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Seeing Into the Future Is Clouded in Mystery

Seeing Into the Future Is Clouded in Mystery

Can Future Disasters Be Predicted? - M.Rietze
The history of man’s world-end prophesies is littered with dates & events that failed to happen. However, many disasters have struck that nobody foresaw.

Most people are not gifted with 20/20 vision about the future. Some have hunches or gut feelings; others make educated/informed guesses based on current evidence. Despite this not knowing, people rely in large numbers on weather forecasts, horoscopes, palm reading or the received wisdom of political, religious or charismatic leaders.

Prophets Without Honour

In the Bible, Deuteronomy 18.20-22 defines a prophet: ‘If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken’. 100Prophesies.org publishes literally a hundred prophesies and foretellings from Israel and the old Testament lands to the end-times. Invariably only the passage of time reveals if something spoken has, is and was true. However, the natural river of disagreement between religious statements, from Christians to Muslims, from Buddhists to Baha’is, is wide and deep.

Over the centuries, some religious views have taught that the return of Jesus Christ will herald the rebirth of the dead for judgment and the raising to heaven of the saved, the rise of an Anti-Christ, a war on Armageddon scale, tribulation of seven years of suffering… it is possible to interpret continuing global-scale wars, disease and the rise of evil dictators as evidence these prophesies have come true.

Religioustolerance.org lists apparently failed prophecies, from the New Testament when indication that Jesus’ return would be in the lifetimes of many hearing those words was given, through every century since of his return, of the end of the world from some natural or man-made disaster. The world has suffered endless disasters including war, pestilence, famine, disease, volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, human failings, but so far only Hollywood has cashed in on the foreknowledge with apocalyptic movies.

Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of what is today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), was one of many religious leaders who were totally certain of hearing God’s voice. He was told that the coming of the Son of Man would occur when he was 85. Smith was assassinated by a mob when he was less than 40 years old. Jehovah’s Witnesses have worked around variations of end-times predictions for years.

In the Bible, it is recorded that Noah heard from God, and against all advice, wisdom and common sense prevalent at the time, built a great ark that saved his family and pairs of animals from a massive flood, to enable life to continue. New and Old Testaments are filled with prophets who warned, predicted, interpreted God’s laws to people

Nostradamus, Supreme Soothsayer

Judaism and Christianity share prophecies and cataclysmic events with other faiths and cultures. Nostradamus, the 16th century French astronomer, physician and astrologer made thousands of predictions, which supporters claim to have come true. They say he foretold the Great Fire of London in 1666, the French Revolution, the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the assassination of US President John Kennedy in 1963.

The quatrains he wrote in the French of his day are cryptic, yet still followers claim he foretold the annihilation of the space shuttle, Challenger, the death of Diana Princess of Wales and the Twin Towers destruction on September 11, 2001.He is commonly referred to as the ’Prophet of Doom’, but has a high success rate in prediction, if the interpretations are accurate.

Technological and Scientific Prognostications

Florentine painter, sculptor, draughtsman, musician, cartographer and engineer Leonardo da Vinci, (1452-1519), it could be argued, was also successful in the prediction business. His notebooks reveal a spirit of scientific enquiry and mechanical inventiveness ahead of his time. He imagined a helicopter, the tank, solar power, a calculator, the double ship hull, automated bobbin-winder and a machine for tensile strength testing of wire. The fields of anatomy, hydrodynamics, optics and civil engineering were all transformed by his visionary, futuristic thinking.

Most scientists fight shy of making detailed predictions, sheltering behind technology’s exponential growth, like Lloyd N Trefethen writing in the late 1990s for the Numerical Algorithms Group: ’in just about a century the world has created radio, television, light bulbs, telephones, phonographs, lasers, refrigeration, cars, airplanes, spacecraft, computers, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, plastics, antibiotics and genetic engineering’, so, his point is: how can anybody predict the future?

The magazine Wired promotes informed predictions about science, technology, engineering, culture, environment, psychology and computers. The viewpoints about the impact of global warming, floods, drought, imbalances largely chime with the received wisdoms of the early 21st century; others, such as active contact lenses stand out. The May 2009 edition said lenses will project words and images onto the eyes and people will download software to influence dreams and share them with others, by 2014.

George Orwell wrote in Nineteen-Eighty Four (1948) : “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” That is why the future matters so much today and will do tomorrow, as long as nobody forgets the lessons of history.

First published on Suite 101, 23 June 2010.

Photo: Can Future Disasters Be Predicted? – M.Rietze

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  1. […] the end of the world from some natural or man-made disaster. … … Follow this link: Seeing Into the Future Is Clouded in Mystery | David Porter ← Tsunami 1957 — Kalihiwai, Hanalei, Wainiha and Ha‘ena Historic and record breaking […]

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