# Probability of the Bible Codes

I have been researching the bible code theory, and I have a few problems with it.

(btw, and ELS value is how many letter's you skip to spell out a word, like a crossword puzzle.)

When the statistics are presented, they are usually worded like "The changes of this particular encoded word occuring with this specific ELS value in this specific chapter of the bible is 1 / 65000). But the only problem is I think the writer twisted these statistics by not taking into account that you can search at multuiple ELS values (I.E. every -10000 letter to every 10000 letter), and they probally didnt take into account that there is ALOT of text in the bible.

I know that there's alot of advanved mathematicians here and I would like their input on the probability of finding a particular code (perhaps an equation). Out of the limited knowledge in math that I have, this is what I derived :uhh: I am in no way saying its correct lol. Everything below here is probably extremely inaccurate.

The changes of any one particular letter occuring in a certian place (in the english language) would be 1 / 26. This is assuming that all 26 letters occur the same number of times.

So the change of finding another letter a little later would be 1 / (26 * 2) because you are searching for 2 letters. So let's make this into an equation.

$$P = \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where P is the probability, 26 is how many combination if letter's there are, and L is the length of the word you are searching for. So if we take into consideration that we are searching at multiple ELS values, we have

$$P = E \cdot \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where E is the ELS range. I.E if you are searching from -1000 to +1000, E would equal about 2000 (even though you wont be searching ELS values of 0 and 1).

Now this is just a guess, but if we were to take into account how many letters we are searching (the bible probally has millions), we would have

$$P = EC \cdot \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where C is the total count of how many letters you are searching, but maybe you would have to divide E by L first. Im probally way off :rofl:

Any ideas?

Zurtex
Homework Helper
Well, what I read about the fundamental flaw was simple. When you work out the probability of something you have to state the event before hand, in this case there is no event stated more than finding something interesting.

Zurtex said:
Well, what I read about the fundamental flaw was simple. When you work out the probability of something you have to state the event before hand, in this case there is no event stated more than finding something interesting.
Right, but what if you make your own event. For isntance. What is the probability of finding the word "NATHAN" encoded in the book of Mathew with an ELS range of -1000 to 1000. You should be able to calculate the probability of specific events. But in a more general aspect, your right. You cant calculate the probability of the bible code theory as a hole.

As a side note, I wrote my own program to search text for encoded words (like in the bible code). And I found my name NATHAN encoded one time in the book of mathew (didnt bother to search all the other books).

Zurtex said:
Well, what I read about the fundamental flaw was simple. When you work out the probability of something you have to state the event before hand, in this case there is no event stated more than finding something interesting.
while I think it is a bunch of bunk, it is interesting that they did come across a cypher that has predicted the murder of Rabin, 1 month before it happened.

Zurtex
Homework Helper
ComputerGeek said:
while I think it is a bunch of bunk, it is interesting that they did come across a cypher that has predicted the murder of Rabin, 1 month before it happened.
But equally crack pots predict things all the time and occasionally the odd one is right.

ComputerGeek, can you please (or anybody else!) back up your disbelief with some mathematics. Surely, you's have not just casually dismissed the posibility of the truth of the Bible Codes, but have actaully studied it.

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shmoe
Homework Helper
eNathan said:
ComputerGeek, can you please (or anybody else!) back up your disbelief with some mathematics. Surely, you's have not just casually dismissed the posibility of the truth of the Bible Codes, but have actaully studied it.
see http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/torah.html [Broken] for links to papers refuting the bible codes and other information. If you have a large enough body of randomish data (which you get by skipping some number of letters in these codes), you can turn up just about anything you like. It turns out Moby Dick predicts quite a bit itself.

