Bob Dylan Riles a Journalist
Income, Religion, and Jehovah's Witnesses

How to Predict the End of the World

From our readers:


Dear Tom Sheepandgoats:

How can I figure when the world will end?

Sincere Person


Dear Sincere Person:

The only thing you're sincere about is saving your skin! Nevertheless, here's how you do it.

You start with the well-known verse in Mathew:

Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.     Matt 24:36

Got it? Nobody knows the day and the hour. While, at first glance, that might seem unhelpful for your calculation, in reality it is the key to success! The method is straightforward. Since no one knows the day and the hour, that means if anyone claims a certain date for the end of the world, that's not it. To visualize how the method works, start with a calendar. 

2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 014 

Now, let's consider an example. May 21st. Say someone declares this day to be the end of the world. Since he knows it to be true, that's not it. On your calendar, you cross out May 21. Cross it out, not in pencil, but with a permanent marker. 


2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 021 

Repeat the process. Whenever you come upon a day someone just knows is the day and the hour, cross out that day. With a bit of research, you ought to eventually have a calendar looking like this.


2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 023 

There! That's all there is to it. You'll cross out all days except one. That's the day! Be ready.


I can hear the cynics, already. “Hold on a minute, Sheepandgoats!  You can't tell me that every day of the calendar is taken. There may be a lot of nutcakes, but surely not so many as to fill up every day on the calendar!”

On the surface, it seems a valid objection, but in reality, it just reveals laziness on your part. I admit, if you just count nutcakes predicting the day and hour, you'll fall short. You must count more than just the nutcakes. You must also count the screwballs, the cranks, the fruitcakes, the starry-eyed lunatics, the wolflike false prophets, the round-the-bend idiots, the maniacal crackpots, the self-aggrandizing demented, the certifiable crazies, the raving beserk, the unhinged wackos, and the moonstruck schizos. It's a little work, I admit, but it's not rocket science. If you count all these characters, you easily eliminate the wrong days, leaving only the truth to assert itself!

Now, since I do nothing but think about God all day long, I've worked through all this, and I know the date. But, if I really knew the date, that wouldn't be the date, would it? So I don't know. I've only been able to narrow it down to three possibilities. There are only three days throughout time that no one else has claimed. Thus we can see the breathtaking splendor of the heavenly plan. Three things are proven:

1. God is a trinity.
2. He works in mysterious ways.
3. Matt 24:36 holds. You can't tell the day and the hour; your best shot is a 33% chance.


Now, should we give Mr Camping some credit? It's not easy to do. I agonize over it. His formula, seven 1000-year days after the flood, seems awfully simplistic. He's throwing everyone in a tizzy over that? Haven't I said before I don't do floods? If I met him, I'm not at all sure I would like him. Besides, he buys into all the typical hash of trinity and hellfire, doesn't he? Don't get me started on this rapture stuff. And what's to say about those folk who buy into his prophesies? Why weren't they wearing ties as they announced the end? So, I suppose, not being on board, I run the risk of going to hell. Maybe if I say kind words, I will go to a softer version of hell...some place with merely an abominable climate, like here in Rochester, which I am used to. At any rate, it seems worth the effort. So....

Harold Camping, too, was aware of “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” He didn't just blow it off as if it never existed. He worked around it in a very clever way. He said that verse related only to that specific period of time in which it was written, not now! Now all the Trinitarians laugh at such a silly explanation, yet they blunder as greatly regarding the second part of the verse: " man knows the day and hour, nor does the Son, but the Father does!" Still, they would have me believe that the Son and the Father are the same!

Look, Camping stuck his neck out and looked ridiculous, he messed up a lot of people, but at least he is in the spirit ofJesus admonition to “keep on the watch.” I'll give him credit for that, if no more. I mean, I've heard atheists and skeptics carry on about how can people be so credulous to buy into end-time obsessions. I'll tell you how. You need look no further than Newsweek, which lists calamities on the front cover of it's “Apocalyse Now” edition, before tearing their hair out with “What the #@%!" is Next?! So at least Camping errs in furthering a Bible theme, that there will be an end of this system of things. I mean, if the ridicule of him comes from those steamed over his goofball formula, or his presumption of nailing the day and hour, well and good. But if it comes from those mocking the very notion that one day God will intervene in world affairs so that the earth does not end up totally ruined.....well....I hate to pick sides. I'm not sure which is the worse.

