Rapture!!!

THE END IS NIGH!

Or at least, that’s what we are told by the more fanatical Christians these days. Street preachers, billboards, and a smattering of messages spewed over the internet are declaring that May 21, 2011 is the day of rapture. This is supposedly the day when Christians who make the ‘saved’ list will be lifted into heaven to start their eternal life at Jesus’ side, while the rest of us unrepentant sinners will be left behind to suffer natural disasters of every variety and await the true end of days, which will supposedly occur this coming October.

May 21, 2011? Shit! That’s a week from tomorrow!

So where did this idea come from? Doesn’t the Bible mention something about how nobody will be able to predict the second coming? Well, the primary proponent of this idea is an evangelical Christian named Harold Camping. Mr. Camping is a co-founder of Family Radio Worldwide, an evangelical media outlet. Camping has held a focus on calculating exactly when the Bible predicts Jesus’ return for quite some time now. He once predicted that the rapture would occur on September 6, 1994, but that date came and went without incident. Camping justified his error by claiming that he neglected to include the Book of Jeremiah in his calculations. Now, he says that May 21 is THE day, and that THE BIBLE GUARANTEES IT.

In fact, FRW made a series of videos on Vimeo in several different languages (English version can be seen on their website) proclaiming this to be true.

How did he come to this conclusion? What ‘calculations’ are behind this idea? Well, I’ll let our friends at FRW explain in their own words:

What proof is there for the date of May 21, 2011?

The date May 21, 2011 was derived solely from evidence found in the Bible. Mr. Camping saw God had placed, in Scripture, many important signs and proofs. These proofs alert believers that May 21st of 2011 is the date Christ will return for His people and begin a period of the final destruction of the world.

What signs precede the Day of Judgment?

Jesus warned of several spiritual signs, such as the complete degradation of the Christian church, the devastating moral breakdown of society, the re-establishment of National Israel in1948, the emergence of the ‘Gay Pride Movement’, and the complete disregard of the Bible in all of society today as direct evidence of His return.

What is the Timeline of History?

The timeline of history is God’s predetermined timetable for the unfolding of God’s Gospel program for this world. In other words the length of time between the day God created this world in 11,013 B.C. and the day he will destroy it in October 21, 2011.

The discovery of this information built the foundation for what God would later reveal from the Bible as the date for the end.

Judgment Day on May 21, 2011 is the culmination of five decades of intensive biblical study by Mr. Camping and other bible teachers who have discovered the same biblical data.

And there we have it. Convinced? Ready to liquidate all your assets and wave this world goodbye? You know, if you’re planning on getting rid of all that extra soon-to-be-useless-anyway cash, you could send it my way. You know, to help make a humble atheist’s life a bit more enjoyable before the worldly torments begin.

But let’s face reality here, folks. This rapture business is bullshit. Always has been. There is no such thing as god and there will be no final judgment. There is no evidence to support this idea. None. Zero. Anything that people have tried to present as evidence for the supernatural has not only been shown to require a certain degree of circular or otherwise twisted logic, but has been thoroughly refuted by ever-growing mountains of stronger evidence. I cannot be more direct on the matter.

That said, we happen to live in a world and a zeitgeist where a vast majority of people do indeed believe in a god or several gods, along with a host of other supernatural entities. Many people really are taking this rapture business seriously, such as the man holding the sign in the photo above. Other examples might be Kevin Brown and Brian Haubert, who have been working to spread the message of the rapture in recent days. To quote a recent article from NPR News, Brown and Haubert explain:

On May 21, “starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth,” he says. The true Christian believers — he hopes he’s one of them — will be “raptured”: They’ll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?

“It’s just the horror of horror stories,” he says, “and on top of all that, there’s no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.”

Most Bible scholars note that even Jesus said he had no idea when Judgment Day would come. But May 21 believers like Haubert are unfazed.

“I’ve crunched the numbers, and it’s going to happen,” he says.

Haubert says the Bible contains coded “proofs” that reveal the timing. For example, he says, from the time of Noah’s flood to May 21, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years. Revelations like this have changed his life.

“I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement,” he says. “I’m not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. I’m just a lot less stressed, and in a way I’m more carefree.”

He’s tried to warn his friends and family — they think he’s crazy. And that saddens him.

Those poor men. They have drank the Kool-Aid. I was kinda joking when I said the thing about liquidating assets earlier, but for some people they really are going that far. That’s what makes me sad, that people will be so willing to buy into this kind of absurdity so completely. I feel bad for them. What will happen when May 22 comes around and their rapture has not come to pass? Will they plunge into remorseful embarrassment? Or will they cling to the notion of the rapture and frantically re-calculate their prediction? I suspect that Camping will opt for the latter. As for everyone else, who knows? Time will tell. In any case, it will not be a fun day for these people.

To end on a slightly more lighthearted note, here is the Huffington Post’s top 21 reasons May 21 is not the end.

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