In the aftermath of the End of the World / Rapture fiasco, several important lessons need to be learned.
- Faith is not a virtue. A lot of people had faith, they had to. There was no logical reason to believe a man that already predicted the wrong date once (now twice). But faith has to trump reason. It’s what faith does and without faith it is impossible to please their god (Hebrews 11:6). Reason said this event wasn’t going to happen just like all the other past dates for the rapture, but they went with faith to please “god”. A case in point: “I had some skepticism but I was trying to push the skepticism away because I believe in God,” said Keith Bauer – who hopped in his minivan in Maryland and drove his family 3,000 miles to California for the Rapture.” (Associated Press)
- Belief has consequences. People used their life savings to put up billboards, finance ad campaigns and give money to Harold Camping and Family Radio. Some people will have lost everything not to mention the embarrassment some will suffer. “Robert Fitzpatrick, of Staten Island, said he was surprised when the six o’clock hour simply came and went. He had spent his own money to put up advertising about the end of the world. “I can’t tell you what I feel right now,” he said, surrounded by tourists. “Obviously, I haven’t understood it correctly because we’re still here.” (Associated Press)
- Explanations will come. The usual explanations will be forthcoming: a wrong calculation, a spiritual explanation of how the event really happened, how there was so much faith and repentance that Jesus delayed to give people more time to repent, etc. While it may seem silly to continue trusting in this man, history shows us that many will only deepen their faith and readily accept any explanation. It is hard to admit you are wrong when the stakes are so high. In Old Testament times a false prophet was supposed to be stoned to death.
- Belief in a Rapture is just as silly as setting a date. A recent poll has shown that 41% of people believe that the rapture will occur and almost 60% in the South (U.S.) believe it. These people are primed to believe the next set date. They may not have believed Camping, but if a pastor they respect sets a date, they will be sure to follow. This doctrine is just like religion itself, it has no evidence to support it – just faith. It is even worst since the the rapture doctrine is relatively recent in the history of Christianity (Rapture). Belief in an untestable and unsupported hypothesis is silly at best and, as we have recently seen, devastating at worst.
- Question everything. Don’t rely on faith. I know Christians are fond of saying that there is enough evidence to warrant faith, but there isn’t. If there was enough evidence, faith would not be needed. Don’t take my word for it, examine the evidence yourself but you have to step outside the Christian bubble and read the “unsafe” non-Christian literature.
- Don’t laugh. Ok, you can laugh at the ideas, but not the people. Most were sincerely deluded and some lost everything they had. Everyone makes mistakes. Almost everyone can fall for a properly executed con. Be gentle, maybe you can help these people pick up the pieces and embrace reason, not faith.
It is time that we, as a people, out grow primitive superstitions and embrace the rational. It may be uncomfortable but reality is a much better place to live.