Dr. Greene pictured below with David Letterman:
On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I hope to respond to all of them. Wikipedia notes Brian Randolph Greene (born February 9, 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996 and chairman of the World Science Festival since co-founding it in 2008. Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different Calabi–Yau manifolds (concretely, relating the conifold to one of its orbifolds). He also described the flop transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point.
Greene has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and related PBStelevision specials. He also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode “The Herb Garden Germination“, as well as the films Frequency and The Last Mimzy. Greene was born in New York City. His father, Alan Greene, was a one-time vaudeville performer and high school dropout who later worked as a voice coach and composer. He stated in an interview with Lawrence Krauss that he is of Jewish heritage. After attending Stuyvesant High School, Greene entered Harvard in 1980 to concentrate in physics. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Greene earned his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, graduating in 1987. While at Oxford, Greene also studied piano with the concert pianist Jack Gibbons.
In the third video below in the 109th clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
I grew up at Bellevue Baptist Church under the leadership of our pastor Adrian Rogers and I read many books by the Evangelical Philosopher Francis Schaeffer and have had the opportunity to contact many of the evolutionists or humanistic academics that they have mentioned in their works. Many of these scholars have taken the time to respond back to me in the last 20 years and some of the names included are Ernest Mayr (1904-2005), George Wald (1906-1997), Carl Sagan (1934-1996), Robert Shapiro (1935-2011), Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920-), Brian Charlesworth (1945-), Francisco J. Ayala (1934-) Elliott Sober (1948-), Kevin Padian (1951-), Matt Cartmill (1943-) , Milton Fingerman (1928-), John J. Shea (1969-), , Michael A. Crawford (1938-), Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), Sol Gordon (1923-2008), Albert Ellis (1913-2007), Barbara Marie Tabler (1915-1996), Renate Vambery (1916-2005), Archie J. Bahm (1907-1996), Aron S “Gil” Martin ( 1910-1997), Matthew I. Spetter (1921-2012), H. J. Eysenck (1916-1997), Robert L. Erdmann (1929-2006), Mary Morain (1911-1999), Lloyd Morain (1917-2010), Warren Allen Smith (1921-), Bette Chambers (1930-), Gordon Stein (1941-1996) , Milton Friedman (1912-2006), John Hospers (1918-2011), Michael Martin (1932-).Harry Kroto (1939-), Marty E. Martin (1928-), Richard Rubenstein (1924-), James Terry McCollum (1936-), Edward O. WIlson (1929-), Lewis Wolpert (1929), Gerald Holton (1922-), and Ray T. Cragun (1976-).
“Is it likely that the more you know and the more you don’t understand about the beginning of the universe, the more that that builds a case for it being created by an all-powerful being?”
Greene answered, “science can never rule out that there was [emphasis his] an all-powerful being, a god, if you will, that created the universe […], but it’s not a very satisfying explanation from the point of view of a scientist because we want an explanation that really understands the nuts and bolts of how the universe began. You can ask any questions and say ‘Oh, god made it that way’ […] but we have learned that if we look deeply, you can get more deep explanations, and we’re hoping the deepest one will tell us how the universe began.”
Then Letterman asked “And is it possible that if you solved the question you can then say ‘yes, here is how this powerful being created the universe’? That would satisfy everybody, wouldn’t it?”
Greene said “You could phrase it that way, and if that makes you happy that is perfectly fine with me [audience laughs, probably not getting what he actually meant], but what I would say is I don’t know that you’re gonna need the all-powerful being. You can’t rule it out, but we may have laws that in it of themselves may explain everything it’s possible.”
Let me give three responses.
Second, are the scientists ahead or behind the Bible? Adrian Rogers notes:
Every now and then science may disagree with the Bible, but usually science just needs time to catch up. For example, in 1861 a French scientific academy printed a brochure offering 51 incontrovertible facts that proved the Bible in error. Today there is not a single reputable scientist who would support those supposed “facts,” because modern science has disproved them all!
The ancients believed the earth was held up by Atlas, or resting on pillars, or even seated on the backs of elephants. But today we know the earth is suspended in space, a fact the Word of God records in Job 26:7: “He . . . hangeth the earth upon nothing.” God revealed the facts of cosmology long before man had any idea of the truth.
For centuries man believed the earth was flat, but now we know the earth is a globe. The prophet Isaiah, writing 750 years before the birth of Christ, revealed that “God sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word translated here as “circle” was more commonly translated “sphere.” In other words, Isaiah explained that the earth was a globe centuries before science discovered it.
When Ptolemy charted the heavens, he counted 1026 stars in the sky. But with the invention of the telescope man discovered millions and millions of stars, something that Jeremiah 33:22 revealed nearly three thousand years ago: “The host of heaven cannot be numbered.” How did these men of God know the truth of science long before the rest of the world discovered it? They were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the truth. God’s Word is not filled with errors. It is filled with facts, even scientific facts.
Third, I don’t want to suggest that Greene was in favor of Pantheism but his answer to Letterman certainly did give permission to those who see the world that way. Below is an article that addresses that issue:
Introduction: What is Pantheism
Pantheism is the belief that what religions call “God” is the universe itself, in all its splendour and horror. In Pantheism the universe and God are synonymous. Pantheism is as old as the marrow of Indian philosophy; the Upanishads (etymology – “sitting close to” a guru) , and as new as “New Age.” The Jewish Kabbalah, Pantheist to the core, states:
“The essence of divinity is found in every single thing — nothing but it exists. Since it causes every thing to be, no thing can live by anything else. It enlivens them; its existence exists in each existent. Do not attribute duality to God. Let God be solely God. If you suppose that Ein Sof (the Eternal, literally “without end”) emanates until a certain point, and that from that point on is outside of it, you have dualized. God forbid! Realize, rather, that Ein Sof exists in each existent. Do not say, “This is a stone and not God.” God forbid! Rather, all existence is God, and the stone is a thing pervaded by divinity” (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Shiur Qomah to Zohar 3:14b; Idra Rabba).
Rabbi Moshe Cordovero’s grave in Safed, Israel
Adorning the pantheist pantheon in the late 18th to early 19th centuries were the greats Goethe and Hegel in Germany, Shelley and Keats in England, and Emerson and Thoreau in America. Later in the 19th century pantheism was close to becoming the dominant philosophy.
If pantheism is as old as the Upanishads (the bulk of it probably written circa 600 BCE), how old is materialism? At least as old as the pre-Socratic Greek philosophy of 600-500 BCE, reaching its peak in the 4th Century BCE with the atomists Democritus and Epicurus. “Atomism” was the philosophy that ultimate reality consists of invisible, indivisible bits of randomly colliding matter. Not very different from the materialism of modern times, spearheaded by the Enlightenment. It believed that human beings and nature could be controlled by reason and empirical methods. The reasoning was the laws of society emerge from the laws of nature. Once these social laws where understood, it would be possible to create a better world.
In his What is Enlightenment? Emmanuel Kant describes the Enlightenment as “man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage”, where “tutelage” is (Kant continues) “man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another”. The “Enlightenment” has profound relevance not only for understanding modern man. God saw that the light was good, but man saw that enlightenment was better – much better. “Enlightenment” puts man at the centre. Whereas theology, previous to the “Enlightenment,” was the handmaiden of science, after the “Enlightenment,” the movement of “positivism” (August Comte) reduced it to the “charwoman” of science (Frederick Copleston in one of his volumes on the history of philosophy. (Deconstruction and the Inworming of Postmodern theology).
Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Force and Chemical Stuff
Scientists such as Lavoisier (1743-94) in France and John Dalton (1766-1844) in England promoted a materialistic philosophy where all entities including human beings were entirely the product of physical and chemical forces. One of the most popular books of the 19th century was Ludwig Büchner’s, “Kraft und Stoff (Force and Matter, 1855). The argument of the book is that there is no need for a transcendent (immaterial) force to explain the universe: the laws of physics and chemistry are sufficient to do the job. Here is Büchner strutting his Stoff in hisconcluding observations (English translation (1870) by J. Frederick Collingwood, p, 251-52):
“Exact science inculcates modesty ; and it is perhaps for this reason, that our modern naturalists have hitherto neglected to apply the standard of exact science to philosophy, and from the treasury of facts to forge arms for the overthrow of transcendental speculations. Now and then there issued from the workshops of these industrious labourers a ray of light which, reaching the noisy philosophers, did not fail to heighten the existing confusion. These single rays were, however, sufficient to cause in the camp of speculative philosophy a feverish excitement, and gave rise to sallies in anticipation of a threatened attack. There was something ludicrous in it to see these philosophers so desperately defend themselves before they were seriously attacked. It certainly will not be long before the battle becomes general. Is the victory doubtful ? The struggle is unequal ; the opponents cannot stand against the trenchant arm of physical and physiological materialism, which fights with facts that every one can comprehend, while the opponents fight with suppositions and presumptions.”
