A Question of Statistics?

I am an ex-christian and I have been on a Christian forum. One of the Christians on this forum wrote the following about why Christianity must be true:

Member # 3741
posted 02-21-2006 12:25 AM


Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events-in detail-many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!

God is not the only one, however, who uses forecasts of future events to get people's attention. Satan does, too. Through clairvoyants (such as Jeanne Dixon and Edgar Cayce), mediums, spiritists, and others, come remarkable predictions, though rarely with more than about 60 percent accuracy, never with total accuracy. Messages from Satan, furthermore, fail to match the detail of Bible prophecies, nor do they include a call to repentance.

The acid test for identifying a prophet of God is recorded by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. According to this Bible passage (and others), God's prophets, as distinct from Satan's spokesmen, are 100 percent accurate in their predictions. There is no room for error.

As economy does not permit an explanation of all the Biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled, what follows in a discussion of a few that exemplify the high degree of specificity, the range of projection, and/or the "supernature" of the predicted events. Readers are encouraged to select others, as well, and to carefully examine their historicity.

(1) Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel's long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be "cut off," killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ. The decree regarding the restoration of Jerusalem was issued by Persia's King Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 B.C., 483 years later the ministry of Jesus Christ began in Galilee. (Remember that due to calendar changes, the date for the start of Christ's ministry is set by most historians at about 26 A.D. Also note that from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. is just one year.) Jesus' crucifixion occurred only a few years later, and about four decades later, in 70 A.D. came the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)*

(2) In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Micah named the tiny village of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel's Messiah (Micah 5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Christ is one of the most widely known and widely celebrated facts in history.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)

(3) In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem's poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a "potter's field," used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1011.)

(4) Some 400 years before crucifixion was invented, both Israel's King David and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah's death in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution. Further, they said that the body would be pierced and that none of the bones would be broken, contrary to customary procedure in cases of crucifixion (Psalm 22 and 34:20; Zechariah 12:10). Again, historians and New Testament writers confirm the fulfillment: Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross, and his extraordinarily quick death eliminated the need for the usual breaking of bones. A spear was thrust into his side to verify that he was, indeed, dead.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013.)

(5) The prophet Isaiah foretold that a conqueror named Cyrus would destroy seemingly impregnable Babylon and subdue Egypt along with most of the rest of the known world. This same man, said Isaiah, would decide to let the Jewish exiles in his territory go free without any payment of ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; and 45:13). Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats (and he did, eventually, perform them all), and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1015.)

(6) Mighty Babylon, 196 miles square, was enclosed not only by a moat, but also by a double wall 330 feet high, each part 90 feet thick. It was said by unanimous popular opinion to be indestructible, yet two Bible prophets declared its doom. These prophets further claimed that the ruins would be avoided by travelers, that the city would never again be inhabited, and that its stones would not even be moved for use as building material (Isaiah 13:17-22 and Jeremiah 51:26, 43). Their description is, in fact, the well-documented history of the famous citadel.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109.)

(7) The exact location and construction sequence of Jerusalem's nine suburbs was predicted by Jeremiah about 2600 years ago. He referred to the time of this building project as "the last days," that is, the time period of Israel's second rebirth as a nation in the land of Palestine (Jeremiah 31:38-40). This rebirth became history in 1948, and the construction of the nine suburbs has gone forward precisely in the locations and in the sequence predicted.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1018.)

(8) The prophet Moses foretold (with some additions by Jeremiah and Jesus) that the ancient Jewish nation would be conquered twice and that the people would be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians (for a period of 70 years), and then by a fourth world kingdom (which we know as Rome). The second conqueror, Moses said, would take the Jews captive to Egypt in ships, selling them or giving them away as slaves to all parts of the world. Both of these predictions were fulfilled to the letter, the first in 607 B.C. and the second in 70 A.D. God's spokesmen said, further, that the Jews would remain scattered throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated by the peoples or of other nations, and that the Jews would one day return to the land of Palestine to re-establish for a second time their nation (Deuteronomy 29; Isaiah 11:11-13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea 3:4-5 and Luke 21:23-24).

