When performing a hypothesis test, you must make an assumption inorder to perform it. Assume that the hypothesis you are testing (the nullhypothesis) is true. This assumption allows you to calculate the probability ofthe test results. You then use that probability to decide whether or not toaccept the hypothesis and the claim associated with it. The more likely theresults, the more readily you accept the hypothesis.
This kind of analysis can be used to evaluate any idea for which thereare enough facts or data. For example, what about the premise that Jesus is theSon of God? Josh McDowell takes a similar approach to answering this questionin his book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict(Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972).
In his book, McDowell collects a variety of information thatattests to the Bible’s validity and Jesus’ claims to being the Son of God. Heincludes the interesting results of a large volume of research. In the sectionabout messianic prophecy, he quotes the probabilistic analysis of Peter Stonerin Science Speaks (Moody Press,1963).
Stoner used the assumption that Jesus was just a man and not theSon of God to perform a probability analysis and hypothesis test on somemessianic prophecies. In this case the hypothesis was that Jesus was not theforetold Messiah or the Son of God. He then examined the probability of aselection of prophecies coming true if Jesus was in fact not divine.
Using a selection of 8 prophecies, Stoner estimated that the probabilityof all 8 prophecies being fulfilled is 1 in 1017. Using the languageof hypothesis tests, this means that you would reject the hypothesis that Jesusis 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 hypothesistest is α = 0.01. This means that you can safely reject the hypothesis thatJesus is not the Messiah or the Son of God.
For more on this, I recommend Josh McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands a Verdict. PeterStoner’s work can be found in ScienceSpeaks, published by Moody press. Stoner’s book has recently beenrereleased in e-book format. You can find it in module/week 4 AdditionalMaterials folder. McDowell’s book, EvidenceThat Demands a Verdict is still in print.
The references for the 8 Old Testament prophecies that PeterStoner analyzed are listed below along with the verse references for theirfulfillment. It is likely that most students in this course believe that JesusChrist 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 tothe skeptical, “Okay, let’s have it your way for a second. If Jesus of Nazarethwas just an ordinary man, what is the probability that he could fulfill all theprophecies by chance?”
Old TestamentProphecies New Testament Fulfillment
Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:4-6
Isaiah53:7 Mark14: 60-61
In DiscussionBoard Forum 2, post a thread that includes the following:
1. Type out each Old Testament prophecy with the verse referencefollowed by the New Testament verse with the fulfillment. (10points)
2. Which one of the 8prophecies and its fulfillment spoke to you the most? Write at least 150 wordsabout this verse and your thoughts about it. (10 points)
3. These prophecies and their fulfillment are definitely evidencethat Jesus is the Messiah. People have different opinions about whether or notthey are absolute proof of this. Do you think these verses prove that Jesus isthe Messiah? Write at least 250 words about your opinion on this. Be sure toexplain the reasons behind your thinking. Whether you believe that Jesus is theMessiah or not, please give your honest opinion. Any honest thoughtful opinionwill receive full credit. (12 points)
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