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Christ is coming very soonMeditation 880
Earthquakes and the Second Coming

by: JT

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This advertisement appeared in one of the local newspapers[1] on Saturday. It says in the upper half of the ad (punctuation as per original):

8 Compelling Reasons Why:

Christ is coming very soon!

Reason #4. Increase in Earthquakes. Also prophesied to intensify (Matthew 24:7) a recent study shows a dramatic increase in earthquakes worldwide, just since the decade of Israel's rebirth. In the 1940's there were 51 earthquakes above 6.0 on the Richter scale, the 1950's, 475; the 1980's, 1085; and the 1990's, 1514. (KJV)

If you are really interested in the second half of the ad (The Escape Plan) then you could probably work it out from the image - or just read Ephesians 2:8-9 - King James Version, of course.

Having recently moved to the west coast, I do have an increased concern about earthquakes, and I guess it was the "Earthquakes" in bold in the ad that caught my eye. And then the dramatic reported increase from 51 earthquakes 6.0 and over in the 1940s to 1514 of similar magnitude in the 1990s astounded me. Time for some fact checking.

First, I sent a reasonably polite message[2] to the church which placed the advertisement asking where they got these numbers. Obviously, Pastor Dempsey has not yet had time to reply. Secondly, I did a little research on earthquake numbers from what I consider reputable sources, and unsurprisingly found nothing to validate the claimed increase in earthquake frequency.

But before getting to statistics, let's go through the ad from the top.

8 Compelling Reasons Why:

Apparently this is the fourth in a series of 8 ads, each with a different reason to show why we can now expect the second coming. I missed the first three - possibly because they did not use the word earthquake. I'll try to remember to look for reason #5 next week.

Christ is coming very soon!

I deal with this in a couple of offbeat ways in the next two Meditations, 881 and 882. But Christ has been coming very soon for almost 2,000 years. Now "soon" is a relative word, open to interpretation. I read recently that Betelgeuse may go nova soon - soon meaning anywhere from now to a million years from now. That's really pushing the limits of "soon" - but it is still a small passage of time in a 14 billion year old universe. The equivalent soon in a 6,000 year old universe (which the church placing the ad believes in) is about 5 months. It surely is not 1/3 the lifetime of the universe, which these people would have us believe is Christ's soon.

Christ is coming very soon! is a promise that has long since failed.

Reason #4. Increase in Earthquakes. Also prophesied to intensify (Matthew 24:7)

Is Matthew 24:7 a prophecy of an increase in earthquakes in number and in intensity? Let's turn to the King James Version (which this particular church believes is the one true version) to see.

 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Looking closely, I cannot see anything which implies increase in any sense of the word. In fact this is not really a prophecy at all - it is just taking what is already occurring and saying it will continue to occur. It's a forecast - with no more significance than saying the sun will rise tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and the day after that and so on.

But maybe I took the passage out of context (in which case the ad took it out of context first.) So let's put it back into context:

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

No, still nothing about an increase in earthquakes. The real message seems to be verse 4 which suggests don't believe church advertisements.

a recent study shows a dramatic increase in earthquakes worldwide,

What recent study? Perhaps Pastor Dempsey, when and if he replies, will enlighten us on this matter.

just since the decade of Israel's rebirth.

It's very popular to tie the founding of the modern state of Israel into Apocalyptic tales. Now if only those Jews would get on with rebuilding the Temple so God can get on with destroying them in accordance with prophecy.

All that hypocritical fundamentalist Christian support for Israel is in the expectation that this will result in God promptly sending all Jews to Hell for eternity where they deservedly belong. It's all part of God's love.

(Folks - that's sarcasm - not my own feeling about Jewish people. But it is my feeling about the fundamentalist Christian support for Israel.)

In the 1940's there were 51 earthquakes above 6.0 on the Richter scale, the 1950's, 475; the 1980's, 1085; and the 1990's, 1514.

To quote my English friends, bollocks!

To quote the US Geological Survey: As more and more seismographs are installed in the world, more earthquakes can be and have been located. However, the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 6.0 and greater) has stayed relatively constant.

Further, on the USGS page "Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?" According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.

If you want details, then there are extensive reports you can download from the Centennial Earthquake Catalog page. I recommend the Centennial Catalog pdf - a global catalog of locations and magnitudes of instrumentally recorded earthquakes with all sorts of chart and graphs which show the advertisement to be wrong. The catalog is updated periodically and extends from 1900. Or you can download the spreadsheet and review the statistics in any way you want, and still not find a way to reproduce that increase from 51 in the '40s to 1514 in the '90s.

Again from AccuWeather.com:

Technology has increased the amount of earthquakes that are detected and reported. Today, there are thousands of stations, compared to about 350 in 1931. The increase of stations has allowed scientists to detect earthquakes that would not have been decades ago.

Rapid improvements in global communications have enabled news of an earthquake to spread almost instantly. Several decades ago, the USGS said, it could take weeks after an earthquake to make the newspapers, often landing on the back pages.

One more nail in the coffin. I hate to do this, but I am going to refer you to a study from the Institute for Creation Research - EARTHQUAKES AND THE END TIMES: A GEOLOGICAL AND BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE by Steven A. Austin and Mark L. Strauss. From the conclusion to a paper prepared by a Creationist "Think" Tank:

A number of prophecy teachers say that a pronounced increase in frequency and intensity of earthquakes has occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century, a worldwide trend fulfilling a prophecy made by Jesus. Contrary to these prophecy teachers, no obvious trend is found indicating an abnormal increase in the frequency of large earthquakes during the last half of the twentieth century. Neither is there a noteworthy deficiency of earthquakes in the first half of the century.


This is meant to show that bible citations are from the King James Version of the Bible. It's rather strangely placed in the ad. Logically, it should have been placed right after Matthew 24:7. I suspect the Church "borrowed" another church's advertisement which did not specify KJV, and simply added the abbreviation where it would fit. If so, they would have been much wiser to check the advertisement for verifiable truth before publishing.

Sorry, Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church of Nanaimo. The evidence is in. You have engaged in false and misleading advertising. And if you really think an increase in earthquakes is a necessary sign for the return of Jesus Christ, then the actual statistics about earthquakes show that he's not coming.

Look Pastor Dempsey - if you can't get the facts straight about what has happened in the real world - and you are completely wrong about the increase in earthquakes - then why should we give any credence to what you have to say on spiritual matters?



  1. Nanaimo News Bulletin, Saturday, February 12 2011, p15
  2. Dear Pastor Dempsey:

    In today’s (12 Feb 2011) Nanaimo News Bulletin, your church has an advertisement about the prophesized coming of Christ. In that advertisement, it states:

    “a recent study shows a dramatic increase in earthquakes worldwide…”

    And then the ad goes on to give some truly astonishing statistics.

    As it is my practice to occasionally comment on church advertisements on my website, (http://ApatheticAgnostic.org) I request that if you have a moment to spare, you send me information on this earthquake study. A web link would suffice or even a reference to the scholarly journal in which it the study was published.

    I would really like to know where those numbers came from.

    If you’d like, I’ll let you know when my article is published (probably next Friday) and I will give you the right of reply.


    With my best wishes

    John Tyrrell