Monday, November 16, 2009
Category: Religion and Philosophy
So I saw this show on History channel the other day, called the Nostradamus effect. Being that I'm way interested in history, the farther back the better, I thought it would be cool. Nostradamus lived some hundreds of years ago. But it's not about history. It's about predicting the future, the end of the world, you know, that kind of thing.
The reason I really dislike the program is that it makes Nostradamus into some kind of prophet. I can't understand how anyone who has a good command of the facts could believe that. Nostradamus wrote quatrains. Four line segments of poetry. Supposedly, each quatrain is a prophecy of some future event.
First of all, as far as I know, there is no chronology at all for his thousands of quatrains. One may deal with 10 years in the future, and the next may deal with 300 years in the future. Nothing in the quatrains, or in their order, helps to know a time period, except for his abstractions "When the bloodied sun setteth, recently unveiled from its blotted path..."
The whole thing is full of abstractions and meaningless symbols. If I were to write down thousands of quatrains, using language that is specifically abstract in order to broaden the possible interpretations, and then have people read through the thousands of quatrains after any world event, looking for specific quatrains that could be viewed as predicting the event, I'd probably become famous for it.
In the Nostradamus entry on wikipedia it actually goes through the books published recently supporting his 'prophetic power' and lists how each book tries to interpret events just prior to its publication as fulfilled prophesies of Nostradamus.
Speaking about a couple of quatrains that supposedly predicted the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001, a critical commentator says "Where were the guys that knew about this on September 10th? They should be thrown in jail for not doing anything to stop these attacks." His sarcasm is obvious. They weren't doing anything in particular on September 10th, because they had no idea anything was going to happen. Looking at the real quatrains that are claimed to predict the Sept. 11th attacks (there are some fake ones on the internet) it is quite difficult to believe that they predict anything. In any case, even if they were real, there are no cases where anyone has actually been able to predict an unexpected future event with them. It's always ALWAYS always after the event takes place that people say that Nostradamus predicted it.
Compare this to the book of Revelation. There are symbols in the book of Revelation, but they are more concrete. It is a dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns. Not a shadowy, mystical, could mean anything and is only mentioned once thing. There is a chronology in the book of Revelaton. The next verse usually continues the theme of the previous verse. It is often obvious that they refer to the same thing. Usually what comes in the next verse can be understood to follow chronologically, or take place at the same time, as the previous verse. One may or may not understand the particular symbol in the book of Revelation, but it is clear that each symbol is part of a greater whole.
With Nostradamus you don't get any of that. They say Nostradamus predicts the end of the world in 2012. The reason that he predicts the end of the world is because the Mayans predicted the end of the world (the end of a cycle of their calender) in December of 2012, and hey, Wouldn't it be cool if the Mayans, and Nostradamus, and whoever else we can think of, all were predicting the end of the world at the same time? Now lets look through the thousands of quatrains that Nostradamus wrote and find one that we can interpret to predict the end of the world in 2012.
And they couldn't even do that. They found some "signs of the end" that were similar to other people's "signs of the end," including those of the book of Revelation, and said, "well, they must be talking about the same times, and since the Mayans say it's 2012, then that must be when the end time is."
I realize that those that take Nostradamus seriously are a very tiny minority. It just upsets me that History Channel gives that group a bull horn. And if you do take all the 2012 and Nostradamus stuff seriously, don't tell me. It will be hard for me not to make certain unkind judgments about your intelligence.