How to predict the end of
the world without being wrong
when it doesn’t happen
WHEN DOOMSDAY CULTS make a prediction that fails to happen, you’d think that most-ardent believers might emerge with their faith a bit shaken. It’s usually the opposite. They view the failure as a confirmation and emerge more convinced than ever.
How do they pull off such a feat of reasoning? They begin with the assumption that they couldn’t have been wrong. If that is so, then they must find a way to view the failure as not a failure but as more of an unexpected development. Curiously, almost all cults default to one or more of the following “explanations”:
1. We weren’t wrong; God in his infinite mercy has spared the earth a little while longer.
2. We weren’t wrong except for one tiny detail as to the timing.
3. We were right and it happened, just not in the way we anticipated.
Jehovah’s Witnesses had many times nailed down and revised the date of the Second Coming by use of Explanation 2. After one failure too many, they switched to Explanation 3. Click here to enjoy this brief piece by Hemant Mehta, aka the Friendly Atheist, which provides more detail.
Weaseling is not unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Followers of other belief systems, religious and non or doomsday and non, are cautioned against smugness.