Bible Prophecy

Full of profit but not prophet.

Nostradamus and the Bible: Two false prophets.

A couple of recent comments over on my AIG Research Paper Winner article were about Bible prophecy. I thought it would be a good idea to expand that a bit into its own article.

Reader Tara states:

One thing that bewilders the human mind is the ability to foretell the future. God has that ability. I would strongly suggest studying Bible prophecy. This subject is not something many like to hear about because the fact is, IT IS PROOF that God exists.

I responded to her assertion with:

No. It is merely proof that somebody can go into the Bible after the fact and data mine for sentences that they like and twist and conform the “evidence” into whatever shape they want.

Most people who believe in Bible prophecy do not believe in the prophecies of Nostradamus, but they are effectively identical. In both cases, supporters take ambiguous statements and pair them with ambiguous historical events and say it’s a match.

If you disbelieve Nostradamus, you must disbelieve Bible prophecy for the exact same reason!

Tara’s only response to this was:

As far as Nastradamus [sic] is concerned; he was proven to be a hoax long ago. Actually, he took some prophecies from the Bible and claimed they were from him.

OK, so Nostradamus got one thing right!

(Image from Stop Dubya.)

To be fair, the exchange was mostly about other issues raised in the article. The Bible prophecy stuff was more of a side argument. She was probably more interested in the main debate, which is why she didn’t address my prophecy points too thoroughly.

Let’s look at the one point she did mention. I had said:

If you disbelieve Nostradamus, you must disbelieve Bible prophecy for the exact same reason!

To which she replied:

As far as Nastradamus [sic] is concerned; he was proven to be a hoax long ago.

I guess she’s saying that she rejects my premise. OK. But why? The only difference that I can see is that the Bible is a “holy book” and “the word of God”, whereas Nostradamus was just a charlatan.

But what facts are there that the Bible is a “holy book” and “the word of God”?

None.

Now that we’ve established that, let’s compare Bible prophecy with Nostradamus’ prophecies. Their credibility and accuracy are identical (Credibility: none. Accuracy: poor). As I said above, the only way either book looks accurate is because their supporters went in after the fact and bent historical events around vague statements.

Since both texts are equally bogus, you must reject both as oracles.

As further proof that both books are bogus, answer this question:
Why have there been no accurate and specific predictions derived from either book before the fact?

There is a cottage industry of people making claims that the Bible says that XYZ will happen on a certain date. Remember Y2K? Some of those were Biblical predictions. Nothing happened. Numerous Christian sects are based on Bible prophecy, such as the 7th Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both organizations made very specific predictions about when the world would end. When it didn’t, they both made new predictions. When those didn’t happen, they tried again, etc.

If the Bible is so prophetic, then why can’t it be used as prophecy? I’ll tell you: It’s because people are going in after the fact, cherry picking data, and molding it around vague, ambiguous Biblical statements.

Internet Infidels

I did a quick Google search, and I came across a good thread at the Internet Infidels Discussion Board. A reader wants to know how to assess a claim of Biblical prophecy. Another reader writes:

There are several criteria for claiming prophecy fulfillment. Farrell Till has outlined them numerous times before. Here are five of them:

1. It must be shown that the event predicted actually occurred.

2. It must be shown that the prophecy was made prior to the event predicted.

3. The event must be far enough in advance to eliminate guesswork. I could predict we will send a manned mission to Mars, but such an educated guess would hardly be prophetic.

4. The prophecy must be specific. If claiming prophecy fulfillment requires “correct interpretation” of vague statements, it isn’t prophecy fulfillment.

5. The prophecy cannot be easily self-fulfilled.

That same reader added this in a later post:

I thought of the 6th criteria: The prophecy can’t be overly general or about things that occur all of the time. E.g., general predictions about earthquakes, famine, and pestilence fall into this category of non-prophecies.

So there you have it. Six excellent criteria for assessing any prediction, no matter the source.

