Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Bible for modern readers

An atheist objection to Christianity is that if the Bible is divinely inspired, it should contain some prophecies about advanced technology. I've discussed that before. I'll make two points.

ii) To recap my first response, suppose you're a moviemaker with a penchant for science fiction. You want to set your story in the future, several centuries from now. And suppose you have actual knowledge of the future. So your depictions of the future are fantastically prescient and realistic. 

That, however, generates a conundrum. It will give your nerdy, geeky movie viewers some clues about the future. Although they think the movie is just science fiction, the depiction of advanced technology gives them ideas. They think about designing gizmos that could really do that. So the effect of your movie is to kickstart the future it depicts. By giving a preview of the future you change the future because your preview influences how people behave, as an intellectual stimulus. 

But because it's premature, because it doesn't represent an incremental development of technology, because it utilizes the resources at hand, at an earlier stage of history, the inventions and discoveries will be different than in the film. By interfering with the natural progression of science, the future it causes isn't the same future, because the modifications begin at an earlier point in the timeline. 

The paradoxical consequence of your movie is that before anyone saw your movie, it accurately predicts how the future will turn out, but once enough people see your movie, it no longer predicts how the future will turn out. Rather, it's an accurate prediction of the future without a past containing your movie. 

iii) But here's another point. It's easier for a modern reader to understand an ancient text than for an ancient reader to understand a modern text. References to modern technology would be unintelligible to an ancient reader. By contrast, references to ancient technology are intelligible to modern readers. We know the past. We have the benefit of hindsight. 

In addition, future technology is constantly changing at a rate that didn't occur in the ancient world. Take the comical spectacle of teenagers who don't know how to use a rotary phone. For today's teenagers, rotary phones might as well be advanced alien technology. 


  1. The objection is reminiscent of the demand that God perform a particular type of healing miracle, such as the healing of an amputee. (For responses to that objection, see here and here.) Given how poorly critics have explained the evidence they already have, they're not in a position to demand more evidence. And the fact that God is capable of producing more evidence doesn't prove that he should. Just as we frequently produce less evidence than we could in our everyday lives, for reasons like efficiency, God can do the same. An optimal balance of evidence - which makes the most of factors like efficiency, God's honor, and man's responsibility - doesn't necessarily involve whatever type of miracle a critic decides to demand at a given moment.

    Why single out technology? And what even qualifies? If Psalm 22 anticipates a Roman crucifixion that would occur several centuries later, does that qualify as something that involves some form of later technology? We know how critics (unreasonably) respond to that sort of passage, looking for other, less likely ways of interpreting it. They could do the same, and have done the same, with other predictions, whether involving technology or something else.

    For an archive of many of our posts on the evidence for fulfilled prophecy, see here.

  2. I'm quite convinced that what the author of Revelation saw as described in the ninth chapter is his attempt to describe military hardware of our era.

    Locusts that sting like scorpions, have iron breastplates, wings that sound like chariots & horses = Drones. I used to say they are attack helicopters, until the US Navy revealed Project LOCUST (literally that name) launched from a Destroyer vessel (abaddon/apollyon) while at sea (the abyss).

    Horses & riders with colourful breastplates, shooting fire from their mouths and snake-like tails = Main Battle Tanks.