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Surprise, surprise, surprise... - Unbeliever's Land
...The continuing chronicles...
Surprise, surprise, surprise...
Gee, I wish I could be surprised by this...

False May 21, 2011 Doomsday prophet Harold Camping
"deserts" devastated followers, church offers solace

May 21, 2011 11:00 PM EDT

Doomsday prophet Harold Camping, who predicted that the End of the World would come on May 21, 2011, has gone missing ever since it became increasingly clear that his predictions is going to fail, even as local churches willingly stepped in to provide counseling and help to Camping's devastated followers.

Camping, the head of the Family Radio, had predicted that the selected number of people on earth, approximately 200 million, would Rapture to heaven on May 21, 2011 while those left behind would witness the destruction of the earth which would come about on October 21, 2011.

He has based his predictions on Bible verses, namely Genesis 7:4 ("Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth") and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”), and concluded that May 21, 2011 is 7000 years after the Great Flood (4990 B.C.), concluding that it indeed is the Doomsday.

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7000 (the subtraction of "1" is necessary because year 1 B.C. is followed by 1 A.D., skipping year 0).

Because Camping was certain "without any shadow of a doubt it (Doomsday) is going to happen," many of his followers sold their possessions and quit their jobs.

Adrienne Martinez, a follower of Camping, and her husband have reportedly quit their jobs and spent the last penny in their bank account towards a rented house in Orlando. "We budgeted everything so that, on May 21, we won’t have anything left," said Adrienne.

Now that Camping's prediction is proven to be a complete failure, attention has been shifted to his devastated followers. Previously when Doomsday prophecies have failed, some misled followers have turned violent, even leading up to murders and committing suicides.

In order to prevent this, church groups are actively providing counseling and advice for the damaged souls. [...]

You know what would have been awesome?  If these fucking churches hadn't PROMOTED THIS SHIT and COST THEIR FOLLOWERS THEIR ENTIRE LIFE SAVINGS, and in SOME CASES, THEIR LIVES, IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

And now they've done it again.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see how many lives have been ruined THIS time...

There is only one acceptable suicide in this situation.  And I don't expect Camping to have the decency to figure it out...

Current Emotional State: infuriated infuriated

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amaebi From: amaebi Date: May 22nd, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
When you say "promote," what do you mean?
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: May 23rd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would define "promote" in this context as "encourage the belief in".

And to be honest, I don't know how many churches directly promoted the May 21 date (although that number is certainly much higher than zero).

However, many churches teach literal interpretation of the Bible.

Many churches encourage the notion of "End Times" (which are always imminent).

Many churches teach about the Rapture.

And virtually all churches teach about Heaven, and Faith.

(Camping's followers quitting their jobs and giving away their possessions, are the very DEFINITION of "faith".)

A culture that promoted reason over "faith", would be largely immune to the Campings of the world...

What exactly is the difference between believing in Rapture "someday", vs believing in Rapture on May 21?

What exactly is the difference between believing in Heaven, vs believing in Rapture?

You either believe in magical unicorns, or you don't. You are either reality-based, or you aren't.

Christianity is a worldwide force promoting magical thinking.

And then it acts all shocked when folks like Harold Camping just take it a step further...
amaebi From: amaebi Date: May 23rd, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, you won't be surprised to hear that my experience of churches and denominations differs from yours. I find myself wondering about your data sources, though, and would be glad if you'd direct me to them.

I find myself wondering how common even literalist interpretation of the Bible is, let alone "end times" in the sense of end-of-the-world, and still more (or rather less) Rapture. On the first two I'm sure there are many such churches, but many is such a squashy term, giving little indication of prevalence.

As for heaven, I'm pretty sure you're right that that's widely taught about, but I'm not sure it's the kind of bottom line die-then-pie thing I imagine you contemplate. (I don't do heaven, knowing nothing about it from any source I'd rely on. I do do a new and merciful set of rules to live out on earth as in heaven, though.) I wonder, though, and would love to see data.

Of course you and I differ as what defines faith, which I gather you confine to the realm that shyster, Christianity. (Maybe all faith traditions, I don't know.) Whereas I think that rationality is the realm of mental processing that can't occur in a way with traction* unless one starts with premises that arrive from Somewhere Else. And I come from a strong and much-argued philosophical tradition in which it's recognized that chairs are pretty much what you mean when you talk about magic unicorns. (I think.)

I don't know that I personally know anyone who believes in Rapture, one way of the other, though I believe they exist, or why would the Left Behind series sell so well? I'm willing to give you a lack of important distinction between believe in coming Rapture sometimes and belief in its coming on a particular date, though.

But as for heaven and Rapture being interchangeable, I'd think it would take a pretty wide-toothed taxonomy....

I won't claim not to promote magical thinking, as I expect that in your terms I do. I also credit gravity, that weird notions that objects affcet each other without direct physical contact, and I find the stories of general equilibrium very useful to think about it. I like a lot of scientific models, and am fairl thrilled when revision leads to their increased power.

Hey, where do you see Christianity acting? I know a lot of people who'd be excited to perceive that unity!

And how was the Corvallis Society party?

*There are assumptionless proofs that explicate the meaning of definitions, but those definitions may define things that have no existence in the sense you presumably mean when you talk about reality.
unbeliever64 From: unbeliever64 Date: May 24th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You want solid facts? Fine.

Google "american belief in rapture newsweek poll" (without the quotes).

The original article itself seems to have been taken down, but there are many references to a 2004 Newsweek poll showing that "55% of Americans believe in the Rapture".

Turning to Wikipedia:
"The majority of Americans (76%) identify themselves as Christians, mostly within Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the population respectively."

If we assume that only Christians believe in the Rapture (which may not be ENTIRELY true, but surely close enough), and that the Newsweek and Wikipedia figures aren't TOO far off the mark, then my handy calculator shows over 72% of AMERICAN CHRISTIANS believe in the Rapture.

THAT is American Christianity. THAT is what I rail against.

Your experience with the "kinder, gentler" Christianity is well and good. Hell, I'm in Oregon -- the loonies are thankfully in the minority here too.

But maybe you should give credence to the notion that Christianity in America isn't quite what you think it is.

Maybe the screaming atheist has a point.

You're right. "Many" is a squashy term. I shoulda said MOST...
amaebi From: amaebi Date: May 29th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm surprised that so many USians are Rapturers. And I'd be glad to see more scholarly sources. But I can't claim to be well in touch with cultural Christianity: as I've often said, I've been trying to learn about cultural/conservative Christianity for only about eight years. Well, and learning about it when I don't want to.

I don't think it's so much that Christianity in practice is something very different from what I think it is. I think it incorporates possibilities beyond anything realized for more than beautiful, kind, open moments.

(Sorry for the late reply: for some reason I don't get notified when you respond, so it's a matter of my rememebring to re-check periodically.)
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