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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Prophecy and Prediction


Prophets and prophecy seem to play significant roles in the Abrahamic faiths. When I read the Bible and  and the Qua’ran, I noticed an extraordinary emphasis placed on prophecy and prophets. 

 In trying to understand the definition of the word, prophecy, I came across the following passage from David Deutsch’s book on The Beginning of Infinity.

Prophecy is anything that claims to know what is not yet knowable. “Trying to know the unknowable leads inexorably to error and self-deception”, as pointed out by Deutsch.

Contrast this with definition of Prediction. “Prediction is a conclusion about a future event that follows from good explanation.” Prediction is testable or verifiable and therefore, more reliable.

Astrology and astronomy are good examples. Astrology is prophecy. Astronomy allows prediction. Predictions are more likely to turn out to be true. If not, the idea is discorded. But people cling to prophecy.  

All cultures and traditions believe in miracles. In the Indian tradition, although miracles performed by Krishna and Rama are described, the emphasis is NOT on the miracle but on the compassion and love of Krishna and Rama. In other words, the emphasis is on Krishna’s and Rama’s love for their devotees, and the extent Rama and Krishna will go for the sake of their devotees. It is that Divine love which has to be believed and cherished and nourished, even if you do not believe those miracles.

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