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Statistical Probability of Biblical Events

There are twelve events in the Biblical account of creation that science has confirmed are correct and in the correct order. This begs the question, what are the odds of all these things just happening by chance?

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Here are the events
1. Light separated from darkness
2. Creation of the earth covered in water
3. The separation of the dry land from the seas
4 – 6. The creation of plants in a particular order – grasses, plants with seeds and fruit-bearing trees
7. The placing of the heavenly bodies in relationship to the earth. This is often explained as the clearing of the atmosphere (from one composed mostly of water vapor and carbon dioxide to one with more oxygen due to plant photosynthesis) enough to see these creations.
8-11 The creation of animal life in a particular order – fish, birds, modern land animals, live stock
12. The creation of man

Think of the problem like this. Take a deck of cards. Keep just one suit -let’s say hearts. Toss out the ace. Hand the remaining twelve cards to a one-year-old child. Ask him/her to hand you the cards one at a time. In order. What are the chances said toddler will start with the two and give them all to you in order right up to the king? It’s a basic probability question (no, come back! forget I said anything about math.) I’ll just tell you the answer. It’s one chance in 479,001,600. (If you want the formula it’s below) In other words, Moses had less than one chance in 479 million of just correctly guessing.

Now compare this to other creation stories or myths. Many of these have remnants of the true creation story in place. Most leave out the hard and fast details found in Genesis. Many don’t even come close to actual events or the order of actual events.

What’s the simplest explanation? Moses just did guess it correctly? The ancients knew a lot more about science and the origins of the earth than their records show? Or Moses got it straight from the creator of the universe during one of his “face to face” talks with God (Exodus 33:11) or from information handed down to him from ancient prophets?

To me the simplest explanation is Moses got it straight from the creator.

The chance of getting the first card correct is 1 in 12. If you get that correct, you have eleven cards left. The chance of getting the next card correct is 1 in 11. What are the chances of getting the first and second cards correct? It’s 1 in 12 times 1 in 11 (1/(12*11) or 1 in 132. So the answer for getting all twelve in order is 1 in (12*11*10*9*8*7*6*5*4*3*2*1) or 1 in 479,001,600.

If you believe there is proof of a world wide flood (see and also that when the Bible mentions the time of Peleg. When the earth was divided, is referring to the splitting apart of the continents rather than a simple division of lands among people, you now have fourteen events in order. What are the chances of that happening? 1 in 87,178,291,200 or 1 in 87 billion which is more people than have ever lived on the earth.

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5 thoughts on “Statistical Probability of Biblical Events

  1. Dear Margaret,

    If it isn’t too much trouble could you please explain how you calculate the statistic that you have been quoted with in Christian media and reference details of that Smithsonian letter.

    I have an apologetic leaning (and 3 kids who might need confidence boosting given the aggressively secular influences in our culture) and like to have this sort of information.

    Thanks in advance.


    1. The formula I used to find the probability of randomly putting those 12 events in Genesis in the correct order is found in introduction to probability. The chance of guessing the first of twelve things correctly is 1 in 12. You now have 11 items left. The chance of guessing the second is 1 in 11. You multiply those numbers to get the probability of guessing both 1 and 2 correctly. So that is 1 in (12 x11) or 1 in 132. Now you continue this for all the rest getting this
      1 in (12x11x10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1) which is 1 in 479,001,600 or less than 1 in 479 million.

      I understand your concern since there has been a false divide created between religion and science. There is no divide, just as there is no divide between science and art or science and the study of history. Many scientists, including top scientists, are religious. Science is a tool for understanding the physical world around us. It does not create happy people, happy relationships or strong families, now does it explain where we came from, why we are here and where we are going.

      Here are some links you might find useful
      Scientists and God (theoretical physicist and anglican priest who writes on why science and religion are not divided) about Episcopal Bishop who teaches physics and astronomy at a local university

      From the International Science magazine, Nature, is an article making it clear that fossil records do not support natural selection as the source for sudden appearances of new species

      Also on my site here is a useful link with quotes from good resources

  2. These things can all be witnessed by any human being. And because he wasn’t the first and didn’t write the story in the first days of his life, we can assume he too knew these things by just noticing all of the life around him, and the many ways it can live and die. Even with limited knowledge he had in that time period, everything you stated has not changed and is the same in modern times. The creation of man could easily have been an interesting story he made up, and is the only thing he could not have witnessed. Maybe I am reading your list in a different way, but if not, that is how I see it. Not trying to knock anyone for their beliefs. I just believe that the creation story is a story and nothing else. I have no idea what the truth is though. I don’t necessarily believe all of the scientific views either. I just tend to think they seem a little less radical…well, some of them anyway. The ones I think are farfetched have equally farfetched religious counterparts.

  3. Quotes from Fred Hoyle, astronomer, Cambridge
    The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.
    Fred Hoyle, Hoyle on evolution, Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), p. 105
    Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.
    Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981)
    Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate … . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect … higher intelligences … even to the limit of God … such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.
    Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981), pp. 141, 144, 130

  4. We all are here to learning the basic principles of the existence of the planets and universes. In my experiments of the understanding of the living creations by the “ interest of the person “ even indescribable and impossible to all humankind’s mentality by knowing or understanding where the creation come from and how it’s been there for generations invisible human living existence. No. Nobody can. This is awe messages from bible and bible timeline history are very coolest to educate everyone in this world. Smile.

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