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A beastly number

A high school cross country runner Codie Thacker refused to take part in a regional championship and forfeited her chances at winning because the number that had been randomly assigned to her was the dreaded 666, known to Christian cognoscenti as the Number of the Beast, where the Beast is Satan, aka Beelzebub, aka Lucifer, aka a whole lot of other names.

“I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God and try to take that number,” Thacker told LEX18. “I told them to mark out my name because it makes me sick just thinking that my name is associated with that number.”

I don’t understand these people. What kind of relationship is she in with her god that he wouldn’t understand that she did not choose the number? Isn’t her god omniscient?

I wonder what would happen if they assigned a number for their god. Would everyone want that number? And what number would be suitable? As far as I know, the Book of Revelation from where this number is supposedly drawn (13:18) is silent on a number for god. One possibility to evoke the opposite of 666 is 999. Or maybe -666 or 1/666 (=0.0015).

But there are a lot of other things that one can infer from this number.

Comments

  1. raven says

    This has been running around the internet today at warp speed. Oddly enough, the race officials refused to issue her another number which is why she didn’t run. This IMO is the real issue.

    1. As a Militant Pagan Atheist, I would have just given her another number. Sure she is a superstitious death cult xian. So what? It’s a cross country race, not a test of coherent thinking. And it’s a free country.

    2. I believe the law is on her side. You are supposed to make “reasonable accomadations” to people’s religious beliefs at public events or some such. Religious beliefs don’t make sense, which is what “religious” means.

    3. This is the big issue IMO. We shouldn’t make children part of the battleground for religious and cultural wars. This was a kid who just wanted to run a race, not a heavily armed culture warrior or a drooling fundie with a brain the size of a walnut.

    4. There are some miscellaneous issues here. As others have pointed out, why didn’t she just turn the number 666 upside down? Then it reads….999. Or just “lose it” 50 yards down the track. “It fell off.” After I ripped it off. Or just toss it and run anyway.

  2. llamaherder says

    As silly as it is to refuse to race over this, they really should have just given her a different number.

  3. hyphenman says

    Good afternoon Mano,

    I always take a perverse delight in telling people that the telephone exchange in the hometown of Jeffrey Dahmer (and cartoonist John, Derf, Backderf) is 666.

    Do all you can to make today a good day.

    Jeff

  4. invivoMark says

    I have also heard (although, as you know, rumors travel faster than truth) that the officials were not told why she wanted a number change.

    I am of mixed feelings on this. I agree that it would have been a minimal concession to give her a different number. But I also feel that it is the stupidest reason I have ever heard for not running in a race, and this kind of silly superstition boils my blood.

    If I were one of the race officials, I do not feel that I would be mentally competent to acquiesce to this girl’s request.

  5. says

    I can’t speak to this race specifically, but when I was running xc decades ago in high school, large championship meets would assign blocks of numbers to each team (varsity being 7 members with top 5 scoring). So team X might wind up with bibs 601 through 667. In this instance I can fully understand the refusal of officials to give the runner an alternate number.

    And I will add that many athletes are very superstitious when it comes to competitions like these. If officials accommodated her they would wind up with a gaggle of runners each requesting specific bib numbers. It would be a nightmare to score one of these races.

    You get assigned a number. If you don’t like it and feel that it’s somehow offensive or against your beliefs, then consider the consequences to be a personal sacrifice paid to your deity and STFU.

  6. trucreep says

    Haha I can’t tell if this is serious or just trollin’, but #2 especially is just silly. There is absolutely no reason their numbering system needed to be interrupted or changed for a “religious exemption,” no matter how easy it may have been to do so. If you want to argue over the ease of doing it, I’d say it’s easier for her to just accept that it’s a number and nothing more.

  7. raven says

    I have also heard (although, as you know, rumors travel faster than truth) that the officials were not told why she wanted a number change.

    I find that very hard to believe although I’ve heard the same rumor.

    This is Kentucky we are talking about, part of the god soaked fundie heartland. It would be surprising if some of the race officials weren’t fundie xians themselves.

