In Christianity, there is the idea of the Rapture, in which - if I understand correctly - the good are taken to the afterlife, while everyone else remains on Earth.

Take an alternate Earth. Sometime in the near future, something like the Rapture occurs in a manner agreeing with the beliefs of religion X.1 However, the deity of religion X decrees - just before leaving - that this will happen a second time (and perhaps more beyond that) when those still on Earth will have a second chance.

This has some interesting implications. It gives some pretty strong proof that religion X is correct. It also means that those remaining on Earth have some motivation to do everything possible to do enough good to be accepted to the afterlife the next time.

The beliefs of the mainstream sect of religion X state that violence is unacceptable for most reasons (the exceptions being self-defense and the punishment of those who commit violent crimes). One would assume that people would, therefore, cease fighting, as violence could prevent them from being rewarded the next time this Rapture-like event happens. There might be exceptions, though.

Would wars still happen after a Rapture-like event? If so, why?

Edits from comments:

  • There is proof that those who were taken were brought to the afterlife
  • It is implied that those who were taken will go to "heaven", while those who remain have a good chance of going to "hell"
  • There is no "deathbed-confession-of-sins/conversion" that would save somebody.

1 All the religions in this world are different from the religions on our world, so religion X is not meant to correspond with any particular religion.

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, to clarify last question: is there a reason to believe that an overwhelming majority that remains would want afterlife? E.g. I'm pretty sure I would not want the afterilfe shown in some versions of Greek mythology (unless you end up in Elysian Fields, you just stand around with no memory, nothing really interesting happening). It's well known that many psychopaths on Earth openly stated that if Christian heaven is just sitting around playing Lyre and having no sex, they prefer hell, but a fun life before death. $\endgroup$ – Viola Molin Jul 19 '15 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Happen a second time: how about happens repeatedly, with legend that it has been happening forever? Re "It gives some pretty strong proof that religion X is correct." Visitors impressed the locals with a correct prediction of a lunar eclipse, and they claimed that meant their missionaries were legit. Having people vanish, or widely-beleived history that it happened, could be claimed by one or more religious sects regardless of any real connection. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 19 '15 at 23:43
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    $\begingroup$ @punkerplunk's reply makes me notice that X (as a leading syllable like Xian) is a common abbreviation for Χριστός. So the "Xian" religion keeps trying to be read as "Christian". This is exactly what is not meant, unless you were being ironic. (Actually ☧or Χρ is the equivalent of the English abbreviation "Chr.". $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 20 '15 at 0:20
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    $\begingroup$ Just for clarity, the Christian notion of heaven is generally not the cartoony "lyre and wings on a cloud" thing you may have seen portrayed. In general, it is basically a perfect version of / alternative to Earth, though that may be oversimplifying it a bit. In essence, you could still drive cars, have a rock band, play video games, hike, climb mountains, and all sorts of exciting stuff. But there would be no evil or suffering whatsoever, and everybody would be very Christ-centered and worshipful, not self-centered. $\endgroup$ – Panzercrisis Jul 20 '15 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ViolaMolin I'm pretty sure I'm not psychopathic, but I'm also certain that I do not want any kind of eternal afterlife, neither heaven nor hell. IMO, the only reason that most people do is because of their inability to grasp"eternity". Wanting no afterlife does throw a kink into such a religion. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Jul 21 '15 at 0:30

11 Answers 11


Wars would still happen.

  • ~3% of human population have ASPD (sociopaths/psychopaths) according to DSM-IV. Take away 30% during rapture that are genuinely good, and this rises to ~5%.

  • Those 5% tend to either:

    • not care about long term consequences (one of the traits of ASPD)

    • OR, they simply don't see themselves getting into heaven anyway (no deathbed sin forgiveness, as per OP's clarification), so might as well go to hell for something more fun and enjoyable than petty brawls and small time murder.

  • They can easily conscript less evil people into the war, by threatening the latter (go into the army, or we kill your wife and kids). Remember, in the history of mankind, many if not most wars are a result of a will of a small band of powerful people, not a result of popular vote.

