The end of the world

In response to my post about Free Presbyterians and fundamentalists some asked for a further insight into fundamentalists. As such I will supply something about one of what must be perceived to be one of our odder sets of beliefs. This is the end of the world, the rapture etc.The following is in absolute honesty a true story. Once as a teenager my parents left me “home alone” for a few days to look after the cats, dog and horses; taking my sister with them (I was not responsible enough to look after her). I had gone to see a few friends on my bicycle and was getting home after dark. I saw strange lights in the sky (with hindsight probably the moon through the clouds). I was, however, convinced that this was the Rapture and that I had been left behind. The fact that the BBC was still broadcasting was no comfort and I was terrified until next morning when I rang a friend’s house. I got his mother. The fact that she was still there was absolute proof that the rapture had not occurred.

There are a number of terms here: the apocalypse, the rapture, and Armageddon. The Apocalypse describes all the events around the end of the world including the rapture and the battle of Armageddon. both of which I will explain briefly below.

There are a number of competing positions regarding the end of the world. A google search will reveal a few of them. As a child growing up the most popular one was that the “Rapture” would occur and the saved of earth would be gathered to heaven. Some scholars now suggest that Christians will also go through the tribulation (of which more in a moment) but I would submit that the rapture is still the most popular view. I am not a scholar of all this but I will attempt a brief description.

The Rapture:
In an instant of time those who have died having personally accepted Christ along with those still alive who have accepted Him will be caught up to be in heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


The Tribulation:

The tribulation is the set of events to occur after the rapture and before Christ’s return. This is to be 3½ years (Daniel 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”). During this time the antichrist will arise and a one world government will be set up. The antichrist will set up an idol of himself and make people worship it. He will also initially make peace with the Jews, many of whom will come to Christ under the witness of two witnesses (identified by some as Moses and Elijah). He will require all people to have a mark on their foreheads or hands. He will persecute and kill Christians and then turn on Israel and launch a huge war. This war will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon outside Jerusalem. Christ will appear splitting in two the Mount of Olives and destroy the armies of antichrist. Christ will then set up a 1,000 year reign on earth before the Devil is released again and then the new heaven and new earth will be revealed, the Devil cast into hell along with his angels and those unsaved.

There are multiple points of debate in this and the above is the most complex and dramatic set of suggestions. Many fundamentalists will have different interpretations of these events but the above is a reasonable summary. Debate rages about whether having been left behind by the rapture one can still be saved. One preacher (admittedly on the lunatic fringe) suggested that if one was left behind the best thing to do would be to join the Israeli army.

We were shown a series of videos called “Thief in the Night” (a reference to 1st Thessalonians 5:2 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”) which were genuinely scary. Multiple preachers also confidently told us that it was certain that the rapture would occur before the year 2000. The fact that this was in direct contradiction to the quote from our Lord (Mark 13:32“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”) was always explained by saying it was unclear when before 2000 this was going to happen. Various events were put forward being signs of the end or “End time Days”. Usually after terrifying us all invitations were made for people to accept Christ.

So do I, a relatively well educated, early middle aged person still believe all this stuff?

The short answer is yes. I do not know when the world will end and try to live as if it could end yet plan for the future I also have a very dim view of using the rapture and such like to scare children and young people into making personal commitments to Christ.

For anyone interested in finding out more this web site is amongst the most popular though I do not spend much time studying it. If you want the biblical passages I would recommend: Revelation chapter 4 to the end, Daniel chapter 7 to the end, Matthew chapters 24 and 25.

Okay now all of you can decide that I am indeed mad and any fundamentalists reading can criticise the explanation.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ve decided as you suggest. Unfortunately I came to the conclusion you are to be pitied.

    You did ask.

  • joeCanuck

    I am an athiest but I cannot understand why someone should be pitied for being happy in what they believe.

  • Mark McGregor

    I pity someone that not only believes in fairy stories, lives their life on the basis of one and willing publicizes it to the world knowing many might think them mad.

    I don’t think he’s mad, I think the belief and this rather half-arsed defence of it shows something a bit deeper – a lack of conviction – and believing that fearful nonsense without true conviction is my reason to pity.

    And as for happiness, a life lived based on fear and that’s what we are being told about is not a life at all.

    He told, he asked, he got an honest response. I’d love to know what Pete makes of this gibberish.

    I feel really sorry for him, that’s my belief.

  • joeCanuck

    a life lived based on fear

    Oh, I thought this discussion was about Protestant Fundamentalism, not about the teachings of the Catholic church such as what I was continually exposed to as a child.

  • Mark McGregor

    Joe,

    whatabout only works if you have someone that gives a fig about your distraction. I don’t care for Catholicism either but that isn’t the topic.

  • perci

    Turgon
    I’d recommend you follow your previous post:
    Take some drugs ! Get high, try that rapture first.

  • perci

    end-times for a toker is when you’re down to a mere spliffs worth 😉

  • Pancho’s Horse

    What terrifies ME is that people like this are in positions of authority.I thought what ‘ordinary’ Christians believed was a bit weird but it doesn’t hold a candle to this. And people who are abducted by aliens are laughed at?

  • martin

    so you don’t thnk church will go through the tribulation ?