    I suspect these race officials are spinning as fast as they can and hoping they aren’t attacked by a mob of fundies. If I got the law right, they may also soon be having legal problems or end up looking for new jobs.

  8. Steve C says

    I always thought the number associated with the Christian god was 3–probably something to do with the Trinity. The number 666 is “satanic” because it’s the number of man, which is apparently 6, three times, supposedly symbolizing man pretending to be god. That’s why is it’s the number of the Antichrist. I don’t know the source of this numerology, if it’s explicitly laid out in the Bible for example, but it’s what the fundies where I grew up (small town prairies) believed.

  9. M can help you with that. says

    Alternately, in the popular numerology of the day two different spellings of Nero’s name came out to 616 and 666…and both variations were used in different versions of the text in question. The “deeper meanings” are after-the-fact speculation based on the assumption that there must be some deep transcendent message in the number.

  10. Randomfactor says

    Surely the godnumber would be “Three OVER 666,” or 1/222, 0.000450450450… So obviously 450 must ALSO have some significance…and there’s exactly one mention of “450” in the Bible, in Acts 13 talking about how long the Egypt and Exodus periods took. So obviously it refers to how long you have to wait for the Promised Land. And on and on and on down the rabbit hole.

    (Asimov did a “let’s find the magic numbers” essay like 50 years ago relating the number of full moons in a year or some such to Bible verses.)

  11. Anthony K says

    I’m with raven on this one.

    If it reasonably possible to assign her another number, I would have done so, just as I would have done so for someone who asked for #666, or someone asked for 2011 because it’s their ‘favourite’ number or the date the relative who they’re honouring by running this race. I’d try my best to accommodate any participant whose superstition or ritual didn’t disrupt other participants, and if it couldn’t be done, then that participant certainly has the option not to participate.

    Now, I don’t have any experience with running meets like this, but I did coordinate participants in walkathons when I worked in fundraising. I know it wouldn’t have been much of a disruption of my system to accommodative this kind of request, but our events only tracked participants for the purpose of fundraising. Nobody was timing them or anything. So maybe it’s not a thing that could reasonably be done.

    But I wouldn’t have denied them for the sake of denying them because I think the foundation of their superstition is that much more foolish than a playoff beard.

  12. Anthony K says

    I can’t speak to this race specifically, but when I was running xc decades ago in high school, large championship meets would assign blocks of numbers to each team (varsity being 7 members with top 5 scoring). So team X might wind up with bibs 601 through 667. In this instance I can fully understand the refusal of officials to give the runner an alternate number.

    Ah, so it would have been a logistical headache to change it. Thanks. Posted while I was writing 1.3, so that answers my second paragraph there.

  13. Owlmirror says

    For some reason, I faintly remembered reading that the number of Jesus and/or God was 777 for [handwave] reasons.

    The Wikipedia page for 777 says this as well, but gives no scholarly reference (i.e., the claim has been appended with [full citation needed]). And I see now that it has very unfortunate connotations due to the Afrikaner fascist/racist co-option of that number.

    I note that her coach’s name is “Croley”, almost certainly a variant of “Crowley”, which has its own beastly connotations.

    If the number was assigned due to her being part of a team, couldn’t she have swapped numbers with a less supersitious team member?

    I also wonder if perhaps the reason that the race officials were disinclined to give her a different number — despite almost certainly being co-religionists — was because they did, indeed think of it as being superstitious to be bothered by a number.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Seems a bit mean of the race organisers to not change her number. Sure its silly and superstitious of the runner but there are a lot of people who find 666 and other numbers for instance 13 for Westerners and 4 for Japanese (its a homonynm for death or so I gather) unsettling and I spose you could argue that its pyschologically disadvantaging them in the race and thus unfair.

    Maybe certain commonly considered unfortunate or unlucky numbers could be excluded or assigned only to those who want them in such events? I’m sure there are plenty of atheists who would love to be assigned 66 instead of the individual who refused it -perhaps they could have swapped or even used that to raise funds?

