Shreds of Evidence


 
Sometimes I'm inclined to think that the more aggressive of my atheist friends are trying to compensate for something. To hear them, after all, it's not enough to assert that the evidence put forward for the Christian faith is simply insufficient, or maybe inconclusive, or subject to interpretation. No, instead there is not even the slightest "shred of evidence" for the existence of God, let alone for the truth of Christianity. Anyone who makes a claim must provide evidence for that claim, they say, and until that evidence is provided the only rational course is to reject that claim.[1] And there is strictly no evidence for Christian theism (not even a shred). Largely for this reason, we are assured, Christian theism should be regarded irrational and delusional.

Now let's think about the assumption behind this assertion, namely, that any belief unsupported by any evidence is irrational and delusional. A moment's reflection on what it means for a belief to be properly basic or axiomatic should be enough to undercut that assertion. But we can pursue another tack here. My aggressively atheistic friends obviously believe that there is no evidence for Christian theism. Where exactly, then, is the required evidence for the belief that there is no evidence for Christian theism? Generally speaking, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And even if, in certain situations, absence of evidence may be considered evidence of absence, there is no consensus even among atheist philosophers on there actually being an absence of evidence in this case. In other words, it seems likely that there is at least some evidence supporting theism. And if in fact there is at least some evidence supporting theism, the claim that there is no evidence for theism is not simply lacking evidence itself, but is manifestly false.

Take the celebrated fine-tuning of various physical constants regulating the universe, for example. Most observers consider fine-tuning to be evidence for theism. Aggressive atheists, however, say that the inference from fine-tuning to theism is not justified (because, for instance, there are supposedly better explanations for fine-tuning other than theism) – so the need of theism for evidence remains. But I think that misses the point. At issue here is not whether fine-tuning directly justifies theism, but whether fine-tuning is admissible as evidence, which, along with other lines of evidence, may lend support to the claim that God exists, and therefore may "do its part" to justify theism. Clearly if it is a major postulate of Christian theism that God created the universe and life on earth (and it is), then a set of data that shows the universe to be fine-tuned for life on earth to flourish is evidence for Christian theism. It doesn't necessarily (deductively) mean that God exists, but it's certainly evidence pointing in that direction.

Or consider certain facts bearing on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Given the historical-religious context of Christ's messianic claims to be the Son of God, widespread reports of his healings and exorcisms, his own predictions of crucifixion and resurrection, and the subsequent preaching of the apostles, in the face of violent threats, that they had seen Jesus risen, the fact that no one in the greater Jerusalem area could manage to locate his body in the weeks and months following the crucifixion (or ever since) constitutes evidence for the God of Christian theism. Again, some may feel this evidence is inconclusive. But evidence it is regardless.

Fine-tuning data and the facts surrounding the preaching of Jesus' resurrection being only two of many lines of evidence available for Christian theism, it follows that the strong atheist's claim that there is no evidence for Christian theism is false. And it's difficult to see how there could be evidence for a claim that is (1) made to support a negative existential assertion ("God does not exist"), and (2) demonstrably false. Part of me hopes that my aggressively atheistic friends will one day find some shreds of evidence for their claim. I would hate for them to have to think of themselves as irrational and delusional.




[1] Here "evidence" means basically relevant observations or data that increase the probability of a hypothesis. X is evidence for Y, if X makes Y more probable than Y would have been without X.

Comments

Joe Hinman said…
Good observation Don. They essentially expanding the circular reasoning against miracle to include all God evidence. The basic logic says "there has never been any evidence before (based upon false assumption) therefore the new evidence must not be valid evidence therefore there is no evidence, Based upon this circular reasoning they continue making a giant snow ball of rolling circularity.

We could counter with axiomatic or properly basic ideas or we can also use prima facie standard as a goal.The greatest discovery I ever made in apologetic is that we can lower the bar from absolute proof to something reachable like rational warrant which is a prima facie standard.
Anonymous said…
DM: Anyone who makes a claim must provide evidence for that claim, they say, and until that evidence is provided the only rational course is to reject that claim.[1] And there is strictly no evidence for Christian theism (not even a shred).

