In case anyone reading this hasn’t noticed, there are a number of Christians who seem to believe the world will end this year, with two very specific dates given: 21st May, 2011, and 21st October, 2011. These dates have been misunderstood by others, with many only being aware of the first of them (tomorrow as I write this) and have formed the impression that it’s being suggested (by those who believe it) as the date for the end of the world. The biggest problem with the world ending tomorrow, they say, is that it’s a Saturday. Why couldn’t it end on a Monday, so that we can have a weekend of fun and debauchery?
So let’s set the record straight: The world is not going to end tomorrow.
According to those Christians who believe it, tomorrow is either Judgement Day, or The Rapture – this seems to depend on who you listen to. Or they might be one and the same thing. I don’t know – I’m an atheist, after all! Either way, it’s not the end of the world, as such, only the beginning of the end for those who are left behind (the unrighteous – including atheists like me); the actual end of the world is October 21st, five whole months later.
If the chief complaint amongst us non-believers is that the world ending on 21st May isn’t such a hot plan because it’s a Saturday (some people have parties to go to on Saturday night, for example), then the idea of it ending on 21st October might seem even worse – because that’s actually a Friday. Being a Friday, that means most of us have to do a whole week’s work, assuming the end comes after 6pm, and even if it’s earlier it’s still potentially four and a bit days work. That’s five (or four and a bit) days of work without the reward of a weekend to let our hair down (those of us that have enough to let down, anyway), which really doesn’t seem fair.
However, given that we have five months notice of this fateful day, I should think that’s plenty of time to book the whole week off work (perhaps even use up your holiday entitlement if you have more, since any holiday time left over won’t be much use if the world does end on that day), and those who do so then have an entire week (or more) to let their hair down (if they have enough of it) before the world ends. That’s not so bad, now, is it?
And even if you can’t book the week off, consider that we don’t know the actual time the world is supposed to end – and if we did, in which time zone. The far off land of Overpuddle (America, for the benefit of those who do not know my nickname for that continent) is several hours behind us in the UK, for example. I’m therefore thinking that, with a bit of luck, the end could actually come at the very end of the day – midnight – in an Overpuddlian time zone. Any earlier, and those poor Overpuddlians aren’t getting a fair deal, are they? After all, this whole world ending on 21st October thing seems to be an Overpuddlian idea, so it’s not unreasonable for it to take place at an appropriate point in one of their time zones.
And, if so, that means the end will actually come in the early hours of Saturday morning here in the UK, so we all get to go out and let our hair down (subject to that same caveat of having enough to let down) and get really, really drunk. That’s a good thing, right there, before I go any further – but I am going to go further, because I’m going to explain exactly why it’s even better than that!
It’s better than that because this means the world is going to end while you’re sleeping it off – so you won’t even notice when we go boom! Which, of course, I am assuming – no, hoping – will be the case. Boom, really, is the only thing that makes sense. If the world is going to end, then it’s only right that it goes out with a bang. Anything less will be a disappointment to me personally. Unless there are zombies involved – that I can live with. Until they get me, of course, which they probably will in the end, relentless buggers that they are. Anyway, I’m digressing – back to the plot.
It gets better still – because if the world ends while you’re sleeping it off, this means you aren’t going to suffer with a hangover when you finally rise (and look like a zombie yourself) later on Saturday morning. That absolutely has to be a massive bonus of the world ending at midnight on a Friday (in an Overpuddlian time zone) – but the bonuses don’t stop there; it depends on exactly what you do while letting your hair down (if you have any, etc).
Imagine you simply drink far too much, then somehow find your way home and fall asleep in the bathroom, head hanging over the toilet because you keep being sick. It’s really not nice to wake up the following morning in that situation – but on Friday, 21st October, 2011, you can get yourself into that state and, if those Christians predicting the end of the world are to be believed, you won’t wake up in that situation! Brilliant!
On the other hand, consider beer goggles! Having had too much to drink on the Friday night, you could get off with someone in the pub who you think is really gorgeous, someone you only ever notice after you’ve had a few drinks, but never seems to be there when you’re totally sober. You can get off with that person, and you won’t have to worry about waking up the following morning to discover that you actually got off someone incredibly ugly who you often see in the pub and try to avoid! Fantastic!
So those are some compelling reasons to think that the world ending on a Friday night really isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
But, of course, we know that’s not going to happen anyway, because it’s all a load of stuff and nonsense. Most Christians, I think, are disinclined to believe this end of the world malarkey anyway – it’s only a relatively small number who do, and those who don’t look upon those who do in much the same way the rest of us look upon that uncle. You know him, the one we all have – the one with the crazy hair and a mad moustache, the one who always seems to be laughing (or, at least, grinning), the one who has a silly nickname for just about everyone in the family, and who is always teasing his nephews and nieces in some way or other, and we all secretly wonder if, perhaps, he isn’t quite all there – but we’re too scared to say it in case other family members (our parents in particular, for they are his siblings) are offended or upset that we think that about their brother, so we silently put up with the over zealous head-rubs, and the embarrassing jokes that ceased being funny when we were seven.
Well, those Christians who believe this end of the world stuff are the mad uncles, like him, of the Christian family.
And I actually wish I knew some of these ‘mad uncle’ Christians – I really do!
Well, to answer that, let’s look at the first of those two dates – Judgement Day/The Rapture: 21st May, 2011.
The idea seems to be that on 21st May, 2011, the righteous will be taken up to Heaven to be with God. What this means, if the proponents of this theory are correct, is whole swathes of people who are here today won’t be here tomorrow. I’m not sure by what mechanism this is supposed to happen – will they, quite literally, vanish off the face of the Earth (as depicted in 2001’s Left Behind: The Movie), or will they (from the point of view of those left behind) appear to just die? (And if the latter, any atheist funeral directors will be laughing all the way to the bank – for five months, anyway).
Either way, as I said, I wish I knew someone who believed this.
If I knew someone who believed it, I’d telephone them early on Saturday morning. Not so early as to get them out of bed (I’m not totally evil) – but early enough that they wouldn’t yet have had time to see any news. I want to say to them that I rang expecting the phone not to be answered, because I thought they would have been taken in The Rapture – I was ringing to see if they had. I want to explain to them that it’s all over the news, that it was true, and that many thousands of people are reported to have suddenly vanished into thin air.
And I then want to pause, and suddenly ask, quite innocently, “So how come you haven’t been taken, then?”