Büchner’s Force and Matter was followed four years later by the sensational materialisation of Charles Darwin’s “On the origin of Species,” 1859). Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection dumped the notion that there was design or purpose in the universe. All phenomena could be explained by chemistry and physics, even history; to wit, the “historical materialism” of Marx and Engels and the evolutionary psychology of Herbert Spencer.
Here is Marx and Engels’ broad overview of historical materialism:
“The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature….Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.”
Pantheism takes a sandwich break
I contrast the views of Francis Schaeffer and Herman Bavinck on the relationship between materialism and the “infinite creator God (Schaeffer) in 20th century humanism. Here is Schaeffer in 1982:
“[I]nstead of the final reality that exists being the infinite creator God; instead of that which is the basis of all reality being such a creator God, now largely, all else is seen as only material or energy which has existed forever in some form, shaped into its present complex form only by pure chance.(F. Schaeffer, “A Christian Manifesto”).
The above position describes the Darwinian position as it exists today in 2013.Now, here is Herman Bavinck in 1908. Note how the second paragraph contrasts with Schaeffer:
“The term evolution embodies in itself a harmless conception, and the principle expressed by it is certainly operative within well-defined limits throughout the imiverse. But the trend of thought by which it has been monopolized, and the system built on it, in many cases at least, avail themselves of the word in order to explain the entire world, including man and religion and morality, without the aid of any supranatural factor, purely from immanent forces, and according to unvarying laws of nature.”
“Nevertheless, the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century has witnessed an important change in this respect. The foremost investigators in the field of science have abandoned the. attempt to explain all phenomena and events by.mechanico-chemical causes. Everywhere there is manifesting itself an effort to take up and incorporate Darwin’s scheme of a nature subject to law into an idealistic world-view. In fact Darwin himself, through his agnosticism, left room for different conceptions of the Absolute, nay repeatedly and em- phatically gave voice to a conviction that the world is not the product of accident, brute force, or blind necessity, but in its entirety has been intended for progressive improvement. By way of Darwin, and enriched by a mass of valuable scientific material, the doctrine of evolution has returned to the fundamental idea of Hegel’s philosophy. The mechanical conception of nature has been once more replaced by the dynamical ; materialism has reverted to pantheism; evolution has become again the unfolding, the revealing of absolute spirit. And the concept of revelation has held anew its triumphant entry into the realm of philosophy and even of natural science.”
Bavinck’s “The mechanical conception of nature has been once more replaced by the dynamical ; materialism has reverted to pantheism.”
This implies that in the 19th century (recall Bavinck wrote this in 1908) the purely mechanical conception of nature was in vogue, just as it is in vogue again in the late 20th and 21st century. This is not to say that “creationism” is insignficant in the 21st centrury. The interesting observation in Bavinck is that between the mechanical conceptions of the late 19th century and our time, there existed a pantheistic hiatus.
Herman Bavinck (1854 – 1921)
Here is Carl Sagan:
“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.” And: Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” One thing Sagan, while alive, was sure of; it wasn’t God.
Conclusion: I am Gaaaaad, I am Gaaaad
The world with all its stuff is more pantheistic than ever. No one sums it up more than the delightful Shirley Maclaine. Here is an excerpt of an ABC-TV interview featuring Shirley Mclaine:
“During an oceanside conversation, David presses her to stand up and assert the presence of the ‘God-truth’ within. After suggesting several affirmations, he selects a powerful one for Shirley: ‘I am God.’ Timidly, she stands at the Pacific. Stretching out her arms, she mouths the words half-heartedly. ‘Say it louder.’ Shirley blusters about this statement being a little too pompous. For him to make her chant those words is – well, it sounds so insufferably arrogant. David’s answer cuts to the quick: ‘See how little you think of yourself?’ This deep insight embarrasses MacLaine into holy boldness. Intuitively, she comes to feel he’s right. Lifting both arms to the sky, she pumps it out — ‘I am God! I am God!’ — as the ocean laps at her feet.”
Shirley Maclaine (1934 – )
Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicle, of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets. 10. Cyrus Cylinder, 11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E., 12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription, 13. The Pilate Inscription, 14. Caiaphas Ossuary, 14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2, 14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,
The Bible and Archaeology (1/5)
The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy.
