I use this argument because I think it is a good argument and have as yet heard a good refutation of it.
Well, that depends on the resolved, doesn't it?
I notice in your various debates about the resurrection tha mskmasn found, the difference from one debate to the next was in how the standard of
credibility was described.
One of them was whether it was "reasonable" to believe. Well, yes, you state a reason and you don't contradict yourself. That's it, that's all that
reasonableness requires. Win for bibledefender. Your argument cannot be refuted, because having any argument at all meets the standard.
"Probable" to believe? That could mean one of several things. Better than fifty-fifty? As we've already seen, you really don't have evidence where:
p( no miracle happens ) / p( miracle happens ) <
p( evidence assuming miracle) / p( evidence assuming no miracle )
You might win a specific debate on that standard, but that wouldn't make it so. You cannot "be refuted" because the argument is insufficient whether
it's refuted or not.
On the other hand, for some people "probable" can mean as little as "there is a serious possibility, more than a scrupulous logical probability, that
it happened." If that's the standard, then you probably win, for pretty much the same reason you win on "reasonable."
Or maybe yours is the most probable "simple" hypothesis, which, if there are lots of competing simple hypotheses, may mean a win at a level of
credibility far below 50-50.
In this thread, you modified "probable" with the word "historically." That suggests a "best explanation," which can depend on more factors besides
credibility, like the variety of things it explains (not just the probability contrast), or "leverage," explaining many things with few assumptions.
It's kind of like those beauty contests where not only does somebody win first prize, but four more women are "runners up," somebody wins in each
stage of the competition (swinmuit, gown, interview, dance ...) and somebody is "Miss Congeniality." If there are enough different ways to win
, then there's just that much better chance that any given contestant will win something.
I think your argument is Miss Congeniality, maybe swimsuit, too. It will win sometimes, and it ought to win when it meets the announced standard for
credibility or quality of support. It's not going to meet fifty-fifty, though, which is a pretty mild standard.
And here's why I am confident that it's never going to meet fifty-fifty. To meet fifty-fifty, there can be no competing hypothesis of higher initial
probability that explains the evidence equally well. Given the low initial probability of your hypothesis, and that's the point, that it would be a
miracle if it were true, even an outrageously speculative story might serve.
For example, Bart Ehrman improvised a fabulously unlikely story which is nevertheless more likely a priori
than resurrection, that explained
the "five facts" type evidence equally well. As Richard Carrier, Ehrman's enemy, pointed out, all you need for facts 2-5 in your system is that the
surviving disciples believe that Jesus rose, whether he actually did or not.
Ehrman simply imagines that somebody else stole the body over the weekend. A Roman patrol intercepts two guys running through the streets of Jerusalem
with the corpse. I'll depart from Ehrman's version, which is unnecessarily complicated. The perps drop the corpse and run. The patrol tosses the
corpse, obviously an executed crminal's, onto the town garbage heap, where such corpses belong. Nobody tells the disciples anything, and the rest, as
they say, is history.
What are the chances of that? I don't know, but it wouldn't be a miracle if it were true. It is more likely a priori
than your hypothesis,
which we agree would be a miracle if it were true.
edit on 21-8-2012 by eight bits because: (no reason given)