Another Christian the-end-is-coming cult, this one focused on May 21. Shouldn’t Bible-thumpers at least read the Bible?
I clicked through on one of Mike’s links and found this story about a bunch of fundies who have decided that May 21 will mark the end of the world. This is supposed to be based on a close reading of the Bible.
But of course these folks are nominally Christian, so they ought to take to hear the words of R. Joshua:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
I once drove by a small church, and saw on the notice-board that usually tells you the name of the pastor and the titles of upcoming sermons a picture of a Bible overlaid with the letters RTFM. Good advice. Bible-thumpers ought to at least read the Bible.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist
Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
View all posts by Mark Kleiman
9 thoughts on “RTFM”
I don't think there's a lot of percentage in trying to reason with people who are hoping that the world will soon come to an end. It's interesting to speculate about the psychological and social problems that would lead someone to think that way. But rational discussion is futile. As a fellow human being, I hope that these people get the help they need. Maybe that will require years of therapy. Maybe it could be as simple as pushing their kid on a swing, and seeing him laugh, and having the epiphany that life is good. What it isn't going to be is a discussion about whether their ostensible theology is actually consistent with their neurotic needs.
Of course, Jesus himself believed that the end was imminent – all the synoptic gospels have him saying to his disciples something along the lines of, "some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." In Mark, he even tells the high priest that the high priest himself will see the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven, but this is conveniently edited out in Luke (probably because the high priest was dead by the time Luke was written). Luke also conveniently changes the line from "will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power" to just "see the kingdom of God" and states that the kingdom of God has already come in the form of Jesus's ministry – again, probably because Luke was written after Jesus's disciples had all died without any apocalypse.
So this sort of "the end is near"-ism is true to the spirit, if not the letter, of Jesus's teachings.
The AP story starts with a woman who decided not to start a family because the end is coming. But I'm confused – won't the Rapture take pregnant women and their fetuses along with everyone else? Or is she saying the fetus will be Left Behind because it hasn't been baptized yet? I know that God decides whether eggs get fertilized (since the righteous keep telling us that any effort to prevent fertilization goes against God's Plan). So if she has sex, and conceives, is that evidence that the Rapture isn't coming in the next nine months? Otherwise God would have created life that is left behind. It's all very confusing – can someone more theologically knowledgable than me shed some light here?
But if God were to do that, (Call a halt to fertilization 9 months in advance of the Rapture.) people would know when it was coming, now, wouldn't they?
Look, it's superstition, it doesn't have to make sense.
Unfortunately, the documentation for this product is a little confusing. See, e.g., Matthew 24:34 ("Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled").
The fundies should pay more attention to the early Church fathers. E.g. Origen, who wrote: "Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first and the second and the third day, and the evening and the morning existed without the sun and moon and stars? …. I do not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history and not through actual events."
Harold Camping, the prophet here, previously publicly predicted that the world would end between 5 Sept and 27 Sept 1994. Leon Festinger et al discussed this kind of thing years ago in When Prophecy Fails.
Seen around: "You can't reason people out of beliefs that they didn't reason themselves into."
Stamping Out Harold Camping
Is Second Coming date-setter Harold Camping worthy of death? He already has a zero batting average after his September 1994 prediction fizzle and, according to the Bible, is a false prophet.
Nevertheless that California shaman, who should be ashamed, claims he's found out that Christ's return will be on May 21, 2011 even though Matt. 24:36 says that no one knows the "day" or "hour" of it!
A Google article ("Obama Fulfilling the Bible") points out that "Deut. 18:20-22 in the Old Testament requires the death penalty for false prophets."
The same article reveals that "Christians are commanded to ask God to send severe judgment on persons who commit and support the worst forms of evil (see I Cor. 5 and note 'taken away')."
Theologically radioactive Harold Camping and his ga-ga groupies (with their billboards featuring "May 21, 2011") should worry about being "stamped out" if many persons decide to follow the I Cor. 5 command.
The above article concludes: "False prophets in the OT were stoned to death. Today they are just stoned!"
PS – For many years Camping was not known as a pretrib rapture teacher. But now, for $ome my$teriou$ rea$on, he seeks support from those who believe in and teach an imminent, pretrib rapture which supposedly will occur SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE the traditional SECOND COMING to earth! For a behind-the-scenes, documented look at the 181-year-old pretrib rapture belief (which was never a part of any official theology or organized church before 1830!), Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" and "Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts."
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