Monday, May 23, 2011

Conclusive proof that I'm not Elect

The more I read about the Rapture, the dumber it gets.

We all know by now that the latest prediction, by some engineer-turned-numerologist, didn't happen - thus bearing out the predictions of the great majority of both Christians and non-Christians alike. But the last I heard of the prediction itself was that it set not only the date, but the precise time of the event: 6:00 p.m., wherever you happened to be.

Thus it would strike Tonga first, then roll westward across New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Asia, Europe, and finally sweep across America and Hawaii, ending up in Samoa 24 hours after it began.

I'm not clear whether it was supposed to be guided by 'official' time (so that whole timezones would be struck at once), or real astronomical time, so that it would roll steadily westwards at constant rate of approximately 1000mph (at the equator). If official time, then I wonder how long it would take for governments in all points west of New Zealand to hastily amend their own timezones? If astronomical time, then why would it begin at the International Date Line? - I would have pegged Jerusalem as the obvious starting point.

This is what happens when engineers get hold of holy scripture. They (we) are ferociously literal-minded people (Osama bin Laden was educated first as an engineer, before the CIA trained him to be a terrorist).

There's something about a certain type of religious fantasy that appeals to people who believe in "working things out". Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic bilgewater, describes himself as "... raised by a crossword-puzzling, poetic father and an anagramming, word-loving, Latin-knowing, grammarian Mother".

When you look at a crossword, you can be reasonably sure that there is a solution. And when you look at the world as something designed by a higher intelligence, it's very tempting to see it in the same terms - as a puzzle, with clues inserted for those with eyes to see. And if you get your predictions wrong, that's just like getting a 'x' from God - it doesn't mean your whole approach is flawed, just that you've made a mistake somewhere.

For people who think like this, the idea that there are no clues, there is no plan, there is nothing to be worked out - strikes at the heart of their belief.

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