Conversations: Prophecies


Zoe
There are people who think that their sacred texts predict the future by means of prophecies. Is this so unreasonable?

Sappho
It is. Consider the Bible, Christians regularly assert that the Bible predicts future historical events. For instance, Deuteronomy 28:64 says, “And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other.”

Helena
Furthermore, Jesus says, in Luke 19:43-44, “For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Now, we are meant to believe that these utterances predict the subsequent history of the Jews with such uncanny specificity so as to admit of only a supernatural explanation.

Sappho
But just imagine how breathtakingly specific a work of prophecy would be, if it were actually the product of omniscience. If the Bible were such a book, it would make perfectly accurate predictions about human events.

Helena
You would expect it to contain a passage such as “In the latter half of the twentieth century, humankind will develop a globally linked system of computers—the principles of which I set forth in Leviticus—and this system shall be called the Internet.” The Bible contains nothing like this. In fact, it does not contain a single sentence that could not have been written by a man or woman living in the first century.

Sappho
This should trouble Christians!

Helena
Why doesn’t the Bible say anything about electricity, or about DNA, or about the actual age and size of the universe? What about a cure for cancer? When we fully understand the biology of cancer, this understanding will be easily summarized in a few pages of text. Why aren’t these pages, or anything remotely like them, found in the Bible? Good people are dying horribly from cancer at this very moment, and many of them are children.

Sappho
The Bible is a very big book. God had room to instruct us in great detail about how to keep slaves and sacrifice a wide variety of animals.

Helena
To us who stand outside the Christian faith, it is therefore utterly astonishing how ordinary a book can be and still be thought the product of omniscience.

(Based on: Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 20)

See other: Philosophical Conversations

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One thought on “Conversations: Prophecies

  1. Yet Yeshua (Jesus) said that many of the people of his time would still be alive when he returned to signal the end of times – certainly a failed prophecy.

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