The first part of this is perfectly reasonable, and I would imagine (and hope) you do this routinely. If a guy claims to have a cure for cancer or has been abducted by aliens, I would hope you ask for some evidence, even if that evidence is only that he is a doctor, and so an authority, or is a friend who has built a high level of trust.

If I, a random guy of the internet, were to claim to have a cure for cancer or have been abducted by aliens, would you believe me?

However, the second part I will grant. There is evidence for Christianity, and any atheist who claims there is not a shred of evidence is just plain wrong. The evidence is weak and unconvincing, but it is still evidence.

Pix
Joe Hinman said…
Anonymous said...
DM: Anyone who makes a claim must provide evidence for that claim, they say, and until that evidence is provided the only rational course is to reject that claim.[1] And there is strictly no evidence for Christian theism (not even a shred).

The first part of this is perfectly reasonable, and I would imagine (and hope) you do this routinely. If a guy claims to have a cure for cancer or has been abducted by aliens, I would hope you ask for some evidence, even if that evidence is only that he is a doctor, and so an authority, or is a friend who has built a high level of trust.


That is reasonable, What is not reasonable is the idea that something must be irrefutably proven or it cannot be believed, It is rational and valid to accept a partially proven hypothesis.

If I, a random guy of the internet, were to claim to have a cure for cancer or have been abducted by aliens, would you believe me?

I could say I have good reason to think avocados prevent some kinds of cancer. Then I give reasons some of them might be good reasons but it has not yet been so attested as to be taught in medical schools, that would not justify your claim that it;s is totally without evidence.

However, the second part I will grant. There is evidence for Christianity, and any atheist who claims there is not a shred of evidence is just plain wrong. The evidence is weak and unconvincing, but it is still evidence.

you haven't read my book though. but hey we're making progress. finally got one to admit there's some
Don McIntosh said…
"The greatest discovery I ever made in apologetic is that we can lower the bar from absolute proof to something reachable like rational warrant which is a prima facie standard."

Yeah, I thought the discussions of that concept in your Trace of God book were really insightful and useful.

Don McIntosh said…
Pix: "There is evidence for Christianity, and any atheist who claims there is not a shred of evidence is just plain wrong."

Unfortunately, the militant atheists who make this and similar claims are much noisier than skeptical sorts like yourself.

"The evidence is weak and unconvincing, but it is still evidence."

Weak? Unconvincing?? And to think you were doing so well! ;-)
im-skeptical said…
There are different ways of thinking about evidence.

At a basic level, evidence is just a set of observable facts. What the observable evidence indicates is a matter of interpretation and argument. Take, for example, the so-called fine tuning of the universe. What we actually observe is just the universe. We may argue that it is fine tuned. Or we may argue that it isn't. The evidence is just evidence - not evidence FOR something. We make arguments FOR something. In a crime scene investigation, police will collect evidence, and THEN interpret what they see to infer what they think the evidence indicates. The prosecution argues the case, and the defense argues the opposite case, all based on the same evidence.

At another level, we can say that there is evidence FOR something, but what we mean by that is IF that something was actually the case, THEN it would be expected to result in some particular state of affairs as observable evidence. For example, if the fire was started by a flammable liquid, we would expect to see a unique kind of burn pattern. If the observable evidence includes that burn pattern, then we might say that it is evidence FOR a flammable liquid being used to start the fire. But we must always be careful when we use this kind of terminology, because it involves an interpretation or inference. It might be possible that some other thing could have produced the same evidence, and our interpretation is not correct.

When you say that there is evidence for God, I say that you interpret (and argue for) what you see as an indication of God's existence. But I interpret the very same evidence in a different way.
Joe Hinman said…
m-skeptical said...
There are different ways of thinking about evidence.

At a basic level, evidence is just a set of observable facts. What the observable evidence indicates is a matter of interpretation and argument. Take, for example, the so-called fine tuning of the universe. What we actually observe is just the universe. We may argue that it is fine tuned. Or we may argue that it isn't. The evidence is just evidence - not evidence FOR something. We make arguments FOR something. In a crime scene investigation, police will collect evidence, and THEN interpret what they see to infer what they think the evidence indicates. The prosecution argues the case, and the defense argues the opposite case, all based on the same evidence.


that's just willful obfuscation, I could say the same thing about the fossil record. We don't see evolution in the record we just see a bunch of fossils. Ignore looking more deeply.

At another level, we can say that there is evidence FOR something, but what we mean by that is IF that something was actually the case, THEN it would be expected to result in some particular state of affairs as observable evidence. For example, if the fire was started by a flammable liquid, we would expect to see a unique kind of burn pattern. If the observable evidence includes that burn pattern, then we might say that it is evidence FOR a flammable liquid being used to start the fire. But we must always be careful when we use this kind of terminology, because it involves an interpretation or inference. It might be possible that some other thing could have produced the same evidence, and our interpretation is not correct.

When you say that there is evidence for God, I say that you interpret (and argue for) what you see as an indication of God's existence. But I interpret the very same evidence in a different way.

why would i do that in the first place? I was a self identified atheist,I did not like belief in God.I told myself I did not believe in believing in God. I disliked the idea of religion itself. All you are really saying is "just ignore the truth because I don't want people to believe in God. Don't dkg deeper just reject the comncept a priori"
Joe Hinman said…
When you say that there is evidence for God, I say that you interpret (and argue for) what you see as an indication of God's existence. But I interpret the very same evidence in a different way.


atheists go a step further and say there is no evidence, if they would just admit we don't see it in the same light that would be ok but they have to take the step further and erase any acknowledgment that we might have a possible point. That speaks volumes that additional step tells me you arr afraid of findimng that you are wrong.

that's why you can't admit I was an artiest, you can;t stand the idea that you might be wrong. you need see athieism as discovery of truth.
Anonymous said…
Surely what this is about is the explanation that best explains the evidence.

Joe mentioned the fossil record. Evolution not only explains the pattern of distribution, but in fact predicts it. This makes it a very good explanation. Compare to the creationist models (and I know you guys are not creationists), such as fossils are distributed by how well the creature could out run the flood, and we see that that does not predict what we actually see; it is a poor explanation.

With regards to the events around and following Jesus' crucifixion, we have numerous bits of evidence to consider, in particular the various Biblical texts. Any hypothesis needs to explain those texts (specifically, why the author decided to write what he did, rather than assuming the texts must be true). We then make a value judgement as to which explanation is most probable, based on which has the best fit with all the available evidence.

Joe's mystical experiences are evidence, and one explanation is that they come from God. Another is that they are chemicals in the brain. Which bests fits the data?

A problem here, fundamental to any discussion like this, is that our world view informs our weighing of the probabilities. If you start with the assumption God exists, the explanation that mystical experiences come from God should reasonably be considered quite probable. If you think there is no God, you will consider that to be very unlikely.
Joe Hinman said…
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Surely what this is about is the explanation that best explains the evidence.

Joe mentioned the fossil record. Evolution not only explains the pattern of distribution, but in fact predicts it. This makes it a very good explanation. Compare to the creationist models (and I know you guys are not creationists), such as fossils are distributed by how well the creature could out run the flood, and we see that that does not predict what we actually see; it is a poor explanation.

No one here is demanding a creationist model. My point was that ignoring the implications of evolution as we view the fossil record is abhorrent to atheists,but that analogous to what Skep was suggesting. Thanks for underscore my point.


