MANILA, Philippines - Is it really doomsday this weekend as predicted by US evangelical Christian broadcaster Harold Camping?
Not quite, according to a local pastor, a Christian book author and a scientist from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Mario Raymundo, chief of the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory, said there is no astronomical event that can be associated with Camping's prediction. He said the grand conjunction of planets on May 30 will have no effect.
"The planetary alignment is too far to affect us. As for his prediction of a massive quake, there is no basis for it. It won't happen. This is not true," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."
He said Camping's prediction is just a variation of the "2012 phenomenon", which says the world will come to an end next year as predicted in the Mayan calendar. He said even the Mayan prediction has been debunked by scientists and astronomers.
Raymundo said it is inevitable that the Earth will come to an end but only after millions of years. "There is evidence of that...but it won't happen to our present generation," he said.
For his part, Pastor Pio Tica of the Higher Ground Baptist Mission said prophecies of this weekend's doomsday will only benefit people who are steeped in debt.
Tica said Camping is basing his May 21, 2011 prediction based on "calculations and computations" that the Great Flood during Noah's time also happened on May 21.
However, he noted Camping is already famous for making wrong predictions. Camping, who owns the Christian radio network Family Stations Inc, previously predicted that the Great Tribulation would happen in 1988, and that Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994.
"Harold Camping is well known for getting it wrong...Marami nang sablay," he said.
'Only God knows'
Bro. Michael Angelo Lobrin, author of the book "Laugh with God Today", said people need only to read Matthew 24:36 to see that not even Jesus or angels know the day or hour of judgment.
"We really can't predict it because only God the Father knows," he said.
He said focusing on the Rapture or the end of the world makes people lose sight of God's command to love God and our neighbors.
Tica said Judgment Day and the alignment of planets are all in the Bible. "The Bible says that there will be signs in the heavens and upheavals on earth. So these things are the fulfillment of what Jesus and the prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah said," he said.
He added: "God has set a time for judgment. There will come a day when the world will be judged. That is why the Bible says we must be ready because you don't know when it will happen."