MUST READ: Greg Cavin’s Case Against the Resurrection of Jesus

Greg Cavin has graciously allowed me to publish a PDF version of his slides from his debate with Michael Licona on the resurrection of Jesus. For anyone interested in arguments for or against the resurrection of Jesus, these slides are an absolute must read. In my opinion, they constitute a major contribution to the ongoing debate about the Resurrection and are the best case against the Resurrection yet presented. Cavin decisively refutes arguments for the resurrection made by all of its prominent defenders, such as the McGrews, Swinburne, Craig, Davis, Habermas, Licona, Geisler, McDowell, and Strobel.

In his slides, Cavin defends three main contentions.

1. The prior probability of a specifically supernatural Resurrection of Jesus by God is so astronomically low that the Resurrection Theory has virtually zero (0) plausibility.

2. The Resurrection Theory is a dismal failure as an explanation of the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus—being ad hoc and almost completely devoid of explanatory power and scope.

3. There is an alternative theory to the Resurrection that is a far superior explanation.

In defense of these three contentions, Cavin identifies and refutes sixteen (16) myths perpetuated by Christians who defend the Resurrection. (The numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers in the PDF file.) Cavin’s refutation of these objections constitutes a tour-de-force against Resurrection apologetics.

  1. The Burden’s on the Skeptic Objection: The skeptic is required to explain the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus. (37-45)
  2. The Skeptic Assumes Atheism Objection: The skeptic falsely assumes that God does not exist, so his skepticism about the Resurrection is unjustified. (46-49)
  3. The Natural–Not-Supernatural–Resurrection-is-Impossible Objection: Resurrection cannot be caused by purely natural means. (50-56)
  4. The Divine Interference Objection: The skeptic wrongly ignores God’s supernatural intervention saying that the Resurrection has a low prior probability. (45-117)
  5. The Best Explanation Objection: The Resurrection theory is the best explanation of the Empty Tomb and Postmortem Appearances of Jesus. (118-226)
  6. The Frequencies Objection: It is a fallacy to appeal to frequencies as evidence for the low prior probability of the Resurrection since this ignores the action of external agents. (227-277)
  7. The Science Objection: Science cannot prove that the Resurrection is improbable. (278-324)
  8. The Total Evidence Objection: The prior probability of the Resurrection is inscrutable because the total relevant evidence isn’t available. (325-335)
  9. The Religio-Historical Context Objection: The skeptic ignores the religio-historical context of the Resurrection. (336-351)
  10. The Reference Class Objection: It is impossible to determine the correct reference class for the Resurrection. (352-354)
  11. The Naturalism Objection: The anti-resurrectionist assumes the truth of naturalism. (355-367)
  12. The Criteria of Adequacy Objection: The Resurrection Theory alone satisfies all the Criteria of Adequacy. (368-373)
  13. The Mathematics Objection: Mathematical probability cannot be applied to the Resurrection. (374-380)
  14. The Plausibility-Prior Probability Objection: Plausibility must be used as a criterion in place of prior probability. (381-387)
  15. The Anti-Bayes’ Theorem Objection: Bayes’ Theorem cannot be applied to the Resurrection. (388-425)
  16. The There-Are-No–Contradictions-in-the-Easter-Narratives Objection: The skeptic falsely holds that there are no contradictions in the Easter narratives. (426-430)

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.

  • Ryan McCarthy

    This is very interesting. I wonder what Carrier would say about Cavin’s points.

  • Bradley Compton

    This is fascinating. When was / is the debate? Is the audio or video available?

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      Cavin tells me the video or audio of the debate will be available online soon. Once it is, I’ll make an announcement.

      The debate took place on July 1, 2012 at Antioch Temecula Church in Temecula, California. Here is a link to a page for the event on Facebook:

      http://www.facebook.com/events/292427424178295/

  • Wes McMichael

    Isn’t this the debate? : http://vimeo.com/58321564

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      Yes, it is. Thanks!