Years ago I called on some science person who had read the book Life – How Did it Get Here; by Evolution or by Creation. In the course of discussion, he asked what difference did it make. Who cared? Either way, evolution or creation, we're here. I answered that if God was responsible for bringing about earth and the life on it, then he just might have some purpose for it, and might not stand idly by while human mismanagement destroyed it. But if evolution was responsible for all, then if there was any hope for earth's future, it lay with humans. And they weren't doing so well, then or now. The man's wife, who up to that time had had little to say, remarked 'that's a good point.'

Well......alright already Sheepandgoats. You say there's three possibilities? Spill. What are they? Not so fast! It'll cost ya. Look, Camping and everyone else draws a salary for what they do. What should I and Jehovah's Witnesses be the only ones not to cash in? Contact me and we'll talk. Do you want to be ready for the big day or don't you?



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Mike Felker

On this issue alone, do you think that it would be wise for Camping's followers to "beware" (Matt. 7:15) him and no longer trust him as a reliable guide since he has falsely predicted the end? And could we make a similar declaration against other persons or organizations who have likewise falsely predicted the end?


Ha ha ha, I love this post. Very clever, and funny. Well written.

Question for you though do you think we can ever be ready for the big day?

tom sheepandgoats


I'd say any such person or organization would have some 'splaining' to do. Would they be able to do so convincingly? I'm not sure if you have anyone in particular in mind.


It depends on what you mean by ready. I don't think it will be any picnic for anyone.

Mike Felker


I did have someone particular in mind: the Watchtower, who predicted the end of the world with as much confidence (if not more) than Camping based on their faulty understanding of the Scriptures.

Whether its the Watchtower or Camping, should individuals or organizations who falsely predict the end and lead thousands or millions astray be trusted as reliable guides? And this becomes especially noteworthy when these have done so not just once, but twice or several times.

tom sheepandgoats

Mike, you said....."the Watchtower, who predicted the end of the world with as much confidence (if not more) than Camping..."

The night before the end of the world, Camping was interviewed on network TV. What if you are wrong, he was asked. What then? What if...."There's no what if!" Camping was emphatic. "It will happen!"

In contrast, at a 1966 Baltimore convention of JW's, Fred Franz spoke, as taken from the 10/15/66 Watchtower, p 631:

"The book [Life Everlasting....Freedom in the Sons of God, released that year] merely presents the chronology. You can accept it or reject it. If that is the case, what does that mean to us? [He went into some length showing the feasibility of the 4026 B.C.E. date as being the beginning of God’s rest day.]

"‘What about the year 1975? What is it going to mean, dear friends?’ asked Brother Franz. ‘Does it mean that Armageddon is going to be finished, with Satan bound, by 1975? It could! It could! .....All things are possible with God. But we are not saying. And don’t any of you be specific in saying anything that is going to happen between now and 1975. But the big point of it all is this, dear friends: Time is short. Time is running out, no question about that."

....."You can accept or reject it"......"If that is the case"...."showing the feasibility" [as opposed to certainty]...."It could! It could!" [as opposed to it will! It will!]....."We are not saying"...."And don't any of you be specific in saying anything that is joing to happen between now and 1975."

And you say that Watchtower "predicted the end of the world with as much confidence (if not more) than Camping." Are you serious? What's wrong with you? You know the truth about these things (unlike the uninformed you try to persuade).

Not to mention that there doesn't even begin to be a Matt 24:36 'day and hour' component to anything said about 1975, something Camping made his centerpiece.

Chronology and prophesy seemed to dovetail in 1975. Didn't turn out that way. No one's ever said otherwise. In hindsight, it wasn't our finest hour. But what good is a watchman who doesn't keep on the watch? It was all within tolerable limits of human imperfection, particularly since Jesus' own apostles made similar statements.

Look back at the post, I wrote the one thing Harold Camping deserves some credit for is "keeping on the watch," even if going beyond Matt 24:36. He's your guy, after all, not ours. His views on trinity, hellfire, rapture, all (I believe) closely mirror yours. They're not ours.

Incidentally, the 1966 Watchtower excerpts I came across through some anti-JW site someone had brought to my attention, the idiot who wrote it apparently not realizing the words quoted show relative caution and restraint, not the recklessness of Camping.

Mike Felker

Tom, I wasn't referring to 1975. I should have been more specific: 1914, 1918, 1925. I can provide quotations if you like, but i'm sure you already know what they are.

And Camping is NOT "my guy." And its quite insulting for you to assert this. I view Camping just as much as an unbeliever as I do the Watchtower.

tom sheepandgoats

Mike, you say you weren't referring to 1975. You would have been had I not supplied the answer I did. I know your methods by now.

I know you'll regard the following as a weak answer, but when it comes to those earlier dates, I feel that if one has to go back 100 years to dig up dirt, there can't be that much dirt to dig. Unlike 1975, a year in which many can still remember, the materials which would provide context, background flavor, etc, for those earlier years, are long since gone. Whatever the JW organization was then, whether right-on in every particular, or flawed to some degree, it's had plenty of time to remake itself. Even the name Jehovah's Witnesses did not appear until the 1930's. Should I "win," you'll merely assert that they've become evil since.

Moreover, though 1914 did not fulfill our every expectation, what did happen was easy to fit in the context we provided.

He's not your guy? Well....okay. Sorry. But is he not trinitarian, as are you? Does he not believe in hell, as do you? Does he not believe in the rapture, as do you?

Mike Felker


I was in no way implying 1975, as I don't agree with those who find it to be a solid case. Though I think there are plenty of problems with what the WT was doing concerning that date, I wouldn't find it anywhere near as problematic as the earlier dates.

Of course, you can dismiss the earlier dates if you so choose. But for those of us who investigate these things from the "outside," we like to test organizations in light of their claims. That is, if they ask us to "review the record," that is exactly what we do. But when we find problems in the record and ask about them, its swept under the rug.

And what in the world makes you think I believe in the rapture? The fact that you say things like this just shows that you have little concern with respect and accuracy.


So true Tom!

Of course, as the comments here reflect, internet bloggers were busy building up Camping so, amongst other things, they'd have another stick to beat Christians with. Anti-witness "experts" have been quick to create a link between Campings theology and Jehovah's Witnesses (if only by mentioning us in the same sentence with him).

I would point out for such ones, however

a) It's been going on a century since Jehovah's Witnesses have made ANY specific mention predicted time for the end (and there have been only TWO - 1914 and 1925*)

b) To my knowledge, we have never given a specific day(/month/year)

c) Jehovah's Witnesses have always acknowledged errors in interpretation and moved on.

*1918 was a proposal regarding the fall of Babylon and it's effects on Christendom in particular

I do however find the current internet frenzy that Camping has whipped up interesting, not only because I see it as a development in the polarization of opinion - with mainstream Christians throwing the baby of keeping awake to the times out with the bathwater of premature prediction, but also of how frequent cries of "wolf" will deaden peoples sensibilities and lead them to ignore the very urgent message we (JWs) are annoucing.

I hope Tom doesn't mind me posting the following link dealing with this in detail

Again, interesting times we're living in.

Thanks Tom,


Yes Rosie, that article by George Chryssides is quite reasonable (have you read it Tom?), it certainly makes a refreshing change from all the usual disinformation that continues to spew forth from the likes of Felker and his ilk.

Just to quote a few bits...

"...although there have been failures in prophetic speculation, the changing views and dates of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are more largely attributable to changed understandings of biblical chronology than to failed predictions. For the Jehovah’s Witnesses prophecy serves more as a way of discerning a divine plan in human history than a means to predicting the future."

"Contrary to popular belief, the Watch Tower Society has not repeatedly set dates for the world’s end, found its expectations disappointed, rescheduled the eschatological timetable, and repeated this sequence each time expectations have been frustrated. Unfortunately the allegations [disinformation] of such changes are so numerous that it would be impossible to discuss each of
them sequentially. One [deceitful] web site has published quotations for almost every year between 1877 and 1995, and attempted to demonstrate continual failure."

"It is important to note that, despite the Watch Tower Society’s reputation for “failed prophecy,” the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a prophetic organization.... - (1 Corinthians 13: 8) Jehovah’s Witnesses are therefore not present-day prophets, and claim to offer no new prophetic insights. Rather, consistent with the organization’s original name—the International Bible Students Association—they view their task as studying the Bible, and interpretating its contents, including prophecy, which they believe has a fulfilment in present times."


As for the crying wolf thing, that of course is true, it will have a negative effect on the attitudes of people. I'm sure that's the purpose; the demons aren’t stupid, they know exactly what they are doing/influencing, but it also has a lot to do with a persons desires (2 Peter:3-6). Many people just don't want there to be a God whom they are accountable to.

One positive thing we can take from this drama is to witness yet another fulfilment of scripture, part of the composite sign of the last days (Matthew 24:11). We are going see many more people like Camping and his ilk come out the woodwork, especially as world conditions deteriorate.

tom sheepandgoats

Apologies to you if I have misrepresented your stand. As I recall, your trinitarianism is not mainline, either, but is something called "modalism." You see, I do strive for respect and accuracy.

On the other hand, your side doesn't make it easy. If you know the views of one JW on significant doctrinal matters, you know the views of all of them. The Bible speaks favorably of unity within the Christian congregation. So I approach evangelicals and I naively assume the same applies, but no!.....they are all over the board on issues both trivial and major. I thought rapture was common to all evangelicals. I am corrected, just as you corrected me four posts ago [Hiking Around the World] that some of your "scholars" are well aware of the paradise earth hope, even if the rank and file remain "biblically illiterate."

Mike Felker


I appreciate your apology and accept it graciously. But then you go on to describe me as a modalist? Where are you getting this from? Do you even know what modalism is?

You are correct that beliefs can go all over the board. And this is why you should not make assumptions. Instead, all you have to do is ask :-)

tom sheepandgoats


No, I don't know what it is. (I'll look it up in Wikipedia) But you had commented on it once, and I got the impression you were taking ownership of it. Sorry again.

tom sheepandgoats

Rosie, the link is fine. In keeping with the theme, and all, and value-added. Thanks.

Nick, I had not read the article, though I was vaguely aware something of that sort existed. Thanks for pointing to it.

Mike Felker


Modalism is the doctrine which holds the Father, Son, and Spirit as being the same person. In other words, in this view, the Son does not exist alongside the Father as a separate person. Instead, the Father reveals himself in different modes; hence, the term "modalism."

If you are wondering what I believe, I adopt a "divine identity Christology" whereby identity is the focus rather than using Greek philosophical categories.


" I adopt a "divine identity Christology" "

What exactly does that mean, and how does that differ from the traditional trinity doctrine?

And what to you believe regarding judgement/punishment, is it annihilation or eternal suffering?

Moderate Mouse

Given the timing this, I will understand if you choose not to publish it.

Anyway, I don't know if you heard, but on the Monday following the supposed Judgment Day, Mr. Camping said that God came in a "spiritual" manner, if that makes any sense, and that the rapture and earthquakes, along with the end of the world altogether will occur on October 21 of this year. (Should this date come and go with nothing happening, it will put Camping, if he's still alive at that point, in an even more awkward position than he was in May.)

I don't know about you, but I've never personally seen much point in trying to figure out when the world will end when 1)I can't even forsee every little thing that will happen in the next 24 hours and 2)there's so much to do on Earth as it is, God-related or otherwise. Just saying.

tom sheepandgoats

No man knows the day and the hour, but nailing the year has proven irresistable. But even that we've given up on. Last time we touched that, we got burned.

"The end of this system is right around the corner" will have to suffice.


Yes. And when "No man knows the day and the hour", I guess you have to assume it's going to be in your life time - you can't say it won't be - and that's the only time it matters, in which you can do something about it - while you are still here! Of course, according to scripture we have the composite sign to watch for/inform/guide us, but even if that was not present, again you would have to assume it would also appear in your life time.


Oh how I love to hear discussions about our "past record!"

Thank you too Nick, for sharing tidbits from that article, whether the entirety of it shares that same reasonable tone, its wording is well-suited for discussions with reasonable people who have had to come across apostate thinking, or the false accusation of opposers.

Great article btw Tom S and G.

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