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Featured How To Make a Believable Prophecy

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Left Coast, May 8, 2020.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    A prophecy* that is rationally believable should contain a few different features:

    1) Specific and verifiable details of the future event being prophesied should be given: names, dates, times, specific locations, and specific actions or events.

    2) The prophecy should be fulfilled in the way it was expected to be fulfilled before the alleged fulfillment, not after. Post hoc or “spiritualized” reinterpretations should not be accepted.

    3) The events being prophesied cannot be plausibly predicted via any known means, e.g. through scientific prediction or projection. Similarly, the probability of the prophesied events being correctly guessed by someone would have to be astronomically low, if not zero.
    a. The probability of correctly guessing an outcome is inversely related to the specificity of the prophecy; in other words, the less specific the prophecy, the more likely it is that someone could correctly guess by chance that it would occur.


    Am I missing any criteria? Does anyone know of any such prophecy that has ever been made?

    *For purposes of this thread, I’m defining a prophecy as a prediction of a future event made by some supernatural means, usually via communication with God, an angel, etc.
     
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  2. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    To me, the predicted events must be such that they were unlikely to have other causes. A weakness with predicting, say, "tidal waves" is how impossible it would be in practice to sort out what caused the waves. A god? A demon? Plate tectonics? The ocean itself gasping at the sight of @SalixIncendium's fashion sense as he walks along the beach?

    EDIT: Ooops! I'm making a point already made in the OP. Sorry about that.
     
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  3. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    I probably wouldn't shoot for accuracy on a prophecy.

    I would just make it believable enough to people that something would occur using an indeterminate and arguably indefinite time table as a prerequisite.

    Multiple generalized conditions and events as a 'sign' that once those events are confirmed, like a synchronized combination lock, the prophecy will come true once the synchronization of events fall into place all at once. The trick making it so vague that it keeps people perpetually guessing in anticipation. Nefariously cunning.

    A bit like the second coming of Jesus Christ.
     
    #3 Twilight Hue, May 9, 2020
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  4. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    At some time in some place a thing will happen.
    And people will be like, "we knew this would happen because Mestemia predicted itin Post #4 in the thread How To Make a Believable Prophecy on the internet message board religiousforums.com
     
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  5. KAT-KAT

    KAT-KAT Well-Known Member

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    More likely, someone will get on 200 years from now, read all about Salix's fashion sense, and think that's the only thing ancient people worshipped.
     
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  6. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    I also think it does not count if you contribute to its fulfillment
     
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  7. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    Ah, good point. Need to rule out those self-fulfilling prophecies.
     
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  8. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    Remind me never to buy a car from you...;):p
     
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  9. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    It's noteworthy to point out that many prophets have been dead for hundreds or even thousands of years before any become 'fulfilled'. How about those odds for a lottery?
     
  10. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue The gentle embrace of twilight has become my guide

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    I wouldn't buy a car from me either! *Grin*
     
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  11. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Or someone else for that matter. The "self fulfilling prophesy" is a special kind.
     
  12. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    Pretty spot on. I'd exchange falsifiable for verifiable (or add it).
    And I'd relax point 2 at bit for long time prophesies. It should be fulfilled in a way that people of that age when the prophesy was made would have understood as fulfilled. That isn't easy to determine but imagine a person of the first century was taken to our time for a day and then returned. How would s/he have described what s/he saw?

    A propos seeing the future. While I don't believe that it is possible, imagine again the (unintentional) time traveller. Heck, just take someone from a less industrialized culture to a modern city without background knowledge or language skills. He'd report that you can draw beer from the tap in Germany, that slaves, hidden behind the walls are forced to open doors whenever someone walks by and that we will all be eaten by lions because we don't pay attention to our surroundings.
     
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  13. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    I can offer the prophesy in the Bible concerning the fall of ancient Babylon....to Cyrus the Great of Persia.

    "Ancient Babylon was the hub of a powerful empire that exerted influence over western Asia for centuries. At one time it was the world’s largest city. Yet, some 200 years in advance, God inspired the Bible writer Isaiah to prophesy that a conqueror by the name of Cyrus would overthrow Babylon and that it would end up uninhabited forever. (Isaiah 13:17-20; 44:27, 28; 45:1, 2)

    God's prophet Isaiah (in 732BCE) foretold that the gates of that seemingly impregnable city would be left open, and that the waters surrounding her would be dried up. Cyrus re-diverted the waters upstream and his army walked into the city and overthrew it not by military might but by the stupidity of its coregent Belshazzar.

    Is this what really happened?"

    "In one night, according to Bible prophesy, in October 539 B.C.E., Cyrus the Great and his ally Darius the Mede conquered Babylon. In time, the canals that had once irrigated the surrounding fertile region choked up from neglect. By 200 C.E., the site was said to have been deserted. Today, Babylon remains in ruins. Precisely as the Bible foretold, Babylon has “become utterly desolate.”—Jeremiah 50:13."

    Excerpts from WT sources. Belshazzar — Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY

    This is backed up by Wikipedia....
    "The Fall of Babylon denotes the end of the Neo-Babylonian Empire after it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in 539 BCE.

