Cliff Pickover's Internet Encyclopedia of the Bible

For similar topics, visit his web page.

(Every time you visit, you get a new Biblical image.)

Above, you are currently seeing one of the following Biblical images. Can you guess which one?
  • Noah Releases the Dove (Genesis 7:8); a Byzantine mosaic in St. Marks's Basilica, Venice, Italy.
  • Moses and the Burning Bush, from a French illuminated manuscript, 1210. This illustrates Exodus (3:5): "Then he said, 'Come no closer, remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'"
  • God in the Act of Creation from the French Bible Historale of 1411. God is seen measuring the cosmos with a pair of compasses. The image may relate to Job (38: 4-7): "Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the Earth? declare, if thou has understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
  • French Illumination (XIV Century): St. Stephen.
  • Anonymous, Hilandar monastery, Mt. Athos: St. Sabas of Serbia

The Bible is the basis of Judaism and Christianity and has had a huge impact on Western culture. No matter what you believe about God and religion, the Bible remains a work of challenging profundity and elicits strong emotions.

The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament, with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Old Testament being slightly larger because of their acceptance of certain books and parts of books considered apocryphal by Protestants. The Jewish Bible is the Hebrew Scriptures, 39 books originally written in Hebrew, except for a few sections in Aramaic. From a Christian point of view, the most significant of the Greek translations of the Old Testament is what is called the Septuagint (Latin for "Seventy" and often abbreviated to "LXX"). This is traditionally credited to the initiative of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 BC) who wanted a translation of the Hebrew Law for his library at Alexandria.

Please note that my web site "Godlorica: News on God and Other Higher Beings"
is gradually replacing the current page and is more interactive.

God in the News

Dyson Progress in Religion: A Talk By Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson and The Enduring Vitality of the More Moderate Kinds of Religions

Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address: Paul Davies

Paul Davies and Critics

What is Fatima's Third Secret?

What is the latest thinking on Jewish mythology?


The Paradox of God

Discussions on God

What is God?


Biblical History
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Karen Armstrong

Test Your Bible/Religion IQ

If you get all questions right, you have an extraordinarily high Bible/Religion IQ, worthy of praise from the antediluvian God. (Don't feel bad. So far, on one on Earth has gotten all of these.)

Who are the mysterious Nephilim?

Why do most Christian churches reject the mysterious Gospel of Thomas?

How many of each animal did Noah take on the ark?

Would you consider apocatastasis a pleasurable experience?

What would you do if you met an achimandrite coming out of your local mall? tower

Who said: "Religion has not civilized man -- man has civilized religion. God improves as man advances."?

Who painted this tower, and what Biblical scene does it represent?


The Bridegroom of Blood:
The Most Perplexing Mystery in the Bible

God tells Moses that he must go back to Egypt to lead his people out of slavery. As Moses and his family journey to Egypt, it seems that God tries to kill him. One translation reads
"On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met Moses and tried to kill him. But Zipporah, his wife, took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched his feet with it, and said 'Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!' So he let him alone. It was then she said, 'A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.'"
Whom is God trying to kill? Why? What is a "bridegroom of blood?" Author Kenneth Davis suggests that circumcision was believed to ward off demonic attack. Since Moses was presumably not circumcised, the smearing of the blood on him may have protected him as well.

Authors Jim Bell and Stan Campbell suggest that perhaps Moses' wife wasn't fond of the Hebrew rite of circumcision and had resisted it. They also suggest that this passage might have referred to Moses contacting an incapacitating disease that almost killed him, leaving his wife to do what was necessary. Author J. R. Porter says that the reason that this episode is so mysterious and difficult to understand is that the biblical narrator no longer knew its real meaning. It seems to be a fragment of a once independent tradition and exhibits archaic features, such as representing Yahweh as a kind of hostile night demon, and the use of a flint knife for circumcision.

The King James Bible gives this translation

4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
4:25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
4:26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
Why, having asked Moses to return to Egypt, should God then decide to kill him? And why should Zipporah's circumcising her son have apparently led to God's leaving Moses alone?

