First posted Fri Feb 18, 2005; important revision Thu Aug 2, 2018
A prophet is a person who performs as special role mediating the connection between different people and the divine. People commonly envision prophecy in phrases of god communicating thru a prophet to others a few essential information that could not have been known to the prophet in any ordinary way. Prophecy is interesting from a philosophical factor of view for lots motives, along with the fact that it increasesCompelling questions about divine information and communication, human language, the character of time, and human freedom.VISIT request a Prophecy Unlike theologians or apologists, philosophers rarely argue approximately who has really prophesied what, or whether or now not a given prophecy came proper. Alternatively, they choose to argue approximately best instances, in which the theoretical problems may be clearly recognized. In this newsletter, we will follow their lead by sidestepping absolutely whether or not any apparent prophecies cavalierly been fulfilled. We are able to also keep away from the question of the life of god, that is addressed through a number of different entries on this encyclopedia (see the entries listed within the related entries section under).
1. Philosophical troubles raised by way of prophecy
2. Denying contingency
Three. Denying god’s foreknowledge
Four. ockhamism and the past
5. temporal eternity
6. Middle information
Different net assets
1. Philosophical problems raised with the aid prophecy
It’s far often assumed that the number one cause of prophecy is to predict the destiny, however this is not constantly the case. Inside the remarkable monotheistic non-secular traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as an instance, a prophet is taken to be a person who makes god’s will especially clean, whether or now not this entails making predictions approximately the future. As William hacker says, in these traditions, prophets are commonly involved in “witnessing to the human beings regarding god’s functions requirements and seeking to bear in mind them to obedience” (hacker 1989, 194). There are captivating debates in these non-secular traditions, particularly within the medieval period, debates that we will no longer talk right here (see real 2001, that 1998, Brahman 2011, and the entries in this encyclopedia regarding key ancient figures mentioned in those assets). Related questions on how a human man or woman would possibly come to realize god’s will via a few types of revelation are discussed someplace else in thisEncyclopedia, for instance within the entries on the epistemology of religion and philosophy and christian theology.
But while philosophers speak prophecy, they’re usually interested in prophecies concerning the contingent destiny, so on the way to be the point of interest inside the remainder of this newsletter. What special philosophical troubles are raised by way of this type of prophecy?
Allow’s say that a destiny event is contingent if and only if it is both now not determined that it’ll happen and also now not decided that twill not take place. (for more at the notion of determinism, see the access on causal determinism.) now believe that based upon the revelation of an infallible god, someone prophecies that a few destiny contingent occasion will arise. Due to the fact that god can not be wrong, does it observe that the destiny contingent event should occur? And if it must arise, how can it’s a contingent occasion?
A particularly shiny example of this sort of situation comes from the christian way of life. Jesus reportedly prophesied that disciple peter might deny him 3 times earlier than the cock crowed (see Matthew 26:34). Usually, we might think about peter’s denial as a loose act, and as a result as contingent. (for greater in this connection, see the entries on compatibility, unfastened will, and causal determinism.) however considering that Jesus cannot be unsuitable (according to christian theology), how are peter’s later denials free? Once Jesus’ phrases turn out to be a part of the unalterable past, don’t they guarantee a particular future, whether or not peter disinclined to cooperate?
This problem is an especially interesting example of the extra trendy trouble of the compatibility of god’s entire foreknowledge with the existence of destiny contingent occasions (for more on this general hassle, see the access on divine foreknowledge and human freedom). While the extra trendy question about god’s foreknowledge commonly includes just god’s expertise and the destiny contingent occasion, the hassle of prophecy entails a third element, particularly, the prophecyItself, which turns into a part of the beyond history of the arena as soon as it’s miles made. This extra element adds an exciting twist to the general trouble, making it more difficult to clear up.