Regarding our impending rapture, it has come to my attention that it will not, as I had assumed, be instantaneous and occurring anytime within the 48-hour span when it is the 21st of May somewhere in the world. According to this article, the most visible proclaimer of the rapture, Harold Camping, says that the rapture will occur at precisely 6 PM.
What time zone, you ask? All of them. Yes, the rapture will come in stages, first taking souls along the International Date Line and then working its way westward, accompanied by all manner of destruction. It sounds like a reasonable explanation at first, but I soon realized that it raises far more questions than it answers.
I first thought it oddly coincidental that the rapture would correspond to time zones, a concept designed and implemented by humans. Would God really have any need to abide by the relatively arbitrary protocols set forth by his subjects, whom (I’m constantly reminded) are incapable of conceiving the plane at which he operates? And then there are the anomalies of places such as China, which would usually span five time zones but whose government maintains at one. Would God rapture China all at once, in accordance of the declarations of its government? A communist government, no less?
And will the rapture really occur at exactly 1800 hours local time? The Time Zone system does not smoothly allocate times from one location to the next, it goes by increments, usually an hour at a time. Thus, we’d be seeing bursts of rapture-related activity every hour, on the hour. What a bizarre sight that must be.
And this style of rapture seems awfully Earth-centric. I suppose all the astronauts currently in Earth’s orbit will be raptured when the places they are orbiting over are, but what if the rapture happened when humans were on the moon, or after we’d colonized Mars?
But all this is inconsequential next to my major revelation concerning this method of rapturing. I have concluded that if the rapture does occur in this manner, then atheists such as myself will be safe… Provided they are not too close to the west of the International Date Line.
The rapture, as I have come to understand it, proceeds as follows: those who are saved disappear instantaneously around the world, leaving personal items falling to the ground like in The Langoliers. The people who are left can do nothing but wander around aimlessly, occasionally stumbling into piles of clothing, until the end of the world (which would happen soon after).
In this version, the people who aren’t saved when the rapture occurs are screwed. Everything will happen in no time at all, and if the person you’re chatting with disappears, it’s too late.
But now I realize there’s hope for people like me. All the sudden breaking news stories and disappearances will equate to an early warning system. The moment after I hear reports on TV and the Internet about too many disasters and disappearances for even the most skeptical of atheists to dismiss as a coincidence, I will drop down to my knees and pray. And I invite all my fellow atheists to join me in reciting the following:
Lord, I know now that there is overwhelming evidence that You do indeed exist, as it has finally been presented to me. Previously, I could not help but be skeptical of Your existence, given the lack of any empirical evidence whatsoever, or reports of Your doings that could not be easily explained away as myths or outright lies. But now I have seen the error of my ways, and I am hereby converting to whatever religion and sect that turns out to be the right one. I know You might have some reservations about this, given my previous reticence to do so, but You must admit that it was rather forgivable of me to do so, given the circumstances. And frankly, if You’re really as just and merciful as everyone down here said You are, You would allow me entrance into paradise after only the slightest of punishment.
Oh, and all that stuff about infanticide, and sending people to a place of unending torment by following the urges in which You Yourself had imbued them, and whatnot? We’ll have a chat about that later, I guess.
Yes, it does at first seem that we’ve been given a lucky break. And then you realize that this luck will only extend to the atheists who are not living on the easternmost edge of the eastern hemisphere. After all, that’s where the rapture will start, and there will be little to no warning for them. It’s like why my sixth grade science teacher admonished us after our test not to say anything about it to the students taking it on later periods, as it would give them an unfair advantage.
So be prepared to repent, around mid-afternoon on the 21st in your area. But also take some time to mourn those who had the misfortune of living in the wrong place, and will be paying for it for all eternity.