By James Zimmerman

james_head.jpgIn case you haven’t heard, the Rapture is slated to occur on May 21st of this year. On that Saturday, Jesus will call his faithful and true followers up to heaven to spend eternity with Him. Left on the Earth will be the evil souls who have willfully rejected Jesus and hatefully lived against His righteous standards.
 
Of course, the Rapture has been predicted before. In fact, Harold Camping, who initially announced this latest date and is currently spear heading a rapture-awareness campaign, made a previous prediction for September 6, 1994. He was wrong. Math can be so confusing sometimes.

And that really is the tricky part: ‘God’s Word’ doesn’t explicitly record the rapture’s date anywhere. To the contrary, Matthew 24:26 even says “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (King James Version). Yet according to wecanknow.com, the Rapture’s date can be ascertained using sound, adept calculations; calculations that, apparently, had escaped the notice of all prior prognosticators.

Really, though, anyone can arrive at any date they would like thanks to the bible’s use of many numbers and cryptic passages. There are three rules that all bible interpreters use to calculate the arrival of any supposedly important date, from Armageddon, to the Last Days, to the Rapture.

The first rule is to keep in mind that any number found in the bible can be declared special or sacred. Twelve is an easy one; Jacob had twelve sons, there were twelve tribes of Israel, and there were twelve apostles, so clearly twelve is an important number. But there’s no need to limit interpretations to such obvious numbers. Three, for example, isn’t as conspicuous, but a little digging will reveal ‘support’ for that number, too. Let’s see…oh, yes, there were three Hebrews before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol in Daniel chapter three. Bingo! If you still can’t locate the number you need, try multiplying or adding any other numbers you can find.
 
The second rule is that any unit can be applied to any number. If, for example, you wish to use the number 40, you can go with 40 years (as found at Exodus 16:35) or 40 days (as found at Genesis 7:12). If that’s too limiting, feel free to swap the units with one more suitable for your ultimate goal.
      
Thirdly, any starting date can be used. If you are trying to ascertain Armageddon’s arrival, feel free to take the numbers you have on hand, and add them to any date. Of course, since religious leaders vary wildly in their claimed dates for biblical events, you can choose any of them. Of, better yet, just claim that you have evidence for a better date. If you add your number to the date of Adam’s creation, for example, you can begin by claiming he was created in 4001 BC, or 4004 BC, or 4026 BC, or 6111 BC. If that doesn’t give you the date you want, try any of the dozens of dates offered for Noah’s Flood, or Abraham’s birth, or the Exodus, or Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians, or Jesus birthday, or his crucifixion.
    
But let’s just assume that Camping’s date is the one the bible authors intended when they penned their words. This leaves humanity with two possible scenarios: either the Rapture will transpire on May the twenty-first, or it will not. For the atheist community, either development is good news. Allow me to explain.
    
Should Camping be correct in his calculations, the Rapture will result in the transferring of millions of Christian fundamentalists to another dimension. Suddenly, and without violence or suffering, the very people who oppose and deny history, evolution, and large chunks of geology will no longer be standing in the way. Science will again flourish in the classroom and the research laboratory, unencumbered by dogma, will be revitalized. Additionally, the very communities that stood at odds with women’s rights and same-sex marriage and who showed a peculiar fetish for little boys’ foreskins will no longer be there to infringe on the rights of others.
  
Of course, the careful reader will note that the Rapture will likely give many non-believers the evidence that thus far had been sorely lacking in arguments for support of a god. However, the point still remains that no such evidence existed prior to the Rapture and thus, the Christian god’s bizarre desire to spend eternity with only those who found the bible to be a coherent argument will simply confirm that such a god is unworthy of respect, much less worship.
  
Conversely (and with far, far better odds), Camping’s prediction could prove as erroneous as his previous one. Once the freethought community comes to grips with the reality that they’re still surrounded by Christian fundamentalists, they can take solace in the thought that yet another religious prophecy has proved completely inept.
    
Either way, I say we party.


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