Well, I’m still here. So, apparently, is everyone else. Earthquakes, tidal waves, Great Beast Dagon rising, people ascending to heaven, etc etc didn’t happen. I particularly appreciated the inspired elegance of Eternal Earthbound Pets, an atheist-run company set up to look after the pets of people who have been “taken to heaven” in the Rapture (no refunds of course! And being atheists, they’d definitely be left behind so you know they’ll be there to take care of your beloved animal companions! Genius! ).
On a more serious note, science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson raised an interesting point on Twitter today – “If Jesus actually arrives May 21, it’ll be easy to convince skeptics. If he doesn’t show up, do the faithful become atheists?”
It’d be nice to think that they would… but I suspect that people who genuinely believed that they’d be “taken to heaven” are already so far gone from rational thought that they’d just come up with excuses like how their faith has been “tested”, or that human error in calculating the date was to blame and that the Rapture would still happen at a later date, and just keep on believing (in some cases, because their faith is literally all they have now). I’ve even seen people ‘correcting’ the Rapture-believers by saying that the bible says that “no man will know the date”, but that doesn’t get around the fundamental problem that they’re believing a work of fiction that has no basis in reality to start with! Irrationality is funny like that.
EDIT: Yep. The “believers” interviewed in this article from The Independent are all making excuses rather than abandoning their faith. Typical.
I guess the next scheduled “end of the world as we know it” will be the Mayan Apocalypse in December 2012, so we have about 18 months to prepare for the next bout of insanity to sweep the world (and IMO that one’s even crazier than the Rapture). And I wonder why I sometimes feel I’m fighting a losing battle to educate people about science… I think I’ll go hug my copy of “The Demon Haunted World” by Carl Sagan now (which I would say is required reading for everyone).