In the aftermath of the End of the World / Rapture fiasco, several important lessons need to be learned.

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

2 Comments

  1. You raised some interesting points. As a Christian I don't necessarily agree with all of them but I'd argue the same logic could be used by those of us Christians who didn't buy into this prophecy (and I believe there were far more of us who didn't believe the rapture was going to happen than those that did).

    The Bible indicates that the end will come like a thief in the night– when we least expect it. It's largely why I don't buy into ANY of these doomsday predictions by some of my more unhinged Christian brethren. If you're expecting it, chances are it's not going to happen.

    I'd also like to submit that one of the largest schisms in the Christian faith is those who do and don't believe that God granted humans free will. Those who don't believe in free will are the ones most likely to buy into these doomsday predictions.

    As someone who does believe in free will… By granting us free will God has given us the capacity to create and seal our own fates. We really don't need any help from any higher power in this regard. We fully have the capacity to bring about our own ends either as individuals or as an entire species.

    There will inevitably be an end as the life of our planet and our sun are finite. Species come and go via extinction. So it's not a matter of if the world will end– it's a matter of when and whether it will be due to an ELE (Extinction Level Event like a large meteor making impact), by our own design (via cataclysmic nuclear/biological/chemical war that wipes out the entire human race), or if it will be gradual over time and we'll just die out or evolve to the next level on the evolutionary ladder.

    I'm not trying to change your mind about faith or about God. While I am a Christian and try to live my life according to Christ's teachings and His message (as opposed to that of any organized church) I believe a person's faith is a very personal thing. I just thought I'd toss out some Christian-centric logic that you might be able to use when discussing this issue with people of faith. And I also wanted to offer a somewhat more sane Christian perspective to show you that there are plenty of us Christians who aren't completely out of our gourds.

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  2. Thank your for you comment. When I was a Christian I never believed in the rapture. I am aware of the vast array of Christian beliefs and that is a real problem. The bible just isn't clear even on the most basic of doctrines as is seen by some 38,000 different "demoninations". Even in the case of following the teachings of Jesus, people pick and choose what appeals to them and explain away the disagreeable parts. For instance almost no one is willing to hate their mother and father in order to follow Christ, they need to rationalize that command as "in comparison to". This rapture maddness was just another example of what can happen when people allow faith, not reason, to rule their lives. Trying to live the best life possible is a worthy goal for anyone. I maintain that this can be done without a god figure.

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