Nephilim To me the "Bridegroom of Blood" story is the most mysterious tale in the Bible. The second most enigmatic story deals with the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-4. In Genesis 6:2 we find that the "sons of God saw that daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose." Kenneth Davis speculates that the "sons of god" might have been angels who took wives from the daughters of humans. The offspring of these angel-human marriages, were the Nephilim, the "heros that were of old, warriors of renown." The Nephilim are mentioned only once again in the Hebrew scriptures, and the word also literally translates to "the fallen ones." The Nephilim had superhuman powers. Notice that they should have been destroyed in the great Flood, but we do find them in Canaan during the time of Moses, according to the book of Numbers.

The Ultimate Bible & Religion Test (With "Answers")


Years ago, in a small town in Eastern Europe, there were two tailors who were keen rivals. Over the years their rivalry became more and more extreme, developing into a hatred so deep and intense that it came to the attention of the Lord Himself who sent an angel with an offer to one of the rivals. The angel said, "Schmuel, the Lord has become aware of your rivalry with Yitzhak, and has empowered me to settle this rivalry, once and for all, by offering you a wish." "One wish?" said Schmuel, "Anything I want?" "Yes," said the angel, "Anything at all, but with one proviso: whatever you ask for, Yitzhak gets twice as much." What did Yitzhak ask for?


Without hesitation, Schmuel pointed to his face and said, "Put out one of my eyes!"

Do you think God should comply with Schmuel's request? Should Schmuel be punished for his request? Is he evil?

*Last Person

In the Hebrew Bible, who is the last person with whom God speaks?


The answer is Job, the human who dares to challenge God's moral authority. God never speaks again, and he is decreasingly spoken of. In the Book of Esther -- a book in which the Jews face a genocidal enemy (as they did in the Book of Exodus) -- God is never mentioned. Why is there a long twilight in the Hebrew Bible where God is silent in the ten closing books? Does this sadden you?

*Two Universes

Consider two universes. Universe Omega is a universe in which God does not exist, but the inhabitants of the universe believe God exists. Universe Upsilon is a universe in which God does exist, but no inhabitant believes God exists.

In which universe would you prefer to live? In which universe do you think most people would prefer to live?


I surveyed fifty individuals regarding this question. Universe Omega and Upsilon were chosen by roughly equal numbers of people. Some respondents suggested that if people think God exists, then God is sufficiently "real." Other individuals suggested that people would behave more humanely to each another in a Universe where people believed in God. Others countered that an ethical system dependant on faith in a watchful or vengeful God is fragile and prone to collapse when doubt begins to undermine faith.

Here are some comments I received. D. Reese said, "I choose Upsilon. I've had enough of living in Omega already, thank you very much."

L. Miro said, "I vote for Upsilon; if God exists there are many possibilities to discover this existence. The idea of communing with a God that doesn't exist seems scary."

P. Andrews said, "There have been many 'gods' that I wouldn't want to be in the same room with, so how believers define god is critical. Another important question is: does god provide for life after death?"

K. Daniels said, "I would prefer to live in Universe Omega. If the God of Upsilon is omniscient, He will know of the existence of Universe Omega and its believers, and perhaps save them."

D. Winarksi chooses Upsilon because, "Many wars have been fought over religion, with each side believing that God was on their side. Maybe life would be treated more preciously if death was regarded as final."

E. Poole said, "I'd far rather live in the universe where people believe in God. I figure they stand a better chance of being better- behaved towards their fellow beings. In the universe where nobody believes in a god that actually exists, everybody goes to hell anyway, right?"