With regards to the events around and following Jesus' crucifixion, we have numerous bits of evidence to consider, in particular the various Biblical texts. Any hypothesis needs to explain those texts (specifically, why the author decided to write what he did, rather than assuming the texts must be true). We then make a value judgement as to which explanation is most probable, based on which has the best fit with all the available evidence.

you are going to ha e to get more specific with engaging the maternal. can't tell what you are talking about.


Joe's mystical experiences are evidence, and one explanation is that they come from God. Another is that they are chemicals in the brain. Which bests fits the data?

That's the tie to which I introduce my 8 tie breakers, they break in favor of God


A problem here, fundamental to any discussion like this, is that our world view informs our weighing of the probabilities. If you start with the assumption God exists, the explanation that mystical experiences come from God should reasonably be considered quite probable. If you think there is no God, you will consider that to be very unlikely.

none of my arguments stat with the assumption that God exists, That was never my assumption it was my conclusion;that's the it worked for me in real life. I was an atheist and I saw through atheism, face reality.
im-skeptical said…
My point was that ignoring the implications of evolution as we view the fossil record is abhorrent to atheists,but that analogous to what Skep was suggesting. Thanks for underscore my point.

Joe, this just shows that you really don't understand how science works. When the first fossils were observed, did anyone say "That's evidence for evolution"? Did Darwin see variant species of finches at the Galapagos and immediately decide "That's evidence for evolution"? No. Because the theory didn't exist at the time. But those pieces of evidence had to be considered when scientists tried to develop theories about nature. What kind of theory gives us the best explanation for what we see? The theory comes only AFTER considering the evidence. And this is the big difference between real science and pseudo-science like ID.

And if you want to be honest about it, you really should admit that just like ID, all theistic theories suffer from the same problem. Rather than objectively evaluating ALL of the evidence and inferring the BEST explanation, they either start with, or they sneak in theistic presumptions. You are no different from the rest of them.
Joe Hinman said…
My point was that ignoring the implications of evolution as we view the fossil record is abhorrent to atheists,but that analogous to what Skep was suggesting. Thanks for underscore my point.

Joe, this just shows that you really don't understand how science works. When the first fossils were observed, did anyone say "That's evidence for evolution"?


Did Darwin see variant species of finches at the Galapagos and immediately decide "That's evidence for evolution"? No. Because the theory didn't exist at the time.

I was not talking about how science is done or about how we arrived at the theory of evolution, I was talking about how we view contemporary evidence and so where you. you said don't look at target's as fine tuning, that's assuming what we know now about evolution, the universe, and the whole nine yards.



But those pieces of evidence had to be considered when scientists tried to develop theories about nature. What kind of theory gives us the best explanation for what we see? The theory comes only AFTER considering the evidence. And this is the big difference between real science and pseudo-science like ID.


god is not a scientific issue. Scientific evidence can warrant belief but it is not proof or disproof. We are coming at the the issue already understanding the God argument potential, we are not discriminating it.

And if you want to be honest about it, you really should admit that just like ID, all theistic theories suffer from the same problem. Rather than objectively evaluating ALL of the evidence and inferring the BEST explanation, they either start with, or they sneak in theistic presumptions. You are no different from the rest of them.

you really know jack shit about logic, you do the same thing and you know you do, you screen out the possibility of God before you ever evaluate an argument, you beg the question. logic works by formula. if the premises are true and the conclusions are deduced logically the argument has to be true, none of my arguments begin with a premise assuming God exists,you can't beat the actual argument you only argue against the idea of God not against the proofs forGod,.
Joe Hinman said…
God id not a scientific question one is never going to prove or disprove God or discover God or that stereos no God by working science. The knowledge that God is real is put ito us all, it is written into the genetic code by God, we need to realize what our hearts are telling us. All the talk of God arguments is just a means of clearing away the clutter s we can think clearly about the realization of God.

