Sunday, May 16, 2010

Apocalypse Soon has a Rapture Index which tracks how close we are to the end of the world by measuring such items as Oil Supply, Liberalism, Crime Rate, and Floods. Whoever runs this site obviously hasn't read the Book of Revelations. For one thing, the Rapture isn't mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Go ahead, check. Also, while antichrists appear in the Johannine epistles, there isn't actually an Antichrist in the Book of Revelations.

Each of the 45 categories on the Rapture Index has a rating between 1 to 5, but it's not clear how that rating is determined. Right now, for example, the False Christs category gets a 3 because "a gentleman in Florida has made news by claiming to be Christ." Financial unrest is at a 5 because "The U.S. dollar is down sharply, and gold is at a new high." The Antichrist gets a 3 because "The EU now has President. This office could be a precursor to the AC." Crime Rate gets a 4 because "Violent crime has dominated the news." I guess the author of this site isn't aware of the statistics that show that while news reporting of crime has increased dramatically, crime itself is actually on the decline.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Revelations. For example, an email circulated about a year or so ago claimed that Barack Obama was the Antichrist because according to Revelations, the Antichrist was Muslim. Not only is Obama not a Muslim, but the Muslim faith wasn't even founded until hundreds of years after the Bible was written. Muslims aren't mentioned anywhere in Revelations.

It's easy to trick people into thinking something is in Revelations when it isn't because most people don't bother reading the Bible. To guard against this, I suggest you read Revelations. It's a short book, so it won't take too much of your time. To make it fun, I recommend reading it at,  which includes Lego reenactments.

All this has made me wonder, how many of the Biblical prophecies of the Book of Revelations have actually come true? I hereby present the only Rapture Index that's based on the Bible. Events that have already occurred appear in bold, events which have yet to occur appear in italics.

1. Every creature says "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Rev. 5:13)

2. One sitting upon a white horse goes forth conquering. (Rev. 6:2)

3. One sitting upon a red horse takes peace from the earth. (Rev. 6:4)

4. One sitting upon a black horse holds balances in his hand. (Rev. 6:5)

5. Death rides a pale horse and kills one fourth of the earth. (Rev. 6:8)

6. The sun becomes black, the moon becomes blood, the stars fall from heaven, every mountain and island is moved from its place. (Rev. 6:12-14)

7. Every man hides himself in the rocks of the mountains. (Rev. 6:15)

8. Four angels prevent wind from blowing by holding the four corners of the earth. (Rev. 7:1)

9. 144,000 male virgin Jews receive the seal of God on their foreheads.
(Rev. 7:4, Rev. 14:4)

10. Hail and fire mingled with blood burn up a third of the trees and all of the green grass. (Rev. 8:7)

11. A great mountain burning with fire is cast into the sea, a third of the sea becomes blood. (Rev. 8:8)

12. A star called Wormwood falls from the sky, a third of the waters become wormwood. (Rev. 8:10-11)

13. A third part of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened. (Rev. 8:12)

14. Locusts wearing breastplates with crowns of gold and faces like men, hair like women, teeth like lions, and tails like scorpions torture everyone without the seal of God on their forehead for five months. Their victims want to die, but death flees from them. (Rev. 9:3-11)

15. Four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates are freed and slay a third of all men. An army of two hundred thousand thousand kill by spewing fire, smoke, and brimstone from their mouths and by using their serpent like tails. (Rev. 9:14-19)

16. Two witnesses who breathe fire and have the power to stop rain, turn water into blood, and smite the earth with plagues prophesy for 1,260 days. They will be killed, lie dead for three and a half days, then come back to life and ascend to heaven on a cloud followed by a great earthquake which kills 7,000. (See Rev. 11:3-13)

17. The temple of God is opened in heaven accompanied by lightning, voices, thunder, hail, and an earthquake. (Rev. 11:19)

18. A red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns tries to eat the offspring of a woman clothed in the sun with the moon at her feet and a crown of twelve stars. The woman and her child are saved, and the dragon and his angels are cast out of heaven by Michael and his angels. (Rev. 12:1-9)