B. Lillo said,

"If the inhabitants of Omega interpret the physical signs available to them as evidence of God, then does it really matter if God exists? These people would follow their belief with the semblance of moral order which would be in harmony with the physical phenomena they observe -- thus, their religion would be helping to synchronize them with the natural order and to make their lives better off for their belief. Concerning Upsilon, if God exists but the inhabitants cannot discern that existence, then one would assume that their moral order would be assembled based on what they observe. If what they observe is a manifestation of God's order in the universe, then it should not matter whether they believe in God or simply observe and adapt to the universe around them. The only aspect of material difference between these two scenarios would be the question of afterlife. Again, this premise would be larger than a question of belief... if what really happens is re-incarnation, then it will happen whether one believes or not. If there is some sort of otherworld afterlife that is a function of the existence of God, then the question becomes one of the method God would use for judging worthiness. If God requires in Upsilon the belief in him/her in order to gain entry to the afterlife, then it would be pointless, as no one believes. God would require enough logic and order that he/she would never set up an algorithm in which the answer would be the null set. If God's algorithm were different (some measure of living a life of peace, love, acceptance, and inclusion), then it wouldn't matter whether one believed in God so much as whether one were able to assimilate and practice living according to some qualitative measures that would be visible to God, with or without the individual's belief."
M. Saxenmeyer said,
"A belief in God is likely to influence the behavior of the inhabitants. Those who believe in a God of the Judeo-Christian tradition -- or of most of the Eastern Religion traditions - will most likely pattern their behaviors after what they perceive as 'the good'. If the God were one of Love and tolerance, then the pattern of behavior in that universe would likely be of love and tolerance. Therefore, it is more likely that the Omega universe would be a more secure and enjoyable place to live."


On a cool Autumn night, you are gazing up at the sky when a being suddenly appears and asks, "What can I do to make you believe that I am God?" What is your answer?


You could ask Him to explain why He believed he was God.

You could ask Him to find a rock He can't lift, and lift it.

Is it possible that there is no single act that could be used to convince you that the being was God?

Colleagues have suggested that because anything God says or does could result from a "sufficiently advanced technology," we could not know if God is merely some alien playing jokes on silly little humans. However if the entity is God, He should be able to adjust the nature of our brains so that we truly believe that the entity is God.

One colleague suggested that the best way to convince you would be for God to hand you a book that you had written that argues convincingly that He is God.

Perhaps God could demonstrate some "impossible" solution like solving Rubik's cube from a well-mixed state in about 10 moves.

The religion of Islam emphasizes that we only see God in His activities, which adapt His indescribable being to our limited understanding.

In one of his more skeptical moods, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica:

"It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the name God means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle, which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence."
Colleague Mark Hopkins writes,
"You can't disbelieve something if you don't even know what it is you're not believing in. Likewise, you can't believe in something if you don't even know what it is you're believing in. This makes everyone an agnostic until or unless a definition of God is agreed upon."

*Good and Evil

In the Biblical story of creation, man is told to master the Earth. Why, then, is man not allowed the knowledge of good and evil?


The early Christian writer Lucius Lactantius quotes the Greek atheist Epicurus in The Anger of God who tried to disprove the existence of God:
"God either wishes to take away evil, and is unable, or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God. If He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God. If He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God. If He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then is evil? Or why does He not remove evil?"

*Animal Suffering

Does God care about the suffering of animals? Did He care about the suffering of animals during animal sacrifices in the Bible? Do today's members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) think the Bible is a cruel work or untrue? What would PETA members do if God told them He liked animal sacrifices? Could a person with PETA's feelings existed in the Bible?


Recall that when Cain and Abel brought their offerings to God in the Book of Genesis, God was delighted with Abel's dead baby animals but told Cain (in essence) that his offering of fruit was unimpressive.

Do you think all animals feel pain? It seems that some animals do not feel pain. If you place a dragonfly's abdomen near its mouth it will eat its own abdomen without apparent discomfort.

Karen Armstrong writes in A History of God, "Many diaspora Jews had come to regard the Temple in Jerusalem, drenched as it was in the blood of animals, as a primitive and barbarous institution."


Theologian Hans Jonas believes that after the Auschwitz concentration camp we can no longer believe in the omnipotence of God. When God created the world, He voluntarily limited himself and shared the weakness of humans. Do you think Hans Joans could be correct?


The Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung believes that humans cannot have faith in a weak God but in a living God who made people strong enough to pray in Auschwitz.

Marcion (100-165), a theologian who lived about a 100 years after Jesus's death, wondered how could the world have been created by a good God when it was manifestly full of evil and pain? Marcion was also shocked by the Jewish scriptures that seemed to describe a harsh, cruel God who exterminated entire populations in his zeal for justice. Marcion believed that the Jewish God created the world but he was self- contradictory, blundering, and ferocious, and lusted for war. Jesus, he thought, revealed that another God exited who had kinder and "better" properties.