Farrell Till and Biblical Inerrancy

This Farrell Till fellow seems quite astute, so I went in search of his website. He publishes The Skeptical Review. It has a FAQ (Frequently Asinine Questions). Here are a few excerpts:

Who is Farrell Till?

Farrell Till is a well-known voice in the battle against the absurd doctrine of biblical inerrancy. A Church of Christ minister and evangelist and now an atheist, Till’s speciality is disproving that any prophecy in the Bible has ever been fulfilled in all of its details. In other words, Till holds and proves that the Judeo-Christian Bible contains 100% false prophecy. [emphasis added]

What the hell is “inerrancy,” anyway?

It’s the belief that the Judeo-Christian Bible is free of all errors or contradictions in matters of science, geology, theology, cosmology, or anything else you’d care to name. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: “How pathetic.” But it’s hard to maintain power and control over “the faithful” if the pastor concedes that the Bible is shot full of errors (which it is), and that’s what the inerrancy doctrine is all about: power and control.

Some “inerrantists” believe that the as-is Bible — the one that you bought at Wal-Mart this morning — is 100% free of any errors whatsoever. There are other inerrantists who hold that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is 100% free of errors, but not any other versions of the Bible. And then there’s a THIRD crowd of “inerrantists” who believe that the inerrancy doctrine applies to only the “original autographs” (manuscripts) of the Bible’s books, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to any contemporary copy of the Bible. Since there is no such thing as an “original autograph” of any of the Bible’s books, this third group of inerrantists is little more than a bunch of weasels. The have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too crowd, if you will.

Logical Fallacies

The best part of the FAQ deals with three of the most common logical fallacies:

Each time that a Christian or Jew comes along and joins this email list, they almost always engage in at least three of the many dozens of logical fallacies, namely:
• special pleading,
• question begging, and
• arguing by assertion.

SPECIAL PLEADING
My playing field needs to be superior to yours

You insist that we accord to the Bible a special status as the “inspired Word of God,” thus granting it an exemption from logic, reason, human experience, history, contrary evidence, textual analysis, and every other tool that humans use to separate fact from fiction. If the Bible claims that Jesus rose from the dead, then, by George, we’re obligated to accept that as a historical fact.

QUESTION BEGGING
Let’s reason in circles

You insist that the Bible is the “inspired Word of God,” and you know this because the Bible says of itself that it’s the “inspired Word of God,” and you know the statement is true because “God never lies,” and you know “God never lies” because he says of himself in the Bible that he “never lies,” and you know that God must have ACTUALLY SAID THIS because the Bible is the “inspired Word of God,” and you know this because the Bible says of itself that it’s the “inspired Word of God,” and…

ARGUING BY ASSERTION
It’s true because I say so

You claim that the Bible is the “inspired Word of God,” and you insist that we accept this because you said it.

Now tell me that the fundies don’t use all three of these (usually simultaneously!).

39 Responses to “Bible Prophecy”

  1. tom sheepandgoats Says:

    The World, a leading New York newspaper of that time, featured this headline in its August 30, 1914 magazine section: “End of All Kingdoms in 1914”

    “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy….For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses], best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’

    That’s not too bad, is it? For prophesy? It’s not in the Bible as is, but it is based on an interpretation of the 4th chapter of Daniel, which JWs made in the 1870’s and gave wide publicity.

    I thought this might fall under your category of “Special Pleading” (a prophesy recognized by one faith, but not others) but no, you have defined S.P. differently.

  2. Ron Britton Says:

    Tom:

    You threw me for a loop. I thought you were going to use this as evidence that Bible prophecy is bogus, because that is exactly what you example demonstrates.

    The JWs said that 1914 was going to be the beginning of the end of the world. It wasn’t. Prophecy failed.

    I agree that WWI was quite horrible and that getting their prediction to line up with it 40 years in advance seems impressive. However, the 20th century was rife with calamitous events. When viewed that way, their prediction seems a little less impressive.

