This topic was discussed on an episode of "The Atheist Experience" that first aired on December 10, 2000. The program that I mentioned on the show and on this page can be found by clicking on this link.
This page was updated on April 23, 2005 with email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was looking into the web site http://www.theomatics.com. It describes a technique similar to the familiar Bible Codes, but not quite the same.
The method is described on page http://www.theomatics.com/theomatics/struct.html. To summarize, each letter of the alphabet is assigned a unique numeric value. Whichever alphabet you are using, whether Hebrew or Greek, (or English in my experiments), the assignment technique is the same. The first letters get assigned 1-9, next 10-90 (increasing by 10s), finally 100-900, and none of the three alphabets go any higher than that. Here are the values of the standard Latin alphabet.
Once you have this letter-to-number conversion, you can then calculate the "gematria value" of each word by adding up the value of the letters. For instance, the word "CAB" is 3+1+2 = 6. The gematria value of CAB is 6. You can extend the phrase to be as long as you like, according to the guy's method.
Now, what theomatics advocates have done is to take arbitrary words, such as "Jesus" and "Satan", calculated their gematria values, and used a computer to search the entire Bible for phrases that share common divisors with these words. Read this page: http://www.theomatics.com/theomatics/examp1.html
He says the gematria value of Jesus in the Greek alphabet is 888. Then he says, this is neatly divisible by 111, which is therefore a Christ-like number. (Why he chose to use the value 111, rather than 888 or 8 or 148 or 74, which are equally valid, is unknown to me. But I humor him.) So, he says, the Bible is just chock full of important words and phrases that are also divisible by 111. Amazing, you say? Scientifically unexplainable? Statistically impossible? Maybe.
I immediately jumped to the conclusion that phrases divisible by 111 are probably not all that rare. I also knew that this would be a pain to figure out without writing my own program, so I wrote one. In about 20 minutes. I won't bore you with the details, but it's written in Perl and the first pass simply took a single word and calculated its gematria value. (You can check out the latest version of this program by clicking this link. The program has been webified, so you can just run it without understanding how it works.)
First thing I did was plug in my name, "RUSSELL". I got a value of 655. Somewhat disappointing. Then I tried my last name, "GLASSER". I got a value of... 333! And guess what... that is perfectly divisible by 111!!! Amazing! Maybe I really am Jesus.
Okay, so now I'm thinking, this is going to be easy. Let's try it on a longer string of text. So I souped up my program to read a very long block of text. Then I programmed it to go through the text and report back which individual words had values divisible by 111. I got several matches, but not good enough. So then I programmed it to match any group of words in lengths ranging from 1 word to 10. Now I was getting tons of matches.
So, I decided to run the program on a ridiculously UNholy text. Casting around for inspiration, I decided to copy the famous chain letter scam written by Dave Rhodes years ago, entitled "Make Money Fast". You can read the letter by clicking here.
I got lots and lots of phrases that were divisible by 111. Most were nonsense by themselves, but I managed to cull out several that were quite meaningful.
All of these phrases are holy because they use the number sanctified by the word "Jesus". I think this is genuine proof that the chain letter is not only for real, but also sanctified by God. Don't you?
Just for good measure, I also pulled phrases from Rhodes that are divisible by 153, which he says is an important number because it has something to do with fish.
On the page http://www.theomatics.com/theomatics/proof.html, the theomatics author anticipates that some skeptical heathens will be critical of his work, so he "puts them to bed" immediately. He says, "The phenomenon only works in the Bible and nowhere else. No other work of literature ever written, never has, and probably never will, be able to consistently demonstrate anything like theomatics."
Balderdash. I just did it, didn't I? It didn't take that long, either. People who don't know how to write their own programs are just easily impressed by a fancy argument backed up by a program.
It bears mentioning that the Dave Rhodes letter is approximately two pages of text. Yet I effortlessly found more than half a dozen phrases using each of the important numbers. Now suppose you apply the same technique to the Bible, which is about 1000 printed pages. Do you think you'll find a lot of meaningful phrases? You betcha. Is it a miracle? Actually, it would be a miracle if you didn't find anything at all, especially when you get to fudge the numbers (such as 888 really means 111).
Finally, I would like to make note of another very important statement on this last page: "It is absolutely, completely, and totally impossible to mathematically disprove theomatics."
This is a straight declaration that theomatics is not falsifiable, which by definition means it is not a science. Not only that, but it has no predictive power. You arbitrarily pick which numbers are important to you, then you crop out phrases that look good, but there's no way to tell ahead of time exactly what phrases you'll find. Therefore, theomatics is completely useless.
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