Atheists have accepted an ideology that tells them there is only one kind of knowledge that is not just science but science used their way. One can never find God that way and that is why the atheists choose that way to impress people as the only way there is.
im-skeptical said…
God id not a scientific question ...
- I wasn't talking about God. I was talking about evidence. Science is based on evidence. And when it comes to answering questions like how mankind came to exist, or what is the basis of our sense of morality, science attempts to postulate answers based on the evidence. And guess what - it turns out that the best explanation for these things has nothing to do with God. I don't need to make God into a scientific question. But apparently you do.


Atheists have accepted an ideology that tells them there is only one kind of knowledge that is not just science but science used their way. One can never find God that way and that is why the atheists choose that way to impress people as the only way there is.
- Theists have adopted an ideology that tell them there must be something beyond nature. Because of this ideology, they ignore the evidence, or try to invent their own evidence, insisting that the rest of can't see it (but it's really, really there - believe me). Bullshit.


Joe Hinman said…
m-skeptical said...
God id not a scientific question ...
- I wasn't talking about God. I was talking about evidence. Science is based on evidence.

we are talking about evidence for God. Since God is not a scientific issue then evidence for for God does not have to be scientific.

And when it comes to answering questions like how mankind came to exist, or what is the basis of our sense of morality, science attempts to postulate answers based on the evidence. And guess what - it turns out that the best explanation for these things has nothing to do with God. I don't need to make God into a scientific question. But apparently you do.

That's a a half way answer, Trying to make the question of God into a science question gives half way answers. The proximate origin of man is evolution the distal answer requires more than science. Science is not enough to account for origins of universe or man beyond the basic proximate empirical level. That's not enough because it doesn't account for ultimate origin.


Atheists have accepted an ideology that tells them there is only one kind of knowledge that is not just science but science used their way. One can never find God that way and that is why the atheists choose that way to impress people as the only way there is.


- Theists have adopted an ideology that tell them there must be something beyond nature. Because of this ideology, they ignore the evidence, or try to invent their own evidence, insisting that the rest of can't see it (but it's really, really there - believe me). Bullshit.

You are ignoring our evidence for that because you ideology limits you to the physical world and othing mnore. you can't accept experinces or knowledge that doesn't assume athiesm.

I start from the premise "I was in need i called fror help and I got help,who answered?" You must seignior the reality of that fact because you have to validate your ideological assertion of no God. All I have to do is account for my experience in a way that makes sense to me,your ideology is dishonest because it demands that your forget your experience. Or it would tell me to forget my experoemce.
im-skeptical said…
You are ignoring our evidence for that because you ideology limits you to the physical world and othing mnore. you can't accept experinces or knowledge that doesn't assume athiesm.
- I reject your refried epistemology. Knowledge is founded on objective evidence.


I start from the premise "I was in need i called fror help and I got help,who answered?"
- It is belief itself that answered your call, as I explain here.

Joe Hinman said…
You are ignoring our evidence for that because you ideology limits you to the physical world and othing mnore. you can't accept experinces or knowledge that doesn't assume athiesm.

- I reject your refried epistemology. Knowledge is founded on objective evidence.

how can you prove you have objective evidence? how are you going to step outside of your perceptions to test and see that they are actuate? Any perception you would view it through would be your perceptions.


I start from the premise "I was in need i called for help and I got help,who answered?"

- It is belief itself that answered your call, as I explain here.


how did belief answer when I didn't believe? How did my belief control another person's actions,especially when he iddn't know I said it?
im-skeptical said…
how can you prove you have objective evidence?
- The key thing about objective evidence is that it isn't private. It isn't dependent on my mental state or any delusions, illusions, or hallucinations I might have. It is subject to verification.


how did belief answer when I didn't believe?
- Unless you are lying, you did indeed believe as a result of this experience, if not before. You were probably deceiving yourself by claiming to be a non-believer. You ceded intellectual satisfaction in favor of the psychological comfort that comes from submitting to belief.
Joe Hinman said…
how can you prove you have objective evidence?


