Now, I've read the bible back and forth. I know the number of contradictions it holds, ever since I took off my God Goggles®
Books like Matthew holds a plethora of prophecies. Or at the very least, two piñatas filled with candies worth of it. Now, most of us know that prophecies, like the ones from Nostradamus, are never specific enough, require a bit of a wording manipulation for it to work, and failed prophecies are ignored or recreated to mean something else as a future event, perhaps. Let me list some here:
Matthew 24:15 -- "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." - Since we have TV and internet, as well as a world coverage of preaching Christian religions, many feel this prophecy has already past.
Matthew 24:23-25 -- False messiahs. Those saying that they speak to God and/or that they are Jesus. Happens every Sunday on church TV channels every time a minister preaches that "JESUS SPOKE TO ME and SAID he is POOR! HE NEEDS YOUR MONEY!!!"
Matthew 24:21-22-- This is actually a big one, stating that there will be great suffering all over the world. Wars, famine, disease, and general suffering is attributed to this.
Luke 21:23-24 -- Jerusalem will be trampled on. Many relate what is happening today in the Middle East is what this bible text is speaking of.
Matthew 10:21 "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." HEY! This one has come true!
Luke 21:33 --: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Here Jesus states that his words will not be forgotten.
Now, my question is, how do you rebuttal these to someone who has read them and say it's proof that the bible is true? I guess I can say things like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and plagues actually killed more people in the past then it has now (source?), but what about the rest of these? And I'm not even going into the madness that is Revelations!
Just generally, prophecies are either so non-specific that confirmation can be found for them in almost any event, at any time- if you wait long enough, they'll always be confirmed; they're not prophecies at all but are only assumed to be so because of the way Christians read the verse(s); or while they appear to be prophecies that are confirmed, they were written so close to- or even after- the event they're prophesying that there's nothing supernatural there at all.
the first point is often easy to spot but the second and the third require a little knowledge of the bible's text and authorship (dating).
and anyway, it hardly matters. there are supposedly fulfilled prophecies from other religions that Christians wouldn't argue are confirmation of the truth of those religions. and then there are all kinds of failed prophecies in the bible that Christians aren't troubled by.
I never take people who bring up prophecies like these seriously. But when it's friends and family, I have a difficult time informing them how these can be manipulated for today, 50 years ago, or 50 years from now. They consider it proof of the bible's authenticity; that there is no way the bible can lie because all of these prophecies are coming true. Matthew 24:21-22 is the one that they always bring up.
Yes, I try to move on to other subjects. It's difficult, if not impossible, to make someone who's deeply religious and completely convinced of these bible prophecies that they are indeed too vague, sometimes nonsensical.
Bible prophecies are often vague and tend to "predict" things that will inevitably happen. They never give a precise timeframe as to when they are to come true. They can often be self fulfilling as well. They are also unfalsifiable predictions. It's kind of like predicting that sometime in the future, I'll flip a coin and it will land on tails. Bible prophecies really aren't the profound predictions that theists claim they are.
Yes, I guess you're right. When I was religious, I would think of these haunting, frightening images of death and destruction. Pestilence, wars, crimes! They are happening right now! The bible is right!
Of course, it also happened 200 years ago! In the dark ages! And 1000 years ago!
But I think it goes a bit further in saying that things may also happen 'invisibly', another bible theory that gets tossed around me a lot. Jesus' invisible reign. God's invisible war with demons. Demons and angles being invisible but still affecting our daily lives.