1. To state in advance one or several yet-to-be-seen scenes of a movie by drawing from experience.
2. To state what the outcome of an experiment is likely to be.
3. To offer one's opinion or best estimate of a test or deliberate observation.
A guess differs from a prediction in that it is fallible. A prediction is error free.
A guess differs from a belief in that it deals with the future. We cannot foretell the past any more than we
can believe the future. For the prosecutors to affirm that they ‘believe’ that it is going to rain tomorrow is to
unwittingly introduce ordinary language into Science. If we wish to avoid endless debate, we must
distinguish between a guess and a belief unambiguously in a scientific discussion, and this difference
can ultimately be traced to chronology.
For example, it would be incongruous for the prosecutors to claim that they can predict, guess, or foretell
that Napoleon fought at Waterloo in 1815 or that Jesus walked on water 2000 years ago. The prosecutors
merely need to open a book, listen to a witness narrate a particular version of the events, do a field test at
Waterloo, or run an experiment to see if people can actually walk on water in order to reach their own
conclusions regarding what may have happened in the past. And even if someone (including Jesus)
walks over water today, this event is not proof that Jesus did so 2000 years ago. In the best of cases it is
proof (instantly converted into a belief) that Jesus walked on water today. Proofs have the distinction of
instantly morphing into consummated events upon the conclusion of the experiment. The best that may
survive is evidence (e.g., a movie of the experiment). You reach your own conclusions after testimony and
evidence is presented to you.
On the other hand, it is irrational for the prosecutor to allege that she believes that a man who just fell off a
skyscraper is going to die in a few seconds. The prosecutor is inadvertently treating the future as the
past. She is looking at the event retroactively as if it already happened and putting it in the context of a
prediction or guess. This is merely a thought experiment that takes place in the mind faster than in reality.
The prosecutor is inadvertently watching the movie she has just filmed in her mind and telling you that
she saw the victim die in frame 445. We confirm that this was nothing but an intelligent guess when the
alleged victim miraculously survives. Obviously, the Fates spun a different story for him.
From the witness’s perspective, if she can say exactly what is going to transpire, this would not be belief,
but knowledge. A speculation about the future is not the same as conviction or certainty about the past. A
guess draws on experience. A belief is an opinion about what already happened in the past. The witness
is not giving an opinion if an opinion is equivalent to a belief. A belief means that the event already
happened and that the witness already formed an opinion about it. A guess means that the event has not
happened and the witness is speculating about what she may observe. The word guess is a synonym of
belief only in ordinary speech.
Unlike knowledge, a guess – whether intelligent, intuitive, lucky, or justified – is fallible. Not even God
knows the future if the future has not already happened. If your future has already happened, from God's
perspective it is known as the past. God has already seen you die. He has already watched the movie.
This movie has already been budgeted, directed, and distributed. The scenes cannot be undone. An actor
has free will when he acts out his part on the stage. Once the film is edited, produced, and sent to the
Theatre of Heaven, the characters in this finished movie can follow no script other than the one that is in
print. A theist may at best argue that God 'knows' how the actor acted in the movie the Lord saw at the
Theatre of Heaven. The actor on the stage has free will. The character on the screen does not. If God
'knows' what you 'did', which from your perspective is what you 'will do,' the scenario we are dealing with
is the character on the screen. Your knowledge is irrelevant in this context.
Copyright © by Nila Gaede 2008