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Decoding the Bible Code

The Bible Code claims that hidden in the first five books of the Bible in its original Hebrew text are hidden messages in code that made predictions thousands of years ago about current events, such as the assassination of JFK and the end of the world. In this episode Michael Shermer decodes the Bible Code and reveals it to be a form of numerology that serves as a supreme example of pattern-seeking (and finding) behavior of which we are so skilled.

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Codified Claptrap

The Bible Code is numerological nonsense masquerading as science
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In the epilogue of In Memoriam A.H.H., Alfred, Lord Tennyson captured the essence of the quest for a single unifying principle and purpose in nature: “One God, one law, one element,/And one far-off divine event,/To which the whole creation moves.”

The noble dream of finding teleological succor in the march of time has become big business, as demonstrated by works from Hal Lindsey’s 1970s blockbuster The Late Great Planet Earth to today’s Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. (Both are said to have sold in the tens of millions.) And if you can sprinkle your homiletics with scientistic jargon, so much the better. The latest and most egregious example of the (mis)use of science in the (dis)service of religion is Michael Drosnin’s Bible Code II, enjoying a lucrative ride on the New York Times best-seller list, as did the 1997 original. (continue reading…)

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Harum-Scarum: Decoding the Bible Code

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A review of Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code.

In 1859 John Taylor published a book entitled The Great Pyramid, in which he discovered that if you divide the height of the pyramid into twice the side of its base, you get a number close to Π. This, and other relationships he found to be deeply meaningful. Soon after, others began to turn up similar “discoveries”, such as that the base of the Great Pyramid divided by the width of a casing stone equals the number of days in the year, and that the height of the Great Pyramid multiplied by 109 approximately equals the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

Humans are pattern-seeking animals. At Skeptic magazine we routinely receive calls from people who see the Virgin Mary in the shadows of a tree, the face of Jesus in a partially burnt tortilla, Mother Teresa in a sweet roll, or a face on Mars. JFK lives in stone profile in Hawaii. Eagle Rock sports a giant winged boulder overlooking the city. Patterns are everywhere. But which patterns are meaningful and which are not? (continue reading…)

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