Apocalypse Now: world is ending today"I am utterly absolutely, absolutely convinced it's going to happen," said Harold Camping, the 89-year-old evangelist and president of Family Radio whose biblical calculations have ignited Rapture fever across America.
Camping pinpointed May 21, at about 5:59 p.m. ET, as the exact time when those chosen by God will ascend to heaven while cataclysmic earthquakes begin to rock earth, and he spent big bucks on 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.
Inevitably, many have mocked Camping's prognostications, but the recent series of devastating natural disasters -- the Japan earthquake, recent tornadoes and floods in America - is evidence enough for some people to prepare for the worst.
Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old retiree from New York, spent his $140,000 life savings to have 3,000 posters put up in New York City's subway and bus system, warning of this impending End of Days.
"Judgment day will begin very shortly before midnight Jerusalem standard time. I think it's going to be instantaneous. Everything will be destroyed and God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth," he said.
"If you're not saved by the time these events begin tomorrow, then you'll be left here to face judgment day."
Leaders among mainstream Christian denominations have largely condemned date-setting, citing Bible verses that say no man can know the time of the Rapture.
"The people following his predictions are apocalyptic enthusiasts already looking for signs of the end times. They want to reinforce their idea that these are the last days," said Stephen O'Leary, an expert in religious communication at University of Southern California. "They are "unable to face up to the reality of their mistakes and misplaced faith when the prophecy is wrong."
Camping himself has predicted the End of Days before: Sept. 6, 1994.
Camping had been "thrown off a correct calculation because of some verses in Matthew 24," a Family Radio spokesman told ABC News this month.