Saturday, June 21, 2008

Depoe critiques Sobel on infinitesimal probabilities and miracles

This takes me way back over 20 years ago when I worked on Humean arguments and Bayes' theorem with Patrick Maher at University of Illinois at Urbana. As I recall I put something about Sobel in a footnote of my first published paper, "Miracles and the Case for Theism" (International Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Feb. 1989).

9 comments:

Hans said...

Lee Sobel was just a journalist in Chicago before he converted to Christianity.

It is unfair to criticise him for not being up to date on these things.

We all have things we don't know much about.

Victor Reppert said...

No no. This is not Lee Strobel of Case for Christ fame. This is Jordan Howard Sobel, professor of philosophy at University of Toronto-Scarborough, and a defender of a Hume-style argument against belief in miracles. I met him at an APA conference once and corresponded with him about miracles and Bayes' theorem. Two very different people, believe me.

Johnny-Dee said...

Ha! It is delightfully comical to imagine mistaking Lee Strobel for Jordan Sobel! I don't intend for this to come across in the wrong way, but it is an exceptional case of mistaken identity.

philip m said...

Let's hope this paper is never presented at a conference where Bart Ehrman is in attendance, he might just start howling the speaker off stage. ;-)

Dan said...

I can see it now.

Ehrman: "So you think you just proved God's existence with math? Well that wouldn't work at the RESEARCH (woohoo) institution I work at. You're just doing that because you're an evangelical..."

Bart Ehrman said...

Dan's basically got me nailed down. So Dan, how does your dispensationalism stack up to those texts we have that say the number of the beast is 661?

dan said...

I don't know Bart. How does the incongruence between your cautious and careful scholarly writings stack up with the bold and wildy unsubstantiated claims of your popular writings?

Bart Ehrman said...

Quite well thank you. My scholarly writings are received at the research institution I work at, as well as other research institutions. So has DTS's research arm been able to fill a room yet? A bookcase yet? A shelf? Has it gotten something published by a non-evangelical fundamentalist publishing company yet?

Didn't think so. But thanks for playing!

philip m said...

Wow, Dr. Ehrman actually showed up.

I am wondering, Dr. Ehrman, if you went back and now understand that Bayes theorem is not trying to "prove God's existence mathematically," but rather is merely outlining what to consider when assessing the probability of a given event?

And there is another pointin your debate with Craig I was wondering about...the point that you can't say a historian cannot comment on God's existence, and then say miracles are always the most improbable event, since those two probabilities are directly correlated (the high probability of the former entails a higher probability of the latter). If you can't comment on God's existence, then it seems you also cannot comment on the probability that a miracle occurred. No?