Does the bible contain codes that are made up of hidden words and phrases? If these bible codes are present then are they important? Can these bible codes tell us about events before they happen?
Aside from interpreting and understanding the bible, there is also a tradition of looking for hidden messages and "codes" in the text itself. This involves looking at letters and words, and the positioning of them to see messages that aren't apparent to the casual reader.
Examples of this are the Hebrew acrostics in the Old Testament. There are some places in the Old Testament where if you take the first letter of certain words, and put them together, a phrase or pattern is formed. These acrostics can give the reader a deeper insight into the passage.
It's important to realize that as acrostics become less obvious, they also become more speculative. It's certainly possitble to "see" acrostics that aren't there, especially when they're complicated or difficult to find.
The bible codes are similar to these acrostics, and likely grew out of the same tradition. The bible codes can be described as acrostics that are found by doing computerized searches of the text. Often the searches are done to find words related to historical events.
To look for a bible code one takes the bible, or a section of it, and lays it out into a block of letters like a cross-word puzzle. Then one uses a computer to look for words in this block of letters. The search can go in all different directions, and by skipping letters (every 2nd, 3rd, or 4th letter, etc.). Then one looks at the words and phrases that are found, and messages seem to appear.
Here's the problem with the bible codes. When you're using a computer to look at a large block of text by analyzing every 2nd, 3rd, or 4th letter, going in multiple directions, you're generating an enormous amount of words and phrases. This is true in any text, or random letters, not just the bible.
Then one needs to realize that the number of words and phrases that can be connected with a particular event are also enormous, and quite arbitrary. For example, I can easily make up a list of dozens of words related to the sinking of the Titanic.
Then when I plug that list into a computer, and tell it to do an exhuastive search for the words, it should be no surprise that a lot of them are found. Some of them will even be found in close proximity to eachother. This is because there are so many possible combinations in that ocean of letters.
Bible code advocates might take this a step further, and repeat this process for many different historical events, picking the ones that work best within the text of the bible. This explains why many of the purported bible codes can't be found in other texts or in random letters, because they've picked the ones that happen to work well in the bible.
One apparent problem with the bible codes is that they only seem to work looking backwards into the past. This is because unless you know what you're looking for, the number of words and phrases that can be found is too large to make any sense of. You have to tell it specifically what to find or there are too many possibities.
Some of the more serious bible code researchers would dispute that they partake of the obvious fallacies I've described here. However, the idea of finding "related" words and phrases in proximity to eachother is something that should be expected in any large text. We don't have to be experts in statistical analysis to see the flaws in the process.
Bible code proponents will often try to make it seem like something "mystical" is going on, but there isn't. In fact, the bible codes can be a diversion from the awesome revelations and mysteries that come from studying the scriptures with the Holy Spirit.
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