Have you heard? That whole 2012 apocalypse supposedly predicted by the Mayan calendar is wrong. The real end may be headed our way as early as May - at least, it is according to calculations made by Harold Camping, president of the Family Radio Christian network. Whether you believe it or not – well, that’s your call. But it wouldn’t be the first time in history the apocalypse was wrongly prophesized. Here are 10 such instances.
1. 1284. When the Pope decrees something, people tend to listen. And they did, in 1213, when Pope Innocent III wrote that “the end of this beast is approaching, whose number, according to the Revelation of Saint John, will end in 666 years, of which already nearly 600 have passed."
2. February 20, 1524. German scholar Johannes Stöffler was better at math and astronomy than he was at predicting the apocalypse. His calculations concluded that Noah had the right idea when he built that ark, because a flood of epic proportions was going to engulf Earth on February 20, 1524. People panicked when a light rain did begin to fall on that day, but it amounted to nothing but puddles.
3. Between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. In 1822, Baptist preacher William Miller vaguely stated that he believed the “second coming of Jesus Christ is near, even at the door, even within twenty-one years - on or before 1843,” based on his interpretations of the book of Daniel. As he shared his views, he developed a rather large group of followers, cleverly dubbed “Millerites.” Though reluctant, Miller eventually set a more precise set of dates at the urging of his followers: namely, the 365 days between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.
When the last date came and went, Miller wrote to a friend, “The time, as I have calculated it, is now filled up; and I expect every moment to see the Savior descend from heaven. I have now nothing to look for but this glorious hope.” That’s when he recalculated.
4. April 18, 1844. Miller based this one on a different Jewish calendar, saying he had miscalculated a bit. Guess what? The world didn’t end. Though Miller’s followers were becoming a tad bit skeptical, he sustained them for a few more months by stating that the rapture had started - they were just experiencing a period of time called “tarrying,” which was kind of like sitting in the waiting room before you go in to see the doctor. Finally, Miller analyzed his calculations one more time, coming up with...
5. October 22, 1844. And that’s when the vast majority of Miller’s followers abandoned him, experiencing “the Great Disappointment.” People were so angry and disappointed that Millerite churches were burned to the ground, some followers were tarred and feathered, and one group was attacked by a mob wielding knives and clubs.
6. 1910, with the appearance of Halley’s Comet. French astronomer Camille Flammarion predicted that a seven-tailed comet was coming to Earth, and gas from the comet’s tail would “impregnate” the Earth’s atmosphere, setting it and all of its inhabitants ablaze in a fiery explosion.
7. 1981 (-ish). Back in 1978, pastor Chuck Smith determined that “the generation of 1948 is the last generation,” but also admitted that he “could be wrong.” Turns out he was.
9. September 11, 12 or 13, 1988. Edgar Whisenant, a former NASA engineer, was so sure about his calculated date that he wrote a book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988 and boldly stated, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong.” When he was, in fact, wrong, he published The final shout: Rapture Report 1989, followed by the less-certain 23 reasons why a pre-tribulation rapture looks like it will occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993 and And now the earth's destruction by fire, nuclear bomb fire.
10. October 28, 1992. A Korean group known as Mission for the Coming Days was so adamant in their belief that the world would end just before Halloween in 1992 that they spent money to warn people in the U.S. via billboards, posters and other advertising.