How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Awaiting the Rapture, May 21, 2011 – End Times Prophecies and the Folly of Humankind

Long before European explorers ventured across the Pacific Ocean, some of the most adept sailors ever known to history made their way across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean to settle on remote Easter Island. Once settled, the archaeological record indicates they never returned to their homeland 1,400 miles to the west. On the 69 square mile island, the new settlers were about as isolated from the rest of the world as a people can be.

In his award winning book Collapse (1), Jared Diamond details the natural history of the people of Easter Island and their adopted ecosystem. When humans first arrived on the remote island, it was a sub-tropical paradise, covered in dense forest. Giant palm trees with massive trunks larger than 7 feet in diameter spread out across the landscape. Land and sea birds crowded the shorelines. Native fruit and hardwood species cluttered the island offering an edible and medicinal cornucopia. The surrounding seas teemed with porpoises, tuna and other marine culinary delights.

But, when a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen, discovered the island on Easter Sunday, 1722, he found a devastated landscape without a single shrub or tree larger than 10 feet in height. Towering above the wasteland like ghostly specters, were giant, gray, stone statues, some as tall as modern five-storey buildings. The few human inhabitants that remained were emaciated and subsisting on a diet of rats.

What happened? It seems that life on Easter Island was originally, practically utopian. Hardwood trees were pared into seaworthy vessels for hunting porpoise and tuna. Land and sea birds were easily captured and eaten. Forest fruits were abundant. People built modest stone statues to thank their gods, cutting down the giant round palm trees to transport their icons across the island. The human population prospered and exploded. Eventually, the ecological carrying capacity for humans was breeched. People ate more birds than could be naturally replaced. Eventually all the sea and land birds disappeared. Islanders cut down more trees to build bigger statues. They cleared even more forest to grow crops. As the trees fell, topsoils washed away into the sea, making it difficult or impossible for the forests to re-establish themselves. Trees were now unavailable to make canoes, so porpoise and tuna vanished from the diet. Eventually, the ecosystem and the human population collapsed.

Rather than conserving scarce resources and living sustainably, difficult times inspired Easter Islanders to building larger and larger statues, believing that their gods would be appeased and that bounty would return to them. As Diamond notes in Collapse, One has to wonder what was transpiring on Easter Island as the last tree fell. Were dissenting voices urging people to reason and crying out in horror at the foolishness of their peers? Or did the joyous ecstasy of the faithful, cheering on the utter, fully-realized environmental devastation they believed would force the gods to make their divine move, drown out any semblance of sanity? Since the Easter Islanders left no record of their ecological end times, we can never know, but their example illustrates how little the human species varies over time and across cultures.

The end of the world is upon us. So says Biblical scholar Harold Camping, who has determined that May 21st, 2011 is the day that the faithful, saved followers of Jesus will be raptured up to heaven with their savior, while the rest of us toil in a Hell on Earth. Camping further speculates that the world will come to a final end, as outlined in Revelation at the sands of Armageddon on October 21st this same year.

Initially, Camping’s theory was a fringe idea restricted to a few of his zealous followers, but the possibility of rapturous ecstasy has now gripped the born-again community, spreading like wildfire. The faithful are ridding themselves of their worldly goods and joyously awaiting the end of the world. Messengers are spreading out across the globe to spread the “good news.” In the Turks and Caicos Islands, a small country of less than 50,000 people just north of Haiti where I am a permanent resident, missionaries have arrived with the message. They are even advertising in the local paper. The end times are upon us. Rejoice.

What’s up with that? I am personally quite fond of this planet and don’t particularly want to see it come to an end, regardless of any salvation that might be coming my way, which by the way, I am pretty sure I am exempt from, given my heretical views. Nevertheless, my desire to see our beautiful planet preserved is where I diverge from the estimated 680 million or so born again Christians on Earth who fervently want to see the world come to an end.

Camping’s end times prophecies are nothing new. Christians and others have been waiting for the end times since the founding of their religion. Apostle Paul was a lifelong celibate, who felt sex and having children was entirely unnecessary, since the world was imminently ending (2).

The Mayan calendar famously postulates that December 21st, 2012 marks the end of an age and that the world as we know it will be unrecognizable after that date. Whether prophecies hold true or not, history shows that civilizations most definitely suffer from cultural end times, usually due to their own folly. However, to date, no God has ever rescued the unfortunate masses from their own, self-inflicted extinction. The early inhabitants of Easter Island are case in point.

May 21st will come and go, and I would be willing to bet my life’s savings that we are all going to be left behind here on beautiful Earth. It would be great if those desperately seeking the Rapture would take this as an indication that they are suffering from a mythological delusion and use the opportunity to divert their attentions to the myriad issues here on Planet Earth that require our urgent attention.