*Christianity before Christ

History records many examples of ancient and pre-Christian religions with a savior who was crucified. Many of these individuals were known as either the Son of God, The Savior, The Messiah, The Redeemer, or The Resurrection. Many had virgin births, physical ascension into heaven, the presence of magi or "wise men", and being part of a divine trinity. If you are Christian, does the existence of these pre-Christian savior legends have any impact on your Christian beliefs?


Stephen Spignesi's The Odd Index (Plume) lists sixteen crucified saviors other than Jesus Christ. His source is an 1875 book by religious scholar and historian Kersey Graves who published The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, or Christianity Before Christ. The book gave the Christian clergy nightmares because it attempted to prove that Christianity was essentially based on legends and myths from centuries past, and that the "legend" of Jesus Christ bore dozens (in some cases, hundreds) of similarities to pagan gods from as far back as the year 2000 B.C. I can not vouch for the information provided in Grave's 1875 book, but even if half his examples of Christ legends predating Christianity are correct, this should stimulate lots of discussion.


Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is given scant treatment in the Gospels. This vacuum has been filling over the centuries, perhaps influenced by popular appeal and belief. The Vatican's 1854 announcement as doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception, followed in 1950 by her bodily Assumption into heaven, infuriated many Protestants.

Could a religion filled with miracles start today given our modern scientific ways of examining evidence, such as forensic testing? Would DNA testing of Jesus' remains make it possible to determine the genetic makeup of God?


How can humans learn more about God? Why was Jesus sent to Earth and resurrected? Clement of Alexandria (150-215) thought that Jesus had a divine spark and had become a man "so that you might learn from a man how to become God."

*Does God Know the Answer?

In the Biblical Garden of Eden, God asks Adam and Eve, "Who told you that you were naked?" Does God know the answer?


Did you realize that many Biblical scholars consider Eve to be the second wife of Adam? In rabbinic literature Lilith is Adam's first wife, who left him because of their incompatibility. Three angels tried in vain to force her return.

According to Jewish scholar Professor Eliezer Segal, the legend in question was inspired by the Bible's dual accounts of the creation of the first woman, which led its author to the conclusion that Adam had a first wife before his marriage to Eve. Adam's original mate was the demonic Lilith who had been fashioned, just like her male counterpart, from the dust of the earth. Lilith insisted from the outset on equal treatment, a fact which caused constant marital discord. Eventually the frustrated Lilith used her magical powers to fly away from her spouse. Adam's asked God to intervene, so God dispatched three angels to negotiate her return. When these angels made threats against Lilith's demonic descendants, she countered that she would prey eternally upon newborn human babies, who could be saved only by invoking the protection of the three angels. In the end Lilith resisted the angels and never returned to Adam. The story implies that when Eve was afterwards fashioned out of Adam's rib (symbolic of her subjection to him), this served as an antidote to Lilith's short-lived attempt at egalitarianism. (Note that Professor Segal believes that the story of Lilith is not actually found in any authentic Rabbinic tradition but rather originates in a medieval work called "the Alphabet of Ben-Sira.")


You are exploring Nazareth, the historic city of Lower Galilee in northern Israel. As you walk through a field you are accosted by seven rodents. One of the rodents whispers "Yeshua," the name of Jesus in the Hebrew language. Another appears to be wearing a crucifix. What is your reaction? Is this experience sufficiently paranormal to alter any of your religious beliefs?


Is it essential to religion that the paranormal exists?

In this question, there were seven rodents. The number seven has great significance in religion. As one example, during the persecution of Christians (AD 250) seven Christian soldiers were concealed near their native city of Ephesus in a cave to which the entry was later sealed. There, having protected themselves from being forced to do pagan sacrifices, they fell into a miraculous sleep. During the reign (AD 408-450) of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II, the cave was reopened, and the Sleepers awoke. The emperor was moved by their miraculous presence and by their witness to their Christian doctrine of the body's resurrection. Having explained the profound meaning of their experience, the Seven died, whereupon Theodosius ordered their remains to be richly enshrined; and he absolved all bishops who had been persecuted for believing in the Resurrection.


