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May 20 2011

Live-blogging the Rapture

Rapture billboard

Well, if the end of the world really is nigh, there ought to be some documentation of it for future generations. Oh, wait. There won’t be any future generations. Still. It stand to reason. I mean, if hundreds of years from now, space aliens or something visit the charred remains of our post-Apocalyptic planet and wonder, “What the heck happened here?”, perhaps there ought to be a record. It seems like the sensible thing to do.

So JT Eberhard (WWJTD?), Jen McCreight (BlagHag), and I are going to be live-blogging the Rapture.

Because where will be the first place that visiting space aliens will search for a record of the last days of human life on Earth? Snarky atheist blogs, of course!

Supposedly, the Rapture will be happening at 6pm, in each time zone around the globe. Because God cares so very much about the international date line. (As Ingrid said when we were talking about this on Facebook, “It’s almost scientific, except for the part where it has no basis in reality.”) Okay, yes, it has been pointed out that this lends an unfair advantage to those of us living in the more Westerly time zones — if we see news reports of people being raptured in Australia and Tokyo, we’ll have a chance to repent that they didn’t get. (Let’s hear it for the argument for locality!) And I don’t know what’s supposed to happen to the people on the space station. But who are we to question God’s wisdom and might? Well, his might, anyway.

So I’ll be keeping an eye on world events as they unfold at 6pm in each time zone, from New Zealand to Hawaii. And just to be fair, in case they got the 6pm thing wrong, I’ll also keep an eye on world events as they unfold at midnight in each time zone, from New Zealand to Hawaii. I won’t be making a point of being awake for each of these time zone changes — I’m not going to stay up around the clock for this damn dumb thing, especially since I’m giving a talk on Sunday the 22nd — but I’ll take a peek at the New York Times at occasional intervals, and report on how we’re doing.

If we make it to midnight of May 22 everywhere around the world, I think we can assume we’re in the clear.

***

Okay. We’re starting. 5:11 pm in San Francisco; just past midnight in New Zealand. No rapture-type events reported as of this writing. Most recent New Zealand headline on the New York Times: “Air New Zealand Videos Get Tailwind From Social Media.” To quote Peter Cook, “Not exactly the conflagration we’d been looking for.” But heck — it’s not 6pm yet. It still could happen. And monkeys could fly out of my butt. There is a vanishingly small but non-zero chance of butt monkeys.

***

Damn. It’s been pointed out to me that it’s actually just past noon in New Zealand, not just past midnight. Boy, do I have egg on my face. How am I supposed to document the beginning of the eradication of humanity if I can’t even read my World Clock right? Some Rapture reporter I am.

Anyway. It’s now 5/21 in New Zealand, Tokyo, Moscow, and London. Not 6pm yet, though. So we could still be on the hook for this thing. Stay tuned to this station for further developments.

***

It’s past 6pm in the first time zone where it could be past 6pm; an island in the Pacific called Kiribati. No earthquakes, apparently. CNN is discussing “Celebrity Apprentice.” They are clearly covering up the the real truth.

***

Well past 6pm in New Zealand: 7:54 pm, in fact. Top headline of the New Zealand Herald as of this writing: “Labour proposes dedicated ‘Ministry for Children.’” Lacking a bit in that “earthquakes/ conflagrations/ sea of blood” quality, but I suppose it could be a sign of God’s wrath in some way. Other headlines from New Zealand: “Hubbard asset freeze to be reviewed,” “MasterChef’s backer drops support for school breakfasts,” and, “MPs love property and petanque.” Well, I guess that word “petanque” could be code for something…

A few other updates on the news coverage of this literally earth-shattering event. Top headline of the New York Times as of this writing: “Divisions Are Clear as Obama and Netanyahu Discuss Peace.” On TV, Headline News has Donny and Marie on the Joy Behar Show. CNBC has a “get rich now” infomercial. MSNBC has “Lockup: Indiana.” CSPAN has the Asia Society & U.S. Institute of Peace on the Future of Pakistan. The NASA channel — and you’d think if anyone would be covering the global conflagration cascading across the globe time zone by time zone, it’d be the NASA channel — has still photos of the space station. And CNN is talking to Dick Van Dyke about his new book. I didn’t know Dick Van Dyke was still alive. I suppose that could be a supernatural event of some kind…

Oh, and the in the Los Angeles Times? New Zealand region yet to suffer destruction forecast by Oakland-based doomsday predictor. They are reporting no earthquakes in the region. I freaking love that the L.A. Times is live-blogging the Rapture.

