Why Christian Theism Is Almost Certainly True: A Reply to Cale Nearing

Some days ago at the Facebook group "Reasonable Faith Debunked" atheist Cale Nearing[1] laid out what he calls "A positive argument for atheism." The basic idea behind the argument, as I see it, is that since the evidence for theism is compatible not only with theism but with any number of coherent and mutually exclusive hypotheses explaining the origin and life-permitting structure of our universe, the probability of theism being the one true hypothesis is very low; and, since atheism is simply the negation of theism, the probability that atheism is true is very high. Or as Nearing asserts, "Any rational inductor will conclude that Theism is almost certainly false, and therefore that Atheism (the negation of theism) is almost certainly true."
 
Now the argument as Nearing presents it appears quite sophisticated, making extensive use of the probability calculus generally and Bayes' Theorem in particular. Despite this apparent sophistication, however, I believe there are good reasons to doubt that the argument actually goes through. To the contrary, I believe there are good reasons to maintain that theism, Christian theism particularly, is much more probable than atheism.
 
An Overview of the Argument
 
Nearing's argument begins with a review of Bayes' Theorem, which, for the question of the probability of theism given the evidence available, P(T|E), may be written as:
 
P(T|E) = P(T) * P(E|T) / P(E)
 
The left side of the equation, P(T|E), is the posterior probability of theism given the evidence, which answers the question: How probable is theism when all the relevant evidence is taken into account? This is what we really want to know. P(E|T) is known as the likelihood of theism on the evidence, or the probability of our having the evidence we do have given that theism is true. According to Nearing, P(E|T) can be imagined in terms of a counter-factual world in which a hypothetical observer, Sue, "has not made any of the observations in E, but is certain that theism is true." P(E|T) then represents "the probability that this counter-factual Sue would assign to observing E in the future." P(T) is the prior probability of theism, a somewhat subjective estimate usually based on human experience and intuitive concepts like perceived simplicity of the hypothesis; And the lower term, P(E), represents "total probability" of the evidence, sometimes called the marginal likelihood of E. As Cale indicates, P(E) is equal to the likelihood of theism on the evidence times the prior probability of theism, plus the likelihood that theism is false – again on the evidence – times the prior probability that theism is false, or:
 
P(E) = P(E|T) * P(T) + P(E|Tc) * P(Tc).[2]
 
Now as Cale has it, P(T),  the prior probability of theism, is best described again in terms of counter-factuals, where a hypothetical observer "has made none of the observations in E. How probable would this hypothetical Sue find Theism to be is the value of the second term." A rational observer with no biases, and at the same time with no evidence to guide her decision making, he argues, would have to impartially consider all viable options before deciding upon the prior. 
 
Thus prior probability, at least according to Nearing, "depends essentially on how many other mutually exclusive hypotheses Sue is considering." And there may be a very large number of these alternate hypotheses, each of which is mutually incompatible with theism. For sake of illustration, Nearing imagines three such alternatives, A1, A2 and A3. For example, A1:
 
There exists a metaphysically necessary, mindless, genuinely random universe generator which is characterized by a distribution over the universes it could possibly have generated such that the probability that it would have generated a universe in which Sue observes E is equal to L + (1-L)/2.
 
Like theism, each of these alternatives has its own prior probability, so that together the prior probabilities for this particular four-hypothesis scenario sum to one. Or:
 
P(T) + P(A1) + P(A2) + P(A3) = 1(one)[3]
 
Since total probability of all possible and mutually exclusive alternatives has to equal one, and since for an unbiased observer each hypothesis, at least according to Nearing, should have an approximately equal prior probability, "P(T) is approximately equal to 1/4." Because the rest of the argument takes what for me is a yet more technical turn, and because I would likely take up more space rather than less trying to summarize it, I will quote Nearing for the remainder:
 
We can also now calculate the total probability term, P(E). Recall that:
 
P(E) = P(T)*P(E|T) + P(Tc) * P(E|Tc)
 
where Tc is the set of alternative hypotheses. Since our alternative hypotheses are A1, A2, and A3, we know that:
 
P(E) = P(T)*P(E|T) + P(A1)*P(E|A1) + P(A1)*P(E|A1) + P(A2)*P(E|A2)
 
Further, we know that P(A1), P(A2), P(A3), and P(T) are each approximately equal to 1/4, and we have expressions for each of the likelihood terms in terms of a single constant, L: 
 
P(E|T) = L
            P(E|A1) = L + (1-L)/2
            P(E|A2) = L + (1-L)/4
            P(E|A3) = L + (1-L)/8 
 
Which means we can finally put the whole thing together:
 
P(T|E) = [L * (1/4)] / [(1/4)*(L) + (1/4)*(L + (1-L)/2) + (1/4)*(L + (1-L)/4) + (1/4)*(L + (1-L)/8)]
 
With a little algebra, 
 
P(T|E) = 8 / (25 + 7/L) 
 
Recall that L must be in the interval (0, 1), and the limit of P(T|E) as L approaches 1
is 1/4.
 
Hence, P(T|E) < 1/4
 
And of course, any additional alternative hypotheses would make that probability lower still. From all this Nearing concludes not only that theism is "almost certainly false" (and therefore atheism is almost certainly true), but that there are only two ways to wind up with a substantially higher probability for theism: arbitrarily ignoring one or more of its alternative hypotheses, or arbitrarily boosting its prior probability.
 
Evaluating the Argument
 
Just as theism is not the only possible explanatory view of the world, so Nearing's is not the only possible conclusion that can be drawn from a "rational" consideration of theism and its rivals. Though I do not question Nearing's calculations, I do have serious doubts about how some of his terms are derived.  For example, it is not clear that the concept of "a metaphysically necessary, mindless, genuinely random universe generator" is coherent. A metaphysically necessary entity that is both mindless and yet capable of creating countless universes, at least one of which houses intelligent, sentient beings, has to be substantially less probable a priori than a metaphysically necessary, omnipotent being who intentionally creates our universe and intelligent, sentient beings within it for identifiable purposes (e.g., revealing his glory and sharing with others the freedom and life he enjoys).
 
For one thing, a single universe deliberately designed by a wise and loving self-existent God appears much less complex (hence much more probable) than a large, possibly uncountable, number of universes generated at random from a mindless (purposeless), unidentifiable in principle, and yet somehow self-existent generator. This much is certain: One universe (ours) is much, much less complex than an uncountable host of randomly generated universes which includes ours. And as philosopher Daniel Vecchio put it to Nearing concerning the Deity himself, "God's necessity is per se due to His essence being identical with His existence. This entails eternality, simplicity, immutability, and possessing all perfections like omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence." In other words these divine attributes hold together systematically. Being ontologically necessary implies also being simple, eternal, immutable, and so forth. By contrast there seems to be no reason to even suspect a mindless random universe generator (hereafter RUG) to be simple or immutable – certainly not omniscient or omnibenevolent – and therefore no reason to think it conceptually viable, let alone ontologically necessary.
 
At any rate, postulating a collection of RUGs for the express purpose of rendering theism improbable seems completely ad hoc. Indeed, from what I can tell the only reason most philosophers and cosmologists ever had for postulating anything like a RUG in the first place was to provide a potential defeater for theism, specifically a defeater for the fine-tuning argument. But with the use of such ad hoc devices, one could prove virtually any hypothesis improbable. All that is required is to postulate two or more logically possible and mutually exclusive alternative hypotheses to make the hypothesis in question less probable. So if someone suggests to me that the earth is a globe, I can simply postulate that, conceivably, it may also be a cube, a cylinder, or a cone, and then run it through Nearing's calculations to demonstrate the probability of sphericity to be P(S) < 1/4.[4] The same procedure could be used, with slightly more seriousness, to diconfirm general relativity, common descent, or virtually any theory, physical or metaphysical, one might care to name.
 
That is to say, Nearing's procedure, far from being rational, actually denies the role of reason to choose among competing propositions and hypotheses. Instead of using evidence and arguments to infer the  existence (or non-existence) of God – or, for that matter, the sphericity of the earth, mass-energy equivalence, etc. – we simply count up all the counter-scenarios we can imagine for the hypothesis in question and then calculate its (im)probability. Again, there is nothing especially rational or scientific about this approach, which is not so much a responsible use of Baye’s Theorem as an assertion of what amounts to cosmological relativism: Given an arbitrary increase in the number of explanatory possibilities based on the finding of increasingly trivial distinctions among them, the probability of any one selection being true diminishes accordingly.
 
The main problem I see with all this is that Nearing seems to redefine the central metaphysical question in terms of something like a random variable. The “evidence” for various answers to that question (such as theism), then, amounts to little more than a prior probability distribution. Prior probabilities, however, should not be based strictly on the number of interally coherent but mutually incompatible alternatives imaginable, but also on factors like human experience[5], simplicity, scope, and fit with general background knowledge, all of which basically means that not all priors are created equal. As I argued here a few months ago, certain forms of evidence tend to get overlooked when they should rightly be accounted for as background knowledge.[6] In that case the real utility of Bayes' rule is to update beliefs that are already based on a measure of existing evidence, in light of new evidence. Revising probabilities, hence updating beliefs, on the strength of incoming evidence constitutes the very purpose of Bayes' Theorem. Rather than revising these various probabilities in light of various lines of actual observational and propositional evidence at hand, however, Nearing simply concludes that theism is improbable and closes out the argument.
 
Updating Belief (on the Evidence for Christian Theism) 
 
It goes without saying that most theists believe there to be good evidence for the existence of God. According to Richard Swinburne, for example, there is a wide spectrum of evidence which, when properly "plugged in" to Bayes' Theorem, makes theism considerably more probable than atheism.[7] After carefully explaining the apologetic usefulness of inductive arguments and the broad outlines of Bayesian confirmation theory, and arguing for a relatively high "intrinsic probability of theism" (its prior probability), Swinburne includes as evidence for theism, defined here as observations that make P(T|E) > P(E), the following: 
 
1. Evidence of cosmology
2. Fine tuning
3. Consciousness
4. Morality
5. Miracles
6. Religious experience
 
As evidence against theism he has only the problem of evil, which most would agree has lost much of its force in recent years (thanks largely to Alvin Plantinga). Swinburne then suggests, in a superficial similarity with Nearing, that there are at least three serious alternative hypotheses to theism:
 
Let h1 be the hypothesis that there are many gods or limited gods; h2 be the hypothesis that that there is no God or gods but an initial (or everlasting) physical state of the universe, different from the present state but of such a kind as to bring about the present state; and   the hypothesis that there is no explanation at all (the universe just is and always has been as it is).[8]
 
Now there is a reason that Swinburne "lumps together" all these alternative gods or limited gods, a category which would include RUGs, under h1:
 
I have argued [on the basis of evidence from cosmology, etc.] that the hypothesis of theism is a very simple hypothesis indeed, simpler than hypotheses of many or limited gods…. In that case, theism is going to be more probable than h1, the disjunction of hypotheses of many or limited gods; and there is much less reason why they should bring about a universe at all or one of our character – they may not be able to do so, and not being perfectly good may not have much reason to do so (unless we complicate these hypotheses further by building into them the requisite propensity).[9]
 
From similar considerations of Christian theism and the terms of Nearing's argument, I would suggest it is reasonable and rational to believe that
 
P(T|E) >> P(A1)*P(E|A1) + P(A1)*P(E|A1) + P(A2)*P(E|A2)

Or as another Facebook contributor put it more succinctly: P(T|E)>>P(An|E)

And thus, P(T) > P(~T)


It is therefore perfectly rational to believe that theism is more probable than atheism – but how much more probable? Just for the sake of argument I would be willing to grant Nearing that the evidence of cosmology suggesting a beginning of the observable universe (of matter, space and time) is compatible not only with theism but with the existence of a RUG or lots of RUGs, and that the probabilities of our universe are perhaps comparable on all of these hypotheses. I would be willing to say the same, again just for argument's sake, of fine-tuning of life-permitting physical constants and quantities regulating our universe.
 
