Friday, April 11, 2008
A further response on Logic Matters
Peter: One straight flush in a poker game could be a fair hand. Three of them in the course of one game suggests that the hand was dealt from the bottom of the deck. Nevetheless, given the priors of a typical philosophical naturalist, I would expect you to respond just as you did here. You say "Look, it's antecedently improbable that a highly functioning moral teacher should also have a God delusion (the delusion that he is God, not the Dawkinsian delusion that God exists). But it's more antecedently improbable that Jesus is God incarnate. So some skeptical hypothesis concerning the life of Jesus is still the best available explanation given my priors. In particular the hypothesis of a delusion with localized effect is perhaps the most plausible explanation available." That's fine. But, last I heard, the problem of the single case wasn't solved and there is no precise objective method for establishing priors. (The Bayesian theory I imbibed in grad school was thoroughly subjectivist about prior probabilities: think Howson and Urbach). You are claiming not just that someone can resist the conclusion of the argument, but that the argument is laughably fallacious. If I am right, a fallacious argument ought to persuade no one. To show that it ought to persuade no one, you would need to show that no who doesn't already accept the conclusion should accept it given the argument. Have you shown this? I should point out that C. S. Lewis presents this argument after having argued for moral theism. In order to reach the conclusion you want, you would have to show that someone who is either a theist or someone who things theism at least likely to be true, someone who is impressed by the character of Jesus in other respects, someone who may even think, like the ancient Jews, that God has performed miracles. Should someone with priors much more friendly to Christianity than yourself nevetheless remain unpersuaded? Ex hypothesi, you concede that the probability, given that Jesus is not God, that someone should arise who claims to be God, and is a high-functioning moral teacher, is low. If Christian theism true, the likelihood that Christ would claim to be good is pretty darn high. So it looks like the LLL argument provides at least some confirmation for theism even if you, quite reasonably, resist the conclusion of the argument.