The God in Genesis seems to be vengeful and capricious at times. Abraham allows his wife to be taken into Pharaoh's harem both to ensure the couple safe passage through Egypt and "so that all may go well with me." Lot sleeps with his daughters. Jacob embezzles from his brother. His sons, angry at the rape of their sister, kill every man in a neighboring town. These actions go unpunished by God. How did these stories evolve, and what might they mean?


Perhaps the most disconcerting story of the Bible occurs when Lot's home is surrounded by a threatening mob. In order to appease the mob, Lot offers them his two virgin daughters and tells the group of men to "do to them as you please." God does not appear to frown upon Lot's invitation to gang rape.

Also in the Bible, King David commits adultery and then has the woman's husband murdered. David's son rapes his half-sister. It is not apparent that these deeds are sufficiently punished -- particularly when considering God's earlier punishments in the Bible. Why is this?

Do you believe the God of the Bible would object to our use of corporal punishment, the infliction of physical pain punishment for a crime (e.g. flogging, beating, branding, mutilation, blinding, and the use of the stock and pillory)? Would God object to physical disciplining of children in the schools and at home?

Encyclopedia Entry:

b Berosus

Berosus was a famous Chaldean astrologer who flourished during and after the lifetime of Alexander the Great. Although the exact dates of his birth and death are unknown, it is certain that he lived in the days of Alexander (356-326 B. C.)

At some point in his life, Berosus left Chaldea (southern Babylonia) and settled in Greece on the island of Cos, where he opened a school of astronomy and astrology. The ancient Greeks considered him be a great magician and were impressed by the supposed accuracy of his astrological predictions. The Greeks honored Berosus by erecting a statue of him with a tongue sculpted from gold, signifying the truth of his forecasts. Berosus was also a historian and wrote a Greek-language work in three books on the history and culture of Babylonia. The book was widely used by later Greek compilers, whose versions in turn were quoted by religious historians. Even though Berosus's work survives only in fragmentary citations, he is remembered for passing knowledge of the origins of Babylon to the ancient Greeks.

Berosus's gave a creative account of the creation of the world and of mankind, as preserved to us by Syncellus who copied it from Alexander Polyhistor:

b Artemidorus Daldianus

Daldianus lived in the 2nd century AD in Asia Minor. He was a soothsayer whose Oneirocritica ("Interpretation of Dreams") described a variety of superstitions, dreams, divination methods, and myths. The book was so popular that sixteen hundred years later it was translated into English and published in London, where, in the year 1800, it had already been reprinted 33 times.

b Daniel

Daniel was a prophet from the Old Testament who foretold the coming of the messiah Y'shua. Nearly all that is known of Daniel comes from the Old Testament. He belonged to the tribe of Juda, and was of noble descent. While a teenager, he was carried captive to Babylon. There he was entrusted to the care of Asphenez, the master of the king's eunuchs, and was educated in the language and learning of the Chaldeans, experts on divination, magic, and astrology in Babylon. After three years, Daniel and three companions appeared before the king who found that they were great diviners. The King promoted them to a place in his court. Whenever Daniel's powers of divination was tested, he proved superior to "all the diviners, and wise men, that were in all his kingdom." The Book of Daniel describes the King's dream that Daniel alone could interpret. Nebuchadnezzer's dream included a large statue made up of various materials and broken in pieces by a small stone that became a mountain and filled the earth. Daniel said that the several parts of the statue symbolized monarchies, while the stone that destroyed them and grew into a mountain foretold an everlasting kingdom (the Messiah) that would shatter all the other kingdoms. Some biblical scholars suggest that Daniel may have been a composite of several people, or that he may also be the prophet Ezekiel, because of the overwhelming similarities in their prophecies.

b Ezekiel

Ezekiel (592-570 BC) was one of the major Hebrew prophets and the author of an Old Testament book. He was carried as a prisoner to Babylonia in 597 BC. Ezekiel's early prophesies in Jerusalem foretold various calamities, but his later prophecies, given while the Jews were exiled in Babylon, were more hopeful. He dramatized his prophecies with metaphors and descriptions that seem bizarre or, as some skeptics might say, psychotic. Notice how Ezekiel in the Old Testament had visions that, today, sound like modern UFO reports:

