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  #1  
Old Oct 1, '09, 12:28 pm
KindredSoul KindredSoul is offline
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Default The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Everyone, non-theists included, admits that one thing religion has going for it is that absence of proof is not proof of absence, whereas proof equals absolute and undeniable confirmation of something. However, non-theists might counter this and say that, despite what they would call a distant, abstract, teeny tiny conceivable possibility of a religion being true, Atheism still is by far the most objectively logical option, not just by a margin that would make it seem as though religious people are still very logical-but-just-mistaken, but by a landslide that would make religious people, by necessity, deluded people who would never have any chance of believing what they do if they weren't indulging in massive wishful thinking; otherwise, by the nature of this counter, everyone would clearly be Atheist, the landslide victor.

It seems, to me, that this assumption is based upon two fallacies. I am not aware of official names for them, but they do not seem to be solid and conclusive methods of coming to a proper conclusion at all (i.e. they are certainly fallacious) so I will just call them the Leprechaun Fallacy and the 50% fallacy.

1. The Leprechaun Fallacy: There is a non-theist counter to the "absence of proof is not proof of absence" claim, and it is something like this: "There is no proof that Leprechauns do not exist either, yet we don't believe in them or take them as seriously as the thought of them not existing, so religion is no less silly than believing in Leprechauns!" Substitute Leprechauns with some other mythical creature or, for an extreme version, a giant spaghetti monster pulled from absolutely nowhere. The point is, non-theists point out we cannot dis-prove these things, yet we do not consider belief in them to be an equally valid option to lack of belief in them. Why, they ask, is religion different?

The problem is that this assumes that religion was pulled virtually (or literally) from nowhere. I will use Christianity as an example, because I am most familiar with my own religion. Under the Leprechaun Fallacy, one assumes that 2000 years ago, the disciples and other followers of Jesus had absolutely no reason to think anything supernatural happened and just said "Oh, I know! He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven! Aaand, we saw Him!" That and that alone would be as random, as out of nowhere, as the Giant Spaghetti monster. As for the Leprechaun, which admittedly exists in stories (and so isn't completely 100% out of nowhere) it would still be to assume that the disciples said "You know those Greek stories where a god incarnate dies then lives? Well, we have no reason whatsoever to believe we've actually seen this Jesus guy rise from the dead, but let's just all play pretend and imagine we actually laid eyes on Him having done that exact same thing!" In other words, the story was still pulled virtually from nowhere because, even though the disciples might have been familiar with stories about incarnate gods, they were arbitrarily, for no apparent reason other than that He was a good preacher who had died, deciding that Jesus was like that, and extremely out of nowhere deciding "Oh, and we saw it happen." That, and that alone, would be as random as a person deciding to believe in Leprechauns.

History, however, doesn't seem to paint such an arbitrary "Let's just make it up on the fly" picture of the origins of Christianity. So far as history indicates, there really was a man named Jesus from Nazareth around 2000 years ago. Even historians in the first few centuries AD [among whom were enemies of Christianity] didn't deny, as would have been most convenient for them if it was believable to do so, that He was a real person nor that He was crucified, so we may be confidently disinclined to disbelieve those proponents of radical skepticism who suggest He might not have even been real just as we are disinclined to believe any person who says Abraham Lincoln wasn't real. Furthermore, as those enemies of Christianity also would have found convenient to deny but did not, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead He had disciples and followers who claimed to have seen Him risen from the dead, and later ascending to Heaven, and who were willing to die for that despite that they could have avoided death simply by renouncing Him.

No matter what one ultimately believes happened, they can still recognize that there is nothing "out of thin air" or "Leprechaunish" in that a Christian, or one who therefore becomes Christian, concludes that the least contrived explanation for all this is that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead as was proclaimed. Others may argue that His disciples and followers who claimed to see Him risen were, down to the last of them, clinically insane so as to really believe such a lie. Others may argue that His disciples were frauds who were somehow willing to die for what they knew to be a lie. Still others may argue that Jesus never died on the cross, and that three days after his crucifixion and torment He was able to appear to the disciples good as new, somehow overcoming his many wounds from scourging and his bone-piercing wounds from the crucifixion, although even this view requires the martyrs who claimed to have seen Jesus' ascension, to the last of them, to have been crazy.

CONTINUED...

