British doomsday mathematician Gordon Ritchie and his cohorts at have apparently failed again to predict accurately a terrorist nuclear attack on the UN Plaza in Manhattan. They had previously predicted that such an attack would occur between the evening of June 29th and sundown on July 4th, but now sheepishly state:

We can only apologise once more. We are not able to get what we interpret to be a Nuclear Terrorist attack on the UN in Midtown Manhattan accurate to the day. We can only now say that it will happen in the sabbath month of 2006Tammuz i.e. before sundown Friday July 28th. We get this month from the pregnancy period of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, and from the 2nd head of the image of the UN Beast (which image is the UN Peace Building Commission) and from the 7th festival after our first mistaken date as stipulated by Elijah is 1 Kings 18 (which festival is a month long sabbath). That gives 3 witnesses to the month, but none of our witnesses to the day were correct. Our confidence in them was misplaced as it did not take into account the various mistakes we have made along the way.

Oh, dear, what a shame. Ritchie now says that this attack will occur some time before sundown on July 28. Check this space for further updates.

Ritchie’s calculation glitches can provide us with certain lessons, if we are willing to accept them. The stresses of biblical prophecy can take their toll on doomsday mathematicians. Add to that the appalling state of mathematical ability in the UK today (The Guardian states that “In Britain 5 million adults cannot read, while 15 million – almost half the workforce – are in work despite having numeracy skills equivalent to those of 11-year-olds”), and a solution to the problem of flawed biblical prophecy in the future begins to emerge: have your work audited by a major accounting firm. That way, if you have made a mistake, some fellow at Deloitte & Touche or Grant Thornton can help you work through your math and correct it before you make another dunderheaded press release. With biblical predictions of the end of the world on the upswing in recent years, it would not surprise me a bit if some enterprising firm opened a Biblical Prohecy unit, with a team of accountants specially trained for calculating sabbath months and reading calf’s livers.

And if, even after a complete audit, you find that you’re still wrong about when that terrorist nuclear attack will occur, you can always take a page out of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling’s book, and blame the accountants.

If the world of biblical prophecy were run more like American Business, we would all no doubt be better off for it.