Friday, October 30, 2015

Richard Carrier and The Bayes Craze

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The Revd Thomas Bayes, 1701-1761
"The current discussion among Jesus-deniers and mythicists over whether probability in the form of Bayes’s Rule can be used in historical research is more than a little amusing. The current fad is largely the work of atheist blogger and debater Richard Carrier who despite having a PhD in ancient history likes to tout himself as a kind of natural science cum mathematics cum whachagot expert." --Hoffman, The New Oxonian

I've been missing the fun of message boards, those lovable wacy atheists using Bayes as a gimmick to afix the authority of science and mathematics to their subjective opinions. They can have the fun of insults on message boards, I am through with that. I must, however, through in my two cents because this is such a flagrant example of the Illusion of Technique.I allude to the concept by William Barrett in his book of the same name.[1] Technique is the basis of technological manipulation of reality, and the illusion of technique is the illusion that one is manipulating reality by manipulating the facts. The use of Bayes to replace discursive reasoning and so give the atheists and Jesus mythers a sense of victory is the gimmick of Richard Carrier in his book Proving History. I don't know who wrote th book ad but it betrays a certain arrogance:

Carrier's book add
This in-depth discussion of New Testament scholarship and the challenges of history as a whole proposes Bayes’s Theorem, which deals with probabilities under conditions of uncertainty, as a solution to the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria. The author demonstrates that valid historical methods—not only in the study of Christian origins but in any historical study—can be described by, and reduced to, the logic of Bayes’s Theorem. Conversely, he argues that any method that cannot be reduced to this theorem is invalid and should be abandoned.

"Carrier applies his philosophical and historical training to maximum effect in outlining a case for the use of Bayes’s Theorem in evaluating biblical claims. Even biblical scholars, who usually are not mathematically inclined, may never look at the ‘historical Jesus’ the same way again." -Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of religious studies, Iowa State University, and author of , The End of Biblical Studies
The idea that "any method that cannot be reduced to this theorem is invalid and should be abandoned "may be the publisher's fantasy and not Carrier's idea at all but it is not only completely wrong but also a contradiction to the few historians who support using Bayes. More on that below. I also have to call attention to the blurb. Hector Avelos, my old sparing partner.[2] and poster on Loftus's Debunking Christianity blog, is an atheist activist who once tried to argue for closing down all of Biblical Scholarship. While the publisher Prometheus books is part of the atheist propaganda machine. That is the outfit that launched Loftus's career as an atheist activist when he shamed them itno publishing his book (he told me that story and I talked to his publisher--although they might not say "shamed").

Yet even though Carrier himself did not say that his own words are even more arrogant and strident.

Carrier in pdf

By Richard Carrier, Ph.D.
Visiting Lecturer for the Center for Inquiry Institute
Richmond, CA, USA
April 2012

"Several examinations of the methodologies employed in the study of Jesus have consistently found those methods invalid or defective. Which fact has resulted in the proliferation of endless different conclusions as to the nature of the historical Jesus and the origins of Christianity..." What studies? What is the problem with different views? This is nothing more than an attempt to reduce all knowledge to scientism and to give atheism the illusion of scientific authority. The so called studies he talks about are atheist Jesus myth polemics.[read about this Center for Inquiry Institute].But he gets even more strident:
Every expert who has specialized in examining these methods and published a study of them has come to this conclusion: Stanley Porter,[2] Dale Allison,[3] Hector Avalos,[4] and almost a dozen others[5]; even Gerd Theissen, who describes the common conclusion, that “there are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition,”[6] attempted to resist it, but his own effort to rehabilitate the method ultimately led him to agree with that consensus, concluding that the criteria simply don’t work, and some other method is needed to replace them, something that involves more general evaluations of plausibility, although he confesses he is not certain how to formally do that....
To me De Lorean (back to the future car guy) did a study of air bags by examining all the data from scientific tests. I know Dale Allison did not have any data to study from scientific tests examining the validity of Jesus' historicity. He says every expert has come to the same conclusion I know that's just BS because Luke Timothy Johnson wrote a book debunking the Jesus seminar and used the methods they are against. They are against those methods because they negate their assertion about Jesus existing in history. Or again:
Chris Keith and Anthony LeDonne, titled Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity(T & T Clark, 2012), and featuring such luminaries as Mark Goodacre and Morna Hooker, all coming to the same conclusion: the method of criteria is simply not logically viable. This leaves the field of Jesus studies with no valid method, and puts into question all consensus positions in the field, insofar as they have all been based, to one extent or another, on these logically invalid methods.
It's not as though no historians support him. There are a few, but only a handful. Neil Godfry).[3] talks about Aviezer Tucker‘s Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography(2004).[4]
That’s the subject of Aviezer Tucker‘s Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography (2004). Tucker’s interest is the relationship between the writing of history (historiography) and evidence (p. 8). It is written for audiences interested in philosophy, history, biblical criticism, the classics, comparative linguistics and evolutionary biology (p. 22).
Godfry goes on:

...the application of Bayes’ Theorem merely expresses in symbolic terms the way historians evaluate the nature of evidence and test hypotheses to explain evidence for certain events and artefacts. Some fearful critics have objected to the application of Bayes because they have never understood this fact...All Bayes’ theorem does is help us clarify our thinking. Bayes theorem is simply a symbolic way of expressing how we do our best thinking when seeking explanations for evidence or evaluating hypotheses against the evidence. The more complex the factors that need to be considered in addressing a problem the easier it is for us to overlook a critical point or draw invalid comparisons. Bayes’ helps us to clarify thinking about the most complex of issues, including those in the social sciences and history
There's the rube. It's doing what historians do anyway, but Dr. Carrier tells us what they do is useless unless they use Bayes, this is rather circular. If what they do is useless (ad above) and all Bayes does is clarify what they are doing then is just helping clarify the useless.

He gives an example

"The probability of the hypothesis that George Washington was the first president of the United States, given the massive amount of documentary evidence for it and background knowledge of the causal chains that led to this evidence, is almost 1. We are almost certain that George Washington was the first president.
Contrast this:

The probability of the hypothesis that Jesus was the founder of what became the Christian Church, given the massive documentary evidence for it and background knowledge of the causal chains that led to this evidence, is . . . ?

historians. (p. 96)

The Theorem

Tucker sets out Bayes’ Theorem thus:

Pr(H|E & B) = [Pr(E|H & B) x Pr(H|B)]:Pr(E|B)

Pr — the Probability of. . .

H — the Hypothesis, or any historical proposition about past events

E — the Evidence (often this means similarities between two or more independent sources)

B — the Background knowledge of theories, methods, other hypotheses

The vertical line | should be read as “given”. So the first part of the equation expresses:

The Probability of the Hypothesis being true given the evidence and background information.

Pr(H|E & B) translated into words:

The probability of the hypothesis that George Washington was the first president of the United States, given the massive amount of documentary evidence for it and background knowledge of the causal chains that led to this evidence, is almost 1. We are almost certain that George Washington was the first president.

Contrast this:

The probability of the hypothesis that Jesus was the founder of what became the Christian Church, given the massive documentary evidence for it and background knowledge of the causal chains that led to this evidence, is . . . ?

Unfortunately we have no background knowledge of the causal chains that led to the Gospels and writings of Paul. We only have other hypotheses (e.g. oral tradition) to fill in these gaps.

Now h will have to prove that that's not enough. Atheists are always trying to hold believers to a standard to certain proof while they themselves never claim to meet such a standard. Bayes is certainly not going to give it to them.

Another example: early Christian studies example,

"If our evidence is Christian apologetic writings that claim to quote a letter from Jesus to the king of Edessa, it can be dismissed as a fabrication given all we know. If, however, we found the letter in scientifically verifiable archives of King Abgar of Edessa, it would be very surprising and lead to a serious rethink about Jesus and Christian origins."

