Skepticism and the Multiplication of Probabilities – Part 2

If two events or states of affairs are independent, then the probability that both will occur is equal to the multiplication of the probabilities of those two events.If p is an event (or state of affairs) that is independent of an event (or state of affairs) q, then:P(p & q) = P(p) x P(q)But if p and q are dependent events, then the probability formula is a bit different:P(p & q) = P(p) x P(q/p)Suppose p is 'getting heads on coin toss 1' and q is 'getting heads on coin toss 2'. Assuming … [Read more...]

Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 16

One key factor determining the probability that Jesus actually died on the cross is the probability (or improbability) of the following claim:(NTC) Jesus' hands (or arms) and feet were nailed to the cross. Crucifixion does not necessarily involve nailing the victim to a cross, and the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion don’t indicate how Jesus was attached to the cross. Binding the victim to the cross was more common than nailing. Furthermore, nails were probably used for crucifixions when there … [Read more...]

Strange debate experience

Yesterday I was at REASONFEST 2012 at Lawrence, Kansas, where the organizers had set me up to debate whether Islam and science can coexist.It was a strange experience. My opponent, a Muslim social scientist called Leila Chahine, turned out to be more of an illustration of my thesis than anything else. From creationism to science-in-the-Quran apologetics, she endorsed all the stereotypically conservative Muslim pseudoscientific nonsense. She kind of made my point for me; I should have turned my … [Read more...]

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Skepticism and the Multiplication of Probabilities – Part 1

K-Dog said...How many premises are there in your argument, jeesh? Are you aware that even if there are only 5 premises in your argument, and we grant them an .8 likelihood, that your conclusion is only .33 likely to be true! I am guessing that your argument is even longer though which makes it all the more improbable.January 19, 2012 3:24:00 PM CST===============I agree with the underlying principle in K-Dog’s comment: skepticism is a two-edged sword that cuts away at both the beliefs with which … [Read more...]

Talk in San Antonio

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Argument Against the Resurrection of Jesus – Part 15

I have gathered, selected, and edited many of the quotations from my own comments on the previous post in this series...The Fourth Gospel plays an important role in determining the probability of the claim that Jesus died on the cross. Two of the key injuries allegedly inflicted upon Jesus are documented only in the Fourth Gospel:1. Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the cross.2. Jesus was stabbed in the chest with a spear while on the cross.Marcus Borg, a leading Jesus scholar and member of … [Read more...]

Apologetics class

A high school senior emailed me and asked me to answer a bunch of questions, for her "Apologetics class." Here are the questions and my short replies, for amusement value:What is the origin of the universe and man? As physicists and biologists describe it. What is the purpose of mankind? We're not tools: not the sort of things that have a predetermined purpose. What is satisfaction and how do I obtain it? (how can I be happy) This probably does not have a useful answer … [Read more...]