Biblical Predictions

I can’t believe I missed this. Near the bottom of the Institute for Creation Research’s “Evidence for Creation” topics page is a page entitled Accurate [Biblical] Predictions. Predictions! The cornerstone of Science! And they’ve already come to pass! Let’s see what they’ve got.

To return to reality, we can see that the ICR proceeds to declare that the indefensible is true. That is to say, they have the following:

Not a single prophecy from the Bible has been proven false. Many prophecies remain in the future, but all that have come to pass have been verified to be true.

You may be aware that many creationist arguments are a bit like claiming that there is a teapot in space – it cannot be completely disproved, even though there is not evidence to support it. In this case it’s a bit like the opposite – as if they were saying that there wasn’t a teapot in space, except they said screwdrivers instead. Basically, they can never prove that they are right completely – even by providing lists of positive data points – and only a single counterexample causes serious problems to them. But upon this is the entire edifice of creationism constructed. So much for building your house upon rock.

But we’ll go over them anyway. The first one is pretty strange:

An amazing prophecy is found in Revelation 11:9. In 90 A.D., the prediction was made that many nations would view the same event within a few days time. Today, billions of people from around the world simultaneously view the same event through mass communication. When the prediction was made, communication and transportation across the Roman Empire took months of time.

What does Revelation 11:9 actually say? Nothing like that, so far as I can tell:

And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

Even if you take the entire chapter, it is quite clear that a sporting match, say, is not what we’re talking about here.

The second is just plain wrong:

In 332 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the island fortress of Tyre by building a causeway from the ruins of the old city. This fulfilled the prophecy in Ezekiel 26:4-5, written hundreds of years before. At the time of Ezekiel, Tyre was the capital of Phoenicia and the island fortress had not yet been built. Ezekiel predicted:

“They shall destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea.”

Two hundred years later, Alexander scraped away everything, leaving bare rock.

Again, what does the actual text say? (emphasis mine)

26:1 And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
26:2 Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste:
26:3 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many nations to come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up.
26:4 And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.
26:5 It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.
26:6 And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
26:7 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people.
26:8 He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee.
26:9 And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers.
26:10 By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
26:11 With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.
26:12 And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water.
26:13 And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.
26:14 And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
26:15 Thus saith the Lord GOD to Tyrus; Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is made in the midst of thee?
26:16 Then all the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay away their robes, and put off their broidered garments: they shall clothe themselves with trembling; they shall sit upon the ground, and shall tremble at every moment, and be astonished at thee.
26:17 And they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and say to thee, How art thou destroyed, that wast inhabited of seafaring men, the renowned city, which wast strong in the sea, she and her inhabitants, which cause their terror to be on all that haunt it!
26:18 Now shall the isles tremble in the day of thy fall; yea, the isles that are in the sea shall be troubled at thy departure.
26:19 For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee;
26:20 When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living;
26:21 I will make thee a terror, and thou shalt be no more: though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, saith the Lord GOD.

There is no mention of Alexander here. Nebuchadrezzar will conquer “Tyrus.” But he didn’t – he did besiege the city for an extended period, but failed to take it. Also, while Alexander did destroy the old city, the part of the city that exists on the coast, rather than on the island, still exists and is inhabited. The general area was even visited by Jesus, and Paul visited the city itself. In short, they’re already wrong, and they can’t argue out of it all.

RationalWiki maintains a list of failed biblical prophecies, and for it’s part the ICR is host to an online version of The New Defender’s Study Bible, the annotations in which:

explain the Bible’s difficult passages, resolve its alleged contradictions, point out the evidences of its divine origin, confirm its historical accuracy, note its remarkable anticipations of modern science, demonstrate its fulfilled prophecies and in general remove any doubts about its inerrancy, its authority and its ability to meet every human need.

And, of course, there is the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. You’ve had the primer – I shall add to my to-do list a comparison to see whether that claim of inerrancy stacks up.

To return to Tyre a moment, the NDSB has this to say:

26:4 break down her towers. Nebuchadnezzar, as here prophesied, did destroy the walls and towers of Tyre when he invaded her during the period 585–572 B.C. However, many of her people escaped to an island near the coast, where their city continued strong and prosperous for another 250 years.

Now, this isn’t an escape-to-the-Venetian-swamps situation – at the time of Nebuchnezzer the “island near the coast” was the city, excluding the “suburbs” of Ushu on the coast. This remained the case until the sack by Alexander. Nebuchnezzar besieged this island for more than a decade – “the period 585–572 B.C” – but was unable to take it, due to the island nature of the city and its two ports. this would not have been the situation if Ushu was all there was.

We can already see that the bible cannot be completely inerrant, but how many of the other failed prophesies aren’t? We shall have to see, wont we?

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3 thoughts on “Biblical Predictions

  1. It’s pretty sad to see the hoops people will jump through and the way they will contort the facts so that the things they so desperately want to be true will seem true.

    What they don’t realise is that the real truth is so much more awesome and beautiful than those bronze age horror stories will ever be.

  2. Pingback: Interpret the Evidence (So It Matches Your Pre-Existing Beliefs) « Eye on the ICR

  3. Pingback: The Scars of Eye Surgery « Eye on the ICR

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