Last edited by KindredSoul; Oct 1, '09 at 12:40 pm.
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  #2  
Old Oct 1, '09, 12:28 pm
KindredSoul KindredSoul is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

...CONTINUED (From Above)

An unbeliever can understand (even if they disagree) that, to the ears of those who are or thus become Christian, all of these alternate theories, much like the claim that Jesus never existed, have valid reason to be considered unlikely and contrived, like the makings of a Dan Brown novel more than the accidents of history. Many very convenient conditions would have to be met for the non-supernatural explanations of of Jesus, whereas His Resurrection requires only one factor, the existence of God. That this one condition is more simple and singular than the many that must come together to explain the Jesus events without God indicates that, in absence of a bias predisposed to conclude there definitely is no God, there is every bit as much reason at least [major emphasis on the "least"] to believe in the Christian explanation of these events as there is to believe the Atheist one, regardless of how many other explanations people with other beliefs may bake up. That is to say, there is no given reason, other than a bias toward believing that the supernatural is definitely false, to believe the Atheist explanations of these events (even all combined due to the many conveniently contrived necessities) are superior or more likely than the Christian one. It is no less random to believe "Jesus was God-incarnate and rose from the dead" than it is to believe "We have no absolute proof of God so it naturally follows the disciples were to the last of them clinically insane or willing to die for what they knew to be a lie."

Atheists may ask, "but why must the supernatural explanation be a Christian one?" This leads us to the second Fallacy involved.


2. The 50% Fallacy: When faced with the possibility of the supernatural, non-theists have often countered, "Well, okay, so maybe the supernatural is conceivably possible. But by which religion? There are so many of them, that Atheism is the safest choice because on the side of Religion you have many many options, and on the side of Atheism you have only one. So that one option, Atheism, has a 50 percent likelihood of being true, whereas each separate religion is splintered among the other 50 percent. So Atheism, of all the different options, has a landslide higher percentage of likely being true."

This treats it as though there are two categories regarding our origins and seeming miracles: "Religious explanations" and "Non-Religious Explanations." This would mean Atheism dominates one category but that each individual religion is only weakly represented in the midst of many in the Religious category. However, never have I seen any reason to believe that the categories should be divided this way. Rather, each individual explanation, including each individual religion just as much as Atheism (assuming that the religion's truth arguably has reason to be believed as Christianity is demonstrated above), should be it's own category. That is to say, since we have seen above (in rebutting the Leprechaun Fallacy) there is no reason to believe Christianity in itself is certainly any less reasonable than Atheism, then each religion that is as reasonable as Christianity (that has similar historically sound arguments surrounding its origins, assuming such religions exist other than Christianity) is, alongside Christianity, as worthy of its own specific category as is Atheism.

In other words, if there is Atheism and fifty different religions equally fitting the same "not-out-of-thin-air" criteria as Christianity, Atheism does not have a 50% chance of being true, it has only a 1 in 51 chance of being true, just like every other religion in the collection. Choosing Atheism out from among those options is just as random, just as much a gamble, and just as much based in taking a leap from the evidence to a conclusion (that there is certainly or probably no God) rather than being the most natural conclusion that any logical person should obviously fall into.

Of course, any person who chooses any of the religions (or Atheism) has likely become convinced--for reasons he may well be able to argue reasonably and fairly--that his choice has at least slightly better chance of being true than the other 50 options, so that he is not totally choosing at random or from blind faith at all, but there tends to be realistic room for others to at least argue that their choice is the one with that better chance. As Christians, we honestly find that our religion has the highest chance and likelihood, and Atheists find the same of theirs. We are not here in this thread to argue formally about which is true and why (there are other threads for that in a different section of the forums). We are simply here to note that these two arguments, as intended to prove Atheism is the absolute landslide obvious choice, or the choice with an astronomically higher logical probability, are arguments based upon fallacy, just as Atheists would argue if Christians made such an ambitious claim using similar reasoning. Being logically convinced that you are right and trying to convince others (for a sufficient motive greater than just wanting people to agree with you), is not wrong; people of all beliefs are known for that, and people of all beliefs can usually come up with valid reasons why they ought to try. It is when you claim that there is absolutely no (or almost no) logical room to argue for a world view that contradicts yours, a claim one needs not make if he is not markedly insecure in the soundness of his own beliefs and his own arguments, that one has crossed a line, and usually (if not always) what lies on the other side of that line is a fallacy of some kind.

Just some thoughts, and here I simply thought I'd present my thinking in type.

Blessings in Christ,
KindredSoul
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  #3  
Old Oct 1, '09, 2:12 pm
James S Saint James S Saint is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Hey, I like that one...

"You either agree with me or you don't. That's a 50/50 chance of being right. But if you agree with any of the others, you only have 1 out of 3 billion chance of being right!!"
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  #4  
Old Oct 1, '09, 2:56 pm
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Eucharisted Eucharisted is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

The 50% Fallacy reminds me of an argument I had with my atheist self.

