tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post6654086256131997329..comments2023-06-01T14:08:49.977+00:00Comments on Confessions of a Doubting Thomas: The End of Christianity?Unknownnoreply@blogger.comBlogger5125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post-4920737401587866702013-01-08T04:26:47.176+00:002013-01-08T04:26:47.176+00:00"I haven't read it yet, but if you want t...<i>"I haven't read it yet, but if you want to see whether or not Bayes can and should be used in apologetics, you should try Colin Howson's recent book 'Objecting to God'."</i><br /><br />Bayes has no appeal to me. Once you mention maths, my brain turns off. Besides, a reasonable person doesn't really need a convoluted mathematical equation to measure probability. Nor does it make any sense to measure miracles by probability. What's the probability of someone being raised from the dead naturalistically? 0%. That's what makes it a miracle. Duh.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post-77762162559947877612013-01-08T04:17:01.118+00:002013-01-08T04:17:01.118+00:00Christianity will never die out. Two forces keep ...Christianity will never die out. Two forces keep it alive, two very opposite and conflicting forces, and then by a third factor.<br /><br />1.) Morality. Many people are attracted to Christianity by the moral teachings of Jesus, i.e. the Sermon on the Mount. Many of these same people, of course, ultimately leave Christianity in disgust because of Paul, so they are only like students who go to church like a school for a certain amount of time and then graduate to become Deists/Theists. But their place is always taken by more people of the same category! And then there is the next category:<br /><br />2.) Immorality/Libertinism. Many people are attracting to Christianity because of the immoral and libertine teaching of justification by faith alone, especially as its taught by easy-beleivists and "once saved always saved" type denominations that say you can sin sin sin sin sin and go to heaven so long as you believe in Jesus. Of course, many of these people ultimately come to realize that using Jesus' death as an excuse for immorality is no more powerful than just saying "God doesn't exist" and using that as an excuse for immorality! So, they ultimately treat the church as a school also, and graduate to become atheists.<br /><br />3.) Born in the church, will die in the church. These are the people there for the long haul, because they were born into it, and they just, ya know, know that it must be true because their parents believed it. This is the group that gets offended when your denomination's doctrine questions their grandmama's salvation. "I know baptism can't be essential to salvation, because my grandma wasn't baptized and I know she's in heaven!!!!" Well, that proves it then!Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post-79815244479851435002012-12-23T20:41:24.198+00:002012-12-23T20:41:24.198+00:00Too long to have any detailed comments but thanks ...Too long to have any detailed comments but thanks for the great post Ricky.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post-77715088129213493712012-12-22T21:56:41.530+00:002012-12-22T21:56:41.530+00:00Hi. You're right about the independent events ...Hi. You're right about the independent events thing... <br /><br />But anyway, Bayes' theorem can be used to, essentially, choose between a number of rival hypotheses on a given topic, provided a prior probability can be assigned. So, in principle, it is able to take the two hypotheses:<br />1. God exists, and<br />2. God does not exist<br />and use evidence to 'refine' or 'update' the prior estimate of probability, to give the posterior estimate.<br /><br />Thomas Bayes himself was unsure if a 'diffuse' prior could ever be assumed - that is, whether all hypotheses could be allocated equal prior probabilities (in this case, 50:50), but subsequent Bayesians (myself included) have occasionally justified the use of the diffuse prior, when no other prior is available.<br /><br />My own work has always used Bayes in a cumulative manner, considering several independent pieces of evidence in sequence and 'updating' the probability estimate each time. That is, "today's posterior is tomorrow's prior" as Bayesians like to say. What I found was that after 5 or 10 pieces of evidence were considered the original prior became largely irrelevant. That is, the end result was broadly the same irrespective of whether the initial prior was 95:5, 50:50 or 5:95. Hence my conclusion that using a diffuse prior is acceptable.<br /><br />Bayes theory is the ideal way to approach a probabilistic problem where the distribution is unknown. Indeed, that is its primary purpose, to attempt to model the unknown probability distribution. Like you I have some doubts about using it in a scenario where the actual probability must be 1:0 or 0:1 (i.e. either there is or is not a God, there can be no middle ground), but conceptually it is easier to think in degrees of belief: <br />1. I should believe in a God, or<br />2. I should not believe in a God<br />These can have assigned probabilities between 1 and 0, but the end result is basically the same.<br /><br />I haven't read it yet, but if you want to see whether or not Bayes can and should be used in apologetics, you should try Colin Howson's recent book 'Objecting to God'. I don't know to what extent he uses Bayes in this book, but he has previously written an excellent book on Bayes called 'Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach'. I'll bet (high prior probability!) that he uses probability theory in an exemplary manner in this book.Ricky Carvelhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/17975085318645232701noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-20930767.post-78543669088621726372012-12-22T21:20:51.700+00:002012-12-22T21:20:51.700+00:00Thanks for your detailed review. I happen to be re...Thanks for your detailed review. I happen to be reading the same book at the moment. One question I'd love you to answer, since you have a background in probability in statistics, is the validity of this whole idea of using Bayesian probability in apologetics. Both sides do so.<br /><br />As far as I understand, formal probability inevitably deals with a universe of possibilities with a known distribution. How then, is it in any way meaningful to assign an a priori probability to an event such as "God exists" or "Jesus rose from the dead?" The sample size is equal to the population size of one. It's not like we can answer the question, "Given a large number of universes, how many of them were created by a god."<br /><br />As far as your comments on the validity of slicing events into thin pieces and then multiplying their probabilities, it seems to me that the main problem is that the author ignores the main requirement for that procedure, which is that the events be independent. The more one slices a natural event, the more dependencies are going to be present. Mike Blythhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/09189486229376291297noreply@blogger.com