Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Religion Which Cried Wolf

"There's a sucker born every minute."

Often credited to P. T. Barnum

I'm sure you have heard of the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. More than five-hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a Greek slave by the name of Aesop told a morality tale about a shepherd boy who tricked his village neighbours into thinking that a wolf was attacking his flock to amuse himself. He successfully fooled the villagers into running to his aid several times and each time, there was no wolf to be found.

Spoiler alert: a wolf did appear eventually and this time, no one heeded the shepherd boy's cry for help. His flock was destroyed as a result. There's an intended lesson here about how habitual liars will be distrusted, but considering how many times charlatans like Peter Popoff, Sylvia Browne and Kevin Trudeau bounced back after being proven repeatedly to be frauds, I'd say Aesop underestimated the breadth of human gullibility. No, there's a more important, truer lesson to be gleaned from this fable.

Some version of the story had the villagers heeding the boy's false cries twice before they wised up to his shenanigans. Other versions simply pegged the number of times at 'several' or 'many'. Now, how many times would you have to be deceived or misled before you stop trusting the mischievous shepherd boy? Five? Ten? A hundred times? Hold that thought in your mind.

The following infographic illustrates the dates which Christians have claimed throughout history to be the dates of the Rapture (when the faithful would literally be sucked up to heaven to see Jesus), the Second Coming of Christ, and the End of Days,

Christianity - 2000 Years of 'Any Day Now'
According to statistics, Christians have a 0% chance of being right.

Have you ever found yourself reading the newspaper about the tumultuous political climate in the Middle East and thought to yourself that the Armageddon is coming? When you were watching the breaking news story about natural disasters like the the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, or the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and subsequent nuclear fallout; did you recognise them as signs of the impending apocalyptic End Times? Christians do this all the time, pronouncing every calamity which befell our world to be yet another fulfillment of Biblical prophecies from the pulpits, in their workplace or on Facebook - but that's nothing new. They have been engaging in their doomsaying schtick back before Jesus' corpse was even cold! Christians love to see the world end. Every time there's a big war, they think the world is going to fold in on itself (1914 was a particular favourite because that's when World War I was just starting out). Years like 1000 or 2000 which are aesthetically-pleasing tend to attract doom prophets like shit attract flies. Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, current US President Barack Obama, the Pope (all of them) and many, many more important personages in history were considered by one group of Christians or another to be the Antichrist.

They are always, always wrong without exception.

Consider the Bible and its prophecies of Jesus' Second Advent and all the other events surrounding the end of the world within its pages. His disciples thought it would happen within their lifetimes. The early Christians who succeeded them thought the same and today, modern Christians still believe that things will pan out just like how the Book said it would (with many surmising it would be sooner rather than later). They are just like the villagers answering the calls of the Boy Who Cried Wolf - except, they will never stop believing no matter how many times they are made to come running only to find no wolf. How stupid do you have to be to still believe in Christianity after two millennia of steady disconfirmation? To use another analogy, Christianity is like that crazy homeless guy standing on the street corner with a sign saying 'The End is Nigh' for the past two thousand years.

Even more damning is what Jesus said in Matthew 24:33-34: "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

So, unless there are 2000 years old individuals walking about on earth right now without our notice, Jesus and the Bible had already been thoroughly debunked two thousand years ago. Yet, there are still two billion Christians living in this world today. Why? What's the major dysfunction in their collective psyche?

Harold Camping, a senile 89-year-old Christian radio broadcaster predicted that the Rapture will occur on the 21st of May, 2011 - that's today - and he supposedly uncovered this date through Bible-based numerology. He said that approximately 3% of the world's population will be "raptured" or beamed up to heaven before our eyes, so keep a watch on your local Jesus freak or Bible thumper to see it happen. Earthquakes will happen throughout the world at 6:00 PM according to each place's local time, and five months later on October the 21st, the universe will go out with a bang. Unsurprisingly, many Christians around the globe believed him, donated tens of millions of dollars to his ministry, and are now bracing themselves to be flown up to Jesusland at any moment.

