Surprisingly (or not) the world is not ending today – probably! This guy has the right idea:
An atheist and entrepreneur from North Hampshire, Bart Centre, is enjoying a boost in business for Eternal Earth-bound Pets, which he set up to look after the pets of those who believe they will be raptured.
He has more than 250 clients who are paying up to $135 (£83) to have their pets picked up and cared for after the rapture.
They would be disappointed twice, he told the Wall Street Journal. "Once because they weren't raptured and again because I don't do refunds."
The arguments are well-worn: the Bible does not contain hidden 'codes', that's not what Jesus meant when he said he spoke in parables; the Bible tells us no-one knows when Judgement Day will occur, not even Jesus (Matthew 24.6), and that it will come 'like a thief in the night' (1 Thessalonians 5.2-4); similes are not literal statements (2 Peter 3.8).
And, the 'rapture' is a North American conceit, having little to do with what the Bible actually says about the end of the world. It is founded on half-truths, snippets of verses, and who knows what else. If you want to read a really careful exploration of the end of the world as the Bible tells it, I recommend Simon Ponsonby's book, 'And the Lamb Wins' (available here).
The 'end of the world' syndrome is not unique to religious nuts – I think it is something to do with being human. Remember the Millennium bug, or the Large Hadron Collider creating a black hole at the centre of the earth? Or how about the regular scares about asteroids hitting the earth, or the North and South pole switching polarity and heralding a new ice age?
People are people – crazy, impressionable and gullible. But also wonderful and beautiful, inquisitive, caring and loving. Whatever you think, please don't write off all Christians because a few people do crazy things. Most of us are really quite sensible!