It's not the end of the world as we know it - we're all fine

By Andre Hueber

It was billed as the beginning of the end - but the man responsible was happy to take it lying down.

Harold Camping, head of American international religious broadcasting organisation Family Radio, predicted a string of earthquakes would strike yesterday, heralding global doomsday.

He said the first would occur near the international date line at 6pm New Zealand time.

But a Herald on Sunday phone call at 6.30pm woke his press secretary, who said Camping was unavailable because it was the middle of the night in America and he was in bed.

The 89-year-old had previously incorrectly predicted the end of the world in 1994.

New Zealand Skeptics spokeswoman Vicki Hyde said yesterday's result was the same as every other doomsday prediction: "We're still here."

She said Camping had received a surprising amount of media attention given how common such predictions were.

"He's easy to dismiss as a loony fundamentalist but people in New Zealand believe ...

if it's on the news there must be something to it."

She expected Camping would find some way out of it. "He'll say he's got it wrong like he did in 1994 and will recalculate."

Camping predicted 12 million supporters would be taken up by The Rapture, before the Earth was destroyed in October.

Hyde said he was as likely to apologise as Ken Ring, who sparked controversy with predictions of major earthquake aftershocks in Christchurch.

She said the most serious repercussions behind doomsday predictions were often jumps in murder and suicide.

Auckland Catholic Church spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said the prediction was at worst mischievous and at best nonsensical.

"It's just scaremongering. I can't believe anyone with a Christian faith would take this seriously."

- Herald on Sunday

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