19. A beast with seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns rises out of the sea. The beast and the dragon are given power for 42 months. All that dwell upon the earth worship him. (Rev. 13:1-8)

20. A second beast with two horns like a lamb and speech like a dragon comes out of the earth. He tells the inhabitants of earth to make an image of the first beast, which he brings to life. He causes all to receive either the mark, the name, or the number of the beast (666) upon their right hand or in their foreheads. (Rev. 13:11-18)

21. One like unto the Son of man with a gold crown sitting upon a white cloud reaps the earth with a sickle. Another angel comes out of the temple of heaven with a sharp sickle and gathers the vine of the earth and casts it into a great winepress. Blood comes out of the winepress. (Rev. 14:14-20)

22. Men with the mark of the beast are afflicted with a sore. (Rev. 16:2)

23. The sea becomes like blood and every living soul in the sea dies. (Rev. 16:3)

24. Rivers and fountains become blood. (Rev. 16:4)

25. Men are scorched with great heat. (Rev. 16:9)

26. The beast's kingdom is full of darkness and they gnaw their tongues. (Rev. 16:10)

27. The river Euphrates is dried up. (Rev. 16:12)

28. Voices, thunder, lightning and the greatest earthquake since men were upon the earth. (Rev. 16:18)

29. Every island flees, and the mountains are nowhere to be found. (Rev. 16:20)

30. Hailstones the weight of talents fall upon men. (Rev. 16:21)

31. Someone named Faithful and True rides upon a white horse to judge and make war. The armies of heaven follow him upon white horses. He smites the nations with a sword that comes out of his mouth. (Rev. 19:11-16)

32. Satan is imprisoned for a thousand years, then set loose. He gathers together an army as numerous as the sands upon the sea which God devours with fire. (Rev. 20:1-8)

33. Death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14)

34. The Lamb of God gets married to a city. (Rev. 21:9-10)

See? Nothing about increased crime rates or unemployment. In the interests of accuracy, the Rapture Ready people should really add fire and meteors to their rapture index and take away famines, droughts, floods, and volcanoes to put it more in line with what Revelations actually says.

OK, so let's add up the score:

1. While there are a few humans who praise the Lamb, we're far from every creature, so I don't think we can count this one.

2. While I don't know of any specific conquerer who rode a white horse, I wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens, so let's go ahead and count this one.

3. Not yet.

4. I've never heard of a rider upon a black horse carrying balances, but there's nothing stopping anybody from doing it, so if you send me a picture of someone riding a black horse while carrying balances, I'll count this one.

5. Not yet.

6. I don't think the sun becoming black refers to a simple eclipse, since eclipses happen all the time. Also, while the moon does sometimes appear to have a reddish tinge to it, I don't think you can count that as the moon becoming blood.

7. Not yet.

8. Not yet.

9. Not yet.

10. Not yet.

11. Not yet.

12. Not yet.

13. Again, you might say that a third of the sun, moon, and stars being darkened could happen during an eclipse, but given the other revelations, I don't think John of Patmos is speaking poetically.

14. Not yet.

15. Not yet.

16. Not yet.

17. Not yet.

18. Not yet.

19. Not yet.

20. Not yet.

21. Not yet.

22. Not yet.

23. Not yet.

24. Not yet.

25. Really depends on your definition of a "great heat." I'm thinking this is a heat so extreme we won't be wondering whether it's the predicted heat or not.

26. I don't think the darkness referred to here is simply night time. Besides, when have you ever known a large amount of people to all gnaw their own tongues?

27. While it's true the river Euphrates is shrinking, it hasn't completely dried up yet. However, this is certainly one prophesy to watch.

28. The greatest magnitude earthquake on record is the 1960 Chile earthquake. It registered a 9.5 on the Mw scale and a 8.5 on the Ms scale and caused tsunami damage in Northern California 9,000 miles away. As far as I know, it wasn't accompanied by voices, thunder, or lightning. However, it's possible the greatest earthquake occurred before we had a means of measuring it and it was accompanied by voices, thunder, and lightning. Unfortunately, that's too speculative to count this one.

