Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today's 'Bible' Prophets

John the Baptist baptizing Jesus
The Bible has been a big ratings bonanza for the History Channel and the Lifetime Network.  Over and over it relies on the main characters such as Saul, David, Solomon and Nebuchadnezzar being guided by the prophets like Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, and Daniel.  Prophets are like fortune tellers in that they are messengers from God about the future to warn others.  In the Bible every time their advice wasn't followed there was trouble.  Other figures such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus had traits of both leaders and prophets.  Christians believe that John the Baptist (pictured on the right baptizing Jesus) was the last prophet while Muslims of course believe that Muhammad was.

Oracle at Delphi
Other cultures have relied on fortune tellers, soothsayers,  and oracles such as the Oracle at Delphi depicted by Michelangelo at the left.  The miniseries The Bible did not talk about false prophets.  Today scientists often play the role that the prophets used to play to guide our leaders and the masses.  Global warming/climate change is a classic example of the warning that science gives us about the future.  It is based on evidence and probability theory, and then updated with future evidence which so far supports their claims.  Their predictions are adjusted as the evidence dictates.

Reading scientific data is often like reading tea leaves in that your trying to see relevant patterns from seemingly chaotic things.  In the past prophets, oracles and the like received their messages in visions be it in dreams or hallucinations.  Some are thought to have had temporal lobe epilepsy which causes hallucinations.  The Oracle at Delphi was exposed to natural gasses in her temple that caused her to hallucinate.  The good seers were able to interpret the visions in relation to the real events going on around them while the false prophets, like the one who predicted the world would end on May 21, 2011, were not.  Of course scientists are wrong sometimes too for a variety of reasons.  That is why one must be cautious about arriving at conclusions about the data that they see.

The middle episodes of The Bible focus on the Jews wars with the Philistines.  There are many killed in the miniseries at the behest of the prophets by Joshua, Samson, and David.  The word Philistine has the same origin as Palestine though the familial relationship between the two is unclear.  Is this pro zionist propaganda for Isreal's actions in the Palestinean territories today?  Much has been made of the series depiction of Satan looking like Obama but I've heard little discussion of its depiction of war.  The YouTube clip above shows the producers justification for their depiction of David and his killing of Philistines.  I personally liked the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (though it unrealistically depicts Jesus as having blue eyes) from the 1970's better because it focused on teachings rather than relying on signs and special effects.

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