Thursday, 12 May 2011

Prediction and prophecies

 I heard on the news yesterday that people were fleeing Rome in their thousands because of  a prediction by  Raffaele Bendandi’s  -a man who reportedly had little knowledge of seismology, but attracted a large following because of his reputed accuracy in predicting earthquakes based on his home grown theories. Cynics have pointed out that Bendandi  only predicted some earthquakes  and his success was a bit hit and miss, so to speak. There was, of course, a major earthquake yesterday in Spain, and some are saying this was the one Bendandi predicted - in which case I give him about 2 out of 10 for effort, or luck! I just hope none of the six victims of the Spanish earthquake were holidaying in Spain in order to try to avoid the earthquake in Rome...
The news item made me think about our very natural human instinct to know, in particular to know about potential disasters and apocalyptic events. I also reflected on the seductive power of predictions and prophecies - one of my students was talking to me a few weeks ago about Nostradamus and the way he is credited with predicting the rise of Hitler, and the events of 9/11. The bible tells us that we cannot predict the end of the world because no-one knows but the father. This does not stop Christians with a certain mindset from attempting to do so and concocting all kinds of conspiracies and fantasies - usually linked to the Book of Revelation, which has a lot to answer for!
Prophets, of course, are not people who predict the future, they are people who read the signs of the times and warn us all to be more alert to them. That's a lot more useful, but it lacks the drama that some people need to spice up their faith a bit. There have been countless predictions of the end of the world and the latest is the apparently growing belief that the date in Jesus's diary is May 21st this year. This fact has apparently been carefully established by sussing out few cryptic clues, counting up various dates in the bible and doing some simple maths. Let's hope you are all rapture ready then? I didn't make it all the way through this video, by the way, so I don't know how it ends...

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