When Prophecy Fails

When Prophecy FailsWhen Prophecy Fails is a study of what happens to individuals when their belief system has been shown to be in error (disconfirmed).

A review by William E. Adams at Amazon.com says:

This work first saw print in 1956. It is the story of a UFO cult in a large city in the Midwest…how it developed, how the leaders recruited followers, how predictions about the coming end of the world started flowing from the psychic members who allegedly channeled messages from the spacemen/pilots. The cult members were told they would be saved, picked up by saucers on an appointed date. The members quit jobs, sold possessions, and gathered, only to be disappointed. Did they all quit in a huff? No way. The first failure only made them more determined they were right, more anxious to be ready for the next announced departure date. Then a second failure. A few members fell away, a few suffered doubts, a few challenged for leadership themselves. The point of this book is that it takes “three disconfirmations” to kill a movement of true believers, and even then, some still hang on to the discredited “theology” by grasping at excuses. I found this book by accident about 30 years ago, and have read it at least four times. I find it fascinating. In the 1970’s I knew two women in Albuquerque who were amateur psychics. They started bringing forth “space brethren messages” and eventually, although they failed to attract a following, they went up into the nearby mountains one night sure they would be lifted off before the coming unspecified disaster. They waited, but no ship appeared. I think people inclined toward UFO beliefs haven’t changed much since this book was published. The basic data shown in this study can apply to religious or political groups as well. I am sorry it is out of print, but if you have an interest in this field, get a used copy…the prices are reasonable and the book will not disappoint!

Support for the study was obtained through the Laboratory for Research in Social Relations of the University of Minnesota and help received through a grant-in-aid from the Ford Foundation to one of the authors. The study is to answer the how and why people take on new fervor when they have contradictory evidence which they should not be able to avoid. There are five conditions under which the authors would expect to observe the increased fervor:

  1. A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.
  2. The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.
  3. The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
  4. Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.

The first two of these conditions specify the circumstances that will make the belief resistant to change. The third and fourth conditions together, on the other hand, point to factors that would exert powerful pressure on a believer to discard his belief. It is, of course, possible that an individual, even though deeply convinced of a belief, may discard it in the face of unequivocal disconfirmation. We must, therefore, state a fifth condition specifying the circumstances under which the belief will be discarded and those under which it will be maintained with new fervor.

  1. The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of dis-confirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.

Luckily, the authors found a group they could observe during the study. A woman of a very religious persuasion began writing messages she just ‘knew’ was from a contact in outer space. This ‘source’ warned her to tell the world that there was going to be a great flood to purge the world.

Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is in violation of copyright laws.
Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is a violation of copyright laws.

Along the way, she was told that those within the inner circle of her group would be rescued by flying saucers.

Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is in violation of copyright laws.
Licensed from Adobe Photo Stock; replication of this picture is a violation of copyright laws.

And in the end, we all know how that turned out. They waited again and again to be picked up, but, alas, there was no saucer shuttle and no flood. Yet, many of the group continued to believe even after a number of disappointments, illustrating the workings of the 5 premises. The people really did hang on to their beliefs even after they had been demonstrated to be patently silly.

Of course, those of you currently in the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia know perfectly well there are no such things as flying saucers and the whole thing is patently silly on the face of it.

Apparently there are some Armstrongists who believe in flying saucers.
Apparently there are some Armstrongists who believe in flying saucers.


Just in case you Armstrongists get off the hook because you don’t believe in flying saucers, think again! The authors of When Prophecy Fails spend over seven pages of the first chapter on William Miller! The CoHAM should be getting mighty nervous. After all, those of us blogging to refute Armstrongism have shown that the Worldwide Church of God and its successors are cults. We’ve debunked British Israelism and shown up the same sort of ‘prophecies’ ‘disconfirmed’ by the book. There are no excuses. You Armstrongists are doing exactly what the study predicts you would do. For example, consider the British Israelism Church of God: It has the gall to just make up excuses why DNA doesn’t disprove British Israelism. The problem is that Y-Chromosome DNA has been found to be stable over thousands of years and just doesn’t magically morph to some other haplogroup. Idiots.

