Watch This Space

Offered for my readers’ amusement, I recently came across the following humbly named site: The True Bible Code. As with all devotees of the Bible code, this site works by randomly stringing together letters from randomly chosen chapters of the Bible until they manage to come up with one pattern that spells something and that seems applicable to future events.

Their latest startling prediction runs as follows:

The UN in Midtown Manhattan will be hit by a sea borne nuclear bomb sometime in the Biblical month of Tammuz, i.e. before Sundown July 28th, 2006. We expect this to happen on 2006Tammuz28/29 i.e. between Sundown Tuesday July 25th and Sundown Thursday July 27th, 2006.

I say “latest” for a good reason: namely, because the authors of this site have already erroneously predicted the nuclear annihilation of the United Nations four different times during this year alone. Needless to say, none of those predictions came to pass. However, unusually for devotees of this type, the authors of this site forthrightly admit their previous errors rather than taking the usual approach of failed prognosticators everywhere, which is to attempt to erase their mistakes from history and deny that they were ever made. In my book, this gets them high marks for honesty. Now the only step remaining is for them to acknowledge that the Bible code is a bunch of pseudoscientific nonsense and an utter failure when it comes to predicting any future event. Perhaps they will recognize this when their newest prophecy of doom fails to come to pass, although I cannot say I am optimistic. After all, the Bible clearly predicted the apocalypse in the first century CE, and believers have been busily making excuses for it ever since, without betraying the slightest apparent awareness of their scripture’s abject failure.

Then again, perhaps I speak too soon. By this time, two of the days in their self-granted three-day window have elapsed, and the United Nations remains conspicuously undestroyed. There are still twenty-four hours left, give or take. Will the Bible code finally, shockingly, be vindicated in a most dramatic fashion? Or will the skeptics be proven correct yet again when we say that no one can divine the future? This post will be updated with the answer at midnight on July 27, Eastern Standard Time. Watch this space!

UPDATE: July 27 has come and gone, and the United Nations remains steadfastly undestroyed, by atomic bombs or otherwise. Was there ever any doubt?

* * *

On another note, I recently came across an irritating review, in the New York Times, of several recent books discussing the connection (or lack thereof) between evolutionary biology and Christian faith. The author, Cornelia Dean, condescends to inform us that the writings of atheist scientists and philosophers such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are “unsatisfying”, and that by arguing for atheism, they are driving people away from science and towards creationism.

P.Z. Myers has already torn this nonsense to shreds in his usual inimitable take-no-prisoners fashion, but I would like to offer one more remark:

In any event… in simultaneously defending evolution and insisting upon atheism, Dr. Dawkins probably “single-handedly makes more converts to intelligent design than any of the leading intelligent design theorists.”

Ah yes – that must be it! The masses of people who believe in creationism could not possibly be because of the massive, multimillion-dollar propaganda efforts organized by Christian megachurches and creationist think tanks such as the Discovery Institute; it could not be because creationists are every day working their hardest at spreading patent falsehoods about what evolution is and what it implies; it could not be because a huge industry of Christian TV channels, Christian books, Christian magazines, and Christian politicians are pumping lies about evolution straight into the heads of their followers; it could not even be because a mostly religious public is accustomed to unquestioningly believing whatever nonsense their pastors tell them and unaccustomed to viewing the world in the light of scientific reason. No, it’s got to be because those dreaded, curmudgeonly atheists like Richard Dawkins have the unmitigated gall to put forward their own view of the world and argue for it! (I guarantee Ms. Dean that the percentage of the creationist public that even knows who Richard Dawkins is is in single digits. People who reject evolution know very little about science in general, as a rule.)

I do not think the general public is such a group of shrinking violets that we atheists must stay silent lest we drive people away via our extremist, unhinged rhetoric. That sort of self-defeating belief can only arise from unconsciously absorbing the rhetoric of the enemy. Follow that logic through and soon we’ll be hearing that scientists must not defend science at all lest they persuade more people to forsake it for religion. No, Ms. Dean, I will continue to speak out in defense of atheism, thank you very much, and I hope people like Dawkins, Dennett and Myers continue to do so as well. It is the correct position, and I am not in the least apologetic about defending it.

Why Atheism Is a Force for Good
Atlas Shrugged: Bring Me a New Black Guy
The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling
ISIS Is Bleeding Human History
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Les

    It’s true that the True Bible Decoders are a fun bunch. I’ve been tracking and commenting on their prediction of the imminent destruction of the U.N. plaza on my own blog for awhile now. I’d forgotten their latest guess was about to come due. Time for another update it seems.

  • SpeirM

    “In my book, this gets them high marks for honesty.”

    Bosh! In my book, they’ll get *some* marks for honesty with they abandon this foolishness.

  • Will E.

    “Follow that logic through and soon we’ll be hearing that scientists must not defend science at all lest they persuade more people to forsake it for religion.”

    Precisely. When I argue for atheism, I always get, “You sound as bad as a fundamentalist fire and brimstone preacher!” WTF? I guess I’m not supposed to even care–or know anything about–religion, lest I be branded as crazy as they are. As soon as the atheist ventures his opinion, everyone thinks he’s secretly religious, else why would he care? I know Dawkins gets this as well. Give me a break.

