There have been many "calculations" done by various people from various Christian denominations concerning the precise date of the end of the world, like Harold Camping and 21st of May 2011. Despite those numerous instances of people figuring out the time this event was to occur, I can't find any sources to the exact math behind such claims.

Are there any resources like that available anywhere so one could verify such math and find out the flaws of the "scientific" reasoning behind them? If those are available, have they been revealed before the predicted date was to occur?

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    I seriously doubt it, since most Christians will tell you that predicting when the end will come is a fool's errand (and anti-Biblical - christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/4718/…). Those who make the predictions generally give their "believers" their logic for coming up with such and such a date, but the rest of us don't take them seriously enough to catalog it. At any rate, such a collection wouldn't be scientific by any definition. Feb 8, 2012 at 3:43
  • @DavidStratton Too bad too many people buy into "rapture fads" when they should be telling the doomsday preacher "show us your math"...
    – ThePiachu
    Feb 8, 2012 at 5:13
  • Actually, Harold Camping predicted the world would end in October, 2011. May was his prediction for the rapture. Not that it really matters; both were clearly wrong.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 8, 2012 at 5:20
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    @Flimzy: If you want to be technical about it, Camping first predicted the world would end in September, 1994. Feb 9, 2012 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


The difficulty in verifying the math and the calculations is that every prognostication has its own formula. In order to verify Harold Camping, for instance, you have to look at the passages he is pulling from.

For example, here is one (and I don't endorse it) showing how they arrive at their numbers.

Probably the most important calculations revolve around the "time, times, and half a time" in Revelation, and the vision of the 70 weeks in Daniel.

There is one mathematical construct in the Bible that bears the most weight, however, and that is Matthew 24:36:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only

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    Nice! +1 for "one mathematical construct in the Bible that bears the most weight". I needed that! Feb 8, 2012 at 3:51
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    As a general rule, you can pretty much assume that if someone says that the end of the world will happen on such-and-such a date, then you can bet money that the world will not end that day. Feb 8, 2012 at 4:12
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    @cwallenpoole: That sounds a lot like the unexpected hanging paradox.
    – hammar
    Feb 8, 2012 at 4:30
  • @hammar I disagree, this is not a knowable finite period of time (to a human at least). Feb 8, 2012 at 5:15
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    @hammar That said, the statement is actually partially tongue-in-cheek. If it is not the end of the world, you win. Huzzah! If it is the end of the world, the person you're betting against will never be able to collect, because it is the end of the world. There is no way to lose money that way. Feb 8, 2012 at 5:16

The general point is that there are different ways to try to figure it out. There are generally two assumptions made (three if you count the elephant in the closet of being able to calculate at all) and these are:

  1. The scriptures provide in some fashion a calculable total of time units at the end of which is a particular eschatological event such as 'the Rapture' or the final judgment.
  2. There is a way to determine the number of time-units we are from one definite point (such as the coming of Christ) to the other definite point in 1.

These are generally private interpretations (warned against by the apostles) and you can tell because there is no general system. For instance, they may count the number of words in the Codex Vaticanus, or the number of days from creation to Christ, or the number of days taken literally in Revelation. The second step is then to use the symbols in the prophecy to figure out where in that process we are.

The emergence of these predictions is sometimes sparked by the discovery of an old document or the advent of access to a system of counting something in the scripture more accurately.

That all being said -- you can easily find the calculations for a given prediction if you look it up!

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