    • they can even trick the rest of population into thinking that the war is "self defense" and thus permissible. There are always real, imaginary, or special-services-arranged, casus belli.
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    $\begingroup$ This exactly. By removing the good, you over-concentrate the evil and the danger of unchecked evil becomes worse. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Jul 19 '15 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have any reference for your numbers? $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Jul 20 '15 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ According to the wiki article, which cites a research paper, 3-4% is only for the business world. The general population is around 1%. (Hare, R. D. (1994). Predators: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. Psychology Today, Jan/Feb, 1994.) In full disclosure, I can't seem to find the full text to confirm that the citation is accurate, though. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Jul 20 '15 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ @corsiKa - worth asking on Skeptics? $\endgroup$ – Viola Molin Jul 21 '15 at 18:45

Contrast your scenario with middle ages' Christianity (as a religion pretty much undisputed and devoutly followed in central / western Europe):

It gives some pretty strong proof that religion X is correct.


those remaining on Earth have some motivation to do everything possible to do enough good to be accepted to the afterlife the next time.


The beliefs of the mainstream sect of religion X state that violence is unacceptable for most reasons...


One would assume that people would, therefore, cease fighting, as violence could prevent them from being rewarded the next time this Rapture-like event happens.

No check.


You betcha. Case closed. ;-)


Well, look at people today: we have a lot of proofs that "if you do X bad things (illness,injuries, death) will happen" but people keep doing that (see cigarettes, junk-food, drugs, pokemons...) because "it won't happen to me" or "I can stop before it's too late".

Also, there could be an external power coercing people to do bad. For example in the case of Christianity, the devil will impose people to have its mark and worship him or die. Some may not be able to bear the stress and tortures and decide it's better not-to-die-now than not-to-be-damned-later. Not everyone is forward-looking.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice. I hadn't thought about it like that. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 20 '15 at 20:40

People are people.

Take any (sufficiently large) subgroup of people and ask me what they'll do under a set of circumstances and by far the most likely answer is "the same thing any other group of people would do."

So, you ask: Would wars still happen after a Rapture-like event? If so, why?


Because people are people.

Perhaps a more interesting question comes from understanding what The Rapture means to certain evangelical Christians. Some sects have embellished "The Rapture" and included lots of lore not found in any historic Christian writings.

Usually these embellishments (now) include a global apocalyptic war, probably nuclear.

My opinion is that this is not more or less likely than such a war would be prior to such an event.

You add this statement:

The beliefs of the mainstream sect of religion X state that violence is unacceptable for most reasons (the exception being the punishment of those who commit violent crimes). One would assume that people would, therefore, cease fighting, as violence could prevent them from being rewarded the next time this Rapture-like event happens. There might be exceptions, though.

Most of the world's population (~70%) is NOT Christian (of any sect). Most Christians beliefs (>75%) do NOT include a Rapture like event.

Even supposing everything you mentioned, people not interested in Rapture will still commit atrocities, crimes, violence, etc. If the US is invaded by violent horrible extremists, you can be certain that the non-Raptured citizens will do what is necessary to protect themselves from beheadings, rape, torture, sexual slavery, and other atrocities.

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    $\begingroup$ Religion X is not meant to represent Christianity in any way, so the idea of the Rapture is in all sects of the religion. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 19 '15 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't Rapture just a partial case of the Revelations? (not too familar to be sure) $\endgroup$ – Viola Molin Jul 19 '15 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @ViolaMolin see the Wikipedia article linked from the OP. The idea has taken on a life of its own with tinuous links to a few lines from scripture, and fleshed out with newly invented detail. The main referent is Thessalonians, not Revalations. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 19 '15 at 23:58

Yes, even with definite proof that one particular religion is the actual one true way, there would still be fighting about it. For a while.

People get really invested in their beliefs, so if an event happened that completely invalidated everything they had believed all their lives, some people would fight back.
Atheists would try to reason away the evidence, probably even going to even further out explanations, like alien abduction.
Other religions wouldn't want to admit that their beliefs were less valid, and would attack the believers of the One True God, and probably go on a general rampage just out of spite.
You would have groups that would try to fight the One True God directly, to try to stop the next rapture event from happening.

There would still be a lot of new converts.

The fighting would start to die down after the second rapture event. If there was a promise of a third as you imply, then you'd have a lot of the people who tried to reason away the evidence or fight it starting to admit that they were wrong and convert. There would also be a large power vacuum for the remaining die hard fanatics and psychos to try to fill, so it wouldn't be completely peaceful, unless the One True God removed the worst of these at some point.

