The passage above comes from pages 84-87 of
emeritus of science at Westmont
College Peter Stoner has calculated the probability of one man
major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were
out by 12 different classes of 600 college students.
carefully weighed all the factors,
discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various
might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular
prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there
finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.
Professor Stoner took their estimates
and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other
or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions
than fair. Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee
the American Scientific Association (ASA). Upon examination, they
verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard
scientific material presented.
concerning Micah 5:2, where Micah
prophesied 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 that figure by the population of the earth
during the same period. They concluded that the chance of one man
born in Bethlehem was one in 2.8 x 105 - or rounded, one in 300,000.
examining only eight different prophecies, they
conservatively estimated that the
chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1017.
how large the number 1017
is (a figure with 17 zeros), Stoner gave this illustration: Imagine covering the entire state of Texas with
dollars to a level of two feet deep. The
total number of silver dollars needed to cover the whole state is 1017. Now choose just one silver dollar, mark it,
and drop it from an airplane flying over the state. Then
thoroughly stir all the silver dollars
all over the state.
When that has
been done, blindfold one person,
and tell him he can travel wherever he wishes in the state of Texas in an
attempt to reach down into all
those silver dollars and pull up the one that was marked.
The chance of his finding that one silver
dollar – in the entire state of Texas
– would be the same chance the Old Testament prophets had for eight of
prophecies coming true about any one man in the future.
terms, is there anyone who would
fail to invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were
only one in
1017? This is the kind of
sure investment we are offered by God for belief in his Messiah.
course, Jesus fulfilled many more than
eight prophecies. In another
calculation, Stoner used 48 prophecies (even though he could have used
as 456) and arrived at the extremely conservative estimate that the
of 48 prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 10157.
How large is
the number one in 10157? Well, 10157
zeros. Let’s try to illustrate the size
of this number, this time using electrons.
very small objects. They are smaller than atoms. It would take 2.5 times 1015 of
them, laid side by side, just to add up to one inch. If
we counted four electrons every second and
counted day and night, it would take us 19 million years just to count
of electrons one inch long.
But how many
electrons would we have to count if
we were dealing with 10157 of them?
Imagine building a solid ball of electrons that would extend
directions from the earth a length of six 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 10157
In order to
do that, you must take that big ball
of electrons measuring six billion light years long in all directions
multiply it by 6 x 1028! How big is that? It’s
the length of the space required to
store trillions and trillions and trillions of the same gigantic balls
more. In fact, the space required to
store all of these balls combined would just start to “scratch the
the number of electrons we would need.
have some idea of the number of
electrons we are talking about, imagine marking just one of those
electrons. Then stir them all up, and
appoint a person to travel in a rocket for as long as he wants,
wants to go in that mass of electrons.
Tell him to then find that one marked electron.
What do you think his chances of success
would be? One in 10157.
Remember, this number represents the chance of
only 48 prophecies coming true in one person.
This affirms that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to
fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies solely by chance.
In fact, a leading authority on probability
theory, Emile Borel, states in his book Probabilities
and Life that once we go past one chance in 1050 (from a
perspective), the probabilities are so small it’s impossible to think