Theology Thursdays: The Dead Sea Scrolls, Prophecy and Messiah V
The former Wall St. Journal and Washington Post reporter that we referred to, but not by name, last week, who has been arguing that a code is contained within the Bible that predicts world events in advance and indicates that we are living in the "end of days", is Michael Drosnin. Mr. Drosnin is the author of last decade's best-selling bookThe Bible Code and its sequel, published last year Bible Code II.
According to Mr. Drosnin, the Bible code was originally "broken" by an Israeli mathematician. Mr. Drosnin argues that the code predicts the events of September 11, 2001; encodes the events of Watergate and President Nixon's resignation; encodes the election of President Clinton; encodes the Great Depression; and encodes a prediction of a world economic crisis beginning in 2002 and a World War or atomic holocaust in 2006. His writings indicate that President George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat are central figures in these final cataclysmic events.
Mr. Drosnin has met with several world leaders to warn them of what he believes the Bible encodes and predicts. And he has written President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warning them of either of two of the great events he fears will happen in the next three years - World War III and an economic depression.
Mr. Drosnin, interestingly, states that he does not believe in religion or God. But why is he so convinved and passionate about what he understands to be the Bible's encoded ability to predict events? Largely because of the power of mathematics. Mr. Drosnin believes that the mathematical odds indicate that the events that he believes the "Bible code" has predicted in advance and that he has seen come to past, overwhelmingly indicate that the encoded predictions are not by chance or mere coincidence. Mr. Drosnin ultimately rests his case on the mathematical significance and probabilities involved in his study, research and witness. He is convinced that no one has overcome the mathematical presentations in favor of the Bible code. Here are excerpts from his first book that explain more of the "Bible code" and the mathematical arguments that surround it that Michael Drosnin finds so persuasive:
On September 1, 1994, I flew to Israel and met in Jerusalem with a close friend of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the poet Chaim Guri. I gave him a letter which he immediately gave to the Prime Minister.
"An Israeli mathematician has discovered a hidden code in the Bible that appears to reveal the details of events that took place thousands of years after the bible was written," my letter to Rabin started.
"The reason I'm telling you about this is that the only time your full name - Yitzhak Rabin - is encoded in the Bible, the words 'assassin that will assassinate' cross your name.
"That should not be ignored, because the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and both John and Robert Kennedy are also encoded in the Bible - in the case of Sadat with the first and last names of his killer; and the date of the murder; and the place, and how it is done.
"I think you are in real danger; but that the danger can be averted."
On November 4, 1995, came the awful confirmation, a shot in the back from a man who believed he was on a mission from God, the murder that was encoded in the Bible three thousand years ago.
The assassination of Rabin is dramatic confirmation of the reality of the Bible code, the hidden text in the Old Testament that reveals the future.
The code was discovered by Dr. Eliyahu Rips, one of the world's leading experts in group theory, a field of mathematics that underlies quantum physics. It has been confirmed by famous mathematicians at Harvard, Yale, and Hebrew University. It has been replicated by a senior code-breaker at the U.S. Department of Defense. It has passed three levels of a secular peer review at a leading U.S. math journal.
...It doesn't make ordinary sense in our secular world, and since I am not religious, I would normally be the first to dismiss it as millennium fever.
But I have known about this for five years. I have spent many weeks with the Israeli mathematician, Dr. Rips. I learned Hebrew, and checked the code on my own computer every day. I talked to the man at the Defense Department, who independently confirmed that the Bible code does exist. And I went to Harvard and Yale and Hebrew University to meet with three of the world's most famous mathematicians. They all confirmed that there is a code in the Bible that reveals the future.
I did not fully believe it until Rabin was killed.
...The Bible code was discovered in the original Hebrew version of the Old Testament, the Bible as it was first written. That book, now translated into every language, is the foundation of all Western religion.
The Bible code is ecumenical, the information is for everyone. But the code only exists in Hebrew, because that is the original language of the Bible.
Rips told me that the first hint of the encoding had been found more than 50 years ago by a rabbi in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The rabbi, H.M.D. Weissmandel, noticed that if he skipped fifty letters, and then another fifty, the word "Torah" was spelled out at the beginning of the Book Of Genesis. And that the same skip sequence again spelled out the word "Torah" in the Book of Exodus. And in the Book of Numbers. And in the Book of Deuteronomy.
"I heard about it totally by chance, talking to a rabbi in Jerusalem," said Rips. "I tried to find the original book, and finally found the only copy that apparently exists, at the National Library in Israel. There were only a few pages about the code, but it seemed interesting."
That was twelve years ago. "At first I tried just counting letters like Weissmandel," said Rips. "You know, Issac Newton also tried to find the code in the Bible, and he considered it more important than his Theory of the Universe."
The first modern scientist, the man who figured out the mechanics of our solar system and discovered the force of gravity, Sir Issac Newton, was certain that there was a hidden code in the Bible that would reveal the future. He learned Hebrew, and spent half his life trying to find it.
In fact, it was for Newton, according to his biographer John Maynard Keynes, an obsession. When Keynes became provost at Cambridge University, he discovered there the papers that Newton had packed up in 1696 when he retired as provost. Keynes was shocked.
Most of the million words in Newton's own handwriting were not about mathematics or astronomy, but esoteric theology. They revealed that the great physicist believed there was hidden in the Bible a prophecy of human history.
Newton, said Keynes, was certain the Bible, indeed the whole universe, was a "cryptogram set by the Almighty," and wanted to "read the riddle of the Godhead, the riddle of past and future events divinely fore-ordained."
Newton was still searching for the Bible code when he died. But his lifetime quest failed no matter what mathematical model he applied.