This prophetic statement sweeps across 3500 years of history to its complete fulfillment—in our lifetime.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 120.)

(9) Jeremiah predicted that despite its fertility and despite the accessibility of its water supply, the land of Edom (today a part of Jordan) would become a barren, uninhabited wasteland (Jeremiah 49:15-20; Ezekiel 25:12-14). His description accurately tells the history of that now bleak region.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 105.)

(10) Joshua prophesied that Jericho would be rebuilt by one man. He also said that the man's eldest son would die when the reconstruction began and that his youngest son would die when the work reached completion (Joshua 6:26). About five centuries later this prophecy found its fulfillment in the life and family of a man named Hiel (I Kings 16:33-34).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 107).

(11) The day of Elijah's supernatural departure from Earth was predicted unanimously—and accurately, according to the eye-witness account—by a group of fifty prophets (II Kings 2:3-11).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 109).

(12) Jahaziel prophesied that King Jehoshaphat and a tiny band of men would defeat an enormous, well-equipped, well-trained army without even having to fight. Just as predicted, the King and his troops stood looking on as their foes were supernaturally destroyed to the last man (II Chronicles 20).

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 108).

(13) One prophet of God (unnamed, but probably Shemiah) said that a future king of Judah, named Josiah, would take the bones of all the occultic priests (priests of the "high places") of Israel's King Jeroboam and burn them on Jeroboam's altar (I Kings 13:2 and II Kings 23:15-18). This event occurred approximately 300 years after it was foretold.

(Probability of chance fulfillment = 1 in 1013).

Since these thirteen prophecies cover mostly separate and independent events, the probability of chance occurrence for all thirteen is about 1 in 10138 (138 equals the sum of all the exponents of 10 in the probability estimates above). For the sake of putting the figure into perspective, this probability can be compared to the statistical chance that the second law of thermodynamics will be reversed in a given situation (for example, that a gasoline engine will refrigerate itself during its combustion cycle or that heat will flow from a cold body to a hot body)—that chance = 1 in 1080. Stating it simply, based on these thirteen prophecies alone, the Bible record may be said to be vastly more reliable than the second law of thermodynamics. Each reader should feel free to make his own reasonable estimates of probability for the chance fulfillment of the prophecies cited here. In any case, the probabilities deduced still will be absurdly remote.

Given that the Bible proves so reliable a document, there is every reason to expect that the remaining 500 prophecies, those slated for the "time of the end," also will be fulfilled to the last letter. Who can afford to ignore these coming events, much less miss out on the immeasurable blessings offered to anyone and everyone who submits to the control of the Bible's author, Jesus Christ? Would a reasonable person take lightly God's warning of judgment for those who reject what they know to be true about Jesus Christ and the Bible, or who reject Jesus' claim on their lives?

*The estimates of probability included herein come from a group of secular research scientists. As an example of their method of estimation, consider their calculations for this first prophecy cited:

Since the Messiah's ministry could conceivably begin in any one of about 5000 years, there is, then, one chance in about 5000 that his ministry could begin in 26 A.D.

Since the Messiah is God in human form, the possibility of his being killed is considerably low, say less than one chance in 10.

Relative to the second destruction of Jerusalem, this execution has roughly an even chance of occurring before or after that event, that is, one chance in 2.

Hence, the probability of chance fulfillment for this prophecy is 1 in 5000 x 10 x 2, which is 1 in 100,000, or 1 in 105.

Is what this poster said really true? Is this correct statistics and probabilities for Bible prophesies? Please respond as soon as possible I want to hear yours and other ex-christians argument against this.

Tim D.


Perry said...


I suggest you have a look here:

I have seen the claim that not one single, solitary OT prophecy alleged in the NT actually was there, or happened.

Daniel's prophecy is the easiest to refute and yet is the most quoted by fundies.

Try here, too.

The JC birth prophecies use the name Emmanuel/Immanuel, NOT Jesus.

The whole claim you're dealing with is wishful thinking, combined with self-deception. Don't be fooled.

SpaceMonk said...

"Approximately 2500 prophecies ... 2000 ...fulfilled to the letter—no errors"

People can come up with statistics to prove anything.
Forfty percent of all people know that...

"...test for identifying a prophet of God is recorded ...Deuteronomy 18:21-22."

Verse 20 also says that the false prophet should be put to death, so I guess Jesus got what he deserved for falsely prophesying that the end times would come and he would return before his disciples had died, or their generation had passsed...

I won't answer all of your numbered prophecies but I can do some:

1) "...prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel's long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem..."

This also known as the 'Seventy Weeks'. It's very complicated, but for a look at why modern Jews themselves don't accept it try this:

2) "...Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel's Messiah (Micah 5:2)..."

The verse describes one who will be ruler over Israel, and the passage goes on to say how they will live securely and in peace...
except Jesus never ruled anything, and his times were anything but peaceful.

Also, if you take the view that the virgin birth narratives were added in later to fulfill such prophecies, then it makes more sense why Jesus was known as 'of Nazareth' rather than 'of Bethlehem'.

4) "...King David and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah's death in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution..."

This is contrived bullshit (as if the rest aren't).
Psalm 22 makes no mention of a messiah. It is David talking about his own troubles - and is not even a prophecy.
Pslam 34:20 is talking about a 'righteous man' in general, not any specific one in particular, let alone a messiah - and is also not a prophecy.
Zechariah 12 is talking about a time when Israel will be feared by the world and will destroy all nations that attack her, etc. it happens to mention being pierced, but nothing about a messiah.
In Jesus day Israel was destroying nobody, and feared by nobody (except maybe the Roman governors who had a bit of a hard time... as an understatement.)

5) "...Isaiah foretold that a conqueror named Cyrus..."

What proof is there that this wasn't added afterwards to comfort the Israelites that they had at least been conquered by someone prophesied...
After all, when they returned to Jerusalem they 're-discovered' their old bibles again which none of that generation had read before...

6) Destruction of Babylon "...Their description is, in fact, the well-documented history of the famous citadel."

It probably literally is, just inserted into an 'earlier' text.

7)The 'rebirth' of Israel and the location of the nine suburbs

How hard could it be for them to follow the 'instruction guide' laid out in Jeremiah?
Sure, nobody realised what they were doing, until afterwards someone cries, "Hey, this is the same as that bible description... Whoah...!"

8) The creation of modern Israel was contrived by men, in Britain the USA, Europe, etc. who knew their bibles beforehand, who have been raised knowing such a thing is prophesied, and believed it must happen.
Why wouldn't they try to make it happen?

11)"...Elijah's supernatural departure from Earth was predicted... by a group of fifty prophets..."

That's because the pilots of his UFO had given them all the flight plan.

12)"...their foes were supernaturally destroyed to the last man..."

Fighting amongst themselves is nothing supernatural.

If I was more edumacated, and if it even mattered, at all, then I could probably do the other 2490 aswell. It just takes a bit of analysis and/or common sense.
It could be fun too.

Eric Wolfe Hanson said...

This moring I foretold myself of a great and delicious sandwich I would have for lunch. Then I made the sandwich as it was good. I am 100% accurate in my prophecies! Worship my divine sandwichness.

Eric Wolfe Hanson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Perry said...

Here's a useful link for you.

You can read it and judge for yourself.

SpaceMonk said...

Woops I missed out # 3.
(Why do I bother, since you asked about probabilities? Well probabilities and statistics are irrelevant when it can be shown that the whole scenario is contrived...)

This one is an issue that raises serious doubts about the reliability of the gospel authors themselves, especially of Matthew.

"...Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for ...thirty pieces of silver ...this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem's poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13) ... (Matthew 27:3-10)..."

What, no mention of Acts 1:18-20?
Why not compare all sides of the story? - because then the cracks really start showing...

Zechariah makes no mention of any field, let alone it being used to bury foreigners.

Acts makes no mention of the field being a "potters field" or of throwing the money into the temple.

Acts says that Judas is the one who bought the field, whereas Matthew say's it was the priests who bought it.

