My post last week on Why Are Christians So Intolerant turned out to be quite popular. It was interesting to watch it statistically spread, first throughout the USA and then into, as of today, 23 other countries. I’ve been following some of the comments and one gentleman said something to the effect of, “I’m glad he found Jesus if that’s working for him, but his claim that Christianity is an absolute truth is inaccurate because it can’t be mathematically proven like 2+2=4 can.”
Today, I want to show why that is not an accurate statement, but first a story. During the 1940’s, a U.S. Army Sergeant by the name of David Greenglass was working on helping the U.S. to develop the atomic bomb. What no one knew at the time though was that Greenglass was also working as a spy for the Russians. For 2 years he passed along top secret information by working with couriers. Finally though, under a cloud of suspicion, he needed to make his escape to Mexico where he would then be given means to get to Czechoslovakia. For this to work though it would require working through other spies stationed in Mexico. Here are the instructions Greenglass was given along with a form letter that would help pull all this off…
Upon David’s arrival in Mexico City, he was to send the letter to the Soviet Embassy and sign it “I. Jackson.” Three days later after he sent this letter, David, carrying in his hand a guide to the city with his middle finger between the pages of the guide, was to go to the Plaz De La Colon at 5 p.m. and look at the statue of Columbus there. He would wait until a man came up to him, when David would say, “That is a magnificent statue,” and tell the man that David was from Oklahoma. The man would then answer, “Oh, there are much more beautiful statues in Paris,” and would give Greenglass a passport and additional money. David was to go to Vera Cruz and then go to Sweden or Switzerland. If he went to Sweden, he was to send the same type of letter to the Soviet Ambassador or his secretary and sign the letter “I. Jackson.” Three days later, David was to go to the Statue of Linnaeus in Stockholm at 5 p.m. where a man would approach him. Greenglass would mention that the statue was beautiful and the man would answer, “There are much more beautiful ones in Paris.” The man would then give David the means of transportation to Czechoslovakia, where upon arrival he was to write to the Soviet Ambassador advising him of his presence.
Now I told that story for a simple reason. Notice the details that went into making sure the correct man was identified. I count 7, some of which I’ve lumped together.
- A particular letter had to arrive at the Soviet Embassy.
- That letter had to be signed I. Jackson.
- The meet up had to be exactly 3 days later.
- He had to be carrying a particular guide.
- He had to have his middle finger tucked into it
- This all had to take place at a specific place , time and statue.
- The conversation had to be exactly as described.
This was all done to ensure that there was absolutely no mistake in identifying the proper man. A random person may get lucky and have 1 or 2 or 3 of these characteristics thus temporarily confusing the spies, but to get every detail correct would mean it was all a part of the plan and you had found the right person.
You’re going, “Ok Gilbert, but what does this have to do with absolute truth?” I know you want to get there, but indulge me with one more thing. What if today I was able to tell you in detail about your great-great-great-great-great-(and a few more greats)-grandchild who will live 400 years from now. Let’s say I gave the location of their birth, when they will be born, what their name will be, what they will do for a living, where they will live, the name of their spouse, when they will die, and how they will die. 8 things in all. If somehow today we were able to know that I accurately predicted all of those things, you’d go, “Gilbert that was amazing! How did you do that?! I mean what are the odds?”
Well actually someone has figured that out. Dr. Peter Stoner and 600 of his students in the Math Department at Pasadena City College,in the 1950’s, put the odds at 1 chance in 10 to the 17th power (10^17). In case you forget what they looks like, here it is 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That number is too big for our mind to conceive so they came up with a way to illustrate it.
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. The odds of him picking up the marked coin? 1 chance in 10^17!
Here is where things get really crazy. If you up that number to 13 predictions instead of just 8, now we don’t just cover Texas with silver dollars, but the entire earth. And not just 2 feet deep either…now it’s from the earth to the moon deep. Moving on to 48 predictions, we find the chance is 1 in 10^157. To put that in perspective, try quickly counting to 100 in the next minute. Ready…set…go. Did you do it? If you did great, but to count to 10^157 you’d have to repeat that every minute, of every day, for the next 47.5 million years!
OK, so here it is!!!! How do you explain that? You might be asking, “Explain what?” Well I told you about David Greenglass and his 7 signs for being properly identified. I told you the odds of 8, 13 and 46 predictions all coming true. Did you know that there are 456 prophecies about Jesus found in the Old Testament of the bible?!! Now to be fair, some of them are a little ambiguous, but even once you take those out you are left with 333 specific prophecies. Now you saw how the numbers grew from 8 to 13 to 46 predictions…our mind can’t even conceive of the chances of 1 man fulfilling all 333. Again think of David Greenglass. Getting all 7 of his signals correct was a pretty strong sign that you had the correct man. In Jesus case there were 333 of those signs!
Now a bit of background. The Old Testament was completed and being circulated into other countries 400 years before the birth of Jesus. So there is no way that others later went back and changed it so He met all these predictions. So then your left with two options…
- The 30 writers of the Old Testament just got lucky and defied astronomical odds.
- Each of these writers was inspired by God in what to write.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, it actually would take me more faith to believe option 1 than it does option 2. So as follower’s of Jesus, we really do believe that the bible is God’s Word to us. We really do believe that Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of prophecy that God would be born among us. So with that said, we really take the life and teachings of Jesus seriously. And it was Jesus who said that He is truth. Not has truth, but IS truth.
So to the person who commented that mathematically Christianity can’t be absolute truth and to all of you reading this, I hope you’ve been challenged that actually it can be.
David Greenglass + 7 signals= You’ve found the right man.
333 predictive prophecies + Jesus fulfillment= We’ve found the right man and He is the way, the truth and the life.
Next week I’ll explore some of the implications that this post has to do with our lives, beliefs and world. Until then keep checking back each day as I write on a variety of topics.