Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fun Calculations From The Bible

I think I'm going to make this a standing, occasionally updated post.  In the past, I've been accused of taking the Bible too literally.  So here, I'm going to go ahead and set the bar as high as I can, so that when the accusation comes again, I can point here and say "look, it could be worse."  We all know that math wasn't really the strong suit of most of the authors of the Bible.  Clearly, they often just made up some numbers that they thought sounded right.  Now, I'm not going to spend my time looking at whether 623 or 628 children of Bebai returned from Babylon; no, I'm going to see if I can find the truly ridiculous numbers.

If you ever doubted that Revelation was John on acid, I'm about to prove it to you.  Revelation 14:17-20 is about a winepress.  Except it isn't pressing grapes, really.
17 Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” 19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. 20 They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.
That's a lot of blood.  How much blood?  Let's find out!  One stades, in Rome at the time, is about 0.92 furlongs; a furlong is an eighth of a modern mile.  So 1600 stadia was 200 Roman miles, but it works out to 183.93 modern miles.  I'm going to interpret here, and say that when the blood flowed out for a distance of 1600 stadia, that means the distance the blood went out from the winepress John saw, i.e. that they're talking about the radius of the lake of blood.  So we've got the radius of our cylinder (approximating here, of course, that the lake is circular and the depth is constant throughout); now we need the height in order to calculate the volume.  Unfortunately, "as high as the horses' bridles" isn't an accurate measurement, but the bridle of a horse is typically between four and six feet from the ground.  Call it 5 feet for simplicity.

So, we've got the height of our cylinder in feet.  The radius, in feet so our units match, is 183.93 * 5280 = 971,150.4 feet.  Now, we go ask a European high school student what the formula is for the volume of a cylinder, and we find out that it is pi * the radius squared * the height.  So, pi * 971150.4^2 * 5 = 1.481470008 x 10^13 cubic feet.  There are 28.3168466 liters in a cubic foot, giving us 4.195055897 x 10^14 liters of blood.

Now, let's turn this into people.  I think we can safely assume that the winepress is only squeezing out blood; it is after all a divine winepress, so it should be able to discriminate.  The human body contains approximately 5 liters of blood, so we can divide our total volume of blood by 5, and get 83,901,117,930,000 crushed grapes people required in order to create this lake of blood.  This is about 11,800 times the current population of the planet Earth, by the way.  Yes, I know John was totally tripping balls when he wrote this.  Yes, I'm sure the number 1600 was just some fancy symbolic thing.  But I think we can safely say that John hallucinated a truly horrific amount of blood here.

26 comments:

  1. Well done sir... Though I thoroughly enjoyed the math, it was the "Yes, I know John was totally tripping balls when he wrote this" part that brought it home for me.

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  2. Given pi is 3 in biblical calculations, the final result is only 11,445 times the current population of the earth. I mean literalism should mean literalism.

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    1. Previous calculations of pi have no significance when calculating for a modern audience. John did not give a total so it is pointless to compare what he may have come up with to these hypothetical volumes.

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    2. You only doubt because the love of Christ does not reside in your heart. You of little faith! How dare you blaspheme him! While you'll be in the numbers on this fateful day, those of us who stay true to his ways will be witness to this spectacle
      Do you not know the God of the Bible is the also God of the impossible? Your math and science are but mortal refuse to the Almighty God.
      So what if it seems unrealistic, haven't you seen 300? God loves his Children, and he will put King Leonitas to shame when he smites the armies of the wicked with such an awesome magnitude of poetically-stylized, theatrical gore that likes of Director Zach Snyder couldn't even fathom...in his mercy. And he will do it so using an army of angelic hosts, all wielding outdated military equipment…because any other way would be boring. And God is not boring
      I gleefully anticipate the day I watch this while feasting upon a bucket of hot-buttered manna.
      The Passion of the Christ was Such a disappointment; Zach Snyder should direct a remake so that the message Christ’s love could be better communicated in explosions of unrealistic amounts of blood rendered in stunning CGI.

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  3. Good thinking and rational calculations.

    I calculated that Noah's flood, to cover the entire earth would require that for 40 days, it had to rain 6 inches a minute! If you've ever been in a place where it rained 6 inches in a day, you'd realize, that anyone outside in a 6 inch a minute rain would have drowned long before the earth was flooded.