  • Andrew

    Hey Mr. Lowder, I was wondering if you had seen the recent debate between William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg, and if you had any thoughts on it??

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      No, I haven’t seen it. I’ve read some of Rosenberg’s book, however. Based on Rosenberg’s scientism alone, my prediction is that WLC wins the debate.

      • Andrew

        Yea, the debate is up on the Biola youtube channel. I’m an atheist, but yes you’re right, Dr. Craig won.

      • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

        Also, if Rosenberg has the kind of performance that is typical for WLC’s ivory tower opponents–viz., an awful one–I predict that Christians will trumpet Craig’s amazing victory as if it were some sort of substantive accomplishment, rather than a rhetorical victory.

        The fact of the matter is that no atheist philosopher who specializes in the philosophy of religion advocates scientism, so the fact that an atheistic “scientism-ist” lost a debate on God’s existence–assuming Rosenberg did lose–is about as interesting as a theistic young earth creationist losing a debate on evolution vs. creationism.

        Just to be clear: I don’t have any problem with WLC debating Rosenberg. It’s just that Rosenberg’s position is not representative of what atheist philosophers of religion argue.

      • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

        One more clarification: nothing I’ve written should in any way be construed as suggesting that WLC did not “win” the debate (assuming that he did). Again, my point is that the win is not very significant. Consider an analogy.

        There is a controversy among oncologists about whether some condition, C, is a risk factor for some rare form of cancer. The American Cancer Society sponsors a debate between two doctors: one who argues that C is a risk factor and one who argues that C is not a risk factor. Arguing for the former is one of the leading oncologists in the world. Arguing for the latter is a distinguished neurologist who is not also an oncologist. The neurologist takes a position (and uses arguments) that are not representative of those used by the “anti-C” camp of oncologists. The oncologist trounces the neurologist in the debate.

        What would the significance of that debate be? The oncologist debater would have shown that the neurologist’s arguments were weak and the anti-C camp would join the oncologist in dismissing the neurologist’s arguments, quite possibly for the very same reasons used by the pro-C oncologist. Should this undermine anyone’s confidence in the anti-C position? For anyone familiar with the anti-C camp’s arguments for their position–and this includes both pro-C and anti-C oncologists–the answer is a resounding “no.” They know that the anti-C camp’s arguments–arguments in the anti-C camp’s area of specialization but not in the neurologist’s area of specialization–weren’t tested in the debate.

        • Andrew

          Yes, I think I understood what you mean(although I am just a layman when it comes to philosophy/logic). I don’t pretend to know more than I understand, although I do think WLC “wins” most of his debates, but not because his arguments are sound…it’s because he’s probably one of the best public speakers and debaters in the world, I’m not sure if any atheist could out-perform him(although maybe you could Mr. Lowder…I was just watching your debate with Phil Fernandes, and I think you pretty conclusively won). I was impressed, I usually find myself cringing when listening to the person representing “my side” (in this case Naturalism) in these public debates.. it was a breath of fresh air to see someone represent my own views so eloquently.

          • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

            Thanks.

  • exapologist

    Thanks for the pointer, Jeffery.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    I don’t understand why Cavin shifts from the thesis that “schmatoms” don’t give any basis for inferring what the consequences would be to the claim that schmatons *cannot* interact with the physical world. The former doesn’t entail the latter.

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      Well, I’m not Cavin, but, based on what he said during the debate, I’d guess that he would argue something like this.

