Over the last number of months I have been considering the problem of apocalyptic annunciations, and their impact on society. I do not have an educated position on the impact of apocalyptic warnings, and I am not sure that I even have a sense of the negative impact of repeated warnings of impending doom. What I do know is this: apocalyptic warning is a bad habit of people from every walk of life. Scientists and preachers alike appear to be susceptible to sandwich board declarations.
Over-population did not end the human race in the 20th century. California never fell off the west coast into the ocean, and I am not a burnt potato chip because the ozone layer disappeared. Y2K did not end civilization as we know it, and global warming is still to be determined as far as the ultimate impact.
Jesus did not return in the 500's, 1260 AD, 1844, 1914, 1974, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1994, and God is not going to begin wiping out the world on May 21st - 4 days from now.
Yet, it is also unlikely that either scientists nor religious leaders are going to learn from these lessons, and it is unlikely that either group will see themselves in the face of the other.
On one hand it is natural for both scientists and religious people to point toward an apocalypse. Whether the evil of this world deserves judgment from "Holy God," or we finally die as the universe moves toward an inevitable heat death we should at least learn this: If indeed apocalyptic concerns are built into the system of this tenuous and short life we live Prophets and priests have led the way in declaring the fact that there is an end, and there should be some thought about this fact.
To this the scientist owes the priest a debt for having led the way in apocalyptic concern, and the priest owes a debt to the scientist/skeptic who will not settle (well, not usually) for numerology and voices from beyond to determine the time of the end.
At least for this declaration from Harold Camping about the coming of judgment, I am planning on having fun and throwing a party on May 22nd.
For more check out my song on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3j5-0ZxM58