I need this mathematical gimmick to tell me this? I have been aware of such letters and Gospels for 40 years and I've never given them credit. Those are not major sources for Jesus' historicity, we can do a lot better than that. For that matter we don't need a mathematician to notice that this same method that supposed to offer great objectivity and real historical proof is used to "prove" diametrically opposing views, Carrier says it disproves the existence of Jesus of Nazareth as a man in history; William Lane Craig says it proves he rose from the dead.[5] Neither Craig nor Carrier is an idiot. They both have advanced degrees from major universities, neither of them is in the dark about how Bayes works. Why the difference? Because they makes different assumptions as befits their ideologies, their beliefs, their biases. The initial problem is that the assumptions they make are made in the absence of real data, Bayes wont work in that space.
So there are two problems here when it comes to trying to apply Bayes Theorem to history: (1) Carrier and Craig need to treat questions of what happened in the past as the same species of uncertainty as what may happen in the future and (2) historical questions are uncertain precisely because we don't have defined and certain data to feed into the equation. Bayes Theorem only works in cases where we can apply known information. So, in the example above, we know how often it rains in a year and we know when the weather forecast is and isn't correct. So by inputting this meaningful data, we can get a meaningful result out the other end of the equation....Bayes Theorem's application depends entirely on how precisely the parameters and values of our theoretical reconstruction of a real world approximate reality. With a historical question, Carrier is forced to think up probabilities for each parameter he put into the equation. This is a purely subjective process - he determines how likely or unlikely a parameter in the question is and then decides what value to give that parameter. So the result he gets at the end is purely a function of these subjective choices...[7]
. I'm not even to the good criticisms yet. Stay tuned for next time (Monday?)


1 William Barrett, The Illusion of Technique: The Search for Meaning in a Technological Civilization, New York:Anchor, 1979, no page indicated.

2 Avalos is author of the book The End of Biblical Studies he is a professor of religious studies and teaches at University of Iowa. I had my own series of exchanges with him, challenged him to formal debate and he would not do it; he tried to answer me once I think he wished he had not.
see (all on Metacrock) Atheist Thought Police, Response to Avelos," Jan 17, 2008

"Critique of Hector Avelos's End of Biblical Criticism,"Feb 10, 2008

see Metacrock's blog, "Christianity, Force For Liberation," April 8, 2010,URL:
I comment on Avelos's rhubarb with Helmutt Koester in "Hector Avelos Takes on Helmutt Koster," Metacrock's Blog, July 21, 20 10.

3 Neil Godfry,"real Historians do Bayes" Virdar, blog (July, 18, 2013) URL: accessed 10, 29, 15.

4 Aviezer Tucker, Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of HistoriographyCambridge, London: Cambridge University Press (2004), no page indicated.

5 Godfry quoting Tucker, Ibid., in Tucker, 97.

6 Tim O'Neill, "what is your opinion on the use of Bayes Theorem to discover the best historical explanation for data we have as outlined by Richard Carrier?" Quora, blog, (17 Aug 2014) URL:

7 Ibid.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why I don't buy Richard Carrier's article 'why I don't buy the resurrection,'

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 I'm going against advice and deal with arguments by carm atheists because I think it's important to remember that certain things have been answered. Dealing with an old article by Richard Carrier that was sighted recently on CARM. Even though it's old these guys are rallying around it like its new and the same bunck is being noised about by atheists all the time.

Carrier's article is here:

this is prompted by Fleetmouse's statement that:

"You have no answers to Carrier's essay. "

He seems the most worked up over the idea that since carrier proves the superstitious nature of the folks of Jesus day, like he never considered that. That's something I knew about as a kid. I used it in highschool to justify my own atheism (1973).  I can't imagine anyone being impressed by it. Be that as it may that's not an argument so examine it.

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My first reaction to reading  the beginning is it's an argument from analogy based upon ideological assumptions. the argument itself assumes what all atheists assume "anything that tells us a SN event can happen must be wrong a priori" they always jump the track form that (the SN itself must be wrong) to "the historicity must be wrong as well.That's really nothing but good old fashioned doubt. This is something in which I refuse to believe, therefore, it can't be true.

To reinforce it he uses argument from analogy. He shows the story about some saint in the 500s which is ridiculous. Then asserts that because that story is false then the NT stories are false. That is argument from analogy that is not proof. There's a huge difference in the level of evidential understanding, claim and documentation in first century and sixth. Sixth century story is European and not Mid eastern. They had an even more tenuous grasp of proof and testimony than did the Mediterranean folk who had the Greeks to teach them. From point on the answers to his essay are just the regular arguments one finds in any argument about the res. I'll have more on it latter.

Te then asserts Hume's foolishness that "why doesn't this happen today. it does. In fact he's begging the question. We have tons of miracle claims from the current era and some good science that shows they are unexplained. The only factor that is different is the prayer, so prayer is the logical candidate to explain it. In addition to the Lourdes stuff (above link) there is also the Casdroph evidence. While not as systematic or rigorous it does have the evaluation of a medical staff of a hospital in the 70s.

Carrier is using an example from the time of legends in the dark ages which is not backed by anything like the kind of testimonial support of the Gospels.In making that argument he's just begging the question and asserting the ideology of naturalism. He evoking doubt as a fact rather than proving facts. again, he is privileging doubt. Doubt privileged means doubt becomes proof. The dark age European stuff has nothing like the eight levels of verification that I've demonstrated back the Gospels.

Let's examine his specific arguments. Carrier states:

But we should try to be more specific in our reasons, and not rely solely on common sense impressions. And there are specific reasons to disbelieve the story of Genevieve, and they are the same reasons we have to doubt the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus. For the parallel is clear: the Gospels were written no sooner to the death of their main character--and more likely many decades later--than was the case for the account of Genevieve; and like that account, the Gospels were also originally anonymous--the names now attached to them were added by speculation and oral tradition half a century after they were actually written. Both contain fabulous miracles supposedly witnessed by numerous people. Both belong to the same genre of literature: what we call a "hagiography," a sacred account of a holy person regarded as representing a moral and divine ideal. Such a genre had as its principal aim the glorification of the religion itself and of the example set by the perfect holy person represented as its central focus. Such literature was also a tool of propaganda, used to promote certain moral or religious views, and to oppose different points of view. The life of Genevieve, for example, was written to combat Arianism. The canonical Gospels, on the other hand, appear to combat various forms of proto-Gnosticism. So being skeptical of what they say is sensible from the start.[1]

That's exactly why we can't compare that story to the resurrection. Not only is it from a different time and different culture but it was written for different reasons. The Gospels were primarily written to answer concerns of given communities of the early chruch. Their concerns revolved around securing the testimony of their cloud of witnesses as they began dying off. They were making the transition from oral culture to written culture. They were deal with the original testimony of eye witnesses. The European guys were dealing with a palimpsest [2] of  legend that never had that kind of eye witness support. Thus they are not analogous and the argument from analogy fails.

Carrier asserts the typical atheist pechant for 19th century dating of the Gospels.

It is certainly reasonable to doubt the resurrection of Jesus in the flesh, an event placed some time between 26 and 36 A.D. For this we have only a few written sources near the event, all of it sacred writing, and entirely pro-Christian. Pliny the Younger was the first non-Christian to even mention the religion, in 110 A.D., but he doesn't mention the resurrection. No non-Christian mentions the resurrection until many decades later--Lucian, a critic of superstition, was the first, writing in the mid-2nd century, and likely getting his information from Christian sources. So the evidence is not what any historian would consider good.
Note he stresses that it's all "sacred" that means in atheist speak we can't trust it because anything religious people write must be a lie and propaganda. Of course any testimony in favor of the resurrection would be sacred so there can't be any such thing as pro res evidence that is not a lie and can be trusted. He implies that the resurrection was not part of the faith until early second century or there about. That's an old fashioned view that was disproved a long time ago. Now the consensus in the field is Koester's notion of the pre Mark Passion narrative with empty tomb emerging in  mid first century. "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" [3]

 Now we find one of the more ridiculous tactics to which Carrier resorts. He pulls a bait and switch between historian's standard of evidence and the atheists own standard.