- The key thing about objective evidence is that it isn't private. It isn't dependent on my mental state or any delusions, illusions, or hallucinations I might have. It is subject to verification.

bit it really i in the final analysis as an epistemology. Because you are always jutting through your own perceptions. Besides that just because there are supposedly objective facts that are less subjective than other states of mind that does no tmean all subjective states are invalid, untrue, or disproved.


how did belief answer when I didn't believe?


- Unless you are lying, you did indeed believe as a result of this experience, if not before. You were probably deceiving yourself by claiming to be a non-believer.

that is bull shit, you are no position of evaluate that I am its crap,. I was totally committed to atheism and ware of the possibility and guarded against it. Its the kind of thing you say when you are alarmed about the conversion of someone from your side,


You ceded intellectual satisfaction in favor of the psychological comfort that comes from submitting to belief.

First of all you are in no position to judge my intellectual acuity,I am far superior to you an intellectual. You know nothing. You have not been through the mill as I have,you are My learning towers over yours. you are an arrogant prick badly read and badly reasoned and you think you it all because you fill your head with atheist drivel.

It never occur to you that something could have changed my mind about things. Something wired happened that stripped away my sense of reality. you so desperately need to pretend you are so much smarter than all Christians. You could never think of that. It upended all confidence I had in th smug little bull shit of atheism.
im-skeptical said…
bit it really i in the final analysis as an epistemology.
- Of course. Empiricism is an epistemology. A legitimate one, as opposed to faith.


I was totally committed to atheism and ware of the possibility and guarded against it. Its the kind of thing you say when you are alarmed about the conversion of someone from your side,
- What you are saying is that for you, atheism was like a religion. You you were committed to an ideology (of some kind), not to a search for truth wherever it might be found. That ideological zeal you had for atheism is not descriptive of what I feel. I don't get alarmed if someone turns away, but I understand that people like you who claim to be ex-atheists never really had a solid scientific understanding of the world. If they did, they couldn't suddenly start believing in miracles and supernatural beings and whatnot. Those things don't fit with that kind of understanding.


It never occur to you that something could have changed my mind about things. Something wired happened that stripped away my sense of reality. you so desperately need to pretend you are so much smarter than all Christians. You could never think of that. It upended all confidence I had in th smug little bull shit of atheism.
- Sure, something weird happened to you. And it played right into your belief system which includes miracles and supernatural beings and whatnot. This is what I've been trying to tell you. You always believed in those things, but you were telling yourself that you didn't. If you really had a scientific understanding of the world, and you didn't believe in those things, then your "experience" would have been interpreted quite differently.
Joe Hinman said…
was totally committed to atheism and ware of the possibility and guarded against it. Its the kind of thing you say when you are alarmed about the conversion of someone from your side,

- What you are saying is that for you, atheism was like a religion. You you were committed to an ideology (of some kind), not to a search for truth wherever it might be found.

you have no idea what I was committed to you know nothing about me.


That ideological zeal you had for atheism is not descriptive of what I feel. I don't get alarmed if someone turns away, but I understand that people like you who claim to be ex-atheists never really had a solid scientific understanding of the world.

you equate science with atheism that proves you really understand science in the final analysis. Science is not part of atheism. Atheism in the 60s and 70s was not a science cult, as it is today, Science is your religion it's your replacement for God, it was not like that for atheists in my day.

If they did, they couldn't suddenly start believing in miracles and supernatural beings and whatnot. Those things don't fit with that kind of understanding.

that stuff comes when you experience it,I used to think people who belie e in such things were cracked. then I experienced the reality of it.

(JOE):"It never occur to you that something could have changed my mind about things. Something wired happened that stripped away my sense of reality. you so desperately need to pretend you are so much smarter than all Christians. You could never think of that. It upended all confidence I had in th smug little bull shit of atheism."

- Sure, something weird happened to you. And it played right into your belief system which includes miracles and supernatural beings and whatnot.

I din't have that mentality, I had your little fear of feelings,I told myself I was a Vulcan. I was a social science guy, i wanted to be sociologist. I knew a lot about sociology I read prodigiously and I had lots of social science based explanations for the nature of religion; I did not believe in any thing like miracles and I thought people who did were borderline insane.

