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You may have seen the billboards - one of which is hanging on KY 49, north of the intersection of the bypass - proclaiming that May 21, 2011, is Judgment Day.
To better understand why May 21 is THE day of days, I turned to Google. Harold Camping, the founder of Family Radio Worldwide, has determined that Christ will return to Earth on that day (just nine days as of this writing).
Camping was even quoted in a story on the MSNBC website as saying, "Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment."
Among the free downloads available on www.familyradio.com is "We are Almost There!", a document in which Camping explains how he reached his conclusions, in case you want the details. It's important to note that May 21 is not going to be the end of the world, according to Camping, just the day of judgment. By his calculations, the end of the world will be Oct. 21.
Now, Camping is hardly the first person to predict the end of the world or the second coming.
Hollywood even made a movie based on some misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar that lead some people to believe the world will end in 2012. (I won't pretend to be an expert on the Mayan calendar, so if you want to know why the 2012 prediction is a misinterpretation, go here: http://news.discovery.com/space/the-2012-mayan-calendar-doomsday-date-mi....)
But again, Camping is just the latest in a long line of end-of-the-world prophets. (For a list compiled by the James Randi Educational Foundation, see here: http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/appendix3.html.)
Doomsday predictions have been based on astrology, astronomical events, the Bible, the Black Plague, earthquakes, the Great Pyramids, kabala, the poems of Nostradamus and reports of strange events.
To date, the only thing that end-of-the-world predictors have in common is that they have all been wrong.
With that in mind, I'll make a few predictions of my own. We will celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
Scientists estimate the Sun will survive for around another 5 billion years. Based on what they've learned about other stars, the Sun will eventually fuse all of its hydrogen into helium. When that happens, the Sun will expand and consume Mercury and Venus and possibly Earth, too. (As with the Mayan calendar, I'm not an expert, so see what some NASA scientists have to say here: http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/qa_sun.html#sunlife.)
Yes, the world will end some day, and it may happen long before the death throes of the Sun. There are plenty of natural phenomenon and even manmade events that could end life on Earth as we know it.
But I wouldn't count on it happening this year.