Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

We bought the future, but had to take it back


We’ll let Bryan Appleyard tell it at New Statesman:

Futurologists are almost always wrong. Indeed, Clive James invented a word – “Hermie” – to denote an inaccurate prediction by a futurologist. This was an ironic tribute to the cold war strategist and, in later life, pop futurologist Herman Kahn. It was slightly unfair, because Kahn made so many fairly obvious predictions – mobile phones and the like – that it was inevitable quite a few would be right.

Even poppier was Alvin Toffler, with his 1970 book Future Shock, which suggested that the pace of technological change would cause psychological breakdown and social paralysis, not an obvious feature of the Facebook generation. Most inaccurate of all was Paul R Ehrlich who, in The Population Bomb, predicted that hundreds of millions would die of starvation in the 1970s. Hunger, in fact, has since declined quite rapidly.

Perhaps the most significant inaccuracy concerned artificial intelligence (AI). In 1956 the polymath Herbert Simon predicted that “machines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do” and in 1967 the cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky announced that “within a generation . . . the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved”. Yet, in spite of all the hype and the dizzying increases in the power and speed of computers, we are nowhere near creating a thinking machine.

Such a machine is the basis of Kurzweil’s singularity, but futurologists seldom let the facts get in the way of a good prophecy. Or, if they must, they simply move on. The nightmarishly intractable problem of space travel has more or less killed that futurological category and the unexpected complexities of genetics have put that on the back burner for the moment, leaving neuroscientists to take on the prediction game. But futurology as a whole is in rude health despite all the setbacks.

Note: Not only is the whole piece worth reading but the comments are fascinating. Despite the warnings of writers like Appleyard, there is certainly a market for future-flavoured Kool-Aid.

