Claim Evidence and Analysis

Our group analyzed several different sources to learn about Camping and the credibility of his claim.

Lisa’s analysis:

The claim our group chose was on Harold Camping’s revolution that the world will come to an end Oct21st, 2011. This is not the first claim from Camping that the world was going to end; he previously predicted the world would end on May 21st, 2011. May 21st came and went confirming that his prediction was wrong but perhaps he feels he is right about the new date predicted.  Harold Camping is not an expert on when the world is going to end and from the media outlet that I reviewed it seems as though he makes these accusations to make a profit. As mentioned in the article he is known to have a radio show and a T-Shirt line, if not many more profit building ventures.

The media outlet I chose on the Harold Camping claim was an article in Rolling Out. Rolling out is an online news and entertainment source for readers.  The title of the article is “Harold Camping’s New Rapture: Oct. 21, 2011. Do You Believe?” In the title alone it leads the reader to believe that this man has made a previous incorrect rapture, which he has. That this slanter could be re-written as “Harold Camping’s Rapture: Oct.21, 2011. Will it happen? There is also stereotyping in this article when the Christians, atheist, agnostics are mentioned concerning their stance on Harold Camping’s claim. A better way to state what was said in the article would be for the author to specifically state which groups she was referring to instead of lumping the whole group together.

The author of the article in Rolling Out is Zondra Hughes. Zondra is an observer on the subject of Harold Camping’s claim the world is coming to an end, she has no expertise in this topic. Zondra claims that the three groups (Christians, atheist, agnostics) challenged and are against the claim of Camping. She does not provide and statistical information to back up what she wrote or name specific group organization. Zandra earned a B.S. in Journalism from Rust College; and M.S. in journalism with honors from Iowa State University. Some of her accomplishments consist of becoming a very well known entertainment journalist who has written numerous journalistic articles and a book called “The Authors Guild.” Zondra Hughes has recently been named Deputy Editor of Rolling Out, in her spare time; she studies entertainment law and digital publishing. As mentioned above, she has a reputation for writing on entertainment issues. A factor in the creditability of this author is that it’s known editors do not have a lot of time to research topics because their job is to evaluate other journalist work. Lack of concentration, sleep and time could have affected the amount of thorough research and background done for this article. A bias Zandra could have is she was not raised to believe that the world would end suddenly. However, a bias she may not have is that she is in no way affiliated with Harold Camping or his business ventures, so this article is not aimed at supporting or refuting his prediction.

In conclusion, my assessment on the author Zondra Hughes as an observer and her article is although she is a prominent journalist she does not have any experience in the field of religion or scientific facts of when the world will come to an end.  She does not provide any statistical information or scientific information in her article. Based on her education and experience, I believe her claim that three groups (Christians, atheist, agnostics) as a whole not supporting Camping’s belief is illegitimate.

 Dave’s analysis:

Harold Camping is currently claiming that the world would end on October 21st, 2011.  He bases his argument on his own analysis of biblical sources.  We are supposed to accept his claim based on his expert opinion.  I will now use the article http://www.christianpost.com/news/who-is-harold-camping-anyway-50368/ as a source to examine his credibility as an expert.

Apart from bias (to be examined later), education and experience are the most important qualifications in judging expertise.  According to the article, Camping earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California Berkely, and began a construction business.  While a valid degree, it is not relevant to interpreting ancient literature.  He later became a self-taught bible instructor and founded a radio network.  The network became popular, but popularity among the general public does not make one an expert.

Accomplishments, position, and reputation are also key elements in analyzing an expert’s credibility.  For Camping, all 3 are inextricably tied to the radio network he founded.  The article does not mention any awards or positions he has held other than those at the radio station and within his church.  Being the head of a network does not make one an expert on earth science or ancient literature.   The article provides no evidence Camping has any reputation outside of the Christian community, and within his own community he was asked to cease his prophesying and leaft the church.