Alas, reality is elusive for those who refuse to recognize it. Excuses will be made. God was just testing us and we weren’t ready. Let’s go decimate some more landscapes and then He will have to rescue us. In the end, will we be just like the last Easter Islanders, holding the axe that cuts the final tree and wondering why our imaginary God hasn’t saved us from ourselves? Hopefully, the voices of reason will prevail because I am not partial to a diet of rats.

As people look towards a mythical utopian future, they ironically turn their backs to exactly that which they seek. The Earth and nature become means to an end that will never transpire. Just as The Easter Islanders ruined paradise, born again Christians cheer on wholesale slaughter in the Middle East and view global environmental apocalypse as the joyous fulfillment of end time prophecies.

We cannot enter paradise by destroying the Earth, and the Rapture will not miraculously save us from our stupidity. If we would just look around, embrace our loved ones, care for our habitat and appreciate all the beauty of life, we would find the paradise we so desperately seek right beneath our earthbound feet.

1- Jared Diamond, Collapse. See Chapter 2.
2- Elizabeth Abbott, A History of Celibacy. See chapter 2.

A few of the many websites dedicated to the “good news:”


  1. Hello...just dropped in from TPM. I've never read a J. Diamond book. You seem to have read a few. Do you have a recommedation for a first book?

    I enjoyed reading your "end times" essay. Maybe I'll get a boot to read on the 22nd of May.

    Thanks, Lee Hargraves

  2. Hi Lee and welcome. Jared Diamond always provides a great read. You might want to try "Guns, Germs and Steel" as an introduction. It is probably his most well-known work. The 22nd sounds like a good time to start a new book to me too.

  3. Great blog. Have read most of Diamond's work. It amazes me that the 'faithful' of most religions have somehow evolved. Between religious wars, religious mores, human sacrifice and dressing funny you think they would have gone the way of the Easter Islanders. Perhaps, if they all leave on the 21st (the object of my first prayer since I was kicked out of Sunday school for being too inquisitive) we can practice what you laid out in the last paragraph of this blog.

  4. Now wait a doggone minute. Do you take us for rubes? Of course you'd be willing to bet your life savings on the world not ending, because if it does, there's nobody to pay, no money, no nothing. You just collect if it doesn't end. For you are a witch!

    On another note, if all the rapture believers did fly away to heaven, this place could only get that much more better. So it could all work out very well. Also, I'm willing to pick up the worthless worldly possessions of anyone sure they won't be around after Saturday at no charge.

  5. Another excellent post, killing Mother. I didn't know that about Easter Island but what a microcosm of what is happening in the world at large.

    Your last paragraph really sums it up perfectly for me.

    We cannot enter paradise by destroying the Earth, and the Rapture will not miraculously save us from our stupidity. If we would just look around, embrace our loved ones, care for our habitat and appreciate all the beauty of life, we would find the paradise we so desperately seek right beneath our earthbound feet.

    How utterly simple and sound.

  6. Do you think it might actually be part of the plan to have the cupids liquidate and give away their all? Because organized religions seem only too prepared to provide the full range of (their version of) social services to the needy, so long as the latter also express some convincing level of fidelity (in the circumstances under discussion, of course, entirely as contingency).

  7. I wrote a poem in college trying to show how the corporations were "raping" the earth with their machines and their refuse. I agree--we need to focus on Mother Earth and forget the impending rapture that Christ actually predicted himself--"You generation shall not pass and the kingdom of God will come." He was an end timer himself and never believed that any of this would be.

  8. Awesome post Killing Mother! Just awesome!

    Ironically, along with my strong belief in reason and scientific knowledge, everything I was ever taught in Sunday School compels me to be in agreement with you on this. Of course, I wasn't brought up as a fundamentalist/born again wacko. What you've written here is plain old common sense. If only people would open their eyes!

  9. Another great post and I too love your final paragraph.

    Alas, even if the born-agains are taken up in the rapture, it will not save the rest of us. I feel we ARE going to go the way of the Easter Islanders. We've already done a great deal of destruction to the planet and I cannot see one indication that we won't continue down this path. It's all about us humans, right?

    Most people do not see that they are inextricably bound to the earth. It's getting worse because we are interacting less and less with the amazing life and beauty all around us (for example by being plugged in all the time with mobile technologies). Having or feeling no connection to the earth makes it easy to destroy nature.

    So there will be an end time after all, just not the rapturous one the born-agains imagine. I just hope there's something left of the beautiful Earth so it can regenerate after we've made ourselves extinct.

  10. Please forgive me, killing Mother, but I must address Eam directly. Dear Eam, I really think you should spend more time at your blog. It's really very nice. For example, you led me to this:

    I pray that the Lord will turn this into a clickable (I'm so sorry, Lord, and Eudora Welty. I find myself saying this more and more.) link.

    I just cracked myself up.

  11. @Anonymous, Yes, the natural selection scenario is a conundrum. You might want to check out my February post of Super Bowl and Chicken Brains. I actually have given the concept some thought. I wish it weren't controversial for biochemists and neuroscientists to work together to see if there is a genetic predisposition for critical thinking vs. faith thinking. Anyway, I agree with your sentiment.

  12. Cary, "I am not a witch;" however, I am sure that some out there would like to burn me at the stake. Thanks for your comment. I hope you find the 21st to be a profitable venture.

  13. Avattoir, organized religion has always been a proponent of separating people from their money. I wouldn't put it past them.

  14. rsinay, Thanks for the quote. I forgot that one and it is perfect for inclusion with this piece.

  15. Anonymous, Many of my Christian friends are also dumbfounded by this nonsense. As you say, it completely contradicts much of the Bible on the topic, which instructs that the date of the end times cannot be known.

  16. Eam, I share your hope for the future. Tsisageya is right, you should get back to work on your beautiful blog.

    Tsisageya, as always thank you for your insights and support.

  17. Cool blog!

    I followed your link from TPM. I'm finishing a degree in geology this year at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC (after 20 years away from school). I absolutely believe that more people in the scientific community must speak out against the dishonest politicization of research, and the attempts to introduce "Intelligent Design" into high school classrooms.
    Since I will likely have to teach freshmen level geology courses when I go to grad school in the next year or so, I am apprehensive at the amount of damage I will confront in these kids coming into my classroom. Please, keep up the good fight!


  18. AnneMarie, It sounds like you are going to be in the frontlines soon. While I am sure you will have some disappointments, I am sure you are also going to turn some minds around. Good luck.

  19. Ms k-Mom, I actually see this as a two-fer: Camping Industries is raking in millions from convincing the cupids into liquidating and donating the full take to his scam, but then when Sunday comes up as normally scheduled and the world-wide conflagration somehow has not come up, they will be moved to turn to him again - but this time for help. This has happened before in American history, and not just with Camping, but indeed specifically with Camping. What is particularly galling is that the Camping enterprise is massively taxpayer-supported, due to the Tax Code exemption for churches and religious movements, under some bizarre bastardization of the Separation Clause. This sort of indulgence was survivable when we had much high domestic production and growth and far fuller employment and our 5% of the world population was not getting 25% of the oil and gas production of the world for a fraction of the price that demand would suggest; but at this point it constitutes one of the many massive leaks in the sinking ship.

  20. Avattolir, Good points. The Tax Code think really irks me too. Some of these mega churches are nothing but money making machines. Pat Robertson is a billionaire. Why should these charlatans be exempt from income tax? It just doesn't make sense. Thanks for you input.

  21. As we pause to consider, perhaps,
    civilization could finally collapse,
    ...for the clues all portend
    ...that we hasten the end
    through religion or greed, the big traps.

    I see you are getting more replies lately. I hope this means you are getting a wider audience!

    Here is another interesting book:

    American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by Kevin Phillips (2006).

  22. Rhymer, I wish today's passage without incident would inspire people with reality, but as your poignant rhyme notes, it will probably be more of the same.

    The blog readership is indeed steadily increasing, and I appreciate your excellent contributions. I will check out your recommendation. Thanks!

  23. Well I was kind of hoping the end would come before I had to go to work today, but alas here I am. Sigh. Thanks to you and tsisageya for your comments about my blog. When I started it years ago, I was only doing it to test out blogging and now spend too much time reading other blogs to write one!

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Kathleen,

    You may find this research on Easter Island of interest.

  26. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over
    again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    My webpage ::


  27. Harvey Milk Stamped "Out" Forever !

    The Obama Cabal is behind universal GAYety with a "forever" postage stamp glorifying Harvey Milk, a Jewish homosexual predator "attracted to boys aged 15-19," according to WikiAnswers! (Also see Wikipedia.)
    Global gaydom was even predicted by Jesus (see "days of Lot" in Luke 17 and compare with Genesis 19).
    And the Hebrew prophet Zechariah (14th chapter) says that during the same end-time gay "days" ALL nations will come against Israel and fulfill the "days of Noah" at the same time (see Luke 17 again) - a short time of anti-Jewish genocide found in Zechariah 13:8 when two-thirds of all Jews will die.
    In other words, when "gay days" have become universal, all hell will break loose!
    Shockingly, the same "days" will trigger the "end of days" - and when they begin, worldwide human government will quickly wind down in just a few short years! For the first time in history there won't be enough time for anyone to even attend college, let alone have a family, save money, enjoy retirement, etc.
    One final thought. The more we see gays "coming out," the sooner Jesus will be "coming down"!
    For more, Google or Yahoo "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up," "Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality. When gays have birthdays...," "FOR GAYS ONLY: Jesus Predicted..." and "USA - from Puritans to Impure-itans!"