"WHAT ABOUT THE SECRET CODE IN THE O.T. TORAH
Is it spiritually safe to believe in "esoteric" codes (as
in Aust. Sunday Mail, 22nd. June '97), uncovered by the modern computer
Rabin's death by gun-shot has been uncovered - what may be ahead in the future?
...WARNING - be very cautious about "new" findings. Hollywood is making a movie of the TORAH CODE...here comes THE BEAST."(Ed Tarkowski made the beast comment via email)
PS...New Agers have been saying all along that they understand the Bible, they have esoteric knowledge. The Christians, they say, have no hidden knowledge, but believe the top-level revelation. This new "Torah Code" development will encourage them in their self-deception, and close their hearts to overtures by the Christians. Revelation is given by the Holy Spirit to God's people by his Word, it is not hidden, but on the surface.
"CRACKING GOD'S CODE
Brisbane's Sunday Mail (June 8, 1997) dedicated three entire pages to explain how "A Mathematician has used a computer to discover a hidden code in the Bible." by eliminating all spaces between words in the Old Testament and introducing a "skip code" it is claimed that "every major event in history" has been predicted. Impressive results are cited.
As Christians our initial reaction to claims of this nature
be one of suspicion. God doesn't need to prove His Word. If people
believe it then no amount of "signs and wonders" are going to change an
"...Warner Brothers has bought the film rights to "The Bible
Here comes the beast after the brainwashing is done....'
NOTE: (information current to 4th. July, 1997)
Those Christian Ministries endorsing the
.......................Barry Smith Ministries...N.Z.
.......................-openly recommending Christians to buy Drosnin's book
Those Christian Ministries giving warning...
....................."The Berean Call", Dave Hunt (USA);
....................."Biblical Fundamentalist", Sidney Hunter (Aust.);
....................."The Endtimes & Victorious Living", Joseph Chambers. USA
....................."Despatch Magazine", Endtime Ministries (Aust.);
....................."Alabama Discernment Ministries", Ed Tarkowski (USA)
.................................."Living Truth Ministries", Texe Marrs; USA
I have seen Michael Drosnin’s book "The Bible Code".
1) There is indeed serious scientific research being conducted with regard to the Bible Codes.
2) While I did meet and talk to Mr. Drosnin, I did not do joint work with him.
3) I do not support Mr. Drosnin's work on the Codes, nor the conclusions he derives.
4) There is an impression that I was involved in finding the code relating to Prime Minister Rabin's assassination. This is not true.
5) However, I did witness, in 1994, Mr. Drosnin find the tableaux about Prime Minister Rabin, which now appears on the cover of his book.
6) For me, it was a catalyst to ask whether we can, from a scientific point of view, attempt to use the Codes to predict future events. After much thought, my categorical answer is no. All attempts to extract messages from Torah codes, or to make predictions based on them, are futile and are of no value. This is not only my own opinion, but the opinion of every scientist who has been involved in serious Codes research.
7) The only conclusion that can be drawn from the scientific research regarding the Torah codes is that they exist and that they are not a mere coincidence
8) Mr. Drosnin's book fails to point out that the leading figure in Codes research is Doron Witztum. Therefore, I think it is appropriate that Mr. Witztum should make a statement about the research and answer any questions.
I have reviewed the book "The Bible Code" by M. Drosnin.
1. The book states that codes were found in the book of Genesis by Doron Witztum and Eliyahu Rips. An experiment was performed using scientific protocols specified by independent reviewers. The results of the experiment provided extremely strong statistical evidence for the existence of the encoding of great Jewish sages' names and dates of birth and death in the Hebrew text of the book of Genesis. This is all true.
2. The book states that I undertook an independent evaluation of the Witztum - Rips experiment. I duplicated their experiment and provided corroboration of their results. This is correct.
3. The book states that I also performed a new experiment, using the same methodology of Witztum and Rips, in which I found that the sages' names were also encoded in Genesis with their respective cities of birth and death. The statistical results obtained were even stronger than that obtained for the first experiment. This is all true.
4. The book also indicates that in spite of concerted efforts by many, no fatal mathematical flaw has been uncovered in the Witztum - Rips experiment. This too, is correct.