But consider consciousness. Does any rational thinker honestly believe that consciousness is not vastly more probable on theism than on the mindless RUG hypothesis? Morality, likewise, can be explained in nontheistic terms, but clearly the straightforward impartation of moral awareness and responsibility from God is more parsimonious than, say, the evolutionary development of conspiratorial “selfish genes” that disguise themselves as noble and meaningful moral obligations but really only seek long-term physical survival for themselves. Skeptics may find it easy to dismiss miracle “testimony” wholesale, but we all are continually faced with incontrovertible evidence – being alive, namely – that somehow life originated on earth, in the face of extreme improbability, and yet just as recorded in Scripture. That certainly sounds like miracle. And like so many others, I have never found a satisfactory “natural” explanation for the empty tomb of Jesus, the postmortem appearances of Christ to the apostles, the birth of the early church in Jerusalem (of all places!), and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, apart from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Given that the resurrection did occur, the testimony of the apostles emerges not only from a rich supply of historical background evidence but from firsthand experiences of Jesus risen from the dead.
 
For myself, I know that the same kind of “religious experience” that gave such boldness to the apostles continues to the present. I know of Christ’s resurrection not only by inference from historical evidence but because I have experienced, as did the apostle Paul, the life-changing "power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). I know firsthand the love of the Father, forgiveness of sins by the sacrifice of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. For me and billions of other believers, the existence of God is therefore self-evident, as uncontroversially true as the axioms of logic and probability might seem for a logician or statistician. So for me Christian theism is simply, certainly true. But in deference to Nearing's probabilistic sensibilities, here I will say merely that Christian theism is almost certainly true.


 


[1] Cale Nearing is a Statistician who holds Bachelor's degrees in Technical and Professional Writing, Mathematics, and Statistics. Readers may find his argument in full at https://m.facebook.com/groups/870345023006950/permalink/1501101383264641/?__tn__=R (requires logging in to Facebook and joining the "Reasonable Faith Debunked" group).
 
[2] Nearing uses the convention P(Tc), where c is any "compliment" of T, or any hypothesis which, if true, would mean that theism is false.
 
[3] Nearing here adds a fifth term, P(C), the probablity of any and all alternative hypotheses Sue has failed to consider. Though I believe he is correct to note that any value for P(C) would make theism less probable, I leave it out for simplicity's sake.
 
[4] It could be objected here – rightly! – that the evidence for sphericity makes it far more probable than any alternative or disjunction of alternatives. But as an a priori matter it happens to be the only one of the four shapes postulated with no flat surface, which might lead a naïve ("unbiased") observer to conclude that the earth probably has at least one flat side. This underscores why observational evidence and background knowledge are more important than Nearing seems willing to allow.
 
[5] There appears to be no getting around the role of the individual's beliefs and biases in assessing priors, strength of evidence for and against the hypothesis, etc. In Bayesian Confirmation Theory this is known as conformational relativity: "Evidential relationships must be relativized to individuals and their degrees of belief" – James Joyce, "Bayes' Theorem," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bayes-theorem/.
 
[6] Don McIntosh, "On the Prior Probability of the Resurrection," http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2017/02/on-prior-probability-of-resurrection.html.
 
[7] Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God (2nd Ed.) (New York: Oxford, 2004).
 
[8] Swinburne, pp. 339-340.
 
[9] Swinburne, p. 340.

Comments

Cale said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cale said…
First, there is no question that A1, A2, and A3 are at least coherent (possible) in the logic in use. I'm glad you don't actually try to pursue an outright elimination of them, but you then move on to assign them low priors for completely arbitrary reasons: a clear mistake, which leaves your response clearly irrational.

Second, the A hypotheses say nothing about multiple universes, and (further) multiple universes are not actually a more complex hypothesis than Theism. Complexity is actually a good way to look at priors, but if we actually take this route, we can show that my demand for equivalent priors becomes inarguable: both Theism and A1, for instance, are hypotheses which cannot be fully specified in any finite computable string, which means that they both actually have infinite complexity (and, hence, must have equivalent priors)

Third: the RUG hypotheses are ad hoc, but this doesn't actually matter. Theism is ad hoc. If this were grounds for dismissing A1, A2, and A3, it would also be grounds for dismissing Theism

Fourth: your analogy to the shape the earth is not an analogy at all, and it reveals that you didn't actually understand the argument. The cone, cylinder, and cube hypotheses make clear predictions that we can use to falsify those hypotheses: the likelihoods they offer for our available evidenced do not even begin to approach the likelihood that the sphere hypotheses offers. This issue of likelihoods is something I spend a fair bit of time talking about in my argument, but you seem to have missed it entirely.

So, no. In suggesting that you could parody the argument by arguing against the spheroidal nature of the earth, you have revealed only that you don't grasp the argument at all.

Fifth: Swinburne's attempt at a Bayesian argument fails trivially specifically because he does not understand how alternative hypotheses affect the relationship between the prior and the normalizing constant. He's not wrong that some things do constitute evidence for Theism, thanks to theism's retrodictions, but what he misses is that there are any number of alternatives which make the same retrodictions (if we limit our hypothesis space to those hypotheses which acknowledge common human knowledge, then there is no evidence for Theism at all). This is why a hypothesis based on pure retrodiction is doomed to failure, and this is indeed why theism fails. Swinburne doesn't understand the logic, as my argument illustrates nicely. The evidences he offers cannot in principle pull Theism out if its hole, because there will always be other similarly ad hoc hypotheses making the same retrodictions that Swinburne calls upon for evidence.

Once we understand your misunderstanding of the logic, Don, as well as Swinburne's, it becomes clear that my conclusion is indeed correct: Theism cannot be rationally affirmed, and only by eschewing the logic of probability theory --or simply failing to understand it, as you and Swinburne obviously have--can one conclude otherwise.

(Sorry for the delete and repost. I typed this up on my phone, then realized that it had one too many typos that needed fixing)
Jayman said…
Dan:

P(E|T) is known as the likelihood of theism on the evidence, or the probability of our having the evidence we do have given that theism is true.

Shouldn't the first clause read "P(E|T) is known as the likelihood of the evidence on theism"?
Jayman said…
Cale:

In suggesting that you could parody the argument by arguing against the spheroidal nature of the earth, you have revealed only that you don't grasp the argument at all.

Since the evidence always underdetermines the theory how can you prevent your argument from being parodied?
Cale said…
The evidence doesn't always undermine the theory. I'm not really sure what you're trying to say there, Jayman.
Joe Hinman said…
what a giant mound of crap! Bayes is a joke. It works for predicting things like where to put the submarine nets, or how may big guns you need to take Tripoli but it does not tell us about God, It cannot be applied to God.

suma contra Bayes
Joe Hinman said…
what a giant mound of crap! Bayes is a joke. It works for predicting things like where to put the submarine nets, or how may big guns you need to take Tripoli but it does not tell us about God, It cannot be applied to God.




Read my articles
Joe Hinman said…
Atheists are angry that decades after their aggressive movement started they are still losing God arguments on logic. After setting up empiricism as the ultimate standard of truth tetchy have no actual empirical evidence against God nor will they ever have. So craving that and being totally committed to the idea that humans can manipulate truth and produce their own truth they pull this Bayes gimmick out of a hat to create the illusion that they have empirical proof of no God. It's nothing it proves nothing.

Setting prior is arbitrary meaningless because in dealing with God we don't know the variables too complex and we are too biased to set a prior fairly. Then no new evidence is coming in about God. No naturalistic aspect of the world betrays the lack of a God.

This is all just a fashion statement,It just a way of saying: hey I am hop look at me.

50 years from now philosophy students will laugh at the stupidity of this generation and marvel at how they could take seroiusly such parlor tricks.
Joe Hinman said…
Once we understand your misunderstanding of the logic, Don, as well as Swinburne's, it becomes clear that my conclusion is indeed correct: Theism cannot be rationally affirmed, and only by eschewing the logic of probability theory --or simply failing to understand it, as you and Swinburne obviously have--can one conclude otherwise.

you are not using reason. you rationally affirming things but your arguments having to do with reason. They just manipulating determinism by evoking Actuarial techniques that have no application to belief in God.
Joe Hinman said…
The CA suggests a reason to believe imn God because it demonstrates that some facets of the material universe imply an origin refereeing eternal necessary being. There is no way to counter this argument such that we can see clearly God is less likely. There is no basis for probability where God is concerned because we don't have a Godless universe to compare this one to.

That might also screw up the CA except that the CA doesn't;t claim to show probability. It's mere logical inference. It can never be more than rational warrant but that is enough.

No amount of manipulation of physical stuff will demonstrate that God is less likley than some other view.
bornagain77 said…
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Evidence that God Raised Jesus from Death
https://docs.google.com/document/d/11CGAy7zQDdIowpso_qWRDu0slZYkvz9MUDlAIQiPsZs/edit#
Jason Pratt said…
Well, I'm not going to say that Bayes is a joke and/or a giant mound of crap; it's an attempt to formally describe induction processes, and it works well enough at that for any topic at all (whether evaluating the truth of theism or where to put guns when invading Tripoli) when properly understood.

The problem I (and some other people) have when sighing at Swineburne and similar attempts to use Bayes pro or con (whether on theistic topics or otherwise), is that Bayesian induction theory isn't a mathematical operation and isn't supposed to be used like one. The moment I see actual math operations being deployed by anyone on either side (whether directly or by algebraic variables), I already know the attempt will end up, in this regard, as giving a misleading result (even if not, in Joe's words, a giant pile of crap -- there can still be some worthwhile discussion of factors along the way).

Swineburne himself is very well aware he shouldn't be using Bayes' Theorem as a mathematic evaluator, as he demonstrates in his original collected essays on the Theorem. The first time I heard of him using it this way (for arguing a high percentage chance of the Resurrection being true), I seriously thought he was being satirical. Much to my surprise he turned out to be serious, and here we are today still dealing with the fallout of his misapplication (by theists and atheists alike).

The various signifiers in the theorem actually work like this: someone starts with an expectation of how likely something is to be true (theism, atheism, the resurrection of Jesus, where to put guns when invading tripoli, whatever it doesn't matter) based on current evidence. Current evidence could be zero in which case the expectation would amount to agnosticism rationally; current evidence might also be such as to render the likelihood of whatever (let's call it theism for sake of example) low or even impossible, for the thinker, to start with. Or high or even certain, for the thinker, to start with.

Then comes new evidence. (This might be the first evidence at all if current evidence is zero.) The new evidence is evaluated by the thinker in a couple of ways, and what the theorem is trying to describe is the relationship of the new evidence to how the thinker adjusts his expectation that Theism (for example) is true or false based on factoring in the new evidence: how much difference does the new evidence make for the thinker, and in what direction? Maybe his expectation of likelihood remains the same, maybe it goes up, maybe it goes down, maybe by a little, maybe by a lot. If we know that the enemy has put a battalion over there on the shore, maybe we should adjust our gun placements a little or a lot, or maybe the existence of that battalion makes no difference in where we put our gun placements for what we're trying to achieve. Whatever.
Jason Pratt said…


But wait: current evidence? New evidence? The "formula" doesn't talk about that, just about "evidence"!

