Nostradamus (1503-1566) was known by the Latin name of Michel de
Notredame or Nostredame. He was graduated from University of
Montpellier in France and was a physician and astrologer. He published
a book of rhymed prophecies titled Centuries (1555). He is reputed to
have predicted accurately the death of Henry II of France and many
According to Andre
Lamont, Nostradamus Sees All (“Preface,” 2d. ed., v), “he was well
versed in the arts of astronomy, the kabbala, astrology, alchemy,
magic, mathematics and medicine.”
Predictions of Nostradamus. Some
critics of Christianity hold up Nostradamus as an example of someone
who made predictions on the level with those in the Bible, thus
canceling the claim of supernatural uniqueness made for biblical
prophecy. However, on examination they fall far short of this claim.
The predictions of Nostradamus show signs of an occult source and may
be explained according to purely natural processes.
A Great California Earthquake.
Nostradamus is alleged to have predicted a great earthquake in
California for May 10, 1981. This was reported on May 6, 1981, in USA
Today. However, no such quake occurred. As a matter of fact,
Nostradamus mentioned no country, city, or year. He spoke only of a
“rumbling earth” in a “new city” and a “very mighty quake” on May 10
Hitler’s Rise to Power. Lamont
claims that Nostradamus gave “a prophecy of the coming of Hitler and
Nazism in a world divided within itself” (Lamont, 252). However,
Hitler is not mentioned and the prediction gives no date and is vague.
It reads: “Followers of sects, great troubles are in store for the
Messenger. A beast upon the theater prepares the scenical play. The
inventor of that wicked feat will be famous. By sects the world will
be confused and divided” (ibid.). In this context there is a reference
to “Hister” (not Hitler) by Nostradamus (C4Q68), which is obviously a
place, not a person. The attempt to read back into this both his name
and birthplace is stretched. What is more, Hitler grew up in Linz,
Austria, not in any place called Hister.
Quatrain 2-24 reads: “Beasts mad with
hunger will swim across rivers, Most of the army will be against the
Lower Danube [Hister sera]. The great one shall be dragged in an iron
cage when the child brother [de Germain] will observe nothing.”
This is allegedly a prophecy concerning
Adolf Hitler. According to followers of Nostradamus, the lower portion
of the Danube is known as either “Ister” or “Hister” (Randi, 213),
which seems to be close enough to “Hitler” for their purposes.
However, the substitution of “l” for
“s” in Hister, and the inversion of “t” and “s,” is totally arbitrary.
In another quatrain (4-68), Nostradamus mentions the Lower Danube in
conjunction with the Rhine (“De Ryn”). But if “Hister” refers to
Hitler, then to what does “De Ryn” refer? Followers of Nostradamus are
inconsistent, treating one river as an anagram and taking the other
literally. The Latin phrase de Germain should be interpreted “brother”
or “near relative,” not “Germany” (Randi, 214). Even if these highly
questionable interpretations are allowed, the prophecy is still quite
ambiguous. What are we to make of the “Beasts” and the “iron cage”? To
say that Adolf Hitler (“the great one”) will be “dragged in an iron
cage” while Germany “will observe nothing” is so ambiguous and
confusing it renders the entire prophecy meaningless.
Quatrain 4-68 is also alleged to refer
to Hitler. It reads: “In the year very near, not far from Venus, The
two greatest of Asia and Africa From the Rhine and Lower Danube, which
will be said to have come, Cries, tears at Malta and the Ligurian
As in the previous example, “Lower
Danube” is here taken to mean “Hitler.” “The two greatest of Asia and
Africa” are taken to refer to Japan and Mussolini, respectively. Thus,
the second and third lines refer to the Tripartite Pact between Japan,
Italy, and Germany. The fourth is taken as a reference to the bombing
of Malta and the bombardment of Genoa (Randi, 215).
In addition to the reasons given above,
this prophecy claims these events would take place in a “year very
near;” but the Tripartite Pact (1941) came almost 400 years after the
prediction. It is not clear how Asia could refer to Japan, and even
more so, how Africa could refer to Mussolini or Italy. Again
Nostradamus’s followers are inconsistent, for they interpret Asia,
Africa, and the Lower Danube figuratively while providing no
corresponding interpretation for the Rhine. Finally, this prophecy is
ambiguous on the whole. It could be interpreted in various ways so as
to fulfill many different events.
The Second World War. According
to Lamont, Nostradamus forecast that, after the first World War, the
Spanish Civil War, and other wars, a more furious one was foretold—the
Second World War, with its aerial warfare and suffering. But no such
details are given. It is typically vague and could be easily forecast
without any supernormal powers. The passage reads simply: “After a
great human exhaustion, a greater one is being prepared. As the great
motor renews the centuries, a rain of blood, milk, famine, iron and
pestilence [will come]. In the sky will be seen fires carrying long
sparks” (Lamont, 168).
Nostradamus’s forecasts are general, vague, and explainable on purely
natural grounds. Furthermore, Nostradamus shows clear signs of demonic
and occult influence.