5. The book states that the codes in the Torah can be used to predict future events. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no scientific or mathematical basis for such a statement, and the reasoning used to come to such a conclusion in the book is logically flawed. While it is true that some historical events have been shown to be encoded in the Book of Genesis in certain configurations, it is absolutely not true that every similar configuration of "encoded" words necessarily represents a potential historical event. In fact, quite the opposite is true: most such configurations will be quite random and are expected to occur in any text of sufficient length. Mr. Drosnin states that his "prediction" of the assasination of Prime Minister Rabin is "proof" that the "Bible Code" can be used to predict the future. A single success, regardless of how spectacular, or even several such "successful" predictions proves absolutely nothing unless the predictions are made and evaluated under carefully controlled conditions. Any respectable scientist knows that "anecdotal" evidence never proves anything.
6. A plethora of books have appeared over the last several months, concerning the codes. Unless the work is reviewed by qualified scientists or mathematicians, the reader accepts such a book at his own risk.
7. After exhaustive analysis, I have reached the conclusion that the only information that can be derived from the codes discovered in Genesis is that they exist, and the probability that they are mere coincidence is vanishingly small.
A. People often ask why, over the last 12 years, I have spent so much time in the field of hidden codes in the Torah, instead of my original field of interest-modern physics and general relativity. The discovery we have made concerning hidden patterns in the Torah is ultimately much more far-reaching and significant. The repercussions of our discovery touch on the very nature of human existence. It can be looked at as the same feeling Robinson Crusoe had when he first discovered the tracks in the sand, that he wasn't alone on the island.
We have called this press conference as the researchers who did the original research on the topic of hidden codes. We will be focusing on three issues:
1) How, using standard scientific and statistical tools, we found that details of ancient and modern history are encoded in the original Hebrew text of the Torah. 2) To discuss the many books and works that have been published related to this field that have no scientific basis, and are therefore meaningless 3) As the researchers, we will explain why it is impossible to use codes to predict the future.
B. A brief overview of the development of codes research
1. According to mystical sources in Jewish tradition, the Torah can be read and understood on many levels, including the level of a "hidden text." It is composed of words spelled out by skipping equal numbers of letters through the original Hebrew text. We call this phenomenon ELS- Equidistant Letter Sequences. The problem with measuring the significance of what we find is that ELSs will certainly appear in any text, and any word may appear many times at many skip distances.
2. Twelve years ago, I developed a method to see if this hidden text could be scientifically and objectively validated. The idea is as follows: It is a natural property of any text that words that are conceptually related are likely to appear in the same area of the text. Therefore we decided to see if the ELSs of related words also tend to appear in the same area of the text of the Torah. In order for the convergence of two ELSs to be considered successful, we developed two criteria. a) A close proximity of two ELSs b) That the ELSs that appear are ELSs with a relatively short skip distances between the letters, compared to other ELSs of that word.
*For example: hammer and anvil. Figure 1
3. Professor Eliyahu Rips developed the mathematical system for measuring the statistical significance of the results. Yoav Rosenberg took Eliyahu's ideas and developed an appropriate computer program to carry out these experiments.
4. In 1986, an extensive experiment was conducted which checked the overall tendency of convergence of a large list of pairs of words: names of famous personalities and their dates of birth and death. The experiment succeeded. A paper describing the results was sent to a scientific publication, and this became the beginning point of a rigorous six year process of review and analysis until it was finally published. Several referees checked the work and asked for further testing. One of these involved re-running the experiment with a completely fresh set of data, and also checking other control texts. This was done and the research passed all tests with very highly significant results. The article was finally published by Statistical Science in 1994.
5. Harold Gans, formerly a senior cryptologic mathematician at the U.S. Department of Defense, conducted an independent experiment to test the phenomenon that we discovered, using a different set of data. His experiment also succeeded with highly significant results. He sent his paper for publication to a scientific journal. Their response was "This phenomenon has already been scientifically established, so your work is just another example of the phenomenon."
6. We have conducted seven other experiments that are available as pre-prints.
7. At present, I am completing a book that gives a true view of this fantastic phenomenon, and that will describe not only the ten experiments I mentioned, but also many other successfull experiments which reveal a vast spectrum of subjects, ancient and modern.
C. Our comments on the book of Michael Drosnin, and other similar books that have been published 1. On the one hand, we are happy to see publicity for the phenomenon of Torah codes 2. On the other hand, there is a danger that the entire credibility of codes research will be destroyed. Mr. Drosnin's work employs no scientific methodology. No distinction is made between statistically valid codes, and accidental appearances, which can be found in any book. For example, Drosnin's "code" of the comet Shoemaker Levy crashing into Jupiter is statistically meaningless. Such a code can be found by accident in 1 out of any 3 books checked!