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shmoe said:
see http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/torah.html for links to papers refuting the bible codes and other information. If you have a large enough body of randomish data (which you get by skipping some number of letters in these codes), you can turn up just about anything you like. It turns out Moby Dick predicts quite a bit itself.
Thanks, I will read that ASAP, probally tommarow at school :zzz: It is good to get different aspects of a story before you take a side :tongue:

It makes me wounder (assuming its all a bunch of hot air!) if these code researchers which started this all honestly belive in it. If so, they either just "want" to believe it, or they are not too good at math. I choose the former :yuck:

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Let's keep this thread about the math. We do not allow discussion of the Bible here.

SGT
eNathan said:
I have been researching the bible code theory, and I have a few problems with it.

(btw, and ELS value is how many letter's you skip to spell out a word, like a crossword puzzle.)

When the statistics are presented, they are usually worded like "The changes of this particular encoded word occuring with this specific ELS value in this specific chapter of the bible is 1 / 65000). But the only problem is I think the writer twisted these statistics by not taking into account that you can search at multuiple ELS values (I.E. every -10000 letter to every 10000 letter), and they probally didnt take into account that there is ALOT of text in the bible.

I know that there's alot of advanved mathematicians here and I would like their input on the probability of finding a particular code (perhaps an equation). Out of the limited knowledge in math that I have, this is what I derived :uhh: I am in no way saying its correct lol. Everything below here is probably extremely inaccurate.

The changes of any one particular letter occuring in a certian place (in the english language) would be 1 / 26. This is assuming that all 26 letters occur the same number of times.

So the change of finding another letter a little later would be 1 / (26 * 2) because you are searching for 2 letters. So let's make this into an equation.

$$P = \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where P is the probability, 26 is how many combination if letter's there are, and L is the length of the word you are searching for. So if we take into consideration that we are searching at multiple ELS values, we have

$$P = E \cdot \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where E is the ELS range. I.E if you are searching from -1000 to +1000, E would equal about 2000 (even though you wont be searching ELS values of 0 and 1).

Now this is just a guess, but if we were to take into account how many letters we are searching (the bible probally has millions), we would have

$$P = EC \cdot \frac {1} {26 \cdot L}$$ where C is the total count of how many letters you are searching, but maybe you would have to divide E by L first. Im probally way off :rofl:

Any ideas?
You made a mistake here. The probability of having exactly two letters in sequence is $$\frac{1}{26^2}$$ and not $$\frac{1}{26\cdot2}$$ as you wrote. So the probability of finding a word of length L would be $$P = EC \cdot \frac {1} {26^L}$$ but this for a part of the Bible of length LE. Since the Bible is very big, there are many chances of finding the code.
Besides, if you don't want to find any specific word, but any meaningful arrangement of letters, the probability increases.
Finally, since Hebrew has only consonants, it is simpler to find meaningful words. You can supply how many vowels you want to our word, in order to find a meaning.

SGT said:
So the probability of finding a word of length L would be $$P = EC \cdot \frac {1} {26^L}$$ but this for a part of the Bible of length LE.
Finally, a mathematical solution! I am suprised, however. My equation was not far off :D But if its not to much to ask, could you explain why you do 26^L and not 65L? It just makes alot more sense to multiply them :uhh: But I take it you were right.

p.s. another problem I have with the bible code thoery is that the original arabic language has onlu\y 22 letters, and most words are only made up of a few letters. You could probally find both any meaningfull, and nonsense code you search for!

SGT
eNathan said:
Finally, a mathematical solution! I am suprised, however. My equation was not far off :D But if its not to much to ask, could you explain why you do 26^L and not 65L? It just makes alot more sense to multiply them :uhh: But I take it you were right.
You have 26 possibilities of choosing your first letter. For each of these, you have 26 possibilities of choosing your second letter. So, you have $$26\cdot26 = 26^2$$ possibilities of choosing a 2 letter code and $$26^L$$ of choosing an L letter code.

p.s. another problem I have with the bible code thoery is that the original arabic language has onlu\y 22 letters, and most words are only made up of a few letters. You could probally find both any meaningfull, and nonsense code you search for!
As I said before, the Hebrew alphabet uses only consonants, so the words are shorter and since you can put the vowels that you want it is easier to find a meaningful word. For instance, the sequence of consonants mngfll is length 6, so there is a 1 in $$26^6$$ chance of finding it in a given text that has only consonants, while the word meaningful has 10 letters and you have only a 1 in $$26^10$$ chance of finding it.

