This isn't the first time radio broadcaster and evangelist Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world using complex mathematical equations deduced from the Bible. He first named a date in 1994 when the world would end, but revised his calculations and said that he had gotten the formula wrong the first time.
Now, Camping is convinced that he hasn't made a mistake. Here is the equation he used:
"The number five equals 'atonement', the number 10 equals 'completeness', and the number 17 equals 'heaven,'" claims Camping's Judgement Day 2011. "Christ hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years… If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year), the result is 722,449… The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days… 51 + 722,449 = 722,500… (5 × 10 × 17)2 or (atonement × completeness × heaven)2 also equals 722,500."
While Camping believes Jesus will return to earth on Saturday, and the world will be struck by a huge earthquake, most doubt Camping's predictions. Atheists have even started planning Rapture After Parties in North Carolina, a two-day event with the headline "countdown to back-pedaling."
Other parties will take place in Florida, Houston and California.
Camping's message has spread around the world, from Asia to Europe to the Middle East. While he has been criticized by many mainstream figureheads, Camping stands by his prediction and has garnered many followers who have helped make people more aware of the May 21 date.
"The only countries I don't feel too good about are the 'stans' – you know, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, those countries in Central Asia," Chris McCann of the eBible Fellowship told BBC.