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« Challenge: How Is Christianity Different from a Hoax Religion? | Main | It's Not About Equality »

March 26, 2013


Trusting a source means using the products of that source without checking them.

Trust is rational to the degree that 1) the source has passed a test of reliability and 2) the trust extended is reasonable given the scope of the test.

It is not reasonable to trust a a source's extraordinary claim just because a source has proven correct about an ordinary claim. Scope.

Getting archaeology right doesn't qualify you as trustworthy about miracles. Scope.

It's Bayes again.



What would you personally feel is adequate proof for something extraordinary, such as a miracle?

Darth Dutch

Darth Dutch,

That's easy to answer and also hard.

Suppose I thought on Monday that the chances that some miracle, M, had happened were about 1 in a trillion.

On Tuesday you show me some information/evidence. Call it E.

I consider:

1) How likely is this evidence given M is true?

. . What is P(E|M)?

2) How likely is this evidence regardless of M?

. . What is P(E|M) + P(E|not-M)

If P(E|M) / (P(E|M) + P(E|not-M) ) is about 1,000,000,000,000, then I think E is adequate evidence of M.

That's the easy part.

The hard part is: What might E look like?

I don't know. I've never seen it.

In practice, what's offered as evidence for miracles is either not very well established itself or not so terribly UNlikely without the miracle. Or both.

See that? Even if your evidence is true, you have to consider it might be true without the miracle.

If you think you have evidence for a miracle Ask yourself:

1) What is the probability that the evidence is true?
2) What is the probability of that evidence given the miracle never happened?


So basically your answer is that no evidence will ever satisfy your requirement to believe a miracle took place. That's what I suspected.

Darth Dutch

If you want to put words in my mouth after I took the time to answer you that is your call.

"See that? Even if your evidence is true, you have to consider it might be true without the miracle."

Not putting words in your mouth at all. Your quote above makes it clear that you will always leave room for the fact that a miracle may not have occurred even if the evidence is clearly pointing that way. You have just given yourself an out by doing this.

Darth Dutch

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