    Then there is the detail that there isn't enough water on the earth to cover it completely. Add to that an ark the size described in the bible would not contain the millions of animals and their food for even a day.

    Then there is the "minor" detail that no wooden boat of that size has ever been built, even in the great age of sail.

    Attempts were made, but they all foundered in the first moderate sea they encountered, even with 19th century shipbuilding technology.

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    1. wasn't just rain: Genesis 7:11-12 NIV
      [11] In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month---on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. [12] And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

      And we don't just have water ON the earth, it's UNDER as well.

      The ark was the size God commanded, not an imaginary size to accommodate what you might think was millions of animals. You're assuming they took all the different species that we have today. Not so, the Bible says KIND, not soecies, for instance, 2 wolves would've sufficed for the dog kind.
      Genesis 6:20 NIV
      [20] Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.

      It comes down to, do you believe the Bible or not. We weren't therr so we have to take the written account by people that were there. Think of times you've heard or read something that mad absolutely no sense to you, but given more information or then seeing it for yourself, the first account you received now makes perfect sense.

      Be careful how you question God. Remember He's God? You're not. He is capable of a lot more than you could ever imagine. And He has warned us many times in many different ways what will happen if we continue to turn from Him and deny Him. The world in its sin sits under the wrath of God, us sinners included. The only way to escape God's wrath upon the earth is to put our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He died on the cross taking the wrath of God upon Himself on our behalf so that by faith in Him, by submitting to Him and following Him as Lord, we are saved from the wrath to come and washed clean of our sins by the power of His blood. We've all broken God's law in one way or another. No one is perfect. We need to be rescued and Jesus is offering that escape. He says if we will confess and repent of our sins and put our trust in Him as Lord and follow Him, He WILL save us. He loves us. He loves you, more than you can ever imagine. He willingly went to the cross and took your punishment for your sins upon Himself so that you could be saved from God's judgement and eternal wrath on sin. Trust Him today. The time written about in Revelation is not far off.

      By the way, the estimated amount of "grapes" was around 11,000 the times of people in the earth today. The Bible just used grapes as a metaphor. It doesn't necessarily mean they were all living at the time. Some scholars believe the earth is only somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 years old. Now if approx 11,000 - 12,000 years of people were harvested, living and dead, and the earth is about 15,000 years old, then that calculation makes sense. Remember it's just a metaphor for God's judgement.

      Just another way of looking at it.

      Also remember, our understanding is limited. It's great to dig into the Word of God to study it. But if you find yourself at a subject that doesn't make sense, dig further. There's usually something there that sheds light on it and brings it into perfect alignment. I've gone over a lot of "discrepancies" only to find they weren't discrepancies at all. More understanding just needed to be added through a little more digging and studying.

      It's up to you whether to believe or not. But God is clear, believe and receive Him to everlasting life, or reject Him to everlasting judgement and torment. The world sits under God's wrath. He offers a way to escape it through Jesus Christ. The choice is up to us.

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    2. To P Howard, what an awesome response, you where so kind and not critical of the previous thoughts at all. I really enjoyed reading your response, Thank you and blessings to you my friend, you may have just lead some to Christ

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    3. I Am certain that many people seeking answers (like me) stumbling across this read will realize that God,,,, OUR GOD! Is a very loving God that gave us His ONLY SON. can you imagine giving up your only child? for the sins of all mankind? THATS AWESOME.

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    4. Oh, and one thing P Howard didn't mention. Not only was there the Fountains of the Great Deep. The rain was by God, therefore, God could have made it rain as much as needed, so the problem of not being enough water is inaccurate.

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  4. You're right that 1600 is likely symbolic. The number 40 in the Bible is sometimes called the "number of probation or trial," and 1600 is 40 squared. So I guess maybe John's trying to say the end times will bring some seriously serious trials.

    Whether or not it's supposed to be literal, though, the math aspect was still interesting.

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  5. i like this article and how you show respect to all, and showed it mathematically simple even to me (not a math kind of guy) i just had a question, wouldn't the 83 billion be representing "people" from before, during and after this generation?
    and by "people" how do you know for sure the grape clusters represent people?

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  7. Read the whole Bible before making a judgement, not just take those things that you dont understand to prove your point... Just a suggestion.

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  8. I've always heard this was a river 1600 stadia long of unknown width, not a lake. So let's say 971,150.4 feet long, 5 feet high, and I dunno, 10 feet wide. That's 48,557,520 cu ft, or 1,714,792 litres. This would come out of 342,958 people, well within our population. The river could be over 100 feet wide and it would still work.

    slrman, if you read Genesis you would see water didn't just come from rain, but also from "the fountains of the deep" Plus, many Creationists believe there was a dome of water above the earth. The sky was created between water and water in Genesis 1. This would account for where all the excess water came from. There wouldn't need to be millions of animals as every species could have descended from a common familial ancestor (eg. wolves, foxes, and dogs, etc, only needed 2 canine ancestors on the ark). How many animal families (excluding fish) are there? Probably enough that could fit 2 small, young members of each into the ark.

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  9. Good reply, James. A winepress seems to have a consistent spout, the width may be just a few inches and a wall be wall whether thick or thin.

    Going back to the days of Noah, when there were giants in those days, they were about 5 times larger than us, 25 feet, two and a half stories, being the average height compared to the average height of man today. The formula for figuring out the height of an angel is given in Revelation.

    Going back further, Adam and Eve had MANY children, many children before the fall. After the fall is when God cursed the woman and made childbirth painful, so then Eve and Adam only had a few children, those being daughters of men. The former children, children of God, of perfect, sinless, un-corrupted beings, were told not to intermarry with the blemished, imperfect children of Adam and Eve. They did all as symbolism for the angels who fell from heaven because they coveted something imperfect, and we humans are those fallen angels given our chance at redemption back to heaven.

    No one goes to heaven who hasn't first come from heaven - Lord Jesus

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  10. This is assuming that the blood flowing is a cylinder. Perhaps what was revealed was simply a straight river... It is not clearly stated

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  11. 1600 stadia us the distance between the two extreme cities in Sicilia.
    She is the woman dressed with the sun with the 12 stars above her and half moon below her.
    This is an island between United Europe and Islamic states.

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  12. I also did the calculation based off of squared miles, but that is just a guess as we don't know if it's a trench a foot wide? A furlong is 1/8 of a mile so 1,600 furlongs is 200 miles. A horses bridle is on average 4-6' so I went with 4'. Next I converted the 200 square mile lake to acres which would be a 128,000 acre lake. 1" of rain over an area of 1 acre is 27,154 gallons. 27,154 * 128,000 is 3,475,712,000 gallons for 1" depth of water over 128,000 acres. Multiply that number by 48 (4') and you get 166,834,176,000 gallons (631,536,055,804 liters) in a 128,000 acre lake 4' deep. Now when juicing (pressing) you get all of the juices out of the grape, so assuming this all of the fluids would be pressed out (or spilled as the press is a parable) of the person not just blood (the fluid would still be red though diluted). The human body has 40 liters of fluid so divide the 631,536,055,804 liters by 40 and you get 15,788,401,395 people required to fill said lake. That is slightly more that double the current population of the earth. While that is a lot of people it is not an astronomical number that would make this inconceivable. Like I said this is mere speculation as we don't have all of the dimensions necessary to accurately conclude how much blood there would be in his vision.

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  13. The math that is used makes no sense at all. First it never says anything about a lake but that it came out of the winepress for 1600 stadia. I take that as one direction only. Also when we compair to other verses we know that it is talking about the valy of decision outside of Jerusalem. I can't remember the name but it is the valley where they have dug graves and tombs cor centuries located just outside of lower Jerusalem. Sense it is a valley and the blood is flowing in one direction away from Jerusalem it will not be one hight but will travel untill the ground of the valley floor rises to equal the hight of the of the bridal. Oh yes the Arabian horses native to the area are quite a bit shorter than the typical American quarterhorse. And smaller still when you take away 2000 years of breading that has taken place sense then. So we now bave an area of determined width a length of 184 miles acording to my Bible and a depth that varies with terrain and becomes increasingly shallow as the vally floor rises. So I won't claim to be able to do the math but you missed it by multiples of billions of gallons and in the past I have heard someone who did work it out using the actual measurements of the real valley and the size of the armies that are slelled out as being at the battle of Armageddon and it works out quite nicely. Unless of course its your blood.

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    1. As I mentioned we don't know all the true dimensions (length, width, depth). I purposely chose a lake example as an extreme case scenario in order to show how far off the op was in his mockery of the scripture, (mocking the mocker) not in an effort to literally figure out the amount of blood in the vision as we don't have all the variables to do so 🙂.

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  14. The math that is used makes no sense at all. First it never says anything about a lake but that it came out of the winepress for 1600 stadia. I take that as one direction only. Also when we compair to other verses we know that it is talking about the valy of decision outside of Jerusalem. I can't remember the name but it is the valley where they have dug graves and tombs cor centuries located just outside of lower Jerusalem. Sense it is a valley and the blood is flowing in one direction away from Jerusalem it will not be one hight but will travel untill the ground of the valley floor rises to equal the hight of the of the bridal. Oh yes the Arabian horses native to the area are quite a bit shorter than the typical American quarterhorse. And smaller still when you take away 2000 years of breading that has taken place sense then. So we now bave an area of determined width a length of 184 miles acording to my Bible and a depth that varies with terrain and becomes increasingly shallow as the vally floor rises. So I won't claim to be able to do the math but you missed it by multiples of billions of gallons and in the past I have heard someone who did work it out using the actual measurements of the real valley and the size of the armies that are slelled out as being at the battle of Armageddon and it works out quite nicely. Unless of course its your blood.

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  15. you're assuming you're right on your ideas but how about if the winepress was on a hill? the blood would not go 360 degrees at that distance. also, you need to consider the bodies, the gear, the vehicles, the landscape is going to take some of that space too.

    you are overthinking this, yes, those are analogies but you dont need to break your head too much to know it just means A LOT of people is going to die in a single event... and it will be horrific to watch.

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  16. The measure is unusual: blood flows as high as horse's bridle, and 1600 stadia long. It sounds confusing because it appears something is missing there. Blood occupies space, and three dimensions are required to define space. But only two measures are given, and then, almost two: what is descriptive measure called ‘horse's bridle’, juxtaposed to the very exacting 1600 stadia?

    However, let's not give up, nor try to invent more variables. I think there is a twist already, in the description. Why would horse's bridle be mentioned? Is final harvest killing of horses, or of wicked men who ride horses?

    Then, in Chapter 19, which reads similar to Chapter 14, angels come to announce Christ's claim to his kingdom, and the harvest of the world begins: armies on horses are assembled both in heaven, and on earth, and kings of earth and their captains are assembled to fight against the Son of Man. All of enemies are eventually slaughtered. (Which we read in a more symbolic manner in Ch 14 already.)

    Observe this, following the same metaphor: if armies are arrayed, horsemen next to each other in battle formation, how many horses (read: horsemen), arrayed like that, can fit in 1600 stadia?

    Another point: horses are of different sizes, same as men are of different sizes. Both can be as small as 1.4m or as tall as 2m. However, horse's bridle is at human's height, and that point is at the same height as horse's withers — where horse's height is measured.

    Wine's press in the vineyard, means, every drop of blood will be squeezed. From whom? From the vines in the vineyard of God. Real vines yield in blood? I don't think so: it is obviously men's blood — those inside vineyard, who were supposed to take care of it, but were negligent (see the parable from the Gospel) and declared to riot against the owner of the vineyard.

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  17. Interesting post by why did you assume that we are talking about a lake? It seems more accurate to calculate this as a river. If you oversimplify a river as a straight cube and take the current population of the world then you get a 5ft x 183.9mi x 1.5mi river. That doesn't sound as ridiculous. Next time maybe make your straw man with fewer holes (i.e., more thought through assumptions)

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  18. If you think about it, how big was God's winepress? Did he crush all the (grapes) at once? But if the grapes got crushed in separate groups, the winpress would've been a super-fast, extremely fast, machine to create a river as high as a horse's bridle and 1600 stadia long. The valley concept sounds about right because if the grapes got pressed on open landscape. The stuff (blood) would've spread out making it extrenely hard to have a river a horse's bridle high.

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  19. In text, there is no mention of second or third dimension, to conclude we are to come up with geometric or stereometric calculation. The lake, river, stream, or anything else, cannot be defined. Because the size of only one dimension is given, and a descriptive variable added with no exacting number, we can use them to calculate *frequency only* (frequency as in "number of something").

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