Happy Doomsday…Again!by jason on Oct. 21, 2011, under Armageddon, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Critical Thinking, Faith, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, Logic, Power of Prayer, Reason, Religion, Sanity, The Rapture
OK Boys and Girls, it’s time once again to celebrate the end of the world as we know it! Let’s all join hands and sing some REM in unison.
Yup. Harold Camping’s next proclaimed deadline with destiny is upon us. Today, October 21st, is the day…this time definitely for sure…probably…
Sure, atheists and believers alike can have a good chuckle at nutjobs like Camping. Most believers are confident that they’re not in the same category – they know the Bible says that no one will know the hour or the day when the end will come. Yeah, so that means they’re nothing at all like Camping.
What’s sad about all this is that Camping’s beliefs are not, themselves, any nuttier than those of mainstream religion. And in one important way he’s just a tiny bit saner: he at least has the sense to codify his beliefs into a specific, testable prediction. Over and over again. His predictions constantly fail, but at least we can all know when they do. Too bad Camping doesn’t seem capable of realizing this means his beliefs are false.
They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If so, then Harold Camping is the classic case.
But what if you have beliefs that don’t make predictions that can fail so visibly and spectacularly? Mainstream religions, not to mention pseudo sciences like astrology, psychics, tarot cards, tea leaves, homeopathy, psychic healers, etc. scrupulously avoid making any prediction which could be shown to be false. Because such predictions immediately show the belief for what it is: nonsense.
One of the all-time favorite religious beliefs is that prayer works miracles, but only in accordance with God’s will. This statement is compatible with, literally, any outcome.
Let’s say you are religious and you want something that’s really good, and you want it a whole lot. Like, say you want your innocent child’s leukemia to go into remission. You’re supposed to pray and ask God for it. Fervently. Oh and unless you’re a real whacko you’ll still put your child through the best medical treatment available. Just in case God needs a little help. But really, it’s the prayer that matters.
If your child’s leukemia then goes into remission, well then you tell the world that your prayers were answered and God granted a miracle and to God be the glory! Never mind the medicine, it definitely had to have been the power of God!
But if your child dies, well then you can be sad of course, but it just must have all been part of God’s divine plan, and of course it also shows that human science is ultimately powerless in the face God’s judgement.
No matter what the outcome, your belief in God and the power of prayer can remain unshaken.
This approach applies to more every day matters – instead of medical science we substitute cute phrases for our own efforts like “God helps those who help themselves,” and such. But the basic process is the same. Pray, do everything you can do, and if the reult is favorable then give glory to God and if the result is unfavorable it must not have been God’s will and it is a demonstration of man’s impotence.
Sorry to break it to you, but if that’s how you approach reality then you’re not only nuttier than a fruitcake, you’re nuttier than Harold Camping. Not only do you believe in utter nonsense, but you deliberately avoid any test which could show you and the rest of the world just how nonsensical your beliefs actually are. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results, then it’s even greater insanity to do the same thing over and over while deliberately avoiding any result at all. Some people pray daily without ever even trying to test it! Harold Campings’ doomsday holidays come once or twice a year, at least giving us a chance to regularly varify that *his* beliefs still don’t work.
I challenge all you who believe in the power of prayer: put your belief to a real test. Please, NOT on your children or anyone else. Perform this test only on yourself! If you happen break your arm, leg, or ankle – don’t have it set or otherwise treated by a doctor. Just pray for it to heal, immediately and correctly. If you’re really brave and faithful and you’ve got appendicitis, or cancer, or are having a heart attack, don’t see a doctor and have it treated – just pray for it to get better. If you’re not that brave (or sick) but your car breaks down, try not taking it to a mechanic or working on it yourself - just pray for God to send angels to fix it in the night.
Whatever you’ve chosen for your test, believe that it will happen with all your heart. Proclaim victory in Jesus’ name. Have that mustard seed of faith that can supposedly move mountains. Witness your faith in God’s power over these matters to all the world as a comment on this blog. Let go and let God. And then pay careful attention to the results.
If you can’t bring yourself to do a real test like this but you still insist on believing in the power of prayer, then you’ve consigned yourself to belonging in an even lower level of the loony bin than Harold Camping belongs in.
On the other hand if you perform a real test, it fails, and you still believe in the power of prayer then congratulations on at least graduating to the Harold Camping memorial wing of the local nut house. Maybe you too can host a Christian radio show.
If the test fails and you renounce your belief in the power of prayer, then you’re well on your way to escaping the power of false beliefs. That’s something worth celebrating.
And what if your test actually works? If you really think that’s a possiblity, then perform your test of the power of prayer under controlled conditions and collect a cool $1 million from James Randi. That would also be something worth celebrating – I’m as happy to be proven wrong as proven right. Donate the $1 million to your church if your religion requires you to be selfless. I promise, anyone who does this and wins the million dollars can publish any article on this blog they want, explaining exactly how wrong I was and telling the world all about their religious beliefs. I’ll also write a check for at least 10% of my annual income to the church of your choice, on top of the $1 million you’ll get from James Randi.
Whatever happens, take comfort in knowing that it won’t be the end of the world. That already happened. Happy Doomsday!