Atheist Self: How do you know God is the God of Christianity?
Religious Self: God isn't the god of one religion but of all religions; Christianity just fully knows Him, while every other religion only partially knows Him.
Atheist Self: That's your religiou belief!
Religious Self: No, it's a fact. Philosophically, if God exists, than He must be Who He is, and so, Who He is must be known by one of the religions. So logically, one religion has the full truth, while the others only have shadows of the truth.
Atheist Self: How do you know that? Maybe God isn't known at all.
Religious Self: Obviously He must be or we wouldn't know about Him.
Atheist Self: So how do you know man didn't add in ******** about God, like Him being omnipotent? Or even a god?
Religious Self: Easy. Jesus Christ. He revealed God to us, and proved He is God Incarnate by His words, works, and, ultimately, His Resurrection.
Atheist Self: You still haven't proven that Jesus is God, let alone that He rose from the dead.
Religious Self: I don't have to, I just have to show the truth. Whether you accept the truth or not, that is your choice. But the truth is proof enough; how could the truth deceive?
Atheist Self: I accept facts, not truths.
Religious Self: Facts, truth, it's all the same; the fact leads to the truth, and the truth proves Jesus is God, He rose from the dead, etc.
Atheist Self: Well, it still doesn't prove God is the God of Christianity.
Religious Self: Ok, let's work backwards. Did Jesus exist?
Atheist Self: Yes.
Religious Self: Did Jesus work miracles?
Atheist Self: Maybe, maybe not. But I don't believe in miracles. I think He used medicine.
Religious Self: Ok, let's assume He performed miracles.
Atheist Self: Why? That'd be like me telling you Buddha is God and asking you to assume He worked miracles. It's insulting.
Religious Self: Not if Buddha really was God. But he isn't, which I want to show you. Now, let's assume Jesus worked miracles.
Atheist Self: Whatever, alright. He did miracles.
Religious Self: And did He rise from the dead?
Atheist Self: Maybe, maybe not. I don't believe in any resurrection. Once you're dead, you're dead. Could have been a ghost, though.
Religious Self: That is what the apostles thought when He appeared to them - they thought He was a ghost - and the gentiles didn't believe in a resurrection, either. At any rate, if Jesus could perform miracles, He could raise Himself to glory, right?
Atheist Self: Yes, whatever, what's your point?
Religious Self: Well, if Jesus was real, and He performed miracles, and He rose from the dead, than He is God. Like He told the pharisees: If words don't convince you, look at His works.
Atheist Self: Ok, but Jesus is a Jew, not a Christian. So God isn't the Christian God.
Religious Self: Exactly! Jews worship God, and Christians do too. God is the God of all people, not just one people as Israel used to think. So now you do understand that God isn't the God of one religion but of all religions?
Atheist Self: Wouldn't that make all religions and creeds equal?
Religious Self: Good point. But no. Religion is man's just service to God and to one another, and religion relies on truth, since truth is the foundation of belief. Christianity has the fullness of the truth, and every other religion has some truths, like I said earlier.
Athiest Self: How do you know truth is the foundation of belief? People do believe in imaginary things!
Religious Self: Than their belief is false. Whereas, people who believe in real things, their belief is true. But that's not to say simply believing in something makes your faith alive. Faith without works - faith without love - is dead, because, without love, nothing is of value.
Atheist Self: How do you know that?
Religious Self: Because if you don't have God, no good has value.
Atheist Self: Ha! You're using two different sense of love! You said love is works, but now you're saying love is God - which is it?
Religious Self: Love is man's share in God, because He is Love Itself. But to help you better understand, I'll say that love is man's share in God's Nature.
Atheist Self: That doesn't make sense.
Religious Self: And I don't want to explain it. Take too long.
Atheist Self: Thanks for nothing!
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  #5  
Old Oct 1, '09, 3:43 pm
Touchstone Touchstone is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredSoul View Post
1. The Leprechaun Fallacy: There is a non-theist counter to the "absence of proof is not proof of absence" claim, and it is something like this: "There is no proof that Leprechauns do not exist either, yet we don't believe in them or take them as seriously as the thought of them not existing, so religion is no less silly than believing in Leprechauns!" Substitute Leprechauns with some other mythical creature or, for an extreme version, a giant spaghetti monster pulled from absolutely nowhere. The point is, non-theists point out we cannot dis-prove these things, yet we do not consider belief in them to be an equally valid option to lack of belief in them. Why, they ask, is religion different?
Interesting that you should pick "leprechauns", as that seems a contrary example for you. Leprechauns have a long history, dating back to be fore the time of the Celts, and appearing in art and other depictions as early as the 7th or 8th century. They didn't just "appear" out of nowhere, but like so much mythology, can be traced way back before we have good records and histories.

An important distinction in all of this is the discounting (or not) that gets applied to hearsay, and dubious witnesses. Christianity, for example, has had billions of followers and is deeply entrenched in many cultures, but rests on a conspicuously thin evidential base. The accounts we have are dubious at best, especially given the conflicted interests of the vast majority of witnesses. And moreover, the fabulous, fantastic nature of the claims are *way* out of line with what hearsay can support. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and responses that point out that Socrates has as little documentary evidence for his historicity (or less) than Jesus fail to understand that the bar is much lower for Socrates; there's nothing implausible about reports of a Greek man named "Socrates" living 2500 years ago, and espousing various philosophies. We don't need very much evidence at all that such a thing happened, as it is plausible on its face.