Camping has no credibility as an expert because he has no education, experience, accomplishments, position, or reputation that would make him an expert on ancient literature or apocalyptically related sciences.  He also is quite biased, because he stands to gain financially in book sales and radio audience from the attention generated by his doomsday prophecies.

Nelia’s analysis:

Involving Harold Camping there may be more than just a debate surrounding the end of the world.  There’s also questions debating whether or not Harold Camping is an expert or completely full of it.  So how do we know if Camping is an expert?  Let’s look at his life and accomplishments.

Camping has his B. S in civil engineering from UC Berkley.  He worked as a Sunday School teacher and an elder at theAlamedaBibleSchooluntil 1988.  All the while Camping was a member, along with his family, of the Christian reform Church.  Camping worked with others to buy a radio station inSan Franciscoto air traditional Christian Gospel to the conservative Protestant community and to minister to the general public.  Through the 60s, Family Radio acquired more FM stations and seven AM stations according to the rules established by the Federal Communications Committee.  The radio broadcast is now aired worldwide.  Camping is also a Self Published Christian author.  So do these make him an expert? We can’t know for sure, some say yes, some say no.  So it’s truly up to the person listening to interpret his preaching for themselves.

According to an interview don by ABC News, Camping predicted the rapture would be on May 21, 2011.  He claims that he knows a mathematical system to decode prophecies made in the Bible.  From this system he calculated the date for the end of the world.  He states there will be a colossal earthquake that opens the graves of all that have passed.  From those graves and the people on earth 200 million will be saved out of the 135 billion people on this earth and all the rest of the corpses

So according to what we know about Camping’s education(civil engineering) and his experience (hosting religious radio, bible school teacher and elder) he is far from an expert on the subject.  We can be sure of this because I am writing this paper on October 11, 2011.

Ruth’s analysis:

A supposed expert in the Bible, Harold Camping, has made the following claim on his website: “Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011”  http://www.familyradio.com/x/whathappened.html

At first I considered the slanter to be the phrase “the elect” as an unknown amount of people who are saves and not under the judgment of God. However, it could also be the initial phrase of the claim “Thus we can be sure” which is a proof surrogate. Re-writing the claim without the slanter would read, “I’ve been sure in the past and wrong, but this time I’m really sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011”. If the world doesn’t end on October 21, 2011, Camping may state simply that maybe he wasn’t so sure, or maybe he made a mistake.

The irony of this claim, is that is made so recently after another failed claim made on this same website over the past couple of years that “The world will end on May 21, 2100. The Bible guarantees it!”  When the world did NOT end on that date, Camping’s followers wondered “what happened?”, and that is the name of the link on the home page that takes you to this new claim. That May 21 was just the last day anyone could be saved, and a “five month” countdown started for the real end of the world on October 21.

This claim is solely based on the “expertise” of Mr. Camping and his interpretation of the Bible. While claiming to be an expert, according to his website, he has no formal training in theology or Biblical interpretation. On the contrary, he is a civil engineer who earned his BS from U.C. Berkeley in 1942 (http://www.familyradio.com/english/connect/bio/haroldcamping_bio.html) and earned his living “from his own construction business”. While he may have been an “Elder and Bible teacher for many years”, again there is no statement of formal seminary training. For the past 50 or more years, he has been involved in radio broadcasts of “Family Radio” and host of on-air “open forums” fielding questions from callers into his show.

Clearly, his background does not qualify him as an “expert” in Biblical interpretation. On the contrary, his many failed predictions of the past, for example stating that the world would end in 1994, should only make the argument stronger that he in fact is not an expert and people should not pay attention to his claims of particular dates that the world will end.

Fortunately, claims with specific dates are easy to disprove – simply wait for the date to pass without the predicted event. Over the past centuries, many religious “experts” have predicted specific years, or even specific dates, for the world to end. All of them have been wrong. Surprisingly, so many people continue to believe them and act on them, even knowing their previous failures.

We can be sure of this because I am writing this paper on October 11, 2011.

 

 

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