Monday, May 23, 2011

RE: Rapture, A Non-Atheist Viewpoint



May 21st, 2011 (which was yesterday) was lately treated to quite a bit of fanfare, especially in the US. Which is not surprising given that it was the day the world is predicted to end, at least according to one guy named Harold Camping. Accwoording to him, an event called Rapture will take place on the Saturday, 6 pm local time (around the world, starting with New Zealand) where faithful Christians will be taken up to heaven on that particular timing and the world would be left to its demise til October 12th, where God would pull the plug once and for all.

And like all doomsday predictions, May 21st passed on relatively quiet for most of the world. The earthquakes and people being beamed up to heaven, as predicted by by Mr Camping, failed to materialize and life goes on as usual.

Along with many other Christians around the world, I did not believed in Camping's predictions that the world would end on Saturday. After all, the bible said that no one, even Jesus, would know the exact day the world would end. The bible even warn of false prophets who claims to proclaim the word of God and who will misled the people. Camping, for example, is one of them.

Sadly, some (particularly some atheists) saw this as an excellent chance to level their case against religion. One particular blogger that I follow, lets call him Mr A, argued that this Rapture and apocalypse belief is one of the reasons why the entire religion thing is bullshit and the world would be better off without organized religion.

In his blog, he wrote that people who believed in religion are nothing but gullible people who accept anything thrown to them, the belief that the world is ending on May 21st, for example, blindly and unquestionably. For him, religion only ruins people life, like how Camping's followers have sold off their entire possessions because of his message and how now they are left with nothing. Not only that, everything that people believe about in religion, like the belief that the world is coming to an end, is utter nonsense and should be banished altogether because it only does harm and not good.

If I'm Freud, I would say he has some serious reaction formation issue here (reaction formation is a psychology term btw, and it refers to a defense mechanism to conceal your desires by forming an opposite reaction to it. An example would be a preacher who preaches heavily against porn but secretly loves to watch them). But I don't deny that he has a point though, people like Harold Camping really gives us a bad name and that is why for this post, with my limited intellectual and language, I will try and  write things from an non-atheist viewpoint.

Firstly, I would like to disagree with the claim that Christians are the only people who constantly harps on the Judgement Day message and that without religion, we could all go on living peacefully without worrying about the end of the world. The problem is that although religion makes it easier, it's not only us who make doomsday prediction. Everyone does, Christian or not. There are numerous predictions out there regarding on how the world would end and not all of them are based on religion. The 2012 prediction for example, is based on the Mayan calendar, not Christian. And an example I remembered from my Psychology textbook is that in 1997, 39 people committed suicide believing that the Hale-Bopp comet which was passing Earth, would bring about an end and carry them off to paradise. And they're not Christians.

Secondly, what's wrong with believing that the world would end one day? I for one, believes that any day could be my last day on Earth and I should live everyday as it it was my last and leave no regrets when I go to sleep and from how I see it, it's not an entirely bad thing either. My friends and family know that I love them and if today were really to be my last day, I would die a happy man. It is those people who like to cause fear and spread panic are the ones that is problematic and not all Christians are like that.

Besides, the Bible says that only God knows the date of the end and those who claim that they know are among the small minority among all Christians. And from what I see, people who make doomsday prophecies do not really do it for the love of people, but rather they do it for the sake of fame .

But like they say, it only takes one to give the entire community a bad name. Because Christians or not, atheist or non-atheist, we like to stereotype. Christians like to stereotype atheists as immoral people doomed to hell and atheists stereotyping Christians as stupid people who would just believe anything. When only can we learn to accept each other and why can't believers and atheists live peacefully?

I mean as long as I don't spread my beliefs to you and don't make you do stupid stuff, you should leave my beliefs alone right? So what if I believe in an afterlife? It's not gonna hurt you or anything. And there's no scientific evidence to disprove of it either so you don't really know.
 
The point is that majority of Christians do not believe in the May 21st Rapture and for all you atheists say about us stereotyping, you all are pretty much doing the same thing too now.

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