Statistics, Quality Life and Faith

The Bible is full of statistical and political terms that we can apply to Christian living.

Philosophy and Mission September 30, 2019

The Bible is full of statistical and political terms that we can apply to Christian living.

Right or Left Deviation: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (Isaiah 30:21).

The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant, Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth (2 Samuel 14:19).

Normal Distribution: In Psalm 90, it reads: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away ( verse 10). So, how is this Bible verse associated with statistics?

When we put the concept of 70 years (known as the mean) as the average length of life and 80 years old as an exceptionally healthier and stronger into a statistical bell curve, then five years can be figured out as the standard deviation (SD).

According to the principle of normal distribution, the age of 70-75 is the first sigma (Among every 100 people, 34 people will live in this age range), 75-80 the second (Among every 100 people, 13.5 people will live in this age range), and 80 and above the third sigma (Among 100 people, only 2.5 people will have longevity) on the right hand side. Thus, any human beings who live longer than 70 should be regarded as having long life. An article in the Huffington Post highlights Seventh-day Adventists as living an average of 10 years longer than the American life expectancy of about 79 years. For generations, Adventist people have been regarded as high-end exceptionally good outliers and examples that fulfill the aforementioned Biblical verse.

Again, according to normal distribution, the age of 65-70 is the first sigma (Among every 100 people, 34 people will live in this age range), while 60-65 the second (Among every 100 people, 13.5 people will live in this age range), and 60 or below the third sigma (Among 100 people, only 2.5 people will live with a short life) on the left-hand side. So, any human beings who live shorter than 70 should be regarded as the shorter life. According to the Bible, any age below 60 should be regarded as a short life.

Six Sigma Theory:
According to the six-sigma theory, we should anticipate the worse case (life under 60 years old) and the best case (life up to 80 years old). From this, we can determine that the quality number will be calculated based on the formula, t=(a+4m+b)/6.  This statistical formula bears weight to the Biblical knowledge on length of life. Any human beings who live above 80 or below 60 are regarded as outliers. For every 100 human beings, there will be about five people referred to as outliers. According to the Bible, people will live on average between 60 to 80 years old.

So how does the “Six Sigma Theory” apply to the Christian walk? There are some parallels between both.

Six Sigma doctrine asserts that:

• Manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled.
• Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.
• Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results (e.g. by reducing process variation) are of vital importance to business success.

Christian doctrine asserts:

Sinful Nature – Human beings have the sinful natures which are defined at the beginning. Without salvation or re-work, it will remain as the sinner and eventually thrown away and perished (Unacceptable σ, Low-End Defect)
Justification – The Christian needs to make a commitment to start making sustained quality improvement for their life. The power to do so comes from Salvation and God. (Acceptable Normal Range with 4σ).
Sanctification – The Christian seeks a process of acquiring sanctity and becoming holy. (Acceptable and Recommendable σ , High-End Defect)

From the Biblical point of view, God expects us to seek a sanctified life and physical life longer than 80 years old. What do you think?


Grace Chi

Dr. Grace received her PhD in Nursing Science from Texas Woman's University. Her dissertation evaluated the effects of music relaxation video on pain and anxiety in patients who received intracavitary brachytherapy for gynaecological cancer. She is the 2011 recipient of the International Research Dissertation Award from Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society. Currently, she is a Full Professor and teaching at Andrews University Department of Nursing in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA.

Jerry Chi

Dr. Chi is the Professor of Management, Graduate Program Director, and Associate Dean of the Business department at Andrews University, USA. He has served at Taiwan Adventist College as an instructor for four years (1985-1989) and has served at Southwestern Adventist University as a business professor for 16 years. As the Business Department Chair and MBA Program Director at SWAU, he was also awarded Educator of the Year in 2007. He received his B.A. in Theology, B.B. A. in Business Administration (Accounting), M.B.A. in Business Administration, PhD in Leadership and Administration with minor in Business Management, a second PhD in Quantitative Methods, Statistics, and Research Evaluation.


  • | October 1, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    The connection made between the two tailed statistical scenario of life expectancy and the verse in Psalm was educational and enjoyable in the same time. I also liked the introduction of Six Sigma theory. However, I notice there is a weak logical connection between the statistical analysis of Psalm verse and the statement that God wants us to live longer than 80 years. This doesn’t mean that I disagree with the statement in the last paragraph. I personally admit that living long and healthy life as a Christian glorifies God. But I can’t find the connection between the analysis and the statement. If you enforce what I pointed out, this article would be more pleasurable to read. It was already pleasurable to read the statistical analysis.

    • | October 2, 2019 at 7:42 am

      Thank you for your feedback. The Bible verse and six sigma theory are compatible to explain the concept of statistics in terms of age or three stage of Christian life. They both explain the concept of exceptionally good, which Adventist people have been looking for, healthy/longer life and sanctified life. Of course, both Bible verse and Six Sigma Theory are not directly associated with/ linked to Adventist church members, but the pursuit of healthy/longer and sanctified life have been our Adventist core value to be exceptionally good.

  • | September 8, 2020 at 3:50 am

    The concept of quality control applied to our life in terms of human life span is a very interesting and inspiring analogy I’ve never thought of before. I personally believe the concept of quality control is applicable and important in how we live our life too.

    Unlike the products that are simply being produced we have firsthand participation in shaping our life. How we act and think, the decisions we make, all invariably affect the quality of our life. Just like how strict quality control standards and production standards to eliminate defects are crucial in manufacturing, improving the quality of our life depends heavily on our decisions and actions.

    It is not to say producing low-end defects are necessarily bad because, just as a producer learns from production failures-defected products-we can learn from our mistakes and failures and improve from them, but it is still very important to strive towards controlling the quality of our life by eliminating low-end defects and trying to stay within normal distribution with occasional deviation to the high-end.

    However, it is undeniable fact that very few people manage to live a life of high-end quality on their own help, then what about the rest of us? How are we to do it? And I believe that is where a divine guidance and leadership steps in. “Leadership is vital in establishing high levels of quality and a commitment to continuous improvement throughout an organization” (Dilworth 82). Just as leadership has a significant role in establishing good quality control, what we let lead our life can vastly change the quality of our life. As it was pointed out that Adventists on average lives longer than average Americans, I believe that letting God take the ultimate leadership in our life can make our life on earth fruitful and meaningful. Just like the Six Sigma doctrine, in letting God lead our life we must have clear understanding of God’s character to be the standards for our life, must make full commitment to follow Him, and must put in continuous efforts to follow in His footsteps and be more like Him.
    Thank you very much for the insight and analogy. It is very thought provoking.

  • | September 8, 2020 at 7:21 am

    This was a very interesting way to think of things. Statistics in real life – connected to the Bible.

    I personally never have connected the quality control theory to my everyday life. In practical and simplest terms, God is our guide and presents the rule book if you will to life. This quality control, is needed by having each person- use the teachings from the bible and implement it in their everyday lives.

    Every day is a choice. It is a choice on how you will live your life and which direction you will go. Of course, there are some statistical analyses’ that have been made: whether you are or are not SDA and live according to the Bible, and there are different points to argue or support. However, even though we live in a different time than it was in the Bible, I think the overall concepts still can be related and implemented in our everyday lives. This can help us live longer and better lives.

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