    Some FPs have very strct views – headcovering, dress and versions. I was one for over 30 years (brought up in it) until end of March 2007. (when Pasley entered into an unequal yoke)

    Yes vews are softenng amoung many but many of the younger ministers (under 40) are strictest,

  • Twinbrook

    beliefs widely held in Baptist and Pentecostal circles….
    I`ve met and know scores who hold to the literal interpretation of the bible and I`ve nothing but admiration for their deeply held views…

    As to the Rapture and Pre-millenarianism I find the subject not only engrossing but credible.

    Maybe it would be a better society if others where to try and live by these principles…

  • abucs

    Hi Turgon,

    a Catholic perspective on the book of revelation is that much like the OT book of Daniel, it mixes up past, present (at the time) and future events.

    It also uses much of Daniel’s Jewish coded words such as beast, horns and Son of Man.

    What is interesting is that our science has corroborated Augustine and Father Georges-Henri Lemaitre’s theories that our universe was created by a ‘Big Bang’ with time and not ‘in time’, and thus our origins are beyond space and time.

    Of course if you are atheistic you believe this is a natural process that is beyond space and time and if you are a ‘crazy’ Christian you believe it contains God, Heaven, angels and the whole 9 yards.

    It’s interesting because both Daniel and John claim to have been in this ‘Heaven’ reality and they both present a picture of past, present and future happening all at once, which would be consistent with being in someplace beyond time.

    John talks of a woman giving birth to one who will rule the earth and that the woman will have to flee to the desert for 3 and a half years. The child will be taken up to God and be worthy and make all things new. For a Christian writing at the end of the first century all these things would have happened with the story of Christ.

    He also uses the word beast and the seven hills. This was first defined by the church as meaning Pagan Rome. Daniel also spoke of 4 beasts with the ‘son of man’ or messiah appearing at the time of the fourth beast. This was a euphamism to the Jews, of them being enslaved by 4 foreign civilisations, the 4th of which was Rome which is why that in the time of Roman occupation, expectations of a messiah were common place.

    The talk of the beast entering the Holy of Holies refers to the destruction of the Holy temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD where Jews believed God resided. The reference to the name of the beast 666 where anyone with reason could work out who it was, is thought to refer to Emperor Nero or the emperor after him. Like the Roman letters also standing for numbers, the Aramaic language i beleive has a similar feature and like our Suduko or crossword puzzles of today, it was a word puzzle back then to associate numbers with the names of people.

    Different people have put forward ideas of Emperor Nero and other titles which would fit the 666. Also it’s interesting that an early copy of Revelation was found with the number 662 which might point to the translation to a different language where the corresponding number would then also change. So these things were happening at the time of the revelation writing as well as current persecution of Christians by Rome by Nero and others.

    The Catholic Church beleives reference to the ‘Woman clothed with the Sun’, a huge apostasy and retreat of the faith together with persecution and natural disasters were all something for the ‘end of times’ of future events (in our universes experience of time).

    Of course the Book of Revelation lends itself to lots of many interpretations but i think the above is Catholic thinking on the matter.

    Of course if the book of Revelation said something literal like (just joking) ‘….that in 2008 George Bush, the President of the United States will start Armegeddon by attacking the Republic of Iran then the one thing you could bet on, is that neither George Bush, the United States of America or the Repuplic of Iran would ever have come into existance’. :o)

  • Alastair Baxter

    Thanks for your excellent summary Turgeon.

    Though I must say, when I was a teenager, I tried to understand all the details surrounding Christ’s return and found it quite a challenge. In my twenties I decided that I believed simply that Christ was coming back again any day, and that that was enough. During the last forty years since then my challenge has been imperfectly trying to live by the parts of the Bible I could easily understand, and that has kept me more than well occupied. The Grace of God is new every morning – how anyone can live in this evil world without it I do not know.

    God Bless those who think we are mad – we are in the Best of company!

    God Bless you Turgeon – even though I may not agree with your politics!

  • Eddie

    Question for Turgon

    Turgon, I don’t believe in being judgmental, and calling anybody “mad”. I try to live a Christian life – the Ten Commandments – but I don’t believe the stuff you have written, whether it is in the Bible or not.

    So tell me straight: if I die without changing am I condemned to the fires of hell and torture that I believe fundamentalists believe in?

    Yes or No, please. No waffle.

  • martin

    Eddie

    If you have repented of sin, asked Christ nto you lfe, and try to live in line of God’s Word then you go to heaven.

    There are many interpretations of 2nd coming and Christians do not have to disagree on timing. Just need to agree he died to take away our sins and he is coming back

  • Turgon

    Straight question which I honestly cannot answer because it is up to God not up to me.

    I believe that if people do not accept Christ before they die they will spend eternity in hell. I hate this fact but I am constrained to believe it. However, God can save whom He wants whenever He wants (the basis of Irresistible Grace).

    I hope (and Elenwe came to the same position seperately before she ever knew me) that God may accept many people in the last seconds of their existence and so be saved.

    Of course you do not need to believe all the Rapture stuff. What one needs to do is accept Christ as their personal saviour. Actually as a Calvinist I believe that God makes the decision not even the person themselves. I leave it to God. My only role is I believe to state that the bible tells people to accept Christ.

