Scientific Predictions and the Bible: A Dual Fulfillment Proposal

(Guy Coe) #22

Well, neither of these are funny, I’ll grant you. It doesn’t take a belief in God to be the paranoid head of an oppressive state, however, so you can’t lay the blame for the first one on that. As for the second, your barbs here make me uncomfortable sometimes, but it’s simple enough to shrug them off. The element of mandatory attendance makes it somewhat coercive, but doesn’t explain why there wasn’t a sudden urge on the part of the majority of the crowd to simply go use the restroom; I doubt the exits were blocked, or anything. Inappropriate --agreed. Criminal --no. Actionable --probably. Out of bounds or entirely preventable in a free society --we’d have to consult Stalin, Mao, or one of those nice guys to see how their experiments turned out.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #23

I said this because I predict that science will find the correct model to remove the tension between the two sets of highly accurate and precise Hubble Constants. I also predict that Hugh Ross, after reading the results in the technical journals will find agreement with some passage in the Bible. Dr. Ross is very good at explaining the results of science and equally good at finding agreement between science and the Bible.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #24

The stuff in the US with Christians is usually legal or intolerance stuff but not to the life or death nature of what is happening in Islamic countries. I want to do more on the international side with human rights, religious intolerance but it is so much harder so I work on injustices here that are not nearly as severe but none-the-less important.

(Guy Coe) #25

Agreed that it’s a whole different bailiwick in Muslim countries, and there’s a reason for that. Turns out it’s not just a belief in God that matters; it’s crucial to sort out what your literature presents your God to be like; what “His” (sic) character is. We emulate what we ultimatize.
May I recommend “Jesus and the Jihadis --Confronting the rage of ISIS --The Theology Driving the Ideology” by Craig Evans and Jeremiah Johnston, 2015?
Hope the testiness goes away as you ease into your evening. Cheers!

(Ashwin S) #26

I agree the Saudi Government is repressive and routinely violates all kinds of Human rights… However the thought of interference by the US/European powers also leaves me with a bad feeling. Earlier interventions on humanitarian grounds in the middle east (whether in terms of economic sanctions or military action) have been disastrous for common people.
On the other hand, Such interventions bring some hope for short term relief for a small no: of people who are oppressed.
I think Canada making strong protests is far more non-threatening than the US making strong claims because they don’t have a history of backing up such complaint with guns/Fighter Jets!
This is one reason i am impressed by President Trumps America First Policy. When you hold to such a policy, it becomes difficult to justify expensive wars… :slight_smile:

(Dr Michael G Strauss) #27

Thanks for your comments and insight. I understand how the NT writers appropriated the OT messianic prophecies, but what I’m asking is whether or not the original writer (Isaiah) had as his intent a dual fulfillment, with a contemporary “virgin” and a future virgin. If not, then what we are saying is that, at least under certain circumstances, there is more to the passage than the original intent, despite the fact that the goal of interpretation and exegesis is to understand the original intent. If so, then is it possible that under the inspiration of the HS there are other passages with a dual meaning not understood by the authors outside the realm of messianic prophecy? I realize that the realm of science is different than the realm of prophecy, but both would have to do with future issues that the original writer could not have seen (or only seen dimly) so that any statement that was culturally relevant at the time of its writing would have to have this kind of dual intent if it were to be prophetic about the future (either “messianically” or scientifically).

I think it is possible that the scientific category has some movement biblically, though certainly not to the extent of Christology. For instance, Genesis 1:1 is a clear statement that this universe had a beginning, something that was not known scientifically when written and something that other cultures did not necessarily adhere to. Where did the original author get that information? Was it divine revelation, a good guess, or just a cultural belief that happened to be correct? What about Hebrews 11:3 which certainly seems to have some scientific relevance that was not known at the time. Again, is that revelation, a guess, or a lucky cultural belief? If these are examples of scientific revelation that are straightforward then it might make sense to say there is some scientific foreknowledge in the Bible, some of which is straightforward and some that might be dual fulfillment, following the same pattern as messianic prophecies.

Yes, it is all tentative, but I think there might be a reasonably strong case for what I’m proposing. I think it may not be quite as distinct from the messianic prophecy model as some others might think.

(Ashwin S) #28

I think we need to keep in mind that prophecies of future events is a special category of revelation. In such cases (including messianic prophecies) the original author is not aware of the full implications of his prophecy.
Daniel is a good example of this.In Daniel 12, Daniel recieves a prophecy and does not understand it. And he asks for the meaning and is given this interesting reply:
Daniel:12 “I heard, but I didn’t understand. So I asked, ‘Sir, what happens next?’
[ 9 ]“He answered, ‘Go on your way, Daniel, because these matters are wrapped up and sealed until the time of the end.

