Now that the media-hyped “doomsday” predictions of Harold Camping have again proven false I have a few thoughts.
- Atheists and skeptics who choose to skewer Christians because of this falsehood will be guilty of an ad hominem fallacy. We’re not all like that. And remember…
- Every worldview has its version of “Doomsday.” Consider atheism, perhaps psychologically the most doom-and-gloom worldview of all (if one would only meditate on it French-existentialist style). Atheist Bertrand Russell may have expressed this best. Russell’s famous atheistic doomsday statement is found in his “A Free Man’s Worship.” Russell writes: “Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.” Russell’s 4 points are: 1) humanity is not a “creation,” therefore having no telos; 2) humanity is a cosmic, random accident; 3) there is no personal existence after death; and 4) “Doomsday” IS coming in the eventual end of this universe. Russell says this is indisputable. And I agree, if the atheist worldview is true.Sprinkle in some Franz Kafka, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus and we have a fairly bleak and doomy situation. Why not put Russell’s statement on the sides of buses for all to see (with a smiley face and “Have a Nice Day”)?
- I think all will have to agree in the reality of a “Doomsday.” To adjudicate between prevailing D-Day claims requires adjudicating between worldviews or noetic frameworks. On that basis I think Russell is wrong. I do not accept his version of Doomsday. But I think every atheist should. We don’t therefore need to make fun at Doomsday theories per se. We can ask: which view of Doomsday do you believe in? But Russellian atheists are, for me, false prophets. I do not expect what they expect. “Expectation” is a function of “worldview,” and I think atheism is false, and that theism is true. My expectations form within the framework of Christian theism. I have been working and writing this out in many ways on this website.
- Every worldview has its prophetic failures. In this regard I think the atheistic “4 Horsemen” (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett) got it wrong. “Religion” is not on the way out, and cannot rationally be seen as the root of all evil. And for me “Zeitgeisters” might be the on-the-fringe bad news-bringing Harold Campings of atheism.
- “Rapture” theory is false. Harold Camping self-admits he is no Bible scholar, and it shows. If you want to see how Christian scholarship interprets Doomsday you would do well to read N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Note again: Wright’s discussion is intra-noetic framework talk. There is: 1) belief in a worldview; and then 2) conversation within the worldview. That’s how it is with all worldviews. And everyone (no one is excluded) has a worldview. If you don’t accept someone else’s worldview you will find their intra-noetic dialogue strange, unbelievable, even funny and worth mocking. Words like “weird,” “normal,” and “wacko” all find their meanings within a worldview.
- FYI, and for what it’s worth: intra-noetically I find less doominess within Christian thesim than atheism. I don’t mean to say that if one is an atheist then they are necesarily more depressed than your average Jesus-follower. But within my worldview there is hope. “Hope” concerns expectation. My life is filled with a blessed sense of expectation that is ever-increasing. It is true that a “Day” is coming. It casts its light upon every “today,” and has become my reason to live.
- Today sceptics will gleefully behold the prohetic wreckage that is Harold Camping and his (in this instance) truly mis-guided followers. What on earth is that about?