    I know that is a lot of waffle but it is honest waffle.

  • martin

    Turgon

    Must be interesting with Elenwe’s arminian views (assume if Ind Methodist) and your Calvanistic views !

    From your comments do you not believe church will go through the tribulation ? Who then are those in white robes that have come through tribulation mentioned in Revelation

    Martin

  • Pancho’s Horse

    ………..’flabbergasted’ is the word I’m scrabbling for.I used to think that it was better to hold strong beliefs rather than no beliefs at all but now I’m not so sure. Why not just love your neighbour and leave it at that without all the Lord of the Rings ravings?

  • Turgon

    Martin,

    I do not know re tribulation. We were told no. In honesty like creationism it is not something I get that excited about. If I am wrong “c’est la vie” or actually “C’est La fin de la vie”.

    If the church are raptured I presume those in the white robes are those saved after the rapture and during the tribulation. It was suggested to us that almost all would be Jews but maybe some non Jews would come to Christ and not fall away in the tribulation. Of course you could well be correct.

    As I say I posted it because people were interested last time I did a fundamentalist blog and they might be interested in fundamentalist beliefs. I am no theologian.

    Re Calvinism / Armnianism yes it is fun. Elenwe is, however, softer than me but knows a lot more theology. So actually we just watch TV or look after the kids.

    Rgeards

  • The Raven

    Someone further up the page wrote: “I pity someone that not only believes in fairy stories, lives their life on the basis of one and willing publicizes it to the world knowing many might think them mad.”

    I’m standing well to the left of you, boy….when that bolt of lightning strikes, I don’t want to get caught by any wayward sparks…

  • Comrade Stalin

    abucs:

    John talks of a woman giving birth to one who will rule the earth and that the woman will have to flee to the desert for 3 and a half years. The child will be taken up to God and be worthy and make all things new. For a Christian writing at the end of the first century all these things would have happened with the story of Christ.

    In what way ? Christ didn’t rule the earth. The church he established certainly tried, though.

    The Book of Relevations reads like the ranting of a deranged lunatic in a mental asylum.

  • Turgon

    The Raven,

    Considering the way fundamentalist Christians are seen in Northern Ireland (and elsewhere) maybe it would be safer to the right rather than the left.

  • Dec

    Must be interesting with Elenwe’s arminian views (assume if Ind Methodist) and your Calvanistic views !

    The long winter nights must just fly by.

  • abucs

    Hi Comrade,

    well like most things in Revelation you can take your pick. i guess you could say that for Christians, Jesus is the Messiah now and therefore the King, or you could say that he is a King awaiting renewal of his passport to come through or He is crowned in Heaven as ruler the same way HM2 is crowned ruler and Queen of Northern Ireland.

    As for the rantings of a lunatic. James Joyce got voted best writer of the century for more difficult pieces to understand. :o)

    I do sympathise with your view though. I’d just say that a lot of it is in Jewish code and a reading of Daniel shows that they used the same cultural language.

    If you are going to criticise the current prevailing empire that are feeding people to the lions (or equivalent), it’s not such a bad idea to be indirect.

    And because of the ‘beyond time’ nature they both are difficult to pin down on whether they are talking about the past, present or future.

    From a Jewish / Christian perspective, some things are obviously past, some present and some future and others are not easily identified.

    It’s an interesting book, but i still think James Joyce has got him covered. :o)

  • pauljames

    Turgon my man, thanks for bringing this particularily virulent form of child abuse to our attention

  • Mark McGregor

    Slugger has just went down the tubes. Self proclaimed religious fundamentalists contributing self proclaimed religious fundamentalist crap.

    Mick, no other blog you contribute to gives us this nonsense. Why the hell do we have to suffer ultra-prod nonsense here.

    Catch yourself on. No one wants religion as content on Slugger.

    Bad move, bad blog, what a load of balls.

    If I want this crap I’ll wait for a mad guy in a bib to give me a tract in the street.

    Seriously, catch a feckin’ grip

  • Mark McGregor

    Here’s a tester, dare you to put some of this bullshit on the Guardian or Brassneck. Go on, dare you. Yet, you inflict it on us as if it is normal political content.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Yiz’ll not be sniggerin’ on the last day especially yous Kethalicks.Bring it on Turgon.We’ll take our chance.

  • Oh dear, oh dear.

    First, I must commend the assembled congregation for not laughing too loudly.

    Second, why has nobody pointed to the innocent fun to be had at Rapture Ready? Interest rates up/down: move the clock a point. “Gentleman in Florida … claiming to be Jesus Christ”, “fasten your seat-belts”. Believe me!

    The “rapture” was defined so long ago (well, about 1909 actually) that it must be Holy Writ. Since even the “Second Coming”, more accurately the “parousia”, enters Christian theology only well after all the canonical texts had been written, that may not be surprising. Anyway, “rapture” is Anglicizing the Latin root “raepti-“, which itself is loosely representing the Greek “harpaz-“, which has a range of signification, which makes it all a bit daft.

