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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Answer To Jeff Lowder on Bayes, Part 2

His part 2 answer to mine is here


....Before getting into specifics I think it's important to understand the basic difference between the orientation of a believer and a skeptic. The kind of skeptics that tend to make up most of the atheist ranks on the net are scientifically inclined people who view the world through the lens of some kind of scientific orientation. Believers tend to be more "liberal arts"oriented in that their top concerns are not scientific proof. I have observed time after time the atheist constantly a mistake in thinking that the reason to believe in God is because one needs to explain that world. That is catered to by God argument, but God arguments are attempts to reach out to others so they embody the concerns of non believers. The reason for belief in God is not to explain the world. Atheist think this so they always oriented things in those terms. This is will be important in the discussion below becuase Mr. Lowder is constantly saying things about hypothesis. one of my major arguments is that belief is not an hypothesis. It' snot an attempt to explain the world, at least not in the same kind of scientific terms. Thus the arguments he makes taht embody the idea of competing explanatory power are non applicable.
 ....Lowder never comes to terms with my core reason for assuming that Bayes can't deal with God. He seems to understand the basic reason itself but rather than answering it he puts it into a frame work that tries to cast aspersions on it then uses red herrings and white rabbits to divert attention form the inadequacy of not answering the issue:

Again, Metacrock claims that we can’t use BT to measure the probability of God’s existence. Why? Because BT is not good
for determining the answer to questions about reality that are philosophical by nature and that would require an understanding of realms beyond, realms of which we know nothing.
In other words, Metacrock seems to embrace a kind of so-called “skeptical theism,” according to which we don’t have sufficient knowledge in order to measure the probability of certain items of evidence on theism (such as, but not limited to, evil). That position is a double-edged sword, however, for it implies that we also don’t have sufficient knowledge to conclude that certain items of evidence (such as, say, fine-tuning) are more probable on theism than on naturalism.

 I'll accept that assessment provisionally for now. In response to it Lowder argues that we can use Bayes to undrstand God's existence. In so saying he's already lost becuase he doesn't understand where I'm coming from, which Tillich, and that means we can't speak of God "existing." So it sounds like he's got hold of the actual argument but really he doesn't deal with it. He's right that I think Bayes can't used to access the reality of God becuase God is beyond our understanding and not subject empirical data. He says this is wrong but then instead of proving other wise he shifts to a bait and switch. He says:

As Doug Hubbard writes, “We use probabilistic methods because we lack perfect data, not in spite of lacking it. If we had perfect data, probabilities would not be required.”[1] Furthermore, “It is a fallacy that when a variable is highly uncertain, we need a lot of data to reduce the uncertainty. The fact is that when there is a lot of uncertainty, less data is needed to yield a large reduction in uncertainty.”
 But that's in a different sense really. It's true that probability is used becuase we don't have specifics and we trying to find a general range by extrapolating inductively. That is not a guarantee that we can find it. Probability can only pertain to that which is within our grasp empirically. If we do not have empirical data of something we can't make a probability for it. On the other hand, if we have other reasons to see it as a certainty then it has no probability. A certainty is not probable. These are two separate reasons why BT can't tell us about God's reality. Especially since the certainty can't be understood in the empirical way that scinece demands. Just becuase we say we are getting at something doesn't' mean we really are. How can we know if we are, if it's beyond our understanding?
....O yes and here Lowder tries to play off Bayes using apologists and philosophers of religion:

Again, Metacrock argues that we don’t have empirical evidence about God and, again, Bayesian philosophers of religion (including theists, agnostics, and atheists) must disagree with him. Metacrock needs to study Richard Swinburne’s classic, The Existence of God.[3] Although I disagree with his conclusions, I largely agree with his overall Bayesian approach.

 No doubt I should study Swinburne. I know I'm missing a lot by not knowing his works. That's a real failing on my part. That doesn't mean that he's right here. It also doesn't mean that Lowder isn't sort of pulling a fast one by assuming Swinburne really thinks he has a certain method of proving God's "existence." Not know more about how he does it he could just be setting up co-determinate as I spoke of in the part. I'm not opposed to that method at all. Find a reason to think some aspect is a trace of God, such as religious experience, then use that as the indicator that you are dealing with God. That's not "proof" but it's "warrant for belief." The problem is if these philosophers of religion really think Bayes is just a direct root to proving God exists then that actually proves we can't be certain though Bayes. Lowder disagrees. Two schools are squared off, they both use this amazing mathematical miracle that's suppose to guarantee scientific truth for us and yet the results are broken down long ideological lines. Doesn't that really kind of indicate that people just see what they want to see and there's scientific precision there?
....Then he quotes me about the prior:
Where we set the prior, which is crucial to the outcome of the whole thing, is always going to be a matter of ideological assumption.
then he says:

