The Bible Code
| Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
“”When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them.
|—Michael Drosnin. Newsweek, Jun 9, 1997|
The Bible Code Method
To extract this code requires a would-be code-seeker to count every nth character (where n is an integer[note 1]) in a text until you run across a sequence that contains a specified keyword. This particular technique is known as the Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS) formula. The ELS formula has been likened to arranging the letters of the document into a grid n characters wide, and then treating them like the "word search" puzzles seen in newspapers, circling vertical words as they are discovered. When presented, many of the codes are shown in such a grid, with the necessary words interlinking, crossing each other or pointing to each other.
Its proponents insist that, if the original text in its original language is used, the words so discovered constitute a "hidden message" that was planted in the text by its authors (and, by extension, a hidden message from God if the work is supposed to be divinely inspired). The original language of the Torah is biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew uses an abjad style alphabet, which means that every character is a consonant.[note 2] The reader must fill in the appropriate vowel sounds based on context and tradition. The name "Sarah," for instance, is spelled with only the Hebrew-alphabet equivalents of S, R, and H. This makes finding words somewhat easier than in a language that requires vowels by reducing the size of the word being looked for and increasing the odds of it being found randomly. For example, if I wanted to show that the Torah predicted the Holocaust by finding an ELS containing the name "Hitler", I would only need to search for "HTLR".[note 3]
Pure woo in its purest form
This is, of course, pure woo on the same level as uncovering backward masking in rock songs or retroactively applying the prophecies of Nostradamus to recent events. Drosnin claims to have applied the algorithm to War and Peace and found nothing, but some have since applied the same computer algorithm to find hidden codes in other books such as Moby Dick, The Lord of The Rings series and the lyrics of Vanilla Ice. Naturally, prophecies, codes and other secrets were also discovered in these non-religious texts. Beyond the fact that literally any sequence of words can be found in the Bible, the problem is that no "prophetic" sequence of words has ever been discovered until after the events foretold have transpired. In these cases, none of the prophecies can be said to have predictive value, but rather retroactively shoehorned.
Recently, Drosnin has shied away from using it predictively. However he has stopped short of publically admitting that it's a proven statistical certainty that if you look in the right way, you can find anything in anything.
“”I don't think the code makes predictions. I think it reveals probabilities. so I can't say what will happen in the next five years. also it is not a crystal ball -- you can't just ask the Bible to tell you about tomorrow or next year. You can only find what you know how to look for -- you must have some idea of what you're looking for.
Nonetheless, the book was a best seller, and Michael Drosnin has so far managed to milk the material for no fewer than two sequels and many TV documentaries (although most now are made to refute the "code"). In the best example of "retroactive shoehorning" it should be noted that The Bible Code (published in 1997) did not "predict" the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, while The Bible Code 2 (published in 2002) did[note 4]. Must be because you need to "have some idea of what you're looking for", clearly.
- Assassinations foretold in Moby Dick - an example of how this type of thing occurs in any large enough text
- Obviously, because counting every 2 and a halfth letter is kinda difficult
- Some are used to indicate vowels also, especially long vowels. See the Wikipedia article on Matres lectionis. But no such context exists when characters are plucked independently from the text.
- It also helps that the Hebrew script has two characters that can be transliterated as 'T' (Taw ת and Teth ט) and two characters that can be transliterated as H (He ה and Heth ח).
- Although Moby Dick "predicted" it as well - see Moby Dick predicted the "War on Terrorism"