The events of the last eight days are a classical proof of how prophecy gone awry is rationalized and explained so that followers can choose not to think critically and realize the truth.

Last week we were hours away from a massive earthquake that threatened to rock the earth and free the spirits of the saved along with the living who believed in God and Harold Camping's interpretation of the Bible. They would leave the earth for salvation while those left behind would spend five months of hell on earth waiting for the total annihilation of the planet on October 21st.

This was the prediction Camping made which he backed up with an extensive numerological style analysis of the Bible to support his timeline. The prediction he made was like the one the clerk at a Turkey Hill made to me one time. I asked her, "Do I have the winning Powerball numbers?" Her answer was simply. "Everyone is a winner until 11 p.m. " In Camping's case he was right until midnight Jerusalem Time. At that point he became a two-time loser with his second prediction being as wrong as his first seventeen years ago.

Camping is a clever person though and even though he claimed his prediction was ironclad, he left himself a contingency plan. By using the five month window for the total destruction of the planet, he provided himself with a back door which he used two days after the failed rapture. When interviewed on Monday, he claimed he misunderstood the nature of God's judgment. Instead of it being a physical judgment on the world, he said he realized the error of his calculations and that the May 21st was a spiritual judgment of the departed. This would take five months for some reason after which God would destroy the world and we all would end up in our destined eternities.

This is a classic characteristic of charlatanistic predictions. Be vague so you can wrap the facts around the prediction. The second date built in an excuse and an alternate interpretation of his prediction so that his followers would not become totally disillusioned.

The problem is when October 21st comes and goes, the fallout could be even worse for his followers. Many were devastated at being here after Saturday and one can only imagine the reactions of those this fall who still put their faith in Camping.

The tragedy isn't so much that Camping is predicting judgment, but his well meaning warning for humanity can be twisted by those without faith or hope into believing that they should take the easy way out before the end of the world. This is where such prophecies move from being irresponsible to borderline criminal. Camping may have the best of intentions but if people start acting in desperation because they believe the end is really coming, I think this becomes despicable.

With that said, the one mitigating factor is those who profess to be his followers also profess to believing God's message and trusting in Him. If that is the case, then they are probably also believe and practice the tenet that all life is God's and only God determines when our lives end. As such, the desperate acts people may perform would hopefully be limited to dumb acts with their personal property.

There is a catch as there is with anything. I don't know if Camping is aware of this, but this fall is significant to astronomers for an entirely scientific reason. Comet Elenin is due to pass close to the Earth on October 16th, 2011. It is expected to be visible in the midnight skies around that time period as it heads for the sun. Most astronomers are predicting the comet will pass within a astronomical unit to the planet which is about 5 million miles from the Earth. By astronomical standards that doesn't even sound close to us.

Of course, there are other astronomers who claim this comet will pass between the earth and the moon while others are making varying far out claims about this celestial visitor. I personally think this will have no bearing on anything terrestrial, but it's an odd coincidence that Camping and this comet both have selected milestones within five days of each other. It is possible Camping read about the comet when he made the five month window which was a fairly recent alteration of his prediction. One has to wonder if this knowledge influenced his fallback date.

When all is said and done, I fully expect to be here as I was on Saturday. October 21st will come and go and the human race will escape from this presumed crisis unscathed and hopefully a bit wiser about doomsday predictions. Then again December 2012 is only be fourteen months away at that point and we will start all over again.

Before I end, I want to say thank you to all the veterans both past and present as well as those serving who risked and risk their lives daily for our freedom. We especially remember on Monday those lay down their lives for our freedom. Thank you.

The GAR Cemetery this morning is offering a complimentary walking tour at 10 a.m. near the front gate profiling some of the many veterans interred there. It should be a great experience.

Happy Memorial Day. Stop and say thank you to a veteran this weekend and say a little prayer for those who made and keep you free every day.

Til next time …