Probabilities and Statistics Discussion

Business & Finance
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When performing a hypothesis test, you must make an assumption in order to perform it. Assume that the hypothesis you are testing (the null hypothesis) is true. This assumption allows you to calculate the probability of the test results. You then use that probability to decide whether or not to accept the hypothesis and the claim associated with it. The more likely the results, the more readily you accept the hypothesis. This kind of analysis can be used to evaluate any idea for which there are enough facts or data. For example, what about the premise that Jesus is the Son of God? Josh McDowell takes a similar approach to answering this question in his book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972). In his book, McDowell collects a variety of information that attests to the Bible’s validity and Jesus’ claims to being the Son of God. He includes the interesting results of a large volume of research. In the section about messianic prophecy, he quotes the probabilistic analysis of Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963). Stoner used the assumption that Jesus was just a man and not the Son of God to perform a probability analysis and hypothesis test on some messianic prophecies. In this case the hypothesis was that Jesus was not the foretold Messiah or the Son of God. He then examined the probability of a selection of prophecies coming true if Jesus was in fact not divine. Using a selection of 8 prophecies, Stoner showed that the probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled is 1 in 1017. Using the language of hypothesis tests, this means that you would reject the hypothesis that Jesus is not the Messiah for any α > 10-17. To put it another way, α > 0.00000000000000001. The smallest α that is normally used for a hypothesis test is α = 0.01. This means that you can safely reject the hypothesis that Jesus is not the Messiah or the Son of God. For more on this, I recommend Josh McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Peter Stoner’s work can be found in Science Speaks, published by Moody press. Stoner’s book might be difficult to find, but McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict is still in print. The references for the 8 Old Testament prophecies that Peter Stoner analyzed are listed below along with the verse references for their fulfillment. It is likely that most students in this course believe that Jesus Christ is divine, so listing probabilities of Him doing certain things is irrelevant. However, what Stone is doing is playing the devil’s advocate. He’s saying to the skeptical, “Okay, let’s have it your way for a second. If Jesus of Nazareth was just an ordinary man, what is the probability that he could fulfill all the prophecies by chance?”

In Discussion Board Forum 2, post a thread that includes the following:

1.  Think more about the probability of each event. For example, what is the chance that a person born in Israel would be born in or be from Bethlehem?

What would the probability be that a person would be crucified in Israel given that he lived in that time period?

Put numbers on each of the eight prophecy fulfillments. Some of the probabilities will be subjective, but put values that you feel make sense and write a short justification for the value you picked. For example, if one of the prophecies said that the Messiah would come from the house of Judah, you could say that the probability is 1/12, since there were 12 tribes. Do not put probabilities of 0 or 1. You can get closer than you might think—Google can tell you what the population of Israel was in the days or Christ, for example. The important thing is to write down your justification as to why you assigned the probabilities you did to each prophecy.

2. Choose one of the eight prophecies in Stoner’s research. Explain how he might have arrived at the probability he assigned. Do you think his estimated probability is too high (conservative) or too low? What probability would you assign and why? By the way, here's a reference table that shows Stoner's probabilities.

3. Given the new probabilities you associated with each prophecy, what is the probability that all eight happened in sequence?

Hint: What’s the probability that you flip a coin and it comes up tails? 50%. What if you flip the coin twice and it comes up tails both times? 1/2*1/2 = 25%. What if three times? 1/2*1/2*1/2 = 1/8. What if four? Five? Now think about the probability of just two prophecies coming to pass at the same time. What would the probability be? What about three prophecies? Eight? Show your work. Don’t use ½ in your answer! Make sure that you use the probabilities that you came up with in question 1.

4. Reflecion Question: Do you think it is possible that someone other than Jesus could have fulfilled the prophecies of the Bible? Why do some religious groups claim to believe the Bible, but reject Jesus as the Messiah?

The verse references are as follows: Dan. 9:26c Killed before the destruction of the temple Matthew 27:50-51 Zech. 9:9f Presented to Jerusalem riding on a donkey Matthew 21:6-9 Zech. 11:7 Ministry to "poor," the believing remnant Matthew 9:35-36 Psa. 22:16 They pierced His hands and His feet John 19:34, 37; 20:27 Psa. 69:21 Given vinegar in thirst Matthew 27:34 Isa. 53:9a Buried in a rich man's grave Matthew 27:57 Gen. 49:10 Called Shiloh or One Sent John 17:3 Ex. 12:46 Not a bone of the Lamb to be broken John 19:31-36

Submit your thread of least 100 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday of Module/Week 7. Submit your 2 replies of at least 25 words each by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 7. Feel free to consult with the instructor for help with this project. However, each student must turn in his/her own work.

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