May 20, 2011— -- The world should have ended many times over by now, judging by the Book of Matthew and its numerous messages of impending doom.
Famine and earthquakes. Nation rising against nation. No wonder the doomsayers have a field day every so often, partly grounding their latest apocalyptic prediction -- for Saturday -- in what they say is the world's heightened state of immorality and lawlessness.
"It'll be the beginning of Judgment Day and it'll begin wherever the calendar says May 21 anywhere in the world and where the clock says about 6pm standard time," Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, the force behind the May 21 prediction told ABC News.
The evidence is plentiful and unmistakable for the doomsayers who're convinced the world will end in cataclysm sooner rather than later. But in case the perceived signs are lost on everyone else, here's a loose sampling of what Jesus might have meant by "the beginning of birth pains" when he warned of what's to come.
1. Japan: Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster, all rolled into one. The March devastation that left thousands dead and missing was the trifecta of prophecies for many believers
But that "will look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison" to the end of times, Camper, reportedly said this week, despite the Bible's indisputable proclamation that "no one knows about that day or hour."
2. Haiti, Philippines, Costa Rica: Recent "earthquakes in various places," as noted in Matthew, foretell the obvious for some believers.
3. Iraq-Afghanistan: Never-ending Mideast conflict seems always to factor into calculating a Judgment Day prediction, starting with Israel. So there's plenty to choose from in the region to meet this biblical requirement: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."
4. Marriage equality: Some believers have suggested that the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage is a sign of immorality run amok, and that God would tolerate it only as a precursor to Judgment Day.
5. The Mississippi River: Recent flooding has prompted some speculation that pervasive crop destruction is sure to follow, resulting in the widespread famine that's scheduled to help usher in the Apocalypse.
We'll know soon enough, at least this time around.