    Anyway, let’s hear it for John Nelson Darby, adopted Irishman, TCD, and founder of the Plymouth Brethren. As far as I can work out, he broke with the CofI because the Archbishop of Dublin insisted converts should also swear loyalty to “my fat friend”, George IV (so good for him); and he discovered the basis of these religious interpretations after he fell from a horse onto his head. No matter …

    And let’s also hear it for Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye, who have both made fortunes out of the Rapture. Both are the ultimate hawkish feathers of any right-wing. In the last resort I can put up with the theology: it’s the loony politics that choke me.

  • noel adams

    American rapture folk have supplied a lot of cash to jewish west bank setelements on the basis that this will bring armagedon forward ont much logic there

  • perci

    turgon
    see what you’ve invited re pancho’s horse last comment. sectarian bile of the worst kind.
    we await an apology for this thread…

  • Pete Baker

    An interesting, if censorial, response, Mark.

    Although, as you know, neither Mick nor anyone else pre-edits any posts.

    As to my own view of Turgon’s post. Well, I’ll file it with the rest of the supernatural beliefs around and move on – you don’t have to comment, and there are plenty of other posts.

    It’s not as if those views don’t inform some political opinion here.

    Mind you, I can hardly be too dismissive.. given that those beliefs are not too far removed from the millennialistic beliefs of Sir Francis Bacon – who saw the advancement of learning as a beckoning forward of that day of judgement..

  • Pete Baker @ 12:35 AM:

    the millennialistic beliefs of Sir Francis Bacon

    Which, if I recall correctly, substantially informed the ideas of Sir Isaac Newton. And, famously in this context, Newton became fixated on the Book of Daniel, especially Daniel 9:25.

    So, according to that great theological work, the London Evening Standard, in its learned exegesis of Newton, we’ve got until 2060 and then …

  • abucs

    2060 ??

    Sort of puts the whole Nationalist / Unionist discussion into irrelevance then.

  • George

    Like Malcolm Redfellow, rather than trying to understand what the hell a rapture is I generally check out raptureready.com to see how thinks are going.

    The rapture index is currently at 161, which is reasonably high, or so I am led to believe.

    It uses the following indices to measure the current situation:

    False Christs
    Occult
    Satanism
    Unemployment
    Inflation
    Interest Rates
    The Economy
    Oil Supply/Price
    Debt and Trade
    Financial unrest
    Leadership
    Drug abuse
    Apostasy
    Supernatural
    Moral Standards
    Anti-Christian
    Crime Rate
    Ecumenism
    Globalism
    Tribulation Temple
    Anti-Semitism
    Israel
    Gog (Russia)
    Persia (Iran)
    The False Prophet
    Nuclear Nations
    Global Turmoil
    Arms Proliferation
    Liberalism
    The Peace Process
    Kings of the East
    Mark of the Beast
    Beast Government
    The Antichrist
    Date Settings
    Volcanoes
    Earthquakes
    Wild Weather
    Civil Rights
    Famine
    Drought
    Plagues
    Climate
    Food Supply
    Floods

    http://www.raptureready.com/rap2.html

    I don’t really know what this means but the index has gone as 182 so I’m banking on the rapture not happening below this value.

  • Pete Baker

    Malcolm

    That Newton was deeply spiritual, and alchemical, shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has looked into his life-story.

    His prophecies, unlike his theory of gravity, are however unwelcome to scientific scrutiny.

  • Danny O’Connor

    The problem here is we all think that we are right,I include myself ,in that statement.If someone wishes to believe in the bible,and that it is true,that is their right.Mocking Christians seems to be the norm these days.I dont see many people mocking Muslims for believing in the Qu’ran,or Hindus for believing in the gitas.In any society there has to be some law.In our society the laws that makes it illegal to murder or steal or to be a bigamist etc are based on the 10 commandments.I choose what I believe and I make no apologies for being a Catholic.The fact that I dont buy this rapture stuff doesn’t mean that others don’t have a right to.
    By the way I think the greek word for this was parousea which is a calling out rather than a calling up,ie,Christians were to be in the world not of the world

  • Danny O’Connor

    Pete
    Newton was convinced that there was a bible code and spent the last years of his life trying to figure it out.

  • abucs

    Pete,
    you’re obviously a big Francis Bacon fan.
    May i ask what you would say are his greatest legacies to intellectual thought ?

  • DC

    Hey you guys,

    If you don’t dig Turgon’s views try:

    ‘Kris Kristofferson – Me and Bobby Magee’

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

    Good enough for me and Bobby Magee.

  • abucs

    Turgon,

    do you have any views on when the ‘rapture times’ might be experienced ?

  • DC

    Think it should be ‘Bobby McGee’

    Turgon, your comments are tantamount to singing the blues. Would you trade all your tomorrow’s for a single ‘yesterday’ then Turgon?

  • abucs

    Turgon again,

    may i ask if the Rapture belief is more prevalent among certain nationalities of Protestants, or within certain denominations ?

  • Siphonophore

    As I’ve often said – those who believe in god will believe pretty much anything.

    To start taking any of this seriously you have to prove the existence of god or the existence of a soul that meets the standards required of peer reviewed academic publications. Until then, it’s just made up , without foundation and has no business formulating laws or edicts that limit the freedoms of others.

