2007Rapture.com: A Case Study in Failed Prophecy

Since I've written recently about the rapidly approaching failure of Harold Camping's 2011 doomsday prediction, I thought it'd be amusing to take a look back at another prophetic misfire. Our case study is the website 2007Rapture.com, which for obvious reasons is now defunct - but the Internet Archive has snapshots that show how the author, one Shelby Corbitt, reacted to her prediction's failure.The Internet Archive's first capture of the site, back in August 2004, starts with a bold … [Read more...]

An Abundance of Amusing Apocalypticism


I don't know if it's the warm weather here in New York that's bringing out the crazies, but these past two weeks, I've encountered more than the usual number of street preachers handing out loony religious literature. Because I know you wicked, godless atheists need to hear the word of the Lord, I thought I'd share some of the best examples with you.This first one is my favorite. Last week, I was out on my lunch break when I saw a teenager standing on the street corner handing out fliers. He … [Read more...]

A Daylight Atheism Public Service Announcement


I have some urgent news to pass along to my readers:If you have any vacation time accrued, you may want to use it before May 2011.Why, you may ask? Well, because the world is ending - again:I learned this important news from a pamphlet that a street preacher was passing out at the Veterans' Day parade the other week. (You can read the full thing if you're really interested: pages 1-8, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7.) This information was brought to you by Family Radio, the "Bible-based … [Read more...]

More on the Rapture

After writing "Life Goes On", I had some extra material that had been left on the cutting room floor. Since it was too good to pass up, I just had to write another post. How could I pass up the opportunity to share a belly laugh like this?Because the tribulation will be hell on earth, there is hope that even the most stubborn of sinners will be forced to admit he or she needs a savior. In the following section, I’ve selected a group of celebrities who are known to be atheists, or who are h … [Read more...]

Life Goes On

"If the Devil's Time were above a thousand years ago, pronounced short, what may we suppose it now in our Time? Surely we are not a thousand years distant from those happy thousand years of rest and peace and (which is better) Holiness reserved for the People of God in the latter days; and if we are not a thousand years yet short of that Golden Age, there is cause to think, that we are not an hundred."—Cotton Mather, The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1692In every era since the … [Read more...]

The Moral High Ground

It's common for fundamentalist Christians to think of themselves as the moral guardians of our culture, a bulwark against the rampant sex and violence in the mass media. But this self-flattering caricature runs up against inconvenient reality: there is plenty of evidence which shows that Christians as a whole are every bit as drawn to sex and violence as everyone else.One of the best examples of this is Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. This movie had a worldwide gross of over $600 … [Read more...]

Rapture Bonds

One of the great virtues of market forces is that they consistently reward investors who can correctly predict future events. Whenever two people disagree about the plausibility of some event, you can create a financial instrument whereby the one who's right can profit at the expense of the one who's wrong.The Christian community in America, particularly that section of it aligned with the religious right, commands vast wealth and influence. Although atheists are beginning to make our mark, … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: The Millerites

Today's edition of "Strange and Curious Sects" concerns a now-defunct religious group, but one which has offshoots that survive to the present day. Like the stories of John Frum and Sabbatai Zevi, it's also a lesson in the almost limitless capacity of the human mind to rationalize away disappointment.William Miller was born in 1782 in Massachusetts. A voracious reader, he converted to deism when he was young, but his belief in an intervening god would be restored in the War of 1812. Miller … [Read more...]

Left Behind and Selective Literalism

In "The Rapture and the Fig Tree", I wrote about how end-times believers are always looking to reconstruct the past, seeking to force-fit the present into a framework of scripture written to apply to events in long-gone times. Given that many of these verses apply to people and places that no longer exist, a major part of this contrived exegesis is what I call "selective literalism": interpreting one verse literally and another one metaphorically, or even interpreting different parts of the same … [Read more...]

The Rapture and the Fig Tree

The formation of the state of Israel in 1948 was a tremendous excitement to apocalypse-cheerleading Christians. For the end times to occur as described in the Bible, Israel must exist, so it's no surprise that its establishment following World War II convinced many believers that the end times were on the way:There is little doubt among Bible scholars that the establishment of the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948, is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the fig tree... Most agree that this says … [Read more...]