Joshua Zelinsky's blog on three things that you can't talk about in polite company: religion, politics and math.
Friday, May 20, 2011
A brief note on the Rapture
Michael Hartell of the Sentinel and Enterprise interviewed me in my capacity as a spokesentity for the Boston Skeptics talking about the Rapture. Hartell's article focuses on Harold Camping's prediction that the Rapture will take place tomorrow. His article is worth reading, although there are a few things that didn't get into the final article that I think are worth mentioning: First, the entire "Rapture" doctrine as it exists in modern times is only a few centuries old and only became at all popular due to the preaching of John Darby in the early part of the 19th century. Second, this is a good example of the sort of serious damage that erroneous beliefs can create. The New York Times article on the same subject focuses on the Haddad family where the parents believe the Rapture will occur tomorrow and the children do not. In that article, the Haddads have stopped saving up for college for their children because they believe that it will never happen. The children will suffer when the Rapture doesn't take place and they then can't afford to get good educations. These parents are not going to risk their childrens' lives in the same way that parents who refuse to vaccinate are actively endangering their lives, but the basic problem is the same: hideously inaccurate beliefs about reality are hurting bystanders.