Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Forecast Foul-Ups

The weather man got it wrong again - thankfully so! Back in March, the internet weather service,, predicted “the Northeast is staring down the barrel of a gun.” 2006, they suggested, would be one of the worst hurricane seasons in the history of our country. Two months later they ran this headline: “One in Six Americans Could be Directly Impacted by 2006 Hurricane Season.” The hurricane season has finally given way to the holiday season and, as it turns out, 2006 was one of the quietest weather years on record.
This isn’t the first time someone pooch-kicked a prediction. In 1966 Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Vogue magazine that houses in 2001 would be able to fly, thanks to building materials made stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum. (Creating all sorts of problems for the family dog.)

In 1967 Science Digest predicted that by 2000, "discarded rayon underwear will be bought by chemical factories and converted into candy." (And what, exactly would such a candy be named?)

A 1981 book predicted solar-powered clothes that retain heat in the winter and coolness in the summer. People would be able to "press a button to formulate our clothing.” (Would one be naked on cloudy days?)

And then there is the grand-daddy of all blown predilections: Y2K. Experts anticipated problems ranging from VISA bills not being issued on time to entire power grids malfunctioning and plunging cities into blackout. I got my VISA bill right on time, and millions of Americans bought generators that have yet to be started.

That is what makes the predictions about Christ’s birth so amazing. Prophets writing hundreds of years before Jesus’ incarnation made some startling statements. Isaiah wrote that Jesus would be born of a virgin. Micah predicted that Bethlehem would be the Messiah’s birthplace. The death of Bethlehem’s infant boys at the hand of King Herod was predicted nearly six hundred years before by the prophet Jeremiah. So many prophecies, and all of them on target.

In his book "Science Speaks," Peter Stoner applies the modern science of probability to just eight Messianic prophecies. He says, "...the chance that any man might have... fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 1017. That would be 1 in one hundred quadrillion. To understand the odds, Stoner suggests that "we take one hundred quadrillion silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up that one marked silver dollar. What chance would he have of getting the right one?" Stoner concluded, "Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."

There will be a lot you can’t predict this Christmas season: what you’ll get for gifts, what the weather will do, who will win their bowl games. One thing you can count on, however, is the love of your Heavenly Father. He sent His love wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Of that, you can be sure.


Tom Bailey said...

Just stopping by and read your profile and saw that you were a pastor. I just found it odd that the bible was not listed on your favorite books.

Frank Weller said...

You got me, Tom. I've been outed. Have a nice day.