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Theomatics again

Probably not many of you have long enough memories for this, but one of the very first topics I ever did as a guest on the Atheist Experience TV show was about a concept called “Theomatics.” If you’re familiar with the “Bible codes” then you probably have the general gist of what it’s about. You don’t create crossword puzzles to find significant words and phrases. Instead, you have a cypher which assigns each letter to a number, and then you attempt to find significant words or phrases in the Bible that are multiples of some number that you pick.

It’s all very silly, of course, because you can pick any number that you like, and then given a long enough sequence of words, you can find seemingly significant phrases on any subject. If you’d like to verify this for yourself, you can read the short article I wrote at the time, and then find your own gematria-based phrases by running my program.

I still get email about this from time to time. Part of the reason is because I’m linked from the first page of a Google search on Theomatics, and I’m also linked from the Wikipedia page. Here is an email exchange I just had.

Gary writes:


I just reviewed your Theomatics Debunked rebuttal of Theomatics… and immediately,
it became a useless challenge.

I have known of Theomatics for over 20 years… and understand it.
After reading your rebuttal and so called “Debunking” it became
immediately apparent that you completely misunderstand the entire
premise and subject. And so much so, that I can see that your only
goal was to slam Theomatics… whether you proved anything or not.

In totem, your ‘Debunking’ was hillarious… hedging on utter stupidity!

Now, usually I don’t respond to this level of obnoxiousness at all — somebody who walks in assuming that I’m an idiot is unlikely to yield a fruitful discussion. But I was curious about what Gary might bring to the table, so I replied:

Okay, I’ll bite. What was it about my program that failed to capture
the point of Theomatics? Can you be more specific about what makes it so stupid?

Gary replied:



For one (major) of many points:

I am admitedly no expert on the subject, but I’m not brain dead. Your analogies to debunk Theomatics were clearly without merit.
All you did was show that numbers can be found in random text.
a) you completely ignore the fact that in the Bible, specific NUMBERS are established “in the text/writings” that also correlate and become significantly re-established in the numerology of both the Hebrew/Greek alphabet. That these numbers are adequately repeated throughout scripture.
Theomatics reveals that these numbers written in text (IE: seven, two etc) are reinforced by the subjects, themes and within context of “MEANING” whether literal or prophetic, whether poetic or factual, whether spiritual or historic… THESE SAME NUMBERS IN TEXT are directly supported by the construction of the writings… which, across 4000 years span of two languages/cultures (Hebrew/Greek), and authored by 40 authors… the letter symbol construction of these writings in these two languages reinforce the script or TEXT level numbers and meanings. None of which was assembled in random nor is there ANY evidence in collusion between or amidst the authors to establish the onion skin-like layers of numerical significance. To go further, The phenomenon of Theomatics wasn’t even KNOWN until the mid seventies.

In this point alone, you have missed the boat in your lame attempt to make an analogy of Theomatics with your examples. In short, your examples leave out 80% of what is significant about Theomatics.

I replied:

I certainly do appreciate the feedback, but I’m not convinced that
your claim has any bearing whatsoever on my response.

Regardless of how the significant numbers are chosen, the point of the program was to demonstrate that ANY number can yield seemingly significant results from any text. Thus is doesn’t matter whether the text attaches significant meaning to 111 or 52 or 69. By running a large enough text through a computer with some set of rules and any number you please, you can pick out thousands of phrases which translate to multiples of that number. It’s simply a matter of confirmation bias. No collaboration or special planning on the part of the authors is required.

> To go further, The phenomenon of Theomatics wasn’t even KNOWN until the mid
> seventies.

Of course it wasn’t, and that’s part of the point also. Theomatics doesn’t make any predictions and it doesn’t yield any useful new knowledge. At best it can be used as a tool for identifying events in hindsight. You know what you are looking for already, and you find things that appear to confirm the significance of phrases that look
important.

Gary replied (all bold text from the original):



But you DO SO at the complete exclusion of the fact that the numbers
are significant because they are established IN THE TEXT and writings.
They are established both in language/writings and are given specific
relationships to people, times, places and subjects.

Your analogies do NOTHING but prove you can produce detached numbers!
You exclude that the phrases associated with these numbers are related
IN CONTEXT of the commucation of concepts of various central theme.
No. I have reviewed your site all morning… and you simply DO NOT MAKE
A VIABLE CRITIQUE that holds relevence whatsoever to support “debunking.”
All you achieved is to debuke yourself.