Yes, I know, because the formula is being radically mis-stated (and for this purpose we can thank Swineburne for that). Even if the formula was supposed to be used as a math formula (multiplying this, dividing that, adding these multiplied products together), the moment the "evidence" GETS SIMPLIFIED TO MERELY "EVIDENCE", we're no longer talking about Bayesian theory. At all. Even a little. Whatever evaluation technique we're now talking about and trying to use could be debated, but it isn't Bayes.

But if it isn't Bayes, then the whole rationale for describing the relationship between evidence and belief, and what we're trying to do with that relationship, has to be re-assesed from scratch. And in my experience, the re-assessment turns out to be a bogus mathematic operation, in the sense that (1) some kind of math operation (which BT isn't, as noted) and (2) the math operation turns out to be ludicrous such that what is being treated as reducers for a belief would actually make the belief (if the operation was valid) infinitely "probable" (not only 100 percent true) if the evidence counted absolutely against the belief; and meanwhile the evidence supposedly being deployed in favor of the belief reduces the "probability" of the belief being true.

I haven't picked at things enough here to deductively ascertain that one or both sides are doing that nonsense application again; but I have an initial expectation from the current set of evidence that this type of procedure is going to result in that nonsense, and what little new evidence I've seen from passing through the articles and the comments on a first (admittedly rather quick) readthrough, does not give me reason to adjust my expectations yet that this time will be different. Which is a proper use of Bayesian theory, not incidentally.

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
Wherein I gripe about this in eyebleedingly much more detail while complimenting atheist Jeffery Jay Lowder for trying to get away from the typical error.

(Originally this was meant as a preliminary for assessing his actual argument, but I never got around to that, being distracted by other shiny things. {wry g} His argument is linked at the article, though, and is at least worth looking over.)

JRP
Jason Pratt said…
This, by the way, is the proper (simplified) expression for Bayes' Theorem:

P(h|e&k) = (P(e|h&k) P(h|k)) / P(e|k)

You should notice I did not include a multiplication sign between those first two (P) sets within the parenthesis. That's because this isn't a math operation. Relatedly, the slash isn't a dividing sign, any more than the vertical line between e and k in P(e|k) is a dividing sign.

(When I say "simplified", I mean that I'm using P(e|k) and not the wad of relational signifiers which ultimately amount to P(e|k). But for people who want to get really hardcore, the Theorem itself even in that "expanded" form is an attempt by a fan of Bayes to simplify Bayes' own expressional logic.)

"P" of course stands for (P)robability, which is unfortunately misleading since this isn't about mathematic probability. "h" stands for (H)ypothesis, equal to (T)heism in the form popularized by Swineburne, being debated by Don and Cale. "k" stands for (K)urrent evidence. (Why that's a k and not a c, I have no idea; I'm guessing German has something to do with it.) P(h|k) is illegitimately simplified down to merely P(T) in the popularization. It isn't supposed to be merely some "probability of theism", it's supposed to represent the thinker's current estimation of how likely theism is to be true based on the thinker's current evaluation of the current evidential set available to the thinker.

"e" stands for new (e)vidence. (Why that isn't "n" to compare directly with "k" I have no idea, but the new evidence could be any evidence at all if there is no current evidence.) In the popularization the various evidences, separately or in conjunction, are simply replaced with "E" for what usually amounts to the current set of evidence, but it often amounts to whatever set of evidence seems convenient (including hypothetical evidence that may or may not show up later, whatever.)

The final result is supposed to represent the thinker's new estimation of the (P)robability of the (h)ypothesis being true considering the weight of the new evidence in relation to the current evidence. This has been changed in the popularization to (a typically mathematic statement of) the probability of Theism being true once "all" the evidence is accounted for, attempting to be stated in such a way that all rational thinkers would agree on the probability (typically because disagreeing with math is irrational), so that anyone disagreeing with the result must be revealed as only doing so for irrational reasons (so to speak).

Thus the gunfights: you're revealed as the irrational one, no you're revealed as the irrational one! But real BT doesn't work that way, which is highly obscured by the popularization.

JRP
Joe Hinman said…
right. like i said,a mound of crap.
Jayman said…
Cale, I said the evidence underdetermines, not undermines, the evidence. See Underdetermination of Scientific Theory, for example.
Don McIntosh said…
Cale and Jason (or should I say Jason and Cale?),

Thank you both for your sweeping, authoritative critiques!

Here's a thought: Given that each of you is not simply more informed on the matter than I am, but holding mutually incompatible positions, I would encourage the two you to debate one another – a kind of "Battle of the Intellectual Titans" – at which point I will be happy to move on to another subject entirely. LOL

What do you say?
Cale said…
Actually, the prior and the likelihood are multiplied, and then divided by the normalizing constant P(E).

Multiplication and division are the actual operators there.

Normally you'd be right about the inclusion of the background information, K (often written as B) but note that in this case the evaluation explicitly treating *all* of the available evidence in the update, rather than in the background, so there isn't really any need to specify the inclusion of the background information.
Cale said…
Ah, I am sorry I misread. The argument can be "parodied" in some cases, but, frankly, the conclusion is correct in those cases as well. When the evidence "underdetermines" any particular theory, belief should be withheld, or affirmed only at the level of affirming some union of possible theories which is not underdetermined, in this sense.
Cale said…
That might be interesting,but I am somewhat concerned at Jason's claim that the prior and the likelihood are not actually multiplied, when any intro stat student knows full well that yes, in fact they actually multiplied. Does Jason actually know what he is talking about?
Joe Hinman said…
you can't apply probability to god


My first anti-Bayes article

You are just using the illusion of technique,you want scientific credence for your anti-god presidencies you think Bayes has that but doesn't.
Joe Hinman said…
Cale, here's an argument I made in my debate with Jeff Lowder on Atheist Watch.


Jeff Lowder wrote an article attacking my criticisms of the use of Bayes theorem to plot the probability of God. "Is It a Crock to Use Bayes’ Theorem to Measure Evidence about God? Part 1
March 3, 2013." The point of my original article is that you can't apply scientific probably to something as basic and metahpysal as God, the ground of being, the basis of all reality. The nature of Bayes theorum is such that it only works where new information is obtainable. The sort of new information one can have about God is not available to scientific scrutiny and thus there is no new information. That means the "prior" (the prior probability that must be obtained tom make the theorem work) wont be accurate and thus the whole project is dubious. Lowder never actually comes to terms with this argument. Most of the arguments he makes are red herrings or white rabbits.
.... Lowder summarizes what he thinks I'm saying:

QuotingLowder:
I think the point that Metacrock is trying to make is that, if we define “miracle” as an event which requires a supernatural explanation, then by definition a miracle is logically incompatible with metaphysical naturalism, which denies the existence of all supernatural beings, including God. So naturalists can’t remain naturalists and believe a miracle has occurred. The options seem to be: (1) give up naturalism, (2) deny the event took place at all, or (3) agree the event did take place, but deny it has a supernatural explanation.
[end auote]


That's part of what I'm saying but it's not the really crucial points that I made about Bayes. It's not so much about supernatural as it is about metaphysics and scientific domain. I am not drawing upon the conventional misunderstanding of supernatural that pits a realm of magic against a realm of what atheist want to believe is "fact." Rather, the whole issue of epistemology and metaphysics is prior to scientific learning. Science requires epistemology and metaphysics to ground its assumptions. God is related to those aspects of reality, and thus not part of the scientific domain. In trying to make God an object of probability they have to reduce the concept of God to just another fact in the universe; something God clearly transcends. Lowder merely denied the circular reasoning but of cousre he would.It's not just a matter of bad reasoning, it's an ideological thing. Those are ho in throngs of ideological zeal can't step back from their ideology and critically evaluate their own thinking. They can critique all that is not the ideology but they can't criticize that. That was my point in talking about the circular reasoning naturalists employ in sweeping aside miracle claims: it is that they can't accept anomalies that would threaten the paradigm. Lowder quotes me in cautioning the skeptical attitude.
Cale said…
So, there isn't really an argument to respond to, there, much as you haven't offered anything resembling a substantive and cogent critique of my argument thus far in your comments.

In this comment, though, we do see a couple of clear errors which may help highlight your general misunderstanding of the issue.

You suggest that science requires metaphysics to ground it's assumptions. In some usage of the term science, this is true, since science is often taken as a public or collaboration endeavor, where results must be open to testing by colleagues. This indeed does require some metaphysical assumptions (though, obviously, it does not require a metaphysical system elaborate enough to entail the existence of God.)

Science, in this public, collaborative sense, is an inferential methodology--an epistemology--which requires some minimal set of metaphysical assumptions.

However, most of what grounds science is the logic of probabability theory, and this logic does not require any metaphysical assumptions beyond that which any person can affirm incorrigibly: that she exists, that she has experiences and believes things.

This is what makes probabability theory an appropriate Epistemology for for handling questions of metaphysics: the metaphysical assumptions it itself requires are as minimal as possible, and it allows us to evaluate then what further metaphysical assumptions are likely to be true.

This is, in effect, what I do in my argument. I am not applying science, in the public sense, but probabability theory, which requires of our hypothetical inductor no metaphysical assumptions beyond what she knows incorrigibly about her own mind.

Your rant sounds like a typical canned complaint about scientism, which has nothing at all to do with the argument I have constructed here.
Don McIntosh said…
"Does Jason actually know what he is talking about?"

Oh yes! Like you, Jason is an authority on… well, just about everything. That's why he, like you, can blithely dismiss Richard Swinburne's understanding of Bayes' Theorem, despite the fact that Swinburne is a world-renowned philosopher of religion and philosopher of science who has put Bayesian confirmation theory at or near the center of his life's work.

Again I would encourage a debate. You could sell tickets, split the proceeds and both make a bundle.
Don McIntosh said…
Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?

Morons.
Cale said…
I see.

Well, it's a shame that instead of actually trying to understand what you have endeavored to criticize (and, for that matter, defend) you have decided to resort to empty mockery.

Oh well.

I suppose this is par for the course when it comes to internet apoligists.

"I don't understand your argument, but I hate your conclusion, so here's​ an asinine parody (just to prove that I don't understand it) and an "authority" who agrees with me, and if you think that authority is wrong, that's just you being arrogant (never mind that this authority's arguments are extremely controversial and, in fact, rejected by the significant majority of his peers)."
Don McIntosh said…
Alright Cale, you have me really confused.

I went out of my way to assess your argument and answer it seriously. I did so because I thought your argument was interesting – certainly worthy of a reply – and you seemed disappointed that no one was willing to step up and give it a shot. So in a genuine gesture of friendship and respect I gave it a shot. But you blasted it out of the water as a complete, abject failure. (And as I conceded already at RFD, you may well be right! I claim next to zero expertise on probability and statistics, okay? It's not really my thing.)

So then I throw up my hands, agree with you completely, freely acknowledge the intellectual superiority that you assert, insinuate, and flaunt for yourself almost incessantly, and you complain that I'm not taking you seriously.

