Many are unfamiliar with the term itself, and hopefully most of the people who are familiar with it dismiss the concept at a glance. Numerology is another serving of nonsense, along with cryptozoology, astrology and many others, that masquerades as scientific or valid. There are many forms of numerology, specifically I will address biblical numerology, but the same basic premise flows through each subtype. There is a variety of methods for biblical numerology, but essentially there is a rubric for each type. For example, assigning numbers to letters in the alphabet, which are then used to “decode” secret messages in the Bible.
One of the greatest travesties of this field is the amount of money people are willing to spend on books, guides and other trinkets that are essentially cereal box “magic decoder rings.” Too true it is that a fool and his money are soon parted. There are countless websites promoting special systems of interpretation to better understand the text. It is a strange phenomenon since so many people do not even actually read the Bible, yet seek to find its hidden meaning; long gone are the debates of people like Aquinas, Maimonides and Augustine over metaphor in the texts. Perhaps it is a growing trend because of works like The Da Vinci Code, and people want to be treasure hunters and investigators themselves.
This is not only awful because of the money people make off scamming people, the victims of which perhaps deserve a great deal of credit for being so naive (even Herman Cain), but this practice is also a disgrace to our higher human faculties. We should use our reason and intelligence to try to answer real questions, not to look for hidden meaning in a system that is more nonsensical than a child created board game.
Here is an example from Carm.org, which is a Christian apologetics site, and even they take these with a grain of salt:
THE NUMBER OF MAN: Man was created on the 6th day. Man labors 6 days only. The Serpent was created on the 6th day. The 6th commandment is “Thou shalt not murder.” Six words are used for man: Adam, ish, Enosh, gehver, anthropos, anar. Also, 6 x 6 = 36. 36 + 35 + 34 + 33 + 32 . . . 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 = 666. 666 is the number of the antichrist. This means that the name of the antichrist in Greek adds up to 666. This is a mockery of the Trinity.
Fortunately, even most Christians mock numerology techniques. Harold Camping was also said to use some form of numerology to predict the May 21 failed doomsday prophecy and received mockery from Christians, atheists and even the apathetic. But unfortunately, numerology thrives in the pattern seeking realm of our brain, the same place that makes astrology and religion so mainstream. Our obsession with patterns no doubt gave us figures like Pythagoras and Da Vinci, and propelled us into the modern era, but it is also a fixation that forever shackles us to the bronze age.
Some further, rather ludicrous, examples of numerology: