Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture

On the 21st of May God was supposed to come down from the heavens, raise all the dead of the world, take all the saved people up to heaven with him and scatter the remains of the other raised dead across the surface of the globe.  5 months after that the world would end after incredible suffering on the part of those left alive and unsaved.  You can read all about it *here*.  Shockingly enough nothing of the like occurred on May 21st and we are back to business as usual.  That is, except for Bart Centre, an atheist living in the US who managed to sell post rapture pet care to over 250 people for a hefty sum each.  The idea was that their down payment ensured that he would take care of their pets after they were bodily lifted into heaven for the 5 months until the world actually ended.  I weep for humanity.

This is nothing new sadly.  Every couple of years some religious nut manages to get a ton of people believing in their doomsday prophecies and the word spreads that said religious nut has puzzled out the date on which the world will end by 'interpreting the Bible'.  One other way to put it is that 'the Bible is full of random crap and when you take any bit out of context and redefine words you can prove anything' but nonetheless these doomsday prophecies never fail to draw an audience.  I think what people who fall for this nonsense fail to notice is that these prophecies are not new!  It isn't like people began talking about imminent doomsday a few years ago but rather more like it has been a constant for at least the past 2000 years.  Clearly there was doomsaying before that but the Christian sponsored variety, that mainstream lust for ultimate destruction, was not active until Christianity became a thing.  Look back at records at any time in history and you will find precisely the same thing we see now - some dude interprets the Bible in some crazy way and lots of people believe his incoherent ranting about the imminent end of the world and believe that the date he proposes is accurate.  Of course it doesn't *have* to be a dude but it shouldn't be surprising that from an incredible patriarchal religion most of the nuts who get attention are men.

It is much like the idea that the next generation is full of lazy, foolish, selfish, misbehaving malcontents.  People talk about how much trouble the world will be in when the next generation gets into the workplace / government / voting age / whatever and talk about this like it means something.  Just as with doomsaying the practice of assuming that every generation after yours is worthless is timeless and shows up no matter how far back you go. The Bible even supports it when talking about the end of the world where the young people don't respect their elders.  People have always had a huge blind spot that causes them to think that their own rebellion against their parents was inspired and noble and the next generation rebelling against them is a sign of inescapable moral decay.  It isn't surprising that people are fooled by the exact same arguments year after year, generation after generation, but it is a little sad.  We have the capacity now, more than ever before, to learn from the mistakes of the past and understand the intellectual traps that wait for us.  Unfortunately we don't seem to be using that capacity and probably never will.

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