Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rapture watch

I just took a look at the Rapture Index site (here) to find out how long it's going to be until the Rapture, the moment predicted in the Book of Revelation at which all of the righteous are bodily assumed up into heaven, and all of us godless heathens will be left behind to throw big parties and to finally be able to teach evolution in the schools without fear of harassment and/or death threats, or, by some accounts, to be submitted to agonizing tortures by the Antichrist, the Beast, Satan, and other Cosmic Bad Guys.

Of course, the Rapture Index site itself has a disclaimer that it's not trying to predict the Rapture.  That's god's provenance, after all.  Matthew 24:36 says, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."  Which is a pretty clear and unambiguous statement, unlike most of the apocalyptic prophecies in the bible.  In any case, the Rapture Index takes world news and attempts to distill it down to events which might have some place amongst the predictions in Revelation, and assigns a number to how serious those events are.  The Rapture Index is the sum of all of the individual numbers, and the higher it is, the closer to the End Times we're supposed to be.  (Anything over 160 is interpreted as "Fasten your seatbelts."  I didn't just make that up, it's right from the site.)

Currently, we're at 177.

We got bumped up a couple of notches by the recent earthquakes and the unrest in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.  A few of the individual indexes are understandable, based even on my admittedly slim knowledge of biblical prophecy -- the focus on happenings in the Middle East, any stories about anti-Christian stuff, and so on.  A few of them are peculiar,  however, and one has to wonder how they're measured.  How, for example, do you measure "The Mark of the Beast" (index #32)?  Many of the indexes are annotated, but that one isn't, and it's hard to fathom why they assigned that one a 3.  Did they go around looking for people with the number 666 tattooed on their foreheads, or something?  "Beast Government" (index #33) at least has an annotation, but it isn't especially enlightening; it's also given a 3, and they state, "Europe is facing its worst economic crisis."  Which, I suppose, is rather beastly, but I don't think that's how they meant it.  I know that a lot of the Beast Stuff has to do with one-world government and so on, so maybe they figure that the European Union is a sign of the End Times.

Most of it seems to be random numbers assigned to things that are hardly, um, revelations to most of us.  "Crime Rate" (index #17) is given a rating of 4, because "Violent crime dominates the news," but when doesn't it?  It's not like that's a big change, or anything.  Also from the Teachings of St. Obvious of Duh comes index #30, "The Peace Process," in which we are told that "The Israelis and the Palestinians are not talking to each other."  They even rank "Date Settings" (index #35) at 3 because "There is a huge increase in the number of books focused on 2012 AD." So we now have the Mayan nonsense mixing in with the fundamentalist nonsense to create a whole new, synthetic brand of nonsense.

Another peculiar one is "Civil Rights" (index #39), which is given a 4.  There's no annotation, so we're left wondering if civil rights are a good thing or a bad thing, Rapture-wise.  I think that would be worth knowing, don't you?  How else would we know if it's okay to discriminate or be racist or bigoted?

Although 177 is quite high, you may be interested to know that it's not the highest the Rapture Index has ever been.  It reached a record high of 182 on the 24th of September, 2001, right after 9-11, the day that then-President Bush froze the assets of hundreds of suspected terrorists and took the first steps toward the invasion of Afghanistan.  Despite that, the Righteous are still with us.  So I guess Matthew 24:36 was right, they really don't knoweth the hour.

Sitting where I am, it's kind of hard to worry much about this.  What with all of the social unrest, economic problems, and climate chaos, we have enough things to keep us up at night already.  (Although we're told, under "Climate," index #43, that "Record cold temperatures have put the freeze on the global warming hype.")  So my philosophy is a little like the one on the bumper sticker, have you seen it?  A few years ago, fundamentalist-types started putting bumper stickers on their cars that said, "Come the Rapture, this car will be empty."  Which triggered a response -- bumper stickers that said, "Come the Rapture, can I have your car?"

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