Of course it wasn’t, and that’s part of the point also. Theomatics
doesn’t make any predictions and it doesn’t yield any useful new
knowledge. At best it can be used as a tool for identifying events in
hindsight. You know what you are looking for already, and you find
things that appear to confirm the significance of phrases that look
important.

Wrong again. But, you’ve already debunked yourself.
So I will leave you to your own defunct debunkingness.


Then I replied:

But as I’ve already said, it doesn’t actually matter how the numbers are chosen. The number 111 will produce significant hits, and so will all other numbers. You claim that the number 111 is especially interesting because it is established as important by the text — although in reality, 111 is just one of thousands of numbers which could be regarded as significant depending on your interpretation.

But I don’t care how you pick your numbers. The point is that whether a number is “significant” to you or not, it will yield phrases which appear to relate to any topic you choose. It’s just that you care about the resulting phrases when the chosen number is “significant,” and you don’t care when the chosen number is not “significant.” It’s your own filter on the text that makes it meaningful or not, however you read it.

> Wrong again. But, you’ve already debunked yourself.
> So I will leave you to your own defunct debunkingness.

That’s a great word you’ve invented. Although I think I would have picked something like “debunkiferation.”

Gary replied:


You have missed the entire collective point.
I don’t know how to help you see it, but I have friends who are
PHd’s that get it… and several friends who are not even Christians
see the signifiance. If you see a copy of the book I have,
Sanford University’s Statistics division studied Theomatics
for several months and produced a report that said that
the Theomatics feature in the Bible is unique. They could
not produce the same results in other writings, or even
spiitual writings. And they said the chances of it just
happening were like 1 out of several hundred billion.
If I find the online re-print of this I will send it.

I replied:

> I don’t know how to help you see it, but I have friends who are
> PHd’s that get it…

It looks like you can’t. Maybe you should ask them to discuss it with me instead of you.

> If you see a copy of the book I have,
> Sanford University’s Statistics division studied Theomatics
> for several months and produced a report that said that
> the Theomatics feature in the Bible is unique.

Since “Sanford” doesn’t appear to be the name of an actual university, I have to assume that you mean either “Stanford” or “Samford.” Samford is a Bible college in Alabama, so I bet it’s that. Imagine that: a Bible college came to the conclusion that Theomatics is correct. I’m floored by their objectivity.

> They could
> not produce the same results in other writings, or even
> spiitual writings. And they said the chances of it just
> happening were like 1 out of several hundred billion.
> If I find the online re-print of this I will send it.

Well, I produced what appears to be a similar result in just twenty minutes on my computer, so perhaps they weren’t trying all that hard. I expect you’ll continue to repeat that I missed the entire point of Theomatics, as you have in each letter so far. So far I still don’t see the relevance of your argument that some numbers are more important than others. But I suppose that’s just a factor of my dysfuntional debunktionality.

That was the last message in this exchange.

So let’s see: in the final tally I see at least two arguments from (unnamed) authority, and three things I’ll say are confusion of cause and effect (the phrases were found in the Bible after the “discovery” of theomatics, therefore they were put there deliberately by someone who knew theomatics in advance).

Did I miss any others?

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the link to the program. I love this sort of thing–like finding references to the JFK assassination “hidden” in Moby Dick.Naturally they claim that this magical methodology won’t work for anything except the Bible. I put in my favourite number (37) into your program and the last three lines were especially auspicious!

  2. Martin says

    So, just like the lottery is a tax on people who cannot do math, theomatics is religion for the same people?

  3. says

    Oy. This is a HUGE waste of time. Not so much for you, Martin, but for Gary. Gary, read the Word, forget the codes. Engage your mind away from this vacuity and towards topics that matter, like debunking the more central of Martin’s posts. It’s not all that hard and it’s certainly better worth your time.

  4. says

    First: Hey! Martin didn’t post this! I know I only post here about 10-20% as much as Martin, but debunking MY posts, not his! :)Second: I’m sorry to break this to you, Rho, but your opinions on what is vacuous and unimportant aren’t shared by Christians universally. It seems that there are a lot of people out there whose perception of Christianity DOES hinge largely on the truth of theomatics, or bible codes, or other numerological quackery.You may not like it, but I’m betting you’ll have just as much luck encouraging him to renounce his religion (as he sees it) as we would have asking you give up yours. You’re officially in different sects, dude. Wars have been fought for much less.

  5. says

    Oh, my bad, Kazim and Martin. Sorry for the goof. :-)I know that not all my positions are shared by all Christians. Pretty obvious. I was encouraging Gary to change his mind on the issue, much like you are doing in your post. Think about it a little – if I ask someone to change their mind, does that assume that their opinion started off the SAME as mine, or different? Besides, just b/c he likes theomatics or whatever it’s called doesn’t mean we’re in diff sects. Maybe you know sthg I don’t, though.

  6. says

    Firstly, I certainly wrote thinking that it was a personal email, with a personal messege to a person… who, responded to me personally… to which I responded persoally back. To see this posted in public is a betrayal of confindence and intent… even a tresspass of assumed privacy. But… what else could be expected from an “atheist” !!! – Gary

  7. says

    I am sorry to hear that you feel betrayed, but in fact there is no implied promise of privacy in an email conversation. I did not identify you by full name or email.Also, if you’ve read the original theomatics page then you probably saw that I’ve already posted a previous email exchange there. Netiquette generally indicates that anything you email to a stranger is pretty much public domain. ESPECIALLY since you started off with a rather rude ad hominem.Having said that, if you would like me to make any changes to the post short of deleting it entirely, such as changing your name and removing the preceding comment, I will do so.

  8. says

    And after I recently got taken to task (by atheist bloggers) for posting a private correspondence I had sent to an atheist, without referring at all to him or saying who he was or posting anythg he had written! Kazim, you broke blog etiquette. An apology is in order if you did not have Gary’s permission.The good news – Gary is a Christian. Christians are good at forgiving.

  9. says

    I disagree with whoever it was that took you to task, Rho.The good news – Gary is a Christian. Christians are good at forgiving.[snort]

  10. Martin says

    Boy, Russell, you got some live ones here.Sure would love to see the rules of “blog etiquette” that say you can’t reproduce salient portions of a private email, if they make for a worthwhile topic of conversation. And naturally, you didn’t post the idiot’s name or email address itself, as you pointed out.What we see here is very typical. Some Christian wrote you an email in which he did a laughably bad job of telling you your debunking of “theomatics” was wrong. You defended yourself well while making him look stupid. Unable to defend himself further, he tries instead to play the victim card and be a Christian martyr to your horrible violation of “etiquette.” He hopes people will be as angry and indignant as he’s pretending to be, and thus ignore the real topic at hand: to wit, that theomatics is twaddle and he couldn’t dedebunk your debunkiferationality.No one is falling for this childish game, except, predictably, Rhology. Christians are good at childish games.

  11. says

    More thoughts on the netiquette subject:This is one of the reasons why I never write something in private email that I would be ashamed to have everyone in the world hear me say. I personally feel that anything I write is fair game. ESPECIALLY, I would not start private emailing somebody to indicate that I do not like them or think they are “brain dead,” unless I thought I could back it up. You do that and you are just asking to get published.Case in point, there is a chap who has been reading my blog persistently and posting ad hominem attacks on his own website that he thinks are “rebuttals.” Can I stop him from obsessing over my blog? No. Do I care? Not particularly; I just don’t respond to him and don’t grace him with any back links. If I wrote something that I was ashamed of then I might be concerned about him reposting my words. But if I didn’t stand behind what I wrote then I wouldn’t be blogging it, would I?Everything you put on the web or in email is public domain. I think that’s just a fact of 21st century life. If you don’t like to sound ridiculous then don’t send messages that are ridiculous.And as I said, Rhology, I totally support you posting this or anyone else’s emailed conversations on your own blog.

  12. says

    Atheists can’t win for losing, though. When I publish an Eve, I use actual conversations I’ve had; summaries, of course, but as close as I can get and still fit it into 6 panels. And if you google the strip, time and time again, I’m accused, by religious people online, of creating straw men–claiming Xians would never say anything as stupid as I portray.If you post the conversation, you’re called to task. If you don’t, you’re accused of making up the conversation.I think people need to just stop being ashamed of what they say. If it was good enough for me to express out loud, why should I be freaked out to see it quoted somewhere? ESPECIALLY if I write as though I’m presenting really brilliant ideas. If they’re so brilliant, I should be flattered to see them presented for public scrutiny.Perhaps the presentation of theomatics in this article will win some converts. If not, maybe it wasn’t as brilliant as it seemed when it was first being written?I post pretty much the same things publicly as I do privately. And I’m cool with someone critiquing me. If I wasn’t, I’d never survive the online criticisms of Eve.

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