Probably the most common argument I hear for the divine nature of the bible is that it makes prophecies that have later come true.
When prompted for an example, 99 times out of 100, they’ll cite the fact that Isreal is now a state (Ezekiel 34:13). And they actually say it seriously, as if that prophecy isn’t completely self-fulfilling.
The other 1 out of 100 times, they’ll point out a general, vague portion of scripture that can only loosely be applied to a historical event. Alexander the Great, maybe. Or Constantine. It’s never anything specific and non-contrived, and it’s almost always out of context.
The bible and Christianity rely a lot on prophecy, so it’s no surprise that these same people always “forget” to mention the countless prophecies in the bible that were/are completely wrong.
Just for fun, here are a few examples.
Jonah 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Nineveh was not overthrown. Why? Well, according to Jonah, it’s because god ended up “changing his mind.”
Being a prophet has to be the easiest fucking job in the world. You just say something scary and controversial and make a bunch of random predictions, and if something you predict doesn’t happen, just claim that god changed his mind.
Isaiah 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
Damascus today is (a) still a city, (b) inhabited by over a million people, and (c) is not a ruinous heap, nor has it ever been a ruinous heap at any time in history since this prophecy was made.
Isaiah 19:4-5 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts. And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
That “river” is the Nile. And it’s one of Egypt’s main sources of water to this day.
Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
There are plenty of “uncircumcised” Gentiles living in Jerusalem today. For many years, in fact.
Is anyone else starting to notice that Isaiah is about as good at prophecy as Britney Spears is at taxidermy?
Ezekiel 29:10-11 Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.
Never once, in its long and well-recorded history, has Egypt been uninhabited for forty years. Sorry, Zeke.
Genesis 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
For this to be true, Isaac would have needed to have 10^20 descendants. This is a 1 followed by twenty zeros. There are only about 15 million Jews alive today. Even if we include the entire world population as a descendant of Isaac, the bible is still off by a factor of 100 billion.
And if you claim that this is merely hyperbole or metaphor, then the same can be applied to any bible passage. This essentially makes the concept of “fulfilled prophecy” completely meaningless.
Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
In this chapter, Jesus is talking about the end times and the signs of his return. That was 2000 years ago. “That generation” has long since passed, and (a) Jesus has not returned, and (b) those signs haven’t come to pass.
The same rule applies to…
Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Quibble about semantics if you want, but the fact remains that these two prophecies did not occur as explicitly stated.
And please don’t give me that “Wandering Jew” crap.
Matthew 27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.
Jeremiah made no such prophecy. The words “30 pieces of silver” are actually from Zechariah, and they had nothing to do with any forthcoming Messiah.
Matthew 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
There is no Old Testament passage that Jesus can be alluding to here.
Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
There is no such Old Testament prophecy requiring the Messiah to be a Nazarene.
John 7:38 Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
There is no Old Testament scripture that says what Jesus is saying here.
Luke 24:46 Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.
There is no prophecy requiring the Messiah to rise from the dead in three days.
Are we sensing a common theme here?
To put it bluntly, the bible is not the word of any god. It’s not even the word of intelligent beings who could correctly check and cite sources. It’s a litany of mistakes, contradictions, beefed-up legends, and fairy tales, with a few admirable proverbs sprinkled in here and there.
And using the idea of fulfilled prophecy to testify to its divine inspiration is an exercise in futility unless you’re willing to explain exactly why we should ignore the prophecies that flat-out failed.