Miracles and Antecedent Probabilities

Victor Reppert responded succinctly but thoughtfully to my posting on ECREE (the principle that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”):There is a sense in which I agree with the ECREE thesis, it is just that I don't believe that there is any objective way of proving that one set of antecedent probabilities is rational and another is not. So what is "extraordinary" is just what your antecedent probabilities tell you is improbable.I think that as you pull at the story of the f … [Read more...]

Extraordinary Claims and Extraordinary Evidence

Note: This will be my last post until after the holidays. I look forward to responding to comments in a couple of weeks.An online site called CARM—Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries—has posted an article titled “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.”http://carm.org/apologetics/evidence-and-answers/extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence Victor Reppert’s Dangerous Idea blog linked with this site and a lively discussion followed. Since I have defended the princ … [Read more...]

If Threatened, Call the Mounties

It is a real pleasure to be able via this medium to correspond with smart people in Britain, Australia, Greece, Finland, and all over. Though the exchanges sometimes get boisterous, they are usually thoughtful and informed. The downside is that you cannot completely exclude comments by the ignorant, the fatuous, the self-important, or the seriously deranged. In this latter category is Dennis Markuze of Montreal, Canada. He is an infamous troll of atheist and skeptical sites. He posts under … [Read more...]

Easter Week: What Really Happened?

In comments on earlier posts Bradley Bowen offers some speculations about what really happened at the crucifixion. In his view, Jesus might have survived the crucifixion, and so was discovered alive on Easter morning, prompting stories of a resurrection.As I have argued elsewhere (see my essay in The Empty Tomb), I do not think that we have enough information to establish ANY account about what really happened during "Easter Week."If I had to conjecture, I would imagine a scenario (and a … [Read more...]

Victor on Weird Stuff

Victor Reppert has been kind enough to reply on his Dangerous Idea blog to my comments on his earlier posting. I'm replying to his reply, which will evoke a counter-reply, which will get a counter-counter-reply...until one or the other of us has some real work to do and has to break it off. Sigh. That is the damn problem with these discussions. They could go on for lifetimes, but we academics have to work them in between grading papers, committee meetings, publishers' deadlines, etc. … [Read more...]

Skeptics and Miracles

On his "Dangerous Idea" blog Victor Reppert offers the following story and queries:"Spelling Bees, Violin Teachers, and ESP"When I was in the seventh grade, I won the District Spelling Bee. The defending champion, somewhat to my surprise, went out when there were six people left, stomped off the stage, and went crying to his mother. After winning the Bee (and qualifying for the state finals), I was asked to provide a picture for the newspaper. As it happened, my violin teacher had a Polaroid … [Read more...]

Answers to Objections

Ten years ago I had a debate in Colorado Springs with Methodist minister, the Rev. Trigg. Nice man and a stimulating debate. The topic was "Theism vs. Secular Humanism as a basis for ethics." I wrote up a set of answers to anticipated audience objections, which I do not think I have ever posted anywhere. I think they might be of interest here:Objection: God is the only possible foundation for ethics. Because God's nature is absolutely and essentially holy, all value must ultimately flow from … [Read more...]

Dianelos on the Moral Argument

Dianelos Georgoudis, in reply to my post “Atheism Debunked! Again!,” has conveniently and succinctly offered both “conceptual” and a “practical” moral arguments for theism. I take the liberty of putting the first of these in premise/conclusion format and try to express it a bit more rigorously. I do hope I have not distorted his meaning. For his original wording, please see the comments section of the earlier post.The Conceptual Argument:1) For naturalists, that is, those who believe that the nat … [Read more...]


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