Sunday, May 22, 2011

Camping's Folly: When Numbers Go Bad

As you may have noticed, the world didn't end yesterday. Harold Camping (File Photo)There have been a number of explanations for why Family Radio nonogenarian Harold Camping's Judgement Day prediction did not come true, ranging from a last minute change of heart by Our Lord and Savior to the fact that God doesn't exist and that all religions are merely societal constructs enabled by neurotransmitters in the brain. Camping himself has an alternate explanation - that Judgement Day happened, but was invisible.

While all of these are possible, I have an alternate theory. Camping's prediction was based on a very careful calculation of the accumulated ages of biblical figures, along with a rounding-down of the age of the Earth from 4.57 billion years to just over 6,000. What did Camping use to make this calculation? Numbers. Numerology. A study of the purported mystical relationship between numbers and life.

Since life proved to be correct by continuing to exist today, it is painfully obvious that numbers are wrong. This may be a harsh lesson for Camping's followers, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases destroyed their families over this prediction, but a lesson learned.

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