How reliable are the T.N.Kh./ Old Testament prophecies, and how do we know?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by rakovsky, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    What should have said, but will say it now, if you choose to believe in God know that it can be based only on mere faith and to say otherwise is simply wrong.
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  3. rakovsky Registered Member

    In the Torah, God talks at length with numerous people like Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and the elders. He could have explained this at length to the elders at Mt. Sinai when they met and sat with him, for example.
    There is no requirement that the Torah specify at which point this knowledge was imparted.

    Yes, depending on how deep you want to get into it.
    If your parents write you a letter telling you about their trip to the zoo, you don't need to question their motivations behind writing the letter or the stories in it.
    The ancient Jews were writing the Torah because they wanted to teach their religion focused on worshiping God.

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  5. rakovsky Registered Member

    Good question:
    The four proposed methods I have come across are:
    1. God inspires the prophets, fills them with his spirit and makes them give predictions based on His divine gifts. They live upright lives, are filled with truth and love and faith for God, and then with the power and help and guidance of his spirit, they make the predictions.
    2. There exists a real ability that is supernatural or paranormal of foretelling the future. Different terms exist like precognition or foresight to describe this ability. I focused on this possibility in the OP.
    3. Another possibility is that the ancient prophets were Israel's "wise men" and used their wisdom to make predictions. Greeks and Egyptians had their own philosophers, for example. Different theoretical reasons could be made for their prophecies about how they thought out their conclusions based on the evidence.
      An easy example for Method #3 is that: You know that the earth will exist tomorrow based on past experience and evidence available, although you don't know this 100%. Theoretically, a galactic event could vaporize earth tomorrow.
    4. Another method is that on hearing the predictions, one can verify the prophecies' reliability by testing the source. Since the ancient Jews got their information from the prophets, they had a vested interest in verifying the prophets' reliability. So in Deuteronomy there is a law about checking the prophets' reliability, and Jeremiah said that the true test of a prophet is whether he makes a positive promise of blessing and the promise comes to pass or not.

    For each reason above:
    1. Based on their own trust of God and in honesty.
    2. Based on theories and studies of paranormal or supernatural abilities like I talked about in the OP, or based on personal experience of having premonitions like predictive dreaming. Many, if not most people have had some unexplained sense or premonition of the future, based on surveys.
    3. Based on their own experience of making predictions about the future based on available evidence.
    4. Based on the ancient Jews checking the prophecies as working out. They wouldn't want to go to battle if they were going to lose the war. They had a vested interest in checking their sages'/philosophers'/fore-tellers'/seers' reliability.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
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  7. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    This must mean God has preordained the future which means free will is a myth wouldnt you think?
    I dont believe there is a God but I would think that if you did the conflict I point to must be a concern.
    Can you suggest a mechanism?
    Things do not happen by magic so what particles or fields do you consider could be responsible?
    With respect to all the wise men could it not be said that all they are doing is making an educated guess.
    So I predict the world will starve which is only a guess but nevertheless e tirely possible.
    If this comes to pass will the few remaining humans declare me to be a prophet?
    So my prediction of doom would not be prophesy I guess.
  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Oh, what a tidy circle! Prove the prophecy by testing the prophet for the proof of his prophecies.
    And did any of them come true?
    Of -bloody-course they did!
    I predict that every nation on Earth will have some bad times (because they're being naughty) and some good times (because they're obeying the god).
    Ta-da! I'm a prophet.

    (Except, of course, when i say the trump era bodes ill for America - then I'm just being hysterical.)
  9. rakovsky Registered Member

    The Bible writers were not Calvinists, some of whom openly deny free will.

    The reason that foreknowledge (be it God or another person's) doesn't destroy free will is that knowing the future doesn't prevent one ability to act. You might know that your brother will run up a big phone bill, but that doesn't stop you or your parents from intervening by limiting his phone time.

    The future is probably foreordained, in the sense of the claim of scientists that past and future are an illusion and there is only reality of a time continuum. However, the existence of the continuum by itself doesn't prevent humans from using their will to check their fates.

