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Old 01-11-2001, 08:27 PM   #1
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Cool Isaac Asimov: Twelve Point Three Six Nine

Isaac Asimov's essay by that name, in "Science, Numbers, and I", has some nice attempts to get some cosmic quantities out of the Bible. In particular, he gets the number of days in the year from the Old Testament and the number of lunar months in the year from the New Testament.

The number of days in the year is not 360, but 365, or more precisely, 365.25. Now we see what we can find from the Bible. The Old Testament has several books, which are traditionally divided into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Law is considered the holiest part, and it contains 5 books, which accounts for the 5 in 365. The 25 is 5^2, which means that these books are especially holy.

But a more precise figure for that quantity is 365.2422; that is not the disaster that it seems, because 24 = 23 + 1 and 22 = 23 - 1. The rest of the OT has 34 books, but 12 of the prophets are sometimes lumped together as one. This means that we get 23, which is what we find in the number of days in the year.

We now turn to the number of lunar months in the year, which is 12.369. This number is 3*4.123, and these numbers ought to look familiar. 3 means the Trinity, which is first revealed in the New Testament, and the first four positive integers correspond to the four Gospels. But why the 4 first? That is the Gospel of John, in which the Three Persons of the Trinity make an appearance together to Peter, a sort of thing that they don't do in the other 3 Gospels.

However, at the end, Dr. A states that his derivations were an attempt to show how silly such arguments are.

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