Nevertheless, Christian apologist Douglas Geivett has declared that the evidence for the physical resurrection of Jesus meets, and I quote, "the highest standards of historical inquiry" and "if one takes the historian's own criteria for assessing the historicity of ancient events, the resurrection passes muster as a historically well-attested event of the ancient world," as well-attested, he says, as Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C.[5] Well, it is common in Christian apologetics, throughout history, to make absurdly exaggerated claims, and this is no exception. Let's look at Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon for a minute:
He's going to through a list of things where the documentation for Caesar is supposedly so much better than the Gospels. First of all, this is a total the reality of the issues. In setting up the idea that Caesar is better documented the notion of an atheist victory is looming. The problem is we should really expect that because Cesar was the ruler of the known world at that time. Jesus was an itinerant prophet form the sticks who did not even interest the historians or men of letters. That we have any testimony of Jesus is a miracle. The idea that Caesar is better documented is not proof that Jesus is badly documented. Moreover, it may be overstated that Jesus' evidence is better (he did quote a perhaps rash comment to that effect) yet let's examine the aspects of the statement and see they are using two different sets of criteria.

First he argues that we have Caesar's writings, we have no writings of Jesus. He asserts that this equates to not knowing what Jesus said or believed. We actually more about Jesus beliefs than Caesar's becuase while Caesar express some ideas Jesus is quoted by his followers in a full body of teaching that covers many aspects. Since the Jews had an oral culture in which they memoirs the words of their teachers and spit them back ver batiam we probalby do have a good accurate understanding of Jesus' teachings, at least as they were applied by his first follows a few years after the communities were established. Oral tradition was not just wild random rummer but actuate reflection of the teacher through the student's memorization. It worked and there is a great deal of evidence to that effect.

Secondly he records the fact that at least one of Caesar's enemies documented his crossing the Rubicon, that is Cicero. While he argues that there are no such records of Jesus enemies or neural particles that is not the case. There's good documentation that Jesus was written about in the Talmudist writings, some of those date to first century.MICHAEL L. RODKINSON in his translation of the Babylonian Talmud says:

Thus the study of the Talmud flourished after the destruction of the Temple, although beset with great difficulties and desperate struggles. All his days, R. Johanan b. Zakkai was obliged to dispute with Sadducees and Bathueians and, no doubt, with the Messiahists also; for although these last were Pharisees, they differed in many points from the teaching of the Talmud after their master, Jesus, had broken with the Pharisees...[4]

 Moreover the fact that Talmudic sources talked about Jesus is born out by Celsus. The points that he says the Jews gave him are things the Talmud says about the alleged "Jesus figure." See my pages on Jesus in the Talmud for good documentation.

 He also includes inscriptions on coins. That's not a good source and it doesn't prove much. We had a dime with Mercury on it. That doesn't mean Mercury was a real guy. Coins documented legends and mythology.

He tires to use mulitiple sources to establish Caesar's crossing the Rubicon:
    Fourth, we have the story of the "Rubicon Crossing" in almost every historian of the period, including the most prominent scholars of the age: Suetonius, Appian,Cassius Dio,  Plutarch. Moreover, these scholars have a measure of proven reliability, since a great many of their reports on other matters have been confirmed in material evidence and in other sources. In addition, they often quote and name many different sources, showing a wide reading of the witnesses and documents, and they show a desire to critically examine claims for which there is any dispute. If that wasn't enough, all of them cite or quote sources written by witnesses, hostile and friendly, of the Rubicon crossing and its repercussions.
 Just having good sources, or even better vetting than the Gospels, is not proof that the Gosples have no historical basis. It may or may not be true that the statement by Douglas Geivett  might be a bit of an exaggeration in being as well attested as the crossing of the Rubicon. Nevertheless that is not proof that the Gospels don't hold up. I also say we can give Carrier a good run for his money. He only names three sources that back the crossing, they are not eye witnesses. We have four sources that are eye witnesses. Although in reality it's all coming form the pre Mark Passion narrative. Yet the veracity of it is attested to by it's use in other sources. So in using in four Gospels the communities produces those Gospels are saying "this source is correct." That's not counting non canonical gospels that agree with it. one I now of is GPete (Gospel of Peter). That's at least five attestations. Moreover, the sources Carrier sites for backing the crossing were not eye witnesses and were not contemporary, probably got their information from Caesar's writings.[5] That is not even verification.

At this point Carrier makes several absurd statements: "Compare this with the resurrection: we have not even a single established historian mentioning the event until the 3rd and 4th centuries, and then only by Christian historians." That's not true first of all. We have the attestation of Papias, his writings dated bewteen 95 and 120 AD. That he sure was before the third century. Clement of Rome is said to have been writing around 94 AD. Polycarp's death is attributed to 155 AD..The point is all of these guys attest to the resurrection and all of them claim to have had ties with actual disciples and Apostles who Knew Jesus. One might argue that they are not established historians but the historians of that era were not academically trained social scientists they were just any educated person who wrote about what hapepned in the past these guys have a link to the eye witness testimony that has to outweigh the onus of being "chruch historians." The historians writing about Caesar probalby got their information form Caesar. Carrier goes on, "And of those few others who do mention it within a century of the event, none of them show any wide reading, never cite any other sources, show no sign of a skilled or critical examination..."That's just not true. All of the afore mentioned chruch father attribute their knowledge to eye witnesses, within whom they had personal contact. None of the historians Carrier sites can do that for the crossing. He says they dont' show wide reading or skill as historians. That is nonsense. Clement of Rome (who seems to have known both Peter and Paul) seems to be widely read. His letter is elpqunt and shows a vast learning as a complex concept of the Gospel is presented. Carrier might refuse to accept because the content is Christians but no oen can deny the complexity. Moreover that's just not necessary to the honesty and knowledge level of the witnesses. So what if they are not great writers compared to Plutarch, that doesn't negate the first hand nature of their evidence.

Here he makes an argument that is quite fallacious. It's so telling that all the CARM atheist acted like it's a big proof:
    Fifth, the history of Rome could not have proceeded as it did had Caesar not physically moved an army into Italy. Even if Caesar could have somehow cultivated the mere belief that he had done this, he could not have captured Rome or conscripted Italian men against Pompey's forces in Greece. On the other hand, all that is needed to explain the rise of Christianity is a belief--a belief that the resurrection happened. There is nothing that an actual resurrection would have caused that could not have been caused by a mere belief in that resurrection. Thus, an actual resurrection is not necessary to explain all subsequent history, unlike Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon.

That's just shifting arguments. In effect he's saying if this event had no happened historian would be different so therefore we know it happen. That is a silly way for any historian to think.The fact is yes some group of solider moves across teh river to fight Pompey and that changed Roman history. That means they got men across the river. that in no way proves that Caesar led them or that any  other things Caesar says really happened the way he says it. That's like saying we know that JFK was shot by a lone gunman becuase had he not been shot he would have ran for re-election. History would be different, so therefore it was a lone gunman. The same fallacy works with the claim that it proves is that the assassination was a conspiracy. All it proves is that the President was assassinated.

Moreover, he asserts: "There is nothing that an actual resurrection would have caused that could not have been caused by a mere belief in that resurrection." That's really a red herring because there would be no belief without an empty tomb, and they could not have gotten the body past the guards had he not risen from the dead. To answer that this could be held by mere bleief and didn't require a real resurrection is nothing but begging the question. We can't assert that we know there was true resurrection just because bleief in resurrection might have flourished without an actual event. We don't really know that it did, and there is a possibility that the belief would not be possible with an actual event. That is rather a moot point and it is no way to do history!

The big historian's brilliant knowledge fails to impress. There is one other major issue that the CARM folks were so taken with. he argues that superstition was  so rampant in that day they would bleieve anything. That's supposed that prove it didn't happen.  Some of the CARM atheists seemed to think this is some big innovative to show the superstition level of the day. I knew about that as a child. I sued that argument in my pro atheism arguments when I was a junior in high school.

But reasons to be skeptical do not stop there. We must consider the setting--the place and time in which these stories spread. This was an age of fables and wonder. Magic and miracles and ghosts were everywhere, and almost never doubted. I'll give one example that illustrates this: we have several accounts of what the common people thought about lunar eclipses. They apparently had no doubt that this horrible event was the result of witches calling the moon down with diabolical spells. So when an eclipse occurred, everyone would frantically start banging pots and blowing brass horns furiously, to confuse the witches' spells. So tremendous was this din that many better-educated authors complain of how the racket filled entire cities and countrysides. This was a superstitious people.

the sources he footnotes are an article by himself and his Masters thesis. In those articles he quotes other source but does not document with standard method of FN. He never shows that the superstitions about eclipse were prevalent in Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, nor does he show that people were so set on them that they could be convinced to see things that weren't there.

He talks at length about how people in that day were certain that an eclipse was a witch stealing the moon or a Dragon easting the sun. the idea that they would believe an eclipse was special dragon eating the sun or witch stealing the moon or something. That doesn't prove that they would believe in a resurrection just because they are told about it. Carrier would assert this but it's the opposite: the eclipse is a real event that is very dramatic. It's rarity and its' encompassing nature, it seem terrifying and mysterious. It's really happening, the sun really goes away for a bit. That doesn't prove they would believe something just becuase they are told about it. That proves the opposite really that there has to be a real event that's terrifying and out of the ordinary to trigger such belief. A real resurrection would fill the fill the bill,I don't know what else would.

Another problem is that he doesn't even bother to document the time or place of Jesus day. He's not quoting evdience about how Jews of Jesus time thought. He's asserting that all ancinet world people thought the same. that's an old atheist assumption that all ancient people are stupid.

Only a small class of elite well-educated men adopted more skeptical points of view, and because they belonged to the upper class, both them and their arrogant skepticism were scorned by the common people, rather than respected. Plutarch laments how doctors were willing to attend to the sick among the poor for little or no fee, but they were usually sent away, in preference for the local wizard.[10] By modern standards, almost no one had any sort of education at all, and there were no mass media disseminating scientific facts in any form. By the estimates of William Harris, author of Ancient Literacy [1989], only 20% of the population could read anything at all, fewer than 10% could read well, and far fewer still had any access to books. He found that in comparative terms, even a single page of blank papyrus cost the equivalent of thirty dollars--ink, and the labor to hand copy every word, cost many times more. We find that books could run to the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each. Consequently, only the rich had books, and only elite scholars had access to libraries, of which there were few. The result was that the masses had no understanding of science or critical thought. They were neither equipped nor skilled, nor even interested, in challenging an inspiring story, especially a story like that of the Gospels: utopian, wonderful, critical of upper class society--even more a story that, if believed, secured eternal life. Who wouldn't have bought a ticket to that lottery? Opposition arose mainly from prior commitments to other dogmas, not reason or evidence.

He's talking about Europe in the middle ages.He has some application to first century meridian. That's a long way from proving that a whole popular would up and believe in resurrection just become people started saying someone rose form the dead. Some of the advocates of resurrection were those educated men who were not carried by superstition. Paul and Luke fall into that category. Some of the Romans Paul was talking to in his letter to the Romans would fall into it. Priscilla,Paul's friend the wife of Aquila probalby, since her name is a Patrician name.

End notes

[1] Carrier FN at this point:

Besides my summary of Metzger on The New Testament Canon, cf. R. Burridge, What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (1992); H. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (1990); W. Lane's New London Commentary on the New Testament (1974); and also Bart Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (1993).

[2] palimpsest:
noun: palimpsest; plural noun: palimpsests
  1. a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
    • something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
      "Sutton Place is a palimpsest of the taste of successive owners"
[3] Helmutt Koester. Ancient Christian Gospels:Their History and Development.
Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. 1990, 218.
[4] Babylonian Talmud, Book 10: History of the Talmud, tr. Vol 1 Chapter 2
by Michael L. Rodkinson, [1918], at accessed 9/6/14
 The Talmud was written in second century on, but the works it used were passed on orally and date much earlier. Rodkinson states:
 "The Talmud is a combination of Mishna and Gemara, the latter is a collection of Mishnayoth, Tosephtas, Mechilta, Siphra, Siphre and Boraithas, all of these, interpreted and discussed by the Amoraim, Saboraim, and also Gaonim at a later period. "The Mishna is the authorized codification of the oral or unwritten law, which on the basis of the written law contained in Pentateuch, developed during the second Temple, and down to the end of the second century of the common era." The author of which was R. Jehuda, the prince named "Rabbi" (flourishing toward the end of the second century), taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis."
[5] Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 AD. Suetonius wasn't born until 70 AD! Appian was bron in 95 AD  Cassius Dio born in 155,
Plutarch born in 45 AD. so he could have been there if he had been taken along as a two year old historian.

On CARM HRG says: " It is mentioned in De bello civile, Cicero's Philipplicae and Velleius Paterculus. "

Interesting that Carrier didn't use those guys becuase he has a Ph.D. in world history, so he surely would have known they were contemporary with the event. He must know of them. But one might well wonder were they there or did they know if  from reading Caesar? Sure they knew the crossing was alleged to have existed, that doesn't mean they were there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Discussion with Chat pilot

I had a dialogue with him on metacrock's blog:

see the comment section. There's more these are the highlights:

Metacrock said... Chatpilot:...Seriously speaking this is yet another waste of time. You are obviously convinced that you have found the "truth." I on the other hand don't believe in the validity of so called mystical experiences as evidence for the existence of God or gods of any kind.:

Joe Hinman said... :...You don't even know what the argument says. Hey better not look through the telescope it's probably a trick. There can't be mountains on the moon it's too perfect because its a heavenly body. Ho do you explain the fact that there is such a strong correlation between having those experiences and getting your life online?:

Chatpilot:...We are obviously on two different sides of the fence and I can tell you right now that there is no way that you will ever be able to convince me of the truth of your findings with a book and your assertions based on your being convinced by other individuals subjective experiences and bad research and interpretations of that research. I don't know how much more we can say on this issue.:

Joe Hinman said... :...that\'s ok except you are actively trying to proselytize for unbelief and you intimate that my reasons are based on upon some sort of empty emotionalism because you can't except the fact that I have the evidence of science overwhelmingly on my side.:

Chatpilot:......You ask me where is my research. I have plenty but I am sure that you will just continue to force your beliefs upon them and ignore their validity. I graciously bow out of this discussion since I can see that it is nothing more than an exercise in futility.:

Joe Hinman said... :...I put my evidence on the table.where is yours?:

1:23 AM Joe Hinman said... Chatpilot: @Joe Hinman I have read your article on the M scale and the only thing that that proves is that many people across cultures have similar experiences.:

Metacrock: You keep ignoring the fact that religious ideas are culturally bound, so the experiences should not be the dame. At the very least that proves archetypes. No theory explains why the archetypes would make your life dramatically better. That indicates an objective reality and you can't handle the truth. you fear hell.:

Chatpilot:... Not that the Christian God is real nor that any god is real for that matter. It definitely does not defeat the argument that these experiences are superior to that of the brain states as causes of these experiences themselves.:

Metacrock: The research that you allude to does not use a control for religious experience. That means that can't prove their argument! they have no way of proving that they produced religious experiences in the lab.:

Chatpilot: The M scale is nothing more than a queestioneer or survey of people claiming to have had mystical experiences. That is it! It is not scientific at all in fact I would go as far as calling this research pseudo-science and not actual science at all:

Metacrock: Questionnaires are the standard method in sociology and psychology, 80% of what they do. Questionnaires are scientific , why do you think they call sociology and psychology "social sciences?" Of course I know the M scale is a survey if you read that article (you did not) you would know why being a survey doesn't make it any less scientific and why it proves my argument.:

Joe Hinman said... Chatpilot: The fact that in some cases these experiences turn out to be life changing does not prove that God was behind it. NDE's for instance have the same effect on people and often some people need to be shocked into reality by such experiences to realize that they need to make some changes in their lives quickly if they value life at all.:

Metacrock: Not in "some cases" in 80% there's a very strong correlation between having the experience and life transformation. It's not Shocking" it's nice, it's super sense of being loved. It's super peaceful. Nowhere in the lit is it ever correlated with being shocked.:

Chatpilot: One of my neighbors nearly died of a drug overdose. She was found on the brink of death and was in a coma for a few weeks. When she came back from the hospital she stopped using drugs and drinking altogether. I don't think it was god she just had a scare that made her take a closer look at her life and what was important to her. I myself have been an alcoholic for many years and one day I just decided it wasn't worth it and quit cold turkey without god or some mystical experience. My point is that a little self reflection goes a long way. :

Metacrock: It seems you can only relate to God through shocking and making one afraid. That's totally antithetical to the experience. You tried to say you had the experiences I describe, I sure did not describe them like that.:

Araham Maslow, an atheist and major sociologist and psychologist, says of the experience: "The question has to be differentiated still further. There is no doubt that great insights and revelations are profoundly felt in mystic or peak-experiences, and certainly some of these are, ipso facto, intrinsically valid as experiences. That is, one can and does learn from such experiences that, e.g., joy, ecstasy, and rapture do in fact exist and that they are in principle available for the experiencer, even if they never have been before. Thus the peaker learns surely and certainly that life can be worthwhile, that it can be beautiful and valuable. There are ends in life, i.e., experiences which are so precious in themselves as to prove that not everything is a means to some end other than itself."

"...My feeling is that if it were never to happen again, the power of the experience could permanently affect the attitude toward life. A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence even if it is never experienced again. It is my strong suspicion that even one such experience might be able to prevent suicide, for instance, and perhaps many varieties of slow self-destruction, e.g., alcoholism, drug-addiction, addiction to violence, etc. I would guess also, on theoretical grounds, that peak-experiences might very well abort "existential meaninglessness," states of valuelessness, etc., at least occasionally. (These deductions from the nature of intense peak-experiences are given some support by general experience with LSD and psilocybin. Of course these preliminary reports also await confirmation. )... ...This then is one kind of peak-knowledge of whose validity and usefulness there can be no doubt, any more than there could be with discovering for the first time that the color "red" exists and is wonderful. Joy exists, can be experienced and feels very good indeed, and one can always hope that it will be experienced again...."

See it's all positive

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More Atheists to Watch: Chatpilot's "God is a myth" site

part 2 of prescriptive/descriptive laws of physics coming Wednessday
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ChatpilotOctober 9, 2015 at 5:55 PM
My devotion to Jesus started out as love and gratitude for saving me a poor wretched piece of shit sinner. I praised and adored him every waking moment of every day. But... fear was always present when it came to displeasing him. In fact, the Bible often admonishes believers to fear the Lord.
Here we have a good indication that his conversion was not real. "perfect love casts out fear." Thank God the person who led me to the Lord taught me that God wants us to love ourselves.

I could care less what that blogger says the rules of logical reasoning state that the one making the positive claim must bear the burden of proof. I can't disprove that God does not exist but I am not making that definitive claim that he does not exist. I am simply stating that if you say he does then prove it! If you don't understand that then I can't help you.
The atheists struggle to keep their exemption from the burden to proof. Of course atheists don't care about logic, its about convincing themselves the ideology is true. Look at the double standard. They make all kinds of claims about Christianity and slough off proof with "I didn't say God doesn't exist.? JB told him about my book and showed him my list of God arguments but he still says "you have to prove God exists before you can assert anything about Go0d." That's the old >you must prove God before you can argue for God." So there is no way to ever meet a prima facie burden but they never have to prove anything. That is irrational. Chatpilot is a bright guy and he strikes me as ones, but he's picked up the bad habits the ideological brainwashing teaches. He must show why my list of 42 God arguments and my book are not close enough to proof to allow statements about God?

Here's what he says about the book:

Thanks for sharing that link. But after a cursory perusal of the information provided by the author I have found no need to have to read his 418 page book. Let me explain: First off his idea of God is not the traditional view of God as recognized and believed in by the majority of the Christian churches of our day and age.
why must one have a traditional understanding. Where does he get the idea that only the traditional view is valid? More over God as being itself is a tradition in Christian theology going back to John of Damascus in the 800s.


He states clearly that his concept of God is "not an argument for the existence of God" so you are using this information improperly here. He also makes abstract assertions of God who he claims is beyond our understanding.
he quotes me:
"God is primordial being. God is ontologically prior to all that is (save himself of course that goes without saying)." " God is the framework in which our whole existence takes place, we can't think of God as "a being" because he's totlaly off scale, hes not a being along side other beings hes' the basis upon which beingness has any meaning."

Chatpilot: These are some very big claims that forego the most essential step of all which is proving the existence of God. This is also known as putting the horse before the carriage. Second, how can you make any assertions about something which at the same time you claim is beyond human understanding? God is supposed to be ineffable yet Christians put a lot of time and effort trying to describe and understand what is supposed to be impossible to know.
Metacrock: He says this in response to my list of arguments and my book (which backs two arguments from experience). In saying that I can't make states about my belief until I prove it, when those states are the advancement of arguments to "prove" it (justify) is the old fallacy prove the argument before you can make it. That's obviously an illogical and unfair burden as it would mean no one could ever make an argument.
The author brings nothing new to the table. It's nothing more than a bunch of empty assertions thought up in his mind in order to convince himself and others of the existence of a being he believes to exist. Finally, if anything his initial description of God sounds more like the deistic view of God making him a deist and not a Christian.
So many atheists have asserted that I made this up and no one else believes it, totally irrational since I'm quoting theologians all the time. It's totally obvious I didn't make it up. Of course he refuses to read the book. see the side bar for link to amazon for The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman. When he says I bring nothing new to the table that just shows he has not read any of the arguments (the two arguments covered in the book are on the list on Doxa. I defy you to find anyone who uses the arguments I use! God is being itself? The Transcendental signifier, who says that? Did he read any of it?

What other apologist has 200 studies backing up his arguments and deals with them in such depth he writes a 400 page book about it? Not that I'm putting myself up with Swinburne or Plantinga but no message board poster does that. The Trace is a ground breaking work. All I did was report on the work of Dr. Hood. But Hood comes real close to proof. He guy demands proof but he wont listen when he gets it (or wont read it).That is another reason to think there's a brain washing process, because it's so common.

You can't claim to know something on the one hand then in the same breath claim that he or it is unknowable. That is what is known as a contradiction or a paradox.
Metacrock: Of course you can because I specified different ways of knowing. We can't know exhaustively, or I accurate verbiage but we can experience God and know through experiential means. Gopd

Monday, October 19, 2015

Atheists reject God Due to Low sSelf Esteem


In All Fairness the research shows that fundamentalists can also have low self esteem.

I have for a long time now contended that most atheists had low self esteem. I found several sources that asserted it but with no empirical proof. The reason I thought it must be true is because they are always mocking and ridiculing religion and religious people. It stuck me that they were doing that to bolster their own egos. I have now found empirical evidence of this notion. There are several studies that claim to demonstrate that atheists have low self esteem. This is still not proof. There is a long way to go to prove the argument, and I'm sure that its not true of all atheists anyway. These studies are limited in many ways. but there are several of them and they do cover more than one culture. It's a good start on exploring a hypothesis. The main study I am examining here, however, is called "rejection of Christianity and Self Esteem." I will refer to this study as RCSE.

All the studies are done by the same group Emyr Williams, Leslie J Francis, Mandy Robbins
University of Wales, Bangor, UK the major study uses A sample of 279 13- to 16-year-old secondary school pupils in Wales completed the Rejection of Christianity Scale and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. After controlling for sex differences a small but significant correlation was found between the two variables, indicating that low self-esteem is associated with the rejection of Christianity. Leslie J. Francis did three of the IQ studies that show no correlation between religious belief, lack thereof, and intelligence. The last such study he did was in 1996, but he has done three such studies on IQ and religious belief.

The rejection of Christianity scale was constructed by Francis, but not just for this study. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventor is standard has been used for a while.The study was done as a smaller piece of a larger picture that consists of several more studies and seeks to understand the relationship between self esteem and religoius belief. The larger picture is an argument that acceptance of Christianity is based upon good self esteem.

From RCSE:

Much of the work that measures religiosity uses items that are specifically designed to determine positive valency. For example, the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity (Francis, 1978; Francis & Stubbs, 1987) assesses how positively people feel about God, Jesus, the Bible, prayer and church. Using this instrument, a number of studies have demonstrated a positive association between a positive attitude toward Christianity and a range of positive psychological categories, such as happiness (Francis, Jones, & Wilcox, 2000), general psychological health (Francis, Robbins, Lewis, Quigley, & Wheeler, 2004) and life satisfaction (Lewis, 1998). In particular, several studies have now confirmed the link between a positive attitude toward Christianity and better self-esteem (Jones & Francis, 1996).
In other words a fairly large body of work already exists documenting the relationship between acceptance of Christianity and good self esteem. Measurements of things like happiness and self esteem are standard and have long been demonstrated by well validated measurement instruments.

The rejection of Christianity scale:
from RCSE:
By way of contrast, the Rejection of Christianity Scale proposed by Greer and Francis (1992) was designed to assess negative valency. The authors of the measure presented 32 negatively phrased questions to a sample of 875 fourth- and fifth-year secondary school pupils attending ten Catholic and ten Protestant schools in Northern Ireland. The questions that received the lowest item-rest-of-test correlations were rejected, leaving a scale of 20 items generating alpha coefficients of 0.94 for the Protestant sample and 0.90 for the Catholic sample. This scale has been shown to have internal consistency reliability among Northern Irish undergraduate students (Lewis, Maltby, & Hersey, 1999) and Welsh undergraduate students (Robbins, Francis, & Bradford, 2003).
Little research has been done to relationships between this measure and self-esteem. Since previous research has shown that there is a positive correlation between self-esteem and indices of religiosity designed with a positive valency (Jones & Francis, 1996), it is hypothesised that a negative relationship will be found between self-esteem and this measure of religiosity designed with negative valency.



A total of 279 secondary school pupils in Wales from years 9, 10 and 11 completed the 20-item Rejection of Christianity Scale (Greer & Francis, 1992) and the 25-item Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1981). One quarter (25%) were aged 13, one third (32%) were aged 14; 30% were aged 15, and 13% were aged 16. Males comprised 56% of the sample and females 44% of the sample.


The Rejection of Christianity Scale (Greer & Francis, 1992) is a 20-item Likert-type instrument, employing a five-point response scale ranging from ‘agree strongly’, through ‘agree’, ‘not certain’, and ‘disagree’, to ‘disagree strongly’. The scale measures negative valency toward Christianity. This scale is designed so that higher scores indicate a higher tendency to reject Christianity.
The Coopersmith Short-Form Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1981) is a 25-item instrument, employing a dichotomous response scale of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The possible range of scores for this form of the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory is 0-25, with higher scores indicating higher self-esteem.


Both measures achieved satisfactory Cronbach alpha coefficients (Rejection of Christianity Scale, .88; Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, .80). After controlling for sex differences by means of partial correlations, the data demonstrated a small, but significant, correlation (r= -0.14, p <.05) between self-esteem (M = 15.3, SD = 4.9) and rejection of Christianity (M = 62.7, SD = 13.2) indicating that as teenagers’ endorsement of negative statements concerning Christianity increases, their scores of negative self-esteem also tend to increase.


The present study has explored the relationship between rejection of Christianity and self-esteem among adolescents in Wales. After controlling for sex differences a small but significant negative
correlation is found between high-self esteem and rejection of Christianity, as hypothesised. This finding strengthens the conclusions drawn from studies like that of Jones and Francis (1996), which demonstrated a positive correlation between high self-esteem and a positive attitude toward Christianity by demonstrating that the association is not a function of the valency of the measure of religiosity. Evidence of this nature appears to be suggesting that the Christian tradition is supportive of the development of self-esteem among young people rather than detrimental to it.
(References used by RCSE can be seen in link above).

The major criticism is that this study is not representative. It's only a small sample of Welsh children.

The rejection of Christianity scale has been validated.

fromRCSE :

This scale has been shown to have internal consistency reliability among Northern Irish undergraduate students (Lewis, Maltby, & Hersey, 1999) and Welsh undergraduate students (Robbins, Francis, & Bradford, 2003).

That is to say these are not the same as above, where those were done on secondary students these are done on college (Undergraduate). Although Wales and Ireland are basically the same general culture. The work on self esteem and rejection of Christianity is just getting started. The other pieces of the puzzle in this equation have all been put in place. The rejection of Christianity scale has been validated cross culturally in several studies. The link between postie self esteem and acceptance of Christianity has been validated cross culturally and the attitude toward Christianity scale has been validated cross culturally. Francis scale of attitude toward Christianity has been cross validated in Hong Kong and Belgium.

A second argument used by atheists is that kinds are being given negative self images by religion, they are blamed for being gay and other things churches call 'sin' thus they are given their negative self esteem in return they reject religion because it has rejected them. On the face of it that looks a pretty likely senerio. Through what mechanism does this happen? Is it inherent in all religion or is there way to avoid it? Ralph Peidmont wrote a book that is part of a mulch-volume set called Research into the Social Scientific Study of Religion volume 16.He discusses a study by Francis (p105) that establishes a positive correlation between a positive God image and high self esteem. In other words if you teach children that God is good and loves them they will will tend to have higher self esteem than if you teach them a negative, that is critical, fault finding, legalistic, blame oriented view of God.

The Fracis study in Peidmont's book used
...a 735 secondary pupils between 11-18 competed the Coopersmith Self-Esteem inventory and Revised Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and a semantic differential index of God images in order to examine the relationship between God images and self-esteem while controlling for personality factors. The data demonstrates a significant corroboration between positive God images and positive self esteem, after controlling for individual differences in personality. (105)

Peidmont traces the currents of social science research on the top through seven different "strands" of thought which include everything form "religions causes negative self-esteem" to "religion causes postiive self esteem" and all the machinations one can think of based upon variations of those two poles. The problem is none of that research was based upon the kind scientific instruments and controls that Francis uses. Peidmont discusses the work of Spilka and Benson who start from the other end of the spectrum and investigate the assumption that self-esteem shapes he acceptability of God images. Francis in Peidmont quotes Benson and Spilka in 1973:

Persons with high levels of self esteem may find it difficult to share the same religious belief. A theology predicated upon a loving accepting God is cognitively compatible with high self esteem, but it could be a source of discomfort for a believer low in self esteem. It does not make good cognitive sense to be loved when one is unlovable. Consequently the latter person can march to a different theology, one that is more consistent with his self image. (Benson and Spilka 209-210).

The implications are intriguing becuase it not only means that people who present a mean legalistic view of God have low self-esteem, not only that atheist's rejection of God is due to their low self esteem but that for those atheists who really rail against God as evil, mean, and vicious, they are really railings against themselves. Whereas it doesn't necessarily follow that we can correct it by teaching people that God is loving. Would they just reject the notion of a loving God because it doesn't fit their sense of self?

Benson and Spilka* did two studies in (73) and (75). the latter done by Spilka, Addison and Rosenshon. Both studies determined self esteem by a modified Coopersmith. They assessed God images by means of semantic differential grid which generated two scales defined as measuring a loving God image and a controlling God image.Self-esteem was negatively related to a wrathful God image. Among female students self esteem was negatively related to a wrathful God image. Although Peidmont shows other studies that didn't find a correlation, Cartier and Goehner (1976) related measures of self-esteem with God images (Peidmont 109).

The significance of this is two fold. If it is true that theological teaching is to blame for self image, or to laud for good self image, it behooves the chruch to seek to teach healing images of God. This may be a huge short coming for which a great deal of theological education deserves blame. It may also be the case that being an atheist, at least for some, has less to do with reason and logic as the atheist tyr to argue it does, and more to do with hidden psychological motives.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My answer to Jeff Lowder's Answer to me on His Six Points That Disconfirm Theism

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I recently exchanged views with Jeff Lowder (secular web) on his secular outpost blog. He had a piece about six observations from science that disconfirm theism. I answered him on this blog. Now he has made his reply over on secular outpost:"Scientific Evidence Against God’s Existence: A Reply to Joe Hinman."
(October 9, 2015 by Jeffery Jay Lowder).

(1) You expect theological explanation for things with no theological significance. Aspects of science may be real interesting and crucial for humanity but they are not of theological significance so no reason to expect that. They are just neutral facts, that's the crux of the whole deal.

(2) unless you show contradiction and competition between religion and science there is no reason to expect theism to explain anything scientific.Theism or any othyer sort of God belief.

(3 going back to our argument about Bayes and it comes in here. you cannot establish a basis of probability for or against God.

a. no basis for setting a prior;that will be colored by personal beliefs.

b. There is also no new information coming in n God.

When you try to assert explanations or assume their are none for God's actions you just beg thye question.

(4)He gives unequal weight to the various explanations. At least doing so isa danger of this kind of analysis. example: say for argument sake that Fine Turning is best explained by belief in God. But then the fact that I didn't get to be a banker (the great tragedy of my life) is best explained by naturalism. Then I'm going to be a naturalist because if there was a God surely he would have made e a banker!

I've cleared away a great deal of material because it seemed like minutia. A lot of "you said, I said, here's what I meant." That stuff often bogs us down.. Jeff never did come to terms with the issue of contradiction but put up smoke screen by accusing me of not understanding the form of argument. Most of that comes down to probability as the only valid measurer (I take that to be his view). Everything he says he brings back to probability but he couches the argument in terms of best explanation. which is abductive and not based upon probability.

Probability is induction: see Peter Lipton, Inference to The Best Explanation. New York: Routledge, International Library of Philosophy, 2nd ed.,2004.

The distinction he makes between "best explanation" and "better" I find trivial. We know we are comparing between his view and mine no need to worry about all the other possibilities that we will never consider.

In reply to my first argument, he asks, “Why can’t God create the universe with time as opposed to in time?” But that argument doesn’t claim that God cannot create the universe with time. Rather, it simply claims that the universe’s beginning with time is more probable on naturalism than on theism.
Why? Because God can't create the universe with time? No reason is given it's truth by stipulation. Upon what could you possibly base the prior except a bias against belief?

Again the over all point to my whole thing was that we should not expect belief in God to answer questions of science because science and religion are not in competition. The two outlooks deal with different areas, with different magisteraia.

Similarly, in response to the argument from biological evolution, he writes, “No reason why God could not use evolution as a mechanism.” Again,Moreover, Hinman points out that a finding from experimental science is logically compatible with theism and, again, I reply that he’s missed the point of explanatory arguments in general and this argument in particular.
Explanatory is not probability, not necessarily. I did evidential reasoning for four years of college debate and I both beat and got my ass kicked by some of the top teams in the country.. Abduction is not induction (probability is induction). One bench mark of a best explanation is simplicity, but that does not require probability. Moreover, you still have no basis for setting a prior probabili8ty of God from which to calculate. It seems your judgments are guided not by logic or fact in relation to assessing what God would do.

The assertions that naturalism explains it better are ideological, no reasons given. I think you are assuming that if God was real he would be companionate and thus stop extinctions. I'm betting you wont mention my soteriological drama answer. Naturalism probably8 has a more parsimonious explaination but it has no need to explain higher motivations. That of course can't be construed to mean there are none. .

Yes, God could have used evolution. God also could have used other methods to create life besides evolution, methods which are logically incompatible with naturalism.
That seems like a meaningless statement. First because you assume level of knowledge about the universe that humans do not know yet. You assert that God could use other methods but that assumes knowledge of God you don't have. Secondly you assume a dichotomy between natural and spiritu7al (I think you really mean physical) that is meaningless. You are privileging "natural."
Prior to examining the scientific evidence for evolution, theists had good reason to predict that evolution is false. In contrast, if naturalism is true, evolution pretty much has to be true. (I’ll say a little bit more about this in a moment.)
you are arguing from analogy and you are historically wrong. Ministers asserted Darwin helped the Gospel as often as they assumed he hurt it. 4. Hinman seems to misunderstand what I mean by “theism.” He writes: One other preliminary point. This is not an attack on Jeff. The assumptions he seems to makes behind each of these points is that theism us [sic] represented by fundamentalism of the YEC kind. I’, [sic] basic liberal or perhaps neo-Orthodox, so these things don’t pertain to what I think of as theism. I understand he was answering a creationist so of course he makes that assumption. Not a criticism.
Contrary to what Hinman claims, however, I don’t think theism is “represented by fundamentalism of the YEC kind.” The idea that Hinman brings YEC into the discussion strikes me as odd, since nowhere in my post did I even mention the age of the universe. I think it’s charitable to assume that what Hinman really means is that I think theism is “represented by fundamentalism of the anti-evolution kind,” i.e., the kind of theist who denies what Purdue University philosopher Paul Draper calls the “genealogical” and “genetic” theses (see here for definitions and references). This interpretation would be more understandable since I do appeal to evolution against theism. He’s wrong to conclude, however, that my appeal to evolution presupposes that theism = fundamentalist, anti-evolution theism. (More on that in just a moment.)
first I was using YEC in more of an iconic way rather than literal. To me that view epitomizes ignorance and literalism. Secondly several things you say argue for my point: for You say "I do appeal to evolution against theism." That implies that you think they are competing or antithetical. You intimate that only argue that against anti-evolutionists, but you don't make that distinction until you arev pressed. I assume that since evolution is indicated by the evidence then God must have used it. I'm not seeking reasons to give up belief. They don't contradict because they don't compete for the same space. I don't see science as my salvation from big mean God. I'm not saying you do. I think you are more sophisticated than that. Yet you seem to see evolution and religion as antithetical. I do not. you have not demonstrate why we should ask religion to explain things that are not in its domain?
In fact, following Draper (see references here), I define theism as follows: supernatural person: a person that is not part of nature but can affect nature. Examples of supernatural persons include God, angels, Satan, demons, ghosts, etc.
OK not insulting you. I think you views are by and large sophisticated. This is not one of them. Angels and demons hu? that you think that's supernatural tells me you do think religion is about fundamentalism. this is pretty antiquated. that idea of SN comes from the enlightenment. see my essay "the original Christian Concept of the SN." Please take time to read it.
theism: the hypothesis that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect person (God) who created the universe.
(1) the omnis are not valued in modern theology. Omnipotent is only used once in the bible (pantocrator) and there it doesn't mean all powerful but powerful in all venues. Not so much about ability as jurisdiction. (2) of course God would be morally perfect he's not flesh and blood so no struggle with fallen nature. His character is the standard of the good. (3) God is the personal itself but he's not a person. Like water molecules are not wet. Personhood is a social identity. Persons have personalities and personalities have hang ups. God has neither. a fourth one just occurred to me (4) you think belief in God = theism. it doesn't. Psul Tillich was a Panentheist. I tend in that direction too.
Since my definition of theism is so generic, it is obviously logically compatible with a belief in theistic evolution. So why, then, do I argue that evolution is evidence against theism? Hinman needs to read the section, “Evaluating Auxiliary Hypotheses,” in my essay, “Basic Structure of My Evidential Arguments.” If both God and life exist, then God either directly created life (aka so-called “special creationism”) or He indirectly created life (through either guided evolution ["theistic evolution"] or unguided evolution ["Darwinism"]). These options are auxiliary hypotheses to theism. As Draper has shown, the auxiliary hypothesis of special creationism is antecedently much more probable on theism than either the auxiliary hypothesis of theistic evolution or the auxiliary hypothesis of Darwinism. (Skip down to the section “Draper’s Defense of A” in this post.)
I would like to know upon what basis he concluded that. Sorry Jeff this is the kind of thinking that leads me to say you see Christianity as fundamentalism. No major theologian in the world today would agree with what you said. you would be laughed out of Perkins community lunch if you said that there (and they welcome everyone). I mean by that you mean non-evolutionary or "special" creation is more likely to be what God would do, that is absurd. If you mean more likely to be what the bible teaches of course it is it was written before modern science. But what the Bible teaches and what people think it teaches are two different things.
5. I’m going to stop my reply to Hinman here, at least for now. I’ve left some of his objections unaddressed, but for now I’ll just say this. I think that if you follow the links in my original post to my other posts which defend these arguments in much greater length, you’ll find that I’ve already addressed most, if not all, of his remaining objections. - See more at:

the major points again

(1) You expect theological explanation for things with no theological significance. Aspects of science may be real interesting and crucial for humanity but they are not of theological significance so no reason to expect that. that's the crux of the whole deal.

(2) unless you show contradiction and competition between religion and science there is no reason to expect theism to explain anything scientific. (3 going back to our argument about Bayes and it comes in here. you cannot establish a basis of probability for or against God.

a. no basis for setting a prior,that will be colored by personal

(4)He gives unequal weight to the various explanations. At least doing so isa danger of this kind of analysis. example: say for argument sake that Fine Turning is best explained by belief in God. But then the fact that I didn't get to be a banker (the great tragedy of my life) is best explained by naturalism. Then I'm going to be a naturalist because if there was a God surely he would have made e a banker!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Belief, Rationalization, Manipulation: Belief is a dirty word to Dawkamentalists


We have some interesting comments that came in on past postings. In reaction to my statement on Notes on Realization of God's Reality, someone named "Atheist" says:


Metarock: Belief Is, therefore, a realization about the nature of reality, not a technology.

Atheist: Belief Is, therefore, a realization about the nature of fantasy, not a technology. Belief has nothing to do with reality or truth. In fact belief and truth are mutually exclusive.

The problem with this is that it privileges doubt to the extent of re-writing the point of bleief. Belief becomes a dirty word tot he professional doubter. The fact of belief is that one does not believe something one thinks is false. Belief is obviously about truth. Of cousre this is not a guarantee that the particulars of one's beliefs are true, yet no one sets out to believe falsehood. Dawkamenatlists. like the fundies that they are, are literalistic and rigid slave thinkers who dread having to think for themselves, thus any hint that a held opinion is not a "fact" and is not guaranteed by the atheist fortress of facts (ala atheist ideology) but is merely "belief," must be held as falsehood and ridiculed to the text the very word "belief" is taken ass a dirty word and held to mean "rationalization." Belief is what one hold to be true, it' s synonymous with "conviction," that's a term atheists are not familiar with.

I am thinking that this person is reacting to the idea that I stated, that proving things is a technology. Somehow this person sees this as an insult he/she has to insult belief back and though belief is some alien process that atheists don't involve themselves in. Unless one is illiterate it must be obvious to all that even atheists have beliefs. Strangely enough an atheist on CARM, who humbly calls himself "big thinker," who martians that he has no beliefs. Belief is such a dirty word to the Dawkies that he can't bring himself to admit that he has beliefs. He refused to answer my question "so you believe you have no beliefs?" That would entail the admission that what you think is true is a belief. Thus there are no people without beliefs. How is it possible that one thinks for oneself without believing things? This person obviously believes that belief is is about unreality, this person believes that atheism is about being realistic about reality these are beliefs. I wonder if most atheists even know the word reality. What they really mean is "what I want to be the case." If it could be proved that God is reality what would they do? They would then begin asserting that reality stinks and fantasy is true.

Webster's Online:


noun \bə-ˈlēf\

Definition of BELIEF

: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

Examples of BELIEF

  1. There is growing belief that these policies will not succeed.
  2. He gets angry if anyone challenges his religious beliefs.
  3. We challenged his beliefs about religion.

Origin of BELIEF

Middle English beleave, probably alteration of Old English gelēafa, from ge-, associative prefix + lēafa; akin to Old English lȳfan — more at believe
First Known Use: 12th century

Synonym Discussion of BELIEF

belief, faith, credence, credit mean assent to the truth of something offered for acceptance. belief may or may not imply certitude in the believer belief that I had caught all the errors>. faith almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof faith in God>. credence suggests intellectual assent without implying anything about grounds for assent credence by scientists>. credit may imply assent on grounds other than direct proof credit to the statement of a reputable witness>.
Belief is placing confidence in a proposition." conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence " Belief is about the way one views reality not manipulating reality.

Proving things is a from of manipulation. Why? Because it requries the re-organizing of bits of sense data in order to change the situation form appearance to demonstration. I didn't originally call it manipulation I called it "technology." Then I defined technology as manipulation. This commenter took this as an assault upon truth. It's actually just phenomenological awareness about our relationship to sense data in the formation of truth claims. Belief is a conviction of truth as the definition says it is not a pretense or a fantasy. Getting at truth requires re arranging the appearance of reality and thus its manipulation. This doesn't mean that stacking the manipulation to coincide with our desires is truth finding.

Webster defines Technology:

noun \tek-ˈnä-lə-jē\
plural tech·nol·o·gies
Definition of TECHNOLOGY
a : the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area : engineering 2 b : a capability given by the practical application of knowledge
: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge
: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor
— tech·nol·o·gist \-jist\ noun
See technology defined for English-language learners »
Examples of TECHNOLOGY

This doesn't tell us the use of the term in such elite venue as intellectual history in postmodern circles such as the writing of Michele Foucault. The word is used apart from gadgets. We can employ a technology in the way we think about things without any new inventions or scientific apparatus. That's the way I was using the term, not as an insult or an attack but with persimmon making known the fact that the way we think about "reality" in relation to what can be demonstrated as true is a technology and an application of knowledge in a varied way.

In other words, belief is actually conviction that honestly understands truth or reality to be a certain way, while proof and demonstration are actually manipulating reality by arranging the way it is perceived, in order to produce a particular outcome.

The same poster left another interesting comment, this was addressed to the post about atheists moving away from the big bang.

Atheist said...

I am an atheist. I do not depend on science for my atheism. In fact I disagree with science often when it looks too much like theism. Multi-universes, quantum mechanics and the Big Bang are a some examples.

My atheism is based on truth and facts not science.

"I disagree with science when it looks like theism." I assume then that he/she agrees with it when it looks like opinions he/she already holds. So at that rate science is not a teaching device that tells this person truth but is in fact the "big fortress of facts" that proves atheism and backs up her opinion. In other words in the Orwellian "atheist speak" truth is a lie and one's own desire to escape God is paramount and outweighs truth, science is a propaganda tool that can only be useful when it backs the template of atheist ideology. Look at the two quotes back to back it's pretty obvious that's what being said. If science was as atheists cling to it and portray it in clash with Genesis or creationism it's supposed to be a tool that lays bear what is real and enables us to know the truth of the physical world. To allege that would be a belief. Belief is a dirty word, belief is fantasy. Yet it's also apparent that truth finding goes hand in hand with fantasy and in place of truth this atheist wants propaganda. Hence I only believe science when it tells me what I want to hear.

"I don't believe science when it looks like theism."

Is there a way to reason with such people? If the facts and the uncovering of reality to the extent that the umpire of reality says "this be true" is not good enough, but must be rejected when ever it strays from the ideology that enthralls this salve thinker then what could possible point to truth in discussion or argument or evidence? Can't we see this is the total betrayal of "free thought" that it obviously is? How long can people be suckered?

We have to fear truth seeking and make conviction a dirty word because reality might be other than we wish?