Acts also says that Judas fell headlong into the field, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out, whereas Matthew say's he hanged himself.

So these passages differ.
Then what's really going on?

I think the Acts version would likely be closest to the 'original story', but Matthew, ever striving to match OT prophecy wherever he can squeeze it, picked up on the amount of money used, ie. 30 pieces of silver, and works in the Zechariah elements, ie. throwing the money into the temple and saying the field is the 'potters'.

So Matthew is once again shown to be the consumate spin doctor, and millions of people fell for it.

Millions of lives directed off course because of it.


SpaceMonk said...

He, he.

lothartx said...


Please do not let christians, or anyone for that matter, do your thinking for you. Do your due diligence, read and research. There is a lot of information out there. Go read and learn. The skepticsannotatedbile is a good place to start. Read books by Michael Shermer, Carl Sagan and James Randi. Pick and read a book put out by a Christian press and go and check the sources and read the items in context. That's what did it for me. I read portions of "A Case for Christ". I did my own "investigative reporting" and most of the book is false and/or misleading. Teach yourself critical thinking and be skeptical of all bizarre claims, whether christian or secular....

SpaceMonk said...

..."prophet" foretells the future Cyrus. Scholars believe that starting from chapter 40, this shit is a later addition from the post-exilic period, and looks like Isaiah is seeing the future..."

You mean I guessed right! Cool.
So much for 'Dr' Huge Ass.

curious1 said...


I found your post while looking up information about biblical stats. I am a statistician for the Navy. I've wanted to do a study on my own and started gathering information on how people come up with biblical statistics. I grew up in a Christian home and basically believed everything I heard at church (but really had unanswered questions of my own). The bible says we are to come together and reason. Yes, I am a Christian. I have sincere, reasonable, and respectful conversations with an atheist friend of mine. I love talking with my atheist friend because it makes me research both sides of the argument.

There are 66 books in the bible having many different authors written during different times. This among other factors will be interesting in figuring out some stats. I plan to gather as much info as I can from “both sides” and make my own decisions. I usually like to perform the actual calculations before I repeat any stats. My specialty is looking for errors in calculations (missed factors and logical/statistical rule breaking). Unfortunately the reference for the Daniel prophecy statistic was left out by someone (see asterisk on first stat in #1).

I'm glad you ask questions. That shows you are serious about knowing the truth. As a Christian I think we do need to ask questions. The very book some are against tells us to work out our relationship with God and be ready to give a reason of our faith. That’s good theology.

My advice to you is to listen to people who are serious about the truth. Stay away from those who talk about worshipping sandwiches. Making fun of either side is a ploy in avoiding the truth covering up (excuse me) their ignorance. Those are not true truth seekers. They will die in vain not knowing the truth. Make sure your reading includes both sides and then make your decision.

The truth will be the truth even if all the people don't believe it and a lie will remain a lie even if you believe with all your heart that it’s true. It would be a shame to die without knowing the truth. Don’t live in vain. Deep down inside I think most of feel there is more to life than to work, eat, sleep, and die. Figure it out. I don’t know it all but I do believe and have a fondness for Jesus that is real to me.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.

Sue Dickerson

boomSLANG said...

S.D. The very book some are against tells us to work out our relationship with God and be ready to give a reason of our faith. That’s good theology.


A couple of things...

Firstly, having a "reason" to have "faith" is not mutually inclusive with "faith" being reasonable.

Secondly, where "Divine" revelation is concerned---the Holy Qur'an, of course, is a book that "some are against"....but yet, it too, tells the Faithful(Muslim) to work out their relationship with "God" and have a "good reason" for "our(their) faith".

S.D. Deep down inside I think most of feel there is more to life than to work, eat, sleep, and die.

Why yes, of course most people feel that there's more to life than working, eating, sleeping, and dying....however, not everyone needs to get their sense of purpose from god-beliefs, and/or, the promise of eternal post-mortem "life". In fact, life becomes more special precisely because it ends. Figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Sue Dickerson: "They will die in vain not knowing the truth."