For example:

In the book of Revelations, there will be one rapture at the beginning to take away the believers so they won't have to go through the judgement (similar to Noah being in the ark, or Lot and his daughters being taken out of Sodom), and another half way through to take any converts up that had been convinced by the first rapture and repented of their sins.
Armies march from Asia and Europe toward Israel to fight God, and get slaughtered. Then Jesus returns in the second coming, along with all the people who had been taken away in the raptures, where they'll get to spend 1000 years on earth the way God wanted it in the beginning before man sinned.
All of the people who followed the Anti-Christ are thrown into hell, the devil is thrown into the bottomless pit, and everyone that missed the rapture but didn't take the mark of the Beast gets to enjoy paradise on Earth.

At the end of 1000 years of peace, literal Heaven on Earth, satan is released from the pit, and gets one last chance to convince people to rebel, and some do. After this rebellion fails, there is the judgement where all of the souls that didn't go in the rapture are judged and all the fallen angles and unbelievers are thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.

So, in this example, even after seeing the truth with their own eyes and living it, there will still be some people that want to do it their own way when given the chance.


Hmmm, I was wondering when my Christian-based homeschooling was going to come in handy -

Your Xian religion may vary but assuming a precedence exactly analogous to the mythic liturgies of Christianity; the Rapture occurs during a period of times known as 'the tribulation'. This is a brief seven-year period chock full of good ol' testament style vengeance-of-god stuff: Earthquakes, wars, pestilence, etc.

There are variations amongst denominations concerning the when specifically the rapture occurs, but as a sort of compromise many theologians believe there will be two rapture events, one at the beginning of tribulation and another halfway through:

The first is the more 'common' interpretation of Christians, to the delight of all us heathens and pagans, are plucked from the earth. This occurs with no warning, signaling the beginning of Tribulation, thus sparing the faithful from big g's wrath.

The other event, a more traditional (medieval) view, occurs half-way through the tribulation and correlates with some other events: the false prophet is revealed; the two witnesses are publicly executed by The Beast; there is a marked increase in frequency and magnitude of earthquakes and volcanoes; the dead shall rise to walk amongst the living; whatever that wormwood thing was; and, infine, the gentiles wage war against the Jews in the holy land. Of the dead who walk again, those with names lucky enough to be written in the 'book of life' are taken with all the remaining Christians - the final rapture. What follows is 3 1/2 years of the world rent asunder. The tribulation ends in the battle of Armageddon where the Jews, defending the holy land, look to be overrun but then god rains fire from the sky and saves them even though they don't believe in Jesus they're still his people so I guess it's okay for them to be saved after all. Anyway, following this is 1000 years of Christ reining 'by the iron rod' as god-emperor and THEN the final judgment, and then, to borrow the Yiddish, yadi-yadi-yah.

So, to answer your question, Yes. According to biblical myth, at least, the rapture event is indeed the very precursor to war. But it has to be the last war! The whole point of rapture is for the merciful and wise Xiox to protect all the true believing Xians from the, presumably, generally and thoroughly unpleasant events unmaking the world. After that, though, no. Christianity is disappointingly vague about what the millennial reign of Christ will actually be like. near as I can tell it involves singing in a really big choir. The general impression is, at least, there will be no war. Think of a super-despotic theocracy. Those tend to be, at least inwardly, very peaceful societies. Before Xians are admitted final suspended simulation aboard god's golden space colony, a final weening of the unfaithful pretenders most occur. The repression will be planet-wide and absolute - very Orwellian with much boot stamping on face. Any attempt to build an insurgency will be rooted and expunged by the all-knowing, all-seeing Theo-technocrats.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't parse "wormwood thing i;" so I can't just edit the typo. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 20 '15 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, you could have a (possibly post-apocalyptic) totalitarian government claiming to be the Iron Rod, with any surviving history covered up and edited to support the narrative, ala Orwell. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 20 '15 at 0:09

I think so.

Just a note: for your story, you should specify that your rapture does not include the apocalyptic events after the 'good' are saved.

Since I believe the majority of the people on Earth are generally 'good,' the remainder of civilization will have to reconstruct, and will likely be shamed into telling the 'rapture' story in many varied and different ways.

This leads to a second (and onwards) generation(s) who will be skeptical of the event being a divine rapture; indeed, skeptical of much recent history, since, let's say, 85% of the population was removed, leaving a lot of questions.

War is not necessarily inevitable, but I would consider it likely.


Interesting that you chose to ask about war and not crime, murder and other mayhem.

the above stats on ASPD does suggest there will be a certain group of individuals that will continue to transgress. As well, as mentioned in the comments, some people do not want to end up in a heaven where you get to praise some god over and over again for all eternity.

