The Bible Code

Over the last few years there has been a great deal of excitement in certain evangelical circles due to claims found in a book by Michael Drosnin. The author claims that there are hidden codes in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and through computer technology, we can find out what the future holds. Many are convinced the Drosnin’s books prove the inspiration of scriptures beyond doubt. Grant Jeffrey, popular prophecy teacher is a strong advocate of the Bible Codes.

First of all, I believe completely in the inspiration and infallibility of scripture. However, I believe Drosnin’s work is fundamentally flawed and will, in the end, do more harm than good. How does Drosnin come up with his codes?

Drosnin’s codes are found by eliminating spaces between words and then conducting a computer search called Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS). Whether you skip three letters or 100 letters is up to the programmers. What they do is to keep trying different ELS values until something shows up. Using every 50th letter in Genesis 1, for example, produces the word Israel.

What Drosnin’s methodology means is that it is infallible as far as producing what the author wants. You determine what you will accept, and you keep trying different ELS values until you get what you want. The computer finds what the programmer tells it to find, and the programmer is the one that determines what is being searched for. In other words, Drosnin asks the computer to look for “Trade Center” or “Israel” or anything else. He sets the parameters, the guidelines, limits and criteria for the search. In essence, he creates what he is looking for! This is less than convincing.

Nonetheless, Drosnin continues to crank out books claiming the Bible Code is real, and that if you crack the code you will find out that the Bible predicts everything from the election to the World Trade Center catastrophe. He has a new book, Bible Code II that is an expansion of the 1997 version and, like the old version, makes a series of claims. I am sure that in the coming months we will be told that the Bible foretold the Indonesian tsunami.

Of course, a “prediction” is easier to make after it has happened. Healthy skepticism has the right to wonder why Drosnin can only find these events after they happen, and not beforehand, perhaps saving thousands of lives. For instance, if the code is real, why didn’t Drosnin warn America about the Trade Center catastrophe before it happened, instead of saying, “Our code found it in the Bible” after thousands had died?

Brendan McKay, an Australian mathematician, challenged Drosnin’s research. Drosnin responded with a challenge to find the same results in any other books. He went so far as to say that if the same results were found in other books, say, like Moby Dick, it would invalidate his claims. McKay therefore examined Moby Dick, using Drosnin’s method and found nine (past) assassinations of famous political figures! Drosnin’s method and challenge has been exposed, as false. The Bible Code books are pure fraud and need to be recognized as such by the Christian community.

The Bible is inspired, God breathed, but the Bible Code books are a manipulative money making scheme without merit.

Reference: Scientific American, June 2003 page 35.