And, uh, not that I want to debate in length on what "knowing the truth" means, but... how does one "know" they found the "Truth"?

Anonymous said...

Sue wrote:
"There are 66 books in the bible having many different authors written during different times. This among other factors will be interesting in figuring out some stats. I plan to gather as much info as I can from “both sides” and make my own decisions"
What type of 'stats' are you trying to derive to prove the bible true or false?

Are you talking about finding even more of these prophesies, that some 'christian' has used in this article (where it keeps speaking of "Probability of chance fulfillment")?

Not to poo-poo your grand efforts, or question your talent for statistical math, but exactly how can such derived statistics be the end-all means to making your 'own decisions' whether the bible is true, or if it's god exists?

The first problem I see for your effort, is that several of the bible prophesies&fulfillments that the author attempts to connect, have no proof that they should be connected.

The second problem is that one has to make grand assumptions on some of these events of history, that can't be proven historically outside of the bible itself.

The third problem you would face, is that some prophesies were self-fulfilled by folks wanting such a connection to be made, thereby giving themselves some glory and fame etc..

Let's take the first example the author sites and see where it has problems with it's numbers. Numbers, that I assume you would need to do your stats with:

"1) Some time before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel's long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26"

Sounds pretty amazing that Jesus was predicted to arrive, this far in advance, and it SEEMS the hit the nail on the head.

Now here's the flaw for the mystical "483" YEARS being used.

From....... http://members.aol.com/chas1222/bepart42.html#issref423

DAN. 9:24-25
("Seventy weeks (70 X 7 = 490 years) are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins....and to anoint the most Holy....from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks (7 + 62 =69) and (69 X 7 = 483 years): the street shall be built again, and the wall even in troublous times").

This begins, of course, the famous prophecy of Daniel which apologists have seized with maximum celerity. Unfortunately, problems abound.

(a) The words "week" and "weeks" come from the Hebrew word which means 7 days, not 7 years.

(b) Unlike the RSV which says, "Seventy weeks of years", the KJV says "Seventy weeks."
These weeks are real weeks of seven days each, not years.

Dan. 10:2-4 shows as much: (b1) "I Daniel was mourning 3 full weeks." Would he mourn 21 years? (b2) "I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till 3 whole weeks are fulfilled." Would he have gone without eating these things for 21 years? (b3) "And in the four and twentieth day (24th) of the first month...." Would he talk about the 24th day in verse 4 after just talking about 21 days (3 weeks) in verse 2 if these 3 weeks meant anything other than 21 days, such as 21 years? If 21 days means 21 years then the 24th day should be the 24th year. The KJV does not mention "years."

(c) 483 years were supposed to elapse from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of Jesus. The decree of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem was made in 536 B.C. (Isa. 44:28) which is 532 years before the birth of Jesus in 4 B.C., not 483 years. The prophecy was 49 years short.

There are many contradictions and problems, in the use of numbers throughout the bible, but especially in the OT.
Then if you add in the many insurmountable problems of proper translation, how can one ever be sure one is dealing with correct numbers.

Now you propose to use questionable numbers to arrive at valid statistics, that will then determine in your mind if the bible is true or not, and I assume, whether it's god is true or not as well.

Many aspects of the bible are littered with problems:

It's science is greatly flawed (that is actually an understatement!!!!!)
Much of it's history has either been proven dead wrong, or can't be substantiated by secular history writers.
It's philosophy not only makes no logical sense, but it also contradicts itself throughout it's versus.

I would venture to say that fully, half of the bible is filled with problems that can't be reconciled, except in a true believer's mind, who then caters it's versus to his/her own desired flavor, while ignoring all the many problems it presents.

Sue, you sure can try and use your Navy math talents to try and reach a conclusion, but as they say in the world of computer programming, Garbage In----Garbage Out.

I would suggest to you that you look at ALL the problems of the bible to determine if it's valid enough for your own liking, but don't make your decision solely upon your skills with statistics. Your focus on just this one aspect of analyzing of the bible might blind you to the very 'truth' you seek to know.


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