Music For the Endtimes

I made a custom playlist soundtrack for tomorrow’s apocalyptic nightmare:

(click image to enlarge)

Advertisements

More on the ‘Rapture’

Less than a week to go, kids!

Found this wonderful video from The Thinking Atheist. Enjoy!

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.

Death And Burial Of Osama bin Laden

Like most Americans who are old enough, I very clearly remember exactly where I was and what happened on Tuesday September 11, 2001. Until that day I had never heard of Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda. Instantly, these became household names. Thousands of people died, many more were injured, many are still today suffering from health consequences, all from a singular terrible act led by a man claiming to be carrying out the will of Allah.

And then, of course, came the wars. Thousands more are dead and wounded, including countless civilians overseas. Too many people have experienced horrors beyond what words can accurately describe. We have longed for an end to this horrible conflict for years, and there has thus far been not so much as a hint of any kind of resolution.

Today is May 7, 2011. It is nearly ten years after the attacks on New York City and Washington DC. Last weekend, on Sunday May 1, American Navy SEALs invaded bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which was ironically located embarrassingly close to a Pakistani military academy. The SEALs stormed the compound and shot bin Laden in the head, directly above the eye. I have heard reports that he used a woman as a human shield as a final defense, but these reports are conflicted and I hesitate to say any more on that particular matter.

This whole scenario seems terribly familiar in a way. US special forces storm a terrorist compound, deftly taking out terrorists while avoiding civilian casualties, executing the primary target with a single dramatic bullet to the head… in reading about all this, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve played this video game before.

And then, of course, there was the equally dramatic burial at sea. This was done in accordance with Islamic doctrine. Supposedly it is very important for a body to be laid to rest within 24 hours after death. Given this, plus the government choosing not to release the photograph taken of bin Laden that apparently portrays his fatal head wound in graphic detail, I fully expect conspiracy theorists to be drawn to this like flies to shit.

In any case, Osama bin Laden is now dead.

Here is President Obama’s announcement speech, delivered on Sunday evening:

Personally, I was initially glad to hear the news. But then, almost immediately I felt guilty for feeling as I did. I was actually delighted at the death of another person. Granted, this was a person who did monstrous things to a great many people, but it still felt wrong to me on a fundamental level that I should rejoice in hearing of someone’s death. All things in their appropriate contexts, I suppose. I was certainly not one to jump for joy in the streets as so many Americans did, but nevertheless I do recognize this event as an overall good thing for both the United States and the world.

The question now becomes, what happens next? This is by no means the end of Al-Qaeda, and given the opportunity, I fully expect them to retaliate. Still, I am hopeful. Killing bin Laden has shown the world that the US doesn’t  fuck around with these things. Obama’s administration has shown its muscle, first with taking out the Somali pirates and now the world’s public enemy #1. I see this event as not the end of America’s current conflict in the middle east, but rather the beginning of the end. It is a tremendous step in the right direction.

Cheers to President Obama and the military personnel who carried out this mission.

And God Shook Japan!

Last year, a horribly tragic earthquake tore apart Haiti. The people there, who didn’t exactly have the most healthy or comfortable living conditions to start with, are still recovering from the disaster. The Haiti earthquake left over 316,000 people dead and approximately 1,600,000 people without homes. Try to wrap your head around those numbers, if you can. This is a monstrously huge population that was killed, and a nearly unfathomably larger population left to suffer in the wake of it all. Every single 1 of those is (or was) just as much a person as your own self. They take each day just as fully as you do, feel every bit or joy or pain just as severely as you possibly could. Each of these people is more alike with you than different. Take a moment to let this register in you mind.

Last Friday, March 11, a gigantic earthquake hit northern Japan, which was followed by an absolutely devastating tidal wave and at least two explosions at nuclear reactors. Death, destruction and despair are all these people have to look forward to for what will no doubt be a very long time. It pains me to say it, but this is the sad truth of the situation.

Want to see a bit of the extent of this damage? The New York Times has constructed an interactive set of images that illustrate what has happened. [link]

This shit is scary. Imagine what it must be like to live there, where over the course of one night your world is underwater, many of your friends and family are dead, and you are constantly struggling to stay alive yourself. This is reality for a great many people right now.