***

7:30am California time. Tokyo and Moscow should be dust by now. Hm. Apparently not. CNN has the Doomsday story right now, but it’s a jokey, “Gee, some people think the world is ending today” piece — not a “Tokyo, Moscow collapse into the earth, repent now before it’s too late” story. Google search for “Moscow news” gets “IDF attaché sought intel. on Russia-Arab arms trade,” and “Tokyo news” gets “Wen, Lee Show Support for Japan Recovery Effort.” No, no, no! Recovery effort? That’s not apocalyptic at all! That’s, like, the opposite of apocalyptic! Harumph.

***

9:15 am California time. Family Radio (Harold Camping’s station) was on in the car ride over to the conference. Strangely non-apocalyptic. Music, light chatter, and some kid’s story about inviting people to meet Jesus. You’d think it’d be a little late for that now.

***

BTW, if you want to track earthquake activity for the day, you can do it on the U.S. Geological Survey website.

(checking)

Sheesh, dude. Is that all you got?

***

Just past 6pm in London. Main headline in the London Times as of this writing: “Twitter fury as footballer takes legal action.” Well, Twitter fury is sort of like the wrath of God… right?

***

Update in London: Guardian U.K. DOES have a story about the Rapture!

Oh, wait. It’s about how the Rapture isn’t happening. Never mind.

You know, I really do love how many news outlets are covering the “Rapture Not Happening” story. It’s as if the worldwide news media was covering the story, “Suspension Bridges Around the World Not Turning Into Fish.”

***

Well, Jesus did make an appearance in Oakland.

Jen jesus

A little ahead of schedule, but mysterious ways, who are we to question, yada yada yada. Here at the atheist convention, oddly enough. Told a few jokes, took a few questions. Nice guy. Has some sort of beef with Ed Hardy, but pretty easy-going overall. Didn’t say anything about the world ending today, though. Hm. Wonder if they got that wrong. Naaaaah.

(Photo by Jen McCreight at BlagHag, shamelessly swiped from her own live-blogging of the Rapture.)

***

Okay. It should be hitting New York right about now.

***

OOO! Is that it? The New York Times is doing live updates!

***

Nope. False alarm. The New York Times is doing live updates of the Preakness Stakes.

***

Hm. 6:10 pm in New York City. Headlines on the New York Times website as of this reading: “Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions.” Okay: uprisings, divisions.. that’s sort of apocalyptic, right? How about, “In the Golan Heights, Anxious Eyes Look East to Syria.” Okay, anxious eyes on Syria… because of the people being raptured there, right? No? Okay, how about, “Guard Dog to the Stars (Legally Speaking).”

Oh, piffle. This is just sad.

***

Just talked to my brother in Chicago. All seems to be normal there. Or normal for Chicago. Rapture-free, at any rate. No earthquakes, no brimstone, no flocks of the faithful ascending through the skies. He says the weather was grey and drizzly earlier in the morning, but the sun came out later in the day, which may be a sign of some sort.

***

6pm in Oakland!

***

Aaaaaaaaaand…

***

Well, my soul might have been raptured up to Heaven. But Greta without a soul is indistinguishable from Greta with a soul. So I’m not sure how anybody would know.

***

Ingrid says Hi, by the way. And she says, “Cheer up. It’s not the end of the world.”

***

Oh, wait. Something’s happening…

***

Rapture<br clear=all /

***

This is me, Mr. Deity, Jen McCreight, Matt Dillahunty, Ashley Paramore, and several other atheists being raptured. We bounced off the ceiling, though, and came back. Damn acoustic tile.