With all due respect to Metacrock, this statement reveals that he simply doesn’t know what he is talking about. He needs to study the philosophy of science and specifically confirmation theory. According to the epistemic interpretation of probability, the probability of a statement is a measure of the probability that a statement is true, given some stock of knowledge.
 I'm glad he has such respect for me.I'm not sure what it's based upon. what it should be based upon is this: I did 10 years of Ph.D. work and half of that was in history ideas studying the history of scinece. He doesn't understand he history of scinece. He doesn't know what he's talking about because he's playing bait and switch. Look what he's done. He assumes that because he has a phony "confirmation theory" it aims at doing something that's proof that it does. Are we still talking about getting new information God. I don't think so. He's assuming we don't need new information because there's no God there to get info on so we know all about God we need to know. So he's just substituted the way the prior works in Bayes actual thinknig for an quick ideolgoical fix. He totally abandons the new information issue and asserts that because he has theories they must be true. He goes on:


 In other words, epistemic probability measures a person’s degree of belief in a statement, given some body of evidence. The epistemic probability of a statement can vary from person to person and from time to time (based upon what knowledge a given person had at a given time).[4] For example, the epistemic personal probability that a factory worker Joe will get a pay raise might be different for Joe than it is for Joe’s supervisor, due to differences in their knowledge.

 That's pretty useless. Epistemic probability is a measure of the degree of belief. I believe my stuff so I guess it's real probable.  None of this is a guarantee that we are going to get new info about God.
....Here he pulls an even more deeply seated bait and switch. He substitutes the assertion of rival explainations, where as they are not rival explain at all. They do not seek to explain the same things. Religious belief doesn't' seek to explain Newtonian physics or the reason for expansion of the singularity. When was the last time you heard a scientist try to explain sanctifying grace, or supererogatory merit? The only reason he can try to make them seem like rivals is through the reductionism of atheist ideology where all knowledge is reduced to the level that the reductionist can control. There's only one form of knowledge in that view, not scientific but only the exact science that supports atheist assertions. Thus anything else we just lose the phenomena then it doesn't exist it need not be considered. This part of the same tendency that reduces God to just one more fact in the universe. He thinks if he disbelieves God his universe is just like mine except minus one thing, God. When God is being itself the very fabric of the universe is altered if God is taken out. God is not just another fact but the basis of the whole. Since that can't be accessed through empirical means but must be experienced we are talking apples and oranges in a huge way on a huge scale. To then assert that we can stretch out knowledge over into this realm that is beyond us merely because we wish to is ridiculous. it's obvious what's really being done is the reductions hatchet job. Whatever aspects of reliability we can't subject our methods of truth regime building we just hack off and pretend like it doesn't' exist.
....Inside the deeper level bait and switch (the switch is the reductionist move the bait is talk about rival hypthesies) the quotes Drapper again:

The degree of modesty of a hypothesis depends inversely on how much it asserts (that we do not know by rational intuition to be true). Other things being equal, hypotheses that are narrower in scope or less specific assert less and so are more modest than hypotheses that are broader in scope or more specific.
 See the problem?  "other things" are not equal. We are comparing empirical data to "the heart" we are comparing scientific domain to philosophical, religious, and mystical domains, we are comparing objective to subjective, physical to spatial. There is no equal footing not epistemological, not noetically, no ontologically, not in any way. Then further he's speaking as everything is a hypothesis. Every aspect of knowledge and experience has to spindled, folded and mutilated and made to fit into the realm of science as a "hypothesis." I don't remember Madame Guyon every referring to sense of God's presence as "an hypothesis." I don't recall Dōgen Zenji calling satori "hypothesis." By the time you make the step to reduce reality to competing hypotheses you've already lost the phenomena and reduced away the mystical. To even formulate the issue in those terms is to create a palimpsest on the topic that has ruled out the very methodology through which new information about God could come. The other quotations he makes form Draper suffer form the same limitations. To put them into the form of competing hypotheses means a prori one is writing off through which the new information of God would come. This goes back to my observation at the top, the reason to believe in God is not explain the universe.


