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The Rapture and deniability

The Rapture

I haven’t been very active here for the last few days because I have been a delegate to the Annual Assembly of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This morning Bishop Yoos addressed the opening gathering and said it was good to see all those Lutherans in front of him, proving that the rapture didn’t happen, and then he paused and added “or that it did.”

That humorous moment belies the fact that the prediction of the return of Jesus to receive his followers visibly in the air to the sound of a trumpet blast today is a deniable proposition. At midnight tonight in all time zones, one may confidently declare that the rapture didn’t happen and that Harold Camping’s prediction was wrong. Camping has made a prediction like this before, and when it didn’t happen, he said that he had made an error. Indeed people have been setting dates for the end of the world for at least 1,800 years.1 However, when they don’t come true, it’s obvious that they didn’t happen and everyone agrees the prediction was wrong.

Specific predictions of the end have a shelf life after which they expire and are thrown away. That’s not how it is with Birthers. The Birther can continue to affirm a fake birth certificate, or deny a real one, or assert a crank legal theory indefinitely.

This points out a fundamental difference between the eschatological prophet and the Birther. It’s pretty easy to settle arguments with the former; all it requires is patience. It’s impossible to settle an argument with the latter.

Over the past few days, particularly since L-Day, April 27, 2011, I have undergone a change in thinking. Perhaps the beginning of my change was expressed in my article Whatever. Birthers have ignored so much evidence, and told so many lies that it makes no sense to take the trouble to refute their latest non sequitur. The goal posts have been moved so many times that they are broken. The little boy has cried “wolf” so many times that no one comes.

I’m not going to provide a cross reference between Obama Conspiracy Theories, and Jerome Corsi’s “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” (even though pretty much everything I’ve heard from the book is refuted here somewhere). I’m not going to write “The Debunker’s Guide to Obama Conspiracy Theories — revised and updated with Long Form claims rebutted.” No, my answer to birther claims from now on is “whatever,” and if they push back, my reply is “why should I take you seriously?”

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1Perhaps the first literal prediction of the return of Jesus was that of Montanus in the second century who said that The New Jerusalem would descend on an obscure mountain in Phrygia. The Rapture idea was debunked by St. Augustine in his book, The City of God, in 426 AD.

7 Responses to The Rapture and deniability

  1. avatar
    richCares May 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    though some people are laughing at the gullible, there are families that have actually been torn apart by this foolishness, that is really sad! here’s one family:
    just as birthers have also been torn apart from their famlies, for no valid reason other than hating Obama. That is also sad!

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    richCares: though some people are laughing at the gullible, there are families that have actually been torn apart by this foolishness

    This is mentioned in the NPR clip in my article.

  3. avatar
    richCares May 22, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    On the birther side, a neighbour took in their teenage granddaughter as the teen could no longer handle the birther father. The father tried to force the girl into home schooling. The split is severe as she told her father not to show up at her graduation in June. As a father of 2 girls that is hard to comprehend, which is why I say “hating Obama causes brain damage”.
    The Grandparents are doing great and the teens grades improved. Like the RAPURISTS, the birther father threw his family away.

  4. avatar
    Joey May 22, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    A song for the rapture: “Rapture” by Blondie
    The first song featuring rap or hip-hop music to reach Number One on the Billboard “Hot 100” record charts.

  5. avatar
    Daniel May 22, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    How much you want to be the birthers won’t get the connection between Campings followers and Orlys followers?

  6. avatar
    Rickey May 22, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    How much you want to be the birthers won’t get the connection between Campings followers and Orlys followers?

    They have already started moving the goalposts.

    One of the most prominent of Camping’s followers is an Army veteran named Marie Exley (she is on Facebook under her married name, Marie Exley-Sheahan). She has been mentioned in many news stories and was a major player in putting up “Judgment Day” billboards around the world.

    All day (and even early this morning) she was saying that it was “still May 21” somewhere in the world. Now she has posted this on her Facebook page:

    The Great Tribulation (what we are in) lasts 8400 days. The last day of the Great Tribulation is May 21.

    Matthew 24:29

    Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

    That’s when it all begins…IMMEDIATELY AFTER.

    Any day now…

  7. avatar
    richCares May 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    The Rapturists are deluded and cause pain and suffering to their families, but they primarily injure themselves. Birthers do the same, but they take it a step further, they put hate into the equation, blind and nasty hate. If you visit a birther blog you will see constant displays of hate towards Obama as well as hate towards his family. The constant insults of Obama are the signature of Bithers. It’s almost never political opposition, it’s alway sheer hate. That is not healthy, it is very sick. When I tell a birther to get mental health help, it is not an insult but rather a concerned plea for them to heal. Other than putting money in Corsi’s pocket, Birtherism has no goal, and that is the saddest part. Birthers put in a lot of effort and money to accomplish absolutely nothing, nothing at all. Any day now!