So, what have we learned?

And now, for a moment of seriousness. For a (hopefully small) number of people, today was supposed to be the day that they’d be instantly whisked away to a place of eternal peace and joy.

Instead, today is the day that they learn the hard truth so may other doomsday cults have learned: Placing your faith in the fantastic (and incredibly dubious) claims made by charismatic preachers who say that they’re going to save the world is a mistake.

But rather than criticize them, this gives us all an opportunity to glimpse the flaws in human thinking and learn important lessons about ourselves.

As was said on the American Atheists website, in their post A word to the Camping Rapture Victims:

If you’re reading this, and you donated money to Harold Camping’s campaign, by now you’re pretty depressed. You’ve been taken, and worse than that, you’ve been embarrassed. You may feel stupid, and that’s because you’ve done a stupid thing – you trusted your preacher blindly. You believed without thinking.

But that doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Smart people sometimes do stupid things. A truly stupid person would NOT learn from this mistake. A truly stupid person would keep following Camping as he ‘recalculates’, or says “god has forgiven us because of the prayers we sent up” or some other lame excuse for his rapture not happening. Hopefully, you aren’t one of these people, who are destined to be hurt again. Hopefully, you have learned a lot in the last few days.

I urge you not to hurt yourself. Your shame will pass, and your money will be re-earned. You can lead a normal life if you start leading with your intellect, and not your desperation to see the end of the world. God is fiction, and preachers lie (most of the time). But no matter where you stand right now, YOU have potential. Use it.

Faith can be dangerous – for yourself and those around you – if you place it in the wrong person. These folks learned that the hard way. Camping claimed to be speaking for God, preaching that only his interpretation of the bible was true and all the churches had been infiltrated by Satan’s deception. They trusted him implicitly. Some of them gave up jobs. Some of them ended their marriages to a non-Campingite spouse. Some of them had their pets euthanized. Some of them spent hundreds of thousands of dollars – their entire life savings – to promote their fictional message. For some, this is basically the end of the road; they’re already old and long since retired, and they won’t be able to rebuild their lives.

Harold Camping himself, on the other hand, will likely face no punishment whatsoever, just as in 1994 when he did this before. His former followers likely won’t pursue legal action against him, because of their extreme embarrassment. The only thing I can think of that’s good in all this is that Camping is very, very old, and won’t live long enough to get enough people to trust him again to pull off another stunt like this.

But who knows? Apparently, about 1 in 6 Americans believes that the rapture will happen during their lifetime.

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