General Question

silverlining's avatar

Atheists, how do you explain Biblical prophecy?

Asked by silverlining (78points) May 26th, 2011

I’m asking this from a neutral POV. Do you believe that the fulfilled Biblical prophecies are just coincidence (such as Israel being destroyed, the Jews scattering, and the country being rebulilt)? Also, what do you make of Nostredamus? I read that he only had a 7% accuracy rate and that his followers wrote stuff later under his name, but some sources say he predicted the date of the French Revolution, i.e., storming of the Bastille- which is pretty crazy. Obviously, Christians and mystics attribute this to divine intervention, but how do you explain it?

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25 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

not an atheist but some of those events are purposely ambiguous so it can fit just about anywhere at least close enough to get those who really want to believe, convinced.

SavoirFaire's avatar

If I made 100 predictions right now, the likelihood of some of them being correct is astronomically high. Especially if I predicted obvious things or used extremely vague language that could be retroactively interpreted as applying to some modern situation.

cockswain's avatar

It’s random luck and vague coincidence. Also total bs.

tedd's avatar

Umm… wouldn’t athiests explain biblical prophecy as BS and coincidence?

silverlining's avatar

@tedd Right, but some diehard-Christians believe that the events predicted by the Bible were too specific to be fudged and also argue that false prophets were brutally killed, so why would people be motivated to make stuff up…

Just wondering if people had some thought-out counter points.

cockswain's avatar

Give us a concrete example to discuss perhaps. Very specific.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m an atheist, I would not use the word coincidence. I would say throughout history empires have risen and fallen, natural disasters are always happening, it is fairly easy to predict much of what will happen in the future, because it has already happened in the past.

jaytkay's avatar

I’m not aware of any fulfilled Biblical prophecies.

silverlining's avatar

@cockswain Well, one I recently was debating with a Fundamentalist was the one about Israel. Ezeikiel predicts the fall of Israel, Diaspora, and the rebuild. I said that was a vague historical trend that could easily be predicted given circumstances, but he acted as if that was an absurd leap. He said it wouldn’t have been easy to predict that far ahead, and that out of all the countries that existed in that era Israel is the only one to exist in the present day.. etc. I wasn’t convincing, I guess.

cockswain's avatar

I agree with your view and you will never convince a Fundy the Bible isn’t real. They need to figure it out themselves.

jaytkay's avatar

How does Ezeikiel predict the fall of Israel, Diaspora, and the rebuild? What are the words?

roundsquare's avatar

I’d echo what everyone else here said and add that there were probably some very smart people writing the bible. Chances are they could see some the trends in history and use that to “predict” things.

silverlining's avatar

@cockswain I realized that too late, haha. Definitely a waste of my time.
@jaytkay I found this part which is supposedly about the rebuilding:
Ezekiel 34:13:

I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.

Pretty much vague as shit… tried halfheartedly to find the other verses but these Bible sites are pretty convoluted and full of crazy. Sorry :/ If you’re really curious though I’m sure you could find em

jerv's avatar


I think that if you retcon anything then any source of information can be proven correct, especially a book whose meaning changes with every translation as the Bible does.

XOIIO's avatar


keobooks's avatar

Matthew 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

Jesus is telling people who are standing in front of him and alive, witnessing him in person—that there are some in that crowd that would still be alive when he came back the second time. Well, it’s been over 2000 years. I’m pretty sure those guys are all dead.

Was Jesus mistaken? Was he lying? Is there some convoluted fanciful way to explain that Jesus didn’t really mean what it seems to say here? Was one of the disciples secretly a vampire and lives to this day? What’s the deal? How can you take the other prophesies seriously when this one FAILED spectacularly?

jerv's avatar

@keobooks Principia Discordia – Malaclypse the Younger: “Even false things are true.”

Nullo's avatar

@keobooks From GotQuestions:
It seems most natural to interpret this promise in Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; and Luke 9:27 as a reference to the transfiguration, which “some” of the disciples would witness only six days later, exactly as Jesus predicted. In each Gospel, the very next passage after this promise from Jesus is the transfiguration, which shows Jesus in all His glory which will be seen again in the Kingdom of God. The contextual links make it very likely that this is the proper interpretation.

It is said that there are something like 300 prophecies describing Jesus, His ministry, death, resurrection, and return, almost all of which have been fulfilled. References include such notables as Psalms and Isaiah.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I would like to thank @Nullo for proving the point raised by @jerv and myself.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Do you know how often I predict that I’m going to be cut off in traffic? If I don’t put a big time limit on it, just that it will “happen”, I have a 100% accuracy rate that way.

mazingerz88's avatar

How hard is it for biblical prophecy writers to predict the end of the world? All you need to do is understand how human beings are so capable of utter cruelty against other human beings. Those were very creative, insightful and wise writers who put words to papyrus. Those ancient writers and observers were as wise if not wiser than present day thinkers and philosophers. It should not mean that only because they wrote a few thousand years before us that they should dictate which path we take. Maybe learn from their generations’ mistakes yes but easier said than done when it comes to wars. Now, if any of those biblical prophecies mentioned the word Facebook, Google or Yahoo, I might be impressed. : )

cockswain's avatar

I predict there will be another white US president before the year 2100! And Kanye West will say something dumb in the next year!

LostInParadise's avatar

Predicting things after the fact is not terribly difficult. I could chip into a rock a prediction that the world will experience two global wars in the 20th century and date my entry as 1700. I bury the rock deep into the ground and when it is discovered 100 years from now I will be regarded as a prophet. There are anachronisms in biblical writing that cast serious doubt that they were written when they claim to have been written, particularly in the book of Daniel

Ron_C's avatar

Tales told ‘round the campfire. If you make enough vague predictions, you are bound to get close sometime.

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