 Then we need to consider Herbert Armstrong’s Prophetic Record:

Herbert Armstrong's Prophetic RecordMajor fail. Again and again. And yet, people keep believing and making up excuses, just like the study says. If you really want to be embarrassed by what you believed, re-read 1975 in Prophecy:

1975 in Prophecy Color VersionHerbert Armstrong made some pretty bold prophecies. They simply didn’t come to pass. Did you make excuses for the failure in 1975 when the disconfirmation was too intense to ignore?

Ron and Laura Weinland -- the two witnesses of the Church of God - Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG)
Ron and Laura Weinland — the two witnesses of the Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG)

 If there is any group that illustrates the truth of When Prophecy Fails, it is the PKG. Ron and Laura Weinland — the two witnesses of the Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG) — have conned the PKG to continue giving them money even after their major prophecies failed… again… and again. What’s worse, Ronald Weinland is currently serving his sentence for felony Income Tax evasion, but the PKG membership sticks with him and continues to make excuses.

Others, such as David Pack continue to exhibit hoof in mouth disease — Dave prophesied a specific date that three major leaders in the other churches of God would die and members of all the ACoGs would come flocking to him. That was years ago and still… nothing.

 Now it is true that the Armstrongist Churches of God have something that little group in the Midwest in the 1950s didn’t have. It would have been so much better after the flying saucers failed to show and take them away from the flood that didn’t happen if they had some way to find out how the various members of their group fared after The Great Disappointment. They should have had the benefit of some sort of periodic newspaper which had stories and articles about the group and the individual members. They could keep up much better, even if the editor didn’t particularly believe in the tenets of the group and held the ‘floodists’ and ‘farmer UFOlogists’ in contempt. He could still publish something called The Journal. Maybe out of some town like say, Big Sandy. What’s important is not what the group believes — what’s really important is to keep the social group together in its completely delusional dysfunctional existence.

It’s called journalism.

Was God Really A UFO? A Shocking Possibility!


Ralph Haulk

Herbert Armstrong. Alien To Humanity

After I left the old WCG in 1974, my neighbor talked me into joining the marines, which was interesting, because I did gain access to a lot of writings and publications in California (land of fruits and nuts) than I would have in the foothills of Appalachia.

I ran across a book written by Brad Steiger titled “Mysteries of Time And Space”, and found it quite entertaining, especially the part about UFOs and “cosmic ‘Big Brothers’.


I have since misplaced the book but Steiger makes a most interesting point. There is no better way, wrote Steiger, of taking over this world than by seeding a crossbred race to operate from within our own species. These “special children” may be totally unaware of any special identity, but are being quietly shepherded by their cosmic “Big Brothers” in a process that will take many generations of mental and spiritual evolution. After that time, wrote Steiger, they may receive a signal which only they will understand, taking over special places in world government.

Most members of the old WCG and offshoots are aware that heaven is not the reward of the “saved” but are taught right off that God is indeed selecting a few who will qualify for places as kings/priests in “The World Tomorrow.”


As for “seeding a crossbred race”, my mind instantly went to genesis 21:1-2: “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.”


What did Abraham contribute to Isaac’s birth? Not even sperm, apparently, since Sarah couldn’t get pregnant anyway. While kicking around among the UFO literature of the day, I found a book written by Art Gatti, titled “UFO Encounters of the Fourth Kind”, which dealt with sexual liaisons between women and UFOnauts of that time.Gatti writes: “Cyrus H. Gordon’s scholarly  Before The Bible (Collins, London:1962) points out that, where Genesis points out that the Lord “visited” Sarah, the Bible uses the word paqad,which is the verb meaning a man visiting his wife to have intercourse with her.””And the lord did unto Sarah….”


Let’s re-examine the promise made to Abraham and put it in terms  more consistent with the above:


“You, Abraham, if you accept my promise, will have a son. This son will be the first of other children to be born under exactly the same conditions, the same circumstances. They will be foreknown, as Isaac is, they will be predestined, as Isaac is, and they will be called and developed by over time, specially selected to take over positions of world government when I decide”.


 Once the deal was made, Abraham only had to trust that Yahweh would keep his promise. Abraham only needed to believe. Isaac would be born, and other children would be born as Yahweh selected, over time, under exactly the same promise and the same terms, as Isaac.