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ScuzzaMan, Not sure what you're asking for. I've repeatedly pointed out ba77's misrepresentations about Newton's views on prophecy. And let's take this one simple verse from ba77's post:
Luke 21:24 “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Who would fall by the sword? Who would be taken captive? What is the context of the passage?
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then [l]recognize that her desolation is near.
Who was it that would see Jerusalem surrounded? And when?
21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of [m]the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter [n]the city;
Who should flee? Is this past, or future?
22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.
How is it that all things written were fulfilled?
23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the [o]land and wrath to this people;
What land? Which people? Past or future?
25 “There will be [p]signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the [q]world; for the powers of [r]the heavens will be shaken.
When will these signs be, and when will these things come upon the world? Past or future?
27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Who is the they will see of this first and why is it different from the they of the previous verses?
28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Who is the your of this verse of not those to whom he was speaking, his disciples? What were the "these things" which they would see begin to take place?
31 So you also, when you see these things happening, [s]recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this [t]generation will not pass away until all things take place.
So. False prophecy, or fulfilled prophecy? Mung
Mung If you are going to dispute bornagain77's post, then have the decency to post some opposing evidence. That's what a scientist would do. ScuzzaMan
Christians have long been accused of making failed prophecies, extending all the way back to Jesus himself. Let's make sure we're not being hypocrites, please? I was going to just let this OP pass, but now we have bornagain77 touting fulfilled prophecy whist conveniently ignoring the many false prophecies. Mung
Even Sir Isaac Newton, who is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist who has ever lived, was a avid student of Bible prophecy (although atheists try to downplay that part of Newton's life):
Israeli library uploads (Sir Isaac) Newton's theological texts - February 15, 2012 Excerpt: He's considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time.,, However, the curator of Israel's national library's humanities collection said Newton was also a devout Christian who dealt far more in theology than he did in physics,, "He (Sir Isaac Newton) took a great interest in the Jews, and we found no negative expressions toward Jews in his writing," said Levy-Rubin. "He (years before it was remotely feasible) said the Jews would ultimately return to their land." http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-02-israeli-library-uploads-newton-theological.html "Prophetic Perspectives, 2008-2015" - Jim Bramlett Excerpt: For years I have been intrigued with Newton's interpretation of Daniel 9:25 and the 62 weeks and 7 weeks (62 X 7 = 434 years, and 7 X 7 = 49 years), counted "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem." In his commentary on Daniel, a copy of which I have, Newton wrote that the interpretation of those 69 weeks is usually incorrect, violating the Hebrew language. He said the two numbers should not be added together as most scholars do, but the 434 years refer to Messiah's first coming (which he demonstrated), and the 49 years refer to His second coming, after Israel is reestablished, an idea unheard of 300 years ago but happening in our generation The start date for counting has been controversial. Many thought the 49-year-count would be the date of Israel's rebirth on May 14, 1948, but, alas, that did not work out. Other dates were tried unsuccessfully. But what if the count begins on one of the two most historical dates in Jewish history, the date in the miraculous Six-Day War when Israel captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount: June 7, 1967? Assume the 49-year count (49 Jewish years X 360 days = 17,640 days), does start on June 7, 1967. Using a date-counter Web site at "timeanddate.com/date/duration.html" we learn that the 17,640-day count takes us exactly to September 23, 2015. September 23, 2015 is the Day of Atonement! What are the odds against that? Many have believed that the Second Coming will be on the Day of Atonement. If he knew this, old Isaac Newton would be doing cartwheels and back flips right now. http://www.prophecyforum.com/bramlett/prophetic_perspectives.html
Of note:
Luke 21:24 "They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
As well,,
Is Modern Israel Fulfilling Prophecy? - Thomas Ice Excerpt: There are dozens of biblical passages that predict an end-time regathering of Israel back to her land. http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-IsModernIsraelFulfill.pdf
For me, the fact that Israel would be a nation again, exactly as was prophesied in the Bible centuries before, is of no small importance. But predicting the 'return of Christ' is a far trickier affair. Indeed many people have been burned by false prophets that gave incorrect dates for God's return. But even with such a bad track record from so many false prophets, I can't help but think that there is something significant to the 'Blood Moons' that Mark Biltz talks about that add significant weight to the notion that God's return could be much sooner than we may think. Watch for yourself:
Blood Moons Update - Mark Biltz - video (March 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU_gkxMuOxM There have been Seven Tetrad Blood Moons in History (On Jewish Holy Days) Since Christ Excerpt: Four PARTIAL lunar eclipses occurred on the Jewish Passover in 32 AD – 33 AD and the "Feast of Tabernacles" in the years before and after the Crucifixion of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). The world has since witnessed seven "Tetrads" coinciding with events impacting Jewish and Christian culture. http://www.pray4zion.org/TheComingBloodMoons.html
Isaiah 46:9-10: "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times which have not been done, Saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure."
As to predicting the future, and man's consistent failure to predict it accurately, I've always considered fulfilled prophecy to be an amazing confirmation of the reliability of the Bible:
Fulfilled Prophecy: Evidence for the Reliability of the Bible - August 22, 2003 By Dr. Hugh Ross Excerpt: Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 10^2000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)! http://www.reasons.org/articles/articles/fulfilled-prophecy-evidence-for-the-reliability-of-the-bible
Here are a few resources showing the clarity and authenticity of Bible prophecy:
Bible Prophecy - Verify History http://www.allabouttruth.org/bible-prophecy.htm Bible Prophecy - Randall Niles - podcast http://www.allaboutgod.com/stream/think-again-10.m3u
Of all prophecies in the Bible, I think no other prophecy has had more of a dramatic, and inspirational, impact than Isaiah 53. Especially after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls had confirmed the accuracy of Isaiah 53 prior to the birth of Christ.
Analysis of The Mysterious Prophecy in Isaiah 53 – video https://vimeo.com/37517468
Here is a video and calculation about the prophecies fulfilled in Christ:
Prophecies Of The Passion - video http://www.itbn.org/index/detail/ec/03eDlyMjoIlkOG_1e_zhu4iJr280UEjK The Case for Jesus the Messiah — Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists By Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon, and Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr. Excerpt: But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used 456) and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is one in 10^157. How large is the number 10^157? 10^157 contains 157 zeros! Let us try to illustrate this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They are smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 times 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted four electrons every second and counted day and night, it would still take us 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one inch long. But how many electrons would it take if we were dealing with 10^157 electrons? Imagine building a solid ball of electrons that would extend in all directions from the earth a length of 6 billion light years. The distance in miles of just one light year is 6.4 trillion miles. That would be a big ball! But not big enough to measure 10^157 electrons. In order to do that, you must take that big ball of electrons reaching the length of 6 billion light years long in all directions and multiply it by 6 x 10^28! How big is that? It’s the length of the space required to store trillions and trillions and trillions of the same gigantic balls and more. In fact, the space required to store all of these balls combined together would just start to “scratch the surface” of the number of electrons we would need to really accurately speak about 10^157. But assuming you have some idea of the number of electrons we are talking about, now imagine marking just one of those electrons in that huge number. Stir them all up. Then appoint one person to travel in a rocket for as long as he wants, anywhere he wants to go. Tell him to stop and segment a part of space, then take a high-powered microscope and find that one marked electron in that segment. What do you think his chances of being successful would be? It would be one in 10^157. Remember, this number represents the chance of only 48 prophecies coming true in one person (there are 456 total prophecies concerning Jesus). http://www.johnankerberg.org/Articles/ATRJ/proof/ATRJ1103PDF/ATRJ1103-3.pdf
Since some (many?) atheists deny that Jesus even existed, I like the following prophecy since it was fulfilled within recent history:
Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) - Chuck Missler - video http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581
The preceding start date, used in the prophecy calculation, is confirmed by the archaeological record:
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT Excerpt "In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. The one tablet known as the "Nabunaid Chronicle" gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B.C., Julian Calendar, or October 6-7, 539 B.C., according to our present Gregorian Calendar. This tablet also says that Cyrus made his triumphant entry into Babylon 16 days after its fall to his army. Thus his accession year commenced in October, 539 B.C. However, in another cuneiform tablet called "Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11" Cyrus’ first regnal year is mentioned and was determined to have begun March 17-18, 538 B.C., and to have concluded March 4-5, 537 B.C. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4-5, 537 B.C. In either case this would have given sufficient time for the large party of 49,897 Jews to organize their expedition and to make their long four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to get there by September 29-30, 537 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month, to build their altar to Jehovah as recorded at Ezra 3:1-3. Inasmuch as September 29-30, 537 B.C., officially ends the seventy years of desolation as recorded at 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, so the beginning of the desolation of the land must have officially begun to be counted after September 21-22, 607 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month in 607 B.C., which is the beginning point for the counting of the 2,520 years." http://onlytruegod.org/jwstrs/537vs539.htm

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