Wondering who could be the next president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
The office falls to the longest-serving member of the faith's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which means Russell M. Nelson is next in line to replace current president Thomas S. Monson. Nelson stepped into the No. 2 spot with the recent deaths of apostles L. Tom Perry and Boyd K. Packer.
Now Nelson, 90, has a 41 percent chance of assuming the Utah-based faith's top role, considered "prophet, seer and revelator" in the 15 million-member church. Nelson's chance was 19 percent before Packer's death. Those statistics are according to an algorithm by a Mormon statistician and blogger who goes by the name "Ziff."
The chance for next-in-line apostle Dallin H. Oaks, 82, is 30 percent.
The deaths of Packer and Perry in the past month changed the odds for the remaining apostles to become president of the church — next or someday.
"Packer was virtually tied with Elder Nelson for being the oldest member of the Q15 [they were born one day apart in 1924]," Ziff wrote on the Mormon blog Zelophehad's Daughters. "This means ... his death didn't change possibilities much for quorum members well behind him in seniority. But for those immediately after him, particularly Elder Nelson, the change is really big."
Ziff's chart is based on seniority — determined by the date a person was ordained to apostleship — and life expectancy. Ziff used an actuarial mortality table to determine life expectancy, which essentially gives everybody the same probability of living depending on their age.
Using those numbers, Ziff simulated 1,000 scenarios to see how many times each apostle would become president of the church. That's how he got the percentages.
But casting Nelson as the next president may be a little hasty since the simulations don't take into account other factors, he wrote, like "the fact that both [Oaks and Nelson] appear to be healthier than President Monson."
According to a recent statement from the LDS church, Monson, 87, is "feeling the effects of his age."
Other things that aren't factored in are family genes and personal medical history.
Ziff also used an American mortality table, so it technically doesn't apply to Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who is German and the only non-American in the quorum of the 15 apostles.
The probability of Jeffrey R. Holland becoming the next president is 8 percent, higher than his seniors in the Quorum, Richard G. Scott and Robert D. Hales, whose probabilities are 4 and 5 percent, respectively.
Holland's chances of ever becoming president are 53 percent.
David A. Bednar is the youngest apostle at age 63. He has a 67 percent likelihood of becoming president at some point in the future, according to Ziff.
Rather than being built on probability, however, Mormons view the process of choosing the faith's top leader as a divine one, "devoid of electioneering whether behind the scenes or in public," according to mormonnewsroom.org
Even so, the conversation is taking place in many, if not most, Mormon homes.
"One thing I'm curious about," Ziff said, "is whether the members themselves think about it."
UPDATE: Some readers asked why Monson’s likelihood of ever becoming president is 91 percent, if he’s already president. Here’s what Ziff said: “The simulation goes year by year, so (91 percent is) his probability of living at least one more year.”