folks. At any rate, it still isn’t all that bad – their lives aren’t in any danger, for one thing, and any damage caused by leaving their jobs and selling their homes can probably be repaired, at least for the most part. They’ll manage, and if anything, they’ll hopefully have learned a very good lesson about not putting their faith in this sort of bullshit ever again.

    I wonder how many of them will continue to believe their “prophets”, though.

  10. "I wonder how many of them will continue to believe their “prophets”, though. "

    Since they were gullible/desperate/insane enough to believe them in the first place, probably most of them. Which is sad.

    But I have to admit, an extremely sadistic and not-as-small-as-I'd-hoped part of me really wants to see a camera crew following Harold Camping and his followers around all day May 21, so it can be posted on youtube and I can see the look on their/his face come midnight.


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