    I would further argue that WWI is actually a miserable failure of a prediction. Despite the violence (and it was a very bloody war), it killed “only” nine million people. Compare that with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1920, which wiped out somewhere between 50 and 100 million people! WWI pales in comparison. If anything qualifies as the Day of Wrath it would be that.

    To quote Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by that much!”

  3. jfatz Says:

    I wasn’t sure the day would come where I’d hear the phrase “killed ‘only’ nine million people,” but there ya go! 😉

  4. tom sheepandgoats Says:

    Ron:

    Well, it’s a bit more involved than that. Sorry, it can’t really be expressed as a sound byte. But even as is it rates as a solid triple. I’ll concede, as is, you wouldn’t count it as a grand slam.

    For reasons that take some time to lay out and I doubt would interest you anyway, when “God’s kingdom comes,” it is established invisibly in the heavens, only later to extend its influence over the earth. A rough comparison might be how the election determines the next Pres, who only takes authority later after he has assembled his team for inauguration day.

    Counterintuitively, God’s kingdom being established in heaven temporarily means temporary disastrous conditions on the earth (not unlike a world war), which enters its “last days.” In harmony with Rev 12:7-12

    “And war broke out in heaven: Mi′cha·el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

    “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! …..12 On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”

    This is the event thought to have begun in 1914, based on those verses in Daniel mentioned before.

    Though WWII was greater than WWI, it really was just a continuation. The aftermath (insisting the defeated countries pay every time of damages incurred) of the first war led almost directly to the second. Any number of historians have pointed to 1914 as a turning point year in human history. To my knowledge nobody has done so with regard to WWII.

    As I said, it can’t really be expressed as a one-liner. Even what I’ve written is by no means thorough

  5. Ron Britton Says:

    Tom:

    I didn’t mention WWII, except indirectly. As far as kingdom being established in heaven, there’s no way to confirm that.

    If a prophecy has enough ambiguity or enough details that can’t be confirmed, you won’t be able to convince the skeptics that it’s true, and it gives the claimant too many outs.

  6. tom sheepandgoats Says:

    Agreed. It’s hard, not easy.

    What do you think of this one: from the book of Micah? (OT)

    “And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite”

    a refererence to where Christ would be born. Nobody claims it wasn’t written well before NT times. Bethlehem was a tiny backwater of a town. And Bethlehem Ephrathah is a bit like specifying Naples, NY, as opposed to Naples, FL or Naples, Italy.

  7. Ron Britton Says:

    Tom:

    Farrell Till discusses that prophecy in this article (It’s a long article. Search for “Micah” and you’ll find it.). The short version is that the Bethlehem mentioned here is actually the name of a clan, not a town. It was saying that a member of the Bethlehem clan would become the ruler.

  8. Lepht Says:

    *looks up at the Jehovah’s Witness arguing that the world’s-end prophecy has already been fulfilled*

    so tom, you havin’ fun here in post-Armageddon cyberspace?

    L

  9. Dave Zirkle Says:

    Well if all these bible prophecies are true then I must have missed JaySus and the end of the wold in 2000. Damn it I hate to miss a big party.

  10. Dave Zirkle Says:

    Oh I like the point about none of these “predictions” were noticed ahead of the fact. If they had been San Francisco wouldn’t have burned in 1906 and the trade center wouldn’t have come down in 2001.

    It’s like closing the barn door after the horse escaped.

  11. Kaz Says:

    As for Micah “predicting” the location of Christ’s birth…

    You begin your argument with the assumption that Jesus in fact lived. There is actually no historical evidence to support this. The Jesus myth was cobbled together from earlier pagan myths and used as a marketing tool by a young and ambitious cult/church.

    Why should your arguments carry any weight if they are derived from your illogical belief in patently absurd myths?

    (For more info., watch the documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There.”)