2. What is the danger of research done with no scientific parameters? For example, we know that the field of health involves systematic rigorous testing of new medicines. If someone freely distributes a medicine that has undergone no scientific testing, there are two areas of damage: 1) The credibility of useful and helpful medicines will be severely compromised. 2) People may end up using useless medicines in place of helpful ones.
In codes research, we are dealing with a similar situation: 1) The credibility of serious codes research will be compromised by amateurs whose "discoveries" are scientifically meaningless 2) People will exploit the Torah to present all kinds of counterfeit proofs, by finding "hidden messages", that bolster their ideology.
We have a very important and valuable phenomenon that has been discovered. It's a scientific discovery that can really help us get a better understanding of the nature of our existence. Rather than have it watered down with people's personal exploitation or misunderstanding, we should be investing more in serious research and understanding of the phenomenon.
In summary, one who wishes to show legitimate examples of Torah codes should at least follow two basic rules: A. Use mathematical tools that can provide a level of statistical measurement between the minimal occurrences of ELSs. B. Use an objectively chosen list of words to look for:
I will now show an example of what I mean by an objective list. This example has never been shown before publicly:
The process is to take one central word, find its minimal occurrence in the text, and then construct a tableau based on it. In this case, our topic is the death camp Auschwitz. We take an objectively chosen list of related words. In this case, we are looking for the names of the subcamps that comprised the Auschwitz complex. We make a tableau based on the words "of Auschwitz." With our tableau set, the computer will systematically look throughout the text for a minimal occurrence of each of the sub-camps. Any one of these words can appear anywhere in the text of Genesis. We find something very unexpected- that they consistently appear in the area of the words "of Auschwitz."
D. The Future: Mr. Drosnin's book is based on a false claim. It is impossible to use Torah codes to predict the future.
I myself as the original researcher of the phenomenon of Torah codes, investigated thoroughly the question of predicting the future. I reached the conclusion that it is impossible. I saw this through experimentation and also as a simple point of logic. There are several reasons why it's impossible. I will give the most basic reason. In general, we always have difficulty understanding a text where we don't have any syntax or punctuation. In the plain Hebrew text of the Torah, without punctuation, I could easily read the ten commandments as telling me to steal and murder. There's a verse that describes Moses being commanded to bring incense. I could easily read it as a commandment to use drugs. All we have is a few isolated encoded words of a hidden text. Maybe we're missing some very critical words. It's literally impossible to learn a coherent story out of the juxtaposition of a few words that may be somehow related.
Additionally, just like there is a code that Rabin will be assassinated, I also found a code saying that Churchill will be assassinated!
Figure 3 "Churchill will be assassinated"
Even regarding past events, there are ELSs of words that appear near each other that have no relation to each other. It is therefore unwise, and one could say irresponsible, to make "predictions" based on ELSs of words appearing near each other.
In summary, we see that predicting the future is impossible. We see that by publicizing books and works of examples of codes that have no scientific basis, it ruins the integrity of serious research. And finally, we see that the scientific phenomenon of Torah codes is a real one, and is one that deserves serious attention.
I recently read Michael Drosnin's new book, The Bible Code (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997). Being entranced by the concept but simultaneously disappointed at the author's casual style and handy buzzword-mongering, I hunted down and digested all the related resources on the Internet, including the original paper by Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg that forms an appendix to Drosnin's book, a testimonial by an NSA cryptographer, and an analysis by a noted scholar of statistical pattern recognition. (Late news flash: an interesting refutation of the Bible codes phenomenon has recently been posted.)
Here are some of the problems I have with Drosnin's claims:
A friend of mine who is quite fluent in Hebrew was unable to interpret many of the passages in the way that the book indicates without, shall we say, a generous dose of poetic license. It is also disturbing that some of the passages must be read forward, others backward, while one (Drosnin, p. 96) evidently reads boustrophedonically! In fact, some of the passages that Drosnin refers to in his appendix do not match the versions in any of my several Bible translations.
Hebrew is so prone to wordplay that it's utterly ridiculous. Because of the triconsonantal rule, many words are extremely short, so a given snippet of text, with spaces between the words removed, could be interpreted in innumerable ways. Some languages are even more prone to wordplay, others less so. I would be willing to bet that any text in Mandarin Chinese, if dictated, contains a complete recipe for duck à l'orange. That's because Mandarin words are one syllable in length and homophony is rampant. At the other end of the spectrum, I doubt that any technical text in German, regardless of its length, would be found to contain as little as the names of the three sons of Noah.