Rips succeeded. The discovery that had eluded Sir Issac Newton was made by Eliyahu Rips because he had the one essential tool that Newton lacked - a computer. The hidden text of the Bible was encoded with a kind of time-lock. It could not be opened until the computer had been invented.
"When I applied a computer, I made the breakthrough," Rips explained. "I found words encoded far more than statistics allowed for by random chance, and I knew I was on to something of real importance."
"It was the happiest time in my life," said Rips, who came to Israel from Russia more than twenty years ago, and still speaks with an accent that is both Hebrew and Russian.
Although he is religious, and in the top right corner of every page of his calculations writes two Hebrew letters thanking God, for him, like for Newton, the math is also sacred.
Rips told me he had developed a sophisticated mathematical model that, when implemented by a computer program, confirmed that the Old Testament is in fact encoded.
He was stalled however in making the final breakthrough, a way to prove the reality in a simple and elegant way. Then he met another Israeli, Doron Witztum.
Witztum is a physicist but not connected to any university and, compared to Rips, is unknown in the world of science. But it was Witztum who completed the mathematical model, and Rips considers him "a genius like Rutherford."
He handed me a copy of their original experiment, "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book Of Genesis." The abstract on the cover page read, "Randomization analysis indicates that hidden information is woven into the text of Genesis in the form of equidistant letter sequences. The effect is significant at the level of 99.998%."
I read through the paper as we sat in his living room. What Rips and his colleagues had done was to search the names of thirty-two great sages, wise men from biblical to modern times, to determine whether their names and the dates of their birth and death, were encoded in the first book of the Bible. They looked for the same names and the same dates in the Hebrew translation of War and Peace and in two original Hebrew texts. In the Bible the names and the dates were encoded together. In War and Peace and the other two books, they were not.
And the odds of finding the encoded information by random chance were ultimately found to be 1 in 10 million.
In his final experiment, Rips took the thirty-two names and sixty-four dates and jumbled them in 10 million different combinations, so that 9,999,999 were a mismatch, and only one was a correct pairing. He then did a computer run to see which of the ten million examples got a better result - and only the correct names and dates came together in the Bible.
"None of the random pairings matched," said Rips. "The results were 0 vs. 9,999,999, or one in 10 million."
A senior code-breaker at the top secret National Security Agency, the clandestine U.S. government listening post near Washington, heard about the startling discovery in Isarael, and decided to investigate.
Harold Gans had spent his life making and breaking codes for American intelligence. He was trained as a statistician. He spoke Hebrew. And he was sure that the Bible code was "off-the-wall, ridiculous."
Gans was certain he could prove that the code did not exist. He wrote his own computer program, and he looked for the same information the Israelis had found. He was surprised. It was there. The dates that the sages were born and died were encoded with their names.
Gans could not believe it. He decided to look for entirely new information in the Bible code, and thereby expose the flaw in Rips' experiment, possibly even reveal a hoax.
"If this was real," said Gans, "then I figured that the cities where these men were born and died ought to be encoded as well."
In his 440-hour experiment Gans checked not only the names of the thirty-two sages Rips finally used, but also thirty-four others from an earlier list, checking all sixty-six against the names of the cities, and the results made him a believer.
"It sent a chill up my spine," recalled Gans. The cities also matched the names of the sages in the Bible code.
The Pentagon code-breaker, using his own computer program, had independently replicated the Israelis' results. Men who lived hundreds and thousands of years after the Bible was written were encoded in detail. Rips had found dates. Gans had found the cities. The Bible code was real.
"We conclude that these results provide corroboration of the results reported by Witzum, Rips, and Rosenberg," wrote Gans in a final report of his investigation.
"In evaluating the Bible code," he later said, "I was doing the same kind of work I did at the Department of Defense."
"At first, I was 100% skeptical," said the Pentagon code-breaker. "I thought this was all just silly. I set out to disprove the code, and ended up proving it."
The Bible was encoded with information about the past and about the future in a way that was mathematically beyond random choice and found in no other text.
Rips and Witzum submitted their paper to a leading American math journal, Statistical Science. The editor, Robert Kass, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon, was skeptical. But he decided to have it checked out by other experts, the peer review process standard in all serious scientific journals.
To Kass' surprise, the Rips-Witzum paper passed. The first referee said the math was solid. Kass called in a second expert. He, too, said the numbers held up. Kass did something unprecedented - he called in a third expert.
"Our referees were baffled," said Kass. "Their prior beliefs made them think the Book of Genesis could not possibly contain meaningful references to modern-day individuals. Yet, when the authors carried out additional checks, the effect persisted."
Kass sent an E-mail message to the Israelis: "Your paper has passed the third peer review. We will publish it."
Despite the automatic skepticism of secular mathematicians, no one could find fault with the math. No one could raise an unanswered question about the experiment. No one could explain away the startling fact that the Bible was encoded - that it revealed events that took place after the Bible was written.
...The odds against Rabin's full name appearing with the prediction of his assassination were at least 3000 to 1. Mathematicians say a hundred to one is beyond chance. The most rigorous test ever used is 1000 to 1.
In Bible Code II Michael Drosnin writes: "...to this day no one has found any evidence that Rips is wrong. No one has challenged his math, or his computer science, or the outcome of his original experiment, which showed that the names of 32 sages who lived after the Bible was written matched the dates of their births and deaths against odds of 10 million to 1."
Ultimately, what is mathematical truth?
Setting aside the "Bible code" that Mr. Drosnin believes in, can the same type of mathematics be used to show that current events, news reports, and recorded history fulfill and correspond to events predicted, written or described in advance, by the scriptures? Can it specifically be proven that Black people in America, and in particular, certain personages, are fulfilling Biblical prophecy? Can the same be said and shown of the United States of America - that its history fulfills Biblical prophecy in such detail that it could not be mere chance, coincidence or accident?
Thursday, February 13, 2003