  12. Sharley Says:

    People have been claiming the end of the world is nigh since long before Christianity — it seems like almost every religion has its own doomsday prophecy. (I can’t recall the precise details, but old Norse paganism has a myth saying a wolf will eat the sun and everyone will die in the ensuing winter.) It’s just one of those things all faiths have, much like a story of the creation of the world.

    So far as Christianity goes, first the Apocalypse was going to come in 666, because *gasp*, that’s the mark of the Beast. Then it was the year 1000, because that’s a big round shiny number. Hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny cults believed it would end between then and the year 2000, usually on some ‘significant’ date, not realizing that the Julian calender is not, in fact, entirely accurate.

    I always have to laugh at the ‘this will happen on such-and-such day at such-and-such time’, because — WHERE? They say a certain time of day, but where in the world will it be that particular time? Even saying it’ll happen on a certain day is flawed, because, as an Aussie friend of mine says, “Don’t worry that the world will end tomorrow, because it’s always tomorrow in Australia.”

  13. May 15th Prophecy Says:

    If you really want the absolute truth with 100% accuracy regarding End Time events then you need to read all of the post of the MAY 15 PROPHECY which has been the only source that has given the Who, What, Where and when with 100% accuracy

    Do a Google search of the MAY 15th PROPHECY and you will see for yourself

  14. S. Says:

    May 15th? Damn. I’d always hoped it would be the Ides of March.

  15. Sue Blue Says:

    Sharley, you’re thinking of Ragnarok! Just ask a Norwegian, we’re all up on that shit. Ragnarok was not only the end of the world, it was the death of the gods, as well. Those Vikings believed the earth would be destroyed by fire and ice, and who knows – climate change might just succeed at that. They also looked forward to the death of the gods, and I like to see that as just plain old good sense. Maybe they foresaw that people (at least some of them) would get smarter, find rational explanations for natural phenomena, and give up on the whole idea of gods.

  16. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I just visited May 15’s website. First words on the page…

    “We are leaving our children and grandchildren with debt they cannot possibly pay,” he said. “The economic crisis facing America today is far greater than anything since the Great Depression.”

    Okay, and whose fault is this again? “Tax and spend” Democrats? **BUZZZZZ* WRONG! Reaganomics and Bushanomics. **DING DING**

    Self-fulfilling prophecy much?

  17. LadyRavana Says:

    *snerks*

    Good one, PL. ZING!

    And duuude! I LOVE Norse mythology. The idea of a giant wolf eating the sun is totally bad-ass. So much cooler than the seven headed beast and lake of fire thing.

    I’m a Pagan, yo. Fundies, my Gods can totally pwn your God, so there! ;p

  18. S. Says:

    I want to go live on Stratford-on-Avon.Forget May 15..Ides rule!

    LOL LadyR. 🙂

  19. David Olesson Says:

    What a bunch of empty-headed fools. Stop repeating the catch-phrases that the media is driving into your heads and start listening and using your own common sense (those of you that still have some). Forget the nice smile, the lovely words that sound nice but mean nothing, and put the pieces of the puzzle together. Socialism/loss of freedom/ share the wealth/ universal health care. All of this sounds great to those who live off of the welfare system – But not so great to those of us who work to get ahead and wish to help those in need, but not those in “greed”.

