Monthly Archive for May, 2011

Still alive

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).

Rapture: It ain’t gonna happen.

I’m really hoping that the mainstream media/news sites are discussing this “Rapture” rubbish because they’re making fun of it (World supposedly ends on May 21st. Again. *yawn*), because my own feelings about it are neatly summarised by this:

It’s kinda disturbing to see full articles about it on CBC and the BBC news websites though (and undoubtedly there are many elsewhere too). I’d like to hope that most people are smart enough to realise that this prediction is just the delusional ravings of a madman, but there are undoubtedly a lot of people in the world who are less educated and who don’t know better who may believe it – and spreading the word about it even further in mainstream media is not helpful (and no, I’m not going to propagate it further by linking to the articles here – if you have no idea what I’m talking about then you’re much better off that way! 😉 ).

At best this sort of thing should be in the “offbeat” section of the news sites, not on the main pages. Ideally though, I don’t even think it should even be mentioned at all by them because it doesn’t deserve any attention – and yet, here we are. People believe in this sort of thing because they don’t know much about science, or how to reason or think critically about things, but the media just seems to want to propagate the story further instead of either ignoring it or pointing out that it’s nonsense. I wonder if the media will be reporting every crazy prediction made by every lunatic now? Again, I refer the reader to the Facepalm above.

So here’s my (scientific) prediction for what will happen on May 21st – absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. “Millions of people” will not “disappear” or be “raptured”. About 360,000 babies will be born, and about 155,000 people will die (ref), as happens every day on Earth. Life will go on as normal for everyone, except for the thousands of people who were dumb enough to be so taken in by the Rapture nonsense that they gave away their money or worldly goods, and I guess they’ll be feeling pretty stupid.

While it may have the odd historical account in it, the christian bible is largely a work of fiction (with many edits and embellishments over the millennia as well to distort/destroy anything that wasn’t). And the Book of Revelations is absolutely a particularly fanciful work of fiction (it’s a fun read as such though!). Hence, the Rapture ain’t gonna happen.

And as Apocalypses go, the Rapture is apparently a very considerate one. After all, it doesn’t start in one place and spread outwards from there (like an asteroid impact), it actually goes methodically by timezone across the world, happening at the same local time in each one. Apparently God is not only “vengeful” and “generous”, but he’s also convenient!

I suspect this craziness is only going to get worse as 2012 approaches… meanwhile, I’ll see you alll on May 22nd 😉

(P.S. Sorry for the lack of updates here recently – I’ve been busy with work and other projects recently and haven’t had too much time to write articles!)