Speaking of CSI

Continuing the discussion from Mini-thought experiment about the nested hierarchy:

Speaking of CSI, from a private conversation with @vjtorley,

After he had replied to this:

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@vjtorley is this private communication okay to make public?

It was what I said that I posted. Sorry that it was not clear. (I gave myself permission to make it public. :slightly_smiling_face: There was nothing in it that related personally to @vjtorley.)

Hi @swamidass and @DaleCutler,

I’m fine with the above excerpts being posted. Cheers.


So… is this your sentence, @DaleCutler, or @vjtorley?

It doesn’t change my comment, but I thought I would ask.

The reason anecdotal evidence can’t be used “positively as evidence” for God’s existence is because scientific evidence involves controlling for the independent variables.

Anecdotal information, by definition, lack such controls.

But the day that God cooperates with a lab technician, your point will be justified!:

"God, I have four bins here… two contain an extremely unlikely chemical reaction, that takes a year to occur, and the other two contain an extremely common reaction, which usually only requires a few seconds.

When I start the time clock, we need for you to ignore the 1 blue bin (common) and the 1 green bin (uncommon), while the red bin (common) is the one that you need to stop from happening, and in the yellow bin (uncommon), we need you to make sure the chemical reaction happens in seconds, instead of a year.

If you are all set, God, I’m ready to start the experiment.

It was this problem in getting God’s cooperation (or, at the very least, knowing when you had it and when you didn’t have it) that led to Christian Alchemy being partitioned off and away from what we now call Chemistry!

Scientific evidence also requires independent verification and statistically sound population sampling. Anecdotal evidence often focuses on the positive hits, but for a sound scientific investigation you also need the number of misses. Humans tend to be poor judges of the relative importance of hits and misses which is why scientific methodologies are so useful.

Just to be clear, this is true of all scientific investigations. I’m not picking on any one group here.


You don’t have control of independent variables at a crime scene when you are establishing the M.O. of a perpetrator, and the evidence counts as… evidence.

And as a perpetrator can intentionally leave evidence intentionally directed to a particular investigator with information known only to him and not others, and on more than one occasion, so can the Perpetrator.

Ah. Now you’re back to God being an intentional deceiver leaving false evidence for human investigators for…reasons?

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You misread if you think I said or implied anything about false evidence.


This is why we don’t generally decide scientific issues in a courtroom. Science in controlled conditions is more productive than a “theory of crime” that is attempted for each crime scene.

And while the crime scene itself is not controlled very well, the samples being tested and analyzed are done with conditions as controlled as possible … either using a field kit with the right tools and reagents… or back in the laboratory.

We are not trying to scientifically prove that God exists. Everyone seems to have presumed that and climbed all over it. But there is forensic evidence of one of his primary M.O.s and that point to him, and we are in a courtroom and each of us is a jury of one.


And I have never said there is no evidence for God. Your crime scene, or any other stage where God seems to be doing something amazing… these are reasons why many Christians find it easy to have faith. Other Christians struggle more.

Atheists object to the idea that anyone would use anecdotal or even judge-assessed conclusions about the existence of God. But Atheists argue that science should be enough for everyone… and we say, “Nah… not really.”

We look at all sorts of things for our evidences.

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You don’t need a laboratory to understand when there is meaningful correlation between two otherwise disparate events.

Nor am I the only Christian to understand this (hardly!). Here is another book full of examples:

(By the same author):


Well, you do if you want your “observed information” to be scientifically valid.

As you must have noticed by now, I don’t think everything has to be scientifically nailed down. But persuasive anecdotal information is not going to be enough for the I.D. activists to prevail. And this is what many of us are alert to in these conversations.

Right … not everything needs to be built on rock-solid science… except anything that looks religious and seeks to be included in public schools - - THAT needs to be rock-solid science.

Follow me?

Correlation still doesn’t imply causation.

To establish causation you do need additional external evidence.

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I mentioned the case of just two events as an example. Many times it is correlation of multiple groupings or series. If a particular forensic detective kept finding evidence in a series of crimes that meant something only to him and not others on the case, say, for instance, clues that only a fellow student in his high school class from twenty years ago could have known, what do you think he would correctly conclude? As I mentioned in the OP, it was a series of about six separate co-instances that had meaningful connection but with no natural causal link that convinced Rich Stearns to resign as CEO of Lenox to become the president of World Vision.


But less necessary on points of faith. Mostly necessary in science

It’s unclear why you think unsubstantiated personal anecdotes count as evidence but virtually no one else does.

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