Why The Rapture Failed
Jesus misses his appointment again — just like he had been for the last 2,000 years.
I think we can safely say now that part of the world has entered into May 22nd, 2011 without incident that one of two things are true: 1) That either the Bible is inherently dangerous in how it appears to attract loons or 2) The Bible cannot be trusted as a fairly reliable source of information. Either way end of world prophecies will continue to be a source of great appeal.
The End Times Appeal
I’ve already elaborated in great detail why all Bible Prophecy is fundamentally flawed. So I don’t need to tell you again why virtually every modern day prediction about a rapture is utter nonsense (hint: it is an idiosyncrasy of modern religion). Rather, I want to elaborate in much greater detail on why end time prophecies are so appealing — especially to educated people.
Over 350,000 years ago when the first signs of modern men roamed the earth, the only thing men had between them and nature was instinct. Men feared things they didn’t understand and with good reason. They didn’t have shotguns, antibiotics or tranquillizers. So whenever these ancient men heard a rumble in the bushes, their primal instinct was simply to run away.
At that time, their instincts served them well. It kept them out of trouble, avoiding death, even when 99% of the time, there was probably nothing dangerous afoot. Even if a rumble in the bush turned out to be nothing more than a gecko (and would thus be classified a “false positive“) his fear kept him alive if it wasn’t. It is better to be wrong about danger than safety.
What if our primitive man had ignored his fear of the rumble in the bush and it turned out to be a sabre-tooth tiger? (and thereby classified a “false negative“) Ignoring his primal instinct to run would have rendered him lunch, thereby eliminating him from the gene pool, and thus preventing modern man from ever evolving to dominate the world as we would know it today.
All other sub species of men (Neanderthals, etc.) were wiped out in favour of the men that had the greatest fear of the unknown. It’s our fear that has kept us alive, eventually allowing us to live long enough to build cities, shotguns, antibiotics, tranquillizers — and religion. There is still a lot that is unknown, and so our primal fear of the unknown continues to remain intact.
The trouble is, that part of our DNA is largely obsolete. We now largely know what we should be fearful of and what we can safely ignore. However, whenever there is something fearful out there that we have yet to fully understand, we tend to fill that hole in our knowledge with religion, which is usually used to satisfy our uncertainties. If science can’t explain it, God did it.
Religion is very useful for that. This is why the pseudo-science we call religion persists today and why End Times predictions carry such an endearing appeal. Even if you are a hard boiled atheist, whenever another religious nut gets up and tells a specific date for the end of the world (never mind the Bible’s advice against such), we always tend to listen to them keenly.
That’s our primal fear instinct reacting. Even if you’ve sworn off Jesus Christ and the latter day saints, if some idiot makes a big enough of a declaration that the world is coming to an end and goes as far as to put up billboards and sell their homes, divorce their wives and huddle together in the woods, you are not likely able to resist the urge to anxiously hear them out.
This is why the Rapture failed: Religion is no substitute for certainty. Faith should be used to aid us in proving a conclusion. It should not be used as a conclusion in and of itself. That’s why no one should take people like Harold Camping seriously. However, it’s been done so often now, it’s become something of a joke and will be ridiculed for at least another month:
Stop me if you’ve seen this before
These religious nuts are nothing new. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were once a radical Christian cult that frequently made predictions about the end of the world in 1914, 1939 and 1975. There were end of the world predictions for 1994, 1995 and 1999 as well from other religious groups. In fact, end of the world predictions have been as far back as in the year 1,000 A.D.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Jesus misses his appointment again — just as he had been for the last 2,000 years and just as he will continue to do for the next 2,000 years. I’ve been hearing about us being in the last days since I was a child with many rapture dates that all came and went. Jesus was always a no show. With such a track record, either:
- Jesus is coming for real, but now Harold Camping and all like him have made everyone complacent about the coming rapture; or
- The very nature of the Biblical references has the irresistible capacity to make fools of many. I suspect this is more likely.
