vendredi 4 janvier 2013

More on the Hume Rehash by Richard Carrier

1) somewhere else : History vs Hume

2) Creation vs. Evolution : More on the Hume Rehash by Richard Carrier

3) somewhere else : Richard Carrier Claimed Critical Thinking was Rare Back Then ...

4) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Did St Irenaeus Know Who Saint John was and What he Wrote?

K: A cow gave birth to a lamb? Evolution - Creationism: 1-0

Now, I do not think a portent like a cow giving birth to a lamb (Temple of Jerusalem during Jewish War) or for that matter a woman giving birth to a snake (cited by Tacitus along the time when Nero may have had something to do with killing his own mother) are very relevant for evolution. They are very clearly violating ordinary laws of biology, and therefore rather disclaim any naturalness about evolution.

There is however one piece of the video itself that is relevant.

His definition of Consequent Probability: "How expected is the evidence we have? (if our claim is true and if our claim is false)"

Meaning: we must not only assess if what we see is what we would see if our claim is true, but also if what we see is what we would equally see if our claim is false.

Now, saying "all species we see now always were there from all eternity", saying "all species we see now developed from one-celled common ancestors, one or a few of them" and claiming "God created at least the main species very recently" are all claims about the past. Hence this rule applies.

Now, evolutionists are not quite ignorant on this, they do say things like "a creator of inifnite imagination would have been able to give each species a completely unique genome (with no similarities at all to any other species)" - but that gives us no likelihood that God would have used this possibility, especially since He gave certain main kinds of reproduction indentical for a very great lot of species.

They also say "if there had been a flood we would have seen lots of fossiles from it" and "if the world were so short as seven thousand years old we would have very much less fossiles, considering how they are lost during the millions of years" (no, they do not actually say this last thing, if they did they would risk waking up a bit).

But when creationists do use these challenges to show that the evidence we have is compatible with other claims than the Evolutionary ones (which dominate science) and therefore have other interpretations than the Evolutionary ones, specifically compatibility with Biblical stories of Creation and Flood, they are not quite properly appreciated for using a good historical method, they are booed down for using the Bible as scientific evidence instead of the evidence, even when that is not what they are doing.

That was one thing I wanted to clear about Creationism and therefore post on this Creationist blog.

But there is more to it than this, from the video now:

Partial Literacy: < 20% of Population
Full Literacy: < 10% of Population

Cost of One Blank Page: USD 30
Cost of whole Book: USD 10,000 - 100,000+

- William Harris, Ancient Literacy (1989), cf. p. 95

One would like to know where William Harris came up with that. First of all, is he comparing ancient prices of paper and of books to the price of bread wine and meat or to the wages of the least well paid or to the typical wage of people with occupations relevant to learning? Is he getting them from Diocletian's Decretum Maximum, which is a list of maximum prices, stelae were set up with it along Roman Empire, some survive in Greece? And does he translate "papyrus" as one sheet of paper, and is he sure it is the right translation?

As to portion of population literate, he is very obviously including country side farming slaves in statistics. If a miracle happened in a city, very obviously close to 100% would be partially literate in the sense of being able to read and write on a lowly level and clsoe to 50% would be fully literate. Since the 100% in the town were the 20% of the population. So, if a miracle happened in a town it would be at least as witnessed by literate peoples then as more recently. One can argue that compulsory schooling in modern states has lowered the level of "full literacy" in order to guarantee a simulacrum to a higher percentage.

And if country side population saw La Gratusse (already seen in town in Perigueux, remember) biting off heads and behaving generally like a T Rex and then saw Bishop Front come after it, pray and order it back to Hell, and saw the monster dive into the Dordogne and a stone form where it had been, they did not need to be fully literate to know that that was for real. Some things are not easy to fake.

Here is a list of what was rare or non-extant back then:

Critical ThoughtTelephones
Scientific MethodsPhotographs
Access to DocumentsJournalists
Sceptical InvestigatorsDetectives

One may agree on internet, phones, photographs as well as TV and radio being non-extant back then. Newspapers is a bit like a question of definitions - do you count things hung up on walls of public square? Would a thing like a victory column (like Marcus Aurelius') or a stele of Augustus' exploits enumerated count as a permanent article? Similarily would Pausanias count as a journalist? I think he would. A flashy National Geographic journalist, well into things like the Hindoo dances at Bali but very shy of real religious news like Mgr Lefèbvre or recent reconciliation in sight between Rome and Écône.

On education, critical thought, scientific methods, I do not agree they were really rare - among those in towns. Logic was, if possible, better taught then than now.

Access to Documents is perhaps not the most important thing when you see a miracle. It may even be unnecessary for remembering it. And this of course ignores the Church's own habit of continually documenting miracles. And any official had access to the archives of his predecessors unless some of them had demolished earlier archives to please an Emperor or to dissuade from Christianity.

But even if I had granted every item on these two lists, I would not have concluded that this caused both people to be more gullible about miracles and to fake what they saw others being gullible about any more than now. You have crowds that are gullible about astrologers and spiritualist mediums, and you had it back then, and they are not the Christian Church now (excepting the recent belief in psychology and psychiatry, of course) and they were not the Christian Church back then.

And back to quotes from comments:

L: Man, never realized western (especially "christian") historiography is so messed up with miracles...

Too bad they didn't have an strict agnostic like Confucius, who galvanized China's historiographic tradition and led to the longest continuous body of historical records in human civilization (especially comprehensive on astronomical phenomena).

Simple ideas like "record WITHOUT comment/speculation" and "seperate commentary/speculation from records" puts history books apart from story books.

Not quite. Chronicles and Kings in the Bible are precisely record without comment, nearly, and at least separating comment very clearly from record. They contain miracles.

I see this commenter believes Chinese history is completely without miracles. I do know too little about it to either prove or disprove such a claim if he would make it. I find it very doubtful.

I do however use this as corroboration for the fact that Hume's argument, basically:

"We have no evidence for miracles having happened, so we have in total an evidence against miracles happening, so if we see a miracle claimed we must regard the claim's truth as the least likely explanation"

... is a very flawed argument, since we have so many allegations of miracles in unsifted history - that is in the sources - that we never get to any reasonable claim of universally experienced absense of miracles.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
BU Nanterre
Day after St Genevieve

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