29. Not yet.

30. How much a talent weighs varied in the ancient world, but among the Jews during the New Testament time, a talent weighed a whopping 129.6 pounds. The largest hailstone to date has weighed only a paltry 1.67 pounds. This prophecy still has a ways to go.

31. Not yet.

32. Not yet.

33. Not yet.

34. Not yet. Maybe this is why Christians are so afraid of gay marriage. If you allow gay marriage, who's to say legalizing city marriage won't come next? And then, before you know it: the end of the world.

Rapture Index is currently at 1 out of 34.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sarah Palin and the Ten Commandments

On a recent episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Sarah Palin suggested that the United States "create law based on the God of the Bible and the ten commandments." Since she didn't clarify which version of the Ten Commandments she was referring to, let's first take a look at the Ten Commandments Version 1.0 found in Exodus 34:11–27:

Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.

Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
A government based on laws like these almost certainly can't fail! "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk." I guess Palin wants to make cheeseburgers illegal. If that's what she's planning, she'd better come up with a better plan. After all, "When cheeseburgers are outlawed, only outlaws will have cheeseburgers."

OK, let's give Palin the benefit of the doubt and assume she's referring to the Ten Commandments Version 2.1 as found in Exodus 20:3–17. (I'll skip Version 2.0 (Deuteronomy 5:7–21) since it's basically the same as Version 2.1)

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Since this is the God of Israel speaking, it's pretty clear that in order to obey the First Commandment, we're all going to have to convert to Judaism. Since 98% of the U. S. population isn't Jewish, Palin's set herself a rather large goal. C'mon, Sarah! How can you expect everybody to become Jewish when you haven't even converted yourself yet?

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

I guess the Statue of Liberty has got to go. Mount Rushmore too. All those statues of Jesus people kneel in front of and pray to? Not allowed in Sarah Palin's America.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Some people interpret this Commandment to mean "Thou shalt not swear", but that's not what it says. According to God, you can swear all you want as long as you don't take his name in vain. My prediction is that this will be one of those laws that's on the books, but is never enforced. Really, how could you enforce it?

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

"Manservant" and "maidservant" were the King James way of saying "slave." If Palin wants to bring slavery back, she's bitten off more than she can chew. It just isn't going to happen, Sarah. As for not working on the sabbath day, does Palin seriously think that the US economy won't be devasted if all stores were required to be closed every Saturday? Then there's all those difficult questions as to whether flipping on a light switch counts as work or not. Probably be easier to just not make this a law in the first place. Just saying.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

This is all fine and good as long as you happen to have parents worthy of honoring. What about children who've been sexually abused by their parents? Is Palin going to pass a law forcing them be respectful towards their abusers? And again, how does she plan on enforcing such a law?

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Wow. I'm surprised Palin would come out as against the death penalty, but there it is. It's really brave of her to risk losing her support amongst conservatives and take the moral high road like that.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Really? Right after coming out against the death penalty, Palin is suggesting we start stoning adulterers to death. Some consistency would be nice, Sarah.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

This is already a U. S. law! Finally got one.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

People often interpret this commandment to mean "thou shalt not lie." Fortunately, the Ninth Commandment doesn't say that. As long as you're not bearing false witness against your neighbor, you can lie as much as you like! Major loophole.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

There's that uncomfortable assumption that we're all slave holders again. Enough with the slaves already, Sarah. It's just not going to happen. As far as coveting goes, be honest: how many of you have purchased something such as a pair of shoes, a cell phone, or even a car because you saw someone else had one and you wanted it? Making this a law would be the end of America. If we weren't so obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses, the economy would die. Why does Sarah Palin hate American so much?

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I recently listened to a podcast in which a born again Christian said he didn't know where atheists got their morals from. By way of introduction, a born again Christian is someone who cherrypicks out scriptures like Romans 3:28 (Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law) and ignore scriptures such as James 2:17 (Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone).

Born again Christians believe that if we were judged based on our actions alone, all of us would go to Hell because we're all sinners. The only way to avoid this is to accept Christ's sacrifice and all sins will be washed away. If you're the kindest, nicest, most moral person who ever lived, but you don't accept Christ, you go to Hell. If you're the rottenest, meanest, most sinful person who ever lived, but you do accept Christ, you go to Heaven.