  • Philip Thomas

    Of course, it is an excellent thing to argue for evolution and against biblical literalism. Evolution clearly contradicts certain passages of Scripture, well and good.

    Equally clearly, Evolution does not prove atheism. There is a certain danger if one argues that it does, firstly that one will give a false impression, and secondly that theists who cannot bring themselves to embrace atheism will instead abandon evolution. This danger is a mirror image of the danger of arguing that theism disproves evolution, which firstly gives a false impression and secondly may cause believers in evolution to abandon theism.

    Of course the second result would probably be seen as good by most of this forum’s users. Still, I think we should try not to convert people to our views by trickery. An opinion that I regret to say has not been put into practise by all Christians down the ages!

  • Ignoramus

    So have the creationist pastors started to encourage their flocks to read Dawkins, then? It would seem to be logical.

  • Void

    Looks like they made another mistake, well at least they’re keeping track of their ad hoc hypothesis’

  • Ebonmuse

    Hey, it’s 11 PM Eastern Standard Time. They’ve still got another hour. ;)

  • SpeirM

    These people are absolutely staggering! They’ve already updated their site:

    “The UN in Midtown Manhattan will be hit by a sea borne nuclear bomb on 2006Ab3/4 i.e. between Sundown Sunday July 30th and Sundown Tuesday August 1st, 2006″

    I can just see it now. The date is June 1st, 2112. A nuclear bomb has just leveled a major portion of Manhattan. You go to the True Bible Code site. It reads, “See, we told ya!”

  • Tommykey

    Well, I work here in NYC, and I can tell you that the bomb went off and destroyed the UN 5 minutes ago. You should be hearing about it in the news any minute now.


  • The Gay Species

    The “Holy Toledo” article in a recent New Yorker, ostensibly about a religious Right running for governor, actually offered keen insights into the “mega-church” phenomenon. If only historical Christianity had the marketing insights and propaganda mechanisms many of these single mega-churches have, think how far worse we would be today. At least the phenomenon is largely isolated to the U.S.

    A single Ohioan mega-church has a staff of 300 and an annual budget of $40 million! Few businesses reach this level of commercial success. Most Roman Catholic dioceses, with hundreds of parishes and many thousand more parishioners, don’t approximate this level of “industry and commerce.” If this particular mega-church was isolated, then these extraordinary figures would not be startling. But it repeats itself throughout the country.

    Non-denominational, evangelical Christianity is big business. No wonder it is a stalwart defender of unfettered capitalism! And to achieve this level of “industry” requires hoardes of “consumers,” many, if not most, are willing to follow the leader right into the political agenda of the religious right. Add their singular ability to “network” with each other, and no wonder their “cross-marketing” has made them such a political force in this country.

    I’m not begrudging any of it, although I find their “brand” of Christianity and Politics entirely repugnant. In fact, given the enormous financial success of this “model,” why are not others imitating it? Create a “package,” follow the mega-church model, and you’ll be financially/politically set for life. It’s Wal-mart ala religion with some very entrepreneurial pastors.

  • Philip Thomas

    A particular issue here may be the exemption from taxation churches enjoy in some jurisdictions. If this exemption is extended to mega-churches, they become extremely competitive. Still at least America has formal seperation of Church and State, unlike my own United Kingdom…

  • Wolf

    I find it all too convenient for any people of any religious culture to produce code that predicts or tells of any past events. It is far too biased with an underlying agenda that is way too visible if you look at through unbias logic. Secrets are power, and he who holds the word of god is the next messiah. There is a lot at stake and large of groups of easily panicked people will garner in the next “messiah” with no question and that is when we need to be watching most diligiently. Prophecy is just a bit too convenient for those who wish to push an agenda that is based off their beliefs. Mathematical equations can be developed to equate anything you wish to crank out any formulated output. If I not mistaken, the Hebrew language (and/or letters) has numeric equivalents. 3 + 2 = 5, 4 + 1 = 5, 6 – 1 = 5, 7 – 2 = 5 It would seem to me, not being a mathematician, that there are many different ways to come up with the same answer, and in my opinion, a convenient way to decipher the word of god. Numbers have different meanings, same sounding words with different vocal inflections can mean something completely different. Here we a the most faulty creation on the planet claiming to have uncoded the word of god. I smell rat. Humans are the most untrustworthy, most violent, despicable creature on the planet, it wouldn’t be surprising that we would seal own fate, but to have a “religious book” spell it out for us in code? Has anyone ever wondered why it has taken a computer to decipher the “codes”?
    Because it takes a lot of power to come up with something this far fetched. Anyone can come up an equation that will predict anything if there are enough words to allow it. There will eventually come a “revelation” within those prophetic words from our dear departed doctor, Dr. Suess as well.

    “Green eggs and ham” Green eggs = tactical nukes , ham = Jews, because we all know that Jews don’t like ham. So we can say with such certainty that Dr. Suess was being prophetic about how the Jews would be attacked with “green eggs”…nuclear bombs. Wow! I’m going to go buy a large red an white striped hat and dress up like a cat.

    Stupidity and arrogance comes in all shapes, colors and sizes…choose your lies wisely when searching for a god, for a god first has to exist before one can be saved by one.