07 August 2005

Faith-Based Math

This guy's obviously not a statistician. It does not follow that because there are only two possible outcomes in a given analysis, the likelyhood of those two outcomes is equal. 'Either I'm actually a fairy princess trapped in the body of a nondescript human male, or I'm not,' would be a similar assertion. You might as well randomly assign a probablility of 99% to the existence of god.

At very least you should give a fair shake to the thousands of other gods currently and heretofore postulated. Can you really assign a higher probability to one over another?

Premise, like location, is critical.

Math Proves Christ's Resurrection?

It is faith, not proof, that makes Christians believe in Jesus Christ's resurrection, the central tenet of the religion. Until now.

Oxford University professor Richard Swinburne, a leading philosopher of religion, has seemingly done the impossible. Using logic and mathematics, he has created a formula that he says shows a 97 percent certainty that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God the Father, report The Age and Catholic News.

This stunning conclusion was made based on a series of complex calculations grounded in the following logic:

  1. The probably of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.
  2. The probability that God became incarnate, that is embodied in human form, is also one in two.
  3. The evidence for God's existence is an argument for the resurrection.
  4. The chance of Christ's resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.
  5. Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.

"New Testament scholars say the only evidences are witnesses in the four gospels. That's only five percent of the evidence," Swinburne said in a lecture he gave at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. "We can't judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there's reason to suppose there is a God. Secondly, if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate, and thirdly, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did." He says that even Jesus' life is not enough proof. However, the resurrection is "God's signature," which shows "his approval of Jesus' teaching."

The calculations that Swinburne says prove the resurrection are detailed in his book, "The Resurrection of God Incarnate."


fockler said...

Why did the guy even try? I am entirely, seriously, legitimately curious. If he had arrived at an incontrovertible statistical proof of Christianity's arguably central tenet, what did he expect would happen? I know I would have instantly converted upon hearing the news, but what about everybody else -- especially all those poor Arabs. They know nothing about math and its buzzing cadre of numerals.
One thing's for sure, though: the guy should definitely be paying royalties to Pascal's estate.

fockler said...

While reading you're older blog, I noticed a comment about your wanting to look into linguistics, at some point. I thought I might recommend Wittgenstein. He's very concerned with language. In fact, he pretty much spearheaded a school of philosophy -- the Analytic school, incidentally, one of two major schools in contemporary, 20th century philosophy, the other being continental -- that sees most philosophical problems as linguistic. You want to stick with his later stuff, though. His early stuff -- tough likely fascinating -- has more to do with logic than his later stuff. In fact, his later work spawned a sub-school of analytic philosophy called "ordinary language philosophy." You should check out On Certainty -- which I can lend you -- and then Philosophical Investigations. (You should definitely borrow the later from me. It's impossible to find for under $45. In fact, I only acquired it for less by raiding the bookshelf of a philosophy major who -- after earning a Master's degree in the discipline -- decided he wanted out. Incidentally, I paid a friggin' dollar.) It's a tough read and as close to Zen as Western philosophy gets. But, it's very interesting, very unique, thought-provoking reading.

GaultJ said...

Lending sounds like a plan.

"...royalties to Pascal's estate," no kidding.