Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

On Cruelty at the End of the World

I normally leave the articles on the blog to other, more qualified folks, but I feel compelled to speak up, briefly, about something I read today. This is from an opinion piece at Chicago Now, which appears to be a part of the Chicago Tribune news contraption:

As for me,  all this doomsday stuff about the non-believers burning in hell is what turns a lot of people off to Christianity, by the way. I just don’t respond to threats. However going so far as to mocking the Christians with a party is a little rude.

Our party is ‘a little rude’.

While I try not to throw well-meaningness immediately under the bus, I do think this sort of opinion is incredibly short-sighted, and the reason is right in that quote.   And in this image:

We have a clear idea that Harold Camping and his retirement-fund-spending compatriots are expecting to get caught up in Lindsey’s “Great Snatch”.  What is less clear is their proposition about the rest of us– the vast majority of the population on Earth, including most Christians– have in store in the months, years, and eternities that await us should we not heed the ravings of elderly men who are bad at math.

Allow me to enumerate some of what Camping, Lindsey and LaHaye have in store for us:

  • itchy, untreatable boils
  • stinging, Charlemagne-esque bugs
  • the whole Deep Impact thing
  • water turning to blood, no more salmon
  • widespread and unceasing war, famine and death
  • bad agriculture in Iraq

And while the assembled eschatologists quibble over how and when it occurs, and how much of it they get to personally see themselves, the story always ends the same way:

  • eternal, unceasing fiery torture under the sanction of a god who feels that all of the above is not only just, but an example of loving kindness, in a pit run by his failed second-stringers

I’ve read “The Late Great Planet Earth”, most of the “Left Behind” series, and numerous other books detailing Christian eschatology.  People think I’m into the end of the world when I’m really into propaganda, but that’s another story.    In these books,  time and time again, I see barely-contained glee for the concept that you, I, and likely everyone we know and care about is going to be tortured.   Tortured for longer than the universe has existed.   Billions tortured, since it won’t be just for us atheists, but the vast majority of other Christians as well as anyone who believes otherwise.

That’s silly.   Laughable.   Also, incredibly cruel.

Tomorrow, we’re celebrating the idea that Harold Camping is wrong: the world is here, we’re a part of it, there’s no one to torture us for failing to pick the right fable out of millions, and the long struggle for progress will continue.   In short, we’re celebrating being alive.   We could do that any day, but sometimes it takes a nut who wants you in pain to remind us.

UPDATE 1: As you’ll see in the comments, it turns out that the Camping Crowd are annihilationists, which is a divergent doctrine from most rapture believers.  While Camping himself believes that I’ll have no conscious existence beyond death (Hey, I agree!), not everyone involved with the 5/21 shenanigans is in agreement on this topic, so I will continue to stand by what I’m saying here.

This is the first time I’ve seen this variant concept in the wild, so I’m happy to point it out.   Thank you, Steve in ATL, for the information.

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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15 Comments on "On Cruelty at the End of the World"

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ProfesoraBecky
Guest

1. Beautifully written life-affirming commentary, Sam. I *knew* there was a reason I said “yes!” <3
2. I'd rather be "a little rude" than, say, a gleeful dick.
3. The "article" linked above misspells us. Apparently we are yet again the Most Athy. Not athy, not athier, but athiest!

Luke
Guest

@ProfesoraBecky not athiest, but atheist! 😉

Well pointed out though Sam. Whereas Christians seem to get away with saying whatever the hell they like to atheists, throwing a tea party mocking them is rude?

You know what else is rude? A slap in the face. And I’d happily dish it out to someone who said I was going to tortured for eternity.

John
Guest

I’d apologize for my fellow theists, but I don’t want to keep doing it for all of my waking hours. It’s too bad that Camping couldn’t make the Rapture happen next week since I have that Saturday free. 😐 You guys have fun at Dorky’s Arcade and you’re all doing awesome with the show. I keep listening every week. Especially this week since gaming got postponed. 😐

And you guys are totally the most athiest atheists.

fenchurch
Guest

How are Christians being mocked, if I (or any other person) celebrates the inevitable lack of rapture that *one* knob-head and his sheeple claimed will take place tomorrow?