However, there is little justification for reading narrative and poetic content in this context. Especially when deciding doctrinal matters.

(Dr Michael G Strauss) #29

I tend to agree. With the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, though, there is a dual fulfillment, one the original author probably understood and one he probably did not. So the question we are pondering is whether the same might be true of scientific “prophecies.”

(Ashwin S) #30

Are there “Scientific Prophecies” ???
I personally don’t expect to find the any such prophecies embedded in Scripture… Scientific coincidences … perhaps…
It is possible to think of correct interpretation of Scripture as working at three levels -

  1. What the Author intended/understood.
  2. What God Intended/understood.
  3. How the holy Spirit explains it.

1 is the most basic understanding of the text. 2 is a broader understanding of the text. 3 is the broadest understanding (including application of the text in specific situations).
All three of the above are accessible to all Christians in modern times. However , when we come together as a community in church, category 1 is the most testable and hence most open to interaction by a group. I think this is why most theological studies (which are done in communities) are more comfortable with this category.
The church as a Body, however incorporates option 2 and 3 through the work of the Holy Spirit and during daily application of Gods word. Here conscience plays a crucial role. This is where the church’s understanding as a body about God’s nature/Intentions, the illumination of the holy Spirit etc get together.

Of course, being fallible, error is possible in all levels of our understanding.
I don’t know if this categorization is helpful in any way. Its just how i see these things pan out.

(Dr Michael G Strauss) #31

I agree with this and what I’m calling “Scientific prophecies” (which is really a loose and poor statement only to parallel “Messianic prophecies” and would better be called statements that coincide with scientific discoveries/observations) would fall into category 2 and 3. As you say conscience and care play a crucial role.

(Kenneth Turner) #32

That’s a tough question, and might be the wrong one. First, the book of Isaiah, as we have it, was not put together by Isaiah himself (I’m not even getting into Deutero and Trito Isaiah schemes here). The evidence indicates that the prophetic books were editied and shaped by the covenant community over tilme. So the qusestion would be: what was the original intent of the final shape of the book of Isaiah? While this is debatable, I agree with that…

IMO, chs. 7-8 easily fit in Isaiah’s day, but chs. 9-11 suggest the child is beyond human. Now this could be complete hyperbole from Isaiah’s or the final editors’ view, or perhaps the editors’ sensed something more was coming. (BTW, I take the original child/fulfillment to be Hezekiah, a Davidic messiah, so the idea of both/and fits the general nature of these prophecies.)

Second, or alternatively, one could take the view that Matthew’s use of “fulfillment” isn’t about interpreting original intent, but connecting the dots. He sees something about Jesus, and then looks back and finds a connection in the OT. His operating principle isn’t haphazard, however, for he’s looking for patterns of correspondence (assuming divine sovereignty over history) within the right kind of parallels, such as prophetic words, typological figures and institutions, and covenant structures. This is why I struggle with your move here:

Asking if something is possible is unhelpful unless you have good grounds for such a claim. The messianic stuff has lots of good grounds. But you have absolutely nothing to go on for scientific things you’re proposing: in the editing of the OT books; in the progression of thought in the Second Temple period; in the use of the OT in the NT; in the early interpretation in the patristic period. Sorry, I’ve watched too many TV preachers who make stuff up based on “isn’t it possible.” Not to mention all the Bible Code stuff where “predictions” are “found” (always after the fact) hidden in the text.

Based on what? Where is the movement biblically?

That depends on how it is translated. The more popular translations have v. 1 as a independent statement, but others (e.g., NRSV, NJPS, NAB) have it as a dependent clause, subordinate to either v. 2 or v. 3. Whatever translation is most correct, a likely interpretation is that v. 2 precedes any actual creation, so Gen 1 may not be teaching an absolute beginning (ex nihilo). But the Bible as a whole does teach this doctrine, so your point is still made. I only bring up the translation issue because it pushes back on what you say is a “clear statement”…it’s really not that clear.