Not so for the story of Jesus.

But as inapplicable as a leprechaun may be to your case, here (the FSM is "out of nowhere", and that's the whole point of FSM), things like a leprechaun are used because they convey the folly and fantastic value of such beliefs, unadorned by the baroque guilding of credulity and fantastic beliefs in Christianity.

If leprechauns had the "emperor's clothes" tailored for them, and various schools of metaphysics and doctrinal fragments spun out from leprechaunism, and political empires that spanned half the globe erectic cathedrals to leprechaunism, it would be just as fanciful as leprechauns are now, but much harder to see and dismiss as such, because leprechaunism would be enrobed in the trappings of power and venerating history.

A good way to see this "gravitas" in action outside Christianity is to look at Mohammed's miraculous "midnight Journey" to Jerusalem (and then to Heaven), or Joseph Smith Jr.'s magical golden plates. I would wager most Catholics reject the authenticity of *those* miracles, whilst proclaiming the miracle of the Resurrection. This is selective criticism and skepticism, gerrymandering around one's one preferred beliefs to protect them from (self-) scrutiny, while maintaining a reasonably skeptical stance about the claims from other faiths. Those, and other examples like, say, Hindu miracles from before the time of Christ that are both fabulous and steeped in tradition, history and philosophy of Indian culture, are examples of how "believing in leprechauns" gets buffed up and shined up, dressed in a nice suit with a sophisticated tie, but remains "false" in the eyes of Catholics.

Leprechauns, and examples like them, I think are useful as a kind of stark contrast, a look at something similarly incredible, but just unvenerated, unguilded by two millenia of emperors, philosophers and priests.

-TS
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Old Oct 1, '09, 3:48 pm
Spock Spock is offline
 
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredSoul View Post
1. The Leprechaun Fallacy: There is a non-theist counter to the "absence of proof is not proof of absence" claim, and it is something like this: "There is no proof that Leprechauns do not exist either, yet we don't believe in them or take them as seriously as the thought of them not existing, so religion is no less silly than believing in Leprechauns!" Substitute Leprechauns with some other mythical creature or, for an extreme version, a giant spaghetti monster pulled from absolutely nowhere. The point is, non-theists point out we cannot dis-prove these things, yet we do not consider belief in them to be an equally valid option to lack of belief in them. Why, they ask, is religion different?
First of all, this is a nice and conscise summary. Next, I will accept that "absence of proof in not a proof of absence". However, it is usually stated as "absence of evidence is not an evidence of absence" - that that is not correct. The absence of evidence is a very good evidence of absence.

Now, we are confronted with the question of the available evidence. And I will get to that below.


Quote:
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The problem is that this assumes that religion was pulled virtually (or literally) from nowhere. I will use Christianity as an example, because I am most familiar with my own religion.
I wonder what would you say if your substituted Islam or Mormonism and spoke about those religions, instead of Christianity. They also have some kind of evidence, and I would like to know if you lend credence to those claims? Allegedly the Book of Mormon was written on some golden sheets, and there were hundreds of witnesses, who claim to have seen those pages. Do you believe their testimony?

We can examine the available evidence for Christianity. There is one ironclad, physical evidence, namely the Bible. How reliable is that source? Admittedly, there are many events described in those books, which have been verified by other, independent historical sources. However, none of the events, which form the foundation of Christianity have been verified in such a manner. Not the life of Jesus, nor the crucifixion, also not the resurrection, the purported miracles, etc... None of these have been verified.

The books in the New Testament have not been written at least 40 years after the death of Jesus. Jesus himself has not left any written documentation. The Gnostic Gospels were not written by the authors, whose name they carry. There are many features in them which show a legend in evolution.

Therefore the most probable explanation is not that the authors were lunatics or liars, rather that we are confronted with legends, which may or may not have any historical foundations for them.

What about the obvious scientific errors in the Bible? The objection is that the Bible is not a science textbook, and should not be taken as if it were. Granted. But the nature of the errors cannot be explained away in such a manner. The stories and events conform the usual worldview, prevalent in those superstitious times.

What about the passages which are revolting to our times? Which describe and (at the very least) do not condemn practices which we fine morally reprehensible? The usual objection that those passages are not applicable today is just a cop-out. They are part of the Holy Scriptures, and cannot be explained away as pertinent only to those times. After all the Bible is supposed to be the unchanging, inerrant word of God. Which leads to the next paragraph.

What about the allegorical vs. literal interpretation of certain passages? This is a thorn in the side of Christianity. As science grows, many passages which were taken literally in older times, are now taken allegorically. Of course it happened over the Catholic Church's resistence, and the change only happened when the literal position became untenable. As a matter of fact, the need for interpretation is a huge problem. How can the Unchanging Word of God be so ambiguous that it needs interpretation?

