Apocalypse Pretty Soon

May 17, 2011 at 2:29 am (Uncategorized)

If you’ve got stuff to do, you better do it soon because the end of the world is coming.

I know some people were comforted by the Mayan Apocalypse which is coming next year, because that meant hey, you’ve still got plenty of time to get your shit together. But no, good people, according to some, the end of the world is Friday. Which really sucks because it’s the beginning of the Victoria Day long weekend, and I was planning to go to Montreal for the anarchist bookfair.

If it had been a Monday (or in the case of next week,  a Tuesday), I don’t think too many people would have minded.

But before you get out your Visa cards to spend , spend , spend (or alternatively pop down the mall for some last minute looting), it should be noted that not everyone agrees this is the date. According to one prophet of the end of days, the apocalypse will begin on Friday with the Christian rapture and end on October 21 (a few days before my son’s birthday and Halloween, so double sucks there) with the end of the world.  I’m not really putting any stock in this, but I may be slightly unnerved if I see any of my Christian neighbours floating into the air on Friday. 

But seriously, end of the world and Milleniumist predictions are hardly new. They date back thousands of years. Here’s how at least one group calculated the new one (courtesy of Wikipedia)

  1. According to [Harold] Camping, the number five equals “atonement”, the number ten equals “completeness”, and the number seventeen equals “heaven”.
  2. Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.
  3. If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.
  4. The time between April 1 and May 21 is 51 days.
  5. 51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.
  6. (5 x 10 x 17)2 or (atonement x completeness x heaven)2 also equals 722,500.

Thus, Camping concludes that 5 × 10 × 17 is telling us a “story from the time Christ made payment for our sins until we’re completely saved

The problem of course being that numbers can do just about anything you want them do. So, for example, today is monday which is the 1st day of the week, and I have $18. 68 in change in my pocket, so multiply 1,868 X 1  X the number of books in the old testament divided by… I’m sure I could figure something out given enough time.

Oh and by the way, in case you’re mildly concerned you might not be Christian enough to survive and that fiery lake doesn’t sound too appealing, Harold Camping believes in what’s called annihilationism. Souls who are not saved will not spend an eternity in hellfire and damnation (that’s a comfort), but will simply cease to exist (in other words they die – pretty much what I was expecting at the end of life anyway).

Pause for breath.

I’ve spent a good part of my life as an advocate of a cause that many would see as fairly unrealistic (except for that glorious moment when it isn’t), but I have to say this kind of thing still leaves me mystified. When Marx talked about religion being the opium of the people, he went on to note it was the sign of the oppressed creature. In other words, the existence of religion was a sign of a deep problem in society. Religion was a relection of a deep social disorder. Unfortunately, religion has become a shield which instead of viewing those social problems as the cause of religion, it views the lack of religion as the cause of the problems.

I leave the last words on this mess to the world’s most famous atheist Richard Dawkins:

 “he will inevitably explain, on May 22nd, that there must have been some error in the calculation, the rapture is postponed to . . . and please send more money to pay for updated billboards.”

(Read Dawkins full article here)


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