This is a good question. It seems to me that the answer is “none of the above” to your options. While divine revelation is possible, there is nothing in the text indicating that Gen 1 (or Heb 11) is based on such, so we should consider other options. The simplest option is to assume the conclusion is based on good, theological inference by the biblical authors. That is, creation ex nihilo, with an absolute beginning, is necessary given the view of who God is and what his creational intentions were. No need for science, ancient or modern. Thus, I reject your conclusion:

I don’t see a “reasonably strong case.” Of course, I could be wrong. But I’ve tried to consider all the proposals along this scientific concordism line and I’ve yet to find anything that seems plausible. I fear it comes closer to Bible Code territory than Christology. But thanks for the engagement. I hope I’m still open to being convinced otherwise.

(The Honest Skeptic) #33

Patrick: Just to be clear, you actually criticized Dr. Ross for pointing out connections between the scriptures and scientific discoveries after the fact. Here’s what you said, and what I was replying to:

From: @Patrick Yes Dr. Ross is claiming that the bible talks about the expanding universe which was pretty much understood to be a fact especially by the time of confirmation by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. But Dr. Ross claims even the accelerating expansion of the universe is in the Bible. Although Dr. Ross made no mention of this until after Reiss’ Nobel Prize winning discovery in 1997. So since the Bible has all the cosmological answers in it, can Dr. Ross please save all of cosmology and physics, the time and expense figuring out the tension in the two highly precise and an accurate measurements of the Hubble Constant. What does the bible say the real Hubble Constant is - in the original Hebrew of course?

In your comment, you expressed a desire to see Dr. Ross make the connection between scripture and scientific discoveries before they were made. This is what I explained (in my post) was not fair or reasonable to expect.

I agree with your response, though, on all other points. Dr. Ross is good at explaining the results of scientific findings and also bringing to light connections to scripture. Many of us find these connections to be helpful.

(Guy Coe) #34

Goodness; I’m trying to make a prediction of a link we’ll find on another thread right now, but it doesn’t get any traction because it has not yet been closely scientifically elucidated. Instead, theological demurrals are offered. That’s part of the whole process of dialogue.

(Jon Garvey) #35

I have to say that the problem with suspecting hidden science in the Bible is that science is not just about discovering truths about the physical universe, but using a particular cultural set of glasses to look at the universe.

Apart from today’s theories being superceded, it’s quite possible that in a few hundred years some major change in the whole approach to science, as great as that between Aristotelian and Baconian science, will have taken place. Or the world could be going through one of its period dark ages.

Then all those messages will have been unread for 3000 years before science, spotted by a few scientifically educated types (who probably are too narrowly educated to appreciate the overt messages), and then hidden again.

It’s like those interpretations of Revelation that think its about the Cold War, or the EU, or any of those local historical events that would make the book useless to any generation except one. That’s just not how, or why, the Bible was written.

(Guy Coe) #36

It depends upon the topic. There are details which are borne out --the universe had a beginning, God is sovereign over it, and transcendent beyond it, while being immanent within it. The primitive theomachies of other ANE cultures find no significant correlation in the Genesis account; while the rest of the Bible shows an awareness of them, in no place is God presented as actually being any less than in sovereign authority over any and all opposition to His will. But, His methods are not the use of naked power, but are instead more subtle. Apparently, God eschews authoritarian means, preferring instead to win over good hearts. How is any of this merely “to be expected” from an ancient account? It’s uncanny accuracy and moral goodness are exactly what the text is about establishing, before the fall of man predisposes him to mistrust.

(The Honest Skeptic) #37

@jongarvey If we talk about the example of “stretching out the skies” as an analogy for an expanding universe, how would the cultural aspect come in to play? Do you see a way in which the cultural effect on science would augment or diminish the value of a 3000 y/o passage of scripture that predicts the same? (Obviously, if the universe were found to not be expanding, this would be problematic, but I’m talking just about the cultural effect you bring up.)

As a different example, @Joel_Duff wrote a post asking whether or not the ostrich described in Job was the same as the ostrich we observe today. The point had to do with hyper-evolution and proving whether or not a YEC perspective made sense, and yet the original text had nothing to do with this at all. Rather it was God’s musings over how He decided to create the ostrich and whether or not being flawed was perfect or not.

It seems as though we can evaluate specific examples of things mentioned in scripture and determine whether or not they have predictive or analytical power, apart from the cultural aspect. In other words, regardless of how the philosophy of science changes over the next hundred or more years, the value of the scriptures to describe that an ostrich is still an ostrich, or that that stretching out the skies might imply an expanding universe, seem, to me at least, to still be valid.

Maybe time will tell?

