HowUnique You Are!
BEFORE starting your activities each morning, do you glance in a mirror to check your appearance? You may not have time to be contemplative then. But take a moment now to marvel at what is involved as you take such a simple glance.
Your eyes enable you to view yourself in full color, even though color vision is not vital to life. The position of your ears gives you stereophonic hearing; thus you can locate the source of sounds, such as the voice of a loved one. We may take that for granted, yet a book for sound engineers comments: "In considering the human hearing system in any depth, however, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that its intricate functions and structures indicate some beneficent hand in its design."
Your nose also manifests marvelous design. Through it you can breathe air, which keeps you alive. Also, it has millions of sense receptors, enabling you to discern some 10,000 nuances of smell. As you enjoy a meal, another sense comes into play. Thousands of taste buds convey flavors to you. Other receptors on your tongue help you to feel if your teeth are clean.
Yes, you have five senses—sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Granted, some animals have keener night vision, more sensitive smell, or more acute hearing, but man’s balance of these senses certainly allows him to excel in many ways.
Let us, though, consider why we can benefit from these abilities and capacities. All of them depend on the three-pound [1.4 kg] organ inside our head—our brain. Animals have functioning brains. Still, the human brain is in a class by itself, making us undeniably unique. How so? And how does this uniqueness relate to our interest in having a meaningful, lasting life?
For years man’s brain has been likened to a computer, yet recent discoveries show that the comparison falls far short. "How does one begin to comprehend the functioning of an organ with somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 billion neurons with a million billion synapses (connections), and with an overall firing rate of perhaps 10 million billion times per second?" asked Dr. Richard M. Restak. His answer? "The performance of even the most advanced of the neural-network computers . . . has about one ten-thousandth the mental capacity of a housefly." Consider, then, how much a computer fails to measure up to a human brain, which is so remarkably superior.
What man-made computer can repair itself, rewrite its program, or improve over the years? When a computer system needs to be adjusted, a programmer must write and enter new coded instructions. Our brain does such work automatically, both in the early years of life and in old age. You would not be exaggerating to say that the most advanced computers are very primitive compared to the brain. Scientists have called it "the most complicated structure known" and "the most complex object in the universe." Consider some discoveries that have led many to conclude that the human brain is the product of a caring Creator.
Use It or Lose It
Useful inventions such as cars and jet planes are basically limited by the fixed mechanisms and electrical systems that men design and install. By contrast, our brain is, at the very least, a highly flexible biological mechanism or system. It can keep changing according to the way it is used—or abused. Two main factors seem responsible for how our brain develops throughout our lifetime—what we allow to enter it through our senses and what we choose to think about.
Although hereditary factors may have a role in mental performance, modern research shows that our brain is not fixed by our genes at the time of conception. "No one suspected that the brain was as changeable as science now knows it to be," writes Pulitzer prize-winning author Ronald Kotulak. After interviewing more than 300 researchers, he concluded: "The brain is not a static organ; it is a constantly changing mass of cell connections that are deeply affected by experience."—Inside the Brain.
Still, our experiences are not the only means of shaping our brain. It is affected also by our thinking. Scientists find that the brains of people who remain mentally active have up to 40 percent more connections (synapses) between nerve cells (neurons) than do the brains of the mentally lazy. Neuroscientists conclude: You have to use it or you lose it. What, though, of the elderly? There seems to be some loss of brain cells as a person ages, and advanced age can bring memory loss. Yet the difference is much less than was once believed. A National Geographic report on the human brain said: "Older people . . . retain capacity to generate new connections and to keep old ones via mental activity."
Recent findings about our brain’s flexibility accord with advice found in the Bible. That book of wisdom urges readers to be ‘transformed by making their mind over’ or to be "made new" through "accurate knowledge" taken into the mind. (Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:10) Jehovah’s Witnesses have seen this happen as people study the Bible and apply its counsel. Many thousands—from the whole spectrum of social and educational backgrounds—have done so. They remain distinct individuals, but they have become happier and more balanced, displaying what a first-century writer called "soundness of mind." (Acts 26:24, 25) Improvements like these result largely from one’s making good use of a part of the cerebral cortex located in the front of the head.
Most neurons in the outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex, are not linked directly to muscles and sensory organs. For example, consider the billions of neurons that make up the frontal lobe. Brain scans prove that the frontal lobe becomes active when you think of a word or call up memories. The front part of the brain plays a special role in your being you.
"The prefrontal cortex . . . is most involved with elaboration of thought, intelligence, motivation, and personality. It associates experiences necessary for the production of abstract ideas, judgment, persistence, planning, concern for others, and conscience. . . . It is the elaboration of this region that sets human beings apart from other animals." (Marieb’s Human Anatomy and Physiology) We certainly see evidence of this distinction in what humans have accomplished in fields such as mathematics, philosophy, and justice, which primarily involve the prefrontal cortex.
Why do humans have a large, flexible prefrontal cortex, which contributes to higher mental functions, whereas in animals this area is rudimentary or nonexistent? The contrast is so great that biologists who claim that we evolved speak of the "mysterious explosion in brain size." Professor of Biology Richard F. Thompson, noting the extraordinary expansion of our cerebral cortex, admits: "As yet we have no very clear understanding of why this happened." Could the reason lie in man’s having been created with this peerless brain capacity?
Other parts of the brain also contribute to our uniqueness. Behind our prefrontal cortex is a strip stretching across the head—the motor cortex. It contains billions of neurons that connect with our muscles. It too has features that contribute to our being far different from apes or other animals. The primary motor cortex gives us "(1) an exceptional capability to use the hand, the fingers, and the thumb to perform highly dexterous manual tasks, and (2) use of the mouth, lips, tongue, and facial muscles to talk."—Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology.
Consider briefly how the motor cortex affects your ability to speak. Over half of it is devoted to the organs of communication. This helps to explain the unparalleled communication skills of humans. Though our hands play a role in communication (in writing, normal gestures, or sign language), the mouth usually plays the major part. Human speech—from a baby’s first word to the voice of an elderly person—is unquestionably a marvel. Some 100 muscles in the tongue, lips, jaw, throat, and chest cooperate to produce countless sounds. Note this contrast: One brain cell can direct 2,000 fibers of an athlete’s calf muscle, but brain cells for the voice box may concentrate on only 2 or 3 muscle fibers. Does that not suggest that our brain is specially equipped for communication?
Each short phrase that you utter requires a specific pattern of muscular movements. The meaning of a single expression can change depending upon the degree of movement and split-second timing of scores of different muscles. "At a comfortable rate," explains speech expert Dr. William H. Perkins, "we utter about 14 sounds per second. That’s twice as fast as we can control our tongue, lips, jaw or any other parts of our speech mechanism when we move them separately. But put them all together for speech and they work the way fingers of expert typists and concert pianists do. Their movements overlap in a symphony of exquisite timing."
The actual information needed to ask the simple question, "How are you today?" is stored in a part of your brain’s frontal lobe called Broca’s area, which some consider to be your speech center. Nobel laureate neuroscientist Sir John Eccles wrote: "No area corresponding to the . . . speech area of Broca has been recognized in apes." Even if some similar areas are found in animals, the fact is that scientists cannot get apes to produce more than a few crude speech sounds. You, though, can produce complicated language. To do so, you put words together according to the grammar of your language. Broca’s area helps you do that, both in speaking and in writing.
Of course, you cannot exercise the miracle of speech unless you know at least one language and understand what its words mean. This involves another special part of your brain, known as Wernicke’s area. Here, billions of neurons discern the meaning of spoken or written words. Wernicke’s area helps you to make sense of statements and to comprehend what you hear or read; thus you can learn information and can respond sensibly.
There is even more to your fluent speech. To illustrate: A verbal "Hello" can convey a host of meanings. Your tone of voice reflects whether you are happy, excited, bored, rushed, annoyed, sad, or frightened, and it may even reveal degrees of those emotional states. Another area of your brain supplies information for the emotional part of speech. So, various parts of your brain come into play when you communicate.
Chimpanzees have been taught some limited sign language, but their use of it is essentially limited to simple requests for food or other basics. Having worked to teach chimps simple nonverbal communication, Dr. David Premack concluded: "Human language is an embarrassment for evolutionary theory because it is vastly more powerful than one can account for."
We might ponder: ‘Why do humans have this marvelous skill to communicate thoughts and feelings, to inquire and to respond?’ The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics states that "[human] speech is special" and admits that "the search for precursors in animal communication does not help much in bridging the enormous gap that separates language and speech from nonhuman behaviors." Professor Ludwig Koehler summarized the difference: "Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift, a miracle."
What a difference there is between an ape’s use of signs and the complex language ability of children! Sir John Eccles referred to what most of us have also observed, an ability "exhibited even by 3-year-old children with their torrent of questions in their desire to understand their world." He added: "By contrast, apes do not ask questions." Yes, only humans form questions, including questions about the meaning of life.
Memory and More!
When you glance in a mirror, you may think of how you looked when you were younger, even comparing that with what your appearance could be in the years to come or how you would look after applying cosmetics. These thoughts can arise almost unconsciously, yet something very special is occurring, something that no animal can experience.
Unlike animals, who mainly live and act on present needs, humans can contemplate the past and plan for the future. A key to your doing that is the brain’s almost limitless memory capacity. True, animals have a degree of memory, and thus they can find their way back home or recall where food may be. Human memory is far greater. One scientist estimated that our brain can hold information that "would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries." Some neuroscientists estimate that during an average life span, a person uses only 1/100 of 1 percent (.0001) of his potential brain capacity. You might well ask, ‘Why do we have a brain with so much capacity that we hardly test a fraction of it in a normal lifetime?’
Nor is our brain just some vast storage place for information, like a supercomputer. Biology professors Robert Ornstein and Richard F. Thompson wrote: "The ability of the human mind to learn—to store and recall information—is the most remarkable phenomenon in the biological universe. Everything that makes us human—language, thought, knowledge, culture—is the result of this extraordinary capability."
Moreover, you have a conscious mind. That statement may seem basic, but it sums up something that unquestionably makes you exceptional. The mind has been described as "the elusive entity where intelligence, decision making, perception, awareness and sense of self reside." As creeks, streams, and rivers feed into a sea, so memories, thoughts, images, sounds, and feelings flow constantly into or through our mind. Consciousness, says one definition, is "the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind."
Modern researchers have made great strides in understanding the physical makeup of the brain and some of the electrochemical processes that occur in it. They can also explain the circuitry and functioning of an advanced computer. However, there is a vast difference between brain and computer. With your brain you are conscious and are aware of your being, but a computer certainly is not. Why the difference?
Frankly, how and why consciousness arises from physical processes in our brain is a mystery. "I don’t see how any science can explain that," one neurobiologist commented. Also, Professor James Trefil observed: "What, exactly, it means for a human being to be conscious . . . is the only major question in the sciences that we don’t even know how to ask." One reason why is that scientists are using the brain to try to understand the brain. And just studying the physiology of the brain may not be enough. Consciousness is "one of the most profound mysteries of existence," observed Dr. David Chalmers, "but knowledge of the brain alone may not get [scientists] to the bottom of it."
Nonetheless, each of us experiences consciousness. For example, our vivid memories of past events are not mere stored facts, like computer bits of information. We can reflect on our experiences, draw lessons from them, and use them to shape our future. We are able to consider several future scenarios and evaluate the possible effects of each. We have the capacity to analyze, create, appreciate, and love. We can enjoy pleasant conversations about the past, present, and future. We have ethical values about behavior and can use them in making decisions that may or may not be of immediate benefit. We are attracted to beauty in art and morals. In our mind we can mold and refine our ideas and guess how other people will react if we carry these out.
Such factors produce an awareness that sets humans apart from other life-forms on earth. A dog, a cat, or a bird looks in a mirror and responds as if seeing another of its kind. But when you look in a mirror, you are conscious of yourself as a being with the capacities just mentioned. You can reflect on dilemmas, such as: ‘Why do some turtles live 150 years and some trees live over 1,000 years, but an intelligent human makes the news if he reaches 100?’ Dr. Richard Restak states: "The human brain, and the human brain alone, has the capacity to step back, survey its own operation, and thus achieve some degree of transcendence. Indeed, our capacity for rewriting our own script and redefining ourselves in the world is what distinguishes us from all other creatures in the world."
Man’s consciousness baffles some. The book Life Ascending, while favoring a mere biological explanation, admits: "When we ask how a process [evolution] that resembles a game of chance, with dreadful penalties for the losers, could have generated such qualities as love of beauty and truth, compassion, freedom, and, above all, the expansiveness of the human spirit, we are perplexed. The more we ponder our spiritual resources, the more our wonder deepens." Very true. Thus, we might round out our view of human uniqueness by a few evidences of our consciousness that illustrate why many are convinced that there must be an intelligent Designer, a Creator, who cares for us.
"Why do people pursue art so passionately?" asked Professor Michael Leyton in Symmetry, Causality, Mind. As he pointed out, some might say that mental activity such as mathematics confers clear benefits to humans, but why art? Leyton illustrated his point by saying that people travel great distances to art exhibits and concerts. What inner sense is involved? Similarly, people around the globe put attractive pictures or paintings on the walls of their home or office. Or consider music. Most people like to listen to some style of music at home and in their cars. Why? It certainly is not because music once contributed to the survival of the fittest. Says Leyton: "Art is perhaps the most inexplicable phenomenon of the human species."
Still, we all know that enjoying art and beauty is part of what makes us feel "human." An animal might sit on a hill and look at a colorful sky, but is it drawn to beauty as such? We look at a mountain torrent shimmering in the sunshine, stare at the dazzling diversity in a tropical rain forest, gaze at a palm-lined beach, or admire the stars sprinkled across the black velvety sky. Often we feel awed, do we not? Beauty of that sort makes our hearts glow, our spirits soar. Why?