***

Apparently there was just a little earthquake in Oakland. I didn’t feel it, but other people at the atheist conference did. Ripple of derisive, slightly nervous laughter. The world seems to be continuing on, though. Maybe the apocalypse is waiting until Mr. Deity finishes his talk.

***

Earthquake was a 3.6. Yeah, that’s Armageddon all right. [facepalm]

***

Well, fine. It’s past 6pm on May 21, everywhere in the world. According to Reuters, Harold Camping has gone entirely silent; the shades are drawn on his house, nobody is answering the door, and he has yet to issue any sort of comment on the complete lack of anything interesting or unusual happening today. (Well… anything other than Rapture parties, anyway…)

Headlines on the New York Times: Many of the same ones as my last update, but a few new ones. “Ivory Coast’s New President Urges Unity.” “Daniels Decides Against G.O.P. Presidential Bid.” “Blogger With ‘Man Crush’ Wins Putin Scoop.” Oh, for goodness’ sake. It’s like they’re trying to make the news as bland and non-apocalyptic as possible. (I especially love that last one.)

I’m going to give this way more of the benefit of the doubt than it deserves, and wait ’til it’s May 22 everywhere in the world before I absolutely officially call it. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Sleep tight, everybody!

***

That’s it. It’s today, everywhere in the world, except in the places where it’s tomorrow. May 21, 2011 has 100% come and gone, and no Rapture. The world continues to turn, more or less as usual.

And now, a quick, slightly serious word.

Lots of us have been making fun of the Rapture in recent days and weeks. And we should: it was a ridiculous idea, and ridiculous ideas should be ridiculed. But real harm was done during this hysteria. People depleted their life’s savings, their childrens’ college funds, ran up their credit cards, to fund this stupid billboard campaign — which whipped up more people into more hysteria so they could deplete their life’s savings. Religion does real harm in the world. I am entirely in favor of making fun of it… partly because it’s fun to do so, but mostly because religion does real harm, and making fun of it is one of the most effective tools we have for dismantling it. Religion depends on social consent to survive and perpetuate itself. We have to deny that consent. We have to keep pointing out, at every available opportunity, that the Emperor has no clothes.

And we have to keep pointing out, at every available opportunity, that this world — this beautiful, terrible, ordinary, spectacular, fascinating, sad, hard, funny, and entirely small-R rapturous world — is enough.

Thank you for your patience. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

53 comments

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  1. 1
    Laura upstairs

    Um, Greta, I hate to say this, but this live-blogging is kind of boring. I was hoping for something with more fire and brimstone and volcanoes and flying monkeys and what not. Could you step it up?

  2. 2
    llewelly

    And I don’t know what’s supposed to happen to the people on the space station.

    I figure if one gets raptured they all die horribly.
    By the way, your correction came too late; I already shared it.

  3. 3
    Blake

    “There is a vanishingly small but non-zero chance of butt monkeys.”
    Thanks for making my day!!!

  4. 4
    DaisiesAndShit

    Camping says that God will be turning a deaf ear to all those calls of repentance once he gets the rapture rolling, but at least we’ll be able to get a head start on the looting here in the latter time zones!

  5. 5
    Rick

    Butt Monkeys FTW!
    http://www.fugly.com/media/IMAGES/Babes/butt-monkey.jpg

  6. 6
    Kruegz

    Cool, the Rapturing begins in a little more than two hours.
    Current local time in Kiritimati: Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 3:44:32 PM LINT

  7. 7
    Rick

    @DaiseysAndShit: not only do we get a head start on the looting, but we also get to really enjoy the pre-rapture orgy:
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112535948832738

  8. 8
    Azgeodog

    Tonga is 3 hours away from rapture… most far out there time zone AFAIK:
    http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=277
    real time seismic data at:
    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/
    Camping said “biggest earthquake ever recorded in history”, so… stipulating that if there is a greater than 9.5 earthquake at 6pm local time, then we maybe got something…

  9. 9
    Azgeodog

    never mind, kruegz’s earlier comment has better canary: Kiribati, GMT+14

  10. 10
    Rick

    ZOMG! Its now 5:22PM in Adak!