  20. Brad Clayton Says:

    The bible clearly states in 1 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
    Everything that the bible states will come to pass is coming to pass. Nostradamus is dead and gone but Jesus is still alive. Have you listened to the prophecies of today. Those that are inspired of God are coming to pass unless you truly have a personal relationship with God you can’t understand this. God speaks to his people and there are some things that if you were not ignorant to them they would probably change your outlook. Nostradamus could not predict the final outcome. The bible says only God knows when the return of the Lord will be. Satan gives people the power to tell the future but his power is limited and is only allowed the power he is given from God. The final word is God’s and no amount of science can change that. We are merely human we can not escape life and death. We can however gain eternal life if we submit our lives to the one who holds the key to life eternally. We are flesh and bone and when it comes to prophecy God holds the key. The bible says we dont know the hour when he will return. The mark of the beast has nothing to do with a year. It is based on the rule of the anti-christ after the Lord raptures his people. Those who remain will be forced to either take the mark or be killed. In other words sell their soul. However, we Christians will return to the earth and rule and destroy the works of Satan once and for all. So many people want to doubt the truth but the truth is our very existence is based on these principles. We don’t even control our own breathing it is a gift from God. How come the human race cannot realize they don’t truly have control of anything? Why does it take catastrophic events for people to realize their is a higher power. There is only one God and believe me his power is endless. I have seen miracles by the hand of God that the human mind can’t even fathom. Those who can’t find the substance of Christianity have never known the relationship that exists between God and his children. The world is truly in distress and while so many fight to handle it on their own I just cast my burdens on the Lord and everyone of my needs gets met. I have never gone without and I have never been forsaken. He has provided a way everytime. While so many struggle to live and cry theirselves to sleep worried about this and that I sleep peacefully in the spirit knowing the Lord will make a way everytime. So what life do you really want? Do you want a life of constant confusion, depression, and anxiety? Or do you want a life of knowing no matter what comes my way, no matter what this world brings, no matter what struggles I face the victory is already mine and the battle is already won? If Jesus comes back today, tomorrow, or next year, or 20 years I live knowing what the outcome will be. Thank God I don’t fight this world on my own I lean to the creator of the universe because he is much bigger than I am. I love all of you God Bless!

  21. Ron Britton Says:

    Some people kind of miss the point of an article.

  22. Jeff Eyges Says:

    we Christians will return to the earth and rule

    Yeah, that’s about it.

    Otherwise – wow. Stream of consciousness Christian cliches. It’s been a while since I saw so many without a paragraph break. Sort of a fundie brain fugue, I guess.

  23. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Not meaning to feed the troll (well, maybe I am) but I just really want to know more specifics on this statement: “I have seen miracles by the hand of God that the human mind can’t even fathom.” Please do tell us more! I want my puny human mind to not be able to fathom your time cube of knowledge!

    I promise I won’t even complain that you don’t ever create a new paragraph!

  24. dvsrat Says:

    I remember watching a corny video on Nostradamus that was made in the ’80s. I was watching it in the early ’90s. I noticed that all (100%) of the things from the past that Nostradamus predicted came true! Wow. Not one single prediction from Nostradamus that was projected into the future came true (0%).

    Those who believe in Nostradamus would probably say that our ability to understand the great master is impaired by our inability to fully grasp the true meaning of the blah, blah, blah.

    I have yet to see one prophecy from the Bible, Nostradamus, Tarot cards, slot machines, newspaper horoscopes, shape of the dust-ball you discovered under the credenza, or the fact that the library closed one hour early on Thursday, February the 5th, 2004 which happened to be 20 years later, to the day, that you had been detained by the FBI under the suspicion that you had a crush on Jodie Foster; these are the sort of things that have convinced me that there is really nothing to this “I see the future” codswallop.

  25. Parrotlover77 Says:

    A few times my horoscope has been accurate. But I hardly call a prediction like “you will meet someone new today” a very bold statement about the future.

    Even a stopped clock is right twice per day…

  26. Another Steve Says:

    I’m going to make a prediction: We will never hear from Brad Clayton again.

  27. Ron Britton Says:

    Another Steve:

    Is that prediction from the Bible or Nostradamus?

  28. Another Steve Says:

    Ron:

    I think I’ve said this on your blog before:

    This post claims Divine inspiration.

    Perhaps one of the (many) redacted books of the wholie (sic) bible.

    What fundie could argue with this?

    We will never hear from Brad Clayton again.

    Sort of makes me wonder some times… These losers do a post and run, and then drop off the face of the Earth. Do they ever wonder if one of the readers has some sort of aneurysm and suddenly accepts Jebus as his personal saviour? Do they ever look back?

    I suspect there are even some predictive metrics that can be gleaned from the post and run. Perhaps something like:

    The length of the post is inversely proportional to the likelihood that the fundie will return.

    The inability to properly structure thoughts into paragraphs (or use proper punctuation) is a strong indicator of never seen/heard from again.

    Cheers

  29. Jeff Eyges Says:

    There ought to be some sort of requirement that someone who posts a comment on a blog, or writes an op-ed piece, or whatever, has to remain in the venue long enough to field opposing viewpoints. In other words, they should be made to stand there and take it. These drive-by postings ought to be made illegal.

    But then, I like to tell people what to do. I’m a damn Librul.

  30. dvsrat Says:

    Hi, I’m Brad Clayton.

    ….Just kidding;)

  31. Another Steve Says:

    Hi dvsrat, and thanks for opening. The following in no way should be perceived as any sort of ridicule (or for that matter even the slightest bit negative) of you.

    Alleluia! And on the 30th post, he has returned from the stupid! Just as predicted by his profit Another Steve!

    Kidding asside: Jeff Eyges

    I’m not sure which I prefer. Post and run idiots who leave a bad intellectual stench in the air, or the sort that sticks around for months injecting their own brand of reality into any post that suits their fancy. They lie, they quote mine, they quote scripture, and generally ignore any and all efforts to have an honest discussion based on reason.

  32. dvsrat Says:

    That is funny! What a great coincidence!!

    Kidding aside:

    I have not noticed any persistent trolls on Bay of Fundie. I am new to this site, and I have looked over the past history of comments, and I see this one as being relatively free of trolls.

  33. Ron Britton Says:

    That’s because I don’t give them free reign. The overriding goal of my comment policy is you have to be contributing to the conversation. Fundies are allowed here as long as they’re honestly trying to engage in a dialog. Once they cross over into trollish rants, I delete their messages.

  34. dvsrat Says:

    Ron, I agree with your approach to the troll issue. That is the same way that I handled the comments in my Youtube vids.

    If you would like to express a different point of view you are welcome to do so. If you want to be a pest and get some friends together to bomb the comments section with meaningless gibberish — get lost.

  35. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Steve, I agree. I’m not saying they should be tolerated indefinitely; I agree with Ron’s approach. I just don’t think they should be allowed to take their shot and walk away unscathed. Other people’s blogs are not places for them to have their quasi-literate tantrums.

  36. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Sniff sniff. Smells like Spam.

    … visting site to see what they are selling …

    Whoa, Ron. This Abigael link is just ripe for the ripping apart! This turkey is apparently a profit from God, but doesn’t like all the major organized religion stuff.

    Man… All I had to do was say I was hearing voices in my head and I could have been a millionaire.

  37. Ron Britton Says:

    PL:

    That is spam. She tried to comment on another article yesterday, but the spam filter caught it. That one slipped through, so I had to flush it manually.

    There is a new trend now among some spammers. They hire people in India to manually roam the web looking for sites that are sort of related and then write a custom spam comment.

    I’m not going to rip the site apart. It isn’t very interesting to me, and I don’t want to reward her with any attention.

  38. 4ndyman Says:

    Another Steve: “These losers do a post and run, and then drop off the face of the Earth.”

    If only . . .

  39. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Ron – I have noticed that on my blog too. I used to just get “wowgold” (watch my post now get filtered lol), but lately I’ve been getting a lot of “this is a great post, have you checked out this site” which is what that was. Much harder to filter and they always pass my very simple handicap friendly (but not moron friendly) math-based CAPTCHA.

    Also, I wasn’t implying you should rip it apart (although reading it I see how you saw that). I was simply amused at how the site had so many way-too-easy pages that could be ripped apart by a third grade science education. You are right to not give them any traffic. In fact, just so you don’t give him any link-through traffic, I copied and pasted the URL instead of clicking on it. 🙂