(Jon Garvey) #38


I just don’t think the text is talking about “expansion” at all - the tent analogy has to do with setting up a roof to the world, seen phenomenologically, not about the whole universe expanding. Bear in mind that it wasn’t till much later, in the time of the Greeks, that the concept of a “universe” as a holistic description of “the heavens and the earth” came to be conceived. It’s unlikely that the writer even thought of the world as a “thing”, but rather as the earth below and the sky above - and certainly that’s true enough.

So what would be the point of God’s slipping in a coded message - completely beyond the ken of the writer and his audience - when even now most people in the world neither know, nor much care, about cosmic expansion?

When Galileo (purportedly) said that the Scriptures were about how to go to heaven, not about how th heavens go, he was talking about not expecting the Bible to do your astronomy for you. But that would, at least, have some arguable educational value.

But determining secret messages after humans discover the science sounds more like the Bible Code than anything - and its only purpose would be for God to say, “You see, I knew that all along!” And anyone who doubts that isn’t going to take Scripture seriously anyway.

Here’s an alternative account.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #39

Why isn’t this fair? Dr. Ross has for decades found recent scientific results in the Bible. Just recently he found the inflationary universe in some verse of the OT. He has stated that the Bible is fully compatible with yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s science, so why do we need to wait to find scientific results as Dr. Ross can find the answers right now. Unless he is just engaging in Postdictions not predictions using the Bible.

(The Honest Skeptic) #40

Hi Patrick: Here’s why it is not fair. A “prophecy” stated as such is a proclamation that something will occur in the future. Whether or not it comes true, at some point in the future (assuming that the prophecy was not specific in terms of timing), is going to validate or invalidate the prophecy.

What we are talking about here is not a prophecy stated as such. Rather, we are talking about a description of nature (in this case) that can be interpreted differently in light of future discoveries about nature itself. Therefore, you cannot expect the description to foretell what it may describe in the future without knowing what that is. The only other way to know, would be to find in the description a literal description of both sides of the dual revelation.

If the Bible says that God stretched the skies out like a tent, and one from the 18th century (for instance) has no concept of an expanding universe (also, for instance), that does not speak against the accuracy of the text.

What I believe you are doing here is mistaking what Dr. Ross is saying and why. His point regarding these texts in the Bible is NOT that they are predictive and can help to make future discoveries, but rather it is that they must be inspired because the spiritual author included details in the text that could not be known to the human writer of the time. And, further, that one should find the Bible to be more trustworthy because this is so.

Dr. Ross is not attempting to explain, as you say, that the Bible is a lens through which predictions can be made about future discoveries.

He is saying this:

The Bible speaks of a beginning for space and time. The human author could not have known of this concept, therefore the spiritual author is trustworthy because what is said, and could not otherwise be known at the time, is in sync with what we know to be the truth about the creation.

He is not saying that “in the beginning God created…” is a prediction, literally, but rather the details surrounding that creation match up with what we understand now to a degree that there is credence to what has been said and who said it. In other words, the source is more trustworthy.

(The Honest Skeptic) #41

I appreciate what you are saying here. I’d like to clarify that my comment was regarding what you said about reading discoveries in the modern era through certain philosophical glasses (probably a poor summary.) So, while my opinion is that the stretching analogy does apply (secondarily at least) to an expanding universe, that’s not what I was saying in my reply to you. Rather, I was asking how philosophical differences in how science is interpreted today or in the future affect this conversation. Whether or not the term “stretching” in biblical terms referred to an expanding universe or to setting up a roof to the world is a theological conversation. So, I was asking how you thought future philosophical changes in the practice of science would affect the value of the biblical text. You stated that it is possible that in the future there will be major changes in science that would affect the interpretation of that which was stated in the Bible.

I often hear this response or one similar. It reminds me of the old George Carlin gig about the lost car keys. “I know they are going to be in the last place I look…” Carlin continues, “Of course they will be in the last place you look. You won’t find them and then keep looking!”

This comment is similar to that. It depreciates what God has said (through a human being) because God speaks as God would be expected to speak. Why in the world would anyone expect God to restrict what he says to only terms that would be understood in the context of the current time period? It makes no sense. None of us speak that way. Sure, we might temper our words to a child such that the child will understand what we are saying, but we aren’t going to be careful to not include words that also imply a greater meaning and greater understanding. Why? Because the greater meaning and understanding does not detract from the lesser meaning.

To me, it seems that your expectation is for God to dumb-down what he is saying to purposefully not include any verbiage that could shed greater light on the authority of His words later down the road.

I rather think that the value of this additional revelation far outweighs the criticism that this is just Bible Code.

I hope that makes sense.