False Prophecies. An evident
sign of a false prophet is false prophecy (cf. Deuteronomy 18). If
Nostradamus’ predictions are taken literally, many are false. If they
are not, then they can fit many “fulfillments.” As John Ankerberg put
it, “it is an undeniable fact that Nostradamus gave numerous false
prophecies” (Ankerberg, 340). Noted Nostradamus scholar Erick Cheetham
said flatly of his prognostications in his Almanachs: “Many of these
predictions were wrong” (Cheetham, 20). Some interpretations are so
diverse that while one claims it is a reference to “Calvinist Geneva,”
another believes it refers to “atomic power” (The Prophecies of
Vague Predictions. The truth is
that the vast majority of his prognostications are so ambiguous and
vague that they could fit a great variety of events. Consider this
one: “Scythe by the Pond, in conjunction with Sagittarius at the high
point of its ascendant—disease, famine, death by soldiery—the
century/age draws near its renewal” (Centuries 1.6). The lines can be
interpreted so as to fit any number of events in the future. When
something is judged to be a fulfillment, Nostradamus will seem
supernatural. Astrologers and fortunetellers use vague descriptions
and imagery all the time. Nostradamus was a master at this art.
There is no unanimity among Nostradamus’ interpreters about the
meaning of his predictions. This lack of agreement is further proof of
their ambiguity and lack of authority. In The Prophecies of
Nostradamus the editors note contradictory interpretations (see I, 16;
I, 51; II, 41; II, 43; II, 89; III, 97, etc.).
Predictions after the Fact.
Nostradamus himself acknowledged that his predictions were written in
such a manner that “they could not possibly be understood until they
were interpreted after the event and by it” (Randi, 31). There is
nothing miraculous about reading a fulfillment back into a prophecy
which could not be clearly seen there beforehand. Not a single
prediction of Nostradamus has ever been proven genuine. This means
that either he is a false prophet or else he was not really seriously
claiming to be giving real predictions. Perhaps he was a con artist or
a literary prankster.
Tongue-in-Cheek Prophecies? His
prognostications were so vague and unproductive that even the
encyclopedia of Man, Myth and Magic suggests that “Nostradamus
composed them with tongue in cheek, as he was well aware that there is
an enduring market for prophecies and particularly for veiled ones”
(Cavendish, 2017). As James Randi put it, “The marvelous prophecies of
Michel de Nostredame, upon examination, turn out to be a tiresome
collection of vague, punning, seemingly badly constructed verses....
From a distance of more than 400 years, I fancy I can hear a bearded
Frenchman laughing at the naiveté of his 20th century dupes” (36).
Confessed Demonic Source.
Nostradamus admitted demonic inspiration when he wrote: “The tenth of
the Calends of April roused by evil persons; the light extinguished;
diabolical assembly searching for the bones of the devil (damant—”demon”)
according to Psellos” (Lamont, 71). Commenting on this, Lamont noted
that “The utilization of the demons or black angels is recommended by
ancient writers on magic. They claim that they have much knowledge of
temporal matters and, once under control, will give much information
to the operator.” He adds, Nostradamus could not have avoided such a
Various Forms of Occult Practices.
Nostradamus was associated with various occult activities. Lamont
observes that “Magic—Astrology—Symbolism—Anagrams—[are a] Key to
Nostradamus” (ibid., 69). In Centuries, Quatrain 2 is translated: “The
wand in the hand seated in the midst of the Branches, He (the prophet)
wets in the water both the hem (of his garment) and the foot. A
fearfulness and a voice quiver through the sleeves; divine splendor,
The Divine is seated near” (ibid., 70). Lamont comments that here
“Nostradamus followed the rites of magic according to Iamblichus. It
is night—he is seated on the stool or prophetic tripod—a little flame
rises. He has the divining rod in his hand” (ibid., 70-71).
In addition to the use of the occult
divining rod, Nostradamus was widely known for his knowledge of
astrology—another occult practice condemned by the Bible (Deuteronomy
18). But whatever their source, these predictions in no way rival the
clear, specific, and highly accurate predictions of Scripture.
Conclusion. There is no real
comparison between Nostradamus’ predictions and those of the Bible.
His are vague, fallible, and occult. Those of the Bible are clear,
infallible, and divine. The Bible made numerous clear and distinct
predictions hundreds of years in advance. Nostradamus did not. There
is no evidence that Nostradamus was a prophet at all; certainly he was
like none in the Bible. Biblical prophecy stands unique in its claim
to be supernatural.
J. Ankerberg, et al., Cult Watch
M. Cavendish, “Nostradamus” in Man, Myth and Magic, new ed., vol. 15
E. Cheetham, The Final Prophecies of Nostradamus
A. Kole, Miracle and Magic
A. Lamont, Nostradamus Sees All
M. Nostradamus, Centuries
J. Randi, “Nostradamus: The Prophet for All Seasons,” The Skeptical
Enquirer (Fall 1882)
[no editor named], The Prophecies of Nostradamus