Whichever side you lean towards is highly contingent on your reliance on your primal fear instinct. That is usually genetically determined. Many studies have shown that people who are likely to be religious are also far more likely to be emotionally expressive (a function of the amygdala in the brain) and are also much more likely to believe in superstition and all the like.
This is why highly intelligent, educated individuals can still believe in this nonsense, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. As I had stated in a post written long ago, belief is not predicated on truth, but on the will to believe. Christians had the good sense to immediately dismiss Camping and his lot. They may even say this is the first horse man of the Apocalypse.
That is debatable for all the same reasons.
Duly noted, Duly Ignored
Either way, I think it’s safe to say that whether you’re a Christian or not, you should not let the declaration of a few misinformed fools trigger that primal fear. I’ve even seen places where some atheists are being cautiously dismissive (which goes to show just how powerful this primal fear is). But, I can assure you that there’s no need to be even remotely cautious.
You’re just reacting to the gecko in the bush.
The Bible says that no man knows when Christ will return (which when you think about it, is a classic philosophical cop out to extend the life of the religion indefinitely …but alas, I digress). So no Christian can make such a declaration. Furthermore, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Bible is unreliable. Camping is not the first and will not be the last to declare the end from it.
Even so, the mere fact that the Bible is so vague about, well, everything of consequence with respect to the end of the world, it should therefore come as no surprise that there are so many different interpretations of the Bible and so many versions of Christianity. If there’s one thing I can tell you about the truth, is that if it exists, it is always consistent, like mathematics. So I tell you what, just in case Jesus does turn up, I would like believers to observe this PSA:
So what did happen?
Today was a fairly typical day just like any other day. Some people will have died (but many more were born). So technically, the world did end for a few people today. There will be major earthquakes in some parts of the world. That’s normal. Earthquakes are going on all the time. In fact, there were several notable quakes today, but nothing larger than 6.0 in magnitude:
|MAP||5.8||2011/05/21 22:06:27||35.592||140.728||34.5||NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN|
|MAP||5.8||2011/05/21 22:06:27||35.592||140.728||34.5||NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN|
|MAP||5.0||2011/05/21 21:37:11||-5.821||129.406||255.0||BANDA SEA|
|MAP||5.8||2011/05/21 21:17:01||-30.775||-178.133||19.8||KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND|
|MAP||5.0||2011/05/21 16:30:31||31.259||-41.003||9.9||NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE|
|MAP||5.3||2011/05/21 13:08:06||17.257||121.755||45.1||LUZON, PHILIPPINES|
|MAP||5.0||2011/05/21 09:53:55||-7.265||147.003||42.6||EASTERN NEW GUINEA REG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA|
|MAP||5.2||2011/05/21 08:33:21||65.369||-166.891||19.2||NORTHERN ALASKA|
|MAP||5.1||2011/05/21 00:41:37||-55.997||-27.195||40.7||SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION|
|MAP||5.9||2011/05/21 00:16:27||-56.066||-27.165||64.8||SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION|
|Source: U.S. Geological Survey|
Oh, and a volcano erupted in Iceland and they had 50 consecutive earthquakes. All in all, a pretty typical day geologically. In fact, from time zone to time zone, as 6 p.m. came around, from New Zealand to California USA, nothing happened. There was no Jesus, no angels, no rapture, nada. So you know what this makes Camping? Nothing more than a trite fear monger.
And now he faces the consequences.
The really sad thing about all of this is that Camping has made all Christians out to be a joke. There are Christians out there who I genuinely respect, but this bloke has made them all look like fools. Now his entire organisation has gone quiet. I hope none of them are considering mass suicide like the Heaven’s Gate squad did. That would certainly be a rather tragic event.
Maybe Jesus postponed the rapture due to rising fuel prices. Or maybe Camping transposed the date incorrectly. Maybe it should have been May 21, 2100 or May 12, 2101. Either way, in the event that you were disappointed that the world didn’t end today, how about we meet back here on December 21, 2012 to try again? I will bring the nachos, jalapeños and cheese.
Happy Apocalypse Day everyone.
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