This is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. It allows people to believe whatever they wish, to put any interpretation on God they choose. It allows freedom of choice to any degree the human mind is capable, but it keeps Yahweh quietly in charge of a process that is NOT dependent on the understanding of the world’s population. It could be carried out simply and quietly while humans fought and killed over who had the most peaceful religion.


Think about Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Unless a man be  born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven. The word “again” comes from the Greek “anothen” and means “from above”, not “again”. The word “annagennao” means literally “again born”, as used in 1 Peter 1:3, “…hath begotten us again unto a lively hope…”.


I would propose that Peter refers to a group that is “born from above”, and at a later time,“born again”, that is, made aware of their special place. The evidence for this comes abundantly from the verses above it.”Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit…”


The word “spirit” plays an important part in both Jesus and Paul’s teachings. These ‘special children are “ready to be revealed in the last time”(verse 5).


Jesus tells Nicodemus there is a birth of the flesh, and a birth of the spirit. It is assumed by Christianity that we are “born again” upon acceptance of Christ, and baptism, but that is not exactly what Jesus said.  Nicodemus was well aware of a “special birth” and assumed that all Israelites were literally born to inherit God’s kingdom. The idea that a person must be “born again” or “born from above” was a surprise to him. Can a man re-enter his mother’s womb?


The old WCG quoted John 3:8 a lot, but notice what it says: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound therof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the spirit“.


John 1:13 also gives an interesting statement on this: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”.


So far, we see an account almost exactly like that proposed by Steiger, above. We see in John 6:37:  “All that the father giveth me shall come to me…”


John 6:44: “No man can come to me except the father which hath sent me draw him…”.  This indicates that Yahweh, the actual father of these children, whoever they are, will call them to Jesus by special appointment, not freewill choice. The word “draw” there, comes from the Greek which means, more or less, against one’s intentions. In other words, while they’re looking in one direction, they will be drawn in a direction they do not anticipate. The Greek is “helkos” and is also used in similar fashion in Acts 16:19, drawn against their will, or against the principles of nature.Paul goes into greater detail on the birth of “flesh” and “spirit” in Romans 9:8: “That is, they which are the children of the flesh(Israel) are not the children of God. But the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”


What promise? Verse 9: “For this is the word of promise, ‘At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son’.”


In verse 11: Paul takes it even further: “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” Then Paul goes into great pains, in Romans 9:16-22, to show that there simply exists no decision procedure, no “algorithm”, no process of human will by which we may show ourselves any closer to God than anyone else. Verse 16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy“.


Paul has gone to great pains to show that it is simply impossible for humans, of their own will, to qualify for this position. There is Romans 8:7, Romans 8:29-30, and Romans 9:8-22.


But then, you go into Galatians 3:29, which is even more obvious: “And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”


Galatians 4:28: “Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise“.


Who are they, assuming they ACTUALLY EXIST? I have no idea, nor does anyone else. There is simply no process by which we can define or recognize them, since they are completely dependent on a deal controlled by Yahweh, made with Abraham.


Two different births, one of flesh (Israel), and one of “spirit” or promise. The word “spirit’ and “promise’ are used interchangeably in Galatians 4:29 “But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now”.

The allegory that Paul uses was the birth of Isaac, of a free-woman, and Ishmael, who was born of a  bond maid.  The “bond” was then referred to Sinai, the law given to Israel, which places people into bondage to law.  Isaac was born of promise, a deal made with  Abraham which came 430 years before Sinai, so it stands in full intent apart from the law (Galatians 3:17).


Yahweh, therefore, had two basic plans in mind.  By giving the law to Israel, he actually created a system that would lead to division, confusion, and discord, but he quietly maintained a promise between himself and Abraham that was not dependent in any way on the will, intent, or decisions of humans as individuals, religions, or governments.


 This is far simpler, more brilliant in its simplicity, and can be fully implemented according to a system that is not dependent in any way on human will.


If it’s true, there is no need to worry about human authorities, religions, or governments. If it is NOT true, there is STILL no need to worry about  human religions or governments in terms of “God” since you are automatically free of them.


The only  correct choice to make in terms of religion, therefore, is given in Matthew 24:23. Don’t believe any of them. The only correct choice you can make, religious or atheist, is to be free from human ideologies and superstitions.