Do You Want to Be a Christian Apologist? Part 4

I'm doing a series of posts dealing with the way recognized Christian apologists argue for their faith. I'll number them and tag them all with the phrase "Christian Apologetics" so you can have a link to them in reverse chronological order. So, let's say you want to be a Christian apologist, someone who defends the Christian faith. Then what must you do? The fourth thing you must do is to argue that faith is a virtue over against the probabilities. The probabilities are best described in Bayesian terms, something that can be done conceptually without the math. I've argued we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities. Faith has nothing to do with this reasoning process. Probabilities are all that matter. Faith is superfluous, utterly irrelevant, completely unnecessary, and even irrational.

Christian apologist Randal Rauser responded by arguing the best I can say is that "we should probably think in terms of probabilities," leaving room for the possibility of faith. Others ask me to prove what I say, or ask that I provide irrefutable conclusive scientific evidence for it. Still others say it's practically impossible to think exclusively in terms of probabilities. All of these responses basically prove my point. Why would any rational person argue that we should not think exclusively in terms of probabilities? If the probabilities were on the side of Christianity then apologists would be the first ones touting this and crowing about it.


Rauser is correct though. Whenever I make an argument the reader must almost always inset words like "probable" or improbable" into it. This is a given. But there are more specific words to be inserted, stretching from to "virtually impossible" to "virtually certain." In between these two extremes there are a lot of different words that could describe the odds, stretching from "extremely improbable," to "very improbable," to "improbable," to "even odds," to "slightly probable," to "probable," to "very probable," and to "extremely probable." Since he's playing that game then let me say instead that "it is virtually certain (or extremely probable) that we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities." There is no better alternative since it's how science operates and how we reasonably judge things in every other area of life except religion. Yes, it's possible that we should not think exclusively in terms of probabilities, but that conclusion is such a remote possibility it's a virtually impossible (or extremely improbable) one. No, we don't always do this, so the fact that we don't think exclusively in terms of probabilities is not a criticism at all. We should.

Every Bayesian model has three components: the prior, the consequent (or likelihood) on a particular hypothesis, and the consequent (or likelihood) on that hypothesis being false. So for those apologists who keep saying that life doesn't arise from non-life, and that consciousness is hard to explain without reference to God, or that design implies a designer, the two hypotheses to be compared and contrasted would be 1) the non-supernatual viewpoint, with the hypothesis that 2) one particular religious sect among the myriads that have existed, presently exist, and will exist in the future is true.

When it comes to providing scientific evidence that we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities we must think in Bayesian terms as well. The two hypotheses to be compared are: 1) science helps us arrive at the truth, versus 2) faith helps us arrive at the truth. Since faith has no method and solves no problems the probability that science helps us arrive at the truth is a virtually certain conclusion whereas faith, which goes against the probabilities, remains a virtually impossible conclusion. You see, we do not have to prove science leads us to think exclusively in terms of probabilities. We only need to show that it is, at the very minimum, extremely probable. But it is more than that.

My prediction is that Christians who respond to this post will do what I argued previously, by miscaricaturizing what I'm saying to the point of failing to even try to understand it, or feigning ignorance as to what it is, and/or being willingly ignorant of it.

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