Upon this ROC I will build…

Real data is noisier than this

I was considering writing an April Fools day post, but life's too short to not blog about epidemiology and epistemology. As is often the case when I go back to Yale for alumni debates, I ended up in some extended theological debates.  In a conversation with one friend, we ended up on thse topic that used to form the core of my about section: what evidence would persuade me that Christianity (or another religion) is true? I think it's possible that I've set the bar for proof so high … [Read more...]

Making Book on God

A reader of Marginal Revolution posed a theological thought experiment this week, and a friend challenged me to answer.  Here's the pitch: In this thought experiment you are a contestant on a gameshow. The host of the gameshow (let’s call him Alex) has a notecard that says whether or not god exists and to what extent he is involved in the affairs of mankind. You start with $1,000,000 that you must allocate across five possible categories: Scriptural literalism. Bet into this category if … [Read more...]

Try it! You’ll love it!

I am notorious at school for pushing math classes on my friends.  Done with your distributional requirements?  But surely you have space for this extra seminar on logic!  Thought you would just keep going through the calculus sequence?  Could I interest you in a transcendent term of fractal geometry? Claim to hate math?  I've got a simple reply: You don't hate math, you hate the math classes you've taken to date.  Once you've got a decent professor, you'll have to change your … [Read more...]

God Can’t Prove Much to Puny Mortals

Over in the comment thread of last week's post on standards of proof for miracles, P. Coyle and Iota have been hashing out the classic argument that a truly unambiguous miracle would be a blow against our free will, forcing us to believe in God.  I want to walk through and discuss their positions, since this is a common Christian contention (and because it's going to set me up perfectly for a Harry Potter fanfiction reference in today's Sunday's Good Book post).  Everyone's comments have … [Read more...]

Miracles Case Study

As a follow-up to this morning's post about miracles and skepticism, I wanted to share an example of an extraordinary evidence that is hard to account for.  According to a video released online, China recently appeared to have two suns overhead.  Scifi site io9 asked a few astronomers to make sense of the data, but the scientists were semibaffled.  One scientist said: "This is not a common optical phenomenon that we're seeing here. I'm asking myself if this is an artifact of the lens, but if … [Read more...]

Show Me a Miracle Marvelous Rare

Many Christians or religious people of any faith tradition, argue that miracles are compelling evidence for the truth of their religion.  There are plenty of atheist rejoinders -- the most obvious is that many religions claim the evidence of miracles.  Either miracles are the result of natural processes or delusions, which are plausible enough to fool a wide variety of people, or there is some kind of supernatural force, but good luck linking it to any single religion. Telling the … [Read more...]

Reading about the Resurrection

When I solicited book recommendations, Eldnar made a push for Gary Habermas’s The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, and I thought his reasoning deserved a response. Eldnar wrote: The reason I believe "The Case for the Resurrection" should be fairly early in your reading list is simple. The fact is, the whole of Christianity stands or falls based on the resurrection. Christianity makes a bold, historical claim; before Karl Popper, the apostle Paul already knew about "falsifiability" and … [Read more...]