Politics & Policy

The Rapture That Wasn’t

Religious doomsdays that don’t pan out harm only the doomsayer. Leftist ones also harm scientists, and science.

It appears that The Rapture leading to the end of the world predicted by a Christian radio broadcaster for this past Saturday, May 21, did not take place. And the failure was covered worldwide. A Google search on Saturday evening yielded over 32,000 articles — in English alone — in the world media.

The secular, especially the anti-religious, Left enjoys these spectacles of religious foolishness. They seem to confirm not only how absurd these end-of-days predictions are, but how absurd religion is in general.

But the Left should not laugh too loudly. The religious world has far fewer doomsday predictions than the Left does. At least every few years, the secular Left frightens itself — and tries to frighten everyone else — about another doomsday scenario.

The most obvious current example is, of course, global warming. For years now we have been told by the world’s left-wing media that scientists are united in predicting that there will be worldwide catastrophe as a result of global warming caused by manmade carbon-dioxide emissions. Oceans will rise so high that they will drown many of the world’s great coastal cities; entire island-countries will disappear; vast areas of the world will dry up; and countries will fight one another for the little remaining fresh water.

Compared with the global-warming scenario, I’ll face the Rapture — and I’m not even Christian.

Of course, none of these global-warming predictions have materialized. For example, last month Der Spiegel reported: “Six years ago, the United Nations issued a dramatic warning that the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees by 2010. But now that those migration flows have failed to materialize, the U.N. has distanced itself from the forecasts. On the contrary, populations are growing in the regions that had been identified as environmental danger zones.”

As a result of so many such false alarms, and because so many places have experienced record cold temperatures, global warming has been renamed “climate change.”

But global warming is only the most recent doomsday scenario offered by the Left. Here is a small sample of some others:

Recall the Time and Newsweek cover stories about how heterosexual AIDS would become a national plague — since “AIDS doesn’t discriminate.” Skeptics who said at the time that heterosexual AIDS in America was largely a scare story were called “anti-science.” But Michael Fumento, the science writer who wrote “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS,” first in Commentary magazine and then as a book, turned out to be right. In America it was a myth.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2000, five children ages about five to eleven were featured; they recited lyrics about the doomsdays they could look forward to as they grew up in America. The first child, for example, said this: “When I grow up . . . Will I be able to see a rainbow in a smog-filled sky? Will there be any trees alive?”

In his 1968 book, The Population Bomb, Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich wrote: “In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Another doomsday prophecy from the Left: Two prominent feminist writers, Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, wrote in their bestselling books, Revolution from Within and The Beauty Myth — and the news media reported — that 150,000 girls and women a year die of anorexia nervosa. The number is actually fewer than 100.

There is one major difference between leftist and religious doomsday scenarios. The religious readily acknowledge that their doomsday scenario is built entirely on faith. The Left, on the other hand, claims that its doomsday scenarios are entirely built on science.

That there is little truth to the left-wing claim is not as important as the fact that these doomsday scenarios have undermined the status of science. How many scientists have been compromised by their joining the research-money and fame bandwagons of left-wing apocalyptic predictions? And how has this affected the public’s perceptions of science and scientists when it comes to contentious issues?

The Left had its laugh this past weekend, but only because it’s a lot easier to laugh at religious doomsdays than at leftist ones.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.

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