Think Only a Few Fools Believe in the Rapture? Think Again.

May 3, 2011

I am leaving for the CFI cruise soon, and probably will not be putting up another post for a couple of weeks.  But, don’t worry, I will be back in plenty of time to grab a front row seat to witness the failure of the Rapture to take place. 

As you know, some of the god-intoxicated have predicted the Rapture will occur on May 21, followed five months later by the end of the world.  (In between, the unsaved will experience horrible torment, including being forced to watch a continuous loop of Battlefield Earth.)  This latest doomsday prediction has provided a good deal of amusement, with skeptics scheduling Rapture parties and the like.  This absurd prophecy deserves all the ridicule it has received.  Almost as absurd as the prophecy itself is the spectacle that will occur on May 22, as the true believers engage in verbal somersaults, stammering out excuses and rationalizations in a pathetic attempt to explain away the Big Non-Event. 

However, although I do not want to put too much of a damper on skeptics’ festivities, we should keep in mind one sobering thought: although only a relatively few fundies think the Rapture will occur on May 21, an astonishing 41% of the American public believes Jesus will return sometime before 2050.  That’s right.  According to the Pew Research Center, “41 per cent say Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years.”  41% .  That’s more than the number of Americans who voted for Bob Dole for president in 1996 or for Walter Mondale in 1984. (It’s even a few more than read my book, Future Bioethics.)

In other words, a substantial portion of the American public—more than 4 out of 10—disagrees with the May 21 Rapture freaks only with respect to the date and some of the details of Jesus’ return. Think of that stat the next time you’re assured by some liberal theologian that the arguments of contemporary atheists are directed against targets that no longer exist.