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August 05, 2010

Comments

No-one has ever shown me any evidence for deity(ies)that fits into this definition of evidence:

"independent corroboration from an outside source, or a direct, methodologically rigorous, repeatable empirical demonstration"

Until some is provided I am absolutely entitled to remain skeptical and to be an atheist. I.e. your deity(ies) hypothesis is not supported by evidence. Atheism is merely the absence of belief in deity(ies).

Your assertion - your burden to produce evidence. And remember, evidence via an inductive method is still evidence, so any chat about having not having evidence to travel in cars/aircraft is incorrect.

But the way Melinda describes, I guess everyone is content that they "carry the burden of proof for skepticism" as to why there is a teapot circling the moon right now. I just KNOW there is.

The frustrating thing is that so many people believe this kind of thing. They believe that any proposition put forward starts at 50%/50%: it's just as likely to be true as it is to be false. They add to this the false dichotomy that you must either believe it is true or believe it is false. They somehow miss the most reasonable starting point, which is "I don't know". A skeptical position is the same as saying "I don't know". This is a bit confused these days by the existence of a self-proclaimed "skeptical movement" which does hold positive beliefs on many questions. But the occasional misuse of the term doesn't invalidate it's standard use.

The reality is, your claim is not owed the benefit of the doubt. You must bring the evidence and or rational arguments to support it. The skeptic should then be able to address these, and at least provide some explanation as to why they are not convincing. The skeptic need not provide compelling counter-evidence that demonstrates your claim is false (e.g. I don't believe in Gazebo's teapot, and I feel no need to provide any evidence that it is not there). The question is not whether the claim can be shown to have a high likelihood of being false, it is whether the claim can be shown to have a high likelihood of being true. The proper position to take on any claim that cannot be shown to have a high likelihood of being true is to withhold belief, i,e. to remain skeptical.

The commenters above would be correct if belief in God could be equated to belief in a teapot circling the moon. The teapot theory is intended to be nonsense, but it is only an effective metaphor if theism is just as nonsensical.

Theism offers explanations for the origin of our universe and the existence of morality, to name a couple, that cannot simply be refuted with doubt. That is Melinda's point.

I don't think any reasonable person would place the burden of proof on you after making a ridiculous claim about something that is clearly untrue. The article is getting at something else: That theism offers plausible explanations that cannot merely be refuted by doubt. A reasonable argument requires a reasonable refutation to be disproved.

"Theism offers explanations for the origin of our universe and the existence of morality" but doesnt provide any evidence for those explanations.

Thus until evidence is forthcoming I dismiss your assertion. Arguments without evidence are NOT "reasonable" nor are they "plausible explanations".

Gazebo, can you give me repeatable empirical demonstration that the universe just came out of nothing without a cause?

Can you produce something from nothing without any cause? I'd like to see it.

The fundamental error that you commit, that not only betrays your pre-suppositions but also your philosophical naivete is in asking for evidence suitable to questions of operational science to metaphysics:

Your criteria:

* independent corroboration from an outside source: If God has the property of aseity, this request is meaningless.

* or a direct, methodologically rigorous, repeatable empirical demonstration: See my statement above.


However, God in his infinite wisdom chose to answer even your questions by staging the resurrection of Jesus among mortal men. So if you want to argue this further, I'd like to know why you reject the historical evidence against the resurrection that say Dr. Habermas provides?

In reference to the origin of the universe, Greg has said that "a big bang requires a Big Banger." It is reasonable to think that if our universe exists, it had a beginning, and since something cannot come from nothing, the universe (something) came from something else.

I'm not presenting this as something new (I'm sure you've heard it before) but I'm using it to prove a point. Are not my statements about the origin of the universe examples of induction? And did you not say in your first comment that "evidence via an inductive method is still evidence?" Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I kind of agree with eric on this one. Skepticism is just withholding belief. Skeptics don't have anything to prove. I do think their skepticism ought to be justified, but it isn't hard to justify skepticism in most cases.

Say, for example, that William Lane Craig explains the Kalam Cosmological Argument to an 11 year old. The 11 year old barely grasps the argument and has no way to refute it. But if he knows there's some guy out there named Quentin Smith who is just as smart as Bill Craig, but who thinks Bill Craig's argument is fallacious, then the 11 year old has justification for being skeptical--for suspending judgment.

