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Prophecies prove the accuracy of the Bible (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Prophecies prove the accuracy of the Bible (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH110:

The Bible contains many prophecies which have accurately been fulfilled, proving it is a divine source.

Source:

  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, pp. 216-223.


CreationWiki response:

First, the Bible has a number of remarkable prophecies. [1]

Second, it needs be noted that there has been much recent fulfillment of Biblical prophecies particularly about Israel.

  1. The reestablishing of the Nation of Israel in 1948. Name one other nation removed from their land for nearly 2000 years who retain their national identity, and were restored to that same land.
  2. The retaking of Jerusalem in 1967.
  3. Many others fulfilled in detail. These were not vague prophecies, or inevitable events, nor has there been any rewriting of these prophecies since 1967.

Reference: 100 fulfilled Bible prophecies

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. There are several mundane ways in which a prediction of the future can be fulfilled.

It is also possible for someone to rationalize away real fulfillment of even the clearest of prophecies.

a.   Retrodiction. The "prophecy" can be written or modified after the events fulfilling it have already occurred.

Without any evidence that this is the case, such a claim is nothing but a rationalization.

b.   Vagueness. The prophecy can be worded in such a way that people can interpret any outcome as a fulfillment. Nostradomus's prophecies are all of this type. Vagueness works particularly well when people are religiously motivated to believe the prophecies.

However, Biblical prophecy lacks this vagueness.

c.   Inevitability. The prophecy can predict something that is almost sure to happen, such as the collapse of a city. Since nothing lasts forever, the city is sure to fall someday. If it hasn't, just say that, according to prophecy, it will.

This is true only if no details are given about the collapse of the city. It is one thing to foretell that a city will fall, it is another thing to foretell how and when. The Bible often accurately predicts one or both.

d.   Denial. One can claim that the fulfilling events occurred even if they haven't. Or, more commonly, one can forget that the prophecy was ever made.

This naturally provides an excuse for dismissing any rebuttal to any claim that may be made of unfulfilled prophecy.

There are no prophecies in the Bible that cannot easily fit into one or more of those categories.

Without giving examples this is a baseless claim. Besides it can be shown to be false. Talk.Origins states above that there are no Biblical prophecies that cannot fit easily into at least one of their four categories. That means all that is needed prove them wrong is to show that at least one does not fit.

An extremely obvious example where this is false is Daniel 9:25-27, which prophesied centuries earlier the exact year that the Messiah, Jesus, would be born. The Scofield Reference Bible has made note of this for nearly a century.[2] The prophecy declared 7 weeks of years, 483 years (the Jewish year was 360 days, so 476.3836 years) from the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall was when the Messiah would come. And the date of the wall's rebuilding was given according to the Persian calendar in Nehemiah 2 as "in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the King" which archaeology has verified to be 444/445 B.C.[3] Therefore, the Messiah was to come 31 A.D. What makes the prophecy especially difficult for critics to deny is that thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have copies of the Book of Daniel older than the prophecy's fulfillment, dating to 100-200 B.C., so we know the prophecy existed before it was fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

"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. 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. 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." - Daniel 9:25-27 (KJV)

It also turns out that there is a clear Biblical prophecy, being currently fulfilled and that Talk.Origins itself is helping to fulfill! Not that they intend to, but that does not change the fact that they are helping to fulfill it.

II Peter 3:3-6 not only predicts that one day men will scoff at the Bible, but it also predicts their basic reasoning.

II Peter 3
3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
  • (KJV)

The key phrase is "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." This is a perfectly good first-century Greek description of uniformitarianism. So II Peter 3:3-6 is predicting uniformitarianism. Furthermore, verse 5 says that because of this concept men will be willingly ignorant of both creation and the Flood. The Greek word "λανΘανει" which is translated as ignorant in verse 5 literally means: "to escape the knowledge or observation of a person." This makes it clear that this is a reference to uniformitarianism. Because of uniformitarianism both creation and the Flood escape the knowledge and observation of many people including those at Talk.Origins.

So does II Peter 3:3-6 fall into any of Talk.Origins' four categories.

