The original plan for rapture was to start at 6 p.m. local time, New Zealand, and then hitting each city one by one across the globe. Now that EST 6 p.m. has passed. What's next? Shall we try 9 p.m. when Harold Camping himself passes 6 p.m. in his Oakland time? In any case, rapture parties are being thrown across the U.S. as the time-sensitive rapture has missed each city's respective 6 p.m. of May 21, 2011.
Just like Camping's prediction in 1994, 2011 Doomsday is about to be labeled as another hoax.
In his book published in 1992, Camping had said the world would end between September 15 and 17, 1994. When nothing happened, he said the calculation was a mistake, and recalculated the number. Then Camping proclaimed that the world would actually end today, May 21, 2011.
We cannot simply laugh it off considering the tragedies in his followers' lives. Many of them dropped out of medical schools, quit their jobs, left their family members, squandered all their savings in order to join in the caravan fleets that traveled the U.S. to spread the message. Over $3 million was spent on raising awareness of Doomsday that is about to pass.
Family Radio offices are closed today, May 21. Camping had announced on his program that he would spend Doomsday with his family in Oakland. However, his obsession with Doomsday and its spreading has alienated his loved ones. Only one of his six living children believes his message. Most of my family, I can't even talk about it with, Camping said sadly.
Now that it's (almost) over, what should we expect from Harold Camping and his followers? It's quite simple. They could follow the pattern of the Doomsday predictions in the past and a psychological analysis may tell us what to expect. There are simply three options: justify, blame or deny the contradiction. Here is the deal.
Leon Festinger, a psychologist, came up with a theory about the aftermath of cults that proclaim the end time prophecy. Observing that when doomsday predictions proved mistaken, Festinger discovered that the fervor of the followers actually increased and they would proselytize aggressively, resulting in a rapid growth of the movement.
Festinger called the escalated zeal cognitive dissonance, which occurs when someone clings to two inconsistent opinions or beliefs simultaneously. Just as an alcoholic knows it is unhealthy to be intoxicated and yet continues drinking, cognitive dissonance occurs in the religious realm as well. It produces discomfort and pressure to reduce or eliminate the contradiction. In trying to reject one factor of the dissonance, a drinker could choose to stop drinking. But obviously it is not that easy to do. Likewise, for the Doomsday believers to simply admit their error is not so easy. In the desperate mind they can't afford to doubt but only to believe.
A great alternative mechanism to release the discomfort and pressure is to come up with a reasonable solution, like quitting drinking next year, or reducing the amount. Just as Camping did in 1994, coming up with a new calculation or revelation is a high likelihood.
So don't be surprised even if Camping comes up with an up-DATE, and his followers stand up from the shame and disappointment. Though Harold Camping has not shown himself to the public, he will probably one day appear again, with a new calculation.
Read more about the Doomsday.