Here is some footage of the tragedy:

This all, of course, makes me terribly sad for those effected, but today I saw something that absolutely enraged me to no end. I mentioned the Haiti earthquake earlier partly to illustrate the extraordinary tragedy of it all, but partly also to call attention to the fact that immediately after it happened, celebrity televangelist Pat Robertson declared that the earthquake was a result of Haitians making a deal with the devil. ‘True story’, he called it. I have yet to hear of any such asinine remarks made by him in regards to this tragedy, but from other religious leaders I have. However, in today’s internet-driven world, pretty much any moron can post nearly anything they like, and they typically do. Earlier today, a friend of mine stumbled over this little gem:

Is it really fair to use the word ‘gem’ here? Would it be more fair to use the term ‘polished turd’ for this?

In all seriousness, this bitch needs to be slapped. Praying for the atheists to wake up? ‘Japan is a great place to start.’? She actually, honestly seems glad that so many people are dying, citing that it was God responding to prayers.

To the YouTube user who created this video, tamtampamela: Fuck you and the imaginary god you rode in on.

UPDATE: 3/15/2011

This video garnered quite a lot of attention. Too much for this little girl to handle, it seems. Within the past 12 hours she has closed her YouTube account. The video is no longer available.

How serious was she? Was she just trolling? Does it even matter anymore? I say it does not. Bitch is gone along with her hateful message, and as for myself I can be content with that.

UPDATE #2: 3/15/2011

Turns out she really was just a troll after all. I just don’t get how people could take such pleasure and enjoyment in deliberately pissing people off simply for the sake of doing so. Bitch still needs to be smacked.

Here’s another good article on this whole fiasco, which also happens to contain a mirror of the original video: [link]

Imaginary Jesus: The Book

So I recently started reading a book called Imaginary Jesus. It was written by a local Christian advocate named Matt Mikalatos and distributed for free on the Portland State University campus. As I read, I am highlighting the bits that stand out to me. As a proud atheist, it’s difficult for me not to see the material in this book in a cynical light, but I do what I can to maintain a fair perspective. Being a former Christian myself, this does all feel like familiar territory.

Judging from what I’ve read so far (the first six chapters), it’s a lighthearted and generally jovial book. It’s a fictional tale (self-described as a ‘sort-of-true story’ on the back cover) about the author chasing down a Jesus impostor through various locales and time periods with the help of the apostle Peter and, so far, at least one talking donkey. It’s obvious to me that this is a book that’s not meant to be taken too seriously. If not for the text itself, the cover art illustrates this point very clearly. I have to wonder though, who is the author’s target audience? Is it Christians looking for something light to read? Is it nonbelievers such as myself? Given the nature of the book, I’m much more inclined to say that it is the former rather than the latter, but I still wonder why the local chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ handed this book to me personally knowing full well that I am atheist. It’s a curious thing. I offered to meet with the representative who gave this book to me after I’m done reading it so we may discuss it in detail. I hope this can happen. If nothing else, it would be a good opportunity to have an intelligent discussion with someone whose views contrast with my own, which is always a good thing I think.

We will see.

UPDATE: 2/19/2011

Alright, I’m about 14 chapters in now, and it’s getting increasingly more difficult to continue. What I thought was a lighthearted book centered on Christian lifestyles is turning more and more into a steaming pile of trite bullshit. The humor is falling flat, the characters and plot are remarkably uninteresting, and the concepts are so far removed from reality that it doesn’t even feel fair to think of them as whimsical anymore.

I will continue to read this book through to the end. As much as I’d rather just set it ablaze and swat this literary mosquito, I will finish reading it. I said that I would, and I do my very best to be a man of my word.

The Saga of Preacher Dan

In May of last year, I recorded this video of one of Portland State University’s most notorious street preachers, commonly known as ‘Preacher Dan’. Here he is seen performing one of his customary confrontational preaching sessions, and two PSU students react in an equally confrontational manner:

Now it is February of the following year. Preacher Dan has not been seen on campus at all this academic year, and some of us who dealt with him more than the other students were becoming concerned. We knew of his personal troubles. We knew that he had been married and was the father of six children, and that his marriage ended on account of Dan’s… how best should I describe it? We’ll call it ‘excessive religious fervor’. So no word on the whereabouts or happenings of Preacher Dan for several months, and I started to hear rumors about him being in trouble with the law.

Then I found this news article: [link]

…and I damn near shat myself.

Here’s yet another lovely article detailing one of Daniel Lee’s earlier encounters with the law, this from back in 2003: [link]

ADDENDUM:

Here is a link to Dan’s Facebook site. Looks like he’s still pretty active on there, not to mention more than a little bit mentally unstable: [link]

UPDATE: 2/9/2011

Looks as though the police found him in Alaska. I kinda like the bit about how local police, state police and park rangers all teamed up to arrest him. [link]