Loftus and Reppert on Probabilities

John Loftus stirs the pot with his recent post, “Should We Think Exclusively in Terms of Probabilities or Not?

Victor Reppert responds in, “But How Shall we Follow Probabilities?

I think I agree with Loftus when he writes, we “should think exclusively in terms of the probabilities.” If I understand Reppert, I am pretty sure he agrees also.

I’m not convinced, however, that a Christian’s degree of belief that Jesus rose from the dead must necessarily exceed that which can be justified based on the evidence. I agree with Reppert that “a Bayesian-rational person makes proper conditionalizations on his prior probabilities” and that “a Bayesian-rational person can conclude that Jesus rose from the dead.” Similarly, a Bayesian-rational person can conclude that Jesus was (and still is) dead.

(As an aside: it would be interesting to learn what prior probability Reppert assigns to the Resurrection. By way of comparison, I think Swinburne assumes it is 0.5.)

It is obvious that it is possible that a Christian’s degree of belief that Jesus rose from the dead could exceed that which is Bayesian-rational. It is also obvious that a non-Christian’s degree of belief that Jesus did not rise from the dead could exceed that which is Bayesian-rational. So what? Now what? Unless someone has some way to show that the majority of Christians or non-Christians fit those categories, respectively, this is not a philosophically significant conclusion.

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.


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