Not sure what exactly what it is you want from me: Profess atheism? Renounce my faith in Christ? Worship you instead? That will never happen, I assure you.

Cale said…
Don, are you honestly asking me to believe that your last two comments were meant seriously rather than sarcastically?
Cale said…
I am glad that you initially found the argument interesting and wanted to offer a substantive rebuttal.

However, I was disappointed and concerned by your attempt at a parody--specifically, recall, your suggestion that "...if someone suggests to me that the earth is a globe, I can simply postulate that, conceivably, it may also be a cube, a cylinder, or a cone, and then run it through Nearing's calculations to demonstrate the probability of sphericity to be P(S) < 1/4."

That you think my reasoning works in this way reveals very clearly that you did not understand the reasoning, and I would think that if you were actually serious about understanding and responding to this argument, that this would be a shortcoming you would want to correct.

Instead, however, you have basically just fallen back on mockery rather than addressing this critical problem in your attempt at a rebuttal.

Perhaps you can understand why I would find this disappointing?
Joe Hinman said…
So, there isn't really an argument to respond to, there, much as you haven't offered anything resembling a substantive and cogent critique of my argument thus far in your comments.

Yes I did. you are not prepared to answer it that doesn't make it a non argument. It is a broad based Methodological judiciousness that says your approach is wrong at the most basic level. Belief in God belongs to epistemology and metaphysics. Science is not on a fundamental level of knowledge like those subjects are and thus God belief is prior to science epistemologically and more broad based then science,in terms of metaphysical assumptions. Science shares metaphysical assumptions with religion so it has no basis upon which to criticize God belief.

In this comment, though, we do see a couple of clear errors which may help highlight your general misunderstanding of the issue.

yes and I'll do my best to disabuse you of them.

You suggest that science requires metaphysics to ground it's assumptions. In some usage of the term science, this is true, since science is often taken as a public or collaboration endeavor, where results must be open to testing by colleagues. This indeed does require some metaphysical assumptions (though, obviously, it does not require a metaphysical system elaborate enough to entail the existence of God.)

I am pretty sure at this point that we are totally different pages in terms what metaphysics actually is,but I am prone to Heideggarian assumptions.

Science, in this public, collaborative sense, is an inferential methodology--an epistemology--which requires some minimal set of metaphysical assumptions.

Minimal is all we need, But probability not minimally metaphysically inclined it based upon huge metaphysical assumptions.

However, most of what grounds science is the logic of probabability theory, and this logic does not require any metaphysical assumptions beyond that which any person can affirm incorrigibly: that she exists, that she has experiences and believes things.

totally false. Probability is totally metaphysical,It's assuming reality based upon pre-conceived assumptions and preconceived gathering of sense data.

This is what makes probabability theory an appropriate Epistemology for for handling questions of metaphysics: the metaphysical assumptions it itself requires are as minimal as possible, and it allows us to evaluate then what further metaphysical assumptions are likely to be true.

that is backwards.Probability is not epistemology, that is not an understanding of how we know. It's an application of technique in light of metaphysical assumptions,,

This is, in effect, what I do in my argument. I am not applying science, in the public sense, but probability theory, which requires of our hypothetical inductor no metaphysical assumptions beyond what she knows incorrigibly about her own mind.

You think because your understanding of metaphysics is not Heideggerian. Nothing you said has told me why you think you can make probability about God when God is beyond our understanding and can't be pigeonholed or quantified or observed?

Your rant sounds like a typical canned complaint about scientism, which has nothing at all to do with the argument I have constructed here.

you really are into preconceived notions, that's going to cause you to miss the argumet, drop yiour notions of what you think apologists say and read what I am saying. you will not find many Heideggar spouting Christian apologists.

Probability can only give us a rough approximation of likely-hoods related to empirical data and phenomena that can be qualified, God is not given in sense data so he's not empirical and he can't be quantified so he can't be probabilistic,
Cale said…
Joe:

1.) The methodology behind my argument is not "science."

2.) Probability is completely epistemic. It is not in anyway a theory about metaphysics. If you think that I am using probability theory as a metaphysical theory, you have not understood the argument--or, indeed, probability theory itself.

3.) Probability theory is a theory of epistemology under Cox's interpretation.

4.) This:

"You think because your understanding of metaphysics is not Heideggerian. Nothing you said has told me why you think you can make probability about God when God is beyond our understanding and can't be pigeonholed or quantified or observed?"

Is not a cogent thought.

5.) "Yes I did. you are not prepared to answer it that doesn't make it a non argument."

No. You still haven't provided a rebuttal. You've claimed that we cannot meaningfully talk about the probability that God exists, but you have yet to back up this claim in any substantive manner.
Joe Hinman said…
Joe:

1.) The methodology behind my argument is not "science."

I know. It's applying probability to non-empirical ideas, can't work.

2.) Probability is completely epistemic. It is not in anyway a theory about metaphysics. If you think that I am using probability theory as a metaphysical theory, you have not understood the argument--or, indeed, probability theory itself.


Being epistemic does not mean it's epistemology.It;s not as basic as that. It;s used after one makes many metaphysical assumptions.The idea of abstraction likelihood is based upon metaphysical assumptions. It's the application of technique which means it's not as basic as epistemology.


3.) Probability theory is a theory of epistemology under Cox's interpretation.

Cox is not Heideggarian

4.) This:

"You think because your understanding of metaphysics is not Heideggerian. Nothing you said has told me why you think you can make probability about God when God is beyond our understanding and can't be pigeonholed or quantified or observed?"

Is not a cogent thought.

sure is. probability requires empirical data, you are extrapolating from empirical data, we have no empirical data of God. We are not likley to get any. God is on a foundational level the level of being itself, he;s too primordial to pin down to extrapolation from thee empirical.,


5.) "Yes I did. you are not prepared to answer it that doesn't make it a non argument."

No. You still haven't provided a rebuttal. You've claimed that we cannot meaningfully talk about the probability that God exists, but you have yet to back up this claim in any substantive manner.


bull shit,I just did,


Don McIntosh said…
"Don, are you honestly asking me to believe that your last two comments were meant seriously rather than sarcastically?"

That depends. Do you not honestly believe yourself to be the undisputed intellectual champion of the world I described in such glowing, glorious terms? Do you not honestly believe that you have successfully proven that what I know to be true is "almost certainly false"?

Sorry, but I would have to agree that (whether I was being sarcastic or not) those notions do seem just a smidge ridiculous.

I have generously, graciously agreed to everything you have said -- EXCEPT that theism is almost certainly false. (I can't concede that, because I know that theism is true.)

So again, I don't understand what the problem is. You should be tickled pink.

Was I being sarcastic? Maybe a little, but only because I like you and I think a bit of bubble-bursting would be really good for you. You're an exceptionally bright man, though, and I don't think anyone could honestly deny that. I personally think you should spend less time trying to bully everyone around you into acknowledging what is already fairly obvious, and put your smarts to better use.
Cale said…
1.) "non-empirical ideas" isn't a cogent though. Probability theory works perfectly well on a wide range of evaluations. It is not equivalent to empiricism.

2.) " It;s used after one makes many metaphysical assumptions.The idea of abstraction likelihood is based upon metaphysical assumptions."

Name one.

3.) "Cox is not Heideggarian"

Why would I care?

4.) probability requires empirical data

No, it doesn't.

5.) "bull shit,I just did"

No, you didn't.
Cale said…
Don:

"Do you not honestly believe yourself to be the undisputed intellectual champion of the world I described in such glowing, glorious terms?"

Of course I do not think of myself in this way.

"Do you not honestly believe that you have successfully proven that what I know to be true is "almost certainly false"?"

Yes, of course I do. What you claim to know to be true, I know to be false.
It's a serious matter. I wouldn't have offered the argument if I didn't think it was successful, and I wouldn't still be defending it if I thought anyone had leveled a fatal criticism at it.

Is that really so ridiculous? Is it any more ridiculous than your claim to know that it is true? I don't think so, and I don't see why you would.

As for the rest of it, I will take that at face value and apologize. I read your post as pure sarcasm, meant in an insulting fashion. I hope you can understand why I read it that way, but I am certainly willing to accept that you didn't mean it that way if you say that you did not, and if the error was mine, then I am sorry for having falsely accused you of something you didn't do. I hate it when people do that to me, and I would not want to do it to someone else.

Anyway, I do hope that at some point you take the time to work through the argument a little more carefully. I do think it is interesting, obviously (else I wouldn't have bothered showing it off) and I think it would be a shame if you left it without really grasping the logic.

My recommendation would be to try to formalize your parody regarding the sphericity of the Earth. I think if you do so--really try to reproduce my argument, step by step, you'll see what you were missing. If you do make the attempt and you find that you have any questions, let me know and I'll be happy to answer them.

In the meantime (either way) take care.
Jayman said…
Cale:

The argument can be "parodied" in some cases, but, frankly, the conclusion is correct in those cases as well. When the evidence "underdetermines" any particular theory, belief should be withheld, or affirmed only at the level of affirming some union of possible theories which is not underdetermined, in this sense.

The problem is that there are so many logically possible theories for any set of evidence that if we give each an equal probability we have to conclude none of the theories are probable.
Cale said…
Let me see if I can give you an example, Jay.

Consider Newton's law relating force and acceleration f = ma. This was a pretty good law, and made really solid predictions for a long time--it still does, in fact, if we ignore very fast objects (and for the moment, I'm going to do so, so I don't have to type out a relativistic version of the force law).

Even without looking at speeds where relativity plays a significant role, though, we can find cases where the force law is violated: very small particles, for instance, routinely behave in an apparently indeterministic fashion, such that their behavior will effectively falsify any law stated in purely deterministic terms, like f = ma.

What's the solution? Use laws stated in probabilistic terms: at the simplest, this just means tacking an error distribution onto the end of a deterministic law. Even when looking at large systems, it's more appropriate to express the force law as f = ma + e, where e is some error term, often normally distributed with a center at zero and some standard deviation that has been selected by a statistical method on the basis of some set of measurements.

The basic problem is that purely deterministic models will pretty much always be immediately falsified by any measurement. This is because they assign a likelihood, P(observation|model) which is equal to 1 for precisely one observation and 0 for every other observation--and, of course, due to vagaries in our experimental controls, we are pretty much guaranteed to eventually get an observation to which the model assigns a probability of zero--which then removes it from the hypothesis space entirely. We solve this by creating a model that can produce a range of possible outputs for any given set of inputs, so that it can survive a range of slightly-imperfect predictions without being eliminated from the hypothesis space entirely.

Cale said…
The method I just described is all about accounting for a range of observations, but note that we can think about the same method in an entirely different way.

Instead of thinking of our probabilistic model as a single model with a deterministic component and a probabilistic component, we can instead think of the probabilistic "model" as an entire, uncountably large class of hypotheses, each with deterministic and probabilistic components in the same form, but with different values for their parameters. When we make an observation, then, none of the models is eliminated from the space, but the distribution over the models themselves--or, if you like, the distribution over the space of possible parameters--changes.

When we say that "f=ma," then, we don't *really* mean that f will always exacty equal ma--we know that this doesn't stand up to observation. Instead, what we are saying is that there is some probabilistic model with that deterministic component, and usually we are also implying that we've gathered a bunch of data and used that data to update a distribution over our space of possible values for the parameters that might go into that model, to the point where new observations aren't really changing the distribution at a degree of precision that we care about.

