Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The expression “Black Swan event” crops up more and more these days.
Black Swan Event?
According to scholar, mathematical statistician, risk analyst, and one of the most well-known modern authors on Black Swan Theory Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a black swan event is an unpredictable occurrence or situation with three basic components:
First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable […]
Taleb’s “black swan theory” refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. (source)
Some believe the COVID-19 coronavirus might well be such a black swan event, specifically with regard to its severe global impact on not only health but also economics.
As to COVID-19 being outside the realm of regular expectations, those who track the development of biological weapons would not be so surprised at the presence of a virus with a possible man-engineered component; however, the impossibility of knowing the specifics–in global, historic proportions–would still qualify it as a black swan.
So this can keep a body–and a world–on edge which is why, after the fact, human nature kicks in asap. We must analyze for not only causes but also, arguably, for control.
Because if we can’t figure stuff like this out we end up twisting in the wind mentally, emotionally, and/or psychologically, which is a scary, lonely place to be. So we must figure it out, lest fear locks out logic and critical thinking, and so that we might at least ward off–and warn of–future, similar events.
Quelling angst with analysis as much as possible also boosts mental, emotional, and psychological immunities.
And yet, like a physical body worn down by a chronic and constant low-grade fever, black swan events, or the slow-festering threat of them for those paying attention up front, continue plaguing the globe, and as soon as one peaks, we scramble to get back to either what we knew of normalcy or what kind of new normacly we can know.
Because with black swan events, there’s no going back, and transitions, as they say, can be a b–ch.
However, it’s different with biblical prophecy–one of the key boosters of spiritual immunity.
For as much as the unpredictable and dramatic nature of black swan events provoke fear which compromises nomalcy and a sense of security, biblical prophecies, by contrast, although still requiring discernment and close study, instill confidence and sustain hope.
And we don’t have to wait until the fever breaks, as it were, or the event has devastated world health and financial stability, to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how details–or enough general information about same–to prepare as much as possible and not be taken by surprise.
First, last, and always, here’s what God has to say on the subject of biblical prophecy:
For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (Amos, 3:7, ESV)
Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose… (Isaiah 46:10)
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts… (2 Peter 1:19)
Thus, the first point in line to bolster my case and in stark contrast to the best of Taleb’s (and other black swan theorists’) assertion that “nothing in the past can convincingly point to (the event’s) possibility,” God gifts us with prophecy as transcribed in His Word and by His people.
But how can we know if this or that person is a true prophet or a false one? After all, didn’t even Jesus say there would be many fale prophets?
To address my second point–we can know:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep… (2 Peter 2:1-3, bolding added)
The bolded parts describe false prophets as secretive, lying, sensuous instead of spiritual, blasphemous of the true Gospel, greedy, exploitive–and all this has been prophesied in advance. So to aid us in our close analysis of real prophets vs false the rubric was given us ahead of time.
In the spiritual realm, as is any, forewarned is also forearmed–and reassuring.
And to my final point: of course, this presupposes we will have studied God’s Word carefully. Here is some basic information on how to do so. Here is a specific example with a little help from a literature instructor.
Bonus point: but perhaps the most astonishing evidence of the dependability and satistical accuracy of biblical prophecies, something the best and brightest among us, such as Taleb, are always working on for secular purposes, consider the following from the article “55 Old Testatment Prophecies about Jesus,” (Jesus Film Project, Januray 4, 2018):
Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. These prophecies are specific enough that the mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling even a handful of them, let alone all of them, is staggeringly improbable—if not impossible.
Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena College, was passionate about biblical prophecies. With 600 students from the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Stoner looked at eight specific prophecies about Jesus. They came up with extremely conservative probabilities for each one being fulfilled, and then considered the likelihood of Jesus fulfilling all eight of those prophecies.
The conclusion to his research was staggering. The prospect that anyone would satisfy those eight prophecies was just 1 in 1017. In Science Speaks, he described it like this:
“Let us try to visualize this chance. If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all of the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.
“Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”
55 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus…continue reading here…
Thus, as opposed to mankind’s best available tools to figure out when the world is going to be shaken by a black swan event that leaves us only with the ability to try to “concoct explanations for (the event’s) occurrence after the fact” (emphasis added) in order to only hope to make it “explainable and predictable,” with God, we get both explanations and predictions beforehand.
In most cases, long beforehand.
Which is why so many believers and students of so-called “end times” (aka “last days,” aka “end of the Church Age”) Bible prophecies are flipping through those pages again. In even greater earnest. Just now.
And they are “looking up” for, arguably, “our redemption draweth nigh” (which is an all-purpose, all-systems immunity booster for what gets us from here to there).
Today would be good.