  1. Retrodiction. This prophecy was written by the apostle Peter in the first century A.D. and the cited English translation is from the King James Version, which was translated in 1611, more than 100 years before the invention of uniformitarianism.
  2. Vagueness. There is nothing vague about this prophecy, as it gives a clear statement of the uniformitarian philosophy, and states that because of it, both creation and the Flood escape the knowledge and observation of people.
  3. Inevitability. There is nothing inevitable about this prophecy. Predicting that men would one day scoff at the Bible and would not believe in creation and the Flood, by itself might be considered inevitable, but predicting uniformitarianism as the reason can not be considered inevitable.
  4. Denial. The ones in denial about this prophecy are those that do not want to believe that they are actually fulfilling Biblical prophecy. There is no doubt about its fulfillment, since it did not happen in the distant past, but is currently being fulfilled.

So here is a Biblical prophecy that does not fit any of Talk.Origins four categories. Therefore their claim that there are no Biblical prophecies that cannot fit into at least one of their four categories is proven false.

2. In Biblical times, prophecies were not simply predictions. They were warnings of what could or would happen if things didn't change. They were meant to influence people's behavior. If the people heeded the prophecy, the events would not come to pass; [,Jonah 3] gives an example. A fulfilled prophecy was a failed prophecy, because it meant people didn't heed the warning.

In such cases in the Bible there is a clear warning given. In the case of Jonah, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them, so this was clearly a conditional prophecy. There are also examples of Biblical prophecies which came true because they were unheeded. The death of Ahab is a good example. In 1 Kings 22:14-17 the prophet Micaiah predicts Ahab's death if he went into a particular battle. Ahab went into the battle and was killed as described in 1 Kings 34-37.

3. The Bible also contains failed prophecies, in the sense that things God said would happen did not.For example:

  • Joshua said that God would, without fail, drive out the Jebusites and Canaanites, among others [Josh. 3:9-10]. But those tribes were not driven out [Josh. 15:63, 17:12-13].

Josh. 3:10 does not say that all of the people of these tribes would be driven out. These tribes were defeated and nearly all of the people were killed, or driven out of the land, but because of Israel's incomplete obedience God did not remove all of the people of these tribes for a time. For the most part God did drive out these tribes during Joshua's lifetime and even more after his death. Furthermore, God did eventually remove even those that were left after the conquest.

  • Isaiah 17:1-3 says Damascus will cease to be a city and be deserted forever, yet it is inhabited still.

In no place in Isaiah 17:1-3 does it say that Damascus would be deserted forever. It says that it would be destroyed, but says nothing about it eventually being rebuilt. The Damascus of that time was destroyed and uninhabited for a time but like many ancient cities it was rebuilt.

Reference: Is this a false prophecy?

  • Ezekiel said Egypt would be made an uninhabited wasteland for forty years 29:10-14, and Nebuchadrezzar would plunder it 29:19-20. Neither happened.

Actually, this claim is based on an error in Egyptian chronology. When the error is corrected for there is evidence of both events. So these prophecies were fulfilled. It needs to be noted that the Hebrew does not necessarily mean that Egypt would be totally uninhabited. It does however indicate that exile and devastation would last 40 years.

Reference: Displaced Dynasties

4. Other religions claim many fulfilled prophecies, too.

A detailed comparison of such prophecies to those in the Bible would be required for a proper analysis, but these cases do not rise to the standard in the Bible in terms of clarity, specifics, and number.


5. Divinity is not shown by miracles. The Bible itself says true prophecies may come elsewhere than from God [Deut. 13:1-3], as may other miracles [Ex. 7:22, Matt. 4:8].

While this is true, all it shows is that by itself fulfillment of Biblical prophecies is not proof that it is from God; it is but one data point out of many that shows the Bibles has a Divine source.

Some people say that to focus on proofs is to miss the whole point of faith [John 20:29].

That is not what John 20:29 is saying. Jesus is simply saying that there is a greater blessing for those who believe without proof. There is nothing wrong with supporting faith with evidence.

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