In the same way, if Quentin Smith offers the 11 year old his Cosmological Argument Against God, the 11 year old barely grasps the argument, and has no way of refuting it, he has justification for his skepticism just on the basis that he knows William Lane Craig thinks Quentin Smith's argument is fallacious, and Bill Craig is just as smart as Quentin Smith.

If we had to be able to refute every argument against us before we could be justified in our skepticism, then we'd all have to be as smart as William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith before any of us would be justified in our skepticism.

But think about that for a minute. Suppose Bill Craig comes to my door and offers an argument that I am not smart enough to see the flaws in. Would that obligate me to believe Craig's conclusion?

If so, then suppose Quentin Smith comes to my door the next day and offers an argument that I'm not smart enough to see the flaw in. Would I then be rationally obligated to change my mind?

And what if this happened every day--a theist one day and an atheist the next. Would I be rationally obligated to change my mind every day? It seems to me that if I didn't have the intellectual capacity to assess all these arguments--understand them enough, and have the critical thinking skills necessary to judge whether they are sound or not--then I'd be justified in my skepticism.

One more point...I do think "what if" scenarios can be enough to justify skepticism. It works in disjunction syllogisms. If a person tells me there are three possibilities, then he rules out two of the possibilities, then whatever the third possibility is, it must be true. But it would be enough to raise doubts about the truth of the third possibility if somebody said, "What if there's a 4th possibility?" If there's a 4th possibility, then the 3rd possibility is not necessarily true.

Of course that all depends on the viability of the 4th possibility. If the 4th possibility is far fetched compared to the 3rd possibility, then all it does it remove absolute certainty from the 3rd possibility. It doesn't reduce it to 50%. As Melinda said, possibility isn't the same thing as being rational to believe.

Gazebo,

Melinda said "Any position 'supported by evidence and arguments' should be met by critics with reasons and arguments of their own."

You then seem to compare the arguments for Theism to "a teapot circling the moon right now. I just KNOW there is," That is a straw man argument of the highest order. It is sophomoric.

Why should anyone accept your definition of evidence only? Is it the only valid one? How about this definition...
Evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

BTW, if someone did offer evidence for teapots circling the moon, you would have to answer their arguments rather than assert your skepticism.

Unlike teapots, people have offered evidence for Theism in general and Christianity in particular. If you decide to just assert your skepticism without offering counter arguments, you can do so. You can't remain rational, but you can dig in your heels and say "I just KNOW it's not true!"


But besides that, as J.P. Moreland has often said, our beliefs are not under the direct control of the will. Sometimes, we just reflect inward and find ourselves believing or doubting, and we can't help it. When somebody tells me they saw an alien space ship, I find myself doubting even though I can't disprove their claim. Sometimes we may have good reasons for doubting somebody's claim, but we can't exactly put our finger on why we are doubting. As Ronald Nash said in Faith & Reason, whether a proposition will seem plausible to us or not depends on our entire noetic structure, including all of our background worldview beliefs. But most of our background beliefs run in the background. That is, we don't consciously think about them most of the time, but they still affect how we interpret our experiences. 15 or so years ago when I first started learning about the Jehovah's Witnesses, I couldn't put my finger on why I was so skeptical of their organization, but I was.

kpolo

"can you give me repeatable empirical demonstration that the universe just came out of nothing without a cause"

I dont need to. I DONT PROFESS TO KNOW the orgins of the universe - I'm not a cosmologist and my physics is only to UK A level standard. However, the logical fallacy YOU erect is to say "Gazebo is criticizing my assertion that goddunnit - therefore he MUST be saying the universe came out of nothing without a cause". Thats not the case - Im saying, if YOU know you have the answers, then show everyone the evidence. Maybe you have a PhD in physics and can educate me?

"If God has the property of aseity, this request is meaningless." Any evidence for this assertion? I wont get started on the fact that your assertion rests on an unfounded hypothesis.

"So if you want to argue this further, I'd like to know why you reject the historical evidence against the resurrection that say Dr. Habermas provides?" Says it all really. You are saying "Dr. Habermas is right, prove him wrong". And I dont really see how this is relevant in the first place.

Brandon
"Are not my statements about the origin of the universe examples of induction?" No. You are making a deductive argument with an inductive premise.

cjMhill

"Evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid."