Why do we have an innate craving for things that, in reality, contribute little materially to our survival? From where do our aesthetic values come? If we do not take into account a Maker who shaped these values at man’s creation, these questions lack satisfying answers. This is also true regarding beauty in morals.
Many recognize the highest form of beauty to be fine deeds. For instance, being loyal to principles in the face of persecution, acting unselfishly to relieve others’ suffering, and forgiving someone who hurt us are actions that appeal to the moral sense of thinking people everywhere. This is the kind of beauty mentioned in the ancient Biblical proverb: "The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression." Or as another proverb observes: "The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness."—Proverbs 19:11, 22.14 For whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. 15 They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.
We all know that some people, and even groups, ignore or trample on elevated morals, but the majority do not. From what source do the moral values found in virtually all areas and in all periods come? If there is no Source of morality, no Creator, did right and wrong simply originate with people, human society?
Consider an example: Most individuals and groups hold murder to be wrong. But one could ask, ‘Wrong in comparison to what?’ Obviously there is some sense of morality that underlies human society in general and that has been incorporated into the laws of many lands. What is the source of this standard of morality? Could it not be an intelligent Creator who has moral values and who placed the faculty of conscience, or ethical sense, in humans?—Compare Romans 2:14, 15.
You Can Contemplate the Future and Plan for It
Another facet of human consciousness is our ability to consider the future. When asked whether humans have traits that distinguish them from animals, Professor Richard Dawkins acknowledged that man has, indeed, unique qualities. After mentioning "the ability to plan ahead using conscious, imagined foresight," Dawkins added: "Short-term benefit has always been the only thing that counts in evolution; long-term benefit has never counted. It has never been possible for something to evolve in spite of being bad for the immediate short-term good of the individual. For the first time ever, it’s possible for at least some people to say, ‘Forget about the fact that you can make a short-term profit by chopping down this forest; what about the long-term benefit?’ Now I think that’s genuinely new and unique."
Other researchers confirm that humans’ ability for conscious, long-term planning is without parallel. Neurophysiologist William H. Calvin notes: "Aside from hormonally triggered preparations for winter and mating, animals exhibit surprisingly little evidence of planning more than a few minutes ahead." Animals may store food before a cold season, but they do not think things through and plan. By contrast, humans consider the future, even the distant future. Some scientists contemplate what may happen to the universe billions of years hence. Did you ever wonder why man—so different from animals—is able to think about the future and lay out plans?
The Bible says of humans: "Even time indefinite [the Creator] has put in their heart." The Revised Standard Version renders it: "He has put eternity into man’s mind." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We use this distinctive ability daily, even in as common an act as glancing in a mirror and thinking what our appearance will be in 10 or 20 years. And we are confirming what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says when we give even passing thought to such concepts as the infinity of time and space. The mere fact that we have this ability harmonizes with the comment that a Creator has put "eternity into man’s mind."
Drawn to a Creator
Many people, however, are not satisfied fully by enjoying beauty, doing good to fellowmen, and thinking about the future. "Strangely enough," notes Professor C. Stephen Evans, "even in our most happy and treasured moments of love, we often feel something is missing. We find ourselves wanting more but not knowing what is the more we want." Indeed, conscious humans—unlike the animals with which we share this planet—feel another need.
"Religion is deeply rooted in human nature and experienced at every level of economic status and educational background." This summed up the research that Professor Alister Hardy presented in The Spiritual Nature of Man. It confirms what numerous other studies have established—man is God-conscious. While individuals may be atheists, whole nations are not. The book Is God the Only Reality? observes: "The religious quest for meaning . . . is the common experience in every culture and every age since the emergence of humankind."
From where does this seemingly inborn awareness of God come? If man were merely an accidental grouping of nucleic acid and protein molecules, why would these molecules develop a love of art and beauty, turn religious, and contemplate eternity?
Sir John Eccles concluded that an evolutionary explanation of man’s existence "fails in a most important respect. It cannot account for the existence of each one of us as unique self-conscious beings." The more we learn about the workings of our brain and mind, the easier it is to see why millions of people have concluded that man’s conscious existence is evidence of a Creator who cares about us
Your above post is from a creationist's website, correct? Whoever wrote that doesn't understand the process of evolution either. All of the examples are not evidence of a designer. The quotes paint a picture of our senses and brain perfectly designed for their function. When that is not the case at all. There are numerous flaws and imperfections, suggesting an imperfect "design" and essentially more along the lines of adaptation to the enivironment. Hence, evolution.
But your theory as to why we have imperfections and vestigial structures is because Adam and Eve f*cked up and ate the fruit that a snake told them to. They were perfect and God is punishing us for their mistakes, so therefore we are not perfect.
Plus, I've proven to you that it is impossible for 2 individuals of one species to sustain a viable population through sexual reproduction. So, there goes the Adam and Eve story. And the Noah's Arc story as well. But to you, God decided to change the rules at some point.
Plus, you seem to think the bible is the oldest written text and our only relevant history beyond 5,000 years . Which is untrue as well.
So many holes. And these are the bases for your religion. Like my first post. There is more proof of evolution than there is of God.
This is not just about how we are designed ourselves. No other animal is history has comparable brain power to humans. From that standpoint, it appears that we were specially designed is the point. Especially since evolution says we came from monkeys. No monkey has the brain capacity of a human. So how could we evolve from them logically?
In fact, I posted in the evolution thread about two of your found missing links . A scientists said if your africanus monkey was around it would be in the ZOO! It would not be in the workplace, not conducting the rides at six flags.. It would be.. BEHIND BARS IN A ZOO! LIKE A MODERN PRIMATE!
You said, that is our ancestor. Not all scientists agree.
28 And Noah continued to live three hundred and fifty years after the deluge. 29 So all the days of Noah amounted to nine hundred and fifty years and he died.
Can you imagine how much healthier the patriarchs were compared to us? Noah dies at 950, you will die likely around 70 if the system lasted long enough.
One of Adam’s sons was Cain, and one of Adam’s daughters must have become Cain’s wife. At that time in human history when humans still had outstanding physical health and vitality, as indicated by the length of their lives, the likelihood of passing on defects as a result of marrying a close relative was not great. After some 2,500 years of human history, however, when mankind’s physical condition had greatly deteriorated, Jehovah gave to Israel laws forbidding incest
This shows Jehovah's wisdom in two ways. He knew that the patriarchs would be healthy enough to spawn mankind, but also knew eventually this would be a detriment to mankind, as we clearly know now for a fact.
I have been enlightened on why some believe in it, and why some do not.
The articles I read from are based on scientific studies, and even quote directly from those prominent in the feild. It was not a creationists who said the Africanus monkey would be in a zoo, it was an evolutionists! So while I will readily say I do not understand every nook and cranny abour evolution, these people who study it do. And some are not so convinced about it.