Consider also the buddhist heaven where you live in sensual bliss but are reincarnated since you are still apart of the cycle of living and dying.

And then consider wars in general. They take a certain amount of organization and resources, and 'control' of people. Historically, wars devolved when one of the opposing armies could no longer feed the troups.

If people are still required to grow food to feed themselves, they might not fight unless someone can supply them with the sustenance. they would likely still have families and still feed protection and love for them, but might not be all that interested in killing others for some other resource grab or control of territories.

Although, as is found in history, you might convince a bunch of people to 'righteously' kill off the remaining non-believers through some perversion of the belief system that ascertains that the killing is justified by the deity in question that caused the rapture. And if you include the caveat that said 'crusade' would equate with a free ticket to rapture number 2 (the sequel) then you could probably do it.


You mention that there is proof that those who were taken were brought to the afterlife. However I wonder what kind of proof could actually convince everyone, even those who never witnessed the original event. This to me seems a little implausible.

If every single person was an absolute devout follower of the religion, and never questioned any of its doctrines, then obviously there would never be wars. However unless human nature is very different on this alternate Earth, this kind of unwavering universal belief simply could not occur.

Also if every single person was devout, proof would not be required. I would suggest that if proof is required, then the followers aren't devout enough to guarantee complete fidelity to the religion, regardless of how convincing this proof may seem.

In short, if the inhabitants of your alternate Earth are fully autonomous beings, then conflict and war will invariably still happen.


People with different opinions (and actual power) don't just give up when you show evidence, no matter how strong.

Imagine that you're a leader of a strong cult (or a political party or something, it's all the same). Your whole life, you and your followers have been saying that Xian god doesn't exist, and that their religion is a load of bull. Then a lot of light appears all over the world, and most Xians simply vanish. The last thing you'd say is "Huh, guess that Xian thing is true after all!". Instead, you'd use the same to strenghten your own position:

  • Nothing magical - aliens came and took / killed them all.
  • Another god was getting tired of their bull, and got rid of them. Stupid misbelievers. All the more proof that Yian god is real!
  • The good old "what does that prove anyway?" After all, creationist sects are still powerful in places, no matter how much evidence you bring. Even if their god came down from the skies and said "Come on, cut the bull already! Obviously you made a few mistakes when copying the old tablets/scrolls!", they'd still find a way to disregard this. It wasn't really god. We understood his message wrong. It is a test of faith (very popular with abrahamic religions, especially christianity). Don't worry, there's no need to invent any evidence or a reason at all - simply state it as a fact and let them worry about such trivialities.
  • Good riddance. Finally their god (or whatever) took them, and we can carry on without their interference. Do we really want to lose the world we built with our own hands just so we could get an eternal servitude in prayer and boredom? There's no satisfaction in being handed the world on a silver platter - we're going to work hard to make a heaven on Earth!
  • ... and a million of other things a skilled politician could explain away.

The best thing is that you don't even have to have one explanation - everyone will take the one they like the most, like with all conspiracy theories. The only thing they'll agree on is that there is a conspiracy - and that's quite enough to completely discount whatever observations or evidence there is :)

If everyone believed that unicorns only follow people who are Good, the second a unicorn started following your political opposition, you'd start with the "well, obviously, that's just fairy tales". You don't just roll over and die!

One of the tricks that makes science really work is that its predictions are testable, and usually it isn't really all that hard to test (and design your own experiments). And even then, with the huge, overwhelming evidence, most people ignore whatever facts they don't like, be it the age of Earth, or that blacks are people too, honest. Sure, a rapture-like even would probably be a bit more spectacular than a science paper, but that doesn't really have much of a lasting effect - most people would probably forget it the next day, I'm not even starting on the next generation or two - "Sure, grandpa, a light came out of the sky and took the true believers..."


Wars don't start because ~3% of the population are sociopaths/psychopaths. They start because of so many different reasons (economical, social, environmental etc.) it's so complicated I doubt rapture event will effect the likeliness of war at all.
People on earth will have to continue living their lives as they always had, although the loss of so much of the population could cause these tensions that lead to war such as the complete loss of economical infrastructure (similar to maybe a huge epidemic?).
The fact that so many "good" people have left the earth will not change the likeliness, this dietys idea of good could be anything? If old religious texts are anything to go by, maybe even going to war with other beliefs?


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