Here is one of Ezekiel's famous prophecies:

The references in endnote 6 discuss the remote possibility that Ezekiel had temporal lobe epilepsy, which is thought to play a role in intense religious experience for some people. Also note that Ezekiel was struck dumb on one occasion for an unspecified length of time (Ezekiel 3:26).

b Isaiah

Isaiah is the Old Testament prophet after whom the Book of Isaiah is named. Scholars now recognize that the Book took shape over several centuries, attaining its present form sometime before 180 BC. He said that the people of Israel would be punished for their sins, but some Jews will be redeemed and dwell in a perfect age. When Isaiah had his first vision of God, he was overwhelmed by God's power. Isaiah offered to convey God's messages, even though he was aware he would experience terrible opposition.

For many years, scholars have wondered about the meaning of the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah. It appears to be a prophesy concerning the sufferings and trials of the coming Messiah, who Christians interpret to be Jesus. Some modern rabbis suggest the trials described refer to difficulties faced by the nation of Israel.

b Jeremiah

Jeremiah (650 BC - 570 BC) was a Hebrew prophet and author of an Old Testament book. Jeremiah tried to help his nation of Judah adjust to various conflicts between its powerful neighbors, which included Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt. He correctly predicted the destruction of the Holy Temple by the Babylonians.

According to the Bible, Jeremiah had his first visions in 627 BC, when he foretold the coming of enemies, symbolized by a boiling pot:

Scholars are not sure if the enemy was supposed to be Russian nomads, Assyrians, Babylonians, or some vague evil. Jeremiah was often depressed and overwhelmed by God. Jeremiah said that he wished he never been born and accused God of being deceitful.

Jeremiah's most important prophecy described a future where man could be at peace with God (Jer. 31:31-34):

b Joel

Joel was an Old Testament prophet who had dramatic visions of cosmic omens, plagues, wars, and ruins. The Bible reveals very little about Joel who lived during the period of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (516 BC - 70 AD). In the Book of Joel, the prophet Joel describes calamity resulting from a locust plague. He warns the people to repent and that there will be a final judgment.

b St. John of Patmos

According to tradition, John is believed to have written the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation around AD 81-96. This final book of the New Testament appears to be written by more than one author, though it purports to have been written by John, Jesus's disciple who witnessed Jesus' crucifixion. In many of John's apocalyptic prophecies we gain glimpses of how terrible he sees life will become for nonbelievers:

My Seven Favorite and Famous Old Testament Prophets

Prophet Visions
Amos The judgment of the Lord upon Israel and the Assyrian threat: "Trouble for those who are waiting so longingly for the day of God! What will this day of God mean for you? It will mean darkness, not light, as when a man escapes a lion's mouth, only to meet a bear. Will not the day of God be darkness, not light? It will all be gloom, without a single ray of light."
Daniel End of the world: "That will be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, your own people will be spared -- all those whose names are found written in the Book."
Ezekiel The future of Israel: "When in the world there shall appear quakings of places, tumult of peoples, schemings of nations, confusion of leaders, disquietude of princes, then shall you understand that it is of these things that the Most High has spoken since the days that were aforetime from beginning."
Isaiah Future of Israel: "See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants... The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers... The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left."
Joel Repentance and hope: "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near -- a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come."
Zechariah The Messiah: "I shall gather all the nations to Jerusalem for battle. The city will be taken, the horses plundered, the women ravished. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be ejected from the city. Then Yahweh will sally out and fight those nations as once he fought on the day of battle."
Zephaniah Punishment of the Lord: "On the Day of Yahweh's anger, by the fire of his jealousy, the whole earth will be consumed. For he will destroy, yes, annihilate everyone living on earth."

Excerpted from The Loom of God

Is God a Mathematician?

"I have always thought it curious that, while most scientists claim to eschew religion, it actually dominates their thoughts more than it does the clergy." - Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle

"Mathematical inquiry lifts the human mind into closer proximity with the divine than is attainable through any other medium." - Hermann Weyl (1885-1955)

Mathematics and mysticism have fascinated humanity since the dawn of civilization. Throughout history, numbers held certain powers that made it possible for mortals to seek help from spirits, perform witchcraft, and make prayers more potent. Numbers have been used to predict the end of the world, to raise the dead, to find love, and prepare for war. Even today, serious mathematicians sometimes resort to mystical or religious reasoning when trying to convey the power of mathematics.

Has humanity's long-term fascination with mathematics arisen because the universe is constructed from a mathematical fabric? In 1623, Galileo Galilei echoed this belief by stating his credo: "Nature's great book is written in mathematical symbols." Plato's doctrine was that God is a geometer, and Sir James Jeans believed God experimented with arithmetic. Newton supposed that the planets were originally thrown into orbit by God, but after God decreed the law of gravitation, the planets continued without further need of divine guidance.

Is God a mathematician? Certainly, the world, the universe, and nature can be reliably understood using mathematics. Nature is mathematics. The arrangement of seeds in a sunflower can be understood using Fibonacci numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...) named after the Italian merchant Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa. Except for the first 2 numbers, every number in the sequence equals the sum of the two previous. Sunflower heads, like other flowers, contain two families of interlaced spirals -- one winding clockwise, the other counter clockwise. The number of seeds and pedals are almost always Fibonacci numbers.

The shape assumed by a delicate spider web suspended from fixed points, or the cross-section of sails bellying in the wind, is a catenary -- a simple curve defined by a simple forumula. Seashells, animal's horns, and the cochlea of the ear are logarithmic spirals which can be generated using a mathematical constant known as the golden ratio. Mountains and the branching patterns of blood vessels and plants are fractals, a class of shapes which exhibit similar structures at different magnifications. Einstein's E = mc**2 defines the fundamental relationship between energy and matter. And a few simple constants -- the gravitational constant, Planck's constant, and the speed of light -- control the destiny of the universe. I do not know if God is a mathematician, but mathematics is the loom upon which God weaves the fabric of the universe.

Recommended Reading

Don't Know Much About the Bible : Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis, Paperback - 533 pages (September 7, 1999) Avon Books (Pap Trd); ISBN: 0380728397

The Four Witnesses : The Rebel, the Rabbi, the Chronicler, and the Mystic -- Why the Gospels Present Strikingly Different Visions of Jesus? by Robin Griffith-Jones, Hardcover - 384 pages (April 4, 2000) Harper San Francisco; ISBN: 0062516477

King David : A Biography by Steven L. McKenzie, Hardcover - 272 pages (May 2000) Oxford Univ Pr (Trade); ISBN: 0195132734

Dreams of Being Eaten Alive : The Literary Core of the Kabbalah by David Rosenberg, Hardcover - 192 pages (April 11, 2000) Harmony Books; ISBN: 060960306X

Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals by George Robinson, Hardcover - 656 pages (March 2000) Pocket Books; ISBN: 0671034804

The Parnas : A Scene from the Holocaust by Silvano Arieti, Harold S. Kushner, Paperback - 160 pages 1st Paul Dry Books edition edition (March 2000) Paul Dry Books Inc; ISBN: 0966491300

The Illustrated Guide to the Bible by J. R. Porter (Editor), Hardcover (November 1995) Oxford Univ Press; ISBN: 0195211596

Asimov's Guide to The Bible by Isaac Asimov, Hardcover - 1344 pages Random House; ISBN: 0517209772

The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong, Hardcover - 448 pages 1 Ed edition (March 7, 2000) Knopf; ISBN: 0679435972

The Loom of God: Mathematical Tapestries at the End of Time by Cliff Pickover, Plenum Publishing, 1997

In the Beginning : A New Interpretation of Genesis by Karen Armstrong, Paperback - 195 pages (October 1997) Ballantine Books (Trd Pap); ISBN: 0345406044

A History of God : The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong, Paperback - 460 pages Reprint edition (September 1994) Ballantine Books (Trd Pap); ISBN: 0345384563

What does the bible say about...?
Type in a word, like giants.

Cliff Pickover is author of the several books including The Loom of God and Strange Brains and Genius.

He is also author of The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience.

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