      Since explanation is to be “cashed out” in terms of epistemic probabilities, it is accurate to say that “schmatoms,” which are “unknown” or “X-factors,” give give no basis for inferring the consequences. And this is enough for the “Schmatoms” part of the dilemma to fly on its own. But this also implies that in the epistemic sense of “cannot,” “schmatoms” cannot interact with the physical world. Beyond this, however, “schmatoms,” are not 100% unknown, since they are, by definition, non-physical; and, thus, given the content of contemporary physics, in particular, the completeness of Quantum Mechanics (or, to be exact, the fact that the Schrodinger wave function gives the probabilities of the future states of physical systems, e.g., the disciples’ retinas and visual cortices, solely in terms of past physical states), it follows that we DO understand that “schmatoms” cannot interact with the physical world. If, at this point, the resurrectionist charges that “naturalism” is being assumed here, the proper response is that the charge is a paradigm of the “Naturalism Fallacy” fallacy. (For an explanation and critique of that fallacy, see the PDF file.)

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  • Lion_IRC

    Skeptics don’t HAVE to do anything by way of justifying their scepticism. The contest of ideas can be as one-sided as you allow it to be.

    Likewise, there are Christians who, when presented with the hypothesis that Jesus never rose from the dead, are extremely skeptical of such a claim. Why should they explain THEIR skepticism?

    And I don’t assume all Resurrection skeptics are atheists. (Muslims have doubts too.) Of course, then there are the Christians who DOUBT the motives of skeptics that claim it never happened.

    How does the motive of a person, who doesn’t want ANY resurrection story to be plausible, factor into the Anti-Bayes’ Theorem background plausibility/probability equation?
    The anti-theist wants an entirely different set of ‘’explanatory scopes’’ taken into account.

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      I’m having a hard time following you. Could you identify the page number(s) in the PDF file you are talking about?

      • Lion_IRC

        I wasnt following page numbers I was following camels.

        Camel #1
        I agree, skeptics dont have to take up ANY burden of proof if they dont want. Neither do people like me HAVE TO explain why we are skeptics ourselves when it comes to opposing theories.

        Camel #2
        I have seen plenty of Resurrection skeptics who claim that even God’s actual existence ought not be a consideration in Jesus’ Resurrection. IOW, you dont HAVE to be an orthodox atheist to attempt an argument against the Resurrection.

        Camel #14 & #15
        If you are going to take into account background factors and talk about plausibility, you ought to IMHO also take into account the possible/probable motive of those who are methodologically committed to naturalism. Any talk about ”wacky” and ”irrational beliefs” should apply to the behavior of both sides. We wouldnt want one side subjectively dictating to the other about what constitutes ”well-behaved” rationality.

  • Peter

    I watched the debate. I think that Licona probably one as he scored a number of rhetorical points, and I wasn’t always able to follow what Cavin was saying. I did however have a few comments on the discussion of probabilities.

    Licona quotes Lydia McGrew saying “the most probable thing that would occur if Jesus had not been raised from the dead is nothing”. I agree. I think the statement could be a bit misleading on its own however, since I think it is true 1) that many religious movements start after odd happenings that are not easily explained and, 2) Those religious movements that are supported more extraordinary claims will be more likely to spread and survive. This means that any religion that has survived long enough and spread far enough to be worth debating will likely be supported by impressive coincidences. The challenge is to show that such a religion could not have arisen by chance, given that we know many movements started and the weaker ones are filtered out. It’s not just to show that the chance of the events that brought into existence are less than say 50% on a naturalistic view.

    A second thing concerns the use of Bayes theorem. Licona gave a number of examples where it was claimed that Bayes theorem would lead us astray. One of these was the prior probability of winning the lottery being very low, meaning that we would never accept the claim of someone who had said they won it for instance. This reminded me of a story a friend of mine told me about a crewmate he had on a submarine who bought lottery tickets regularly (the same number each time). The numbers were relayed by the staff to the crew, and one time they decided to play a cruel prank on him by pretending his numbers had won the jackpot. A lot of people were involved in the joke and he apparently believed it right up until the point he thought was about to be taken off the submarine and sent home, at which point the ridicule began. I reckon his mistake wasn’t not considering the prior probability of winning…I don’t think Bayes theorem leads us astray here.

    • staircaseghost

      “Licona gave a number of examples where it was claimed that Bayes theorem
      would lead us astray. One of these was the prior probability of winning
      the lottery being very low, meaning that we would never accept the
      claim of someone who had said they won it for instance.”

