# Prior Probability of the Resurrection is Zero?

Continuing the discussion from Are the Gospels Reliable?:

Undefined means that we can’t set the probability to zero without begging the question.

You (@Faizal_Ali) want to set the probability exactly at zero (a priori), because you do not believe God exists. You use this this zero probability to demonstrate that the Resurrection did not happen. This is “begging the question,” an elementary logical fallacy.

I am convinced (a posteri) that the Resurrection did happen, and this is why I believe God exists. My reasoning now that this fact is established proceeds forth from this starting point. Knowing now that God exists, the probability of the Resurrection is 1 for me, and this is rational because I know God exists. In once sense, this seems “begging the question” too, but not really. My reasoning to get probability of the Ressurection > 0.5 only required openness to the possibility that God existed.

The Resurrection is the epistemological hinge point by which we know that God does or does not exists. You have to compute it’s prior probability with openness to the possibility that God exists, or you are begging the question. If it is possible that God exists (even if it is low probability), then it is possilble the Resurrection happened, therefore your prior of 0 on the Resurrection is just a math error.

Unless of course you are perfectly fine with the epistemic closure of begging the question to ignore the evidence in front of you. That would remind me of flat earthers and scientific YECs (Young Earth Creationists and the Flat Earth Conspiracy), so feel free to take this path if you must. It would be entertaining.

4 Likes

I agree with this.

The probability of a hitherto undetected but hypothetical event can’t be set to zero, or no evidence would be able to raise it’s posterior probability.

This is not an accurate representation of my position.

I set the probability of a resurrection at exactly the same level as that of a rock staying suspended in the air after you let go of it, rather than falling to the ground. This an empirical observation that has been confirmed by countless observations, and never once contradicted. If ever there is an instance in which it appears to have been contradicted, we can always find an explanation that is consistent with other pieces of knowledge we have about the physical operation of the universe that are equally well-supported by a similar degree if empirical evidence (e.g. if the rock contains metals and is suspended over a powerful magnet).

Now, if I had very good evidence that a small group of people from 2000 years ago believed that a rock had once stayed suspended in the air, I would have to weigh this against the empirical evidence at my disposal and conclude that they did not actually observe this. I may not be able to come up with an explanation as to why they came to this false conclusion, nor would I have to. I am following a consistent epistemological model in which the mere fact that someone believed something to be true does not override the empirical evidence we have regarding what does and does not occur in our universe.

Now, please note that the existence of God does not enter into this model at all. If God exists, it remains the fact that empirical evidence shows that rocks don’t stay suspended in the air, and dead people do not come back to life. And if there is no God, the same still holds. My position is theologically neutral. Yours, it seems to me, is not.

Does that help clarify things?

1 Like

Okay, but then what is your prior for a resurrection? It seems to me that AT BEST you would have to set it at one in the number of all the people who ever lived. So something like one in a billion.

My reasoning now that this fact is established proceeds forth from this starting point. Knowing now that God exists, the probability of the Resurrection is 1 for me, and this is rational because I know God exists.

Wait, what the f…? You start by saying that you are convinced the resurrection happened, and this is why you believe God exists. As in, since you believe the resurrection happened (for some other reason?), you believe it somehow entails or very strongly implies the existence of God to such a degree so as to justify your belief in God’s existence.

But now you’re saying that, knowing that God exists(which you do because you believe the resurrection happened), the probability of the resurrection is 1 to you. That’s straight up circular reasoning. You can’t start by saying that you believe God exists because you are convinced the resurrection happened, and then use the existence of God to raise the probability of the resurrection.

How in the flying fork don’t you see the immediate fallacy in this?

In once sense, this seems “begging the question” too, but not really.

Oh yes, sir. Really really.

My reasoning to get probability of the Ressurection > 0.5 only required openness to the possibility that God existed.

You’re making less and less sense. The probability of the resurrection being caused by God can only be raised if you have independent evidence that the God that would cause the resurrection, exists.

The Resurrection is the epistemological hinge point by which we know that God does or does not exists.

I have no idea what an “epistemological hinge point” is. The resurrection is supposed to constitute evidence that God exists, but it has an extremely low prior (resurrections caused by God generally don’t seem to occur).

But to raise the probability of the resurrection, you need independent evidence for God’s existence. Evidence that isn’t the resurrection itself, or you would simply be straight up begging the question. Really.

You have to compute it’s prior probability with openness to the possibility that God exists, or you are begging the question.

Yes, since we have no evidence that God has resurrected anyone else, the prior probability that God would have resurrected the person being claimed to have been resurrected by God(the very case we are trying to evaluate) must be set AT MOST at the 1 in all the people who ever lived and weren’t resurrected by God. So it can not be higher than 1 in 100 billion.

If it is possible that God exists (even if it is low probability), then it is possilble the Resurrection happened, therefore your prior of 0 on the Resurrection is just a math error.

Yes, but possibility doesn’t get you a number, it just tells you it isn’t 0.

4 Likes

It does clarify you do not understand the claim of the Resurrection. Do you see what you missed?

1 Like

Is it that the claim is that the Resurrection is something that God made happen, in violation of natural laws?

1 Like

Of black swans and burdens of proof . . .

You can’t say that all swans are white because you have only ever seen white swans. However, if you are going to say that there are black swans, then it is incumbent on the person claiming the existence of black swans to present the evidence.

This is the situation we find ourselves in for most of these threads, unable to budge each other from our positions. Other than citing the Black Swan and Burden of Proof fallacies, I’m not sure if we would be able to find new ground with this discussion.

What is the probability that the designer of a computer can repair it?

Since it is a team of designers that designs a computer, that is unknowable.

What is the probability that a computer was designed by a supernatural deity?

Greater than 50% that he was involved in the design.

Can we please see the calculations?

2 Likes

That’s not begging the question; it’s just circular reasoning. God exists because of the Resurrection, and the Resurrection is true because God exists. Now if God exists (and if he’s the Christian god, which you seem to assume), then the probability of the Resurrection is 1. If the Resurrection happened, I’d also say that the probability of the Christian god is high, though not 1. But the two hypotheses can’t pull each other up by each other’s bootstraps.

3 Likes

Yes. And having established that there could be black swans does not get you there.

Now, if someone wants to admit that there is not a single observation we can make that, even in the slightest, suggests that there are black swans, but he has some other way of knowing that can demonstrate that the do exist, he is not wrong in general principle. But he has a lot of heavy lifting still to do to convince us to accept this new way of knowing.

1 Like

Joshua’s error seems to be in presuming that, by not accepting the existence of God, I am ruling out the possibility of resurrections a priori. I hope my earlier comment clarifies how this is not the case.

1 Like

Our choices are that we are in a created universe or a random accident.

The existence of something from nothing tips the scales toward a created universe moving the needle over 50%. The universe from nothing presupposes quantum gravity so there is no valid theory.

This is conservative giving that we have more than something we have actual observers.

Where’s the calculation? You have just claimed the same thing all over again, with more words. There’s still no calculation. What numbers are you plugging into the equation? How does the equation look? What are it’s factors?

2 Likes

The third option is a product of natural processes. You forgot to add that in.

Says the person presupposing a created universe.

1 Like

This does not explain the origin of those processes.

A random accident does not explain a cause of something from nothing.

Says the person presupposing a created universe.

If it is presupposed then the odds are 100%

I don’t see what that has to do with it.

Why would the universe have to come from nothing? Also, why wouldn’t a random accident explain how the universe came about?

1 Like

It is not a full explanation. You are assuming something from nothing or a universe without a cause.

A random accident does not explain order.