And to the next person who quotes Matthew 24:36 at me: you’re part of the problem, too.
PZ Myers lays it all out. He’s angry, and with good reason. Here in the Bay Area, the Rapture prophecy thing was treated with justified derision, despite this particular false prophet being based in Alameda. I was invited to various parties – I went to a very nice one in Piedmont, with great food and drink and fun people in a beautiful 1909 house. We talked and laughed about the silliness and much else besides, and went home happy.
But as PZ says, the polls say that most people believe that this prophecy will come true in the next 50 years or so, even if it’s not when some thief and charlatan says it will. Evidence for it happening? Not a trace – not true provable evidence.
I was talking to some folks at the party about Pascal’s Wager – it’s a very common philosophical argument, and I probably won’t do it justice (or even get it right) but basically it’s this.
- If you become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell exist, you go to Heaven. You win.
- If you become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell don’t exist, you just die, and you haven’t lost anything.
- If you don’t become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell don’t exist, you just die, and you haven’t lost anything.
- If you don’t become a Christian, and you die, and Heaven and Hell exist, you go to Hell. You lose.
- To sum up, the wager you are making (with your “eternal soul”) can only be won by becoming a Christian. So become a Christian, just to hedge your bets. Do you feel lucky, punk?
The extremely simple rebuttal to Pascal’s Wager is this: who says Christianity is the only way to Heaven (assuming Heaven exists)? What about all the other religions, belief systems and so on? It’s not a simple yes and no question. There must be a near-infinite number of belief systems, so how come this one is true?
It comes down to “the Bible says so”, which is like saying Dodge cars are the best because the Dodge commercial says so. What’s to be trusted, solid evidence, or the sales literature? Your holy book can say anything it likes – but your holy book doesn’t apply to everyone.
There was solid evidence that the Cayenne Pepper Mexican Cookies at the party were delicious. And hotter than hell.