      Holy cow, did he seriously say this?

      There’s no way I’m listening to this whole debate — can anyone give me a time stamp for this claim? I ask because charity demands I not attribute such flagrant incompetence to someone unless I’m positive they really said it and meant it, and I’m not misunderstanding the context.

      • Peter

        Well I went looking for it and I had misinterpreted him. At 1:13 he asks “what’s the prior probability of winning the lottery?” but his point was that this was a known calculable number. I thought he was just asking rhetorically. I withdraw my accusation. Thanks for calling me out on that.

        • Peter

          In fact my imagination seems to have run wild a bit on hearing that. Listening to it again I feel a bit embarrassed.

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      As a debate judge with some relevant background knowledge, there’s no question that Cavin won the debate. In fact, Licona seemed to misunderstand at least some of what Cavin said.

      • Peter

        I also seem to have misunderstood it. I left with the impression that Cavin was employing relative frequencies to determine the prior probability of God’s actions, and that he wouldn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead unless a full account had been given of the nature of his new body. I think I misunderstood (and still misunderstand) in the same way as Licona, and based on the laughs and applause coming from the audience I think they did too.

        • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

          I address the prior probability argument here. Does that make sense?

          Re: “he wouldn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead unless a full account had been given of the nature of his new body”: I hope to address this in a future post.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

          ‘… he wouldn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead unless a full account had been given of the nature of his new body’

          But it is Christians who claim that there is such a huge distinction between ‘resurrection’ and ‘resuscitation’ that they can claim that Jesus rising from the dead is unique and nothing like Lazarus rising from the dead.

          You can’t make such rhetorical mountains out of such nit-picking distinctions and then complain when people point out that you then have also to prove Jesus was resurrected, not just raised from the dead.

          Actually you can, You just call yourself an apologist and then you can just forget that sometimes you make a huge distinction between resurrection and rising from the dead, and other times you claim that Jesus rose from the dead , proving that he was resurrected.

          In fact, just like the crowd did, you can then .laugh at people who have actually taken the trouble to listen to you nitpick the distinction between ‘rising from the dead’ and ‘resurrection’.

          You fell for that one! You took it seriously! No wonder we are going to laugh at you.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

    Jeffery, do you think all of these points have merit? I’m really struggling with some/many. Sorry if you’ve answered this in the comments – not enough time to read right through them at the moment!

    • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

      Calum — Yes, I think they all have merit.

      I hope to eventually blog about all of them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

        Do let me know when you’ve gone through a couple – I’ll be interested to read. Let me address a couple which I think are problematic. As a broad preliminary note, a lot of his “camels” seem odd – sure, it might not be the case that Cavin commits the errors that some of the camels describe, but plenty of skeptics do. It hardly seems fair to label these camels myths just because they don’t apply to every single skeptic. Most theists who use these kinds of objections usually use them against particular skeptics who *do* commit the named error. So let’s call this general problem with Cavin’s approach U (for want of a less arbitrary symbol). Anyway:

        On #1, while I broadly agree that the skeptic has no real obligation to come up with an explanation of their own, it seems odd that Cavin says that showing that Licona’s belief is unjustified is sufficient for victory. If Cavin wants to answer “no” to the question, it seems to me that to win the debate he has to present a positive case of his own (which, incidentally, he does – but his original remark still isn’t correct!).

        #2 seems to be an instance of U.

        On #3, clearly the matter depends on whether resurrection is (stipulatively?) defined so as to entail some kind of supernaturalism. If so, the objection is clearly false. But either way, it seems really strange that Cavin holds that “resurrection by natural means is just a matter of moving around the particles of the corpse to positions that correspond to life. There’s nothing improbable about that” when he later objects to supernatural resurrections and calls them astronomically improbable on the grounds that they violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Perhaps I am missing something here, but there seems to be some sort of inconsistency. In any case, most theists who use this objection use it in response to those who think that resurrections are naturally improbable and who don’t take into account the value P(resurrection|theism & available evidence), which is obviously critically important for assessing P(resurrection|available evidence). Just because Cavin doesn’t ignore this probability doesn’t mean that many people do, so this seems to be another instance of U.

