It is May 21st, 2011. According to Harold Camping, the Christian fundgelical wingnut, the rapture will occur today at 6:00pm, local time. Considering it is now 11:42pm, May 21st, in Australia and no reports of Australian Christians being raptured have surfaced, I’m guessing the rapture isn’t going off quite as planned. Either that or there are no worthy Christians in Australia (maybe it is just American Christians who are worthy?). Either way, I’m planning a fun day of lunch, shopping, and spending time with my sweetie. Since neither of us are religious, I know we will still be there come 6:01pm, so the movie is still on for tonight.
There have been so many failed prophecies over the past 2000 years that it is amazing that anyone can take this one seriously, but hundreds have, selling everything they own and traveling the country trying to get others to do the same. History shows that once tomorrow comes, and these true believers are still here, dismay will hit. Don’t think that this will snap them out of their belief in the second coming of their savior, once again, history tells us that within days they will rationalize away the failure and their faith will become even stronger. (Festinger, et al. 1956)
This is cognitive dissonance at work. I have written a lot about cognitive dissonance before, but we see this kind of thing so often that I think I need to cover it again here.
Cognitive dissonance occurs when a thought or idea conflicts with other thoughts, ideas, or beliefs in our mind. A typical example of cognitive dissonance would be someone who continues to smoke even though they know that it is bad for them. People will often make excuses for their continued smoking in the face to overwhelming evidence that it can kill you. They will either dismiss the evidence as inconclusive (these days this borders on delusional), marginalize it, or ignore it. Even when they try to do this, there is always a part of their mind that knows it is bad and with creates discomfort that they will try to resolve by basically lying to themselves.
You can read my other post about cognitive dissonance at these links:
You can also read my article on the JREF blog about it.
So, enjoy the rapture day! Go about your business as usual, or better yet, throw a party!
Festinger, L., Riecken, H.W., Schachter, S. , Aronson, E. 1956. When prophecy fails. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.