Bible Code TV Debate Saturday June 4th

| 36 Comments

PAX Television has a weekly show called Faith Under Fire, hosted by Lee Strobel, a “former investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune turned apologist” according to a recent article that discusses Strobel’s pro-ID views.

On the episode for Saturday, June 4th, one segment discusses the Bible Code:

“Secret codes. You saw them in National Treasure. You read about them in The Da Vinci Code. Is it possible that there are actually secret codes in the Bible! And if there is some kind of code in the Bible, why is it there? Two mathematicians debate the existence of Bible codes. Insurance actuarial consultant Ed Sherman, author of the Bible Code Bombshell, says he tried to disprove the code notion but ended up being convinced of its authenticity. Physicist Dr. Dave Thomas the author of Skeptical Odysseys and a member of the Committee for Scientific of Claims of the Paranormal, remains unconvinced.…”

If you’re curious as to how a Panda’s Thumb blogger does against Ed Sherman, tune in. If you miss it, the debate between Thomas and Sherman continues on the Web.

36 Comments

Love that title, “Faith Under Fire”. Has a real Fox News ring to it.

Also has that persecution complex and claims of victimhood by the powerful.

possibly mangled syntax -

I mean that the powerful are claiming the mantle of victomhood.

Dror Bar-Natan has a good section on his website about (the sillyness of) bible codes.

http://www.math.toronto.edu/~drorbn/Codes/

Insurance actuarial consultant Ed Sherman, author of the Bible Code Bombshell, says he tried to disprove the code notion but ended up being convinced of its authenticity.

Just like the atheist who set out to “disprove” the bible and ended up falling on his knees and asking forgiveness from Jesus, or the evolutionist who set out to “disprove” Creationism and ended up realizing that it is in fact the only logical explanation. I wonder, would Sherman’s conviction at all stem from the proceeds he knew he would earn from writing book?

One of PT’s founding contributors, Mark Perakh, has published several critiques of the various Bible Code claims, including chapters in his Unintelligent Design and several essays on TalkReason.org.

…or the evolutionist who set out to “disprove” Creationism and ended up realizing that it is in fact the only logical explanation/

That about sums it up for me.

[A Rule 6 violation. That about wraps it up for “Piltdown Syndrome”. Don’t bother coming back, PS.]

does anyone that reads the bible not realize that it was not written in ENGLISH???? How can they make these codes based on letter numbers when the friggin thing was written in NOT ENGLISH!!!!

Re: Comment 33529. I doubt this comment has indeed been posted by Antony Flew. I looks like somebody pretends to be Flew. Regarding the Bible code, as one of comments above pointed out, there is a section titled Autopsy of the Bible code at Talk Reason (http://www.talkreason.org) containing a set of articles showing that the Bible code exists only in the imagination of its proponents. As to Sherman, he is a fanatic promoting the codes but often displaying an abject ignorance of the matter. Dave Thomas, hopefully you’ll make mincemeat of him, although you may have a hard time as the “moderator” will be the notorious manipulator of facts Lee Strobel.

There are a few different Biblical codes. The one being discussed in this thread is only one. Here are some others:

“The Other Bible Code” (math based): http://homepage.virgin.net/vernon.j[…]ns/index.htm

“The King James Code” http://www.psalm118.org/king_james_code.htm

The bible code farce was fairly thoroughly debunked in a couple of statistical investigations - one much more extensive and involving various prominent religious people/scholars in the choosing of test cases. When the bible code idea failed the test utterly, most of the religious people conceded that it didn’t work. However, at least one of the contributors went off in some sort of a strop, objecting to the rules he’d previously agreed to when he thought his side was going to win.

UK TV has covered the story a few times - always ending on the side of the debunkers as far as I’ve seen (although sometimes they do try to present a false equality of the positions). Since I didn’t bother to memorise any of the names, I don’t know where your current batch of fools-under-fire people fit into things.

Re: Comment 33557 by SEF. The alleged “code” in the Bible has indeed been decisively debunked by experts in math. statistics (see the articles at Talk Reason) but unfortunately the videos shown on various channels (including PAX) were mostly heavily biased toward the “codes”. There were at least five such videos and only one of them (by BBC) was more or less impartial. It is easy to explain - if there are no codes, this is not news. If there are codes, it is sensational, and viewers’s interest is assured, and damned be the truth. Re: comment 33556. The “other” codes have indeed been suggested more than once, but the “codes” promoted by Sherman (which originated in a paper by Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg and have been propagandized in a number of books, such as the best sellers by Drosnin) are by far the most popular - there are numerous websites propagating this drivel while the “other” codes enjoy only a limited popularity (all being fantasies).

I don’t get the fascination with Bible Codes. If you start with a presupposition for a literal interpretation, the Bible Code movement is anathema. This goes well beyond the wildest dreams of the most extreme mythologizer.

As for Strobel’s recent comments concerning ID, Strobel is emblematic of a lay person who is led astray by overly-hyped bad science. Strobel’s job is that of an apologist, or to use a modern analogy of a defense attorney. The job of the defense attorney is to find good arguments and avoid bad ones. The reason why there is a bifurcation between scientists (even Evangelical ones) and the garden-variety Evangelical is because the latter truly believes the argument against Evolution is a slam dunk.

I will now proceed to take the defense attorney’s mantle for my client, Evangelicalism. Don’t do your own defense. You think you have a great argument but it is extremely weak and I will get killed on cross-examination. I am concerned about our reputation in general and Lee Strobel’s in particular. We will have to wait and see if I need to add so-called Bible Codes to the list of worries here. For more details on my counsel to other Evangelicals see my blog entry here where I smack my client upside the head.

Strobel makes much of the fact that he came from atheism to an acceptance of YE creationism through a protracted “intellectual” exercise. The story goes that his wife was going to church and kept nagging him to go, and he kept refusing, and it was causing problems in his marriage. He decided, he says, to examine the claims of Christianity through his legal training, and came to the conclusion that there was abundant evidence for them. What he actually found, of course, was a huge unrestricted playground for his hyperactive ego, and lots of gullible people he could impress with his “evidence” and lots of money to be made doing it. It’s instructive to note that Strobel makes a big deal out of the alleged weight of eyewitness testimony vis a vis the story of the resurrection, while it’s widely known by lawyers that eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable type of evidence, but the type most likely to sway a gullible jury.

Being partial to whales since my Navy days, I prefer the Moby Dick Code.

RBH

I’m not as surprised about the Bible Codes as I am to learn that PAX is still on.

Jim: Wouldn’t 1 gospel only get to count as 1 eyewitness. Not every eyewitness that the gospel claims existed? That’s what I would think. And since most gospels are just copies of each other, we got what, a couple of “witnesses”?

RBH wrote

Being partial to whales since my Navy days, I prefer the Moby Dick Code. RBH

I had a lot of fun with the Drosnin Code too.

Dave Thomas

PS PAX could be channels 255 or 181 on dish.

Re “And since most gospels are just copies of each other,”

Copies of each other? I thought the 4 of them contradicted each other in too many ways for that to be the case.

Henry

I just ran Strobel’s software on “Origin of Species” and got the following 7th order correlations, after correcting for the framastat factor:

“Dumbski BSBSBSBSBSBSBSBS”

What does is mean?

That show was funny, the skeptics got pwned. Bible code researchers have de-bunked every skeptic claim. You all would know that, if you would bother to look through the Bible code websites.

Oh, wait. You can’t…you don’t want to end up converted like Flew or Strobel. You might turn into Ned Flanders or something. Better stay away from Bible stuff. Just hang around here comforting each other with rhetoric and media spin.

Like one of my fishing stories, the N.T. account of the career of Jesus got more and more elaborate as it was retold. It’s a pattern repeated by each and every religion and many a nation, for that matter. A sacred history is crafted from odds and ends of cultural flotsam supplemented by sheer fabrication. Was there really a Jesus who got crucified? Maybe. And maybe there was a man named Romulus, but the Gospels are no more credible than the account of early Roman history you can read in Livy. It’s a pretty good bet that Romulus wasn’t suckled by a wolf, and its a lead pipe cinch that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Miracle stories are cheap, and each and every one is bogus.

Mateo Wrote:

And since most gospels are just copies of each other, we got what, a couple of “witnesses”?

I’ve been reading “The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins” by Burton L. Mack. “Q” is the source document used to varying extents by Mark, Matthew, and Luke. According to Mack, it is unlikely that any of the gospels are due to witnesses of the life of Jesus. The attributions to apostles and friends of apostles is seen as setting the authority after the fact. Three stages of elaboration have been identified in Q, starting as a collection of the sayings of Jesus, with later additions concerning the conduct of a society based on those teachings and judgments against those in opposition to such societies. Mack’s argument is that Q cannot be set aside by Christian scholars as outside the Christian tradition, as the “Gospel of Thomas” has been. Q is within the orthodox Christian tradition already, since it is extracted from the synoptic gospels of the bible. But Q doesn’t incorporate things like many of the miracle stories and the resurrection. This, Mack says, is definitely at odds with the idea that the biographical events of the synoptic gospels hold true. It shows a culture of “Jesus people” who pre-existed the synoptic gospels and who had no sense of Jesus as the son of god who was resurrected from the dead. If those events happened, Mack argues, then even the earliest documents and societies should reflect that knowledge. It’s certainly a challenging thesis for a Christian to consider.

Jeff,

“does anyone that reads the bible not realize that it was not written in ENGLISH???? How can they make these codes based on letter numbers when the friggin thing was written in NOT ENGLISH!!!!”

Don’t you realize that that’s part of why this thing is so earth-shakingly amazing? Why, it’s, it’s, simply friggin’ amazing is what it is - miraculous, even! Geez, think about it. I mean, it’s definitely proof positive of something - if only man’s amazing ability to deceive himself.

Oh get over it!

If the King James Bible was good enough for the apostle Paul, it is good enough for me!