On the flip side.
It is quite clear that you guys feel you have an intricate, and even accurate knowledge of the bible from your posts, and that is a terrible assessment on you guys part, and that is part of why this is a fruitless endeavor at this time. None of you have an accurate understanding of the bible, or care to at any point. So you will usually refer to it in such a manner. How could you fairly illustrate a point against it if you do not have the proper rendering of what you are trying to refute?
You read the bible with the intention of refuting it, so naturally you are not really trying to understand what the true meaning or theme of it is. When faced with facts in it, you say, well a merchant who looked at lines in a pole said... or the Daniel Prophecy is about rams and goats, even though the angels explanation of it is spot on with what eventually took place. Just how it happened. Then it's countered with, well that was written after. But what about the prophecy concerning 70 ce? How did those survivors know to flee to the mountains in Judea? How could the Prophecy concerning the desolation of babylon be so precise that it is a desolated ruin as we speak? realize the desolation of it did not happen right away, happened thousands of years later. What are the chances of all of these things happening as the bible said it would being written by 40 men of different times, and it being harmonious?? Could 40 men in our time do such a thing? Mind you, some of these men range from fishermen to prominent Kings.
Yet we can't even get all the brilliant minds of science to agree on evolution. And you tell me, it's a fact?
I don't have advanced knowledge of the bible. Why would I waste my time memorizing fiction?
Last edited by TunerAddict; Jul 29, 2008 at 15:52. Reason: typo
Instead of saying it is fiction, based on your very limited knowledge of it, do some research first to see if it is actually fiction. Without a built in bias if possible.
0_0 HOLY CHULUPA! relax man we all have out beliefs here and w.e is your belief is your belief shyt you believe in god you believe in elaphant god or you believe pigs can fly is on you...i mean no one can really tell you your wrong right? ;D
Answers Im still looking for from someone who disagrees with the bible.
How is it that the Christians in Jerusalem knew to flee in 66 ce to escape the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Jews stayed and most perished?
How can the bible predict the desolation of Babylon thousands of years before it happens, exactly as it happened?
False prophecies of the Bible
The Bible is full of peculiar editing, including addition to the manuscripts of the prophets a series of what were obviously false prophecies. It would have been obvious to the redactors that the prophecy they had edited into the manuscripts was false (and this is particularly true of the false prophets in the book of Ezekiel, as I will demonstrate). The prophets attacked the ideology of books like Leviticus in the Torah, and at the same time we find contradictory Levite prophecy in the books of the prophets. It was the Levites who were the final editors of the Bible, not the prophets, and it was the Levite priests who turned out to be the false prophets of the Bible. In the books of the prophets we find obviously false prophecy and Levite prophecy. This leads me to question the motives of the redactors.
In previous sections I have illustrated that the Bible is composed of variant source materials that were edited together in such a way as to both preserve contradictory source material and attempt to harmonize them at the same time (usually by introducing editorial commentary at strategic locations). For good examples of this sort of thing you can consult the section describing the editing of the story of David and Goliath or the editing together of the two traditions of the Sinai mountaintop story.
A similar type of editing job was done on the books of the prophets, with different ideological positions edited together and then attributed to a single prophet, as I illustrated previously.
It has already been shown that the editors gathered together ‘prophecies' that contradicted each other on the subject of the law, and then edited them together and attributed them to a single prophet. In this way the more radical statements of the prophets, while preserved, as was the custom, could be ‘watered down' by including statements alleged to be by a single individual and which strongly supported traditional religious practices (even such extreme statements as those found in ‘Trito- Isaiah' even though, as I pointed out, these passages contradict other statements found in the same part of the book of Isaiah). It became a traditional priestly dogma that the law books were to be held to have the greatest authority and that prophets were to be ranked in second place. That certain prophets held that prophets had authority to reject the law books is obvious when you read what certain prophets had to say about the law. If prophets were to be demoted and law books promoted then it seems to be the case that if prophets made ‘false prophecies' then there could be no better way to show that prophets need not always be taken seriously. They obviously made errors (and thus needed to be interpreted ‘in the light of the law books'). Prophets could be nullified and silenced by introducing favorable prophecies and then claiming that the prophets were not radical, but rather they wanted ‘sincere animal sacrifices' (for example). This was exactly the dogma that developed and in the process clear statements by the prophets were nullified in the process of ‘interpretation'. (As Joshua was given to say in the gospels, ‘you have a fine way of nullifying the prophets for the sake of your traditional doctrines, and you do many other things like that.' ( Matthew Chapter 15 verse 6, Mark Chapter 7 verse 13)
Perhaps the best example of a false prophecy edited into the book of a prophet, a false prophecy that was known to be false when the manuscript was edited, is found in the book of Ezekiel.
"I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I YAHWEH have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. " (Ezekiel Chapter 26 verse 3)
This was a false prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre from 585-573 B.C.E. but was unable to take the city. Tyre was conquered in 332 B.C.E. by Alexander but at no time was the city destroyed. It exists to this day. According to the false prophecy found in Ezekiel, Nebuchadnezzar was supposed to completely destroy Tyre, it was never to be rebuilt again, but to remain an eternal ruin, and the King was supposed to get much wealth and loot from the city, making it worth his while. Another false prophecy follows in Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar did not conquer Tyre, the prophet admits, and neither did he make a thin dime from the attempt. Therefore, the prophet proceeds to make another false prophecy, this time proclaiming destruction of Egypt at the King's hands, as a sort of consolation prize for not looting Tyre as was prophesied previously. This looting of Egypt at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar never happened either. The prophet stated that the King would make such a ruin of Egypt that no one would live there for ‘forty years'. This never happened. It is another false prophesy attributed to the prophet after the prophet had just previously made a false prophecy (one false prophecy after another). What actually happened is that Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt twice, once in 588 and again in 568 and was luckless both times.
The prophet admits that Nebuchadnezzar was luckless in his campaign against Tyre, and contrary to what was prophesied, did not loot Tyre. He then promised the ruin of Egypt and all its treasures, and this did not happen either.
