Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seriously, Harold?

How many times can a crazy person act crazy and get everyone's attention before we just ignore the crazy person? There comes a point when the joke gets old, and the guy with the lampshade on his head dancing on the coffee table just isn't that amusing any more. Consider yet again Harold Camping, who, after his May 21 Rapture prediction was proved wrong, now claims partial victory, explaining that the end of the world did indeed begin on May 21, but in a "spiritual" sense rather than a physical. To put yet another spin on the old joke, Camping says the world will really end on October 21, 2011 (really really). In Camping's previous view, May 21 was "Rapture Day," when "god's chosen" would leave the planet and terrible earthquakes would occur like none that have happened before. May 21 was supposed to be the start of a terrible time of tribulation for those who have been left behind which would have lasted until October 21, when the earth would finally be destroyed.

So... we have yet another "Day of Judgment" to look forward to, more nonsense, more religious fanatics destroying their lives, more mockery and ridicule for Harold and the Family Radio gang when everyone wakes up on October 22, and simply more attention given to the guy with the lampshade on his head. We get to hear the same joke... again. Honestly, we had a lot of fun on May 22. Rapture jokes could be found all over Facebook, the blogosphere, YouTube, et cetera. But the joke's old now, Harold. We - at least I - want to move on.

Unlike my fellow brother-in-blogging Mike D, who takes pride in the fact that he "didn't blog about any of this Rapture stuff," I have written a lot lately about the Rapture, May 21, and Harold Camping. I cracked a few jokes, I made a few serious points, I started an End of the World Fund, and I venerated Macho Man Randy Savage along the way. Indeed, Mr. Camping has provided ample amounts of blog fodder for me and the rest of the blogosphere. This stuff almost writes itself. I understand why Mike is proud to have resisted the temptation.

The May 21 "Rapture" is the ultimate train wreck of religion. We can't help but slow down and stare at the nutjobs who have depleted their savings and ruined their futures because they believed so strongly in the "awesome news" of the end of the world. We're still looking at the wreckage, shaking our heads in disbelief. How could they fall for this? How could these people be so blind? I feel sorry for them and they anger me at the same time. Look, folks. I know Harold Camping's failed prediction doesn't disprove the Rapture, or Christianity, or theism. I know Harold Camping doesn't speak for all Christians, or represent Christian theism as understood by the majority of believers. All the events of May 21, 2011 prove is that Harold Camping is either completely delusional, cripplingly dense, compulsively deceptive, or some combination of the three. Camping's latest claims confirm this even more. But think of his followers. Think of why they believed his doomsday message so fervently. Consider for a moment why they had a conviction so strong that they literally gave everything to spread the message of the end of the world.

They took it on faith. And even though Harold Camping's beliefs differ from that of most other Christians, the basis for their beliefs is the same: faith. Not a demand for evidence, not a need for logic and reason, and certainly no critical thinking involved here. They arrived at their beliefs - and continued believing - because of faith: the same faith all the other Christians have in their beliefs. And it's this very faith that will keep some people holding on to whatever nonsense Harold Camping says next about the end of the world.

Faith is the decision to believe something irrespective of logic, reason and evidence. Faith is the decision to believe something with the level of conviction that causes a person to make serious life decisions based on the object of one's faith. This is what it means be adhere to a religion: make the decision to believe something irrespective of logic, reason and evidence, and believe it with the conviction that causes one to base all the important life decisions on this belief. Faith is why Harold Camping has any followers at all. And even though most people - including religious people - have mocked Harold Camping as much as anyone, the truth is that religious people have the same basis for their beliefs as Harold Camping: they have faith.

Don't you think there's a lesson to be learned here?


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