Do you also have to take into account how much more often certain letters are used and calculate that into the formula? I'm not sure, just asking as far as the math portion goes.

matt grime
Homework Helper
there is plenty of mathematics out there to demonstrate the stasitical *insignificance* of the bible codes, can we just drop it? it is clearly nonsense. the original author even siad that he would disbelieve his own work when someone found a prediction in Moby Dick, and lo and behold someone fuond many predcitions. So, even by the litmus test of the original crank who thought it up it fails.

If you want to do it "mathematically" you need to estimate the number of possible samples. as this seems to be any "reasonably" set out distribution of the letters into grids then there are probably somewhere in the region of 10^{something incredibyl large} making a number on the scale of "larger than you can comprehend" possible grids to examine

let's make this conservative and say that we'll do this with the latin characters, so there are 26 of them. and that the bible contains, what 1,000 pages, each page has, say 15 words per line and 50 lines per page, making approx 10^7 letters in it. we are now allowed to take say 100 consecutive letters at a time, thi is sitll appox 10^7 blocks and then pick out any pattern we want from within them, now here's where it gets a bit screwy since who 's to say what a reasonable pattern is, but there are 2^100 ways of pikcing some pattern of letters out of that 100, whch is about 10^30, so, let's be reasonalbe and say that only, what one millionth of those are "interesting", so that's 10^{24} interesting patterns for each of the 10^7 blocks, so, ooh, that's again about 10^30 times we're sampling data. now even if the chances of finding some specific word or phrase was less than your DNA matching mine in a simple DNA test (which is abuot one in 10,000,000, or 1 in 10^7) that's still a very significant chance of it appearing in one of those patterns in one of those blocks. indeed you can create about anything yo want to.

of course you can take longer blocks than 100 letters, and if you read the "predicitons" they are often quite "fuzzy" and of course no one was looking for a specific code but just randomly sampling them and seeign what they coud find it all adds up to a load of baloney.

in any case messages can be found in any large body of text, which shows how much nonsense it is, and don't forget the critics foudn plenty of messages indicating that there is no such thing as god using this method in the bible too. is that not enough heuristic evidence for you or do you wish to only pick the resutls that support the claim and ignore the evidence to the contrary.

Thats some impressive mathematics you showed.

matt grime said:
there is plenty of mathematics out there to demonstrate the stasitical *insignificance* of the bible codes, can we just drop it? it
Im not sure dropping it is the thing to do :uhh: perhaps debating it. Which we have pretty much done.

matt grime said:
is that not enough heuristic evidence for you or do you wish to only pick the resutls that support the claim and ignore the evidence to the contrary.
You'r right on that one. I was merly looking for a couply of different aspects to the story. From the books which I read, which support the thoery, I could cleary see through what they were saying. :grumpy: I hate it when authors never present the other side to a story. It can sometimes be difucult to see through the flaws of other people's statistical calculations when they are putting a slant on the truth :tongue2:. but that only requires further investication.

I'm an Orthodox Jew and I'm *very* skeptical of the Bible Codes. And besides, there are far more explicit predictions the Bible and the Talmud have made. The Talmud (together with a Rabbi from about 200 years ago), for examples, predicted Germany's chain of events (including its military setuo) in Meggillah 6 daf 2. Naturally, I'm sure you're all skeptical of this and I don't really plan or fell the need to convince anyone here of other things that, at least to me, seem beyond random chance: http://www.innernet.org.il/article.php?aid=202 [Broken] (read Purim Fest and 707 -- they aren't that long. I hope I'm not sounding too close-minded or brainwashed. It isn't like I don't believe in evolution etc. (and the Torah and modern Science are not at all mutually exclusive).

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