This is not a rigorous definition. The one I use is because its the standard scientific one. And unless you are talking about a deist god, then your deity interacts with the universe and that puts it in the realms of science. If you want to claim that your deity is beyond science period, then fine - I cant help you because you are in a world of logical hurt.

cjMhill

"If you decide to just assert your skepticism without offering counter arguments, you can do so."

You make my point for me. You assume your argument is won and that god exists when you havent provided any evidence.

"You can't remain rational, but you can dig in your heels and say "I just KNOW it's not true!""

Again you make my point for me. Im not saying I just KNOW its not true. You are saying "I KNOW ITS TRUE" and Im saying that I dont agree with your hypothesis because your evidence is non existent. I do not rule out the possibility that deity(ies) exist. Its just that no-one has provided any evidence yet for the existence of said deity(ies)

Gazebo, when you say that nobody has provided any evidence for the existence of God, is that because you have looked at all the arguments people have provided for God and discovered a flaw in the reasoning of each of those arguments? If not, how would you justify the claim that nobody has provided evidence for the existence of God. It seems to me that several people have.

Sam

What evidence has anyone proposed that fits my definition, or ANY rigorous definition of evidence that removes subjectivity as far as possible?

If you have 'evidence' that doesn't fit my definition but you believe is as objective as possible then let me know that too.

But if I have to find and dismiss every bit of evidence for your version of deity, have you done that for the multiple other god(s) that people believe/have believed in? Because there are some good offers out there. I understand that the Papua New Guinean mud god, Pikkiwoki, is promising a pig and as many coconuts as you can carry. Not bad huh? :-)

Melinda:

Your title "Skepticism Needs Evidence Too" indicates a misunderstanding about argument and counterargument. Argument and counterargument are the hypotheses that arise from evidence, not the evidence.

If you serve on a jury, you are told by the judge that you are to consider the evidence that has been placed before you, no more, no less. "What if" questions are the essence of counterargument. Is there a possible alternate explanation of the facts than that which has been put forth by the prosecutor or plaintiff's attorney? In a criminal case, if there is only a reasonable doubt of the prosecutor's case, you can acquit. In civil cases, the burden on the plaintiff is to show preponderance of the evidence, or, in some cases, clear and convincing proof, which are lesser standards than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But in all kinds of law, what the defendant offers is doubt.

Gazebo, that doesn't really answer my question. You said there is no evidence for the existence of God. I want to know how you justify that claim. Do you say that because you have looked at all the evidence and arguments people have offered and found them all to be fallacious, or is there some other reason?

I'll be happy to answer your questions, but please extend me the same courtesy in your next response, and answer my question.

To answer your question, I don't know of any evidence anyone proposes that fits your definition of evidence, which is:

"independent corroboration from an outside source, or a direct, methodologically rigorous, repeatable empirical demonstration"

And I gather that you don't know of any such evidence either. But our ignorance does not justify the claim that nobody has offered such evidence, does it? At best, it justifies that claim that you and I are not privy to any such evidence. But that isn't the claim you made.

I have a different understanding of evidence than you do, but that will take us down a rabbit trail since my purpose isn't to prove to you that somebody has offered evidence for God, but to find out how you justify your claim that nobody has offered evidence for God.

But if I have to find and dismiss every bit of evidence for your version of deity, have you done that for the multiple other god(s) that people believe/have believed in?

No, I haven't. But then, you see, I would never claim that nobody has offered any evidence for the multiples deities they believe in. You, on the other hand, are a bit more bold than I am. So, I ask again, how do you justify your claim that nobody has offered any evidence for God?

Being skeptical is a result of weighing the evidence. It is a claim (I am skeptical), thus it needs defending. It’s that simple. If God came down from Heaven every Sunday on a cloud to have brunch in New York City many skeptics would be believers – that is, they take into account the evidence or lack thereof and decide to be a skeptic or a believer. They need to account for their skepticism, they have taken sides.

Sam

On the basis that I have looked at everything I can and found that all the arguments are fallacious based on the fact that they dont fit my definition of evidence. If you would like to argue that my definition is too restrictive, then fine - but I have already justified my definition above.

Extraordinary claims etc etc

KWM

"They need to account for their skepticism, they have taken sides."

Read erics post at the top of the page. EXACTLY what he describes.

How is saying "I dont know" taking sides precisely?

Sam

"And I gather that you don't know of any such evidence either. But our ignorance does not justify the claim that nobody has offered such evidence, does it? At best, it justifies that claim that you and I are not privy to any such evidence. But that isn't the claim you made."

I think you are jumping a little too far with this. I can only evaluate evidence that has been presented. Note that I said above "I do not rule out the possibility that deity(ies) exist. Its just that no-one has provided any evidence yet for the existence of said deity(ies)" and that is what I mean when I say there is no evidence. I dont have a crystal ball - maybe we will find some way to discover the existence of god. *shrugs*

Thanks, Gazebo. I like a straight-forward answer almost as much as a good balance sheet. :-)

I have another question I hope you won't mind answering, and if it requires me to answer more questions from you before you'll answer my question, I'm happy to do that.

What I'm wanting to know is the scope of things you apply your definition of evidence, too. For example, do you only apply it to the existence of things, or do you apply it to the truth value of any proposition? In other words, do you only apply it to the existence of things like dogs, cats, the moon, Higgs bosons, etc.? Or do you also apply it to propositions, like "Jimmy cracked corn," or "Will killed Bill" or "All crows are black"?

I just hope that by the time I get your answer to this question, I won't forget where I was going with it. That happens.

Perhaps Christians impressed with the evidence for Christianity should familiarize themselves a bit with the probability calculus. The reason is that many evidential arguments for Christianity actually fail to render Christianity likely to be true. Here’s why.

Suppose Steve begins his inquiry, before seeing any evidence, having no more inclination to believe that God exists than to believe that God does not exist. How can the apologist get Steve to see that Christianity is probably true? One strategy is argue evidentially one step at a time as follows.

Suppose we give our best arguments for the existence of God, and show Steve that given our background knowledge, the probability that God exists is 0.85. So, if we let ‘T’ stand for ‘theism’ and ‘k’ stand for our background knowledge, we convince Steve that P(T/k)=0.85.

Furthermore, suppose that we convince Steve that given theism and our background knowledge, it is likely that God would reveal himself to humanity in some fashion or other. If we let ‘R’ stand for the proposition that God has revealed himself to humanity in some fashion or other, then perhaps our arguments are so good that we convince Steve that P(R/T & k)=0.9.

Suppose further that we convince Steve that, given theism, our background knowledge, and the existence of divine revelation, the probability of God revealing himself by becoming incarnate is 0.75. Letting ‘I’ name the incarnation, we have convinced Steve that P(I/T & R & k)=0.75.

Suppose we even convince Steve that the probability of Jesus being the Incarnate God given theism, divine revelation, an incarnation, and our background knowledge is 0.98. Letting ‘J’ stand for the proposition that Jesus is God incarnate, we have convinced Steve that P(J/T & R & I & k)=0.98

Suppose finally we convince Steve that the probability of the Gospel’s reliably reporting the teachings of Jesus given theism, divine revelation, the incarnation, Jesus as Incarnate God, and our background knowledge is 0.85. Letting ‘G’ stand for the proposition that the Gospel’s reliably report the teachings of Jesus, we have convinced Steve that P(G/T & R & I & J & k)=0.85.

What degree of confidence should Steve have that G is true? According to the conjunction axiom of the probability calculus, for all propositions p, q, and r P(p & q/r) = P(p/q & r) x P(q/r). So, P(G/k)=P(T/k) x P(R/T & k) x P(I/T & R & k) x P(J/T & R & I & k) x P(G/T & R & I & J & k). And that puts P(G/k) equal to 0.48, which is not even more likely than not.

So, even if we have a lot of success showing that each multiplicand is either high, it does not follow that we’ve established that our conclusion is more likely than not.

Gazebo,

Tell your wife that you are skeptical of her love…then ask me about claims and taking sides.

Sorry, it would have been clearer if I had put the following:

P(T & R & I & J & G/k)=P(T/k) x P(R/T & k) x P(I/T & R & k) x P(J/T & R & I & k) x P(G/T & R & I & J & k)=0.48

Uh, Malebranche, that doesn't make it any clearer. LOL That just makes my head spin.

Uh oh. KWM has invoked the ultimate in compelling arguments. The "Argument From No-Nookie-For-You".

I guess Christianity is true after all.

Sam

"What I'm wanting to know is the scope of things you apply your definition of evidence"

Anywhere that someone is making generalised claims about the world or universe or specific claims where a scientific approach would be useful to assess how far an assertion matches up to reality.