Many people have questioned the accuracy of the Bible, but I have posted many videos and articles with evidence pointing out that the Bible has many pieces of evidence from archaeology supporting the view that the Bible is historically accurate. Take a look at the video above and below.
The Bible and Archaeology (2/5)
Is there any evidence the Bible is true?
A Simple Litmus Test
There are many ways to verify the reliability of scripture from both internal evidences of transmission and agreement, to external confirmation through archeology and science. But perhaps the most persuasive argument can be found in the area of prophecy. If a book accurately and repeatedly predicts the future, it can safely be said that something special is going on, perhaps even something supernatural. And there are so many prophecies in the scriptures that it should be easy to take a look and decide if the Bible is supernatural.
There Are So Many Fulfilled Prophecies!
In fact, there are so many fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that it is hard to know where to begin! A simple search on the internet will provide you with literally hundreds of sites listing a multitude of fulfilled prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments. It’s difficult to know where to begin here in our limited discussion of the issue, so we’ll focus narrowly on some of the biggest and best known of prophecies!
The Prophecies of Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre and Edom
Let’s take a look at a few Bible prophecies that were fulfilled about 2500 years ago when the ancient kingdoms and cities of Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre and Edom were destroyed. The Bible makes the assertion that these entities were destroyed because they had sought to destroy the Holy Land of Israel and the people of Israel (the Jews).
Babylon Will Rule Over Judah for 70 Years
You can read the first such prophecy in Jeremiah 25:11-12. This prophecy was written sometime from 626 to about 586 BC and was not fulfilled until about 609 BC to 539 BC (approximately 50 years later, depending on your calculation)
“…This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. But 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 the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever.”
In this passage of scripture, Jeremiah said that the Jews would suffer 70 years of Babylonian domination, and that after this was over, Babylon would be punished. Both parts of this prophecy were fulfilled! In 609 BC, Babylon captured the last Assyrian king and took over the holdings of the Assyrian empire, which included the land of Israel. Babylon then began to flex its muscles by taking many Jews as captives to Babylon and by destroying Jerusalem and the Temple. This domination of the Jews ended in 539 BC, when Cyrus, a leader of Persians and Medes, conquered Babylon, bringing an end to the empire. The prophecy also had another fulfillment: the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple in 586 BC, but the Jews rebuilt it and consecrated it 70 years later, in 516 BC. Restoring the Temple showed, in a very important way, that the effects of Babylonian domination had indeed come to an end.
Babylon’s Gates Will Open for Cyrus
If you read Isaiah 45:1 (written perhaps between 701 and 681 BC), you will find a prophecy that was ultimately fulfilled hundreds of years later in 539 BC.
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut…”
In this passage, the prophet said God would open the gates of Babylon for Cyrus and his attacking army. Despite Babylon’s remarkable defenses, which included moats, and walls that were more than 70-feet thick and 300-feet high (with 250 watchtowers) Cyrus was able to enter the city and conquer it. Cyrus and his troops accomplished it by diverting the flow of the Euphrates River into a large lake basin. Cyrus then was able to march his army across the riverbed and into the city!
Babylon’s Kingdom Will Be Permanently Overthrown
In Isaiah 13:19 (written between 701 and 681 BC) there exists yet another prophecy that was not fulfilled until 539 BC.
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Here, Isaiah tells us that Babylon would be overthrown, permanently. History confirms the fact that following Cyrus’ destruction of Babylon in 539 BC, it never again rose to power as an empire. You’ve got to remember, however, that before the time of Cyrus, Babylon had been defeated by the Assyrian Empire as well, But Babylon was able to recover and later conquer the Assyrian Empire. In light of this reality, I’m sure many people doubted Isaiah when he proclaimed this prophecy. In spite of this, and just as Isaiah predicted, the Babylonian empire was defeated, and never recovered from Cyrus’ conquest.
Babylon Will Be Reduced to Swampland
In Isaiah 14:23 (written between 701 and 681 BC), the prophet makes yet another prediction that does not come true until 539 BC.
“I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland; I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord Almighty.
The prophet makes the bold claim that Babylon, which had been a world power at two different times in history, would be brought to a humble and final end. But not only that, Isaiah claims that Babylon would be reduced to swampland! Well, after Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, the kingdom never again rose to power, that is certain. And history tells us that the buildings of Babylon fell into a gradual state of ruin during the next several centuries. Interestingly, when archaeologists excavated Babylon during the 1800s, they discovered that some parts of the city could not be dug up because they were under a water table that had risen over the years!