So, now the question is, can we swamp out a hypothesis like *this* by simply exploding out the space of competing hypotheses to the nth degree?

And, no. The answer is no. We can't. The reason is that all the hypothesis does is specify that these measurements will be mathematically related in the manner described, and, moreover, the hypothesis actually represents its own infinitely large class of different hypotheses, with their own data-driven distribution over them.

No matter what alternatives you want to put in the field against it, those alternatives will either have to include the relationship described by the hypothesis (in which case they aren't mutually exclusive with the hypothesis at all) or they are going to to have to differential themselves from the hypothesis by failing to fit the data as well as the hypothesis itself does.

Give it a shot. Try to define a space of alternative hypotheses which would be sufficient to swamp out a hypothesis structured in the manner I've described above.

It's not as easy as you might imagine.
Don McIntosh said…
Cale:

"Of course I do not think of myself in this way."

That's good to hear! You do realize that you sometimes project an image of yourself not far removed from that caricature, though, right? Ask some people you trust and see if they don't tell you something similar.

"What you claim to know to be true, I know to be false.

It's a serious matter. I wouldn't have offered the argument if I didn't think it was successful, and I wouldn't still be defending it if I thought anyone had leveled a fatal criticism at it.

Is that really so ridiculous? Is it any more ridiculous than your claim to know that it is true? I don't think so, and I don't see why you would."

I agree it's a serious matter, far more so in light of the possible eternal implications of getting it wrong.

But I would say that there's a rather important distinction to be made between claiming to know something is true and claiming to have a proof of it. I know that I had eggs and sausage for breakfast this morning (to cite a trivial example), but I can't post an argument on the Internet to prove it.

I will try to honor your request and revisit your argument, maybe in the coming weeks. Maths and stats are not my strength, so honestly it's tough sledding for me. But I usually have a good sense for flaws in an argument, even an otherwise impressive argument – though I don't always have the technical expertise to express my objections effectively. I do still think your argument is flawed, and I hope to spell out the point of contention between us (re: evidence and likelihoods) more carefully.

For the third time, though, the bit about sphericity was not meant to be a parody! But given that some people would associate the idea of a "flat earth" with backwardness and irrationality, I can see why you might think that. Honestly it's the first analogy that came to mind. In retrospect I probably should have cast about for another instead.

Finally, thanks much for the apology. Right there is why I appreciate you and call you a friend. Let me say in the same spirit: If my sarcasm was too heavy, forgive me.

And take care yourself. :-)

Cale said…
Thanks, I appreciate it.

Just to be clear, though (and I'm not trying to be combative, here, just helpful--honestly) I think that you're misinterpreting my use of the word "parody."

By a "parody," I just mean an argument which is intended to use an analogous structure or reasoning to achieve a result which most people who be inclined to dismiss. It's any rebuttal of the sort, "if we apply the reasoning you use here to this other problem, we get a ridiculous result, hence we have some reason for thinking that there's a flaw in your argument."

That is what you were doing, right? That was the point of the spherical earth bit?

Also, note that I know that wasn't your only objection. I am focusing on it because attempts to construct analogous arguments are illustrative: if there's a flaw in the analogy, that suggests that the initial argument hasn't been understood, and it's pointless to talk about rebuttals to an argument that hasn't been understood.
Jayman said…
Cale:

What's the solution? Use laws stated in probabilistic terms: at the simplest, this just means tacking an error distribution onto the end of a deterministic law.

Someone could concoct a theory where force is not related to mass or acceleration at all. There needs to be something more to your epistemology for us to reasonably believe much of anything.

No matter what alternatives you want to put in the field against it, those alternatives will either have to include the relationship described by the hypothesis (in which case they aren't mutually exclusive with the hypothesis at all) or they are going to to have to differential themselves from the hypothesis by failing to fit the data as well as the hypothesis itself does.

I'm unconvinced. Suppose hypothesis 1 treats the force data as a real physical relationship with mass and acceleration whereas hypothesis 2 treats the force data as an illusion from an Evil Demon. Both hypotheses can't be true but they will both fit the data equally well. Given your approach, it is not clear if we should favor hypothesis 1.
Don McIntosh said…
On the "parody" --

Okay, the more I think about how it, the more I think you're technically right about this. Noted.
Joe Hinman said…
Cale said...
1.) "non-empirical ideas" isn't a cogent though. Probability theory works perfectly well on a wide range of evaluations. It is not equivalent to empiricism.

That's a pretty ignorant supposition,I suggest you study philosophy. Doesn't matter that there's a wide range of empirical data, God is not part of it so you can't assess God's probability.

2.) " It;s used after one makes many metaphysical assumptions.The idea of abstraction likelihood is based upon metaphysical assumptions."

Name one.

I just did, that we can represent particulars by abstracting generalities.

3.) "Cox is not Heideggarian"

Why would I care?

Because you are trying to answer my argument,and because any talk of metaphysics not aware of Heidegger is just prattle.

4.) probability requires empirical data

No, it doesn't.

Of course it does you know how do probability but you never even thought what it is.I'ts function of inductive reasoning that is empirical. You can't talk about the probability of something you can;t quantify.



5.) "bull shit,I just did"

No, you didn't.

Yes I did,here's the issue

No. You still haven't provided a rebuttal. You've claimed that we cannot meaningfully talk about the probability that God exists, but you have yet to back up this claim in any substantive manner.

Obviously the argument that you can't can;'t calculate the probability of god is substantive as an argument it negates your argument, you have not answered my argument,
Joe Hinman said…
God transcends physical reality and is beyond our understanding. How do you make probability for something you don't understand?
Cale said…
Jayman:

"Someone could concoct a theory where force is not related to mass or acceleration at all. There needs to be something more to your epistemology for us to reasonably believe much of anything."

They could, but any such theory--indeed, any class of such theories, would quickly fall behind as measurements mounted, no matter how many of them there are.

"I'm unconvinced. Suppose hypothesis 1 treats the force data as a real physical relationship with mass and acceleration whereas hypothesis 2 treats the force data as an illusion from an Evil Demon. Both hypotheses can't be true but they will both fit the data equally well. Given your approach, it is not clear if we should favor hypothesis 1."

You should favor hypothesis 1 (and this comes from an issue of complexity that I don't get into in my argument) but it may be the case that hypothesis 1 is specific enough that you can create an infinite class of similarly complex mutually exclusive alternatives and swamp it out in the manner that I swamp out theism.

That doesn't particularly concern me.

The mathematical relationship survives, even if the ontological interpretation doesn't.
Cale said…
Joe:

"That's a pretty ignorant supposition,I suggest you study philosophy."

I have, and it's not.

"Doesn't matter that there's a wide range of empirical data, God is not part of it so you can't assess God's probability."

Again, probability theory does not hinge on whether evidence is empirical or not.

"I just did, that we can represent particulars by abstracting generalities."

This is not a metaphysical assumption. It's also gibberish.

"Because you are trying to answer my argument,and because any talk of metaphysics not aware of Heidegger is just prattle."

Cox's theorem is about epistemology, not metaphysics. This is just irrelevant.

"Of course it does you know how do probability but you never even thought what it is. [sic]"

Of course I have.

"I'ts function [sic] of inductive reasoning that is empirical. "

Nope. It's not inherently empirical at all.

"You can't talk about the probability of something you can;t [sic] quantify."

This is wrong. We can talk about the probability of propositions, such as the proposition that God exists. Which is, actually, what I do talk about in my argument.

"Obviously the argument that you can't can;'t [sic] calculate the probability of god is substantive."

Well, no. It's not. So far, it has amounted to little more than you sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "You can't do that!" over and over again. That's not substantive.

"as an argument it negates your argument, you have not answered my argument,"

You haven't presented a cogent argument which negates mine.



Joe Hinman said…
You can't talk about the probability of something you can;t [sic] quantify."

This is wrong. We can talk about the probability of propositions, such as the proposition that God exists. Which is, actually, what I do talk about in my argument.

of course you can say it, that doesn't mean you know what you are talking about.


Tell me how you calculate the probability of God? what do you use as information about God?

you just say:I can do math so there's no God that's suppose to prove it?
Joe Hinman said…
he problem with using principles such as Bayes theorem is that they can’t tell us what we need to know to make the calculations of probability accurate in dealing with issues where our knowledge is fragmentary and sparse. The theorem is good for dealing with concrete things like tests for cancer, developing spam filters, and military applications but not for determining the answer to questions about reality that are philosophical by nature and that would require an understanding of realms beyond, realms of which we know nothing. Bayes conquered the problem of what level of chance or probability to assign the prior estimate by guessing. This worked because the precept was that future information would come in that would tell him if his guesses were in the ball park or not. Then he could correct them and guess again. As new information came in he would narrow the field to the point where eventually he’s not just in the park but rounding the right base so to speak.
The problem is that doesn’t work as well when no new information comes in, which is what happens when dealing with things beyond human understanding. We don’t have an incoming flood of empirical evidence clarifying the situation with God because God is not the subject of empirical observation. Where we set the prior, which is crucial to the outcome of the whole thing, is always going to be a matter of ideological assumption. For example we could put the prior at 50-50 (either God exists or not) and that would yield a high probability of God.[8] Or the atheist can argue that the odds of God are low because God is not given in the sense data, which is in itself is an ideological assumption. It assumes that the only valid form of knowledge is empirical data. It also ignores several sources of empirical data that can be argued as evidence for God (such as the universal nature of mystical experience).[9] It assumes that God can’t be understood as reality based upon other means of deciding such as personal experience or logic, and it assumes the probability of God is low based upon unbelief because the it could just as easily be assumed as high based upon it’s properly basic nature or some form of elegance (parsimony). In other words this is all a matter of how e chooses to see things. Perspective matters. There is no fortress of facts giving the day to atheism, there is only the prior assumptions one chooses to make and the paradigm under which one chooses to operate; that means the perception one chooses to filter the data through.

[8] Joe Carter, “The Probability of God” First Thoughts. Blog of publication of First Things. (August 18, 2010) URL: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/18/the-probability-of-god/ visited (1/10/13). Carter points out that when Unwin (an atheist discussed in previous chapter) puts in 50% prior he gets 67% probability for God. When Cater himself does so he get’s 99%.Cater’s caveat: “Let me clarify that this argument is not intended to be used as a proof of God’s existence. The sole intention is to put in quantifiable terms the probabilities that we should form a belief about such a Being’s existence. In other words, this is not an ontological proof but a means of justifying a particular epistemic stance toward the idea of the existence or non-existence of a deity.The argument is that starting from an epistemically neutral point (50 percent/50 percent), we can factor in specific evidence for the existence or non-existence of a deity. After evaluating each line of evidence, we can determine if it is more or less likely that it would entail the existence of God.”

[9] Metacrock, "The Scale and The universal Nature of Mystical Experience," The religious a priroi blog URL: http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-m-sacle-and-universal-nature-of.html see also the major argument I sue for documentation in that article, In P, McNamar (Ed.), Where God and science meet, Vol. 3, pp. 119-138. Westport, CT: Praeger. linked in Google preview.
Joe Hinman said…
here's an example of why i think you need actual accurate information to do good probability, It's an article by Bob Sidensticker, just a blogger.



