On the Rapture

The rapture isn’t going to happen on 21 May 2011. And that implies an ordered series of disconfirmations: (1) Harold Camping is wrong about the Bible; (2) his way of reading the Bible (that is, Biblical numerology) does not reveal anything trans-scientific about the future; (3) evangelical ways of reading the Bible reveal nothing trans-scientific about the future; (4) no way of reading the Bible reveals anything trans-scientific about the future; and finally (5) the Bible carries no trans-scientific information about the future at all. But all these lead to (6) the Bible carries no trans-scientific information about objective reality. (It may carry considerable information about human hopes and fears, but not about objective reality.)

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • johnny murman

    I think that 1) and 2) are obvious. I think he could have avoided it if he actually studied the bible against its cultural context especially the nt against the backdrop of second temple Judaism. If he had done that he would have realized that a) the rapture is not even a concept in the bible. b) the world does not even end in the bible c) that most evangelicals dont actually get that the nt hardly predicts anything about he future. the problem is that most people read the bible through new testament lenses. if they did not do that then they would realize that Jesus and the apostles are not only not reading the bible the way they are but they are wrong about quite a few things about the rest of the bible(Jesus is monotheistic while most of the OT jews are far they wrote and we have external data to back it up are polytheists. so Jesus is indentifing himself with a deity that was were at least 2 in the OT and changed from being a son of one to be merged into the other) . If they did do this they would also realize that history has proved that Jesus is a false prophet. He predicted the fall of jerusalem but was wrong about the specifics. The way we can know that these words go back to Jesus is that the gospels are written after 70 ad the fall of jerusalem. Now if you were trying to prove your religion why would you not make the text fit the facts rather than record what you knew was wrong. The answer is that the words of jesus were sacred to them and like most jews from that time they would not alter them and had no problems with contradictions. The whole house of cards comes crashing down. Furthermore the theologians that argue that Jesus is predicting a gap between the fall of jerusalem and his return are creating a gap in the text that does not exist. The reason the rest of the NT contradicts itself on the return of Jesus is that they again had no problem with contradictions so they kept positing conflicting images of his return. I would agree with you that apocalyptic in revolves around human hopes and fears. The apocalyptic imagination is a good read if you ever care to read it. I would say that arguing with Christians that it contains no future predictions by pointing at camping with which most dont agree with is pointless. they will keep pushing it into the future with the notable exception of James Mcgrath who last night posted on his blog that Christians need to either put aside the belief in the return of Christ or rethink it. The worst enemy of fundamentalists is good bible scholarship.

  • Tom Milligan

    Hi Daniel,
    It interesting to hear your perspective on the hype of the May 21st rapture.
    Predicting the date of the rapture is non-sense. The evangelical reading for scripture has always said that we can’t know when Jesus will return to earth, but yet we fully believe that he will. But jump from one person’s unorthodox reading of Scripture to that the evangelical hermeneutic of scripture reveals nothing trans-scientific,seems a bit radical to me. As well as the following assertions.
    The Bible does not claim to be a science textbook. Science can really only tell us about what has happened and why, with observation and data. The Future is all a projection not a certainty in science. The Bible is God’s Word and does tell us that what science can’t. It tell us that God loves us, it tells us that God is going to establish a new heaven and earth (although this is given in a vision to John as well as Isaiah and the details are debated). We can know certain things about the future, even if we can’t know when they will take place.

  • John

    The assertion that the god of the bible actually loves anyone is nonsense. The word agape is translated love in genesis after schecem rapes Dinah. The same word that is used in the nt in John 3:16. That’s because it’s covenant Suzan try language as william Moran proved in his paper the love of god in dueteronomy. It basically means loyalty. That is one of the reasons that they had no problem with with equating The father the god who ordered genocide and rape as well as human sacrifice. Abba by the way means boss not daddy. So the god of the nt even it did exist would not ” love” you. Camping is evangelical. You are engaging in the no true Scottsman fallacy. As for the assertion that the bible predicts a new heaven and earth you should learn to recognize merisms not to mention read Jewish apocalypses and not anachronistically read the nt into the old.


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