The Jews Will Survive Babylonian Rule and Return Home
In Jeremiah 32:36-37, (written from about 626 and 586 BC), yet another prophet makes a bold prediction that was ultimately fulfilled in 536 BC.
“You are saying about this city, ‘By the sword, famine and plague it will be handed over to the king of Babylon’; but this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.
In this passage, Jeremiah said that the Jews would survive their captivity in Babylon and return home, and both parts of this prophecy were ultimately fulfilled. Many Jews had been taken as captives to Babylon beginning around 605 BC. But, in 538 BC, they were released from captivity and many eventually returned to their homeland.
The Ninevites Will Be Drunk in Their Final Hours
In Nahum 1:10 (written around 614 BC) the prophet predicts the condition of the Ninevites at the time of their demise.
They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.
In this passage, and once again in Nahum 3:11, the prophet said that during the final hours of the attack on Nineveh, the Ninevites would be drunk! Well, guess what, there is evidence that this prophecy was actually fulfilled! According to the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus: “The Assyrian king gave much wine to his soldiers. Deserters told this to the enemy, who attacked that night.” Siculus compiled his historical works about 600 years after the fall of Nineveh, and in doing so, confirmed the Biblical account!
Nineveh Will Be Destroyed By Fire
Once again, in Nahum 3:15 (written around 614 BC) the prophet makes a prediction which ultimately did come true.
There the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you down and, like grasshoppers, consume you…
The prophet said that Nineveh would be damaged by fire. Archaeologists unearthed the site during the 1800s and found a layer of ash covering the ruins. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “…Nineveh suffered a defeat from which it never recovered. Extensive traces of ash, representing the sack of the city by Babylonians, Scythians, and Medes in 612 BC, have been found in many parts of the Acropolis. After 612 BC the city ceased to be important…”
Tyre Will Be Attacked By Many Nations
In Ezekiel 26:3 (written between 587-586 BC) the prophet predicts the attacks on Tyre that occurred in 573 BC, 332 BC, and 1291 AD.
therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves.
The prophet said that Tyre, the Phoenician Empire’s most powerful city, would be attacked by many nations, because of its treatment of Israel. At about the time that Ezekiel delivered this prophecy, Babylon had begun a 13-year attack on Tyre’s mainland. Later, in about 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the island of Tyre and brought an end to the Phoenician Empire. Then, after that, Tyre later fell again under the rule of the Romans, the Crusaders and the Moslems, who destroyed the city yet again, in 1291!
Tyre’s Stones, Timber and Soil Will Be Cast Into the Sea
In a remarkable prediction, the prophet writes in Ezekiel 26:12 (written between 587-586 BC) that the stone, timber and soil of Tyre will be thrown into the sea! This was fulfilled in 333-332 BC.
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.
The prophet said that Tyre’s stones, timber and soil would be thrown into the sea. That’s probably a fitting description of how Alexander the Great built a land bridge from the mainland to the island of Tyre when he attacked in 333-332 BC. It is believed that he took the rubble from Tyre’s mainland ruins and tossed it – stones, timber and soil – into the sea, to build the land bridge (which is still there).
The Jews Will Avenge the Edomites
In Ezekiel 25:14 (written between 593-571 BC), the prophet predicts that the Jews will eventually have revenge against the Edomites. This was not fulfilled, however for over 400 years (until approximately 100 BC)
‘I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance’, declares the Sovereign Lord.
Ezekiel said that the Jews would one day take vengeance on Edom, a nation that had often warred with the Jews. When Ezekiel delivered this prophecy, he and many other Jews were living as captives in Babylon. They didn’t have control of their own country, let alone anyone else’s. But, about 400 years later, Jews regained independence for Jerusalem and the surrounding area during the “Hasmonaean Period.” During this time, the Jewish priest-king John Hyrcanus I defeated the Edomites. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition: “Edomite history was marked by continuous hostility and warfare with Jews… At the end of the second century B.C., they were subdued by Hasmonaean priest-king John Hyrcanus I…”
Edom Will Be Toppled and Humbled
In Jeremiah 49:16 (written sometime from 626 to about 586 BC) the prophet predicts that Edom will be toppled. This was fulfilled in approximately 100 BC:
The terror you inspire and the pride of your heart have deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks, who occupy the heights of the hill. Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah said that Edom, a long-time enemy of Israel, would be destroyed. Edom’s capital city, Petra, was carved out of a mountain side and had great natural defenses. Nonetheless, it was destroyed and the kingdom of Edom no longer exists. Today, Petra is part of Jordan. The city was conquered by the Romans in the year 106 AD but flourished again shortly after that. But a rival city, Palmyra, eventually took most of the trade away and Petra began to decline. Moslems conquered Petra in the 7th Century and Crusaders conquered it in the 12th Century. Petra gradually fell into ruin.