Christians of the world, do not feel mocked! No one judges all ye based on the least of your flock.

(Obviously, if there are over 30 thousand sects of Christianity, you don’t like being associated with the views of the others.)

P.S. when I read the phrase “Lindsey’s ‘Great Snatch'” I honestly thought it was an apocalyptical punishment where doomed people would be engulfed in Ms. Lohan’s ample nether regions.

Steve in ATL
Guest
One technicality, that does not at all invalidate Sam’s commentary, but I’m a stickler for shit like this (and have been sort of obsessed with Camping and his group…I think the reaction to this will be a TRUE insight into the religious mind) Camping is essentially an annihilationist. He does not believe in “eternal, unceasing fiery torture,” but rather that your last moment breathing is your last moment existing. From this interview: http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/harold-camping-prepares-for-judgment-day-may-21-2011/ Harold Camping: “For the unbelievers, the moment they die, they will never again have conscious existence. That is something that churches have never taught. They have never… Read more »
George
Guest

“P.S. when I read the phrase “Lindsey’s ‘Great Snatch’” I honestly thought it was an apocalyptical punishment where doomed people would be engulfed in Ms. Lohan’s ample nether regions.”

I smell a horror movie that could give her career the jolt it needs.

beth
Member

These comments have created images in my head of Lohan’s lady parts in the form of a monstrous, voracious sand worm ala Dune. And I blame ALL OF YOU.

George
Guest

I was thinking something more along the lines of the end of Akira.

Kristen
Guest
Now folks, you know what “they” say, you go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company! ha haha.. (If there was ever a time to have a sarcasm font, it is now). I;m not an atheist, but I consider myself more of a Deist, like most our founding fathers,however, it pisses me off when skeptics get scolded for making fun of Christianity’s most recent brand of crazy. Especially since most christians think Camping is crazy, as well. Or is this one of those things like when only black people can say the “N” word, because they are… Read more »
jakeokc
Guest

I stumbled on to this website and am very very thankful to Mr. Camping for that fact, at least, so something good has come out of it for me!! Yay me!

Livingdeadbeat
Guest

“People who don’t want their beliefs laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs”

rick_povero
Guest
** Ultimate Big-Lie from the Big-4 Theisms Alpha and Omega — limit talk about doomsday both temporally and geographically. Before 1200 BCE with zoroastrianism, there were no near-eastern end-of-days scenarios. Once introduced, the downtrodden, oppressed and revenge-filled could claim a religious ideology with gutter appeal. The infection spread slowly from imperial Persian state religion (600 – 250 BCE) to anti-Macedonian and later anti-Roman propaganda by rebellious jews (140 BCE – 135 CE), on to xians (50 CE – today), to islam (600 CE – today). Now perhaps half the world’s population carries the doomsday virus if only latently. • Secularized… Read more »
Sarrah
Guest

If you don’t want to burn in Hell, you shouldn’t have decorated a cross with Gods son.

northern calif. gal
Guest

Folks–get with the program. Reverend Camping is crazy like a fox–and getting quite wealthy with his Rapture, Incorporated. The papers are quoting his financials: his Rapture rantings business has made over 100 million dollars in just seven years. So, dear friends, if you want to make money just start your own rapture saga.

George
Guest

Sarrah, I don’t understand the point of your post. Uhh, sorry? I really don’t get it, though.

Kristen, that was a pretty damn good rant. Maybe you should have tried that excuse just to see what happens.

rick_povero…um…I hate to do it, but…..TLDNR….what the hell was that…sorry, it may have been coherent but it didn’t seem like it…perhaps structure your comments differently instead of making them read like excerpts from a bizzaro encyclopedia?

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