Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Certainty of Harold Camping and the Oncoming Rapture

It is the morning of the Rapture.

If we are to believe Harold Camping, later on today Jesus Christ will return to earth and all the true believers will be raptured up into heaven. How very exciting for them.

According to Harold’s book of rules, I don’t qualify, so I’ll have to stay here with all the other heathens and suffer the giant earthquakes that will eventually lead to the complete and utter destructing of the earth by 21st October 2011. At first glance this sounds a tad inconvenient.

Despite previously predicting the rapture in 1994, Harold is quite certain he’s got the date nailed this time. He is completely convinced, he is über sure. There is no doubt in his mind. It is without question. It’s not up for debate. He’s double-checked his sums and it all adds up. The evidence is absolute. The rapture is assured. In Harold’s mind, and many of his followers, this is it, the big one, the end of the world as we know it.

But never fear. Harold hasn’t even been proved wrong yet and mainstream Christianity is already dismissing him as just another nut job. He’s just another Stephen Green, Pastor Fred Phelps or Pastor Terry Jones whose literal interpretations of the Bible sit uncomfortably with mainstream Christianity.

As freethinking humanists, secularists and atheists we should of course not be judging the nice friendly Christian who lives down the street by the actions of these fundamentalist fruitcakes. There is however one attributes these extremist share with the more acceptable face of Christianity, their unwavering certainty.

Harold Camping’s revelation seems all the more ridiculous because it is delivered with a straight face and unwavering certainty. The exact same certainty that many Christians have that their God will provide. The exact same unfounded and un-evidenced certainty that by chance they have been born into the one true faith.

So on one side we have a small bunch of ridiculous nutters and on the other we have a deeply respected and revered faith, but surely it must be the same neural processes that can so utterly hoodwink the human brain into such certainty without a shred of credible evidence.


Well there's a surprise, its gone 6pm and I haven't seen a single soul being raptured skywards yet. But before we all knock Rev Harold Camping, and I'm sure he's in for a pretty good knocking, lets not forget that his beliefs in heaven and hell aren't really that different from the mainstream Christian views. Organised religion has  just learnt that there's less chance of looking like a bunch of pillocks if you don't actually name any specific dates, keep it vague, avoid easy testable or falsifiable claims, and you can can keep them believing.
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