So today is Rapture day, is it? As predicted by Harold Camping, today is the first day of Judgement as predicted by the Bible. Overlooking the utter absurdity of the amount of coverage this strange man has managed to acheive, there’s one slight problem:
He replied “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am he.’ and ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.
That’s the Bible: Luke 21:8-9. Unfortunately, this passage doesn’t just tell Christians to be wary of weird people screaming “The end is nigh!”, it also contains the very first failed prediction of the coming apolocalypse:
“I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened” Luke 21:33.
If the Messiah himself couldn’t accurately predict his own return, I don’t think there’s much hope for American preachers. (Read the whole thing, incidentally, it’s wonderful example of a non-prediction) To be fair, Jesus is also reported to have not known himself what the hell was going on:
“No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mathew 24:36)… “Therefore keep your watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Mathew 24:42-44)
God, it would seem, is clearly not putting his schedule up on Facebook.
There is a serious point here though. The simple fact is that these are not obscure passages, but ones that are constantly referred to in Western Christianity. They are so frequently referred to that I still knew where to find them in the Bible despite being an atheist for some 16 years. This whole charade is a reflection of theology in general: that the believer must dismiss what is plainly written in their sacred texts, and instead believe that only by looking at the Bible in an obscure, slanted way, handed down from on high can the believer be saved.
This is an approach not limited to fringe American preachers getting far too much airtime, but is present every time a religion finds itself on the losing side of a moral argument, or the losing side of a scientific question (i.e. all of the time); when the religion eventually concedes that it screwed up, the religious skew the meaning of their books, and (after giving everyone time to forget just how wrong they were), claim they were in the right all along, if only you read their books “properly” (or “with sophisticated theology”, as is the now-popular term). Once you realise why the rapture is not just silly, but ignores what’s plainly written, you quickly realise why all religions are, frankly, just bloody stupid.