The Greatest Old Testament Prophecy of All
There are literally hundreds of other fulfilled prophecies that we could describe here, but clearly one stand head and shoulders above the rest, and we really need to take a minute to describe it. While the Jews were certainly comforted by prophecies that predicted that their enemies would eventually be destroyed, there was a far more comforting prophecy that had bee described in the Old Testament. It was a prophecy that predicted the coming of a Messiah, a savior who would deliver the Jews. While there we dozens of messianic prophecies in the Old Testament scriptures, one of these was incredibly specific in its claims. As we examine this prophecy, we can confirm the supernatural and divine inspiration of the Bible.
The Coming of the Messiah
In 538 B.C. Daniel wrote the following bold prediction:
“So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks of years and sixty-two weeks of years”
In this prophecy, Daniel is claiming that there will be 69 weeks of years between the issuing of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the appearance of the Messiah. Now keep in mind that this bold prediction came 538 years before Christ was born.
Now let’s investigate a little history, OK? In 464 BC, Artaxerxes, a Persian king, ascended to the throne. His twentieth year as king would be 464 BC. Nehemiah, the Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, was deeply concerned with the reports about the ruined condition of Jerusalem which came about as the result of their being defeated (Nehemiah 1:1-4) and as a result, he petitioned the king:
“Send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it. So it pleased the king to send me”.
Scripture then provides us with the exact date of this decree to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. According to the scriptures the decree is issued “in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king” (Nehemiah 2:1). The Jewish calendar month was Nisan, and since no day is given, it is reasonable to assume that the date would be understood as the first, the Jewish New Year’s Day. And, in the Julian calendar we presently use, the corresponding date would be March 5, 444 B.C. This was the day on which the decree was issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
Now let’s remember this date, March 5, 444BC and take a look at the appearance of the Messiah. You may recall that the Gospels tell us that Jesus, on numerous occasions, had forbidden his followers to make him known as “the Messiah”. He would frequently do miracles and tell the disciples not to tell anyone who had done the miracles because his “hour has not yet come” (John 2:4, 7:6). However, on March 30, 33 A.D., when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, he rebuked the Pharisees’ protest and encouraged the whole multitude of his disciples as they shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord”. And Jesus said, “If these become silent, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:38-40). This was the day on which Jesus was publicly declared the Messiah.
Now let’s compare the date of the decree (March 5, 444 BC) with the date of Jesus’ declaration (March 30, 33 AD). Now before we begin, we need to clarify the fact that the Jewish prophetic year was composed of twelve 30 day months. In other words, the ancient evidence indicates that the Jewish prophetic year had 360 days, not 365 days. Since Daniel states 69 weeks of seven years each, and each year has 360 days, the equation is as follows: 69 x 7 x 360 = 173,880 days. In nothing more than a simple mathematical demonstration, the number of days in the period from March 5, 444 B.C. (the twentieth year of Artaxerxes) to March 30, 33 A.D. (the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey) can be determined at this point.
The time span from 444 B.C. to 33 A.D. is 476 years (remember that 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. is only one year). And if we multiply 476 years x 365.2421879 days per year (corrected for leap years), we get the result of 173,855 days. Now let’s add back the difference between March 5 and March 30 (25 days). What is our total? You guessed it, 173,880 days, exactly as Daniel predicted it.
So What Does Fulfilled Prophecy Prove?
The ancient Jews were careful to use Prophecy as a measuring stick. If someone claimed to be a prophet, yet his predictions did not come true, he was abandoned and his writings did not make it into the canon of scripture. Moses was careful to set this high bar for prophets:
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Moses knew that fulfilled prophecy was an evidence! It was an evidence that God was truly at work in the heart of the prophet, giving him insight to something that only God knew about. The exact fulfillment of all the prophecies that we’ve talked about from the Old Testament is more than enough to demonstrate the accuracy and divine inspiration of the Bible and the truth of Christianity. Remember, only God can “declare the end from the beginning” and forecast to the very day “things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10).
I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.
FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 35 Robert M. Pirsig (Feature on artist Kerry James Marshall)