    Nabonidus (Nabû-na'id, 556–539 BCE), son of the Assyrian priestess Adda-Guppi,[1] came to the throne in 556 BCE, after overthrowing the young king Labashi-Marduk. For long periods he entrusted rule to his son, prince and coregent Belshazzar, who was a capable soldier, but a poor politician. All of this left him somewhat unpopular with many of his subjects, particularly the priesthood and the military class.[2] To the east, the Achaemenid Empire had been growing in strength. In 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great invaded Babylonia, turning it into a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus then claimed to be the legitimate successor of the ancient Babylonian kings and became popular in Babylon itself, in contrast to Nabonidus.[3][4]"
     
  14. PearlSeeker

    PearlSeeker Well-Known Member

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    Book of Isaiah - Wikipedia

    Looks like it doesn't meet the standards.
     
  15. PearlSeeker

    PearlSeeker Well-Known Member

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    Important notes:
    Prophecy is somewhat different from paranormal knowledge of inevitabile future events.

    1. A prophet is considered as a mouthpiece of God.

    2. A prophecy contains an ethical element. A prophet is revealing God's will to people.

    3. Sometimes prophecy can be averted. Prophecy often reveals God's will in form of a reminder, a warning or a call to repent and consequences - blessing/curse. Man has free will. See the example of Jonah in Nineveh.
     
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  16. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    Was watching this Ancient Babylon: excavations, restorations and modern tourism (video) | Khan Academy on Babylon as it is today, I'm not really convinced that it is desolate in the sense predicted by the Bible.

    Google defines desolate as;

    adjective
    /ˈdɛs(ə)lət/
    1. 1.
      (of a place) uninhabited and giving an impression of bleak emptiness.
      "a desolate Pennine moor"

      Similar:
      barren

      bleak

      stark

      bare

      dismal

      grim

      desert

      waste

      arid

      sterile

      wild

      windswept

      inhospitable

      exposed

      deserted

      uninhabited

      unoccupied

      depopulated

      forsaken

      godforsaken

      abandoned

      unpeopled

      untenanted

      evacuated

      empty

      vacated

      vacant

      unfrequented

      unvisited

      solitary

      lonely

      secluded

      isolated

      remote
      remote from the usual tourist routes" data-hw="remote" data-lb="" data-tae="false" data-te="false" data-tl="en" data-tldf="" data-url="/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBAU707AU707&q=define+remote&forcedict=remote&dictcorpus=en">

      Opposite:
      fertile

      populous


    2. 2.
      feeling or showing great unhappiness or loneliness.
      "I suddenly felt desolate and bereft"

      Similar:
      miserable

      sad

      unhappy

      melancholy

      gloomy

      glum

    If you read the details even from the NWT it says "No Arab will pitch his tent there, And no shepherds will rest their flocks there" for example, by comparison Saddam Hussein had recent rebuilding done there, so the idea of it being some utterly desolate place seems not entirely accurate. It was Iraq's most visited site in the early 2000s prior to the invasion.
     
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  17. It Aint Necessarily So

    It Aint Necessarily So Well-Known Member
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    Somebody already mentioned that the prophecy shouldn't be self-fulfilling.

    If the prophecy is of an event that has already occurred, we want to be certain that the prophecy came before the event.

    Also, if we a are referring to a source of more than one prophecy, like a given prophet or holy book, there should be no failed prophecies among those that came to pass.

    You excluded scientific prophecy, but that's the standard for prophecy (prediction).

    "Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?" - Carl Sagan

    But to answer your question, I am aware of no high quality prophecy as defined in this thread occurring. Biblical prophecy is of low quality - vague, predicting things easily predictable, occasionally self-fulfilling, contains failed prophecies, etc..
     
    #17 It Aint Necessarily So, May 9, 2020
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  18. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    As others have already noted, this prophecy fails to meet the standards for a couple reasons: 1) The area of modern-day Iraq previously known as Babylon is not "utterly desolate" or completely uninhabited, nor have all rivers in the area dried up. 2) To the degree that parts of ancient Babylon are uninhabited today, this is predictable through non-supernatural means; modern-day humans have intentionally preserved ancient ruins from Babylon for historical/archaeological study. 3) It appears that portions of Isaiah which you've cited as prophetic were actually written during or after the events they purport to prophesy.
     
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  19. InvestigateTruth

    InvestigateTruth Well-Known Member

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    Do you opconsider that a prophecy can be given using symbols? I mean, let's say, you see a dream of 7 fat cows. Then what happens is, you have 7 years of prosperous life. Do you consider that a fulfilled prophecy? How do we know this is not possible? I mean after all, knowing future is something beyond science. So, it would be something suppernatural to know future. So, perhaps its knowledge is also not straightforward. Can symbols have a true meaning in prophecies?
     
  20. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    Unfortunately, symbols can be interpreted too many ways to be really believable as rigorous prophecy. This is common in the history of prophetic interpretation: what was actually prophesied is interpreted as symbolic, and then people set out to find ways that the prophecy could have been somehow symbolically fulfilled. It's too prone to confirmation bias.
     
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