Poor old Harold Camping. There he was, probably in desperate need of some psychiatric care when a whole load of other death wishers descended on him and gave him the attention he so desperately sought. Then they all got carried along with their collective delusion. They walked down the long pathway to humiliation and international derision together.
Harold's illusion, concerning the proposed end of the world on 21st May was so deeply ingrained in his psyche I have no doubt he truly believed it. Maybe, even now, he is probably "rationalising" some excuse. Some defect in the calculation that would account for the lack of hell fire and brimstone.
In fact Harold has predicted Armageddon twice before: in 1988 and 1994. Obviously slight errors in the calculations must have occurred then as well.
I gather the next populist opportunity for Armageddon is 21st December 2012 when the Mayan Long calender ends. The Mayans, a clever Stone Age people devised a number of different calenders. The one with the greatest duration is known as the Long Calender. It has a fixed start date and it runs out (a bit like 1999 -2000 AD) on 21st December 2012.
If the Mayan civilisation had survived beyond the 16th century to witness this wrap over I expect they would be throwing a big party rather than waiting for the fiery end.
Today there are many "new agers" eagerly waiting for the 2012 Armageddon. But come January 2013 they will have to endure their version of poor old Harold Camping's humiliation. One consolation for them is that it all fails to kick off in 2012 then there are also end dates prophesied for 2016 and 2034. So there is still plenty of room for paranoia amongst the deluded.
It is easy to view these death wishers as simple nut cases. But it is really rather sad that people, mainly vulnerable individuals, get dragged into these bizarre fairy-tales. There must be something missing in their lives. Some lack of control that forces them to wish for the end rather than a prosperous and progressive world.
Personally, I also believe the world will come to a fiery and cataclysmic end. But not soon.
I reckon in several billion years the sun will swell into a red giant. and swallow the Earth whole. The earth will be vaporised along with every life form on it.
But human kind need not worry. They, as a species will have died out aeons before.
So in my Armageddon, there won't even be any Harold Campings around to watch the fiery end, let alone gloat over it.