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?”
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.