        Same problem for #4. Cavin also seems to ignore the fact that many people who object in this way actually give an argument for supposing that P(resurrection|theism) is moderate, rather than just invalidly inferring it from the compossibility of resurrection and theism.
        From there onwards, it’s not clear where Cavin’s argument lies. Cavin can’t just assert that God has an exceptionally strong tendency not to raise people supernaturally from the dead, since many Christians do believe that God raises people supernaturally from the dead. I’m agnostic on the matter personally, but this still seems to clearly violate Cavin’s later point about available evidence having to be more probable than its denial (I would personally go further and say it has to be either foundational or certain) and acceptable to the opponent to not beg the question. In any case, there are some further points to be made: even if we had certain knowledge that everyone else in the history of the world has not been resurrected by God (which is obviously not acceptable as evidence on any use of Bayesianism which allows for uncertain learning), it still wouldn’t be clear that the resurrection was *astronomically* unlikely. It depends hugely on your assignment of priors, of course, but taking Laplace’s rule of succession it would only follow that P(the resurrection of any given person|the evidence we have regarding dead people & theism) = around 1 in 100 billion. This is small, sure, but not insuperable. There could certainly, in principle, be evidence which could overcome this (if one accepts the McGrew’s arguments, for example, one is already laughing!). But of course, even then that’s not the right probability. What we should really be assessing is P(the resurrection of Jesus|the evidence we have regarding dead people & the evidence we have about Jesus’ life and ministry & theism), which is a completely different probability. So there seem to be several quite obvious problems with Cavin’s argument here.

        Perhaps more to come later, but see what you think of these thoughts for now.

        • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

          (I should add that I don’t necessarily think that Laplace’s rule of succession should be used in these cases – only that it’s one way of generating priors which gives a non-astronomically low prior to the resurrection of any given person, and Cavin hasn’t really given us any better way, so it’s – at the very least – unclear that we should accept his claims about priors.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

            (Oh go on then, I’m bored):

            #5: This is really quite ambiguous because of its annoying IBEesque-ness. I’m not really sure what it means to say that x is the best explanation of y. But in any case, there are problems with Cavin’s analysis. It’s hard to see what “viciously circular” can mean when talking about an explanation – I know what it means when we’re talking about arguments, but not explanations. Lots of colloquial expressions of explanations, when put more formally, entail the data, but this hardly makes them viciously circular. If I am wondering why there is a chair in my room and someone says “Bill put it there”, I’m hardly inclined to call that a viciously circular explanation just because it entails the data (when conjoined with some uncontroversial auxiliary hypotheses). Indeed, part of the whole point of explanation is to render the data probable – and deductive-nomological explanations, which most people take to be quite good ones, even make it certain. But that’s not problematic. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding Cavin, though – perhaps he’s suggesting that Licona is saying that the hypothesis and data are basically identical. But that would obviously be a ridiculously uncharitable misreading of Licona – clearly the data Licona are referring to are the appearances to the disciples of *what seemed to them to be Jesus*, and the explanation he is advancing is that someone who was *actually* Jesus appeared to them. The fact that Licona’s use of natural language is a bit colloquial and doesn’t make this absolutely blindingly obvious (though, honestly, I really think it is) is hardly something to fault him on.

            Cavin then seems to just assert that the resurrection hypothesis no more explains these data than Jones’ getting out of bed explains the data he gives. He doesn’t seem to me to give any reason to believe this, and it seems quite obviously false. And Cavin follows this up by saying that we need to appeal to postmortem activities of Jesus to explain the data. Well, *obviously* to give a *full* explanation of the data (i.e. one which entails the data), we need to do so. But that hardly seems problematic. We often give explanations of things which don’t involve entailment relations between the explanation and data, but this is hardly problematic. We very often need to add auxiliary hypotheses for that (cf. the Duhem-Quine problem, and just about any Bayesian treatment of it), but that doesn’t go anywhere near implying that therefore the hypothesis doesn’t have explanatory power, which Cavin seems to suggest. And, of course, Cavin neglects that whether a theory has explanatory power is not only a function of the likelihood (in the technical, Fisherian sense) of the hypothesis, but also a function of the likelihood of the negation of the hypothesis. Even if P(data|resurrection) = 0.1, the resurrection still has overwhelming explanatory power if, for example, P(data|~resurrection) = 10^(-10). But Cavin’s analysis seems to neglect this entirely. The same point applies to Cavin’s discussion of ad hoc-ness, though this discussion has the additional impoverishment of not realising that whether a theory is ad hoc is not so much to do with how probable the auxiliary assumptions are on our background knowledge alone, but to do with how probable the auxiliary assumptions are given our background knowledge AND our explanatory hypothesis. And in any case, the auxiliary theses Cavin suggests are not really ones which the resurrection hypothesis requires. Since when did anyone base their case for the resurrection on the ascension? I may be ignorant here, but I think it’s at least fair to say that *most* resurrection proponents don’t do that.

            I honestly don’t know where to begin with the atoms vs schmatoms stuff. I don’t mean as a malicious jibe; but I just honestly can’t see where to begin discussing. If you want me to offer a rebuttal I can try.

            More anon.

          • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

            #6 is pretty hard to object to. That reason is a bad reason to reject frequentism, yes.

            I will leave #7 alone for the most part since I don’t know much about the relevant science, but again, it’s not clear what Cavin’s argument is (especially in light of the earlier point I made about him thinking natural resurrections are not very improbable). Cavin asserts that the Second Law shows that God chooses not to interfere with physically isolated systems. This seems like nothing more than a bare assertion, and I’d like some reason to think that it was true. It doesn’t really matter whether a resurrection would violate the 2nd Law so long as the 2nd Law is a contingent one. Cavin seems to make a lot of dubious claims about prior probabilities in this section without really backing them up. I’m doubtful that this objection is successful. (Another smaller, niggling doubt is that it’s hardly clear from Cavin’s analysis what the difference between a corpse and a living body is in terms of microstates. But we can probably leave that aside for now).

            #8 is a sound objection, and I would kill myself if I were ever found using that camel myself.

            #9 seems like a massive misrepresentation of the arguments of most resurrection proponents I know. I don’t know anyone who argues from such dubious data such as “Jesus was the Son of God” – that would clearly be absurd. It seems obvious that almost everyone (everyone in my experience) who argues for the resurrection argues from more certain data than that, so I’m sceptical about whether the camel even existed in the first place. Ironically, while Cavin seems to attack a strawman here, there is actually a point to the camel which Cavin misses – on which see my response to #4. And, as I’ve noted a few times, Cavin’s (correct) point about how the data ought to be much less dubious and acceptable to the opponent actually works against him on many of his other points.

            #10 Re: reference classes, it just doesn’t really seem like Cavin gets the objection. Cavin wants to form some sort of statistical syllogism, based on the fact that 99.99999% of dead people aren’t supernaturally raised from the dead. But, of course, the reference class might well be “Nazarenes called Jesus in the 1st century AD who claimed to be the Messiah”. In which case our sample size is 1, and we have no idea what proportion of that sample were supernaturally raised from the dead. It’s hard to see that Cavin’s response that “the correct reference class for the Resurrection is determined by our total relevant available evidence” adds much to the discussion or alleviates the difficulties.

            #11: See #2.

            #12: This objection seems to just be a restatement of #5. Same considerations apply.