  15. Acolyte of Sagan says

    If memory serves, in an old episode of QI, Steven Fry said that both numbers are given in the same version of the Bible, with 616 coming first, leading Phil Jupitus to suggest that 666 was the fax-number of the Beast.

  16. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. I wonder how we’d be reacting here if this were a case of a devout anti-racist who’d been randomly assigned the number ’88’ associated apparently with neo-nazis who was refusing to run because of that?

    Or, ditto, a Muslim who got assigned ‘911’ maybe by pure chance for a couple of races in a row and felt it was unfair being associated with day?

    Numbers can be symbolic and people can object to some numbers on a personal symbolic basis and numbers having personal significance and meaning for them. Just look at what associations the number “Red Five” has with Nigel Mansell in F1 or 27 has for former Aussie MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and I’m sure plenty of people can name examples from various sports where numbers come to mean quite a bit. I don’t think making fun of people over that is a very reasonable or kind thing to do.

  17. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I don’t understand these people.

    They are superstitious and there’s a lot of them, many people as noted have associations with particular numbers that they find meaningful or lucky / unlucky for a whole range of reasons that range from common cultural tropes such as 13 being unlucky to many people or 88 extremely lucky in Chinese culture :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88_(number)#Cultural_significance

    (88 also means “hugs and kisses’ when signing a message in ham radio plus has the nasty associations already noted with neo-nazi groups – yeah, I’ve just wiki-ed it. )

    Now we may think of the line in ‘Apollo13′ where Jim Lovell says to Marian, his wife , “it comes after 12″ during their discussion of the significance of that superstitious number but, we’re probably in the minority or at least not a majority by much.

    What kind of relationship is she in with her god that he wouldn’t understand that she did not choose the number? Isn’t her god omniscient?

    Well her god is non-existent but her idea of it and what it wants is hard to grok for us. I gather her religion thinks everything is pre-determined so maybe its was her god telling her not to race or testing her faith or maybe its was teh Debbil wot dunnit or, well, who knows?

    Thing is that’s her business and her priority and as long as she wasn’t harming others or trying to impose her views on anyone else when unwanted then, meh, her choice. Doesn’t pick my pocket nor break my bones nor do that to anyone else so, meh. I don’t agree with her choice but I do think she has the right to make it and have her views respected when this isn’t causing harm or risk to others.

    If she was saying no one *else* in the race could run with the number 666 it would be a totally different story but she was only saying *she* personally didn’t wish to run as that which is fine by me.

    I wonder what would happen if they assigned a number for their god. Would everyone want that number?

    Maybe.

    Or maybe that number would become tabu like how some of them refuse to allow their gods name to be spoken or spelt and consider it blasphemy for any mortal human to use. (Shrug)

  18. hyphenman says

    Good morning all,

    Here in Ohio, and possibly other states, we have a similar problem with vehicle license plates.

    The current configuration in Ohio is three letters, a space, four numbers (AAA 0000).

    One of the letter combinations that was circulated was the infamous “Anal” series (ANL 0000).

    At least one woman raised a stink when she asked for a different series (as was her right under regulations at the time) and she was refused because the bureaucrat behind the counter wasn’t aware that the woman had a choice.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  19. Doug Little says

    I thought that the jury was still out on 666 with 616 being another possibility. It seems to depend on which manuscript you refer to.

  20. left0ver1under says

    It appears christian idolatry isn’t just limited to objects (re: Roy Moore’s stones). They have a fixation for numbers too, and expecting everyone else to obey them on those.

    Having a tantrum over a number is ridiculous. Wearing it on a pennant wouldn’t make her a “satanist”. It’s her belief that “satan” exists which makes her one.

  21. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    QI is totally brilliant, but unfortunately we don’t get it in North America. However, last time I looked, many many episodes had been posted on youtube. There’s plenty there for you to enjoy. Youtube user Balmafula Lanando has just about the biggest collection. Watch and enjoy!

  22. Mary Jo says

    Thank you Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach and Aliasalpha. I looked at some episodes of QI on youtube, brilliant indeed.

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