In the first few episodes of season 4 of The 4400, a book comes to light that belonged to a religious sect that existed almost a century earlier. The book mentions a Messiah and contains a sketch that looks rather like Jordan Collier, mentions a special elixir, and as we find out in the season’s 4th episode, “The Truth and Nothing But The Truth”, it also has pages written in code, which when deciphered include names of people alive in the present.
If there were actual prophecies, whether in the Bible or elsewhere, that genuinely provided inspired information about the future, that is what we should expect. Lists of names in a scroll sealed or written in code and preserved for a long time.
Of course, even in the fictional world of The 4400, it would not be inappropriate to ask whether the book is not a fake, something created in the present in order to promote a religious view of promicin and the 4400 (or Scientology), rather than genuine prophecy.
The irony is that the Bible does provided coded but clear references to an individual and the empire he ruled, although of course the author was writing about his past or present. But most Christians ignore the matches and the meaning, treating the Book of Revelation instead as something that is far more vague, describing a world ruler that could be an African-American president or a fascist dictator or a Romanian head of the United Nations. Why is the latter embraced so readily as a preferable approach?
A better set of questions to ask is why we do not have genuine detailed predictions that come true with absolute precision in the Bible or elsewhere. There is a simple answer, and it isn’t the simplistic answers skeptics might give, “The Bible is nonsense” or “there is no God”. For a religious believer, one can affirm that the Bible fails to predict precisely and infallibly, and make theological sense of that fact. And the conclusion it leads us to can be shocking, refreshing, or terrifying, depending on one’s assumptions and one’s psychological needs:
The future isn’t written in stone…or on paper.