What about the assertion that the Bible is not the only evidence, but there is the Sacred Tradition? Not even worth to mention. The authority of the Church is ultimately based upon the authority of Bible. If the Bible cannot be accepted as a reliable source, the authority of the Church goes down with it.

As a summary: the only avaliable physical evidence is nothing but a bunch of legends, loaded with scientific errors, their interpretation constantly changing as it is obvious that the old interpretation is no longer acceptable. The available evidence is just too farfecthed to be taken more seriously than any of the other religious evidences presented by other religious sources. That is why atheists simply shrug when told that Christianity has a "more solid foundation" than othe other religions. It does not.

You, as a believer may find the explanations satisfactory for the problems I mentioned above. I, as an atheist do not. Substitute Islam or Mormonism for Christianity, and examine their claims as critically as I did with the claims of Christianity. You will find yourself to be an unbeliever (atheist) when it comes to those religions. A very good saying: "We are all atheists. I happen to believe in one fewer God than you do. When you will realize why you don't believe in those Gods, you will understand why I don't believe in yours".

Edit: I see that Touchstone has preempted most of what I was saying.
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Old Oct 1, '09, 4:01 pm
liquidpele liquidpele is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Touchstone,

Seriously, you should start a blog or something. Your explanations are ridiculously well thought out and worded beautifully.

Edit: Spock, you're good too, I just find Touchstone's phrasing to be extremely easy to digest.
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Old Oct 1, '09, 4:13 pm
James S Saint James S Saint is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spock View Post
[font="Verdana"]I wonder what would you say if your substituted Islam or Mormonism and spoke about those religions, instead of Christianity. They also have some kind of evidence, and I would like to know if you lend credence to those claims? Allegedly the Book of Mormon was written on some golden sheets, and there were hundreds of witnesses, who claim to have seen those pages. Do you believe their testimony?
I have personally examined all 3 of those from the outside and can honestly say that Islam and Mormonism have nothing over Christianity. Judaism could have, except they hold far too much to metaphoric mysticisms.

But I agree with Liquidpele, Touchstone composes a good political narrative and debating with KindredSoul, who also has such talent, sets up an interesting situation. Although not terribly philosophical as much as merely political.... this outta be good.
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Old Oct 1, '09, 4:33 pm
James S Saint James S Saint is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

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Originally Posted by Touchstone View Post
Leprechauns, and examples like them, I think are useful as a kind of stark contrast, a look at something similarly incredible, but just unvenerated, unguilded by two millenia of emperors, philosophers and priests.
Btw, don't forget that everything has a cause. One might consider asking why those Leprechauns never gained such a high following from such high places.
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Old Oct 1, '09, 8:31 pm
KindredSoul KindredSoul is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

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Interesting that you should pick "leprechauns", as that seems a contrary example for you. Leprechauns have a long history, dating back to be fore the time of the Celts, and appearing in art and other depictions as early as the 7th or 8th century. They didn't just "appear" out of nowhere, but like so much mythology, can be traced way back before we have good records and histories.
Only if we have access to such good records and histories as to the age of their origins and the events surrounding those origins, as you admit we do not but as we do have regarding the events surrounding the origins of Christianity, only then do we have any ability to decide whether or not the origins of leprechauns are as sound as the origins of Christianity, since the latter's origins are supplemented and searchable through history, from study of which one can draw implications as to what he believes about it. Christianity's strength, the strength that puts it on at least the same level as Atheism, is not merely that it was favored politically for over a millennium, as you suggest, but that Christian origin events, whatever conclusions are to be drawn from them, happened since we have had records and histories, an advantage the belief in Leprechauns would not have even if empires and kingdoms had favored them for the past millennium. For this reason, it seems to follow that the non-theist attempt to draw parallels between the two, Christianity and Leprechauns (and similar myths) is still quite unsupportable.

I chose leprechauns because that is a specific example I had seen used for the non-theist argument. I have already argued, as is still to my satisfaction (I hope the reader will not be tempted to "poison the well" and suggest that because I am Christian I am more unreliable than a non-Christian), that Christianity is certainly not inferior, on a logical likelihood basis, to Atheism. So, for the sake of argument, even if one would conclude that belief in Leprechauns is not inferior to Christianity (and therefore, given what has been established, not inferior to Atheism), that would do nothing to dilute Christianity's credibility anymore than Atheism's; that is, if one (for the sake of argument, as it has not hitherto been done) convinces me that belief in Leprechauns should also have an equal "1 in 51" share in chances of being true to Christianity and Atheism, it certainly doesn't upset my point. I personally do not believe that possibility is on rival grounds with Christianity's historical support at all for reasons given in the previous paragraph but if you do somehow believe this, you only add one more possibility to the "1 in 51" rather than particularly strengthen non-Theism. To believe it dilutes Christianity's claims without diluting Atheism's is something of a false dilemma. If it dilutes the likelihood of the former, it dilutes the likelihood of the latter, as the former is of no less standing in logical likelihood than the latter.