Sam,

Well I assure you that I'm right about the conjunction axiom. Look at any introduction to confirmation theory book and you'll find it right there. According to that axiom, P(a & b & c/d)=P(a/d) x P(b/a & d) x P(c/a & b &d). The fact that the probabilities are multiplied has the consequence that even if each multiplicand is high, the final result can be a low probability. I've never heard anyone on Stand to Reason address this very significant problem for evidential arguments for Christianity.

Malebranche, does "low probability" mean the same thing as "probably not"?

Eric,

Nah, just that skepticism arises from weighing evidence :)

Malebranche,

As is so often the case, you present a solid case. Stephen Hawking says he was told by his publisher that for each equation he includes in his book he will loose half of his readers. I count 6 equations in your post, so of all the readers of the thread only 1/ 2^6, or 1/64, or about 1.5% can be expected to read your comment. Which tells me that I am probably the only one who read it. However, from Sam's comment, I see that someone else has read it, which means that I must not have read it (unless more than 300 people are following the thread). So kindly disregard this comment, because it can be demonstrated to be coming from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about.

(Nonetheless, well done.)

Sam,

Not always. The probability I was discussing is strictly speaking only the probability conferred on a proposition by a certain argument. Sometimes a proposition that has a probability of 0.3 given p & q may have a probability of 0.7 given r & s.

The issue, however, is that most arguments for Christianity will probably rely on T, R, I, J, and G as I outlined above. In that case, it seems that those arguments probably won't confer a high probability on Christianity. Maybe some other argument would, but I'm completely unaware of what that argument would be.

Eric,

What if your son told you he was skeptical of your love?

I have two more questions, Gazebo, but my second question will depend on your answer to the first question. And maybe I won't even have a second question, depending on what you say.

What is the result of your definition of evidence? What I mean is--what if you run something by your definition to see if it fits or not. I assume that if it meets your criteria, that would mean it's true. But what if it fails to meet your criteria? Does that mean a) it's false (or doesn't exist), b) we can't know whether it's true or false (or whether it exists), c) "truth" and "false" don't apply to it, or d) other?

Thanks for indulging me!

KWM

"Nah, just that skepticism arises from weighing evidence :)"
No it doesnt. You erect an assertion which, as has been confirmed in this thread, blatantly "is making generalised claims about the world or universe or specific claims where a scientific approach would be useful to assess how far an assertion matches up to reality." And then dont provide any evidence for it. That means that I am quite entitled to be skeptical. Like I said earlier, whats wrong about taking the default position which is "I dont know"?

Gazebo,

There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just that you’ve weighed the evidence or lack thereof.

Some people have said that they don’t follow all of this. Well, the basic problem can be stated in a simpler fashion, probably. By the way, there’s a lot of philosophical literature on this stuff, in case anyone is wondering.

Suppose that I want to know the probability that the vehicle Jones just bought is a four-door, red, 2000, v6, four-wheel drive. Suppose my only evidence includes my knowledge of general facts about the world, the fact that Jones bought a vehicle, and a few facts about Jones. For instance, I might know that Jones really likes red. Furthermore, I might know that Jones doesn’t much like two-doors. I might also know that Jones won’t by a brand new car but won’t buy a car from the 1990’s as well. Finally, I might know that Jones prefers a four-wheel drive car. Even if I’m more confident than not of each of the items along the way, surely I won’t be more confident than not that Jones has bought a four-door, red, 2000, v6, four-wheel drive, merely on the basis of my background knowledge, my knowledge that Jones bought a vehicle, and my knowledge that his preferences.

We represent this in the probability calculus as follows:

P(4-door & Red & 2000 & v6 & 4-wheel drive/k)=P(4-door/k) x P(Red/4-door & k) x P(2000/4-door & Red & k) x P(v6/4-door & Red & 2000 & k) x P(four-wheel drive/4-door & Red & 2000 & v6 & k).

If we set each multiplicand to a sturdy 0.7, we’re only left with something like 0.17 at the end, which is not very impressive.

Sam

The result of the definition is that it gives one a filter to decide what is evidence and then, if it fits the bill, one can compare that evidence to ones hypothesis to see if it it supports or rejects said hypothesis.

Mere assertion is not good enough.

