Posts Tagged ‘rapture’

Or possibly, Rapture II: Die Rapturer.

Anyway. Tomorrow is Harold Camping’s second attempt to correctly predict the end of the world (this year). But it might surprise you to learn that his first attempt was, in fact, entirely successful.

It turns out that May 21st, when everyone was holding their breath and excitedly awaiting the abrupt end of all life on the planet, was actually an administrative deadline. It was the day when God finished dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, and filed the paperwork on Earth’s official liquidation. That’s why it looked deceptively like absolutely nothing happened. It was all going perfectly according to plan.

October 21st, though: that’s when the whole physical world “will be annihilated”. For realz. It won’t just be a behind-the-scenes, data-entry armageddon this time around. It’s the real deal. And if you didn’t get your eternal salvation logged and notarised at least five months ago, then boy are you in trouble at the Day of Judgment and Auditing.

Of course, Harold Camping’s not a particularly interesting or original character. Rationalising away your obvious mistakes, and fervently holding beliefs entirely unsupported by facts, aren’t even specific to religious people. And he’s old and tired, and isn’t going to want to make a major adjustment to his worldview at this stage in life, especially if he was loopy enough to become so committed to an obviously barmy idea like this in the first place.

But given how many people gave up their homes and livelihoods last time, on the word of one old man – and how many others make similarly inane sacrifices or acts of devotion based on equally imaginary Biblical prophesy, every day – it’s a pathology that can still be worth examining. It can be good to remind ourselves that this kind of ludicrous behaviour is something that people do. That’s not meant as a point of condemnation or despair of humanity, but an interest in the important subject of understanding ourselves.

Camping and his crowd are kooks, but we shouldn’t let their particular kookiness tempt us to “other” them too completely. They’re experiencing logic failures of the kind to which we’re all susceptible – and which it’s fascinating to attempt to understand, and develop techniques for avoiding.

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So, has the rapture happened? Is it safe to come out now? Anyone had any luck looting the possessions left behind by the faithful? I live directly below a Reverend in the Church of England; I might pop up later and see if she had a decent flatscreen.

Alternatively, in the unlikely event that God’s chosen people haven’t been lifted up to Heaven over the weekend, how are the faithful rationalising things this time? Have the calculations which couldn’t possibly be wrong turned out to be wrong? Or was it one of those infallible prophecies that was fulfilled spiritually, but not physically? I think a few end-of-days cults have pulled that one off before, convincing themselves that they’ve been proved right by the way that absolutely nothing happened.

I’m not inclined to give any deep analysis of this one. Just remember that what drove all this lunacy – in which people died, remember – was that some guy read the Bible, and had a sincere faith in the conclusions he drew from it. If that’s something which can also be said about you, don’t be too hasty to call him a nut just because his evidence-free conclusion was different from yours.

Well, anyway. I guess it’s back to normal for the rest of us.

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The rapture is supposedly just a few days away now. It looks like they’re sticking with this one right through to the bitter, reality-denying end.

Not sure how many more I’ll do of these. The novelty’s wearing off, and the weekly schedule I’ve set for myself is starting to feel like more of a drag than I really need. We’ll see.

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Just quickly, because it’s Friday and I have far more important things to be sleeping.

The New Humanist blog links to a site offering a valuable service. If you believe the time is near when you and the other true believers will start floating up into the air and vanish from this world, then you might want to enlist the aid of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets.

One of the major design flaws of the Rapture is that, when you are lifted bodily to Heaven, your cat won’t have anyone left to open their cans of food (which is the only reason they ever bothered to keep you around in the first place, obviously). I can only blame a lack of foresight on God’s part when he put this system into place. But, thanks to some more forward-thinking atheists, you no longer have to worry.

Register with these guys, and for a modest fee you can be assured that your beloved pets will be taken care of after you’ve ascended, by some of those heathens who won’t be invited along with you.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen this sort of idea expressed, though I’m not sure how many people have tried turning it into a valid business model before. So, what do we think of this? Inspired or exploitative? I think they’re sincere and up-front about what they’re offering, but I also think I’d feel like too much of a dick if I took money from someone purely because of their own delusions. Even if they know what they’re getting and it’s what they really want to pay for, is it right to act as an enabler?

Eh, maybe I’ll have the answer in the morning.

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All-purpose round-up

The opposition leader of Malaysia has an alibi for “every minute” of the day when he is accused of sodomy. I know whenever I’m not having anal sex I always make sure that every single minute of my time is accounted for.

A pregnant woman went in for a consultation at a clinic, and was mistakenly given a chemical abortion. Because it’s a busy place, and when you’re pushed for time you sometimes forget to check whether this woman you’re injecting actually wants you to kill her fetus.

Soldiers in the US military are getting training in “emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield”, by practising treating gunshot wounds on pigs. Unfortunately, to supply sufficient numbers of gunshot wounds on pigs, they’re having to shoot a few pigs. PETA are not happy.

They might not be bothering to make any sequels to the film The Golden Compass, but apparently this is because of Christian protests against the first movie, rather than because it totally sucked. Plans for filming the rest of the series have been shelved “following” some religious boycotts, which is true in a chronological sense, as the one did occur temporally after the other, but only in the same way that devastating earthquakes have “followed” me scratching my left testicle.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has had six hundred and fifty-eight laptops stolen in four years, and lost another eighty-nine on their own initiative. And a hundred and thirty-one memory sticks. Jesus Christ, you guys. I don’t know how big the Ministry is, or how their funding allocations these days measure up against the guys over at Silly Walks, but that’s an average of more than four pieces of expensive electronic equipment potentially containing sensitive or private information going missing every week for four years.

And an atheist on craigslist offers post-rapture pet care. Because it’s no good being bodily taken up to Heaven if you’re left worrying about who’s going to feed Spot.

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