Since the STR moderators have now closed the thread where Jason was responding to Jon Curry, I’ll post my final comments.
Before doing so I think it’s useful to draw attention to a bit of autobiographical data which Jon shared about himself a while back. In arguing with Jason, Jon likes to spout verbiage about Bayesian probability theory. That makes his objections sound oh-so sophisticated–not that Jon ever gets around to presenting anything like a formal Bayesian argument for his position. He contents himself with intoning Bayesian buzzwords.
But here, by his own admission, is the junkie stuff he read which actually led to his apostasy:
“I read Richard Carrier, Farrell Till, Dan Barker. I still wasn't buying books by the way. Just the free stuff so I am prepared to refute it.”
"Let's consider an example. Suppose the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community approaches you and informs you that the promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had come to earth and had in fact risen from the dead in confirmation of his salvific claims. We start by considering this claim without reference to the evidence in favor of it. Forget about whether his followers were willing to die for him, whether the reports were eyewitness and early and so forth. Considering this claim based upon background knowledge alone, such as the frequency with which God engages in this type of an action and the fact that this type of claim has been falsely made in the past and the fact that most people that die stay dead I start with a strong presumption that the claim is false. You however would disagree. There is nothing initially implausible about this claim in your view. We accept claims such as a claim that a person is getting married. We should similarly be prepared to accept this claim. After all, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is not claiming that the Messiah rose naturally. They're saying God raised him. So this is quite plausible in your world."
Two basic problems. He mentions background knowledge, but omits to mention two key elements thereof:
i) He says Ahmad is their "promised" messiah. Okay, let's see the promises. When were the promises made? How are the terms of fulfillment specified?
ii) Another piece of background information which he omits is the fact that Islam is not a viable contender. Muhammad already knocked himself out of the running. He predicated his prophetic credentials on the claim that his message was merely a confirmation of former Biblical revelation. And he told doubters to consult the People of the Book (i.e. Christians and Jews). Hence, he falsified his prophetic claims by his own standards.
Therefore, we can safely discount every other Muslim qua Muslim claim.
"I likewise don't know of anyone that has reliable knowledge that this has happened."
Meaning the NT reports are unreliable. Where's the supporting argument?
"You can group the facts in different ways. I'm grouping the gospels as a whole as the evidence in favor of the resurrection claim."
It goes beyond the gospels. Other NT authors, all writing after the Crucifixion, assume that Jesus is alive at the time of writing. They aren't preaching a dead Savior.
"One way to attempt to show that would be to run the numbers."
The numbers are no better than the assumptions feeding into the equation.
"You're missing my point. The point is not that a claim can be false in a religious context. It's that all such claims that I know of, whether true or false, are set in a religious context. You seem to think that because it's in a religious context this makes it more initially plausible. How is that the case when they are always set in a religious context, whether true or false?"
Many paranormal claims are not set in a religious context.
"I don't have to provide a precise definition to distinguish an outrageous claim from a non-outrageous claim, just like I don't have to tell you exactly when stubble becomes a beard."
How can he "run the numbers" if he can't define his terms? If he can't define his terms, then how can he quantify his terms?
"That's right. We know that apples do fall from tress. We know that humans do catch things that fall."
We've also seen unsupported objects that don't fall. We've seen astronauts in orbit around the earth floating above the floor of their space ship. All those NASA shots of astronauts.
"Or suppose you didn't witness the earthquake. Your wife runs to you and tells you that the cave has crashed down because the earth moved. You might not believe her until you see it yourself. That's perfectly rational based upon the initial implausibility (from your subjective perspective)."
Reasonable, but utterly erroneous. What’s the advantage of being “reasonable” (as he defines it) if your reasonable beliefs are just as erroneous as unreasonable beliefs?
"We all act this way with so many claims, like claims about others rising from the dead or other claimed supernatural events that we hear about from devoted followers that it's rational to react the same way to Jesus' claim."
That's a damning admission of his own provinciality. I don't automatically rule out supernatural claims outside my own theological tradition. I don't discount all Catholic miracles, per se, or witchcraft, &c.
Moreover, there are respected researchers in the field of the paranormal (e.g. Braude, Sheldrake) who don't suffer from this knee-jerk reaction.
"Yeah, I do see it like 600°C water and apparently to you it's not even implausible when you consider it before even looking to the evidence. It isn't at all surprising that you find the evidence persuasive. For you there is very little initial implausibility to overcome."
That's because plausibility is indexed to one's worldview. Moreover, even if one didn't come to the question from a Christian standpoint, there's no good reason to be as dogmatic as Jon Curry about what's possible or impossible. Curry is not really an observer of reality. For him, it's not a question of discovering what's possible. He's already made up his mind. It isn't based on the evidence–since he automatically discounts any evidence to the contrary.
"I've talked before about how you seem oblivious to your own biases."
Of course, it's folks like Curry, so oblivious to their own blinding bias, who accuse others of blinding bias.
"Here you're also telling us that you don't regard the resurrection claim as initially implausible based upon our background knowledge. I doubt any skeptic here would think that your opinion that these things have "little significance" matters much."
Notice how consistently one-sided he is, as if skepticism is should set the standard of comparison.
"You seem to suggest it as if we know that Jesus predicted his death and resurrection, but we do not know this. This is part of what is in dispute. It's not background knowledge."
It's not background knowledge to whom? To the Christian or to the skeptic?
“In my world since miracles are even more initially implausible then murders better evidence is required to establish them."
His world? Of course, many inhabitants of this world lay claim to experiences which he dismisses out of hand. What about their world?
“Get a dictionary if you don't know what words mean. These are common words used in an ordinary sense. Anybody attempting to understand me knows what I'm talking about.”
Curry is the one who keeps talking about “running the numbers.” But the ordinary sense of common words hardly furnishes the precision necessary to quantify the odds.