"Have you heard of the Drake equation? It’s a simple product of seven values, and it attempts to compute the number of civilizations in our galaxy with whom radio communication might be possible.
Now that we have found clear evidence of planets around other stars, the equation is slightly more practical than when it was first proposed over a half-century ago, but it still demands reliable figures for factors we can now only guess at: the fraction of planets in the average solar system that could potentially support life, the fraction of those that produce that life, that continue on to develop intelligent life, whose intelligent life develops technology, and so on."



can we know how many civilizations are out there with no reliable information to go on? if we o need that why would we not need it to do probability on God?

that's all i am commenced with from his article,
Jayman said…
Cale, perhaps the reason your argument is underwhelming is because you don't comment on matters of simplicity and ad hocness (note: I can't read the original FB post so I'm going off what is said here).

Regarding simplicity/complexity, in a comment you seem to suggest it's also a matter of mathematics alone (Kolmogorov complexity?). But it's arguable that that's all that is meant by the terms.

Your RUGs are ad hoc. And why there should be two atheistic hypotheses instead of one is never stated although it makes a huge difference to the probabilities. You counter, in an earlier comment, that theism is ad hoc but give no further reason for why you say this. It looks like you simply ignore the arguments and evidence for theism.
Cale said…
Jayman

I have presented variations of this argument before which do discuss simplicity and ad hocness, but people always get stuck on Kolmogorov complexity--it's just really hard for most people to wrap their heads around, for some reason, it seems. So, I figured I'd try explaining the prior distribution without calling on such an unusual, technical concept.

I agree that the RUGs are ad hoc. However, Theism itself is ad hoc in *exactly* the same way: the issue in both cases is that they only make retrodictions--not predictions. They explain things that we already know are the case, but fail to predict anything new. That's the criteria that renders them ad hoc, and all four of the hypotheses I list are ad hoc as per that criteria.

Why are there three atheistic hypotheses and only one theistic hypothesis? This is actually something I explain in the argument itself. The answer is that A1, A2, A3, and T each stipulate the existence of a different particular entity, and postulate that entity as the metaphysically necessary grounding for contingent reality.

RUG1, RUG2, RUG3, and the MGB (the Maximally Great Being of classical theism) are distinct, particular, mutually exclusive, possible beings. If any one of them exists, the other three don't. And, of course, they are all exactly as complex as one another, though that isn't something I get into in the argument.

That's why there are three "atheistic" hypotheses and one theistic one. Because there are (at least) three different beings that could, for all we know, be the metaphysically necessary grounding for contingent reality, and if any of them actually are the metaphysically necessary grounding for contingent reality, then Theism is false.

Meanwhile, there is only one being which could both fill this role and render theism true.

Hence, three As and one T. Actually, of course, I could have had as many As as I wanted, but three was sufficient to illustrate the point.
Jayman said…
Cale:

but people always get stuck on Kolmogorov complexity

I suspect it's because complexity cannot be reduced to Kolmogorov complexity.

However, Theism itself is ad hoc in *exactly* the same way: the issue in both cases is that they only make retrodictions--not predictions.

First, it isn't true that theism (or at least some forms of it) does not make predictions. Daniel 9:24-27, for example, predicted a time period (first century AD) in which the Jewish Messiah would appear and that prediction was fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. Or, as another example, a theist might have predicted that time had a beginning and this prediction was confirmed with the big bang.

Second, even if a theory only makes retrodictions that is not enough to make it ad hoc. Hypotheses about historical events may not make predictions but that does not mean all historical hypotheses are on equal footing.

The answer is that A1, A2, A3, and T each stipulate the existence of a different particular entity, and postulate that entity as the metaphysically necessary grounding for contingent reality.

But why not say T1 posits the existence of Yahweh, T2 posits the existence of Baal, and T3 posits the existence of Thor?
Joe Hinman said…
Cale

you can play like my thing is not worth answering we both t;s because you can't. I quoted an atheist arguing against the use of Bayes to prove God he said you have to have actuate information,that was my argument, you did not answer it.

when you do not answer an youlose it.
Don McIntosh said…
"First, it isn't true that theism (or at least some forms of it) does not make predictions[...]"

"Second, even if a theory only makes retrodictions that is not enough to make it ad hoc."

Great points! Thanks for your contributions here, Jayman.
Joe Hinman said…
this guy Cale is all about his skill set, I used to do that toe just like that,I used to be just like that.I had my case down,I knew what I was going to say it was just a mater of manipulating opponents into putting themselves in a position where i could unload my lass notes from Serbian they were stunned had no idea what to say because they had never seen real theology work before,they were stunned. For the first five years of my new life as an apologist I had big rep and like a gun gunsilnger for god,

I was not learning enough and not challenged enough. I ran dry and got empty and it got old, I got burned out.

I am sure this guy feels very important he's a gun slinger for atheism.Probably he can only see thinks in relation to that sphere of his skill sets and his ideology,get out of that circle he can't recognize an argument.
Cale said…
Jayman:

"I suspect it's because complexity cannot be reduced to Kolmogorov complexity."

There certainly is an intuitive sense of complexity which people have a hard time reducing to Kolmogorov complexity, but this is not the major hurdle, I think. The concept itself is a bit difficult to wrap your head around.

"First, it isn't true that theism (or at least some forms of it) does not make predictions. Daniel 9:24-27, for example, predicted a time period (first century AD) in which the Jewish Messiah would appear and that prediction was fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. Or, as another example, a theist might have predicted that time had a beginning and this prediction was confirmed with the big bang."

First, yes. It is. The prediction in Daniel is not a prediction of Theism, and, for us, it isn't a prediction at all. Alleged past prophecies don't qualify when assessing the predictive capability of a hypothesis.

A theist might have predicted that time had a beginning, but, of course, a great many predicted just the opposite. However, since the "big bang" has not been confirmed to be the beginning of time, it hardly matters either way.

"Second, even if a theory only makes retrodictions that is not enough to make it ad hoc. Hypotheses about historical events may not make predictions but that does not mean all historical hypotheses are on equal footing."

They are all ad hoc in the relevant sense, just as Theism is ad-hoc in every sense that A1, A2, and A3 are ad-hoc.

"But why not say T1 posits the existence of Yahweh, T2 posits the existence of Baal, and T3 posits the existence of Thor?"

I could indeed have done this, but since two of these would entail the falseness of Theism, as discussed in the argument, it would only hurt Theism further.


Sorry, Joe. When you stopped offering substantive criticism and started resorting to insults and vacuous declarations of victory, I lost interest.

Probability theory is an appropriate tool for this sort of inference. I'm sorry that you disagree, but you have offered precisely no argument or justification for your dismissal of an entire inferential methodology, which is simply not sufficient when the methodology in question is, indisputably, the most successful methodology ever employed in human history.
Cale said…
After all, Joe, big talk only gets you so far. If you actually want me to take you seriously, you need to offer a substantive critique that supports serious discussion. So far, you simply haven't.
Joe Hinman said…
ale said...
After all, Joe, big talk only gets you so far. If you actually want me to take you seriously, you need to offer a substantive critique that supports serious discussion. So far, you simply haven't.

In other words you are a member of the priesthood of knowledge, you haven the magic, the knowledge of statistics that's science that makes you worthy of being right. you have not answered the concerns I brought up. It does not matter how well you know the illusion of technique or how deep your mystification of knowledge, you have not answered my argumet thus you lose, He who does not answer an Argentine loses that argument in a debate. So says the National forensic league.
Joe Hinman said…
A theist might have predicted that time had a beginning, but, of course, a great many predicted just the opposite. However, since the "big bang" has not been confirmed to be the beginning of time, it hardly matters either way.

there is no particular reasom why we should make predictions because belief in god is not a matter of probability.

"Second, even if a theory only makes retrodictions that is not enough to make it ad hoc. Hypotheses about historical events may not make predictions but that does not mean all historical hypotheses are on equal footing."

He slings a mean mystification has he ever given a single reason why we should play by his rules? No he has not. He merely asserts that they must be obeyed.

They are all ad hoc in the relevant sense, just as Theism is ad-hoc in every sense that A1, A2, and A3 are ad-hoc.

that's a meaningless argument they so want to subject religion to rules of a scientific hypothesis but it's not science, no reason to do that.

"But why not say T1 posits the existence of Yahweh, T2 posits the existence of Baal, and T3 posits the existence of Thor?"

those are merely place holders they miss the point of belief in God,


I could indeed have done this, but since two of these would entail the falseness of Theism, as discussed in the argument, it would only hurt Theism further.


you are not willing to confront religious belief on its own term,that is religion,so your critique is merely the imposition of one ideology over another,

Sorry, Joe. When you stopped offering substantive criticism and started resorting to insults and vacuous declarations of victory, I lost interest.


I did not stop.I met my premise facie burden and you did not answer it,

Probability theory is an appropriate tool for this sort of inference.

no it's not, you have not givenany sort ofdemonstration as whyit shokld be,I haegiven two reasonsto think itcna;tbe youhavenot answeredwither,

(1) you don;'thavenew informationabout god

(2) God is not probable he is necessary by definition. if he is probable hes not God.



I'm sorry that you disagree, but you have offered precisely no argument or justification for your dismissal of an entire inferential methodology,

sure as hell did I said told you two of them, I said it every time and you have never answered it,


which is simply not sufficient when the methodology in question is, indisputably, the most successful methodology ever employed in human history.

sorry Capetian Kirck your blough is called there is no corbomite device now ante up
Cale said…
The only point worth responding to is here:

"(2) God is not probable he is necessary by definition. if he is probable hes not God."

God is necessary only in logics which assume his existence as an axiom. Obviously, using such a logic to evaluate whether or not God exists is begging the question.

In any logic in which it is even possible to rationally approach the question at hand, the probability that God exists is neither one nor zero.
Joe Hinman said…

Blogger Cale said...
The only point worth responding to is here:

"(2) God is not probable he is necessary by definition. if he is probable hes not God."

God is necessary only in logics which assume his existence as an axiom. Obviously, using such a logic to evaluate whether or not God exists is begging the question.


no. you are full of it. Harthorne's Modal argument begins "God is either necessary or impossible" It does not assume God must be necessary, but he can't be contingent. the re is no "logic" in which God can be contingent,God can only fail to exist by being impossible, he can't be contingent and be God. that eliminates a probability because only by contingency that he could be merely probable.

In any logic in which it is even possible to rationally approach the question at hand, the probability that God exists is neither one nor zero.

God either exists in all possible worlds as in none, thus there cannot be a probability of god.


you lost the other argumnet hands down because you refused to argue it,
Joe Hinman said…
It's not circular because there is the chance that God is impossible.we start from either/or. But since there no reason to assume God is impossible then he is necessary,
Joe Hinman said…
God is being itself, being itself cam't be subject to probability. To make Byes fit
god you have to pretend that God is subject to natural law, He can't be because he created it.
Joe Hinman said…
scientism, tha;tg sall yogot you are into scientist, you hate God because you wish you were God.
Jayman said…
Cale:

The prediction in Daniel is not a prediction of Theism, and, for us, it isn't a prediction at all.

At the very least, I fail to see how Daniel's prediction was not a prediction of (a form of) theism for his audience. Furthermore, whether it's technically a prediction from our perspective or not, to believe that the fulfillment of said prophecy is not evidence for Christianity is absurd. The Christian hypothesis takes the evidence at face value whereas any atheist hypothesis will be ad hoc in the sense of being posited to avoid falsification.

They are all ad hoc in the relevant sense, just as Theism is ad-hoc in every sense that A1, A2, and A3 are ad-hoc.

