Statistics And Probability
Christianity stresses the role of faith in its
application. When Jesus Christ spoke of
faith, He used a particular word. That
word was “pistis (pis'-tis); from NT:3982 meaning persuasion, i.e. credence; moral
conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious
teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy
in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth
itself” and as used in the Bible (KJV) means “assurance, belief, believe,
faith, fidelity.” (See Strong's Greek-Hebrew Dictionary NT:4102). The first time Jesus used this word was
during His encounter with the centurion when He was asked to heal the
** New International
King James Version
When Jesus had entered Capernaum,
a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said,
"my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering." 7
Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him." 8 The centurion
replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But
just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man
under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes;
and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him,
"I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum,
there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously
tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The
centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come
under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For
I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man,
Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do
this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them
that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no,
not in Israel.
When Jesus talked about those of “little faith”, He used
another word. That word was “oligopistos
(ol-ig-op'-is-tos); from NT:3641 and NT:4102 meaning incredulous, i.e. lacking
confidence (in Christ)” and as used in the Bible (KJV) means “of little faith.” (See
Strong’s Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, NT:3640). In the sixth Chapter of Matthew following His
teaching concerning the proper way to pray, Jesus basically tells His disciples
not to worry about running after the things of this world for that is
foolishness. God knows what you need. Rather, you should seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; all of these
other things will then be added unto you.
** New International
King James Version
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and
tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to
morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of
Christ then went on to talk about the importance of faith
and the amount of faith required to do great things. He emphasized to His disciples that a great
deal of faith is not required but if they simply had the faith no bigger than
that of a mustard seed, great things could be achieved.
** New International
King James Version
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if
you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain,
'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto
you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this
mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing
shall be impossible unto you.
One of the greatest things that can ever be achieved is the
salvation of the soul. When the Holy
Spirit calls a person to faith in Jesus Christ, how much faith is really
necessary? Perhaps, as above, it only
takes faith no greater in size than that of a mustard seed. Where does one find that kind of faith today?
In today’s world people are probably more familiar with the
area of statistics and probability than any other time in history. The reason for that familiarity is that we
are surrounded by politics and gambling.
These topics pervade our society and for better or worse, they have
exposed us to the reality of the application of statistics in everyday life.
Every other year, and especially every four years, we are
inundated with polling data suggesting that particular candidates hold a
certain percentage of voters and how those numbers are prone to movement
depending on the position the candidate takes politically. Before every election pollsters and
statisticians tell us how likely it is that one candidate will prevail over
another, plus or minus the margin of error.
In fact this activity became a problem when these same pollsters were
telling the American public who was going to win a certain presidential
election before the polls actually closed.
Congress rectified this problem but it illustrated how statistics could
be used to manipulate election results.
I don’t know if you have noticed but in this country, the
gambling industry is exploding.
Everywhere people can now play some state or multi-state lottery; they
can play a magazine sweepstakes; or they can drive down the road to their local
casino. Once again, statistics and
probability come into play in these activities and if people really understood
and applied these concepts, the gambling industry would die. A multi-state lottery claims that the odds of
winning the grand price are 1 in 80 million while a magazine sweepstakes claims
that the odds of winning are 1 in 120 million.
(I can’t even win a coin toss to see who gets to go first in a game of
horseshoes so what makes me think that I can possibly win one of these games.) In organized casino gambling, the house
always has the odds and in some games, the odds of winning are so remote as to
be preposterous (sort of like the lottery).
That is how they stay in business.
They are not there to give away money; they are there to keep your
money. However, once again, people are
exposed to statistics if they pay attention.
The area of statistics and probability also come into play
when it comes to the Bible. I am not
being heretical when I say that you can consider the Bible and apply statistics
to certain aspects in order to strengthen your faith. While I understand and appreciate that faith
is a “belief in things unseen”, this is an instance where evidences give rise
to opinion that does not have to rely upon faith. The area that I am referring to concerns the
prophecies about the life of Christ and how those prophecies were fulfilled in
one man – Jesus the Messiah.
