Harold Camping
Harold Camping Reuters

The end of the world is probably today, Oct. 21, or so says the notorious Harold Camping.

On his website, Camping, the head of Family Radio Network, writes, At this point, looks like it will be the final end of everything, reports The Washington Post. Camping's prediction for Oct. 21 is: The end is going to come very, very quietly, probably within the next month.

So is this really it? Is today the rapture?

Oct. 21 could mark the final final end, since Camping predicted just the regular final end back on May 21, when a rolling earthquake was supposed to destroy the world. Camping might have thought that yesterday's earthquake in San Francisco was a sign that, this time, he could be right.

He also predicted judgment days back in 1988 and 1994.

Obviously, his calculations are a little jumbled.

Although he eventually changed his mind on that one, when he said May 21 actually marked the spiritual end of the world.

But, by that point, many had sold all of their earthly possessions and given away their life savings to Camping's Family Radio. One man emptied his entire bank account to pay for billboards that warned of the coming rapture.

Camping replied to these disillusioned folks with this kind message: I don't have any responsibility, he said. I can't be responsibility [sic] for anybody's life. I'm only teaching the Bible.

Catherine Wessinger, who is an expert on Doomsday predictions at the University of Loyola and editor of the book The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism, spoke to NPR about Camping and his Chicken Little ways. She noted the word probably in his prophecy.

The person making the prediction can give themselves a way out, sort of a backdoor way of getting out of the prediction. Or on the other hand, when nothing happens, the event can be spiritualized, she told NPR.

Wessinger cites the Millerites, a group who predicted Jesus would appear to the world in the 1840s. When this did not happen, they simply changed their name to the Seventh-day Adventists.

Despite the fact that these predictions have proved to be grossly erroneous, Wessinger says the groups who publicize them will always be around. And when they are wrong, they will simply reorganize, change their name, and spout more warnings.

They garner attention because they play to man's primal fears.

We don't want to suffer and we don't want to die, Wessinger says.

They also provide an escape.

If the world does not end on Oct. 21, murmurs will certainly intensify as it gets closer to Dec. 12, 2012 -- the date the Mayan calendar ends.

Individuals have been long predicting this date as the last hurrah since the Mayan civilization was highly complex and adept. They had extremely intricate tools and were highly skilled astronomers.

There is no absolute prediction of an apocalypse by the Mayans. Many have surmised this since the calendar comes to an end. However, this is negated by the fact that the Mayan calendar is cyclical, not linear like the Western calendar.

Meanwhile, Family Radio is currently trying to sell off stations to avert bankruptcy.