Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tim and Lydia McGrew on the Resurrection, part 7

[Continued from Part 6.]

Hallo and good day, weary traveler! We may now discuss in passing one final detail, i.e. the impact of the testimony of the women (W) on our final Bayes factor, which has currently been reduced from the McGrews' estimate of 1044 to 107. If I can convince you that the womens' testimony is not significant, we will arrive at a final replacement Bayes factor of 105. Then, I may finally lay my weary head to rest and fly elsewhere. Especially, I hope to soon discuss Hume's argument and attempt to estimate prior odds on the Resurrection.

I think this may be done as follows: take the alternative hypotheses to the Resurrection which I have proposed to explain the disciples' witness and subsume the womens' testimony within them. This may be done without loss of prior plausibility, especially since initial rumors already play a role. This undermines the `essential independence' of the women from the other disciples proposed by the McGrews (p.41), which I do not think defends probabilistic independence in any case. As I have discussed, the emergence of rumors would very likely have affected the reaction of the disciples. Indeed, since the witness of women would have been regarded as less credible (p.28), we may plausibly expect the disciples to have corroborated their belief - which perhaps began with the women's testimony - with witness of their own. This, I think, tentatively answers the McGrews' challenge: "why [should we not] judge p(W|R) to be at least several orders of magnitude greater than p(W|~R)?" (p.30)

To argue directly that W should have less effect than 102 on the final Bayes factor requires, I think, a questioning of the McGrews' salient facts. If we separate it out from the other details, I think that the McGrews were sufficiently generous in leaving it at 102. In assenting to this, all I am saying is the following: that the women would report an empty tomb, or seeing Jesus, had he not Resurrected has probability 0.01, assuming that they would report it had they really seen it and that the facts are as described by the McGrews. I do not think that this is too challenging an admission for a skeptic. Instead, we need not recognize this contribution as multiplicative, and regard it as diminished by other considerations.

I think this, along with any potential minor significance of Paul in light of the other reductions, can be fairly accounted for by leaving a final estimate of the Bayes factor at 106, and plausibly lower.

Now, we may finally arrive at our destination.

No comments:

Post a Comment