In a recent post, I mentioned that anyone interested in the discussion regarding “atheism versus faith” should be reading John Loftus. Particularly, I noted an argument from his excellent Why I Became an Atheist,
the “Outsider’s Test for Faith” (OTF), which he is elaborating upon in a
new book of that title to be published by Prometheus Books next spring.
Subsequently, I made a comment that piqued his interest by saying that
“[the OTF could be] greatly strengthened by appropriately applying
Bayes’s theorem.” Since my background is in mathematics, this caught
John’s attention.To quickly clarify what I mean by that, I do not mean to imply that I
can improve upon the OTF itself but rather that a clear understanding of
Bayes’s theorem, which is a mathematical result that underlies
essentially all hypothesis-test reasoning, will greatly enhance the
rigor with which someone might view what the OTF is telling them–and
perhaps get them to take it much more seriously than they might have
otherwise. That’s one thing about mathematics–it’s nearly impossible to
argue with it, try as some ideologues might (maybe they should call
Nate Silver about that?).
LINK (HT: Richard Carrier)