Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Jun 27 2009 - 09:29:01 EDT

On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 1:55 PM, Merv Bitikofer<mrb22667@kansas.net> wrote:
> Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
>
> The virgin birth is peanuts compared with the notion of a Creator God. I
> never quite understood why that issue is ever brought up. The virgin birth
> must be something to be doubted only by atheists.
> Moorad
> ___
>
> Playing atheist's advocate here...
>
>
> Yes, but it's also peanuts for hyperbole, hagiography, and general "story
> growth" to work its way into cultural "memory" even over a single human life
> span.  Atheists don't doubt that an existing God could do what he wants.
> What they doubt (other than His existence obviously) is that the event
> actually happened as recorded in some of the gospels.  To atheists, it's a
> matter of choosing the simpler explanation.
>

It really depends on what you mean by simpler! Choosing the simplest
explanation, ie the appeal to Occam's Razor, can ultimately be framed
in probabilistic terms. The simpler explanation is the more probable
explanation (I can even point you to the paper in David J.C. MacKay's
(son of Donald MacKay of "Clockwork Image" fame) PhD thesis that
shows this if you're interested! Now if one adopts a purely
naturalist view then it's clear that this is the right thing to do (or
the best bet if you will). This is because one can apply
probabilistic reasoning to the natural world. However, if one
postulates a supernatural realm with a Creator God who intervenes in
the action, then there is no way one can invoke probability, or
speculate about the probability of existence of such a being. That is
why God is not found in speculations about Intelligent Design, but
through revelation of himself through special events like the
incarnation, virgin birth, speaking to the prophets etc. None of
these, I suggest can be assigned probabilities, and hence aren't
amenable to the "picking the simpler explanation" argument.

Iain

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Received on Sat Jun 27 09:29:29 2009

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