Malebranche, I think I understand the reasoning, even if the equations threw me off a little. But let me ask you a conceptual question about it.

Let's suppose I just want to know if God exists. And let's suppose I have some argument that makes God's existence 90% likely. And let's suppose that's the only argument I have.

In that case, God's existence would be 90% likely, right?

But let's suppose now that I have three arguments for the existence of God. Each argument makes God's existence 90% likely by itself. And collectively, these arguments form a cummulative case for the existence of God.

In that case would you simply multiply (0.9)(0.9)(0.9) and get 0.729, which equates to 72.9% likely?

If so, that strikes me as being counter-intuitive. I mean if one argument for God makes God's existence 90% likely, then it seems like additional arguments ought to increase the probability, not decrease it.

So, what am I missing?

KWM

"It’s just that you’ve weighed the evidence or lack thereof."

But you say being skeptical is "making a claim". Im saying - its the default position - "I dont know". Now in the face of evidence (which I have defined several times now) I DO have to defend taking a position of "I dont know" or some other counter claim.

But theists havent provided any evidence thus far- so Im therefore not in the position of claiming ANYTHING.

Sam,

Your equation assumes linking, or that each successive event relies on the prior. So is not the case in your example.

KWM,

"What if your son told you he was skeptical of your love?"

I would remind him of the various evidences that he has, and expect that these would be sufficient to overcome his skepticism. If that didn't work, I would contact his wife and request she withhold all nookie until he relents.

Sam,

In theory you could whittle down a probably to basically nothing if each event depended on the prior, highly likely, event occurring. If you take independent groups of evidence and come up with .9 each time you are not likely decreasing probability but increasing it. You add the probabilities and then subtract the product.

Eric,

Haha. Exactly. I like it.

KWM, that makes sense. If you say A, therefore B, therefore, C, therefore, D, then the probability would decrease each time. It would be just like standard derivatives we used to have to do in physics.

But if you say D is true because A supports it, B supports it, and C supports it, then the probability of D ought to be increased by A, B, and C.

Malebranche, is that right?

Sam,

You only multiply the probabilities is ALL of the things must be true for your conclusion to be true. Adding another line of argument is not going to decrease the probability that something is true, even if the new argument itself has a very low probability.

Have you ever studies electrical circuits? It works a lot like parallel vs series resistors. If you haven't studies electrical circuits, then ignore this part, because it will only add to confusion.

Sam,

If you have three independent arguments for one conclusion all of which confer a probability of 0.9 to the conclusion, then you wouldn't multiply the probabilities three times, because in that case you are not considering the probability of p & q & r given s, but rather the probability of A given B, and the probability of A given C, and the probability of A given D, etc. The conjunction axiom applies only when you want the probability of a conjunction of propositions given another proposition.

My point is just to show that the following argument is not valid.

(1) It is likely that God exists given our background knowledge.
(2) It is likely that God would reveal himself given God’s existence and our background knowledge.
(3) It is likely that God would become human given God’s existence, God’s revealing himself, and our background knowledge.
(4) It is likely that Jesus is God incarnate, given God’s existence, God’s revealing himself, God becoming human, and our background knowledge.
(5) It is likely that the Gospels reliably report Jesus’ teachings given God’s existence, God revealing himself, God becoming human, Jesus being God incarnate, and our background knowledge.
(6) Therefore, it is likely that God exists and has revealed himself and has become human and has become human in Jesus of Nazareth and that the Gospels reliably report Jesus’ teaching, given our background knowledge.

The conclusion in no way follows from the premises.

I have studied circuits, and that does make sense. Thanks.

I think I see what you're saying Malebranche. You're saying that if you take a number of things that all independently have some probability of being true, and you ask the question, "How likely is it that ALL of them are true at the same time?" then it will always be less likely that they are ALL true than it is that any ONE of them is true. Is that right? I'm just trying to understand the concept since the equations strain my concentration.

Yeah, it's like trying to figure out which path a dog went down on a road that forks 10 times. At the first fork you might think, "It's likely that he went right based on my evidence." At the second you may think, "Ok, it's likely that he went left given that he previously went right and my evidence," etc. But at final fork in the road, how confident will you be that you are still tracking the dog? Probably not that confident.

I have been calling this the ex nihilo argument for some time. You have done wonderful job, as usual, of defining, at least to a degree, better than I ever could.

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