## Friday, August 31, 2012

### Wooden probabilities

Thus, the alleged resurrection of Jesus is an "extraordinary claim" in the sense that it has an extremely low prior probability, i.e., Pr(R | B) <= 10-11. In other words, even if God exists, R has an extremely low prior probability for the simple reason that God has an extremely weak tendency to resurrect people from the dead.[3] To be precise, He resurrects from the dead less than one human in every 100 billion.

i) That’s a false premise. According to the Biblical doctrine of the general resurrection, God will resurrect everyone who ever lived. The only folks he won’t raise from the dead are those who happen to be alive at the time of the Parousia. And even they will be immortalized.

ii) In addition, this reflects Jeff’s wooden grasp of probability. Even if God hasn’t raised anyone else from the dead, this doesn’t tell you anything about the likelihood that he raised Jesus from the dead. It all depends on what reason he has for raising Jesus, but not raising others.

To take a comparison, suppose I ask if it’s extraordinary to find fallen leaves stacked in neat piles. That depends. It would be extraordinary if fallen leaves arranged themselves into neat piles on the lawn. If, however, a gardener raked the yard, that’s pretty ordinary.

The answer depends on the presence or absence of personal agency, as well as the particular intent of the agent. That’s not something you can calculate in the abstract, from raw frequency.