"The word of YAHWEH came to me: "Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore thus says YAHWEH GOD: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt as his recompense for which he labored, because they worked for me, says YAHWEH GOD." (Ezekiel Chapter 29 verse 17)
"I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. No foot of man or animal will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will be desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. For thus says YAHWEH GOD: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered; and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt, and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin; and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations; and I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. (Ezekiel Chapter 29 verse 10)
"A sword shall come upon Egypt, and anguish shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and her wealth is carried away, and her foundations are torn down. Ethiopia, and Put, and Lud, and all Arabia, and Libya, and the people of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword. Thus says YAHWEH: Those who support Egypt shall fall, and her proud might shall come down; from Migdol to Syene they shall fall within her by the sword, says YAHWEH GOD. And she shall be desolated in the midst of desolated countries and her cities shall be in the midst of cities that are laid waste. Then they will know that I am YAHWEH, when I have set fire to Egypt, and all her helpers are broken. On that day swift messengers shall go forth from me to terrify the unsuspecting Ethiopians; and anguish shall come upon them on the day of Egypt's doom; for, lo, it comes! Thus says YAHWEH GOD: I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt, by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his people with him, the most terrible of the nations, shall be brought in to destroy the land; and they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain. And I will dry up the Nile, and will sell the land into the hand of evil men; I will bring desolation upon the land and everything in it, by the hand of foreigners; I, YAHWEH, have spoken. Thus says YAHWEH GOD: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the images, in Memphis; there shall no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt; so I will put fear in the land of Egypt. I will make Pathros a desolation, and will set fire to Zoan, and will execute acts of judgment upon Thebes. And I will pour my wrath upon Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the multitude of Thebes. And I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium shall be in great agony; Thebes shall be breached, and its walls broken down. The young men of On and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword; and the women shall go into captivity. At Tehaphnehes the day shall be dark, when I break there the dominion of Egypt, and her proud might shall come to an end; she shall be covered by a cloud, and her daughters shall go into captivity. Thus I will execute acts of judgment upon Egypt. Then they will know that I am YAHWEH." (Ezekiel Chapter 30 verse 4)
All of the above is just a long false prophecy, in that none of these things happened. The Babylonians did not destroy Egypt, the Nile never dried up, there was never a time when Egypt was desolate for forty years, no exile and return of the Egyptians, and no time when there was not a prince over Egypt, among the other things mentioned. By editing these false prophecies into the manuscript the scribes effectively discredited the prophet Ezekiel. After making even his first false prophecy Ezekiel was through as a prophet in Israel, according to Deuteronomy. By pressing on and making a second false prophecy things were only made worse.
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which YAHWEH has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of YAHWEH, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which YAHWEH has not spoken; the prophet has spoken presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy Chapter 18 verse 20)
You can see then, that according to the tradition found in the law books, you can just ignore any prophet who goes around making false prophesies that don't come true. This would have been something the editors would have been aware when they were editing the book of Ezekiel. To make one false prophesy was bad enough, but to go on and on adding false prophesy onto false prophesy is even worse.
What looks even worse than this statement from Deuteronomy is the following statement, from the book of Ezekiel itself. According to Deuteronomy, Ezekiel should have been killed after making that false prophecy about Tyre, and, ironically, Ezekiel concurs.
"If the prophet be deceived and speak a word, I, YAHWEH, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the person who consults the prophet shall be the same." (Ezekiel Chapter 14 verse 9)
So then, according to the book of Ezekiel, if a prophet makes a false prophecy then not only should the prophet be killed, but the person who listens to that prophet as well. Given that the book of Ezekiel is in the canon, and many people insist that the Bible is 'infallible' this would mean that we would have to kill hundreds of millions of church goers, as well as stoning Ezekiel to death. Furthermore, according to Ezekiel, God was planning to destroy Ezekiel and that is why Ezekiel made that false prophecy about Tyre. Yahweh just wanted to get rid of that Ezekiel, once and for all, and thus deliberately deceived Ezekiel into making that first false prophecy.
However, if things weren't bad enough for Ezekiel, they get even worse if you read a little more.
"They (the false prophets) have spoken falsehood and divined a lie; they say, ‘Says YAHWEH,’ when YAHWEH has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a delusive vision, and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Says YAHWEH,’ although I have not spoken?" Therefore thus says YAHWEH God: "Because you have uttered delusions and seen lies, therefore behold, I am against you, says YAHWEH GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see delusive visions and who give lying divinations; they shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am YAHWEH GOD ... Therefore thus says YAHWEH GOD: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath; and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to destroy it. And I will break down the wall that you have daubed with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare; when it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it; and you shall know that I am YAHWEH. Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall, and upon those who have daubed it with whitewash; and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who daubed it." (Ezekiel Chapter 13 verse 6)
Once again the prophet Ezekiel is damned by his own mouth for saying 'lying divinations' and then 'expecting God to fulfill the prophecy.' Even worse was then trying to 'daub the wall with whitewash' and cover over the crack. Making excuses about that false prophecy later, and trying to slap a coat of whitewash over the crack (the false prophecy concerning the looting and destruction of Tyre) by then offering Egypt to the Babylonians, for example, is condemned by Ezekiel's own mouth. That excuse making and whitewashing of false prophecy makes God especially mad, according to Ezekiel. God would destroy the whitewashing prophets by making that cracked and crumbling wall of false prophecy come down on their heads, write them off, refuse to let them into the land, and utterly destroy them. So when you consider the whole messy affair, here you can see the prophet Ezekiel being hoisted high on his own sword and judged by his own judgments. If it really was true that one single individual was responsible for this book, and it is not composed of variant sources, then it truly is the case that the book of Ezekiel is one of the sorriest excuses for a book of prophecy in the entire Bible.
The book of Ezekiel is not ideologically consistent, and probably was not composed by a single individual, unless that individual was deranged and had multiple personalities. For example, we find prophecies encouraging holy war and blood shed and siding with one of history's great war lords, and lusting after conquest, as described above. We also find in Ezekiel, in the incongruous fashion so characteristic of Biblical manuscripts, passages denouncing bloodshed and war.
Most people are probably familiar with the anti-war protests of the Jewish prophets, since these scriptures are more acceptable and churches are more prone to preach them. Most people might not know that prophets consist of sources (like the entire Bible) and that one of these sources is downright bloodthirsty and always stirring up some war or another. (The books of the prophets are literally riddled with false prophecy, another fact not well known, and in many cases the false prophecy involves some prophet calling for slaughter, something I will demonstrate. In most of the other cases the false prophecies concern the Levitical law or David's throne.)
Jeremiah (one of the 'Jeremiahs' of the book) made this notorious statement.
"Cursed is he who does the work of YAHWEH with slackness; and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed." (Jeremiah Chapter 48 verse 10)
You can contrast this passage with one of the 'anti-war' passages of the prophets.
"He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him, his water will be sure.Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; they will behold a land that stretches afar. Your mind will muse on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers?"" (Isaiah Chapter 33 verse 15)
So then if you want to live in paradise you must 'shut your ears from hearing about bloodshed.' So, when you consider the matter, it follows that you just better not listen to 'Jeremiah' when he calls for bloodshed, right?
Similarly Ezekiel (or should I say 'anti-war Ezekiel' since there would appear to be at least two Ezekiel's in the book) wrote
"Behold, then, I smite My hand at your dishonest gain which you have acquired and at the bloodshed which is among you ... therefore as I live, declares YAHWEH GOD, I will give you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel Chapter 22 verse 13, Ezekiel Chapter 35 verse 6)
So you really don't want to have Yahweh 'treating you as you treated others' and sending bloodshed to pursue you now do you? It follows then that you should hate bloodshed, and you should also hate that disgusting prophecy made by (bloodthirsty) 'Jeremiah'.