  • Danny O’Connor

    siphonophore
    Equally I challenge you to prove that God does not exist.Until then we will just have to agree to disagree.
    I will not be holding my breath though.

  • lib2016

    Turgon,

    This particular thread seems to have upset people mainly because it hasn’t shed any light on your political beliefs. This is after all a political blog.

    Would it be possible or convenient for you to tell us where the connection between your religious ideas and political ideas lies?

    For myself I believe that faith is the get-out clause that allows you to excuse atrocities on the British/Unionist side while condemning similar atrocities by nationalists. I’ve observed a similar phenomenon among what I would describe as zealots on the republican side.

    You probably have a different take on it?

  • McGrath

    Turgon:

    Again, another good blog, methinks you are better that this than youthinks.

    Again, Turgon didn’t characterise himself as a fundamentalist, he merely shared his understanding of fundementalist thought. So no point nailing him to the cross unless he volunteers himself.

    To any others, explain to me how life/existence will be after death compared to before birth? Who has a story to share of how it was before you were born? Deal it.

  • Wilde Rover

    If fundamentalist Christians believe that their God will “beam them up” to heaven then surely they will also be, at least in part, responsible for the mayhem that followed.

    I have had this long and perplexing conversation with a Born Again relative concerning their departure in the Rapture and “the Tribulation you will suffer.”

    Then it occurred to me that if fundamentalist Christians actually believe this then they should refrain from any profession in transport, medicine, communications, law, and refrain from operating any form of motorized transportation or heavy machinery.

    I suggested that the sudden departure of all those fundamentalist motorists, pilots, air traffic controllers, doctors, nurses, dentists, construction workers, machine operators, etc would be a main cause for any subsequent tribulations.

    To which my relative replied, in polite, religious tones, that their departure may cause such chaos but it was, in effect, tough luck for the damned.

    So it seems the downside for the damned is three and a half years of hell on earth, followed by an eternity of hell on hell, but that the upside is that the damned do not have to spend an eternity with fundamentalist Christians.

  • Briso

    In all seriousness, the rapture has already happened. Those of us who are chosen are sworn to secrecy. I’m sorry to disappoint you all (except Darth perhaps, who I think I saw in a purple robe).

  • abucs

    Siphonophore,

    Peer reveiwed journals are an administrative process usually to corroborate scientific results in the materialist sphere. It is a great tool which is based on common sense.

    But your post assumes everything is in this materialistic sphere and does not recognise the limitations of this process.

    The whole sphere of philosophy for example, deals with issues largely outside this process.

    Even within physics itself it would have been silly for Einstein to think his relativity was ‘all made up’ because of a lack of peer reveiwed experiments. Many of his brilliant hypothesis’s were only either confirmed or falsified after his death.

    Many top level physicists today have devoted their own whole working lives to String theory which nobody really knows exists. It is a grand theory that, if true, could possibly explain a lot of unknowns on how fundamental reality works. It is unlikely though to be ever put in a position of being falsified because it deals with an existance that is beyond our 4 dimensions.

    On a purely scientific basis, especially now that we are running up against barriers to scientific advancement, such as ‘uncertaincy principle’, ‘observer effect’ and philosophies for underlying realities beyond our 4 dimensions, there are many thoughts, many of them dealing with fundamental reality that are unlikely to be ever tested let alone peer reveiwed.

    Of course much of our reality is science based on what we can control materialistically and then peer review. But apart from philosophy and grand ultimate reality postulations, there is also the whole issue of personal experience and perception that doesn’t lend itself to the peer reveiewed process either.

    Mass experiences like Fatima have been well documented but they cannot be neatly re-created simply because the possibility of God, cannot be put into a materialistic box. Partly this is because we are dealing with something beyond materialism of which we have no control over, and thus cannot force to be repeatable.

    We are dealing with personal experience and a philosophy of the world beyond materialism.

    It is a personal interpretation of reality and people make logical conclusions on both sides to what that ultimate reality will be, how they experience it and what can constituate a proof. Importantly our interpretations influences our perceptions and above all what it means to our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

    This governs what we do with our lives and what we spend time doing and whether there is an ultimate goal or reason in our existance.

    For Newton, who really started physics, his idea was that if God was there then His creation should be universal, ordered and intelligent and thus it would be laws based and understandable to us, His creation. The finding of these laws by him, was confirmation (to him) of this God although i fully recognise and appreciate that today people will take his science and run in the opposite direction and postulate an intelligle universal and understandable set of laws mean ‘no God’.

    A lot of the fundamental aspects of how we see reality is based on our own interpretations and like string theory, the big answers may well be beyond materialistic experimental science. But we all keep trying, within the limitations of what we can postulate, experience or re-create (control) and what makes sense to us.

    Good post Turgon. Thanks.

    I’m not personally rapped up in the rapture, but please remember to have a word to the man upstairs about me, if any of you find yourselves being spared in the tribulation. :o)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Danny,

    Equally I challenge you to prove that God does not exist.Until then we will just have to agree to disagree.

    This is a silly line. I’m sure I don’t have to prove that Santa does not exist, do I ?

  • Jo

    The religious belief that one is *saved* has significant political consequences.

