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Old 05-03-2001, 02:27 PM   #41
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
[b] Good question fG ! I don’t think god requires absolute certainty, otherwise faith would be non-existent. Faith fills the gap between 99% and 100%, not just in religious matters but in all beliefs. Will god disallow entry into heaven? I doubt it. The entire bible speaks far more frequently of “belief” or “faith” rather than “knowing” or “knowledge”.

Peace,

Polycarp

</font>
'Faith' seems to have various meanings. The way you describe it, it almost seems to be some kind of 'pseudo-knowledge', if you forgive me the expression. I don't want to quibble over the difference between 99 and 100%, but with 99% there is at least a finite, theoretical chance that Jesus, and hence Christianity, is a myth. So what basis do you have to fill in that little 1% gap, using 'faith' in your sense of the word?

The other sense I have heard it expressed is more like 'trust'. This, I guess, presupposes 100% knowledge of the existence of Jesus (and his divinity), and a subsequent trust that he will look after you and do the riht things.

But maybe it is a combination of these things?

fG


 
Old 05-03-2001, 02:27 PM   #42
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by katlynnhow:
You are more succinct. </font>
I'm going to print those four words out. Tomorrow evening, when I'm sipping beer with my friends, and they say "Will you PLEASE shut the !@)*&@#%*^% up!" I'll pull them out and say "Here...read this!"

&lt;G&gt;

 
Old 05-03-2001, 02:32 PM   #43
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
You're referring to future events in your analogy. These events are always unknown unless you believe in some sort of ability to predict the future. The truthfulness of the claims in your analogy is unknown until a later time. History (and Fred's current age) are in an entirely different realm because they deal with reality and not future unknowns. Now do you see my point?
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No, not really. I honestly don't see why there needs to be a temporal effect in uncertainty. To me, it simply means lack of sufficient information, for whatever reason. In any case, my example didn't not necessarily deal with a future event, but is equally applicable to a decision based on insufficient information about an actual, current state of affairs.

I guess we have to agree to disagree on this, then.

fG

 
Old 05-03-2001, 02:53 PM   #44
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Originally posted by Valar1:
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Being an agnostic I find myself breaking one of my own rules about history: I presumed, prior to beginning my quest (addiction) for information about the historical Jesus, that he was not divine. I hold that belief, as you would say, dogmatically. This is based on a prior rejection of the truth of the biblical OT God, for independent reasons, and since Jesus emerged from that theology, rests on that theology it follows that he was not divine. I say this breaks my own rule because I try to be as objective as possible and let the information take me where it will.
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</font>
Hey, I’m cool with this. We obviously seem to think alike when it comes to history. I try to make it a point not to argue theology, but only history as it seems far more empirical than theology. I’m glad we reached a better understanding of each other.

Peace,

Polycarp

P.S. I have no idea why it says I edited your last message. Maybe you accidentally copied that when replying to my previous post.

 
Old 05-03-2001, 03:32 PM   #45
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:
'Faith' seems to have various meanings. The way you describe it, it almost seems to be some kind of 'pseudo-knowledge', if you forgive me the expression. I don't want to quibble over the difference between 99 and 100%, but with 99% there is at least a finite, theoretical chance that Jesus, and hence Christianity, is a myth. So what basis do you have to fill in that little 1% gap, using 'faith' in your sense of the word?
The other sense I have heard it expressed is more like 'trust'. This, I guess, presupposes 100% knowledge of the existence of Jesus (and his divinity), and a subsequent trust that he will look after you and do the riht things.
But maybe it is a combination of these things?
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</font>
We somehow have started two separate discussions with each other. Sorry ‘bout that… I’ll address both of them here. I think it is a combination of things, but not exactly as you described it. Here’s another one of my ridiculous analogies:

Does my wife love me? I can examine all of the evidence and conclude that there is a 99% chance (or better) that she does indeed love me, but I can’t prove it to a scientific certainty. I “trust” or “rely on faith” for the remaining 1% or less. So as you said, “there is at least a finite, theoretical chance” that my wife does not love me, and in the same way there is a chance that I’m wrong about Jesus’ existence.