It might amuse you to know that Camping predicted the same would happen in 1994, and even wrote a book about it. The fact he that was wrong back then doesn't seem to faze his legion of followers. He only cried wolf once, after all.

Other Christians who (haha) consider themselves more rational than Camping and co. have pointed out that it is not possible to see the End Time coming. Jesus himself said in Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."  He also said in Matthew 24:42-44 that he would come like a thief in the night.

I will help Camping counter their arguments by reaching into that huge pile of contradictory piffle called the Holy Bible and pull out 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 which reads,

"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness."

I amazes me how anyone can believe in a "divinely-inspired" holy text which disagrees with itself all the time. Anyway, have a nice end of the world (again), readers!

UPDATE: It's now 6:00 PM. The tectonic plates aren't moving at all - not even a shudder. Figures. Right now, I am really looking forward to reading or listening to the first interview anyone gets out of Camping on Sunday morning.

RELATED POST: After the Day of No Judgment.

Survivor of many Judgment Days,
k0k s3n w4i


dori_lukey said...

You do know that not all Christians think like that right?

~*caryn*~ said...

just for laughs

Ec5618 said...

All Christians think like this. Not exactly like this, perhaps, but they all believe crap as silly as this.

Anonymous said...

LOL, one of your Google ads says "Ready to meet God? Judgment Day begins on May 21,2011!"

What a joke. If today is Judgment Day, it must be a really low-key event.

Adrian said...

Christianity is basically an apocalyptic religion. The timing of the end is not known, but the fervor and insanity is the same.

k0k s3n w4i said...

dori_lukey: yes, christians have a very wide range of beliefs. when i was in high school, the president of the christian fellowship told me that the virgin mary was as virgin as his mother - make of that what you will. most if not all christians, however, do believe in the second coming of jesus and in some kind of apocalyptic scenario - and in spite of waiting for the past 2,000 years, these events have not come to fruition. you are a christian, lukey, so let me ask you. how much longer do you think christians should wait before finally dismissing the biblical prophecies (and the bible itself) as nonsense? 10,000 years? 1,000,000 years?

~*caryn*~: oh, this rapture day had been a source of much hilarity. atheists across the US are now having rapture parties as we speak.

Ec5618: amen.

Anonymous: the ad is still up! you'd think that they would only commission it till the end of may 21.

Adrian: hey adrian! glad you dropped by :)

siehjin said...

hi, kok.

on Jesus' thought of his own imminent return, you already know how C.S. Lewis dealt with the question, which i think is one acceptable way to answer it.

another answer which i have found, by Royce Gruenler, is that the greek words translated "have happened" in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and luke 21:32 are in the ingressive aorist tense. because of this nuance, the words may be rendered "begin to happen". to me, this clears up the problem quite well.

your 'more rational' christian friends are quite right when they quote Matthew 24:36 and Matthew 24:42-44 to you. no-one knows and no one can know when the end will come.

as for 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, the point of that is that as Christians are already forewarned that the end will come, we should be watching and waiting, ready for it. in that sense, it should not take us by surprise.

k0k s3n w4i said...

siehjin: tell me this, how long should anyone wait before deciding: "well, i guess that that's that." what jesus made is an open-ended prophecy. it's akin to saying, "in some undefined date in the future, a rogue planet will crash into planet earth - but i'm not going to tell you when" if it hadn't happen, it will always going to be in a state of pending vindication. and as i've recorded in my little infographic, there are christians who have anticipated the end of the world since the very beginning of christianity - and surely these early christians, speaking the language jesus spoke, grasped whatever grammatical nuance that jesus' word have held. so on the basis of this line of evidence, i reject gruenler's answer.

siehjin said...

hi kok,

i guess christians will keep on believing it until the end of the world, however the world eventually ends.

unless, of course the human race becomes extinct before that eventuality... or christianity dies out before the extinction of humanity... or christianity undergoes some drastic change in the intervening years which includes no longer believing in the second coming.

k0k s3n w4i said...

siehjin: thanks. i got the answer i expected.