Probability of evidence for Jesus

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Ministry

This is a blog entry from a Pastor/Teacher that I had contact with many years ago while he lived in the Philadelphia area.  Dr. Will Varner was with Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries and at my former ministry, we had the blessing of having him speak to us many times.  Here is a great thought from a recent blog post of his…

Probability of evidence for Jesus

Someone asked me today if I am a presuppositionalist or an evidentialist in my apologetics. Many readers may not know the difference. Well there is a whole lot of evidence to support our presuppositions. How’s that?

Years ago I wrote the following about the mathematical probability of Jesus being the Messiah. Take it for what it is worth.

“The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established beyond doubt – for example, insurance rates are fixed according to statistical probabilities.

Math Professor Peter Stoner calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students. (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).

After examining only eight different prophecies (106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17. That figure can be expressed like this: 100,000,000,000,000,000

To illustrate how large the number 10^17 is (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration : If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 10^17 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? Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (106-107).

From these figures, Professor Stoner concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (107) – the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10^17! But, of course, there are many more than eight prophecies. Alfred Edersheim calculated that Jesus actually fulfilled 456 OT prophecies. As Stoner concludes, ‘Anyone who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world’ (Stoner, 112). God so thoroughly vindicated Jesus as the Messiah that even mathematicians and statisticians have to acknowledge that it is scientifically improbable to deny that Jesus is that Messiah.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on this…let me know below in the “reply” section…


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