Isaiah longed for the day when people would be free from the terror caused by war lords and tyrants. In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar appears as Yahweh's servant, in a fashion you could summarize as, 'sure he was a bloodthirsty war lord and a tyrant, but he really wasn't such a bad guy.' (Nebu promises to burn the house down of anyone who doesn't follow Israel's God, and this counts as a favorable mention in the book of Daniel.) There are no critical mentions of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel (other than that time he boasted and got sent out to eat grass like a cow for seven years.) Dualism is present in Ezekiel (pro war lord, anti war lord). You see a similar pattern in the books of Isaiah and particularly in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah there are two views expressed of Nebuchadnezzar. In one viewpoint he is a despicable tyrant, and in the other he is, as in Ezekiel, 'God's employee' whose assigned task is to go war lording for God.
"Behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, says YAHWEH, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting reproach."
"Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him ... But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, says YAHWEH, until I have consumed it by his hand."
(Jeremiah Chapter 25 verse 9, Jeremiah Chapter 27 verse 6)
It is worth noting that the same false prophecy concerning Nebuchadnezzar conquering Egypt appears in Jeremiah as in Ezekiel.
"And say to them, ‘Thus says YAHWEH of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and he will set his throne above these stones which I have hid, and he will spread his royal canopy over them. He shall come and smite the land of Egypt, giving to the pestilence those who are doomed to the pestilence, to captivity those who are doomed to captivity, and to the sword those who are doomed to the sword. He shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them and carry them away captive; and he shall clean the land of Egypt, as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin; and he shall go away from there in peace. He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.’" (Jeremiah Chapter 43 verse 10)
A similar false prophecy concerning Egypt is also found in the chapter 19 of Isaiah, with the difference being that this time it was the Assyrians being referred to and not the Babylonians. The prophecy stated that Egypt would be subject to vicious tyranny. Egypt would live in terror of Judah Israel had fallen to the Assyrians by the time the prophet made this prophecy.) After this both the Egyptians and Assyrians would convert to the worship of Yahweh, and together with Israel would become three of the best of friends. This prophecy could have been fulfilled no later than the 7th century B.C.E. After this time Zoan was no longer the capital of Egypt, but rather Memphis became the capital. The prophets idyllic view of Israelite-Egyptian-Assyrian harmony and and a life of peace shows no foreknowledge of the later rise of the Babylonians and the destruction of the Assyrian empire at their hands. As a piece of poetry and a statement of the prophets hopes and visions of a wonderful future, this prophecy has some merit and some inspiring qualities, but as a literal prophecy of the future (with stunning accuracy) it falls considerably short. The Egyptians continued to worship their sun god and the Assyrians never converted en mass either. The Egyptians and Assyrians were always feuding and warring until just a few years before the rise of Babylon, when the Assyrians suddenly became really hard up for allies.
One of the curiosities of Jewish prophecy is the dualistic presentation of the tyrant who had conquered them, the King of Babylon (particularly in the book of Daniel). In Jeremiah, as in Ezekiel, Nebuchadnezzar appears as 'Yahweh's servant' and God's partner in war lording, but in Jeremiah's prophecy a second source is found which regards the King of Babylon as the embodiment of everything evil (a 'monster'). The book of Jeremiah is not composed of one consistent source from one single prophet.
"Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones."
"Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me, he has crushed me; he has made me an empty vessel, he has swallowed me like a monster; he has filled his belly with my delicacies, he has rinsed me out."
(Jeremiah Chapter 50 verse 17, Jeremiah Chapter 51 verse 34)
Similarly, in the chapter 14 of Isaiah the King of Babylon is condemned in a poem which portrays him as so evil that for centuries the church has employed this poem as a condemnation of Satan the Devil.
As far as I can tell the series of false prophecies in Ezekiel ends with the prophecy against Egypt. There is no prophecy that states that the King of Babylon got no reward for attacking Egypt and thus would be given, say, Greece, as a consolation prize. (Just how long could this sort of thing go on?) It is also worth considering the foolish nature of such a prophecy. First, if God Almighty wanted to wreck Tyre (or Egypt for that matter) it would hardly be necessary to go fetch the King of Babylon to get that done. Second, if God was interested in being a war God and going warring with war lords, then one would assume that Tyre would have went down when it was supposed to have gone down. Rather, what happened is that the King of Babylon went warring against Tyre alone (and against Egypt alone). That God wasn't involved is obviously revealed in the fact that neither conquest succeeded (Deuteronomy says as much). It is also foolish to portray God and the King of Babylon to both have been foiled in their war designs by the stubborn resistance of Tyre, thus causing God to offer the Babylonians Egypt as a sort of consolation prize (and then have that plan foiled twice by the Egyptians). So even the religious ideological premise of such prophecies is questionable.
It is worthy of note that Ezekiel was a harsh critic of the traditions of his day, and of the Torah as well, like the other prophets. In the following passage Ezekiel states that the people had ‘evil laws' only because God gave them evil laws on purpose as a form of punishment. This doctrine is peculiar to the book of Ezekiel. According to Jeremiah the people had these laws simply because they were just downright obstinate and persisted in inventing all their own ways, and this is echoed in the critical passages in Isaiah.
"And I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I YAHWEH am your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances ... But the children rebelled against me; they did not walk in my statutes, and were not careful to observe my ordinances, by whose observance man shall live ... Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am YAHWEH." (Ezekiel Chapter 20 verse 18)
This raging against baby sacrifice in the fires is a constant theme running through the book of Ezekiel, and he links it together with a polemic against ‘evil laws that would not bring life' which the people supposedly got out in the wilderness instead of the laws which had been planned for them (so they might be filled with horror). The practice appears to have started by taking literally two laws in the Torah. One law states that ‘all first born were set apart to God' and a second law states that anything person set apart (‘devoted') to God must be put to death.
"Thou shalt set apart unto YAHWEH all that openeth the womb; every firstling that is a male." (Exodus Chapter 13 verse 12)
"But no devoted thing that a man devotes to YAHWEH, of anything that he has, whether of man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to YAHWEH. No one devoted, who is to be utterly destroyed from among men, shall be ransomed; he shall be put to death." (Leviticus Chapter 27 verse 28)
What I am trying to suggest here is that motivation existed to include these opposite and reactionary false prophecies into the books of the prophets, since the scribes and the prophets were enemies (you can consider Jeremiah's charge that the scribes falsified the Torah to see this, as well as consider Isaiah's constant attacks on the religious leadership to realize that this was true). The scribes and the religious leaders were the final editors of Biblical manuscripts, not the prophets, and the prophets certainly suffered at their hands (as did every other book of the Bible I have examined).
Ezekiel was not the only prophet to be discredited by having false prophecies edited into his work. The false prophecies found in Isaiah and Jeremiah are also dated to the time of the Babylonian exile (a curious coincidence). The following false prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon is found in Isaiah.
"Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. And their bows shall dash the young men in pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild-cats shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of ferrets; and ostriches shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And jackals shall howl in their castles, and wild-dogs in the pleasant palaces; and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged." (Isaiah Chapter 13 verse 17)
There are false prophecies in the book of Jeremiah that closely parallel what is written in Isaiah.
"When the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt, declares YAHWEH, and will make it desolate forever." (Jeremiah Chapter 25 verse 12)
"And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: ‘When thou comest to Babylon, then see that you read all these words, and say: O LORD, Thou hast spoken concerning this place, to cut it off, that none shall dwell therein, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates; and thou shalt say: Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise again because of the evil that I will bring upon her; and they shall be weary.' Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." (Jeremiah Chapter 51 verse 61)
"And the land quaketh and is in pain; for the purposes of YAHWEH are performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without inhabitant ... One post runneth to meet another, and one messenger to meet an other, to tell the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every quarter ... And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for jackals, an astonishment, and a hissing, without inhabitant." (Jeremiah Chapter 51 verses 29, 31, 37)
"A nation from the north will attack Babylon and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both men and animals will flee away. In those days, at that time, declares YAHWEH, the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek YAHWEH their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it." (Jeremiah Chapter 50 verse 3)
"YAHWEH will carry out his purpose, his decree against the people of Babylon. Your end has come, the time for you to be cut off. YAHWEH Almighty has sworn by himself: I will surely fill you with men, as with a swarm of locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you." (Jeremiah Chapter 51 verse 12)
There are three falsehoods found in these Babylonian prophecies in Jeremiah and Isaiah. First, both Jeremiah and Isaiah state that the complete destruction of Babylon is imminent at the hands of the Medes and Persians. ‘Her time is at hand,' the prophecy in Isaiah states, ‘and it will not be prolonged.' Similarly, Jeremiah stated that Babylon would be destroyed after ‘the seventy years of exile are over' at the time when the Jewish people returned from exile. Both prophets were given to say that ‘Babylon will become a complete ruin, without inhabitants forever.' Both prophets were given to predict that Babylon would be destroyed in violent warfare.
What actually happened was as follows. In 539 Cyrus conquered the northern part of the Babylonian nation and then entered into the city of Babylon which surrendered without a fight. Babylon became one of the richest cities in the Persian empire. It was a center of Jewish learning (the source of the famous Babylonian Talmud). It continues to exist to this very day in Iraq. As it states in the letter of Peter in the Church Testament, ‘Greetings from your sister church in Babylon.' As for Tyre, which also did not get destroyed, as it states in the gospels, Joshua visited Tyre in one of his missionary journeys.
It is truly amazing the number of false prophecies found in the books of the prophets. In almost every case these false prophecies concern warring and cursing and stirring up bloodlust or a desire for vengeance or domination (which should tell you something right there.)
The following law is found in the law books.
"You shall not despise an Edomite, for he is your blood brother. You shall not despise an Egyptian." (Deuteronomy Chapter 23 verse 7)
You will recall that both 'Jeremiah' and 'Ezekiel' despised Egyptians and tried to stir up a war against the country (and both fell flat on their faces). Another 'prophet' went after the Edomites, and did just as poorly.
"For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have doomed. YAHWEH has a sword; it is sated with blood, it is gorged with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For YAHWEH has a sacrifice in Bozrah, a great slaughter in the land of Edom. Wild oxen shall fall with them, and young steers with the mighty bulls. Their land shall be soaked with blood, and their soil made rich with fat. For YAHWEH has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into brimstone; her land shall become burning pitch. Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up for ever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever." (Isaiah Chapter 34 verse 5)
Edom, or what was once known as Edom, is still occupied to this day, and never became another Sodom. This genocide and eternal Sodom like destruction of Edom and the Edomites never happened, but rather another luckless prophet (who was also breaking the law, by the way) tried cursing up a storm and starting a war. A similar prophecy is found in another book of prophecy. (Remember that 'Esau' refers to the Edomites.)
"The vision of Obadiah. Thus says YAHWEH GOD concerning Edom: We have heard tidings from YAHWEH, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: "Rise up! let us rise against her for battle!" Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised ... The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau; for YAHWEH has spoken." (Obadiah Chapter 1 verse 1)
This call for 'holy war' and total genocide, thankfully, never was fulfilled, and once again a 'prophet' was breaking the law (both in letter and in spirit) by being a racist and despising an Edomite, and going off on a really ugly spirited rant. Even Paul in Romans was not immune to this sort of thing, and appears to have paid more attentions to certain rantings of certain schools of the prophets and no attention to Deuteronomy, when he wrote, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' (Esau was the legendary ancestors of the Edomites.) It is impossible to find one good word about Edom, other than this rebuke in Deuteronomy and a ban earlier in the book against 'contending with Edomites' (Deuteronomy Chapter 2 verse 4), so hostile were those two countries in ancient times. In almost every case in the books of the prophets, a call is issued for warfare and total genocide against Edom. The only exception to this rule is found in Amos Chapter 9 verse 12, where the prophet allows 'a remnant of Edom' to exist. In Jeremiah's prophecy, there is a list of nations condemned, all including the formula 'but afterwards I will restore their fortunes' (Jeremiah Chapter 48 and Jeremiah Chapter 49). The only glaring and notable exception to this rule is Esau (Edom) which gets roundly, finally, and completely damned, not even allowing for a remnant as in Amos. Ezekiel wrote, 'I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and Gomorrah.' (Ezekiel Chapter 16 verse 53) Anyone familiar with Jewish prophecy would know that Sodom was considered the most notorious of towns, but, unlike the Edomites, they get their fortunes 'restored'. In Jeremiah, Edom is the one nation in a list of nations to not even get its fortunes restored, and this difference sticks out like a sore thumb, and makes one wonder about the historical background for what was obviously a particularly ugly and downright homicidal feud. One particularly nasty prophet even called for the slaughter of their children, and is truly downright disgusting.
"If grape-gatherers came to you, would they not leave gleanings? If thieves came by night, would they not destroy only enough for themselves? But I have stripped Esau bare, I have uncovered his hiding places, and he is not able to conceal himself. His children are destroyed, and his brothers, and his neighbors; and he is no more." (Jeremiah Chapter 49 verse 9)
"Therefore hear the plan which YAHWEH has made against Edom and the purposes which he has formed against the inhabitants of Teman: Even the little ones shall be dragged away; surely their fold shall be appalled at their fate. At the sound of their fall the earth shall tremble; the sound of their crying shall be heard at the Red Sea." (Jeremiah Chapter 49 verse 20)
There are numerous false prophecies found in the prophets, not to mention contradictions in doctrine and ideology as well as a streak of genocidal ugliness and racism that is without any merit whatsoever, and this makes one wonder about the prevalence of the false belief that 'the truly remarkable prophecies of the Bible prove its infallibility. Only God could have made such accurate predictions.' I once read what purported to be a statistical analysis of prophecy, and compared it to the 'false prophecies' of the tabloid newspaper prophets, and concluded that for Bible prophecies to be 'so accurate' by chance was a one in a million long shot. It is obvious that emotion is ruling over reason here and people are spreading a false doctrine simply because they have so little faith of their own that they cannot bear the thought that the books of the prophets are literally riddled with false prophecies (this does not bother me, but then my faith did not originate with a decision to believe everything in the Bible, and so if the Bible is critiqued it does not bother me or threaten my faith in the least).
There are numerous false prophecies concerning 'David's throne' found in the prophecies. I will not list them all. Consider the following doubly false prophecy.
"The Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn cereal offerings, and to make sacrifices for ever. The word of YAHWEH came to Jeremiah: Thus says YAHWEH: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers." (Jeremiah Chapter 33 verse 18)
The ideological outlook of this prophecy in Jeremiah contradicts Jeremiah's condemnation of such things as sacrifice, the ark of Moses, and the temple cult earlier in his book, but it echoes the constant refrain in the Torah, especially in Leviticus, that sacrifices would be offered forever. Jeremiah (radical Jeremiah) stated:
"Thus says YAHWEH of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh yourselves. For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Jeremiah Chapter 7 verse 21)
This was the ideological position of 'radical Jeremiah'. 'Reactionary Jeremiah' stated that sacrifices would be offered forever. At the same time he stated that David would always have a son on the throne. Zedekiah was the last of David's line to sit on the throne, and the sacrificial system was brought to an abrupt end by the destruction of Israel and the temple by the Romans around 70 C.E. While the ideology of 'reactionary Jeremiah' contradicted 'radical Jeremiah' it was in complete agreement with the priestly documents, where it was also stated that sacrifice was ordained by God, when the people came out of Egypt, and would last forever. Priests were the final editors of the Bible, and the final editors of the prophets as well, so it is not hard to imagine the actual identity of 'reactionary Jeremiah' (he was some priestly editor of the manuscript).
"This is the portion of Aaron and of his sons from the offerings made by fire to YAHWEH, consecrated to them on the day they were presented to serve as priests of YAHWEH; YAHWEH commanded this to be given them by the people of Israel, on the day that they were anointed; It is their due forever throughout their generations. This is the law of the burnt offering, of the cereal offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the consecration, and of the peace offerings, which YAHWEH commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that he commanded the people of Israel to bring their offerings to YAHWEH, in the wilderness of Sinai." (Leviticus Chapter 7 verse 35)
It was obviously a Levite (or a false prophet working for the Levites) who made the false prophecy just quoted, and in this case the author is easy to indentify based on their ideology. (Jeremiah was not the false prophet in this case.) This leads me to propose another interpretation for this mess of false prophecy and inconsistent doctrine in the books of the prophets. Previously I suggested that my suspicions were aroused by the presence of reactionary Levitical dogma in the books of radical prophets, and this led me to suspect that the priest purposely included false prophecies to discredit the prophets. A second possibility is that some Levite scribes simply developed swollen heads, and decided to become prophets themselves. They threw their hats into the ring and now, thousands of years later we are in the perfect position to judge how it all worked out for them. Two thousand years gone by - not a Levite in sight. Let us compare prophecies and tally up the score. In this case it was radical Jeremiah - score one point. Some Levite scribe with a pen (pretending to be Jeremiah) - score zero. (And that should tell you something right there.) I have suggested that my choice of the radical stream of Jewish prophecy was not based on a simple matter of personal taste, but that rather this tradition best encapsulated the truth about the Bible, and this is a fine example of what I mean. So following this line of interpretation the priests made counter prophecies extolling what the radical prophets condemned. The radical prophets remain standing to this day, while those Levite Scribes should have put their pens away and got on with whatever they were doing. But the Scribes were the final handlers of scripture, not the prophets, and it turns out that the scribes were the final prophets as well, unfortunately, giving Christian Apologists a lot to apologize for over the course of thousands of years. That they also brought their false prophets with them is no surprise, and once again, this is what radical Jeremiah said of them, so we can give him another point to add to his score. (And if you read Jeremiah chapter 8 you will find that he also said that the Levite scribes were forgers who wielded a lying pen. When you consult the various pages on the books of the Bible found on this site, you will find ample evidence presented of both their forgeries and their truly deceptive form of editing these manuscripts, so, once again, we can credit radical Jeremiah with one more true prophecy, and add one more point to his score. All this calls for another page entitled 'true prophecy in the prophets, don't you think, but first let me deal with this issue of disposing with false Levitical prophecy.) So we could conclude that the priests did not falsify the prophets 'on purpose' but rather thought themselves prophets and thought their war mongering false prophets were prophets, set themselves up and took a dive. And at the risk of sounding redundant, that really should tell you something about the scribes and Levites as compared to radical prophets, don't you think?
The false prophecy just noted contained two falsehoods that are typical of other false prophecies in the Bible (the eternal practice of Levitical sacrifice, and the eternal triumph of the Jewish nation, symbolized by David's throne). There are numerous prophecies concerning the triumph of 'David's throne' and the rise to power of Israel after the return from Babylonian exile, and these prove to be false prophecies in that they were never fulfilled in the time frame given by the prophets.
It is a common polemical technique to insist that such prophecies 'are yet to be fulfilled' but when you actually read them you can see that the time for them to be fulfilled has long past. A similar technique is used to 'delay' the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Babylon, but as the prophets stated, for example, Jeremiah, Babylon would be destroyed 'after the return from exile' and would be 'destroyed and ruined forever.' This did not happen, and the time frame for fulfilling the prophecy is long over. Furthermore, the 'seventy years of exile' prophecy was itself a false prophecy. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C.E. Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to return in 539, which means that exile lasted for 47 years, not seventy as the prophecy states. That the prophecy of 'destruction of Babylon forever' after 'the seventy years of exile are over' also turned out to be a falsehood is not surprising. The statement in Chronicles is also false which states that 'the land enjoyed a Sabbath for seventy years' while the people were in exile, 'to fulfill the words of the prophet Jeremiah'. (2 Chronicles Chapter 36 verse 21)
The works of the prophets are not a single work by any single individual, but, rather like the other books of the Bible are a compilation of various different sources. There are radical streams of thought found in the books, from extreme observance to the Torah, to outright rejection of the Torah, and a middle of the road approach that while rejecting the Torah is willing to show tolerance for Torah practices (provided that the higher ethical requirements are observed). There are racist rants and calls for bloodshed and war and speeches which roundly condemn such conduct. During the editing together of this disparate material what were obviously false prophecies were included, as is obvious when considering the state of the final work. It does not seem likely to me that these false prophecies were not included deliberately for they have the same effect of diluting the more radical stream of thought in the prophets as the inclusion of opposite and reactionary material. That it all came together to serve the later religious dogma that taught that the Torah came first and prophets second also seems hardly a coincidence.