I have taken the liberty of summarizing certain prophecies
and providing the verse for the prophecy along with the verse evidencing its
fulfillment. These verses are as
Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled in One Person:
by a friend. (Psalms 41:9; Matthew
pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15).
money cast to the floor of the temple (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5).
money used to buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13: Matthew 27:7).
and deserted by his disciples (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:50).
by false witnesses (Psalms 35:11; Matthew 26:59-60).
before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12).
and bruised (Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 27:26).
without a cause (Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).
and spat upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67).
ridiculed and rejected (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 27:27-31 and John 7:5, 48).
from weakness (Psalms 109:24-25; Luke 23:26).
with specific words (Psalms 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-43).
will shake their heads at Him (Psalms 109:25; Matthew 27:39).
will stare at Him (Psalms 22:17; Luke 23:35).
among “sinners” (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38).
and feet will be pierced (Psalms 22:16; Luke 23:33).
pray for his persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34).
and family will stand afar off and watch (Psalms 38:11; Luke 23:49).
will be divided and won by the casting of lots (Psalms 22:18; John
- Will thirst
(Psalms 69:21; John 19:28).
be given gall and vinegar (Psalms 69:21; Matthew 27:34).
commit Himself to God (Psalms 31:5; Luke 23:46).
will be left unbroken (Psalms 34:20; John 19:33).
will rupture (Psalm 22:14; John 19:34).
will be pierced (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34).
will come over the land at midday (Amos 8:9; Matthew 27:45).
be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).
die 438 years after the declaration of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple in
444 BC (Daniel 9:24).
be raised from the dead (Psalms 16:10; Acts 2:31), ascend to heaven
(Psalms 68:18; Acts 1:9) and be seated the right hand of God in full
majesty and authority (Psalms 110:1; Hebrews 1:3).
Professor Peter W. Stoner who authored “Science Speaks”
stated that the probability of just eight particular prophecies being fulfilled
in one person is 1 in 1017, i.e. 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). The eight prophecies used in the calculation
1. Messiah is to be born
(Micah 5:2; fulfilled in Matt. 2:1-7; John 7:42; Luke 2:47).
2. Messiah is to be
preceded by a Messenger (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-3;
11:10; John 1:23; Luke 1:17).
3. Messiah is to enter Jerusalem on a donkey
(Zechariah 9:9; fulfilled in Luke 35-37; Matthew 21:6-11).
4. Messiah is to be
betrayed by a friend (Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14; fulfilled in Matthew 10:4;
26:49-50; John 13:21).
5. Messiah is to be sold
for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; fulfilled in Matthew 26:15; 27:3).
6. The money for which
Messiah is sold is to be thrown “to the potter” in God’s house (Zechariah
11:13; fulfilled in Matthew 27:5-7).
7. Messiah is to be
silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; fulfilled in Matthew 27:12).
8. Messiah is to be
executed by crucifixion as a thief (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah
53:5,12; fulfilled in Luke 23:33; John 20:25; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27,28).
This statement was validated by the American Scientific
Affiliation. This number has been
illustrated as follows:
If we take 1 X 1017 silver dollars and
lay them on the face of Texas,
they'll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver
dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man
and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one
silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of
getting the right one?
Professor Stoner went on to consider 48 prophecies and says, “… We find
the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157.
“This is a really large number and it represents an extremely small
chance. Let us try to visualize it. The silver dollar, which we have been
using, is entirely too large. We must select a smaller object. The electron is
about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5
times 1015 of them laid side by side to make a line, single file,
one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch
long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would
take us 19,000,000 years to count just the one-inch line of electrons. If we
had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them it would take
us, counting steadily 250 each minute, 19,000,000 times 19,000,000 times
19,000,000 [nineteen million times nineteen million times nineteen million] or
6.9 times 1021 years.
This is approximately the total
number of electrons in all the mass of the known universe. In other words the probability of Jesus Christ
fulfilling 48 prophecies is the same as one person being able to pick out one
electron out of the entire mass of our universe.
Such is the chance of any one man fulfilling any 48 prophecies. Yet Jesus
Christ fulfilled not just 48 prophecies, not just 61 prophecies, but more than 324 individual prophecies
that the Prophets wrote concerning the Messiah.
I haven’t been able to find the statistical projection representing the
possibility of Jesus Christ fulfilling 324 prophecies but I really don’t think
it matters given the illustrations set forth above.
Does it really take faith to come to salvation through Jesus Christ? Absolutely but that faith is not a blind
faith as some would want you to believe but instead, it is a faith based upon
facts. How much faith? Maybe not very much if one really takes the
time to look at the facts and take into consideration the statistics and
probability of the prophecies concerning the Messiah.
When someone tries to tell you that Christianity is a religious faith based
upon ignorant acceptance of certain precepts that have no basis in fact, they
are sadly mistaken. Christianity only
makes sense. It is a faith that not only
can be an emotional faith (which it is), it is also an intellectual faith.
Given the odds, I wouldn’t bet against it.
** A modern language quote is provided for readability along with
an accompanying KJV version believed by many to be a more accurate
representation of the original scripture.
Comments or questions may be directed to the author at email@example.com.