  11. 11
    Kruegz

    Now the question is: Does God observe Daylight Saving Time? Because Adak has it and Kiribati doesn’t.

  12. 12
    Rick

    @Kruegz: Camping has said “6PM local time” so therefore it must be based on whatever the localz are observing…. so Adak for the rapture win!

  13. 13
    Kruegz

    OK, that makes sense. But then is God going to destroy all of the GMT+14 time zone in half an hour, or just the part that observes DST?

  14. 14
    Rick

    Camping has just posted this on facebook: “At this time, the best thing we can all do is, Pray pray pray, for God’s mercy, What we have to lose?. If you’re waiting to see if this will happen, keep in mind once it start, wherever or whenever it start, That will mark the END of salvation.”
    That’s the first I’ve seen him call for prayers. He’s building his out plan… “Our prayers were answered! God has chose to save us!”

  15. 15
    Kruegz

    I just noticed something. Adak is East of the International Dateline. It’s almost 6:00 PM there, but it’s Friday.
    Check out this map: http://www.worldtimezone.com/ and the Adak link above.

  16. 16
    Kruegz

    Damn, Camping is a wanker. He’s repeatedly said he’s completely convinced the Rapture will happen tomorrow, and that he wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that he might be wrong. In fact, he’s said that having any doubt at all about the Rapture would be an insult against God or something like that. No doubt that convinced a lot of people to quit their jobs and spend all their money on advertising the Rapture and all that.
    And I was almost convinced he was telling the truth when he said he was completely sure this was going to happen. I wasn’t cynical enough, and I’m pretty cynical.

  17. 17
    Rick

    @Kruegz: well crap…

  18. 18
    Chase Stone

    What would Jesus blog?

  19. 19
    Clytia

    well it’s 5.17pm on Sat 21st here in NZ and all is well. In local news though: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10727157

  20. 20
    Dean Allemang

    Weather here in London on Rapture Morning is shockingly sunny and warm. Something is certainly up! I think the weather might be caused by Brimstone Proximity. I’ll keep you updated.

  21. 21
    Clytia

    All is well at 6.11pm in NZ

  22. 22
    Benjamin Machanik

    It occurs to me that its actually very clever to say that the rapture will happen at 18:00 pm in all time zones, because it means that when Mr. Camping & co. sees that The Australia New Zealand area has had nothing happen to them, he has a lot of time to backtrack and make up alternatives long before its 6 there.

  23. 23
    Clytia

    In the wake of the rapture bollocks, this is hilarious: http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/5034690/Prepare-for-a-zombie-apocalypse

  24. 24
    Cake

    To monitor earthquakes as they happen: http://geofon.gfz-potsdam.de/geofon/seismon/globmon.html
    No sign of increasing activity :)

  25. 25
    yokohamamama

    Well– it’s 7:49 here in Yokohama, Japan. We’re trimming our toenails and doing math homework. Cleaning baseball gloves for the game tomorrow.
    Mata kondo, ne… (maybe next time).

  26. 26
    hoverfrog

    I’m pretty sure that we Brits aren’t going to be cRaptured in five and a half hours time. In fact I’m so sure that I’ve even shopped for tea tomorrow. In the event that I’m wrong (ptah!) then I’m afraid that God will just have to wait until we finish dinner. It is rather impolite to interrupt dinner and I was thinking of having strudel for pudding.

  27. 27
    Dawn

    We just missed a great money-making opportunity. Or maybe it’s not too late. T-shirts with “I survived the Rapture” emblazoned across the front.

  28. 28
    Rick

    Just in the last few minutes, Camping took down the facebook page I referred to above. I checked it not 10 minutes ago and there hadn’t been a new wall post in 9 hours. I went to look at the comments on the last post (over 500) and now its all gone.

  29. 29
    Azkyroth

    “Our prayers were answered! God has chose to save us!”

