The Law of Probability

After examining only eight different prophecies (even though he could have used 456) Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes of 600 college students. The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement among even the most skeptical students. Not only that, but when Professor Stoner took their estimates and made them even more conservative, he also encouraged other skeptics and scientist to make their own estimates to prove that his conclusions were more than fair.

Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a Committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented. For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Stoner and his students determined the average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period. They concluded that the chance of one man being born in Bethlehem was one in 2.8 x 10 to the 5th power - or rounded, one in 300,000.

After examining eight different prophecies, they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10 to the 17th power. To illustrate how large the number 10 to the 17th power is (a figure with 17 zeros) Stoner gave this illustration… Imagine covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars to a level of two feet deep. The total number of silver dollars needed to cover the whole state would be 10 to the 17th power. Now, choose just one of those silver dollars, mark it and drop it from an airplane. Thoroughly stir all the silver dollars all over the state. When this has been done, blindfold one man. Tell him he can travel wherever he wishes in the state of Texas. Tell him that somewhere along the way, he must stop and reach down into the two feet of silver dollars and try to pull up the one specific silver dollar that has been marked. What do you think his chances are? Well, the chance of his finding that one silver dollar in the state of Texas is the same chance the prophets had of eight of their prophecies being fulfilled in any one man in the future.

In financial terms, is there anyone who would not invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were only one in 10 to the 17th power? This kind of sure investment we are offered by God for belief in Christ His Messiah. Professor Stoner concludes: "The fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of those prophecies to a definiteness which lacks only one chance in 10 to the 17th power of being absolute".

Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the Biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish. Of course though, there are many more than eight prophecies. In another calculation Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used 456) and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the probability of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 10 to 157th power. How large is the number 10 to the 157th power? 10 to the 157th power contains 157 zeros!

Let us try to illustrate this number using electrons... Electrons are very small objects. They are smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 times 10 to the 15th power of them, laid side by side, to make one inch. Even if we counted four electrons every second and counted day and night, it would still take us 19 million years just to count a line of electrons one-inch long.

How many electrons would there be if we were dealing with 10 to the 157th power of electrons?

Imagine building a solid ball of electrons that would extend in all directions from the earth of 6 billion light years. The distance in miles of just one light year is 6.4 trillion miles. That would be a big ball! But not big enough to measure 10 to the 157th power of electrons! In order to do that, you must take that big ball of electrons reaching the length of 6 billion light years long in all directions and multiply it by 6 x 10 to the 28th power! How big is that? It's the length of the space required to store trillions and trillions and trillions of the same gigantic balls and more. In fact the space required to store all of these balls combined together would just start to "scratch the surface" of the number of electrons we would need to really accurately speak about 10 to the 157th power!

Assuming you have some idea of the number of electrons we are talking about; imagine marking just one of those electrons in that huge number. Stirring them all up. Then appointing one person to travel in a rocket for as long as he wants, anywhere he wants to go. Now tell him to stop the rocket, segment a part of space, take a high-powered microscope, and find that one marked electron. What do you think his chances of being successful would be? It would be one in 10 to the 157th power. Remember; this number represents the chances of only 48 prophecies coming true in one person.

All this illustrates why it is absolutely impossible for anyone to have fulfilled the Messianic prophecies by chance. In fact, a leading authority on the probability theory, Emile Borel, states in his book Probabilities and Life, that once we go past one chance in 10 to the 50th power, the probabilities are so small it's impossible to think they will ever occur.

Here is one last illustration of the immensity of the number 10 to the 157th power and why the science of probability shows we are dealing with the miraculous… Imagine one ant traveling at the speed of only one inch every 15 billion years. If he could only carry one atom at a time, how many atoms could he move in 10 to the 157th power of years? He would, even at that incredibly slow speed, be able to move all the atoms in 600,000 trillion trillion trillion trillion universes the size for our universe, a distance of 30 billion light years! Again, by the laws of probability, all of this means that it is simply impossible for 48 prophecies to be fulfilled by chance.

This is the kind of evidence that proves there must be a God who supernaturally gave us this information. Let's keep in mind that we’ve only illustrated 48 out of over 456 Messianic prophecies out of over 8000 total verses in Bible prophecy, of which thousands of verses have been fulfilled already. God challenges us; He really really challenges us!

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