I don’t think trust “presupposes 100% knowledge of the existence of Jesus”. Do I trust my brother not to steal from me? Yes. Am I 100% certain that he won’t steal from me? No. 100% certainty isn’t necessary for trust. We’re getting into an area I’m a little uncomfortable discussing because it will begin to sound like I’m preaching and I don’t want to subject you to that sort of thing. To briefly address your last point, I don’t think god looks after us and makes sure we’ll do the right things. He gave everyone the freedom to not do the right things and I don’t think god should be faulted for the times we do the wrong things. Sorry if that doesn’t exactly answer your question.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> No, not really. I honestly don't see why there needs to be a temporal effect in uncertainty. To me, it simply means lack of sufficient information, for whatever reason. In any case, my example didn't not necessarily deal with a future event, but is equally applicable to a decision based on insufficient information about an actual, current state of affairs.
I guess we have to agree to disagree on this, then.
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</font>
I think the temporal issue is important. By definition, we can not know the future. We can know the present and the past to a much higher degree of certainty than we can know the future. I agree with you about a lack of sufficient information leading to uncertainty. This was what I tried to emphasize in my “Fred analogy”. If we only know the guy’s name is Fred, then we really can’t state his age. However, if we learn other details about him we are able to make a much more accurate judgement as to his age. This is basically the same thing you said.

Now what’s even more important to this discussion is the perceived “benefit” of a decision. The benefit has absolutely nothing to do with the probability that the plan will succeed. If a plan has a 55% chance of succeeding, then it will probably succeed. Therefore, we should believe that the plan will probably succeed. The payoff does not change the chance of success. In addition, your analogy is much different because the choices are not mutually exclusive in the sense that they’re combined probabilities can total more than 100%. We could have 10 different plans all having a probability of greater than 50%.

In my analogy (and the three examples given at the beginning of this thread) there are only two choices whose combined probability totals 100%. There can’t be a 90% chance Jesus existed and also a 90% chance that he did NOT exist. If there was a 90% chance of existence, then there would have to be a 10% chance of non-existence. Your analogy is in an entirely separate class because we’re dealing with a different sort of probability problem. Namely, that our choices can total more than 100%.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 05-03-2001, 03:44 PM   #46
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

- How likely is it to you that there is some historical person behind the figure of Caesar as known from the ancient records?</font>
99.9% I think it is absurd to argue against the historicity of the first Caesar.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">- How likely is it to you that there is some historical person behind the figure of Jesus as known from the ancient records?</font>
99.9% As with Caesar, I think it is absurd to argue against the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">- How likely is it to you that there is some historical person behind the figure of Hercules as known from the ancient records?</font>
If I define "historically plausible" as anything that is more than 40-50% possible, then I would put Herakles (and the Roman knock-off Hercules) in this catagory, along with Gilgamesh from the Babylonians and Samson from the Hebrew Scriptures. The problem with figures like this (including Agamemnon and Achilles and other such figures) is that we lack any sources that are closer than several centuries to the original person, and we lack independent textual or archeological evidence of their existence. This makes determining their level of historicity extremely problematic.

Nomad

P.S. And yes, the percentages came out of thin air.
 
Old 05-03-2001, 04:41 PM   #47
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by PhysicsGuy:
I think you can attach probabilities endlessly and this is related to higher order moments of probability distributions with the mean and variance (square of standard deviation) being the first and second order moments... &lt;SNIP&gt; </font>
Aww shit. You guys incited a physicist into talking about probabilities! Don't you know how dangerous that is?!? Get out know, while he's still speaking something resembling English!!!
 
Old 05-03-2001, 06:01 PM   #48
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I don't think probability numbers really tell the tale of how much we believe historical things. They are simply too easy to make up.

Its far more telling to me to see how much a person is willing to risk personally on some historic claim. What historical claim would you rest your life on? What historical claim would you bet a million dollars on? (Assuming your not filthy rich and don't care.)

I'd bet a million dollars that Julius Ceasar existed. Even though I believe Jesus did exist, I'd be hard pressed to bet more than a couple hundred thousand or so on it.
 
Old 05-05-2001, 12:04 PM   #49
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sentinel00: Aww shit. You guys incited a physicist into talking about probabilities! Don't you know how dangerous that is?!? Get out know, while he's still speaking something resembling English!!! </font>
Well 'dangerous' needs to be well defined. If you define a danger ratio and do a stability analysis with appropriate constraints, you could converge on a solution with appropriate danger-uncertainties built in. Ummmm, was it meant to be a rhetorical question?
 
 

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