Saturday, May 21, 2011


People are getting a lot of justified amusement out of Harold Camping's prediction of the Rapture tonight. This thing with a few gullible Christians, like most problems Christians have, would not be a problem if we would actually read and follow the Bible.
21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:21-22, 1984 NIV
The last date Harold Camping predicted for the rapture was Sept. 6, 1994. Didn't happen then either.

What if it was Sept 5, 1994, and we didn't already know Harold Camping was a false prophet? Well, that's covered too.
36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 36-44. 1984 NIV
I'm going to be in New Jersey with my parents for dinner where I don't have all the guns and food. Definitely not what I would be doing if I were expecting earthquakes.


  1. I really want to write a short story about life after the Rapture. A sad and melancholy sort of story about all the people who know they're damned and are just waiting aimlessly for the Earth to be destroyed.

    It seems to me that if God is just, then an intellectually honest atheist who has tried her best to be a good person ought to go to Heaven, and if God is unjust then I would be happy to go to Hell in protest.

  2. Ozymandias, first, that assumes that Heaven is for people who try their best to be good, which is not Christian doctrine. (Or Muslim or Buddhist. I couldn't tell you about other religions.) The Christian heaven is for people as they were originally created, without sin. The Christian doctrine is that the point of the Savior around whom our religion is centered is that none of us in this fallen world are without sin, even if we try our best.

    if God is unjust then I would be happy to go to Hell in protest.

    That begs the question of why do you protest? What would you hope to achieve by going to Hell protesting an unjust God? (Note that Christians are generally natural law theorists to whom "unjust God" is an oxymoron, like saying this kilometer has less meters than most kilometers.)

  3. I have... problems... with the idea of an infinite punishment for a finite crime. There is only so much evil even Pol Pot could commit in a single lifetime. And my protest wouldn't accomplish a single thing, except that it would be right. :)

    I know the doctrine (well, I know the Catholic doctrine, and I sure as hell don't qualify for a Baptism by Intention), but it still seems wrong to me that coming to the best conclusion I could from the available evidence and not having faith in the Savior would result in my eternal damnation. (I like C. S. Lewis's bit in the Chronicles of Narnia, where those who were truly faithful to Tash were faithful to Aslan without knowing it... sadly, Narnia is not a source of Christian doctrine. :) )

  4. I see it as more of an infinite placement resulting from an infinite attitude. In the end you have two choices; being with God or not being with God. Heaven is mostly the presence of God, and Hell is His absence. God will not take you against your will, and if you don't want to be with Him, you don't have to. But then you don't get any of Him; you have the company of everyone else who didn't want Him, and that's it, and your soul was never made to live without Him. But it wasn't made for dying either. It's the eternal death.

    Narnia isn't too bad; it's doctrine for children dressed as a story, but still not too bad. C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce is for adults and a much better picture of the Christian idea of the afterlife, though it's also an allegory not a description of the facts.

    IIRC, you've said you were a utilitarian moralist; your morality is based on the greatest good (for the greatest number of people, longest time, etc.) In the case of your protest, however, you are either appealing to some moral code beyond that, or basically saying your feelings of self-approval would be better than Heaven. I assume you are appealing to some greater moral code; and that is what Christians (and other natural-law theists) think God is. God is the embodiment of perfect morality. Something like the international prototype kilogram is the definition of a kilogram and cannot possibly weigh more or less than a kilogram because the object is the definition. Except, of course, unlike the IPK, God is unchanging and indestructible.

    But it's possible that you are saying your feelings of self-approval would be better than Heaven; and I think that is exactly how people are condemned to Hell. Not so much as a punishment because they killed a bunch of people, but because they don't want communion with God; basically when you boil it down they think they are better than Him, and they cannot be with Him in Heaven because communion with Him is no heaven to them.

    You might be interested in this old post, Nonchristians are not damned in the Bible

  5. DAMMIT I had this long comment on this that just got eaten.

    Short version (yes, this longass comment is the short version): I like the Great Divorce and have no moral compunctions with that view of hell, mostly because people can choose to get out if it (also, turning into a grumble is terrifying). I still desire communion with God (I miss church, dammit) but intellectual honesty demands I stick with the conclusion the evidence I have presents, not the conclusion that I would emotionally like to have. In the case of the Hypothetical Unjust God, I am appealing less to self-approval and more to self-respect. To accept favors from the Hypothetical Unjust God while the undeserving suffered eternal punishment would make me feel like I was giving my moral sanction to evil, which would make me hate myself, which would turn Heaven into a Hell.