    These include the belief that one can do nothing wrong, (or if one does, then Heaven still awaits) that one’s presence on Earth in a position of power is an expression of God’s “plan” for that person and the world, etc.

    When combined with a belief in the need to defeat Evil and the desirablity of Armageddon (ending the world) in order that the Devil get his come-uppance, the implications of a man who has such beliefs also having his finger on the nuclear button is – to put it mildly – rather scary…

  • lib2016 on Jan 14, 2008 @ 06:38 AM

    This is after all a political blog.

    Well, I’m reading here: “Notes on Northern Ireland politics and culture.” I’m thinking that Turgon’s original post comes as close as any to the second of those terms.

    Danny O’Connor on Jan 14, 2008 @ 01:59 AM

    If someone wishes to believe in the bible,and that it is true,that is their right. Mocking Christians seems to be the norm these days. I dont see many people mocking Muslims for believing in the Qu’ran, or Hindus for believing in the gitas.

    Hmm, not too sure about that.

    I have absolutely no problem with those who study holy writings and try to act upon them. Generally speaking, they are less harmful to society that the students of (say) Guns and Ammunition or Gelignite for Boys.

    However …

    I regularly drive a particular route. Along it there is one filling station, Snake Oil. It has fufilled all my needs for a considerable time. One day a rival station opens: Bozojuice. Bozojuice does not seem to do particularly well: the users of this road are accustomed to the traditional product and service at Snake Oil. So Bozojuice runs a marketing campaign: “Bozojuice — now with added Rapture”.

    Now, the question here is how is the product at Bozojuice differs from that at Snake Oil? Despite all the claims, the basic chemistry (C8H18) must be the same, or my car engine would not run. How does this extra ingredient (“added Rapture”) make my engine run better?

    That poor analogy is my attempt to parallel the curious behaviour of religious sects, who seem to spend more time blowing each other up than sticking with the original formula.

    What was wrong with the essential theology (St Paul and all his works) of the First Century AD, so that a hundred years later it has to have the “Second Coming” grafted on? Or so that 1800 years later the “Rapture” is suddenly evident to have been there all along? Was there a fault in the original formula, or is this simply discovering a new “Unique Selling Proposition” to bring the punters to one brand rather than another? Why are these new great truths only discovered in small-town Texas or in manky madrassas?

    And, as lib2016 @ 06:38 AM and others imply: why do so many of these self-appointed great prophets have such repulsive political views? To which I might add, why is it that, with a few exceptions, these great intellects have no academic background?

    Or, as Dennis Diderot put it:

    Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: “My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.”

    This stranger is a theologian.

  • abucs

    Jo, to be unfair to atheists, but to follow on from your post, couldn’t a non atheist be scared of someone with his finger on the nuclear buttom who ultimately beleives that life, thought and emotion are simply fine tuned, but ultimately ad-hoc arrangement of atoms acting in a ‘selfish’ and materialistic way ?

    I guess we have had both Christian and atheist hands on the nuclear button and neither of them pressed it, or even came close to threatening to do it, which might point to both of them showing a certain common sense and respect of life to all here on earth.

    It seems counter productive to assert that the other side is not sensible or respectful of others and to use arguements to suggest so.
    (I’m not accusing you of that, just general discussion from both sides, including myself).

  • Turgon

    I do not know whether to apologise of defend myself here.

    I posted the blog because a number of people said on the “A career associated with snow” blog that they were interested in fundamentalists views. As such I demonstrated one of their odder belief sets.

    Lib 2016’s and Mark McGregor’s criticism I take seriously. These views are, however, a part of the culture of Northern Ireland.

    As for myself I file these things away in my head along with creationism, that is I do not worry about them.

    I will try to stick to politics if that is what people want but I do want to demonstrate that fundamentalists whilst quite odd to a lot of you are part of NI culture and also that fundamentalists are not merely obsessed with “Popery”, “Sodomy” and hard line unionist politics.

    In all seriousness if I have offended people with this blog I offer my sincere apologies.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    A recent BBC program ‘Palestine’ suggested both Balfour ( of declaration fame ) and Lloyd George were both Christian Zioinsts and that these beliefs were central to the setting up of the state of Israel.

    It also showed various Palestinians factions citing the Balfour declaration and calling for Jihad against the west.

    The setting up of the state of Israel is within living memory of many Palestinians and there has been no proper debate regarding the appropriateness of this fundamentalist Chrisitian foreign policy.

    I have absolutely no problem with fundamentalist beliefs except when it becomes the driver for political doctrine.

    Turgon ( judging by his earlier posts ), Paisley, Balfour and Bush are all Christian examples of this unfortunate tendency.

    We should bear this in mind when we rush to ridicule the fundamentalist views emanating from the middle east.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Why can’t we have a secular political societies?

    It seems many of our problems come about when theologians and religious leaders and their followers try to foist their religious beliefs on politics.

    Let religion stay in the churches and politics in the parliaments.

  • Jo

    abucs

    Indeed, what you say is true: many non-atheists were for many years fearful of Godless Atheistic Communists in an apparent position to destroy everything as well as born agains like Mr Reagan.

