Monday, December 29, 2008

Causality in Miracle Hunting

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In the discussions of miracles several atheists have made some big misconceptions.

(1) mistaken assumptions about my knowledge of correlation and cause.

some assume that since they are clever enough to know the very basic information, the difference in correlation and causality, that I must not know that because I'm a Christian and Christians are stupid, and they are so very clever to know some basic fact that all high school kids should get, correlation is not causality.

But what they don't get is that just i argue inductively that correlation is indicative of a cause if certain conditions obtain, that doesn't mean I don't know the difference.

(2) What these very clever atheist don't get is that correlation is indicative of cause.
part of the problem is that certain people don't seem know what indicative means. Be that as it may, there is an epistemological gap in our knowledge it a problem at the most fundamental philosophical level. We can only establish causality in one way, buy making very correlations and eliminating alternate causes. This is the only way there is, and that's what Hume really proved with the billiard balls.

science can't prove causes. We can only prove correlations. When I assume causes on miracles, it's the only way we ever establish cause. Hans says "only if we eliminate the alternate causes." Yes, that's true, but it also leads to recursion of the original problem. Because if we can't observe causality and it must be inferred from correlation, then you can't say "I have eliminated an alternate cause by showing causality and eliminating it." That's just a repeat of the same problem. The alternate causes are only possibilities, they are not proven either. What is boils down to is in the final analysis a really tight correlation is the only way to determine cause. Although it is important to eliminate the alternative possible causes, essential in fact. What this means is I am right to assume causes from correlations, given that I can eliminate alternatives, and I usually can.

All of this means that medical evidence showing the disease went away, when examined by scientific medicos is good evidence for miracles. It's not absolute, there is no absolute. There will always be a gap in our epistemology. We will always have to make epistemic judgment.

(2) Don't need to show hit rate

The argument is made we must show the percentage of those healed vs not healed.

That's ridiculous. The reason is because we do not know the reason when someone is not healed. We cannot assume "O not bein healed means there's no ;god, because some are healed." Knowing the hit rate is important in many cases. such as prophesy, "so and so is a true prophet he predicted x," but how many predictions did the make that did not come true?

Knowing the hist rate is not true in terms of empirical evidence of healing because:

......(a) We don't know if the not healing is the result of no god, or God just didn't want to heal. Because a will is on the other end of the prayer we cannot treat it like a natural process and expect it to behave like a drug in a field trial.

......(b) Miracles are supposed to be impossible. they violate natural law. that's the whole theory of naturalism in a nut shell; nothing happens apart form natural law.

Thus if one miracle happens that proves miracles and all it takes is one. proving that x% are not healed doesn't prove anything. miracles are supposed to be impossible and can't happen, if one of them happens, or we can assume it happened, then that proves they do happen. We don't know the rate because God is not a drug. Divine healing is a matter of God's will.

(3) God's action in healing is not indicative of God's feelings about those healed or not healed.

This is the whole fallacy of the God hates amputees thing. You might as well say God hates breakfast because not once in my Christian walk has God ever made me scrambled eggs in the morning.

St. Augustine proved that there is no correlation between worldly prosperity or success and God's love. Rome was sacked by the vandals and everyone was saying "this disproves Christianity." but Augie said "no it doesn't, divine favor is not based worldly success. Stuff happens to Christians too, God causes it rain on the just and unjust."

(4) No double blind

Lourdes evidence does not need to be double blind First of all these are not "studies." They are not set up as a longitudinal study to see if healing works. These are real people and their journey to Lourdes is part of their journey in life in a search to be healed, they are not white lab mice plotting world conquest.

Secondly, double blind is used as a means of control so we know data is not contaminated by the subjects knowledge of the test. People suffering from an incurable disease cannot cure themselves. So it doesn't matter if they know. If the data shows the condition went away immediately and it can be documented that all traces are gone, the of course can assume healing, provided there is no counter cause such as he took a wonder drug before he left for Lourdes; they do certainly screen for that.

Of course there are still epistemological problems. There will always be such problems. That's why you can't prove you exist. But just as the answer to that problem is "Make epistemic judgment based upon regularity and inconsistency of data," so it goes with miracles, proving smoking causes cancer or anything else.

Thomas Reid got it right, we are justified in assuming empirical evidence provided it's strong evidence.

One more problem. When I say "correlation" this invites the question "how can you find a correlation if you don't know the hit rate? A correlation implies X and Y are seen together a lot, not just in one instance. But we can't go around giving people cancer and praying for them over and over to see if they ar always healed. We have to let multiple cases stand for correlation. But since we can't say why healing didn't take place we have to use empirical means to assert on a case by case basis.

come discuss this with me:

at Sense of the Numinous


Jesse said...

Brother Metacrock,

I've been attacked by some atheist troll. He's even written a handful of "rebuttals" on his own blog. I was wondering hat you thought of these?:

Thank you.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

link here

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

that guy seem really stupid not worth wasting time on, he seems to think that any argument that brain influences behavior automatically disproves the motion of an immaterial soul,I think you see the fallacy.

he says:

When this is combined with the obvious proofs that the mind is nothing but the physical brain function, and combined with the absurdity of the theory that our minds come into our brains from another dimension, the skeptic is perfectly reasonable, even if not infallible, to deny mind-body dualism. But as the vast majority of Christians will agree, one need only be reasonable, they need not be infallible, to be morally and intellectually justified to believe the way they do. The standard cannot be higher for the skeptic.

Ok sounds good

This is to say nothing of the fact that some Christians who hold to the "essentials", such as 7th day Adventists, and therefore cannot be automatically wiped off the page as deluded heretics, see no biblical basis to assert that there is an immaterial part of a human being that continues in self-aware consciousness after physical death.

Yes there is. it says we have a spirit that is always understood as immaterial

You run a severe risk of wasting your time in the sin of word-wrangling over a doctrine that could very well not even be biblical. There's a huge spiritual risk involved in using your lust to argue to fill in the gaps left by a Jesus who never told you to refute the arguments of skeptics.

I'll take my chances on that one. It;my time to waste, Jesus didn't say beware thinking I don't need a Bible verse to justify using my mind,

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

that guy seems tome to be a self aggrandizing pompus ass.

Jesse said...

He wrote another one:

He is just not quitting. This guy is relentless.

Jesse said...

"The seems to think that any argument that brain influences behavior automatically disproves the motion of an immaterial soul,I think you see the fallacy."

Could you please elaborate on this statement a little? Thank you.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

His arguments re incoherent, trying to piece together a thread he seems to think evidence that brain governs behavior is proof against the soul. I have no problem with saying changing brain changes behavior but that does not rule out spirit .

He think Bible doesn;t say we have anon materiel aspect but that;s what spirit is.Bible clearly says we have a spirit, pneuma.

There is no empirical proof e have spirit but it;s pretty obvious.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Your link

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

No, Christian mind-body dualism posits our mind coming from another dimension. That's sufficient to render reasonable the skeptic who argues from history that we will,

No that is not what Christians say, it;s one theory some people advance, it's fairly avaunt guard its not Christian per se, Some Christians might hold it but it's not the official position.In fact there are atheists who take position too.

in all likelihood, do for the mind what we did for epilepsy fits and thunder...and find a purely naturalistic explanation.

Fallacy of arguing from analogy. Because a set of mental behavior was proven to be a disease then all such behavior is just problems of wiring so to peak. disease is degenerative it can only get worse my book proves that religious experience is tranforative and never degenerative, that is changes your life dramatically for the good and does not degenerate into disinfection,

[my book The Trace of God (in Amazon) 200 peer review studies from scholarly journals show religious experience is good for you ]

If you were a real Christian, you'd find obeying Jesus far more important than doing science.

(1) no true Scotsman (2) atheists do this a lot point out he is not in a position to judge what is and what is not true chrisianiity, He has no right to govern your faith,

The more you cite mind-body "research" the more you must admit being dissatisfied with the way the Holy Spirit convicted people of their sin before the age of Enlightenment. If you already have biblical assurance the HOly Spirit will do his job merely by your "preaching the word", then your desire to "help" the Holy Spirit with further advances in science is reasonably construed as your rejection of the sufficiency of scripture. For if you thought scripture "sufficient" for faith and morals, you wouldn't try to "help make it more convincing" with non-scriptural references, just like if you think one glass of water is sufficient, you don't seek a second.

the Hony Spirit laid it on my heart toll you because yo ask for evidence genius, we are trying to help you because you wont listen to God, I don't need this to believe true, you do apparently

But since you use commentaries the way most people use college books, you are apparently very screwed up on what it means to live out your alleged belief that scripture is "sufficient" for faith and morals.

yu are confusing intellectual issues with life.

You may as well say one piece of clothing is "sufficient" for you, despite your desire to fill up your wardrobe with numerous additional articles of clothing.

you are formulating self aggrandizing speculations in order to write off ideas you don't know about,I was an atheist and an intellectual as far back as 1973, There is nothing you can tell me about either

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Jesse I want to see some of your apologetic. I have a new book coming soon it deals with this issue. God, Science and ideology.

That guy has no right to impose his is conceptions upon us; his version of being a christian.

Jesse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse said...

What do you think of this article?:

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

your link

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

those are good points,I don't believe we know all about coincidences,I have done a lot of work on this,i;ll post my consciousness stuff soon.

Jesse said...

Here is my basic overview on miracles: