Radio 4 and the Spirituality of Numbers!

The BBCs devotion to all things spiritual was illustrated by Mark Tully's 'Something Understood' on Radio 4 on Easter Sunday 2004 on 'the power of 3'. Yes that's right, the power of three, in which he enlarged on the special significance, the 'spirituality', of the number 3 in all aspects of life and especially all the great religions ("with the exception of Islam"!!). Holy! Holy! Holy! The Trinity, father son and holy ghost! (Ah! so that's where 'three' came from )

Warming to his subject he widened it out to all aspects of life, past present and future. For the purpose of this talk he imbued 'three' with its special significance for the Christian religion at Easter, (the spring fertility rite to umpteen fertility goddesses such as Oestris and Ostara [1]). Backing up his 'facts' with examples from all areas of life secular and religious, he found no shortage of notions and quotations to imply proof from our rich heritage of superstitious beliefs.

On any given subject there are referenced to things in threes, in language, ideas, astronomy, architecture and engineering, botany and the rest of the arts and sciences. He she and it, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, three kings, three magi, heaven and earth, one star, one ark...five loaves, and two fishes .... er.

Of course there are Christians who do not agree that three is superior to say two, or seven, or ten or even twelve. Two by Twos, affirm that two is the special spiritual number. And one has a lot going for it. After all it is the unit, the building block of life, the individual, indivisible, except if you want to go into fractions! ~ And who would want more than one front door, one nose or anything unique?

Two has a large following, pairs of things have a special aura, twins, pillars or people. Two legs and two arms is just perfect, heaven and earth, two fishes. There are many biblical references to two in the bible, Noah's animals two by two and many more, fully researched on

And of course the rest of the numbers have their supporters for a place in the spiritual dimension stakes - they all have their biblical references, or interpretations- four is pretty nondescript but you can find them if you look under the surface (at the code so to speak), and in the absence of specific references is taken as meaning 'the universal principle'! There those who see five a pretty powerful too there were five loaves, and seven has a lot of backers. One group of enthusiasts left out five and eleven entirely but did not elaborate.

It is interesting that odd numbers appear generally to be more significant in all this than even numbers, could that be why they are called odd numbers I wonder?

Of course the special significance of numbers is not confined to the religions, holistic healing, Runes, tarot, stichomancy, witchcraft and of course numerology use the power of numbers. In alchemy the sacred three quoted by Tully in support of three, were sulphur, mercury and salt! Of course. So the fact that three is given some power in all these 'notions' gives further proof if proof were needed the number 3 is special, as is the number two, four, five and so on. It is not rocket science, once you get the hang of it!

The cross has two timbers, the vertical and horizontal, and four ends, a triangle has three sides, three points, three angles, a quadrilateral has four of everything. Circles are round as are spheres, and the whole world is a globe. I could go on but not being brilliant at geometry, (I'm already getting bored) I will leave you to your own painting of life by numbers.

Isn't it time that humanists put a bit of 'welly' into countering the promotion of mumbo jumbo on Radio 4. In researching this piece I have found a rich vein of humour in 'the power of numbers' and there are many web-sites if you want information or just a good laugh. "Entertain your brain! - Consider the Bible!" says the Gospelsmiths web-site - but I would suggest you turn the sound of your speakers down to zero fairly early in your visit to the above sites not to be driven to a spiritual frenzy by the jingles.

[1] Pagan Origins of Easter -

The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similar "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [were] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime e.g. Astarte, from Phoenicia - Ishtar from Assyria

This article was submitted to New Humanist on 11/4/04 -

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