Examining Biblical Prophecy – pt. 1- introduction

Examining Biblical Prophecy – pt. 1- introduction April 6, 2016

Biblical prophecy keeps rearing its ugly head. It’s defiant to the end. I’ve addressed this before, but I have an ongoing interest in analyzing the topic – why do we atheists not find it compelling? Why do Christians? Maybe if I could explain it more succinctly, or more clearly get to the root of the problem, they’ll snap out of it? (Probably not)

I’ve decided to analyze specific prophetic claims, and see what they have to say.

My first stop is here: wwwDOTreasonsDOTorg/articles/articles/fulfilled-prophecy-evidence-for-the-reliability-of-the-bible. (donolink.com seems to be dysfunctional).

Before I dive in, I’d like to point out that this topic really has two independent aspects:

  1. Whether a book accurately predicts the future.
  2. How the authors of the book accomplished this.

The Christian, of course, chooses his/her favorite option – God – out of several other possibilities (precognition, time travelers, etc). This is the causal mechanism they’re asserting, which needs to be demonstrated. To date, the best explanations I’ve gotten are a variant of “it’s in the same book that says God is real.” and/or “How else could they do it?“, which are logical disconnects.

I’ll be looking at whether the future was actually predicted correctly, and whether anything other than mundane mechanisms are needed.

The introduction to this article begins rather confidently. (I’ll address the first actual prophecy next time)

Approximately 2,500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2,000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors.

That’s a bold claim. I wonder how difficult it is to achieve “error” status here.

Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2,000 zeros written after it)!

Figured how, though? You’ll notice shortly that they keep throwing in these probabilities, with no explanation about how they’re calculated. I usually ignore these probabilities, as they’re usually complete bullshit.

Note they’re focused on the denominator. We can modify the numerator too.

  • If the prediction is vague, we can immediately bump the numerator by how many things can satisfy it. So, if there’s 5 potential events, that increases the odds from the supposed 1/10 to 5/10. That’s already at 50%!
  • If the prediction is time-unbounded, that drastically multiplies the possible events that can fulfill it. If there’s 1,000,000 events in the next million years, that increases our supposed probability from 1/10 to 1000000/10, or a 10000000% chance of coming true!

That’s why with bullshit. We’re not allowed to examine -and fully vet – the decisions that went into the calculations.

I realize any probability can be reduced to 1:#, however, my point is, they’re usually focused on trying to figure out how unlikely something is, and glossing over reasons that’d increase its likeliness.

The acid test for identifying a prophet of God is recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. According to this Bible passage (and others), God’s prophets, as distinct from Satan’s spokesmen, are 100 percent accurate in their predictions. There is no room for error.

I’ll hold the author to this – no errors.

Next up, a prophecy with a supposed 1 in 105 chance of coming true.

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