    The fact that the main homeland of those GACs suffered the highest loss of human life during WW2 and might therefore be somewhat reluctant to inflict or incur even worse horror was something masked from the consciousness of most of the west for decades.

    The recent docu on the 1983 near-nuke disaster was somewhat chilling and thankfully bore out your point about common humanity on both sides. One cannot help but wonder if a good ol boy in the mid-west of the US had received a similar malfunction, would the button have been pressed, such was the anti-Commie programming.

    An image of Slim Pickens’ “YEE HAW” at the end of Dr Strangelove” comes to mind – for some reason.

  • abucs

    Jo – fair enough.

    IWSTDI,

    the BBC show may have some merit, i don’t know a lot about the people involved.

    From my prejudiced Irish Nationalist background my thinking would be it was British ‘divide and conquer’ policy, but that is admittedly a lot to do with how i see the world, which often fills in the gaps of things i don’ really know about, until further investigation – and then i really realize i don’t know anything about it. :o)

    I would agree with you i’m sure that nobody has the right to set two people against eachother to further their own selfish goals – religion or politics or wealth or whatever.

  • URQUHART

    Mark McGregor: “Slugger has just went down the tubes. Self proclaimed religious fundamentalists contributing self proclaimed religious fundamentalist crap.”

    Hopefully this means you’ll find somewhere else to complain?

    Turgon, I’m a damned RC, but I still thought this a fascinating post. Don’t be put off by idiots who can’t cope with difference. Keep up the good work.

  • Prince Eoghan

    As a hypocritical Catholic, I must admit to knowing little and caring less about fundamentalism. The old adage about doing unto others runs strong in me though. Mostly I spend my time at mass chastising the weans and zoning out, except when there is a good song on, I like a wee chant. The main point of it is to try and give the weans a solid base in doing the right thing, I also send them up the road to the happy clappy’s(baptists) for their wee club. Good folk teaching good things and all that.

    Turgon as usual approaches this with his usual unabashed panache, aware that he will be an object of derision. Fair play to him. His beliefs may be nuts, my hypocritical approach to religion may be nuts. Who really is to say, perhaps it is really only an issue when the consequences are forced on others.

  • Turgon, thanks for the interesting article on fundamentalist beliefs. As someone who describes himself as an atheist, having drifted away from Catholicism many years ago, I find it useful to hear the point of view of someone raised in another faith, who still holds to those beliefs.

    My major problem with the above is that belief in the apocalypse/rapture relies solely on writings in the bible, which is almost two thousand years old and of doubtful authorship. When that book is removed, the entire structure – top to bottom – falls apart.

    You seem to be aware of some of the drawbacks of your beliefs, yet you continue to hold them. Might I ask whether you see any benefits in your day-to-day life from doing so?

  • manichaeism

    If when (and if) we are in heaven we are in the presence of a power mad supreme being who we are all undoubtedly terrified of then how can it really be heaven?

  • as an athiest it is hard for me to see how such a belief system would NOT inform a person’s politics.

  • bollix

    turgon
    a good and interesting post. sticking your head above the parapet and setting out religious beliefs does expose you to alot of criticism. at least things have moved on though, no longer are you fed to lions for your beliefs. (i put to one side the demonisation of islam of course).

    as a RC, not a big deal was made of revalations at my church. its a bit too weird really. much better to focus on all that good stuff about helping the poor, visiting the sick, believing in god and doing good to others.

    i get a bit sick of people refering to religious education of children as child abuse though. Using this kind of hyperbole just weakens your criticism of religion.

  • joeCanuck

    Turgon,

    You don’t have to either apologise or defend. You have criticism and support.
    Carry on.

  • Jo

    If you’re Catholic, isn’t it difficult not to feel hurt at the devout and sincere beliefs of someone who holds you to be a follower of the anti-Christ and damned to hell for all eternity?

    Note: the hurtfulness of the belief seems to mitigate its supposed originating from a true, loving God.

    Further, if the belief is sincerely held, when confronted with such tangible evil, is a person holding the belief not inclined, indeed bound, to treat the evil ones as different from the fellow *saved*?

  • perci

    I would suggest that if Christ was here today he’d retell the good samaritan story by comparing it to a “good catholic” crossing the road, not the “saved person”.
    The message being as before, that its not always the “saved holy joe’s” who do the right thing, but the wee unsaved sinner doing an act of kindness.

  • perci

    ie standing on your pulpit, preaching intolerance and hatred doth not a holy jo maketh 😉

  • joeCanuck

    Why do people keep picking on me?

  • manichaeism

    Didn’t Catholics once believe that Protestants were going to hell?

    When did they stop believing that?

    And why can’t (some)Protestants repay the kindness?!!

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    I remember when I was a kid I loved reading up about all religions as well as my own, the RC church. Having a great interest in the arts I loved the religious paintings of Titian, Rubens, Murillo and the like. But I was always somewhat inquisitive why people fervently believed in such things and why people went along like sheep. As I got older religion no longer mattered to me; and it doesn’t today, nor ever will. However, I think people should sincerely question their religious faith. For a child to innoncently believe in such a thing as ‘the Rapture’ as described above kinda sounds traumatic for Turgon. Anyhow, the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypes by John, was somewhat disputed by even the very early churchmen; whether to leave it in or take it out of the Bible collection. Luther disputed it. Now it’s readily accepted and undisputed in religious circles, like god himself. It serves the Chritian elders well to frighten their innocent flocks and keep them in line.

  • graduate

    Turgon,
    Very interesting post- at least I now have an idea what some people are thinking and why they act the way they do. IMO it’s been one of the most enlightening pieces on Slugger + I’m speaking as a lapsed presbyterian with catholic tendencies- help the sick, do good and I enjoy the ritual of high church.
    As for the it’s not politics ranters it’s cultural and belief is important to us as a species so get over it and enjot Turgon who’s turning out to be an absolute sink of information

  • graduate

    BTW Comrade Stalin,
    Whaddya mean Santa doesn’t exist??

  • lib2016

    Sorry, I should have been more welcoming to Turgon’s thread. It is interesting as a novelty but I would hate Slugger to become only a theology discussion.

    There’s room for a bit of variety but it is still the politics which attracts me.

  • Greenflag

    The gospel according to GF 🙂

    ‘Didn’t Catholics once believe that Protestants were going to hell? ‘

    Straight answer No . Only the unbaptised i.e non Christians would go to hell -this was modified in recent decades to Limboland especially ‘unbaptised’ innocent children . I recall this question being asked in an RC Doctrine class. The teacher went on to explain that there were a few very good Protestants who would make it to heaven- however from the tone of his voice it seemed that most were heading for limboland .

    ‘as a RC, not a big deal was made of revalations at my church. its a bit too weird really. ‘

    Weird is not the word for it . For a truly hilarious rendition of the weirdness of it I refer you to none other than Mark Twain’s musings on the subject of heaven , hell etc etc in his “Letters from the Earth ” which were only published long after his death .

    ” Mostly I spend my time at mass chastising the weans and zoning out, except when there is a good song on, I like a wee chant.”

    This rings true 🙂 I still believe that the Old Latin Mass with it’s Gloria’s , Credos etc etc was almost tantric in it’s effect on people. Probably helped to reduce blood pressure and set off pleasant brain wave patterns . I’m sure the tradition of song and anthem’s in Anglicism and other denominations has the same effect .

    Nonetheless Mark Twain noted above points out that in ‘heaven’ the ‘wee chanting’ will be ongoing for eons and although most of us might enjoy perhaps an hour or so of such worship somehow an eternity of the prospect fails to attract 🙂

    ‘IMO it’s been one of the most enlightening pieces on Slugger + I’m speaking as a lapsed presbyterian with catholic tendencies- help the sick, do good and I enjoy the ritual of high church. ‘

    As a lapsed catholic with former Presbyterian tendencies but now a convinced atheist with some residual spiritual leftovers I can relate to the above quote . But beware of ‘conversion’ either way as in many people’s experience ‘disappointment ‘ may be inevitable for just because the package on the outside says ‘practicing Catholic’ the inside may well be a hypocritical rogue and likewise the brand Mormon may sound exotic but underneath may lie an ethic admirable to all ?

    I recall a family member an inlaw who began life as a Methodist and then departed for pastures greener and became an Anglican . His Dublin family were most upset but somehow got used to it . Being disappointed with Irish Anglicanism he then went the whole hog and became not only an RC but joined a religious order of monks . After a a few contemplative years he left the order though he remained a practicing RC at which point he joined our ‘family’. He was somewhat disappointed in my attitude to the RC religion which at that time was somewhat scathing to say the least 🙂 His Methodist family disowned him and he spent the remainder of his life among us . I always thought he’d have had an easier life had he remained an agnostic Methodist. The whole episode of his life’s search for ‘truth’ seems now to me to have been a vain one although for it was obviously important and gave his life meaning as it does still for many . The man himself was a living ‘saint’ and

    Do good -help your fellow humans of all creeds and none- and of all ethnic groups and nations as best you can. Other than that keep religion out of politics and when confronted by the end of the worlder’s hold on to your wallet 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘If when (and if) we are in heaven we are in the presence of a power mad supreme being who we are all undoubtedly terrified of then how can it really be heaven? ‘

    Because it will last for all eternity 🙂

    Reminds me of the answer to the riddle

    Question : ‘What is a sadist?’

    Answer : ‘Somebody who’s kind to a masochist’

    Mark Twain’s ‘Letters from the Earth’ presents a series of letters supposedly written by Satan reporting on a visit to the Human Race Experiment (recently created by the Boss) . Twain takes some of mankind’s most revered beliefs and demonstrates their downright preposterousness when examined in the cold light of day. More than a little iconoclastic and not at all gentle in his breaking . Twain’s ‘letters’ should be stimulating to anyone interested in looking t the world ‘objectively’ and a ‘hoot’ to anyone out there who is as skeptical as GF of the claims of those who have discovered the ‘true’ religion.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Right, we’ve got that off our chests.I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday and a conspicuous notice informed one and all that “All Sainsbury’s fresh and roasted chickens are British”. Doesn’t that give you a warm glow? The end of their world? Are they enraptured? They have no more tribulations.And Turgon, nothing personal. Keep the faith, brother … well away from me.

  • steve white

    eh who is this?/