Sermons

Summary: The four words that verifies our faith. 1. Written 2. Believe 3. Christ 4. Life

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-Qopchedy qokedydy qokololy qokeedy qokedy shedy.

[NOTE: For this to make sense to the congregation, you will need to project these words on a scene, or have them printed as part of the worship bulletin.]

Try saying that!

The best cryptologists in the world have been unable to decode the 400-year-old document from which those words, if indeed they are words, are transliterated.

- Called the Voynich manuscript,

- These words are taken from a book discovered in an Italian villa in 1912 and named for the dealer who purchased it. It’s comprised of 234 pages and is hand lettered in an unknown code. There’s no punctuation or any indication of where sentences begin or end, but the volume is richly illustrated with watercolor images of plants not known on earth, apparent astrological signs and constellations not known in our solar system, strangely proportioned naked women and intricate systems of liquid-carrying tubes.

During World War II, the Allied cryptographers, the experts who broke the Nazi ciphers, played with the Voynich in their spare time, but made no headway. Other professionals, including linguists, botanists, mathematicians, astrologers, medievalists and literary scholars have taken a run at the Voynich, too, but have all come up dry, as have numerous amateur puzzle-solvers.

Recently, however, psychologist Gordon Rugg, who teaches at Keele University in England, came up with what is probably the solution. Working on the manuscript at home in the evenings, he finally concluded that it says — nothing at all!

Rugg proposes that it’s an elaborate hoax generated by an Elizabethan con artist to dupe a king into paying a large sum to acquire it. Indeed, the first known owner of the Voynich was the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who reigned from 1576-1612. He paid 600 gold ducats for it (about $30,000 in today’s money), believing it was the work of the 13th-century philosopher Roger Bacon.

Though this hoax possibility had occasionally been suggested, no one took it seriously because the document appeared too elaborate to be a fraud. Rugg, however, actually demonstrated how the so-called language of the manuscript was generated, and now many cryptologists and others are finding Rugg’s conclusion persuasive.

More important than the manuscript, however, is the type of investigation Rugg brought to the riddle. He calls it the “verifier approach,” and it has promise for solving more important puzzles, such as how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or to learn more about the origins of the universe.

The verifier approach looks for gaps in logic, research or experimentation, and then explores those. When professionals investigate a riddle they tend to rely on the principles from their expertise; the problem gets thoroughly considered from their niche perspectives. But often that means these experts miss the big picture, with the result that there are approaches that nobody examines. And sometimes the solution lies somewhere in one of the overlooked gaps.

Rugg argues that experts, whom he defines as someone with 10 years in a discipline, have no more reasoning power than anybody else, but they do have a lot of experience — experience that can blind them to things that seem to fit their expertise but are actually something different.

He argues that experience causes professionals to rely on what he calls “pattern-matching.” A doctor, for example, has seen many cases of chicken pox, and so when you present yourself to him covered with spots, he probably doesn’t use sequential reasoning to arrive at a diagnosis. You match the pattern his experience has taught him is chicken pox, and so he quickly labels your ailment, and usually he’s right.

But suppose you actually have something that looks similar to chicken pox but is actually more life-threatening? Then pattern-matching fails and thus leaves room for the verifier approach.

With his approach, Rugg draws a map of the field, indicating what areas have been researched and what kind of expertise has been applied. Then he looks for what has not been considered. He solved the Voynich puzzle not because he was smarter than others, but because he went looking for what the others had not contemplated. In the Voynich case, no one had seriously investigated the hoax theory.

The verifier approach is a new thing in science

Four Words that Use the Verifier Approach

1. Written

- About Jesus What he did & What he said

- In Jn 25 of the 39 OT books are used

- Truth to be trusted

- Prophecy - From days to 1000 of years later

- Archaeology - What has been said has been discovered after been hidden

- Authors - 40 different authors over 1600 years

- N T men willing to die for what they wrote because they were witnesses

2. Believe

- To accept as true, genuine, or real

- To have a firm conviction as to be true according to the evidence

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