    God created men not as soulless hard inanimate objects, but as beings with their own wills with which he can interact.

    May I please ask if you read the Opening Post, Xelas?

    The articles I cited discussed this, one example being what I repeat below:
    If you read them, I can provide more information from Carl Jung, Synchronicity, Quantum Entanglement, and Retrocausality theories.

    Is this your actual personal prediction?

    I think they can say you were making an educated guess, as you called it. global starvation is a realistic possibility, depending on circumstances like drought, the OZONE, global warming. They can say that it was not a supernatural event you were predicting nor one with a 1 in a million chance. Further, even if what you are predicting were extremely unlikely, they can still say it was random.

    If you are calling yourself and showing yourself a very spiritual person and making numerous predictions like these and they come true, then they are going to start to think maybe you are a prophet.

    Good example: John Brown. He was an abolitionist in an extremely moral struggle to end slavery. IIRC: He was very religious (Protestant) and infused religion into his discourse on ending slavery. He died as a martyr, and predicted that there would have to be major blood spilled for the slavery to end, which he believed would occur. And indeed within a few years there was indeed a very bloody civil war which came to be a fight to end slavery, successfully.

    Now, was John Brown a prophet? This is an interesting question for me. I think typically people would say No, he was not an Old Testament Bible prophet with a miraculous ability to predict the future. And indeed, I don't know how reliable his predictions are just because he says them. I am inclined to think that even if God works in the abolitionists and inspires them that if they make a prediction like slavery will end in 10 years, that it might not happen. And yet, I notice that John Brown did make a correct prediction and that it's curious how he could have foreknown there would be such a bloody battle, as opposed to the North and South simply continuing to have freedom and slavery, respectively.

    One possibility is that he had information that military figures or politicians on either side were preparing for war. Another possibility, what most people probably think, is that he simply made a rational educated guess based on moral judgments and how society works.

    The other thing is that modern Americans are usually not into prophecy the same way their forefathers were. Sure, some Protestants talk about the End Times and Book of Revelation, but generally they limit the prophecymaking to the Biblical period. They don't seem to care much about ongoing prophecymaking and new prophets and "apostles". So since you aren't living in the Biblical period and probably aren't very religious, I think it's not likely that they are going to see it as prophecy in the old miraculous sense.
  10. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    Yeah it does. Because if intercession was possible, the prediction wouldn't be true. If God knows the future, that means your choices aren't choices, you are a robot following a programmed path.
    Of course not. Everyone who lived at the time knew that slavery was an issue surrounded by strong feelings on both sides. Predictions must be specific, detailed, and not obvious.
  11. rakovsky Registered Member

    Sure, some came true, like Jeremiah's prediction of Jerusalem's desolation, which occurred because of Babylon's conquest.

    However, that is not exactly all that the Biblical Jews supposedly did to test the prophets. In Deuteronomy it says that you are supposed to see whether any of their prophecies come true, and in Jeremiah, Jeremiah says that this definitely counts for positive promises. If half the time your blessing predictions come true and half the time they are disproved, then it means you did not pass the test of a prophet.

    Further, it is not really bad circular logic to say: "Prove the prophecy by testing the prophet for the proof of his prophecies."

    This is actually quite a normal approach in science. In science, one can: "Prove a theory by testing the scientist for the proof of his theories."

    So someone can prove Nikola Tesla's theories by testing him for his proofs. You can carefully watch what proofs Tesla makes for his scientific teachings, as well as whether his theories check out in real life. If Tesla's theories include radio waves and tesla coils, and then those theories check out, you have a decent basis for thinking that he is on to something and is a respectable, good scientist who you can trust.

    Same thing with Einstein. Do you know for sure that all his theories are right? Some of them could get disproved. But he has enough good ones that we believe he tends to be reliable.

    Problem with your first prophecy was that you spoke in very vague generalities, eg. "some good time and some bad".
    Potential problem with the second one could be arbitrariness or vagueness. Did Clinton's era fare well for America? I tend to think it was good. But in some indicators like the income of the poorest people, it may have actually gotten worse.
  12. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    Ah, not exactly. We don't test scientists, we test the hypothesis. And even then, you never trust the scientist. That amounts to an argument from authority. Scientists never achieve some level of respectability whereupon their theories can be trusted without testing.
  13. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for that and your welll considered reply.
    rakovsky likes this.
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    If you time your blessing prophecies for years of no political upheaval or drought and your curse prophecies for years of bad weather and imperial expansion, you're home free. All you have to do is hang around the marketplace, listen to all the gossip, worries and complaints that the king never hears.

    Gee, ya think? That's why they never say exactly when or exactly how.

    Of course not. And it wouldn't matter if he had been right - with precise duration and quantity - a hundred and five times in a row. The hundred and sixth theory would still have to get the bejeezus tested and challenged out of it before it were taken as fact.
  15. rakovsky Registered Member

    Thanks Xelasnave!
    It is nice to get a rare nice comment.

    Peace, (Xena's slave?)
  16. rakovsky Registered Member

    Yes, what I said is what I think about what you said. To just say "some good time and some bad" is so general to the point where it practically couldn't get disproven.
    To make something analogous to Biblical prophecy, there would have to be more details and to make it relevant it would have to have a way to occur or not. Jeremiah gave an example of prophecy in his book where he said the Israeites would get conquered for their apostasy. So if Jeremiah said the Babylonians would conquer them, and then the Israelites kept on apostasizing, remained unconquered, and Babylon turned into a helpless Persian vassal state with no strong king, it would look pretty much like a failed prophecy.

    A good example of a when and how prophecy would be Daniel 9. Christian and Jewish traditions say that it refers to the Messiah's advent and gives a timing for tte first c. BC-AD. (A) In Christianity, it's seen as referring to Jesus, whereas (B) Talmud and Rambam say that Messiah didn't come when he was supposed to. (C) Rashi and other rabbis though say that it was about King Herod and that the prophecy was fulfilled after all.

    It's an interesting question. It looks to me like the Lord did send Jesus in the 1st c. AD as His agent to spread knowledge of the Lord to the nations. So I would say that the underlined portion matches interpretation (A) above. It raises an interesting question. Let's say that Daniel 9 did intend to say that Messiah would come in the 1st c. to spread eternal righteousness, and then we see that Jesus came and was a catalyst to spread righteous moral teachings and belief in the Lord to the world. Would those things imply that all the other major miracle claims about the Jewish Messiah or about Jesus came true?
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    That's because it was in jest, sarcastically, tongue firmly in cheek. If i were half the showman that a Jeremiah or Isaiah would have to be, I'd make a big production of listing all the bad things that befall in a poor harvest year, complete with ewes heavy in lamb stricken down in the prime of life, thankless sons and wayward daughters, smoke clouds and ravens over the broken towers, etc. etc, probably in rhyming verse set to the lyre.
    So, the prophecy was open to interpretation? And if you asked three or four different prophets, you'd have to do some odd mental contortions to make them match up to the same event. You'd think, an event of such importance, all of the certified reliable prophets would have had an inkling.
    Did anyone say: when the Messiah showed up: "Of course, right on time, we have his room ready."?
    "24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
    26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
    27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

    What, exactly? When exactly? What's his name again? Wall - yeah, somebody somewhere is building one, even as we speak. Flood? Sure, most years, there is one someplace. War? In the Middle East - what a surprise!
    Some prelate - several centuries later - must have had fun with arithmetic!

    It looks that way yo you, because that's what you've been taught to consider the significant event. All the other lay preachers and self-proclaimed prophets who came and went from that prophecy to the crucifixion of that one Jehoshua, and had contemporary followers who were sure this guy Shimon, or Moshe, or Shmuel is the real deal, failed to get a mention in your book. Not because they didn't conform to the prophecy, but because they didn't get an influential advocate in Rome.
    Everything came true in retrospect. All you have to do is pick your prophecies and historical facts very, very carefully.
    (It's like the tv show House : his diagnosis is always right, because the first seven [wrong] diagnoses don't count. )
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017

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