Quote:
An important distinction in all of this is the discounting (or not) that gets applied to hearsay, and dubious witnesses. Christianity, for example, has had billions of followers and is deeply entrenched in many cultures, but rests on a conspicuously thin evidential base. The accounts we have are dubious at best, especially given the conflicted interests of the vast majority of witnesses. And moreover, the fabulous, fantastic nature of the claims are *way* out of line with what hearsay can support. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and responses that point out that Socrates has as little documentary evidence for his historicity (or less) than Jesus fail to understand that the bar is much lower for Socrates; there's nothing implausible about reports of a Greek man named "Socrates" living 2500 years ago, and espousing various philosophies. We don't need very much evidence at all that such a thing happened, as it is plausible on its face.
After reviewing them, I conclude, with honesty and all humble respect due, that the criteria you have stated here are biased against believing in the supernatural, especially as concerns your apparent definition of what does and doesn't constitute "Extraordinary." Extraordinary simply means "beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established", and this implies nothing of being limited to, or even specially applicable to, the supernatural. Although the supernatural certainly is extraordinary, there is no reason to believe that it is not possible for a natural, but highly unusual turn of events, to be equally or more extraordinary in terms of sheer believability. You see, I assert and truly believe that the claim that all of Jesus's followers happened to be clinically insane (enough to all imagine that they had seen Him in Resurrected form with their eyes), or that they were all, to the last of them, willing to die for a lie, or that He was somehow perfectly healed by natural means so soon after His resurrection so as to seem good as new (and somehow seem to rise to the Heavens before their very eyes)--well, all those "natural" explanations seem no less extraordinary to me. It stands to reason that "extraordinary" is only limited to supernatural, or more applicable to it, in the mind of one biased to not believe in the supernatural nor in a God Who can enact the supernatural at will. In the mind of one with no bias either way, I honestly believe that the convoluted nature of the "natural" explanations for the events surrounding claims of Jesus' resurrection prove even more extraordinary than the possibility that there is a God and that by this means Jesus really was Resurrected from the dead. Ergo, the Atheist explanation would demand no less extraordinary evidence than the Christian one, and we are again left with the fact that there is no more logical reason to come to the conclusion of Atheism than to the conclusion of Christianity.

CONTINUED...
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  #11  
Old Oct 1, '09, 8:32 pm
KindredSoul KindredSoul is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

...CONTINUED (From Above)

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A good way to see this "gravitas" in action outside Christianity is to look at Mohammed's miraculous "midnight Journey" to Jerusalem (and then to Heaven), or Joseph Smith Jr.'s magical golden plates. I would wager most Catholics reject the authenticity of *those* miracles, whilst proclaiming the miracle of the Resurrection. This is selective criticism and skepticism, gerrymandering around one's one preferred beliefs to protect them from (self-) scrutiny, while maintaining a reasonably skeptical stance about the claims from other faiths. Those, and other examples like, say, Hindu miracles from before the time of Christ that are both fabulous and steeped in tradition, history and philosophy of Indian culture, are examples of how "believing in leprechauns" gets buffed up and shined up, dressed in a nice suit with a sophisticated tie, but remains "false" in the eyes of Catholics.
Everything I said in my second paragraph in response to your post applies here too. Aside from the comments of James S. Saint about those religions, which I am inclined to believe from my passing knowledge of them, if for the sake of argument the historical events surrounding the founding of those religions demonstrably carry as much weight as those surrounding claims of Christ's resurrection, it would only add them into the "1 in 51" mix, which dilutes Christianity's likelihood and Atheism's likelihood with equal measure, rather than uniquely hurting Christianity but leaving Atheism unscathed. Again, the 50% Fallacy seems to be at work here, as though to imply that all religions belong in one category of likelihood whereas Atheism gets a likelihood category of its own. I believe this is unwarranted. Each religion that has a real, demonstrable and reasonable historical argument for its validity is its own valid representation of the seemingly miraculous and of the origins of the universe, and due to that demonstrable and reasonable historical argument, it is no less a valid representation than Atheism. Again, without the use of the 50% fallacy, the implications of several religions having equally arguable cases doesn't dilute the likelihood of Christianity anymore than it dilutes the likelihood of Atheism.

I believe James S. Saint, using a tongue in cheek manner which pointedly emphasizes the implication, expressed the less-than-fairly balanced "convenience" of the 50% fallacy:

Quote:
Originally Posted by James S Saint View Post
Hey, I like that one...

"You either agree with me or you don't. That's a 50/50 chance of being right. But if you agree with any of the others, you only have 1 out of 3 billion chance of being right!!"
There simply is no demonstrable reason one should accept that premise, so far as I can see.

Spock, I believe that, as you noted, much of your argument and TouchStone's are the same, so much of it is already addressed insofar as his points are addressed. Even so, unique to your post is discussion of the nature of some biblical claims; insofar as that topic is relevant to this particular subject, Christianity's validity thrives or dies only with the reality or falsehood of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all that we believe about Old Testament [and certain New Testament] events and claims, aside from the more self-evident "This is what these people believed" parts, is arguably seen in light of what we conclude about His Resurrection based upon our review of the historical events surrounding the resurrection claim (which is not limited only to the Bible, but to historians' [some of them anti-Christian] reactions and lack of conclusively refuting those very prominent claims that real historical people really made, the debunking of which would have been easy in that vital stage if they were "pulled out of thin air" without any arguable basis in reality), and discerning what our conclusion based on that must mean about those scriptural questions, rather than the other way around. Since the Resurrection, as the origin of Christianity as a distinct belief system, is the central and defining factor from which one would venture to demonstrate whether Christianity is [at least] as sound and logically believable/likely as Atheism, that is what I have focused on for these purposes. Even so, I had completed a response to your claims about the Bible and the question as to what effect it has on the validity of Sacred Tradition, but I realized that would take us into an entirely different realm of discussion that would begin to take us severely off topic. For the moment, we must simply consider that if one can make a reasonable case that Jesus rose from the dead and that natural explanations for those events are only equal or inferior, as I have pointed to as something that can be argued soundly, then belief in Christianity is at least as justified as belief in Atheism, regardless of how we work out the specific issues raised by your question. This means that the reason-ability of belief in the Resurrection is all that needs to be considered in evaluating Christianity as being of at least equal likelihood to Atheism, which in this particular discussion is the important matter. Of course, there are answers to your questions, and I believe you will probably be able to find those questions discussed elsewhere on the forum, where they can be addressed freely and deeply without their respective threads being lost to their initial purposes as this one would be.

Thank you for your responses so far, everyone.

Blessings in Christ,
KindredSoul
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  #12  
Old Oct 1, '09, 9:58 pm
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Eucharisted Eucharisted is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

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First of all, this is a nice and conscise summary. Next, I will accept that "absence of proof in not a proof of absence". However, it is usually stated as "absence of evidence is not an evidence of absence" - that that is not correct. The absence of evidence is a very good evidence of absence.

Now, we are confronted with the question of the available evidence. And I will get to that below.



I wonder what would you say if your substituted Islam or Mormonism and spoke about those religions, instead of Christianity. They also have some kind of evidence, and I would like to know if you lend credence to those claims? Allegedly the Book of Mormon was written on some golden sheets, and there were hundreds of witnesses, who claim to have seen those pages. Do you believe their testimony?

We can examine the available evidence for Christianity. There is one ironclad, physical evidence, namely the Bible. How reliable is that source? Admittedly, there are many events described in those books, which have been verified by other, independent historical sources. However, none of the events, which form the foundation of Christianity have been verified in such a manner. Not the life of Jesus, nor the crucifixion, also not the resurrection, the purported miracles, etc... None of these have been verified.

The books in the New Testament have not been written at least 40 years after the death of Jesus. Jesus himself has not left any written documentation. The Gnostic Gospels were not written by the authors, whose name they carry. There are many features in them which show a legend in evolution.

Therefore the most probable explanation is not that the authors were lunatics or liars, rather that we are confronted with legends, which may or may not have any historical foundations for them.

What about the obvious scientific errors in the Bible? The objection is that the Bible is not a science textbook, and should not be taken as if it were. Granted. But the nature of the errors cannot be explained away in such a manner. The stories and events conform the usual worldview, prevalent in those superstitious times.

What about the passages which are revolting to our times? Which describe and (at the very least) do not condemn practices which we fine morally reprehensible? The usual objection that those passages are not applicable today is just a cop-out. They are part of the Holy Scriptures, and cannot be explained away as pertinent only to those times. After all the Bible is supposed to be the unchanging, inerrant word of God. Which leads to the next paragraph.

What about the allegorical vs. literal interpretation of certain passages? This is a thorn in the side of Christianity. As science grows, many passages which were taken literally in older times, are now taken allegorically. Of course it happened over the Catholic Church's resistence, and the change only happened when the literal position became untenable. As a matter of fact, the need for interpretation is a huge problem. How can the Unchanging Word of God be so ambiguous that it needs interpretation?

What about the assertion that the Bible is not the only evidence, but there is the Sacred Tradition? Not even worth to mention. The authority of the Church is ultimately based upon the authority of Bible. If the Bible cannot be accepted as a reliable source, the authority of the Church goes down with it.

As a summary: the only avaliable physical evidence is nothing but a bunch of legends, loaded with scientific errors, their interpretation constantly changing as it is obvious that the old interpretation is no longer acceptable. The available evidence is just too farfecthed to be taken more seriously than any of the other religious evidences presented by other religious sources. That is why atheists simply shrug when told that Christianity has a "more solid foundation" than othe other religions. It does not.