First we are told that the miraculous findings are limited to the Pentateuch, which was supposedly dictated to Moses on Mount Sinai. Next, the author is hunting for pieces of the Bible code in prophetic and apocalyptic works, e.g., Isaiah and Daniel. This troubles me because it implies that, as early as 500 BC, people could have discovered the Bible code and then said, "Hey, let's put some of this neat stuff into the Prophets and the Writings." We know that Isaiah had at least three authors and Daniel must have had umpteen (indeed, bits and pieces of Daniel are Apocryphal), but even for such collaborative efforts, the implication borders on the ridiculous.
Drosnin makes frequent statements that the computer science (in the Witztum - Rips - Rosenberg report) is solid and the math is flawless, or passed rigorous peer review, or some such thing. Such claims are meaningless, especially when stipulated by a non-scientist who has never written, let alone published, a technical paper. There is no substantive computer science in finding strings of equidistant letters and organizing letters into a matrix based upon the string locations; fewer than one hundred lines of BASIC code, a 1960s technology, could accomplish that. Stating that the math is flawless is misleading; there isn't much math in the original paper, except the calculation of the odds of this or that, based upon an experiment which, according to Haralick's refutation, is rigged. I cite Haralick not because he's skeptical, but because he's a renowned authority on pattern recognition. Calculating the probabilities of finding patterns in a data set is precisely his cup of tea.
Drosnin states that the code cannot be used to tell the future, but that one can readily fit past events to the code, presumably by being a little loosey-goosey with the language. I am reminded of the Centuries of Nostradamus; they are so vague that they fit anything in retrospect. (I wonder if Nostradamus's quatrains derive from reading the Torah backward and looking for patterns!)
Drosnin should be careful to explain that the asterisks and hyphens represent deletions of the letters lamedh and heh, respectively, in the Lord's names so that those who are not Orthodox Jews won't suspect that they're looking at anachronistic punctuation (absent from the Hebrew original and Septuagint) or versification (not added until the sixteenth century).
Now, here are some of my opinions on the "erudite" commentaries found on the Internet:
Harold Gans claims that he verified the mathematics. I do not question innocent assertions that the probability of finding such-and-such in a text is such-and-such. However, these assertions do not equate to the assertion that a supernatural being deliberately encoded information about our future in an ancient text.
Some Web sites claim that the Hebrew name of Jesus (Yeshu) appears frequently in the Bible code, while other Web sites counter that these are pseudo-scientific claims promulgated by "Jesus freaks" who would distort the truth. Admittedly, the word Yeshu includes yod and vav, the two most common letters in Hebrew, so finding that pattern might not be significant. How about looking for something more unique, though, like Yeshu ha-Notzri, or Yeshu ben-Yosef, or Yeshu Meshiach ben-El? Has anyone tried this? In the interests of scientific purity, these strings should also be sought. Try harder, gentlemen. After all, the coming of the Messiah is foretold in the Old Testament. It is stated in Matthew that Jesus came not to abolish, but to fulfill. It is stated in Acts that the kashrut is obsolete. It is stated in Galatians that the entire Mosaic code is obsolete (although Paul's explanation entails a logical error, viz., the assumption that the inverse of a proposition has the same truth value as the original proposition). Are these statements also predicted by the Bible code? Indeed, is the error in Paul's logic predicted by the Bible code? What are we hiding, gentlemen? (In case the reader is wondering, I am Jewish, but I examine all viewpoints in the interest of fairness.)
I am not a skeptic for skepticism's sake. The claims are utterly fantastic, and it would thrill me if they were true. But it's going to take a bit more than a handful of buzzwords, some probabilistic calculations of an extremely narrowly defined experiment, and a lay author's glib statements that the computer science and the mathematics are flawless to convince me.
For those who might be wondering, I am an electrical engineer and computer scientist with a significant background in pattern recognition. I am also a highly competent mathematician, linguist, and Scripturist. The reason that the authors are able to shepherd such fantastic claims past the general public is that the average reader does not combine expertise in all of these fields (nor, in fact, does the average "expert" critic). I, however, do.
I have invited Dr. Eliyahu Rips, via e-mail, to send me a copy of the on-line Hebrew text that he analyzed, and to answer my challenge that (a) the linguistic analysis is very loose, and (b) his choice of what to look for, and what not to look for, in the Bible code is influenced by something more personal and ethnocentric than scientific purism (viz., it avoids any search for Messianic references). I eagerly await his response.
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