 The next quote form Drapper brings this home:

The degree of coherence of a hypothesis depends on how well its parts (i.e. its logical implications) fit together. To the extent that the various claims entailed by a hypothesis support each other (relative only to what we know by rational intuition), the hypothesis is more coherent. To the extent that they count against each other, the hypothesis is less coherent. Hypotheses that postulate objective uniformity are, other things being equal, more coherent than hypotheses that postulate variety, either at a time or over time
 There's no way one can make a rational comparison of God experience to objective data in those terms. They are going to work together and since the requirement is for an alien state of affairs from the point of view of new God info, that's going to be ejected up front. So you have two clashing world views and one has to subdue the other. The one you favor is going to bias the whole outcome. The only logical answer is not to seek God in scientific terms. Seek God on the terms has given us to seek him; in the heart. Either you are in or you are out. If you are out just say "I am out." don't try to pretend like "I have triumphed beaten the other side."
....Yet human nature will persist in it's insatiable quest to triumph and vanquish the foe. Lowser says:

The upshot is that the intrinsic epistemic probability of a hypothesis is entirely objective, not “a matter of ideological assumption” as Metacrock claims.
Holy proclamation Batman! What he really means is "we don't want it to be that way!" Maybe it will be?  Look at what assumptions have to be made to read the point of that statement: He thinks he can just declare that it's not ideology and it wont be because he says its not. If it is of course that statement is pure propaganda. Epistemic probability is entirely objective. That may be but objectivity itself is a pretense. There is no objectivity form a human standpoint. Obviously this bares the marks of a truth regime to just declare that it's objective. That is not grantee that it is. Moreover, just becuase the philosophical move he terms "epistemic probability" is objective doesn't rule out the bait and switch that got us to this point in the first place. It's based upon comparing world views as though they compete to explain the same things when they don't. That means the one he values is lauded as the better explanation becuase it's per selected to explain that which he deems should be explained. The reality the "competing" explanation explains are not not what he wants explained so he deems those "unimportant. non existence. imaginary, wrong," assumed this is their disproof.
....In effect here's what he's doing, it's really circular. He asserts that the only valid explanation is his becuase only his explains what he wants explained. That gives them the false ground to assume it's better when in reality it's not competing. Now the bits of his world view that actually conflict with God belief are not science, they are either philosophy or ideology. Those are not the same things but I'm sure his view, like mine, contains both. So he sets up this truth regime that assumes there's only one form of knowledge and of cousre that's the one he feels he has going for his view because it explains what he wants to explain, the other stuff is not there.
....He pulls the Drapper hypothesis idea in arguing against my statement hat a prior at 50-50 would yield a high probability of God. I documented those how have done the work to show it's possible. He's already undermined his own argument. He has this whole group of philosophers who argue for God with the BT. Of cousre he would argue he can beat them but all that proves is that it's not as cut and dried as scinece, it's not precise it's not a done deal, it depends upon your assumptions. Notice he sort of guides us away from the admission that where you set the prior is going to deterine things and that setting the prior is going to involve ideology and opinion and bias. To avoid that admission he sticks ins this propagana about Draper and how great certain kinds of hypothesis are. Yet he has to make the kinds of assumption I'm indicting to get tot tha point where he can assert the objectivity.
....Here's another form of the switch, what's being swtiched is differing domains and differing aims of the explainations:

This is refuted by Draper’s objective criteria explained above. Since metaphysical naturalism and (metaphysical) supernaturalism are equally modest and equally coherent, it follows that they have equal intrinsic epistemic probabilities. Since there are other options besides naturalism and supernaturalism, however, it follows that the intrinsic probabilities of both naturalism and supernaturalism are less than 1/2.

 The fact that they they are both modest and coherent so they must be the same, the fact that explain different aspects of reality is totally left out. They don't compete. Of if they do compete it's in areas more directly empirical than belief in God. The insertion of "other options" is also bogus because at this point we have been doing this switch to comparison of apples and oranges. now there's a possibly that other fruit is involved. This really can't be the way to go about it.  He pulls the rug out from underhimself:


Unlike naturalism and supernaturalism, however, naturalism and theism are not symmetrical claims. Theism entails supernaturalism but is not entailed by it; theism is one of many variants or more specific versions of supernaturalism. Thus, theism is less modest than supernaturalism. Furthermore, theism is not epistemically certain given supernaturalism. So metaphysical naturalism has a higher intrinsic epistemic probability than theism
 This is really problematic he's just juggling labels. first of all I'm not a theist. I'm a panenthiest. Secondly, in making his admission he sort of undoes what he did above. He has supposedly equal hypothesis even though explain different aspects of reality, now he brings the comparison into the range of unequal hypothesis. All red herring becuase none of it get's around the fact that they explain different things, they use different methods, they do do not share the same domains of magisteria, there's no reason to compare them to each other. One can be scientific and use materialist analysis of economic and society and biology and phsyics without being an atheist or refusing belief in God.
....Not to even mention the issue about the meaning of the term "supernatural." In the enlightenment "supernatural" because a pejorative to be little chruch dogma. That's even more the case today. It's a way for atheists to make a king's x on their views because they are sanctioned by science, naturalism, hard concrete the fortress of facts, and to cast aspersions on Christian beliefs as 'magic.' Chrsitains can be labeled as silly and unreal because they are "supernatural" which is like wave a red flag to a bull; read "stupid, pretend, made up, unprovable." The term was employed by  Pseudo-Dionysus in around 500AD it refereed to the power of God to raise human nature to the higher level of spiritual wisdom and moral perfection. It did not mean magic, it did not mean psychic powers or unseen realms. The upshot of this is that the materialist bifurcates reality so God can't work in the natural. Anything of God is automatically supernatural becuase for the atheist it is "imaginary." The believer understands that God is working in the ordinary world all the time. The prevalence of "naturalistic" evidence in connection with God sign (such as brain chemistry with religious experience) is not proof of a purely naturalistic origin becuase God works in the natural and through the natural. Yet that labeling of natural/supernatual is the atheist way of dismissing evidence that's not convenient and cant be denied. That means when it comes to setting the prior the atheist never has to accept any prior set by a believer because it's automatically tainted just being about God. Being about God makes it "supernatural" that translates to "pretend, unreal. stupid."
....Never does he disprove he notion that where you set the prior is crucial to the outcome. Moreover, there  is no fair UN-baised way to set it. He does the bait and switch with reductionism to get around that by trying make them be about the same thing then ruling that which doesn't' explain what he wants explained. That's not actually a disproof of my original argument. Philosopher Victor Reppert says:

How in blazes do you calculate probabilities? Probability theory tells you how you get from a prior probability to a posterior probability. What it does not tell you is what prior probabilities are correct. Hence I can begin with a probability of 1 for the Resurrection and end up with a probability of 1 for the resurrection. Ditto for a probability of zero. So telling me to think exclusively in terms of probabilities tells me squat. Probability theory does tell you how, given enough evidence and a small enough split between probabilities, we can come to an agreement about whether something is true or not. But if there is a large split between antecedent probabilities, we can easily have rational people taking opposite beliefs to their graves.

I happen to think that there are no right or wrong antecedent probabilities. We start with the probabilities we have and go from there. My view is that a Bayesian-rational person can conclude that Jesus rose from the dead.[1]

 That essentially backs what I've said. If you don't have new information (the kind of new info one has available on God is not the kind that Lowder will accept as information) the end result is going to be biased. What does he say that actually disproves this? He says a bunch of theoretical stuff about making hypothesis that assume that you can treat religious belief and mystical experience the same way you would an hypothesis about mockingbird feeding habits in the south. Obviously that's not the case. Bringing different kinds of fruit into it (other ideas that are neither Christian or atheist) doesn't help any because they are going to have the same split. Bodi Darma never refereed to enlightenment as "hypothesis." Spiritual reality is experienced but it is not empirical in the scientific sense.
....At this point he deals why my statements about Unwin's book. I present several "topics" that he uses to illustrate the kinds of thing one would use to set the prior. Here we have an example of how Athiests slay me. Here's a guy who not read the book, admits he has not, he's trying to lecture guy who has read the book how he's wrong about what he read.

I say:
Stephen Unwin tries to produce a simple analysis that would prove the ultimate truth of God using Bayes. The calculations he gives for the priors are as such:

Uwin says:
Recognition of goodness (D = 10)
Existence of moral evil (D = 0.5)
Existence of natural evil (D = 0.1)
Intra-natural miracles (e.g., a friend recovers from an illness after you have prayed for him) (D = 2)
Extra-natural miracles (e.g., someone who is dead is brought back to life) (D = 1)
Religious experiences (D = 2)[10]

Lowder says:

Metacrock’s article reminds me that I need to add Unwin’s book to my list of books to read. Since I haven’t read it, I cannot yet comment on how he justifies these values. I do, however, have one nitpick. Metacrock refers to these values as “priors,” but that is obviously wrong for the simple reason that probability values, regardless of one’s philosophical interpretation of probability, are by definition always real numbers between 0 and 1 inclusive. It would appear that the D values quoted by Metacrock are what is known as “Bayes’ factors.”
I read the book and Lowder didn't. Unwin says, I quote from the book:

The inconvenience of employing any kind of systematic approach to analysis is that it demands the establishment of a system. Let's begin by establishing our system. We have Six evidentairy areas to consider:

(1) the recognition of Goodness
(2) The existence of moral evil
(3) the existence of natural evil
(4) intro-natrual miracles[2]


These are the issues Unwin uses to do the calculation to set the prior. These are the issues he uses for the whole busienss of the BT in relation to probability of God. Who is to say this is the exhaustive take on issues? The formulation I quoted with the numbers is the result of the palimpsest. It's the understanding of goes into that that is at issue. The assertion that final result is valid and it proves soemthing is not a done deal merely becuase it's blessed by mathematics. Unwin himself says his numbers are subjective.
 ....My argument, which Lowder does not deal with, is simply that these are not done deals. Many skeptics want to see these issues as done deals, there's evil in the world, therefore there can't be a God." if that's true than the whole busienss of making a probabilistic calculation is a farce. If it is true that if evil is in the world there can't be a God we don't need to quantify how much of life invovles evil to disbelieve God. If that's all there is to it why even bother with the math. evil exits, therefore, there is no God. These are not done deals they are issues for theologians. Is it true that "if Evil, then no God?" I think few theologians would have some things to say about that. The standard atheist dismissal would the Dawkinsian refusal to accept theological answers on the grounds that "since they are stupid I don't have to know what they are." Of cousre the miracles, trying to put a number on that would be sheer stupidity. That's going to be the most contentious arguemnt of all. In part one I talk about he circular reasoning of atheits in dealing with miracles. Lowders wants to believe they don't think that way but I've been doing this internet atheist war stuff for 15 years I've dealt with thousands of argumetns with atheists about miracle I know do think that way. "We have never accepted it before so we can't accept it know" rather, "we don't have to." They create a false history of no miracles by pretending all the claims of the past have been over turned, when in reality many of them were merely assumed to be untrue based upon dismissal of the past. One can probably trace that back and back an back to the first miracle claim.[3]
....They can't accept that there could be miracles if they did they wouldn't be atheist any more. To have miracles in the first place there must be some form of the divine. So that's like asking a creationist to make open ended findings that might prove evolution is real. It's like saying "would you please be willing to be booted out of your club to day and to admit that your world view is wrong?" A lot of people find that a tough one. Looking back over the issues he has never answered or even come to terms with my most basic argument: belief in God is about obtaining scientific proof of a new fact in the universe, the addition of God to that universe. It's a phenomenological of reality as a whole such one comes to understand noetically one's place in being. That is a journey one takes inside one's self, it is not lined with road markers from the world of scientifically empirical data but with road markers not accessible to those outside one's head. Naturally there touchstones in reality in the form of inter-subjectivity that make it possible for us to share aspects of the journey with the link minded. There's no way to share it with those who will not accept even it's existence. My argument has been that you can't base a mathematical probability for a reality of something that is only apparent though phenomenal apprehensions and world views that are only shared inter-subjectively. The atheist's game is one of reductionism. They want to reduce all knowledge to one thing, that which they control. They can never control the world of the phenomenological.
....If we had the empirical evidence of God we need to make calculations of probability we would not need calculations of probably. The fact that we don't have it cannot be construed as a low probability for God  any meaningful way because it's not meaningful that there is a low probability in those terms. For those who have experienced the reality of God it's a certainty need to probablizing. For those who refuse to find God God's way and who demand that methods under control are the only form of knowledge and the way to know the certainty of God's reality si a close book. It was at one time a closed to me as well, I was an atheist. It doesn't have to remain one but it' snot a book that will be opened by mathematics. One one guy who opens cosmically sealed books.






[1] Victor Reppert, "how shall we follow probabilities" Dangerous Idea Blog. oct 28, 2012
Url: http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2012/10/but-how-shall-we-follow-probabilities.html
[2] Stephen D. Unwin, The Probability of God a Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth.New York, New York: Three Rivers Press,2003, 93.
[3] Unwin doesn't argue about miracles he merely assumes them as a matter of course for the sake of the calculation: "I will decline to speculate as to weather not authentic extra-natural miracles have occurred I have no way of knowing the answer..." (122) he then assumes based upon the reports for the sake of the calculus. I think that's fair but that much signifies the subjective nature of the issues, as one might also argue the evidence is better than skeptics are willing to admit. There are skeptics who might not accept this appraoch at all.



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