My point is that your definition of "ad hoc" is not shared by others. How do you actually propose we do history if every hypothesis is deemed equally ad hoc and thus of equal (extremely low) probability? Should we say that the hypothesis that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth is as ad hoc as the hypothesis that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by Martians?
Jayman said…
Joe Hinman:

there is no particular reasom why we should make predictions because belief in god is not a matter of probability.

I agree that the theist does not need to make predictions to show theism to be true. Certain arguments for God's existence are sufficient. However, God Himself does make predictions in the Bible.

He slings a mean mystification has he ever given a single reason why we should play by his rules? No he has not. He merely asserts that they must be obeyed.

To be clear, I'm not trying to play by Cale's rules. I'm trying to understand his position and show where it appears to be flawed.
Cale said…
Jayman:

"At the very least, I fail to see how Daniel's prediction was not a prediction of (a form of) theism for his audience."

There are two important here. The first answer is that Daniel's prediction doesn't actually come from Theism at all. Neither Theism nor Christianity allow us to derive Daniel's prediction from them. Daniel's prediction came from a tangential experience which he interpreted in a certain way (if, indeed, it happened at all, which it likely did not). That Daniel thought God had revealed the future to him does not make that revelation a prediction of the theistic hypothesis.

Hence, even for Daniel and his audience, this was, at best, very weak evidence for theism.

The second point is that, even if it were evidence for theism for Daniel, that doesn't make it evidence for theism for us--or, at least, it's not evidence for theism over A1, A2, and A3. After all, A1, A2, and A3 all make the exact same "prediction" about these past events.

The issue with predictive capability is that it offers a way for us to test hypotheses, which allows us to evaluate them as future observations become available. It's easy for a hypothesis to "predict" what has already happened, as Theism, A1, A2, and A3 do, but if they go on to give us expectations about the future, we can use those expectations to evaluate them once those future observations are in.

The key word, there, though, is *us.* Think about Sue, in the hypothetical. As far as she is concerned, everything we actually know about Daniel is better predicted by A1 than it is by Theism, and none of what we know about Daniel gives Sue any expectations moving forward. It offers Sue no predictive capability.

So, even if that event really did happen and somehow constituted significant evidence for Daniel and his audience (which, again, it very likely did not) it wouldn't constitute evidence for Sue--or us--because it still offers us no actual predictive capability.

"My point is that your definition of "ad hoc" is not shared by others. How do you actually propose we do history if every hypothesis is deemed equally ad hoc and thus of equal (extremely low) probability?"

Okay, but, this point really just doesn't matter. Your definition of "ad hoc" here is not grounds for arbitrarily assigning A1, A2, and A3 lower priors in this evaluation.

"Should we say that the hypothesis that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth is as ad hoc as the hypothesis that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by Martians?"

Of course not. However, if we look at the prior probability of both, prior to *any* observations, then yeah. Those priors are about the same. The issue here is that we have evidence which makes updates the John Wilkes Booth hypothesis significantly, but little such evidence for the Martian hypothesis. In practice, we will rarely ever be interested in considering the a priori prior probabilities for these hypotheses at all.




Cale said…
Joe:

Hartshorne's modal ontological argument, like all modal ontological arguments, beg the question at the premise where it is stated that God (defined such that God is either necessary or impossible) possibly exists. This premise is equivalent to the statement that God necessarily exists (which is why the argument is valid at all) and, hence, is a clear case of begging the question.

Where these philosophers go wrong is in trying to utilize a logic whose axioms they do not have fully enumerated, then asserting that something is possible in that logic, despite not being able to actually evaluate that assumption.

This is not a mistake I make.

You still have no objection to my argument, here.

Also, I do not subscribe to scientism, I do not hate God, and I do not wish I were God. Frothing at the mouth is not helping your case, here, Joe.
Jayman said…
Cale:

The first answer is that Daniel's prediction doesn't actually come from Theism at all. Neither Theism nor Christianity allow us to derive Daniel's prediction from them.

Theism and Christianity posit a being who can predict the future whereas atheism does not. Christianity provides a straighforward explanation of fulfilled prophecy that atheism can't match.

That Daniel thought God had revealed the future to him does not make that revelation a prediction of the theistic hypothesis.

But it is a prediction of a certain form of theism, namely one where God reveals Himself through Daniel. If Daniel doesn't count as a prediction of some form of theism then I don't know what would.

The second point is that, even if it were evidence for theism for Daniel, that doesn't make it evidence for theism for us--or, at least, it's not evidence for theism over A1, A2, and A3. After all, A1, A2, and A3 all make the exact same "prediction" about these past events.

Since the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 was fulfilled centuries after Daniel lived it is, in fact, evidence for us that Daniel never saw in his lifetime. Nothing in your atheistic hypotheses posits the existence of a being who can predict the future centuries in advance so they are not equal with theism. The very reason atheists try to cast doubt on Daniel's prophecies (as you did yourself) is because they know this kind of things is not supposed to happen in an atheistic universe.

The issue with predictive capability is that it offers a way for us to test hypotheses, which allows us to evaluate them as future observations become available. It's easy for a hypothesis to "predict" what has already happened, as Theism, A1, A2, and A3 do, but if they go on to give us expectations about the future, we can use those expectations to evaluate them once those future observations are in.

The debate over God's existence is not only about "predictive capabilities" for the future. It is about what is true. Successful predictions from the past inform us about what is true. It looks like if a prophecy from God was fulfilled tomorrow you would be using the same line in two days time because the prediction would then be past.

So, even if that event really did happen and somehow constituted significant evidence for Daniel and his audience (which, again, it very likely did not) it wouldn't constitute evidence for Sue--or us--because it still offers us no actual predictive capability.

But Daniel does predict events that haven't happened yet. And evidence does not have to predict the future to be evidence.

The issue here is that we have evidence which makes updates the John Wilkes Booth hypothesis significantly, but little such evidence for the Martian hypothesis.

That's the very same argument Christians make about the resurrection of Christ when they use Bayes' Theorem. If you were as skeptical of Lincoln's assassination as you presumably are about Christ's resurrection then I'd expect you to lay out countless hypotheses not invoking Booth so that the Booth hypothesis has an extraordinary low prior probability. You would then also note that the Booth hypothesis relies on evidence from the past and does not make predictions about the future.
Cale said…
"Theism and Christianity posit a being who can predict the future whereas atheism does not. Christianity provides a straighforward explanation of fulfilled prophecy that atheism can't match."

An *explanation* for something that allegedly happened in the past. Not a prediction. And, of course, "atheism" can easily match it.

I'd respond to the rest of your points on this topic, but, of course, they do nothing to address my argument, and my response here already makes it clear why that is.

One-time prophecies simply don't qualify on the predictive capability scale.

On the other topic,

"That's the very same argument Christians make about the resurrection of Christ when they use Bayes' Theorem."

Well, sure. They do it with shocking incompetence (see Swinburne and Habermas for examples) but, frankly, it just doesn't matter as far as my argument here is concerned.

Frankly, I think you've lost the plot, here. Can you perhaps refocus and try to explain precisely what you think is wrong with the argument I actually presented?

Joe Hinman said…
Cale said...
Joe:

Hartshorne's modal ontological argument, like all modal ontological arguments, beg the question at the premise where it is stated that God (defined such that God is either necessary or impossible) possibly exists.

You do not know what you are talking about. The position that says God is either necessary or impossible does not say God is possible, That's a contradiction. It's obvious you never studied this issue. Saying God is either necessary /or impossible is a choice and thus cannot be begging the question. It's obvious form the concept of God in Bible and in early theology of the Christain tradition that God cannot be contingent.This is simply the perimeters of the God concept noway it's begging the question.


This premise is equivalent to the statement that God necessarily exists (which is why the argument is valid at all) and, hence, is a clear case of begging the question.

that is the conclusion not the premise, the premise is God must be either necessary or impossible but cannot be contingent,that is apparent given God's eternal nature. It is only after analysis that we conclude that God is necessary and not impossible.

Where these philosophers go wrong is in trying to utilize a logic whose axioms they do not have fully enumerated, then asserting that something is possible in that logic, despite not being able to actually evaluate that assumption.

you are so ignorant, you studied logic in atheist echo chamber. Try to sound like an expert talking about "logics.": the only Logic that matters are those that fit reality,reality is God has to be eternal and can't be contingent t5hus can't be probable.

This is not a mistake I make.

a huge mistake and it tells me you have not read Hartshorne,

You still have no objection to my argument, here.

Also, I do not subscribe to scientism, I do not hate God, and I do not wish I were God. Frothing at the mouth is not helping your case, here, Joe.


you it's obvious

5/29/2017 11:22:00 AM Delete
Joe Hinman said…
One-time prophecies simply don't qualify on the predictive capability scale.

On the other topic,

"That's the very same argument Christians make about the resurrection of Christ when they use Bayes' Theorem."

Well, sure. They do it with shocking incompetence (see Swinburne and Habermas for examples) but, frankly, it just doesn't matter as far as my argument here is concerned.

Frankly, I think you've lost the plot, here. Can you perhaps refocus and try to explain precisely what you think is wrong with the argument I actually presented?


O man that's Trump ignorant, you have no understanding of ethology, God doesn't predict the future, he doesn't have to he's outside time he sees what is future for us as past for him, it doesn't matter because he's not subject to probability because he's not contentment.

probability is relative to perspective if your perspective is 100% it's a certainty not probability.
Joe Hinman said…
my friend who got his Ph.D. in math from UT says my argument about new information is right, Bayes is unseless for telling if God exists.
Cale said…
Joe:

"The central assumption or thesis to Hartshorne’s argument is that
God’s existence is possible. This assumption is important because the logical
underpinning of the argument is that to be possible and to be are the
same thing."

This quote is from a paper on Hartshorne's argument by Joshua Ernst, which you can read here:

"http://aporia.byu.edu/pdfs/ernst-charles_hartshorne_and_the_ontological_argument.pdf"

Note, too, that the formalized version of Hartshorne's argument explicitly includes exactly the premise that I described: that it is possible that God exists, or, as Ernst presents it in this formalization,

"7. ~N~q"

See, Joe, the thing is I did look into Hartshorne's argument. And I was right, of course. Your response here makes it painfully clear that you have *not* actually looked into Hartshorne's argument, or that (if you have) you failed to even correctly parse its premises.

Also, I don't subscribe to scientism. That you think "it's obvious" only reinforces that you really don't know what you're talking about.


Next:

"O man that's Trump ignorant, you have no understanding of ethology, God doesn't predict the future, he doesn't have to he's outside time he sees what is future for us as past for him, it doesn't matter because he's not subject to probability because he's not contentment."

You call me ignorant, but, of course, nothing you've written here is novel to me. At no point did I suggest that God "predicts" the future. You are responding to a fantasy, not something that I actually wrote.


Finally:

"my friend who got his Ph.D. in math from UT says my argument about new information is right, Bayes is unseless for telling if God exists."

Given that you have been consistently wrong, dishonest, and ignorant of even the most rudimentary facets of the topics you are trying to argue, I doubt that this is true. You haven't presented a coherent argument to that effect, and you have made it clear that you don't actually understand the argument I offered at all--much less its logic, or the epistemic weight that logic carries. I am entirely confident that you could not manage to even represent the argument to a third party in a competent manner, much less present a cogent rebuttal to it, and your penchant for fiction suggests the most likely alternative, here: that this is yet another fantastical fabrication on your part.