    I think the data is corrupted.
    Meanwhile, I’m reassured to note that even if the Rapture DOES occur my Dynamics professor is only prophesied to rule the world for 7 years, not 1000 like I remembered…
    …and getting a latish start to Oakland. O.O
    *scoots*

  30. 30
    Nele

    Shouldn’t Camping be busy praying to his archaic god and not waste his small remainiing time with computer communication? Hehe. What a coward. :)

  31. 31
    Nate Phelps

    There are a lot of people struggling with this right now. Their mind tells them it’s nonsense, but their emotions are in turmoil over the “what if” aspect.
    I think the atheist community should use this event to compile a body of material that helps people better understand the human psychology of all this. Sort of expanding on Shermer’s discussion in Why People Believe Weird Things.

  32. 32
    Ron S.

    There must be people gathering to await the end somewhere, and someone must be recording it. I hope so, as Nate P points out, this sort of data could be very valuable in preventing future outbreaks. I have seen interviews where reporters have asked to be present during the moment of “rapture” and the believers have very crafty ways of not answering the request.
    Right now, they must be manufacturing theories of how God is sending false news from Kiribati, Japan, Hawaii, etc… to save the “surprise” for each timezone. I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear the justifications, excuses, etc…

  33. 33
    Maria

    Rapture report from Sweden! It’s 18,38 here, and I have to say that so far it has been the most peaceful and idyllic apocalypse imaginable :-)
    It’s a beautiful late spring/early summer evening here in the south of Sweden, and in the countryside it’s been sunny all day. At my backyard the woods are green and lush, birds are chirping, the neighbors are having a barbeque and the leaves of the big old trees are rustling in a light breeze.
    All my neighbors seem to still be in place too, though this IS godless Sweden, I guess no one thought that many people would be raptured from here anyway :-)

  34. 34
    Sean

    Under an hour to go here in Sheffield, England. I don’t mean the rapture but the latest episode of Doctor Who. Yay, indeed.
    There aren’t any signs of any rumblings from below but I’m about to have a curry hotter than the surface of the Sun so that might change things.

  35. 35
    Nele

    19:11 in Germany. Damn! I completely missed rapture, because I was watching the play of our Women’s soccer team against North Korea.

  36. 36
    Kruegz

    Hey, it could still happen! From this Chicago Tribune article: Christian movement eats last meals, says goodbye, preparing for End of Days on Saturday
    Marie Exley, who helped put up apocalypse-themed billboards in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon, said the money helped the nonprofit save as many souls as possible.
    She said she and her husband, mother and brother were glued to the television on Friday night waiting for news of an earthquake in the southern hemisphere. When that did not happen, she said fellow believers began reaching out to reassure each other of their faith in the prophecy.
    “Some people were saying it was going to be an earthquake at that specific time in New Zealand and be a rolling judgment, but God is keeping us in our place and saying you may know the day but you don’t know the hour,” she said Saturday, speaking from Bozeman, Montana. “The day is not over, it’s just the morning, and we have to endure until the end.”

    I wonder if tomorrow, she’ll be saying, “God is keeping us in our place and saying you may know the month but you don’t know the day.”
    And then next month she’ll be saying….

  37. 37
    Benjamin Machanik

    19:52 in South Africa, and there are certainly a lot of people identified as Christians here. So we don’t even have ‘godless country’ as an excuse.
    Looking forward to the post-18:00 reports from Harold Camping & Co.
    Feel bad that these people aren’t taken to court for their con-artistry…

  38. 38
    robert

    Hello Greta! Here in Denmark I am reading your blog so I guess I’m still around.The time in Denmark is 20.00. BTW great blog!

  39. 39
    James M. Martin

    The best thing that may be said about the Rapture deadline business is that each time one of these morons sets a time and date worldwide attention is drawn to the stupidity of Christer evangelism. The bumper stickers proclaiming an empty car should the Rapture occur proliferate, and the megachurches further the myth even as they tell us Jebus wants us to get rich (the exact opposite of his message). The Rapture Syndrome is making more agnostics and atheists than were created by all the writings of Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins put together.

  40. 40
    Nobby

    “Suspension Bridges Around the World Not Turning Into Fish” I feel like the Onion would totally be up for that article, and now I want to see it.

  41. 41
    Jorge in Gotham

    Website for the newspaper El Pais has a live cam on continuing massive protests in Puerta del Sol. Since it is past 9 PM in Madrid, this would suggest that the rapture didn’t happen. It would also suggest that folks interested in addressing real world problems (austerity cuts, a failed two party system, lack of direct democracy, etc….) might want to abandon their churches and, you know, participate in the life we actually have and in the world we actually know.

  42. 42
    Kruegz

    Because of this Rapture nonsense, a woman tried to kill her two daughters and herself. And a man in Nairobi killed himself.
    From PZ’s blog: While Harold Camping sits safe with his millions…

  43. 43
    Ebonmuse

    Hey folks. :) Just checking in from Madrid, where my wife and I are on vacation, and I can confirm that 6 PM came and went with no earthquake and no Rapture (at least, no observable one – then again, the Spanish are mostly either Catholics or atheists, so maybe there wouldn’t be much to see even if it did happen).
    It’s 11:30 PM here and we’re 6 hours ahead of New York, so the Rapture ought to be hitting the eastern U.S. in about half an hour. Hey, maybe God runs on Eastern Standard Time and it’ll start then! Hang tight just in case!

  44. 44
    Sigmaleph

    It’s past 6 pm in Argentina, no Rapturing in sight.

  45. 45
    Rieux

    Minnesota (U.S. Central time zone) checking in: 6:11 P.M., no earthquakes, no rapture. Some chuckling at the outdoor party I’m at, but the fun is tempered a bit by the news (via PZ) of the suicide in Kenya and the attempted murder-suicide in Lancaster, California. Not such a good joke anymore.

  46. 46
    Indigo

    Got off work at 6, went home, took a bath, and only then looked around and noticed that Vancouver seems to still be going strong.

  47. 47
    Azkyroth

    Apparently there was just a little earthquake in Oakland. I didn’t feel it, but other people at the atheist conference did

    Do I even need to make the obvious comment about people being accustomed to vibration? :P

  48. 48
    rayuela23

    “These kind of predictions come up particularly in times of economic or social uncertainty – which is pretty much almost every year actually, you can track them, whether it’s commentary impacts or the rapture or giant space aliens or something. And the only thing they have in common is they are all wrong
    This woman deserves an internet

  49. 49
    Daniel Schealler

    Do we know yet if anyone has been in to check on Camping?
    The lack of feedback is a little bit worrying at this point.
    Poking fun is all well and good – but I’m starting to worry that he might have done something drastic.

  50. 50
    ckitching

    It’s a too bad, really. It would’ve been interesting to have an earthquake near where I live. Given the fact there are no tectonic plate boundaries within 1,000 miles of me, it would’ve been quite a feat to achieve.
    I’m completely unsurprised that Harold Camping is from California, though. Only someone from an earthquake zone would think that that could be a suitable universal natural disaster.
    For those asking about Mr. Camping, there’s a story on Reuters about him. It’s seems he’s alive and well, and “looking for answers.” Perhaps it would be more accurate if he had said fabricating a new date, but honesty is too much to expect.
    I feel bad for those who honestly and truly believed and sold all their possessions based on the ravings of this lunatic. No one deserves to be conned out of everything they own, even if they participated in the con willingly. Sadly, I don’t think many of them will turn their back on all this, since many will be even more invested in the idea now that they’ve given up everything, like the addicted gambler who is convinced they can win back their losses in the next game if they can just play one more game. The human psyche is truly a strange thing at times. The times when we should quit and cut our losses are the same times we’re most likely to do the opposite.

  51. 51
    Azkyroth

    By the way, a correction on your talk.
    You’re angry about “what WAS DONE to Galileo. (It emphatically didn’t just ‘happen.’)”

  52. 52
    Azkyroth

    It’s as if the worldwide news media was covering the story, “Suspension Bridges Around the World Not Turning Into Fish.”

    Oh, and consider this stolen. :3

  53. 53
    Benjamin Machanik

    Camping has moved the date to the day he first said the world would end, October 21st 2011.
    Damn! My bet was out by a month

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