This is what I've been trying to tell you. You always believed in those things, but you were telling yourself that you didn't.

that is bull shit. The fact that you have to resort to that kind of crap proves you are desperate to avoid the reality.

If you really had a scientific understanding of the world, and you didn't believe in those things, then your "experience" would have been interpreted quite differently.

you change your beliefs when you see. unless you are a fool and you can;t accept truth.did I tell you about the ER guys and my father and the readings changed when we prayed.? Objective facts I can;t deny because whole room full of medical people saw it,
a whole two ambulances fullof ER guys say it,
im-skeptical said…
you change your beliefs when you see

You might be right about that, but one thing I can tell you is you DON'T change your beliefs when you UNDERSTAND. That understanding doesn't just go away.

Ryan M said…
I interpret "evidence" in the original post as this:

Evidence - [Some data, D, is evidence for a hypothesis H over its negation ~H only if D is more probable given H than ~H]

On this definition, an atheist will need to say there is some evidence for theism (or Christianity in particular) if they accept that there is event one datum that is more probable given theism than non-theism.

However, this is perhaps not how many atheists define "evidence". One popular definition I've seen is that evidence for a hypothesis at a time t1 is our total set of known relevant data at t1, and our total set of data is evidence at t1 for H over ~H only if the total set of data at t1 makes H more probable than ~H. On this interpretation, we could not say there is evidence for H and ~H at t1, but rather there is either evidence for H XOR there is evidence for ~H.

The first interpretation, the weaker one, has some deficiencies which might put people off using it. On that interpretation, we could say there is evidence for hypotheses which are in fact very improbable given our total set of data. For example, we could say there is evidence for the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism despite the overall set of data suggesting the opposite. The mere fact that we could speak truthfully that there is evidence for a false proposition, or improbable one, could cause many people's biases to lead them away from truth.
Joe Hinman said…
m-skeptical said...
you change your beliefs when you see

You might be right about that, but one thing I can tell you is you DON'T change your beliefs when you UNDERSTAND. That understanding doesn't just go away.

You don't understand. You are just professing faith in an ideology. You are trying to pass that off as "scientific." It's not. Science is not an unwavering loyalty to a metaphysics, that's what you are really saying, remain loyal to the metaphysical assumption of materialism even when your senses contradict it,that is notscience. that's ideology.

If we did science like that we could neve discard qa hypothesis.
Joe Hinman said…
Ryan, you may be right probability theory is not my strong suit.
Don McIntosh said…
Ryan: 'I interpret "evidence" in the original post as this:

Evidence - [Some data, D, is evidence for a hypothesis H over its negation ~H only if D is more probable given H than ~H]'

Thanks for your input here Ryan. Now I thought the way I had it framed was more like: D is evidence for H only if H is more probable given D than ~D.

It sounds like you're appealing to total evidence (and trying to avoid the fallacy of exclusion), which I think is a fair enough approach on its face. But in that case even if D appears "admissible" as evidence it may be discarded for having no effect on the total evidence relative to H or ~H, which doesn’t sound right. That's if, say, D makes H itself more probable, but H was already more probable than ~H; or if D makes H slightly more probable than it was before the introduction of D, but is still not more probable than ~H.

What you call the weaker interpretation at least consistently "captures" or accounts for the evidence in a way the other approach does not. The problem you seem to be pointing out is that D may be said to "confirm" H even when it makes H only very slightly more probable than it would be otherwise, and H may remain less probable than ~H regardless. That may be so, in which case it's something we need to bear in mind when making our evaluations. But I don't think we should reject the weaker sources of evidence. Otherwise we may get caught refusing each piece of data as it comes in, for reasons given above, and thereby ignoring their cumulative force, which may in fact make H not simply more probable than it was previously, but more probable than ~H.

Or something like that. :-)

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