The World’s Greatest Probability Calculation

by Paul S. Gardiner – January 21, 2021

This article describes an often forgotten 63-year old probability calculation that most people do not think about, much less consider while going about their everyday lives. However, the calculation and its ensuing conclusion is the kind of information that literally should hit readers “between the eyes”, leading many to substantially change their priorities in life.

Given the mushrooming political and cultural divide in America, the probability calculation described herein hopefully will cause many Americans to refocus their daily lives regardless of political beliefs because the calculation confirms the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.

Probability is the likelihood of a particular outcome or event happening. Statisticians, actuaries, scientists, and numerous other professionals regularly use probability to make predictions about events. An actuary that works for a car insurance company would, for example, be interested in how likely a 17-year old male would be to have a car accident.  They would use data from past events to make predictions about future events using the characteristics of probabilities, then use this information to calculate an insurance rate.

To better understand and appreciate the 1958 probability calculation about Jesus of Nazareth, it is helpful first to understand what a similar present day calculation would be. Thus, for example, the following question is asked: what is the likelihood (probability) of a man, age 25 to 29, living in the United States, who: a) is left-handed; b) has blond hair; c) born in San Diego, CA; d) is a smoker; e) has blue eyes; and f) suffers from hearing loss.

The mathematical calculation to answer the above question requires calculating the probability of each of the six independent variables from a to f. Once the individual probabilities are calculated, they must be multiplied together to arrive at the answer to the question.

Without going into mathematical detail, the overall probability, expressed as a decimal, for a man age 25 to 29, living in the United States, to have all the above six characteristics is .00000018. Stated differently, there is one chance in 5,555,555.6 for such a man to exist.

Regarding the 1958 probability calculation, it is contained in the book “Science Speaks” authored by mathematics and astronomy Professor Peter W. Stone and Robert C. Newman, Ph.D., Moody Press, Chicago, 1958. In his book, Professor Stone addresses the following questions: “Was the Jesus of the Bible who he claimed he was? Was he really God’s Son? Was Jesus the Messiah?”

Many scholars believe that there are over 300 prophesies in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible that point directly to the Messiah, God’s Son. All of these prophesies were made by various biblical personalities hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus. They include prophesies about the time of his birth, place of birth, being born of a virgin, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, being crucified, being mocked, being pierced in hands and feet, and so forth.

In evaluating a prophecy about Jesus, Professor Stone states that the question to ask is “—one man in how many men has fulfilled this prophesy?” He states further that “I realize that some will object to this question, saying that these prophecies were made with respect to Christ, and no other man has, or even can, fulfill them. This, of course, is true when you consider the mass of prophecies regarding Christ, but it is not true of all individual prophecies. It was prophesied, for example, that Christ would be born in Bethlehem; certainly other persons have been born in Bethlehem. It was prophesied that Christ would be crucified; other men have been crucified— I am trying to look at the evidence entirely unbiased, that I may better give a clear argument.”

Thus, Professor Stone decided to use only eight of the 300 prophesies about Jesus and his life as follows: a) born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); b) a messenger will prepare the way for him (Mal 3:1); c) will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9); d) wounded in his hands by friends “(Zech 13:6); e) betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:12); f) gave 30 pieces of silver to a potter (Zech 11:13); g) remained silent before his accusers (Isa 53:7); and h) wicked men pierced his hands and feet “(Ps 22:16).

In determining the probability that a man, any man, could fulfill each of the above eight biblical prophesies, Professor Stone sought and received estimates from over 600 individuals and students giving their estimates for each prophesy fulfillment. Most of the estimates were very conservative in nature.

For example, the estimate used for g, above (remained silent before his accusers) is 1 in 1,000 meaning that 1 man in 1,000 men could, “—when he is oppressed and afflicted and is on trial for his life, though innocent, will make no defense for himself—my students said they did not know that this had ever happened in any case other than Christ’s. At least it is extremely rare, so they placed their estimate as one in 10,000 or 1 in 104. We will use a more conservative 1 in 103″.

The end result of all Professor Stone’s probability calculations is that the chance of just 8 prophecies (like those above) all being fulfilled by one man by sheer chance is 1 in 1017   

or 1in 100,000,000,000,000,000. And if 8 additional prophecies are added, for a total of 16, the odds of all 16 coming true in any one man by sheer chance would be 1 x 1028 x 1017 or 1 in 1045 (that’s 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!) But miraculously, all 16 prophesies plus over 284 additional prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus!  

In conclusion, it is overwhelmingly clear that mathematically, Jesus of Nazareth can be proven to be God’s Son, the Messiah. As Professor Stone states, “Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.” People place themselves in great peril by not believing the divinity of Jesus, trusting in him for the salvation of their souls, and adhering to his very beneficial rules for human conduct and life.

Indeed, Professor Stone has presented the world’s greatest probability calculation!

Paul S. Gardiner is a retired Army officer and Vietnam veteran, thankful to be an American. He hopes and prays for a national spiritual revival and return to the Christian values and beliefs of the nation’s founding generation and most succeeding generations.