There's no point in doing good deeds or avoiding sin. As long as you have faith that Christ died for your sins, you can do whatever you want. This idea really isn't that different from other forms of Christianity which teach that you shouldn't sin, but if you do, you can just repent and it doesn't count. The extreme form of this is the death bed confession, where an entire life of sin is forgiven at the last minute.

Why do Christians wonder where atheists get their morals, when we can just as easily ask where Christians get their morals? If repentance or even simple faith in Christ means you can do whatever you want without being punished, why be good?

Although they're not really enforced, a few states in the US have laws preventing atheists from holding public office, serving on juries, or being witnesses in a trial. If an atheist swears to tell the truth, you can't believe them. However, there's nothing to prevent a Christian from lying then repenting of it later; so in reality, you can't believe them either.

It goes without saying that every person, except for those who die very young, has committed at least one immoral act during their lifetime. It's also common knowledge that some people are more moral than others. There are moral and immoral atheists, moral and immoral Christians. Do these morals come from the Bible?

Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

There are numerous scriptures in the Bible which show that slavery is acceptable (Genesis 17:13,27, Exodus 20:10, Exodus 21:1-4,7-8,20-21,26-27, Deuteronomy 15:12-18, Deuteronomy 20:14, Deuteronomy 21:10-14, Deuteronomy 23:15-16, Leviticus 19:20-22, Leviticus 25:39,48-53, Numbers 31:28-47, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). Yet, there are none that say the institution of slavery is bad (although keeping a fellow Jew as a slave is forbidden.) Yet, even the most orthodox believers in the truthfulness of every letter of the Bible don't practice slavery today.

If Christians get their morals from the Bible and the Bible says slavery should be practiced, how come very few Christians today believe that slavery is moral? The fact is, Christians don't get their morality from the Bible. Modern society decided that slavery was immoral despite what the Bible said.

The only way someone can get their morals from the Bible is to pick out the scriptures they agree with and ignore the scriptures they don't. Numerous passages in the Bible, such as the ones advocating slavery, are definitely not moral by modern standards. Both Christians and atheists rely on their own internal sense of right and wrong to tell them which scriptures are moral and which aren't.

Does this internal sense of what's right and wrong perhaps come from God? If so, you'd be forced to say that God changes, since our internal sense of what's right and wrong varies based on culture. Why else would God tell the ancient Israelites to keep slaves and tell modern people they shouldn't?

You might be thinking that morals really aren't different across cultures. Don't all societies believe that murder is wrong? Well, not really. Some cultures believe that killing is wrong no matter what, while others say it's OK to kill in self-defense, in defense of others, for the death penalty, during wartime, by accident, if someone has insulted your honor, etc. The Bible even says it's OK for a parent to kill a disobedient child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

I recently attended a debate in which a Christian argued that atheists only have subjective morality. Objective morality, he claimed, came only from God. He didn't explain what he meant by objective morality, so I'm left to guess. If objective morality is the same morality found in the Bible, then it's not moral at all by today's standards. If objective morality is our own internal sense of what's right and wrong, why wouldn't atheists have it and why does it change over time? Maybe he meant that to be truly objective about morals, one has to exist outside the universe and not interact with it. If objective morality exists outside the universe, then it's a moot point whether it exists or not since we have no way of accessing it.

If this internal sense of right and wrong doesn't come from the Bible or from God, where does it come from? Part of it comes from evolution. Animals who've never read the Bible or heard of God nonetheless perform acts of kindness towards each other. An ape who steals food gets ostracized and is less likely to reproduce than an ape who shares with the community. Kindness to others ultimately derives from self interest. You're nice to other people because you expect they'll be nice to you in return. Those who don't play by the rules get shunned by society. Those who contribute to society generally get rewarded.

Atheists and born again Christians are moral not because of religion, but because our society teaches us to be moral. The functioning of society is dependent upon the majority of people in that society behaving morally. A society in which rape or murder were acceptable would tear itself apart. Societies value morality because it keeps the people in that society safe. People practice the Golden Rule in order to ensure the inverse of the Golden Rule is also observed: Don't do to others what you don't want done to you.