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Chinese Characters (not) in Genesis March 25, 2007

Posted by Tim in Skeptic.

Remember the Bible Code? The theory was that every important person/event in the world is encoded in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), and can be found by dividing the Hebrew script into columns and searching for phrases in them (so that’s what God was doing on the seventh day!). It was just one of a long line of pseudoreligious theories, e.g.:

  • The symbol of the Illuminati is “hidden” in the US dollar bill, a symbol of their conspiracy to take over the world;
  • All bar codes actually contain the numbers “666”;
  • A “lost day“, corresponding to the miracles requested by Joshua and Hezekiah, found and proven by befuddled scientists;
  • Siberian scientists accidentally drilling a well to Hell;
  • Various predictions of the world ending at various dates;
  • Hidden pentagram and 666 formations in Washington ([pentagram = freemason = demonic] + 666 = very demonic);
  • Procter and Gamble being run by Satanists;
  • Dungeons and Dragons promotes Satanism and/or will possess you demonically (or Magic: the Gathering, or any game that involves any of the following: magic, spells, rituals, dragons, demons, Persia, witches [who are the bad guys supposed to be anyway?]);
  • Harry Potter promotes witchcraft and has resulted in a rise in Satanism among children better burn all those Enid Blyton books too);
  • Nearly everything written by Jack Chick. Seriously, that guy is one intolerant, paranoid psycho.

Ok, getting a little carried away there. The point here is that a healthy amount of skepticism has never hurt anyone. And I’ll be the first to admit that when I was younger I believed some of them.

One such hoax that seems to be making its rounds here lately is the “revelation” that various Chinese characters are inspired by Genesis (“Revelation” is relative here; the book that first expounded this, The Discovery of Genesis, was written in 1979. It’s like how we get seasons of Lost late).

It works a lot like the Bible Code, just in reverse. Instead of cherry-picking the Bible for letters and words which match up, you cherry-pick Chinese characters for elements which match Genesis. You can view examples here:

As for the rebuttals:

I rather like pinyin.info’s comparison:

They’re all the equivalent of the folk etymology of the English word assume: “to assume means ‘to make an ass out of you and me.’”

To give you some examples of the Chinese-Genesis claim:

This is classic. And shouldn’t it be “alive” + “dust” + “first” = “man”? It’s a pretty liberal translation of “alive” as well.

As we can see here, it now suits them better to interpret the character which was previously “man” into “walk”, so they do it. In fact later on in their section on the Tower of Babel, “dust” now means “clay”.

Let’s take a look at an extract of the WBS Flash version:

Before you laugh at the enormous leaps in logic here, look at the Genesis Site’s take on “desire”:

In this version, desire begins with Eve and two trees.

Where the proponents of the theories go wrong is in assuming that a) Chinese characters look the same now as they did in the past, and b) All Chinese characters are pictograms/compound pictograms.

In reality, modern Chinese characters have evolved over thousands of years, from simple oracle bone scripts, many of which look nothing like their modern versions. Furthermore, Chinese characters have semantic-phonetic rather than pictographic meaning, i.e. they are added to a character to indicate what the word sounds like, rather than a graphical representation of what the word means. In fact 97% of modern Chinese characters have semantic-phonetic elements, and a measly 3% purely pictographic! Read this link for the table, and if you have time the rest of that link if you’re curious as to how Chinese characters originated.

On an unrelated note, there’s also a version that states: since lions aren’t indigenuous to China, the Chinese must have invented the word for “lion” after the Lion of Judah, i.e. God. The problem is that “Lion of Judah” is mentioned a scant two times in the Bible; the most popular quote is from Revelation 5:5, which was writt in about 90 A.D. Following the same argument, Singapore is also God’s City, since lions aren’t native to Malaysia or Singapore either. I’ll take the standard reasoning that Buddhist traders brought descriptions of the lion back to China, thanks.

Oh by the way, it’s also not true that only 11% of our brain is ever used.  We can use all of it – should we choose to.



1. bjc - July 13, 2008

Dear Sir/Madam:

part of our brain is white matter and another part grey matter. We are using the grey matter and the white matter is being used for other functions….

Just a thought,

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