Creationist Math: There’s Only a 1/479,000,000 Chance Moses Got Genesis Right, So It Must be True!

If there’s one thing “smart” Christian apologists should have figured out by now, it’s that they shouldn’t mess with math. Whenever they claim to have irrefutable proof of God’s existence, not only are they wrong, their math is so faulty that it brings all of their other credentials under scrutiny.

Margaret Hunter, a self-described mathematician, has no problem perpetuating that trend. She says the Bible’s account of Creation is so definitive that there’s “Less Than 1 Chance in 479 Million [that] Moses Made Up The Creation Account.” (And Christian sites are happy to spread the news.)

I can only assume this is Margaret Hunter hard at work in her classroom.

I can only assume this is Margaret Hunter hard at work in her classroom.

Those odds are pretty damn improbable. I’m pretty sure you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning… as you accept your multi-million dollar check for winning the lottery… and being left-handed. Or something like that.

So let’s see this incredible proof!

First, Hunter starts by explaining some basic probability:

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.

She’s absolutely right about that. (For those who understand the math, it’s just 1 divided by 12-factorial.)

But what does that have to do with Creation?

There are twelve events in the Biblical account of creation that science has confirmed are correct and in the correct order. So I ask myself, what are the chances of just guessing the correct order.

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 photsynthesis) 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

So, you see? Those 12 things happened in that order, and that’s how Moses described them in the Bible, so it’s just like that analogy to the cards being handed back to you in that order, and therefore GOD!

People like Ken Ham are probably salivating at this… but you don’t have to because Hunter has no idea what she’s talking about.

Let’s start with her faulty analogy. A deck of cards *has* to be in a particular order. That’s why it’d be very impressive for a toddler to get it right. But Moses (let’s assume for a moment that he existed and wrote Genesis, both of which I doubt) wasn’t randomly guessing at this order. Of course you have to create the earth (#1) before you create animals that live on it (#8-12). Of course you have to have water (#2) before you can separate dry land from it (#3). Of course you have to create plants (#4-6) before you can create animals (#8-11). (***Update***: A reader kindly informed me that plants evolved more than a hundred million years after animals, a fact that destroys Hunter’s argument in an instant.)

This isn’t some shuffled deck of cards that Moses randomly guessed correctly. This is a linear jigsaw puzzle where only one piece fits into the slot in front of it.

And what about the science confirming it’s all correct? Actually, science doesn’t say fish were “created” before man, as if God *poofed* fish into existence and then — hours later — got along to man. As if God could’ve just as easily swapped them around. It says humans evolved from fish-like ancestors. It happened in one direction.

Science also has a problem with plants being created (#4-6) before God ever gets around to making the sun (#7). And without the sun (#7), how are you separating light from dark (#1)?

Speaking of the right order, even Genesis contradicts Genesis. Genesis 1:25-27 says that man was created after the animals. Genesis 2:18-19 says that man was created before the animals.

A toddler randomly handing you playing cards wouldn’t create contradictions like that.

Hunter has no business applying the rules of probability to a story in the Bible that isn’t random (as she assumes) or correct (as she assumes) or even compatible with science (as she assumes).

I would demand she give her math degree back to her university, but there’s no evidence Hunter ever went to college for math. Or even went to college. Or even exists.

Maybe that’s for the best. Because this article is brilliant if it’s satire… but if it’s serious, Hunter just added to the stereotype of fundamentalist Christians who are unable to think critically.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.