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Prediction addiction

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Sometimes it is said that those who believe in the accuracy of biblical prophecy suffer from "prediction addiction." And quite frankly, in some cases that is true. Misuses and abuses of biblical prophecy have abounded through the ages, not just in modern times. But it does not logically follow that because some "prediction addicts" believe in biblical prophecy, all believers in biblical prophecy are "prediction addicts"!

First, what are we talking about? Investment advisor Dan Solin, in an article for the Huffington Post entitled Do You Have "Prediction Addiction"? (October 1, 2007), wrote: "'Prediction addiction' was coined by Jason Zweig, a staff writer at Money magazine and the author of … our Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich (Simon & Schuster August 1, 2007).

["Prediction addiction"] is the compulsive desire to try to make sense out of just about everything. Even events that are not predictable. Like the direction of the stock market or the future price of a particular stock or mutual fund. This addiction is a particularly bad one. Not only are our brains hard-wired to believe we can predict the future and make sense out of random acts, it rewards us for doing so. The brain of someone engaged in this activity experiences the same kind of pleasure that drug addicts get from cocaine or gamblers experience when they enter a casino. When predicting the unpredictable goes south, as it inevitably will, the neurons in the brain start misfiring, causing panic and anxiety. Anything less than total confidence in our predictions implies that we have lost control. The brain resists this conclusion. Random events are perceived as the enemy.

However, other kinds of research into the brain and behavior—including models of personality type—show that we humans do have the ability to track emerging patterns in the present and to predict the future. These assessments sometimes can be astoundingly accurate (cf. Gary and Margaret Hartzler, Functions of Type, Telos Publications, pp. 21–32). So we are not dealing with some kind of chemical dysfunction of the brain per se when we speak of "prediction addiction." On the contrary, we are meant to get pleasure out of using our forms of intuition about current and future events. Some of us have more natural ability in these areas than others, but all of us can (and should) develop our natural intuition and use it as a source of wisdom.

The addiction comes, though, when we try to push our natural abilities beyond their natural limits, and the Bible warns us in several places about that. For example, some are apt to take every last political crisis on the world scene as a harbinger of the biblical "end of the age." But we are warned, "Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful at the report heard in the land, when a report comes in one year and afterward a report in another year, and violence is in the land, and ruler is against ruler" (Jeremiah 51:46, RSV).

Allegedly, Jesus Himself set His followers up for "prediction addiction" in Matthew 24:3-7 when He warned of religious deception in His name, "wars and rumors of wars," famines, pestilences and earthquakes. "These things have always been around since Jesus' day," scoffers say (cf. 2 Peter 3:3–4). But they overlook the real significance of Matthew 23:8: "All these are the beginning of birth pangs" (literal Greek). When a woman is in labor, her birth pangs come in cycles, but they come more quickly and more strongly over time—leading to the "crisis" of childbirth itself. So it would be in the "latter days." During the space of a generation (Matthew 24:32–35), first broadly relevant events would occur with increasing frequency and intensity. Then, very specific events would occur with little or no warning in a very short time (cf. vv. 4–31). And all that is what students of biblical prophecy need to be watching for! No need to try to predict the day or the hour of Christ's return; that cannot be done (vv. 36–44). It is enough to be ready, no matter when all these events take place (vv. 45–51).

Our free booklets, Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return and Prophecy Fulfilled: God's Hand in World Affairs, show that events on the world scene are not mere happenstance. They are being orchestrated by an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Creator God who "[declares] the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" (Isaiah 46:10).

Will you be ready when He brings His counsel to pass?

  Originally Published: 05th March 2011