Should You Look to Numbers for Guidance?

DOES numerology stand up under the scrutiny of science and reason? Are numbers the means by which our destiny can be revealed? Should you build your future around numerological findings and predictions?

One objection that numerologists have been unable to overcome is that different cultures use different calendars. For example, what if someone lives where the Chinese calendar is used? Consider the date mentioned in our opening article​—September 11, 2001. According to the Chinese calendar, that was the 24th day of the 7th month of the 18th year of the 78th cycle. The Julian calendar would express the same date as August 29, 2001. According to the Muslim calendar, it was 22 Jumada II 1422, while the Hebrew calendar had it as 23 Elul 5761. How could there be numerical significance to a date that is expressed in so many ways? Another factor: Languages often have unique spellings of names. For example, the letters contained in the English name John have a numerological value of 2, but the letters in the Spanish spelling of the same name​—Juan—​have a value of 1.

It is one thing to recognize that many aspects of the universe can be explained by mathematical formulas. These formulas can be tested and demonstrated. But it is quite another matter to claim that your name was preordained to coincide with your date of birth and to be linked with certain numbers so that you can ascertain your destiny.

The conclusion is clear: To believe that numerological interpretations are accurate, when they are based upon such widely variable factors as calendar and language, is to stretch the limits of credibility to an absurd degree.

“Time and Unforeseen Occurrence”

Some become interested in numerology because they desire to make their life predictable. However, the Bible makes it plain that the details of human life cannot be mapped out in advance. We read: “The swift do not  have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Yes, many events take place unexpectedly. Such chance happenings defy efforts to predict outcomes based on birth date or numerical value of a name.

Consider another example: In encouraging generosity, the Bible states: “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what calamity will occur on the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2) With few exceptions, calamities are things that people do not​—indeed, cannot—​know in advance. Hence, mathematics professor Underwood Dudley writes regarding numerologists: “They fail to give chance sufficient credit. Amazing things can happen at random.”

It is true that numerologists may make some predictions that come true. What accounts for this? In some instances, the outcome may be coincidental. Then, too, sometimes the language of numerologists is so ambiguous that it could apply to several outcomes. But there is something more serious to consider.

A Form of Divination?

The Bible does not mention numerology by name. But it does tell of Haman, an Amalekite  who plotted the extermination of the Jews living in Persia during the fifth century B.C.E. The account says: “Haman ordered the lots to be cast (‘purim,’ they were called) to find out the right day and month to carry out his plot. The thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, was decided on.” (Italics ours.)​—Esther 3:7, Today’s English Version.

In ancient times, casting lots was a legitimate way of settling a controversy. * (Proverbs 18:18) But Haman cast lots to practice divination​—something that the Bible condemns. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 states that God detests “anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events . . . Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”

The Bible links divination and uncanny power to spiritism. Wicked spirits can maneuver events to suit their purpose. Whether this is the case in a specific instance or not, one thing is certain: The practice of spiritism is condemned by God, and it can bring one under the control of wicked spirits.​—1 Samuel 15:23; Ephesians 6:12.

Numerology is devoid of scientific basis, and it fares badly when examined under the light of reason. More important, because it is a form of divination, numerology conflicts with Bible teachings. In view of that, numerology is not a beneficial means of regulating your life or planning your future.

[Footnote]

^ par. 12 When lots were cast, small items​—such as pebbles or small bits of wood—​were placed in the folds of a garment or in a vase. After this, they were shaken. The one whose lot was drawn out was the one who was chosen.

[Box on page 6]

THE VARIETY OF CALENDARS POSES A SERIOUS OBSTACLE TO NUMEROLOGY

GREGORIAN September 11, 2001

CHINESE 24th day of the 7th month of the 18th year of the

78th cycle

JULIAN August 29, 2001

MUSLIM 22 Jumada II 1422

HEBREW 23 Elul 5761

[Box/Pictures on page 7]

ARE HOROSCOPES RELIABLE?

“At times you are outgoing, but at other times you are reserved. You find it unwise to reveal too much about yourself to strangers. You are an independent thinker who needs proof of a matter before gullibly accepting it. You like variety in life, and you become unhappy when you are hemmed in by rules. You have great potential, which you have not tapped entirely. You tend to be critical of your performance and abilities.”

Does that sound like you? If so, you may be putting more meaning into the description than it deserves. After all, most of the above statements are true for the majority of people. Hence, readers will tend to accept those statements that seem accurate and ignore those that do not. According to the book Why Do Buses Come in Threes​—The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life, “researchers have found that if the star signs on a horoscope are removed, people are unable to identify which paragraph belongs to their own sign, but if the signs are included they will believe their own star reading to be the most accurate.”

[Box on page 8]

SYMBOLIC NUMBERS IN THE BIBLE

Certain numbers used in the Bible have symbolic meanings, but only within the context of the Scriptures in which they are used. For example, the number four is used to denote allness or universalness. This idea is conveyed in such expressions as “four extremities of the earth” and “four winds of the heavens.” (Isaiah 11:12; Daniel 8:8) At times, the number six represents imperfection. Interestingly, the number given to Satan’s earthly political organization by the book of Revelation is “a man’s number”​—666. (Revelation 13:18) Here six is raised to the third degree, underscoring the imperfection of that beastly organization. When the number seven is used in a symbolic way, it represents completeness. (Leviticus 4:6; Hebrews 9:24-26) These and other symbolic numbers used in the Scriptures gain meaning from their prophetic context.

Although the Scriptures give a measure of importance to certain numbers, the Bible does not encourage us to link the letters of certain words with numbers to uncover mystical truths.

[Picture on page 8]

Haman used divination to select a date to carry out his genocidal plot