            #13: If Cavin is suggesting here that plausibility is the same thing as prior probability, he must surely know that he’s on very controversial grounds. That said, the camel was a failure to begin with, and Cavin rightly objects.

            #14: See #13.

            #15: See #13, though again, it’s hardly clear that Bayes’ Theorem explains why plausibility must be taken into account, since it’s a very controversial criterion.

            #16: On this one, I honestly just can’t really be bothered to go into those debates. Cavin might have a fair point, but I’m more interested in theoretical issues than the nuances of Biblical criticism on particular passages.

            Glad we could end on some Bayesian agreement, anyway! :)

          • mikmik

            It seems to be a substitution that any if one specific act cannot be predicted, then the preceding acts are not explanatory. But every subsequent act, after the initial ‘wakening’ of Jones, let’s say, is not explained by his waking. (Sorry, I don’t know philosophy but as new-to-it layman)
            Yet if all acts are not predicted, one of them is still requisite on his wakening, and it does occur. Therefore waking up and going out is a necessary part of the explanation for him skydiving, or at least meeting employees that day. It, waking, doesn’t explain, but it is part of the explanation, and is still necessarily so.
            Secondly, the mere fact of him waking is an incomplete and unrealistic description of that event. He wakes with ideas as to what to do, and if he has a habit of meeting at the club when awake, then it may even be reasonably explanatory that because he is awakes, he will meet employees at the club.
            Never-the-less, it is still a necessary part of the explanation that he is at the club, for he couldn’t leave the house and go to the club if he remains asleep, or dead.
            All these examples seem to be false dichotomies.

            And as you point out, he is discussing explanations and treating them like arguments.
            I apologize if you already expressed my observations in principle, but I agree, I find the slides to be particularly annoying.

            The atoms shmatoms is a false dichotomy because he presupposes the qualities that schmatter possesses. It is unconstrained, not constrained to the diametrical opposite. He even brings up morphing, so why couldn’t the Jesus unit(lol) morph between matter, and shmatter. It is beyond silly, this argument. You can’t argue against God’s ability to violate physical laws by saying that God doesn’t hold this power – period.

        • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

          I’ve already blogged about Camel #4 here.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

          ‘What we should really be assessing is P(the resurrection of Jesus|the evidence we have regarding dead people & the evidence we have about Jesus’ life and ministry & theism), which is a completely different probability.’

          OK, what does Craig think about the priors of those people who had personally experienced Jesus (alleged) raising of people from the dead.

          Even for those people, Craig declares it was unthinkable of them to imagine that their god would raise Jesus from the dead.

          Part of Craig’s argument for the resuscitation of Jesus is that the people who knew him best could not possibly have imagined that their god would raise him from the dead.

          So the prior must be incredibly low, even for those people who (allegedly) had been given by Jesus himself the power to raise people from the dead (Matthew 10)

          Or is that just one more example of Craig arguing whatever suits him at any given moment in time?

          • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

            Steven, I don’t really care what Craig thinks. Not everyone who defends the rationality of Christianity is a Craig puppet. Some of us actually disagree with Craig hugely on this issue.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Carr/100001542808342 Steven Carr

          CALUM
          ‘In any case, there are some further points to be made: even if we had certain knowledge that everyone else in the history of the world has not been resurrected by God (which is obviously not acceptable as evidence on any use of Bayesianism which allows for uncertain learning),’

          CARR
          It is Christians who claim that the resurrection of Jesus is unique and that nobody else has ever been resurrected.

          See N,T,Wright’s thousands of pages about how nobody has ever been resurrected apart from Jesus, and why all right-thinking people of 2000 years ago had a prior assumption of the possibility of a resurrection before the apocalypse of zero.

          • http://www.facebook.com/calumiller Calum Miller

            I don’t see what that has to do with my point, Steven. My point is that in Bayesianism, you should account for uncertain learning by Jeffrey conditionalisation or some similar procedure, so that you only use proximal facts rather than more disputed ones. This is a shortcoming of Cavin’s case.

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