Re: comment 333699 by “limbo.” The commenter hiding behind the moniker “limbo” thinks the the “code researchers” have debunked every critique by skeptics. What nonsense. The so-called “code researchers” (like Sherman) and their sympathizers are immune to any reasonable arguments. Even the originators of the “Bible code” Rips and Witztum reject the stuff propagated by Sherman and other of his ilk because of its meaninglessness. Sherman is ignorant of Hebrew and his alleged discoveries of “lengthy codes” all without exception are fantasy - these chains of letters have no meaning in Hebrew. Mr. “limbo” is entitled to believe any drivel of his choice but to convince unbiased observers is a different story. The Bible code is one of the most imbecilic varieties of nonsense ever produced by hopeless fanatics and swallowed by gullible public. The PAX show of yesterday was poorly organized even by the PAX standards. It consisted of several parts of which only one, the total of perhaps 10 minutes, was about the codes. It was impossible for Dave Thomas to present his case in a reasonably rounded manner in a few minutes he was allocated. This is one of the reasons such debates are of no use and better be avoided. The same can be said about the other part of the show wherein Mike Shermer debated some rather dubious “expert” on the Gospels. Strobel let that “expert” speak as much as he wanted, while Mike was given much less time for his part. Mike Shermer is apparently fond of participating in many such debates but IMO they are largely useless and hardly ever force anybody to change views.

Rich said:

I don’t get the fascination with Bible Codes. If you start with a presupposition for a literal interpretation, the Bible Code movement is anathema. This goes well beyond the wildest dreams of the most extreme mythologizer.

I think what the common thing that makes people that believe in the literal truth of the Bible and that also makes a fair number of those people believe that it is some kind of cryptographical code is the mind-set that what is most fantastic must be true; many (I would say most) humans have this tendency to some respects, usually just in different areas: It’s the same thing that makes people watch shows about talking with the dead, the same thing that makes people believe in complex conspiracies, the same thing that makes people believe in UFO abductions, ghosts, etc. They believe it because it is interesting; they want it to be true. I’ve also heard a hypothesis that they have a need to feel like they personally are priveledged to some fantastic truth that other people are not, and that seems like a pretty good hypothesis to me.

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Jeff,

“does anyone that reads the bible not realize that it was not written in ENGLISH???? How can they make these codes based on letter numbers when the friggin thing was written in NOT ENGLISH!!!!”

Don’t you realize that that’s part of why this thing is so earth-shakingly amazing? Why, it’s, it’s, simply friggin’ amazing is what it is - miraculous, even! Geez, think about it. I mean, it’s definitely proof positive of something - if only man’s amazing ability to deceive himself.

Well thats the fun thing. You see the codes can be found in Hebrew…

Different ones of course..

Yeah, I think Strobel’s whole life story is that he was a “skeptic,” tried to disprove the Bible, and ended up believing it from front to back. There seems to be a pattern of the apologism here…

Whoop-de-doo. The Bible coders have predicted the past. Sounds more like the “research”, and I use the term lightly, of Behe, Dembski (oh, sorry, Dembski hasn’t done ANY research) and Wells.

What I’d like to see is something specific and useful from the coders. I’d be quite happy with something like this:

“Google will peak at $380/share.”

or

“Behe’s Smarter Brother will win the National Donkey Race in 2006 by two lengths.”

p.s. I’d take the Google tip in Hebrew, Latin, Greek or any other language!

H. Humbert Wrote:

Just like the atheist who set out to “disprove” the bible and ended up falling on his knees and asking forgiveness from Jesus, or the evolutionist who set out to “disprove” Creationism and ended up realizing that it is in fact the only logical explanation. I wonder, would Sherman’s conviction at all stem from the proceeds he knew he would earn from writing book?

Disproving the [literal] bible is easy, and it has been done. Disproving creationism [when it makes a testable hypothesis] has proven to be even easier.

Rich,

Strobel’s popularity puzzles me. Have you ever read _The Case For Christ_? In it, Strobel endorses more crackpot ideas than you could possibly imagine, including the “microletters” theory of one Dr. Jerry Vardaman. So long as the “evidence” supports his preconceived conclusions, Strobel doesn’t really care if it’s the truth or not.

Rich,

Strobel’s popularity puzzles me. Have you ever read _The Case For Christ_? In it, Strobel endorses more crackpot ideas than you could possibly imagine, including the “microletters” theory of one Dr. Jerry Vardaman. So long as the “evidence” supports his preconceived conclusions, Strobel doesn’t really care if it’s the truth or not.

There’s a transcript of the BBC programme on the Bible codes here.

Hold everything. After seeing this site, I’ve changed my mind. The Codes are Real! ;-)

Dave

From that wonderful site:

I’ve had great results in sharing these amazing code discoveries with unsaved people from various walks of life–from successful businessmen, to rough-looking guys headed into bars, to rebellious teenagers.

But, wait a minute… isn’t Leviticus quite clear on this? He is shirking in his duty to God. He should have stoned the rebellious teenager to death. (I guess maybe the rebellious teenager was stoned already)

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on June 3, 2005 7:43 PM.

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