Saturday, 21 May 2011

I Think I've Raptured Something...

There is this theory about something called a self fulfilling prophesy.

The idea goes that if someone believes a predicted event will happen strongly, fervently, enough, they can actually make it happen just through the unconscious influence their belief has upon their behaviour. A parallel can perhaps be drawn here with the placebo, and nocebo effects, and with the concept of learned helplessness, but they are all a little too dry and rational for my tastes this morning...

So lets talk about the end of the world!

An octogenarian evangelical preacher from the USA has calculated that today, Saturday 21st May, will witness Judgement Day. The happy day when the Lord Jeebers will return and lift the chosen, bodily, up into heaven in the Rapture, there to look down on all the worthless sinners, left behind to suffer the time of tribulations before the end of the world. It's supposed to happen sometime this evening just after Dr Who, which is disappointing as its a two-parter and looks quite good.

The rational humanists of the world have been falling all over themselves, laughing their arses off about it all week, but worryingly, there are actually a vast number of people who not only believe it's going to happen, they actually want it to happen. In a 2004 article for the Guardian newspaper, George Monbiot reported that between 12 and 18% of the US electorate belong to churches which preach the rapture as fact. It's what they've all been waiting for, the day they will be swept up to heaven to receive their eternal reward. They want it to happen.

For them, the apocalypse = Winning!

So if enough people want Armageddon strongly enough, and believe it in most zealously, is there actually a danger that they might make it happen? Well, its worth remembering that those guys just had their man in the White House for 8 years and lets face it, they're never that far away from the big red button that says "Nuke em all, and let God sort 'em out!" First of all, however, certain events have to come to pass including, according to the rapture prophesy, a massive religious war in the Middle East and the arrival on earth of the Anti-Christ.

Hmmmmmm, so far so fucked.

I don't believe in the rapture, and pretty much everything else in the book of revelations sounds like the sort of story anyone would come up with, after wandering in the desert for forty days without a hat or adequate sun block, but I have to admit the thought of anyone who holds those beliefs having even the slightest influence on American foreign policy gives me a really bad case of the screaming heebie-jeebies!

So enjoy rapture day, Twitter has already turned it into a global event for us all to share a patronising chuckle over, but for as long as there is a large supply of the kind of people who spent the week looking around for atheists to care for their pets after they've been carried up, to sit amongst the angels and have a good laugh at all the suffering down on earth, the end of the world is surely not something we should stop worrying about altogether.

As an interesting sidenote, I scanned through quite a few news sites for references to today as the beginning of the end. Admittedly I did not find a whole lot on any of the more reputable news agencies, just a joking article here or there about how crazy the religious right can be or how annoyingly sarcastic those pesky atheists can get.

But I still found more references to it than I did to the tens of thousands of people currently camped out in the centre of the Spanish capital Madrid, protesting against their governments planned public spending cuts, and emergency laws banning legal forms of protest that the Spanish government brought in to prevent them.

It's a funny old world isn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment