The Thinker

Enjoying the rapture

I woke up this morning, expecting to go to Hell because I had not accepted Jesus Christ as my Personal Lord and Savior (PL&S) ™ only to discover, as I feared, that no rapture was underway. Instead, we have a picture postcard perfect day here in Northern Virginia: blue skies, emerald green grass, birds chirping, with the ground still damp from recent rains. The temperature is 67 degrees Fahrenheit and there are gentle breezes from the West Northwest.

I expected to have forgotten that today was the start of Armageddon, except, surprisingly, a bored press corps took notice of Harold Camping and his followers. So many other End of the World events have come and gone you would think that the press corps would have simply overlooked this latest one. The good news for Apocalypse fans is that in 2012 there is another opportunity, so you can now look forward to that. How do we know? The ancient Mayans said so, so mark your calendar now for December 21, 2012. On this date according to the Mesoamerican Long Calendar, we will have completed a cycle of 144,000 days since the earth’s mythical creation date. My guess is that this end of the world applies only to the Western Hemisphere, so I would definitely move to Europe before then. (Be careful to reside east of Greenwich.)

As a non-Christian, getting my mind around this rapture stuff is hard. This comes from being too left-brained, I suppose. I cannot believe in the personal God that so many people believe in. But if that God exists, then I cannot imagine it being a vindictive God. It seems you have to believe in a vindictive God to accept the rapture. Perhaps the hardest part for me is coming to grips with the idea that so many otherwise sensible people believe this nonsense. These are the same people who will buckle their seat belts because they acknowledge the possibility that some non-deterministic event could cause them to be killed in an automobile, so they best mitigate the risk. And yet they will throw caution to the wind when it comes to something like the end of the world, and orient much of their lives around something that simply will not happen for billions of years.

I also find it curious that so many of those predicting an imminent rapture know that they will be saved. How do they know? Merely through a profession of faith by saying they decree that Jesus in their PL&S? How do they know that their intolerance, bigotry and homophobia won’t keep them out of heaven? Their answer, probably, is that it is simply a matter of faith. Nonetheless, their behavior can be disturbing, particularly when they tell their children that they will not be ascending into heaven with them. Why is it these children are not in foster care? It’s hard to imagine a clearer case of parental emotional abuse.

It looks like I will neither ascend into heaven nor descend into hell today, and neither will those hoping to be raptured. I was sort of hoping those who were yearning for rapture would get their wish. This is because frankly I find most of these people insufferable to begin with, so the world would probably be a better place if they were teleported to a new reality. I’m guessing there is a ninety percent correlation between Harold Camping followers and climate change deniers. If they mysteriously disappeared, perhaps we could take long overdue actions to seriously address climate change. The overwhelming evidence seems to have no effect persuading these people anyhow. Those of us “left behind” have to make the best of the ecosystem that we have, so we might as well earnestly start living in congruence with our natural environment. This can be hard to do when so many people in power are so convinced that the end of the world is imminent that they see no value in protecting our environment.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy the rapture of a wonderful day. Mankind makes its own hells, but Mother Nature provides us with a natural Eden. All we have to do is choose to enjoy it. Today in particular seems to be a day to be outside and surrounded by nature. So that’s where I plan to spend a good part of my day, on my knees pulling weeds. I will be mindful of the nature and wildlife, whose song will ring in my ears, whose earthy smells will invade my nostrils and whose glory is all around me. For me this is the rapture and it is available most days for free and without the need to find it through a holy book. We just have to choose to open our senses and let nature fill us with its wonder.

 

2 Responses to “Enjoying the rapture”

  1. 6:38 am on May 24 2011, DaveM said:

    “These are the same people who will buckle their seat belts because they acknowledge the possibility that some non-deterministic event could cause them to be killed in an automobile, so they best mitigate the risk. And yet they will throw caution to the wind when it comes to something like the end of the world, and orient much of their lives around something that simply will not happen for billions of years.”

    Not sure I’m understanding this point. First, people wear seat belts because car crashes ARE deterministic: car A hits car B and people get hurt. There’s no logical contradiction in religious people wearing seat belts.

    Second, you actually don’t know that the end of the world “will not happen for billions of years”. At best, you can say that the evidence is that the world has existed for a long time, and that we assume that it will continue to do so.

    But past history is actually beside the point in this case. The end-times argument is that everything will suddenly change in the future, not based on what has gone before, but on the choices of an outside actor. In this context, their belief that the end is near, and your belief that it is not, are on an equal, faith-based, footing.

  2. 8:06 am on May 24 2011, Mark said:

    No one knows when they get into a car whether they will get hit or not, so they hopefully buckle their seat belt. The cause of a car crash cannot always be determined but if it happens it is almost certainly going to be an unexpected event.

    Given that the earth has existed for billions of years and has not fallen out of its orbit in that time, and with what we know about the life and death of stars, the probability of the earth ending suddenly in the short term approaches zero. If life as we know it ends, it will likely be due to collision with an asteroid or comet, as those have happened in the past, but such an event is unlikely to destroy the earth itself, just alter the natural life cycle for most of us on it.

    There is probably something like 1/100,000 odds that in my lifetime some natural event like an asteroid hitting the earth will destroy life as we know it on the earth. The likelihood that Jesus will descend from heaven, rapture those who believe in him to heaven and send the rest of us to hell is about as likely as the argument that there is a teapot orbiting the moon in a synchronous orbit such that we cannot detect it.

    Harold Camping would be better served scanning the heaven for asteroids on an interception course with Earth and warning about THAT than working up bogus numbers from the Bible to infer a date when some personal God aided by Jesus descends from heaven and fulfills the prophecies in Revelations, which appear to be written by someone high on drugs.

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