Honestly, Joe. You're just embarrassing yourself. Stop. Take a breather. Put some time into actually learning about the subject. Stop dropping names when you're not familiar with their work.

This is not helping anyone, least of all you.

Joe Hinman said…
first I have quoted several people including your fellow atheist who said that need new incoming info to do Bayes on God. I quote two mathematicians,so you lost that you have not answered it. Again you let another opportunity go by and still did not answer,you lose.

as for Hartshorne

Joe:

"The central assumption or thesis to Hartshorne’s argument is that
God’s existence is possible. This assumption is important because the logical
underpinning of the argument is that to be possible and to be are the
same thing."

This quote is from a paper on Hartshorne's argument by Joshua Ernst, which you can read here:

"http://aporia.byu.edu/pdfs/ernst-charles_hartshorne_and_the_ontological_argument.pdf"

Note, too, that the formalized version of Hartshorne's argument explicitly includes exactly the premise that I described: that it is possible that God exists, or, as Ernst presents it in this formalization,

"7. ~N~q"


you really play off of mystification of knowledge


See, Joe, the thing is I did look into Hartshorne's argument. And I was right, of course. Your response here makes it painfully clear that you have *not* actually looked into Hartshorne's argument, or that (if you have) you failed to even correctly parse its premises.

No you are confused a bout what he's saying. Yes in that context he says God is possible but by that he does not mean God is a mere possibility, he means there is no negation of
god's existence but the possible imn terms of God is a certainty,



Joe Hinman said…
I've read the article you link to, you either don't understand it or you are purposely being misleading.It is not saying God is a mere possibility, There's a big distinction between that and saying it is possible for God to exist.If
god is possible then his existence is certain.
Joe Hinman said…
I know this is what Juashua is getting at because I've seen it before, this is an explanation in the internet encyclopedia of philosophy,it puts it in accessible terms not mastication of of knowledge.


internet encyclopedia of philosophy

"If necessity (~M~) is what is common to all possibilities—a common definition—and if any state of affairs that is actual is also possible—a standard modal principle—then the conclusion to be drawn is that God exists (p*). Hartshorne was under no illusions that this mode of reasoning would convince the skeptic that God exists. Nor did he use it as his reason for believing in God."

that's affirmation what I said above that saying God is possible in his context does not mean God could cease or fail or is just a a maybe.
Cale said…
"first I have quoted several people including your fellow atheist who said that need new incoming info to do Bayes on God. I quote two mathematicians,so you lost that you have not answered it. Again you let another opportunity go by and still did not answer,you lose."

Actually, you haven't *quoted* anyone saying that. Also, it is false.



"No you are confused a bout what he's saying. Yes in that context he says God is possible but by that he does not mean God is a mere possibility, he means there is no negation of god's existence but the possible imn (sic) terms of God is a certainty,"

No, I'm quite aware of what he is saying. *You,* on the other hand, are not aware of what *I* am saying. Recall what I actually wrote:

"Hartshorne's modal ontological argument, like all modal ontological arguments, beg the question at the premise where it is stated that God (defined such that God is either necessary or impossible) possibly exists."

And, of course, as it turns out I was *exactly* right. Hartshorne's argument does indeed include as a premise that God possibly exists. This is, indeed, equivalent to stating that God necessarily exists. Ergo, it is a case of question-begging. Just like I said.



"that's affirmation what I said above that saying God is possible in his context does not mean God could cease or fail or is just a a maybe."

Actually, that's an affirmation of what *I* said above. It's really rather funny. You're calling me stupid for saying things that you apparently completely agree with.

Anyway, it remains that you have no rebuttal to my argument, you obviously don't understand Hartshorne's argument or my objection to it, and you still lack the basic literacy and civility to engage in this conversation like an intelligent and reasonable adult.
Joe Hinman said…
Cale said...
"first I have quoted several people including your fellow atheist who said that need new incoming info to do Bayes on God. I quote two mathematicians,so you lost that you have not answered it. Again you let another opportunity go by and still did not answer,you lose."

Actually, you haven't *quoted* anyone saying that. Also, it is false.


Yes I thinkI did, but even so let;s say alluded to. limed to .their stuff is there to be seen, I think I did quote that guy arguing against Uwin,



"No you are confused a bout what he's saying. Yes in that context he says God is possible but by that he does not mean God is a mere possibility, he means there is no negation of god's existence but the possible imn (sic) terms of God is a certainty,"

No, I'm quite aware of what he is saying. *You,* on the other hand, are not aware of what *I* am saying. Recall what I actually wrote:

"Hartshorne's modal ontological argument, like all modal ontological arguments, beg the question at the premise where it is stated that God (defined such that God is either necessary or impossible) possibly exists."

that's an old criticism Hartshonre answers it. The answer amounts to what I said it;s not negating the possibility of 'god;s impossibility which is still the founding premise but it is the fact that that possibility is never born out,

And, of course, as it turns out I was *exactly* right. Hartshorne's argument does indeed include as a premise that God possibly exists. This is, indeed, equivalent to stating that God necessarily exists. Ergo, it is a case of question-begging. Just like I said.

I already covered that try reading the answers I give,



"that's affirmation what I said above that saying God is possible in his context does not mean God could cease or fail or is just a a maybe."

Actually, that's an affirmation of what *I* said above. It's really rather funny. You're calling me stupid for saying things that you apparently completely agree with.

that is nuts, it is the opposite of what you said, It says waht I said,k that God;s possibility turns out to be necessity because he can't be contingent,

Anyway, it remains that you have no rebuttal to my argument, you obviously don't understand Hartshorne's argument or my objection to it, and you still lack the basic literacy and civility to engage in this conversation like an intelligent and reasonable adult.

I/ve been studying it since the early 80's.I had a tuning correspondence with Plantinga for many years,you do nott know,

Read H.'s article Hick;s many faced argument,,
Joe Hinman said…
"Anyway, it remains that you have no rebuttal to my argument, you obviously don't understand Hartshorne's argument or my objection to it, and you still lack the basic literacy and civility to engage in this conversation like an intelligent and reasonable adult.'

I just rebuttaled it, the guy is so desperate to feel that he won that he just denies the obvious when it;s in his face,

God is possible /= God is a maybe, that's the answer, it just said there;s a principle that turns possible into necessity,


"If necessity (~M~) is what is common to all possibilities—a common definition—and if any state of affairs that is actual is also possible—a standard modal principle—then the conclusion to be drawn is that God exists (p*). Hartshorne was under no illusions that this mode of reasoning would convince the skeptic that God exists. Nor did he use it as his reason for believing in God."

so it doesn't convince him but itdoes mean he can';t call God probable
Joe Hinman said…
from the same internet encyclopedia article I quoted above:

"The strict implication of the second premise allows one to infer that if God’s existence is logically possible then it is logically necessary. "
Joe Hinman said…
Ask a mathematician?

"So getting back to the God question, we cannot talk about a single, universal probability that God exists. Rather, this probability will necessarily be dependent on the information that you happen to have."5th guy says you are wrong
Cale said…
Okay, so most of what you tried to write about the ontological argument is gibberish, as usual, and what little of it comes through cogently basically just reiterates that I am right about that argument:

Hartshorne, like everyone else writing modal ontological arguments, begins by assuming God's logical possibility, then utilizes S5 to "infer" God's existence from that possibility. This is a form of question begging, and Hartshorne has not answered that objection, but you clearly aren't capable of engaging coherently on that topic.


Getting back to the point of this conversation,

""So getting back to the God question, we cannot talk about a single, universal probability that God exists. Rather, this probability will necessarily be dependent on the information that you happen to have."5th guy says you are wrong""

This guy isn't disagreeing with me at all. Indeed, my argument explicitly takes this into account.

You continue to demonstrate nothing beyond that you have no idea what you are talking about--much less what I am talking about.
Joe Hinman said…
Okay, so most of what you tried to write about the ontological argument is gibberish, as usual, and what little of it comes through cogently basically just reiterates that I am right about that argument:

you don't know anything about it,.My understanding of the topic has been coached by Plantinga I think he knows a wee bit more about it than you do,

Hartshorne, like everyone else writing modal ontological arguments, begins by assuming God's logical possibility,

no he he does not. 1941: Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God. Defence of modal ontological arguments, allegedly derived from Proslogion 3.

Here's version of it

(1) If God exists, he must exist necessarily, if God does not exist his existence is impossible.

(2) Therefore, God is either necessary or impossible.

(3) God can be conceived without contradiction

(4) therefore, God is not impossible

(5) Since God is not impossible he must be necessary.

(6) Since god is necessary he must exist.

as you can see the first premis loeavesopen two options, 'god could beipossiboe,lsoit;smnotbet=ggimng thequewstion it does notassert Godispossible,

I also quoted the articl v saying point bland you are wrong him saying god is possible,



then utilizes S5 to "infer" God's existence from that possibility. This is a form of question begging, and Hartshorne has not answered that objection, but you clearly aren't capable of engaging coherently on that topic.

not in the least, you don't understand the concepts, God cannot be a contingency because that not what we mean by the term God we are not considering contingencies,


Getting back to the point of this conversation,

""So getting back to the God question, we cannot talk about a single, universal probability that God exists. Rather, this probability will necessarily be dependent on the information that you happen to have."5th guy says you are wrong""

This guy isn't disagreeing with me at all. Indeed, my argument explicitly takes this into account.

according to the things you said in response to me he sure as hell is,I don't you know enough to argue with me,you said pewit blank you don;tneed new information about Go,

Cale said…
"(3) God can be conceived without contradiction

(4) therefore, God is not impossible"

These two points encapsulate the error. Note that premise 4 states exactly what I said it states: that God possibly exists.

The error here is in the suggestion that 4 follows from 3. It doesn't. In any logic where mere internal coherence is sufficient for possibility, God is trivially not necessary.
Cale said…
And it remains that you have no cogent objection to my actual argument.
Joe Hinman said…
you compounded your idiocy by refusing to answer the arguments, pretending they are not arguments even when I produced experts saying they are, you have not made an argument, and you stupidly pretend valid arguments are not arguments, you are wasting my time iwth childish antics,

this thread is closed.

Cale said…
Honestly, at this point, I'm trying to figure out whether you know that "not impossible" and "possible" mean the same thing.

It kinda looks like you don't.

And, no. You haven't quoted any experts agreeing with your phantom rebuttal to my argument. The last such "quote" you provided didn't constitute a criticism of my argument at all.
Joe Hinman said…
Honestly, at this point, I'm trying to figure out whether you know that "not impossible" and "possible" mean the same thing.


You are confused, listen one more time, there is a distinction between saying God is possible and saying He is merely a maybe. If we say he;s possible (yes it means not impossible that's my argument) that possible becomes necessity because he's not contingent,that is just what the article said.

It kinda looks like you don't.

what you just said hasno impacton my posiiton but it basically contradicts yours

And, no. You haven't quoted any experts agreeing with your phantom rebuttal to my argument. The last such "quote" you provided didn't constitute a criticism of my argument at all.


everyone I quoted is an expert,you have no idea what it means,you are ignorant and you are basing your argumnet on mystification of knowledge, the artier I quoted on Harteshorne directly backed my view,it said it prefecture.

the three guys on Bayes said you need new info you never said where you are getting it.

you do not have a quote by anyone saying you don't need new info.

I said the thread is closed anything more I will delete it, you have said nothing new


Joe Hinman said…
I told you the thread is closed

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