Predicting the future

Spiritists, fortune-tellers and diviners are, generally speaking, not people I consult. This is mainly because I think that many are either faking it, charlatans using the power of suggestion to fleece people of their money, or they are real, which raises far scarier spiritual questions for me. I am not militant enough about the scriptures warning against consulting such people to attack them, but I must admit: I have always wanted to strike a happy medium. That said (and I really did have to say it), I am always a little sceptical about those claiming to predict the future. Last week the news demonstrated that future-predictors, even if not quite satanic, can be a little worrying nonetheless.

Many American college students were worried recently when an internet rumour spread predicting that the US government was going to reinstate conscription. Congressman Tim Ryan explained last week why so many young people had been scared by the rumour and why they might not believe the denial: “This President’s foreign policy is what’s scaring the kids of this country… Not one thing about this war that has been told to these college students has been true, so please forgive the students of this country for not believing what you’re saying.” His speech, which listed lies ranging from supposed Iraqi WMDs to tax-cuts that failed to produce the predicted jobs, amusingly made the rounds on internet message boards last week too, under the tile “Bush gets owned”, net slang for crushing defeat. But these sorts of predictions barely made a dent in our news.

Our radio, TV and papers were more concerned with trying to predict when our own beloved Prime Minister might shuffle off the mortal coil of office and (hopefully) join the choir inaudible, leaving Number Ten for good. Over last week he made it clear that making such predictions is futile. In order to deflect the predictive guesswork of others, however, he did, himself, go into the business of divining. Tony Blair announced last week an initiative to crack down on potential problem children before they’re born.

Now, the term “nanny state” annoys me for the same reasons the phrase “political correctness gone mad” does (overuse and the fact that it usually hides right-wing views behind a screen of so-called “common sense”), but this time I’m siding with the nanny-shouters. I know I should not be surprised that the current administration is planning on predicting which (let’s face it: poor) families will produce yobs. The war on terror is after all largely a war waged against people who have not yet committed any crime but who might, so we’d better put them away just to be on the safe side. My problem with these kinds of predictions is not just that they are big and scary in an Orwellian sense, but that they are potentially self-fulfilling. View Muslims with suspicion, make life hard for them at airports, randomly raid their homes and invade their ancestral lands and yes, you may suddenly find you are actually dealing with a group angry enough to want to kill you. Give a child an Asbo (or a “Fasbo” for foetuses, as the press have dubbed it) from birth and he might just grow up with low expectations.

Perhaps the reason God forbids non-prophetic predictions is that we make bad decisions based upon them. Perhaps refusing to bow to the predictions the world makes is just reaffirmation of a fundamental principle from which all humility and recognition flows: that God is God and we are not God. Only he knows who today will be tomorrow’s “bad people”.

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2 Responses

  1. I agree that God is the only One who can predict the future and has done so from the beginning. There are no new prophecies to be had, for all are in the Bible and have been fulfilled; save 3 events: 1) Christ’s return to take us up; 2) 1000 reign in heaven; and, finally, 3) our return to earth, at which time evil is utterly destroyed and earth is made new.

    As for interpreting God’s prophecies, it can be done only by the Holy Spirit; thus, we have far too many worldly interpretations abounding and misleading the masses into being unprepared for Christ’s quick return. A spiritual interpretation is without flaw.

    Love in Christ,
    http://bonnieq.wordpress.com
    Truth Seekers and Speakers, link on blog page

  2. Bonnieq, I agree with you that only God can prophesize as to the future, however, in this case I disagree with your examples, particularly the numeric one. I would argue that it is actually a good example of the very thing which your comment aims to debunk. I would even argue, that selecting a number of the saved, and using it in religious doctrine counteracts the very things you are attempting to spread. Spiritual interpretation of the bible, as opposed to a worldly and numeric.

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