Thursday, October 19, 2006

Statistics are just numbers...

Well, this has become my new motto. Statistics are just numbers and are subject to the bias of the interpreter!

What I mean is this--often we are given statistics to measure a level of risk. Risk of having a certain disease, risk of an accident, risk of winning the lottery (well, maybe you wouldn't use the word "risk" in that situation), and so on.

The problem is that we often use statistics (doctors included) to predict the future. Statistics do NOT predict the future. They only show something interesting--a correlation of data--about the past.

When you put your faith in numbers, the numbers will betray you. If you use numbers/statistics to predict the future, you will end up disappointed when the tides turn and in spite of "statistics" your chances of enduring a particular situation are 100%.

I have had 5 "perfect" pregnancies, and 5 healthy children. My mother has warned me that I should stop while I'm ahead. She has a belief that the numbers will catch up to me--that it will be my turn. I have heard recently that 1 in 4 or 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Well, I guess I have defied those odds. So does it mean that I am doomed to have a miscarriage soon if I continue to acheive pregnancy? No. Statistics do not predict the future. Remember? My mother also says something about "dipping too far into the gene pool." This is another topic, but I know what she means. She is basically warning me that eventually I will have a handicapped child.

From a Christian worldview, this faith in statistics is all wrong. We do live in a fallen sinful world. It is true that there are damaged genes, and when parents who have damaged genes conceive, they will give birth to children who have damaged genes or are at least carriers of the damaged genetic code, and will so keep multiplying the process. But somewhere along the way we forget what God says in his Word:

"Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Was this true only when there were less damaged genes? Of course not. God's Word is true throughout all generations. Are you hurting because of a loss? Are the doctors telling you there is something wrong with your baby? Lean on Jesus. He not only understands your pain, he is also caring for your little one. He is the great Physician, and he may not heal him/her here for this world, but he will heal him/her to be at home with him in heaven. His works are wonderful. "I know that full well."

I am not scared of statistics. They are subject to the bias of the interpreter. Sometimes the interpreter does not have a Christian worldview. Sometimes the interpreter does not believe the words of Psalm 139. Trust in your heavenly Father, who ordained you and wrote all of your days "before one of them came to be." As the old hymn goes, "He makes all things beautiful in His time."

Do I speak with authority? You betcha. I have had enough college math classes to make normal people quiver. =D My theology? Well, most of that comes from what I just feel in my heart, and my daily experience walking with God. He has blessed my life immensely. He truely has made all things beautiful in His time.

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