You, as a believer may find the explanations satisfactory for the problems I mentioned above. I, as an atheist do not. Substitute Islam or Mormonism for Christianity, and examine their claims as critically as I did with the claims of Christianity. You will find yourself to be an unbeliever (atheist) when it comes to those religions. A very good saying: "We are all atheists. I happen to believe in one fewer God than you do. When you will realize why you don't believe in those Gods, you will understand why I don't believe in yours".

Edit: I see that Touchstone has preempted most of what I was saying.
The wise man dose not open his mouth when he dose not know what to say, lest the words that come forth from his mouth make everyone who hears them dumber than they were before he spoke.

Ponder that proverb, Spock, before you post.
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  #13  
Old Oct 1, '09, 10:16 pm
BobCatholic BobCatholic is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

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Originally Posted by KindredSoul;5766918
[B
2. The 50% Fallacy:[/b] When faced with the possibility of the supernatural, non-theists have often countered, "Well, okay, so maybe the supernatural is conceivably possible. But by which religion? There are so many of them, that Atheism is the safest choice because on the side of Religion you have many many options, and on the side of Atheism you have only one.
Let me add something to this.

This is a fallacy because Atheism denies that the supernatural exists. At least other religions accept the supernatural to some extent. Thus Atheism is not the safest choice, if the supernatural is a possibility. The logical law of non contradiction applies. If the supernatural IS a possibility, Atheism is not true simply because it denies the supernatural.

Now, on the side of the opposite of Atheism - which is not necessarily religion - because there are Atheistic religions like Confucianism, Unitarian Universalism, Scientology, etc. Thus, they really can't put religion in the other 50%, because religion is 100% of the pie in this case. This is another reason the 50% fallacy doesn't work.

And theism is not the opposite of Atheism - because of the fact there are atheistic religions too. So if supernatural is possible, that doesn't mean theism is true. It just opens up the atheistic religions to the realm of possibility - maybe Buddhism is true, or Confucianism is true. Unfortunately, many atheists, resist accepting the possibility of the supernatural because they think that this MUST mean theism is true. This is not the case.

I see Atheism like any other religion - see my previous posts about how atheism is really a religion (I use the "looks like a duck..." reasoning) - many atheists require that belief in a god or gods is required to have a religion (which would then declare Buddhism, Confucianism, Scientology, and other religions, as non-religions - and that does not fit reality.)
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Old Oct 1, '09, 10:44 pm
James S Saint James S Saint is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

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Let me add something to this.
Even Logic would actually be a religion if it actually had a real following.
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Old Oct 1, '09, 10:48 pm
Touchstone Touchstone is offline
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Default Re: The Leprechaun Fallacy and 50% Fallacy.

Hi Kindred Soul,

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Originally Posted by KindredSoul View Post
Only if we have access to such good records and histories as to the age of their origins and the events surrounding those origins, as you admit we do not but as we do have regarding the events surrounding the origins of Christianity, only then do we have any ability to decide whether or not the origins of leprechauns are as sound as the origins of Christianity, since the latter's origins are supplemented and searchable through history, from study of which one can draw implications as to what he believes about it.
Leprechauns are definitely less well adapted memes. On the one hand, they were never the crucial cause of an apocalyptic cult; from start to finish the leprechaun story is recounted with a twinkle in the eye, the Irish way. On the other, a leprechaun won't get you eternal life, or condemn disbelievers to hell in perpetuity, etc. So it really doesn't have what it takes to prevail culturally compared to the claims Christianity, Islam or CoJCoLdS.

Nevertheless, the leprechaun, if considered as a "real god", remains a fantastic, fabulous account. Like I said, the leprechaun doesn't come with monasteries and robes and cathedrals dotting the landscape, so it's fabulous nature is much more abrupt, giving it some pedagogical value.

Quote:
Christianity's strength, the strength that puts it on at least the same level as Atheism, is not merely that it was favored politically for over a millennium, as you suggest, but that Christian origin events, whatever conclusions are to be drawn from them, happened since we have had records and histories, an advantage the belief in Leprechauns would not have even if empires and kingdoms had favored them for the past millennium. For this reason, it seems to follow that the non-theist attempt to draw parallels between the two, Christianity and Leprechauns (and similar myths) is still quite unsupportable.
The same level as atheism? I can't believe what I'm reading. Atheism is the *rejection* of fabulous, unsupported, mystical claims. It's not at parity in any case. It may be incorrect, but it's either got a profound epistemic insight, or it's fantastically wrong. But as a matter of *reasoning* and *evidence*, the tools we use everyday to build real world knowledge, it's just everyday tools being applied. Christianity makes a number of outrageous claims with respect to our empirical observations. Atheism does not, and the difference could not be more stark. I don't know what kind of numerators and denominators you are applying here to come up with some kind of "parity", but I invite you to lay that out, if it's anything more than just naked assertion; atheism needs no miracles accepted, no supernatural mysticism to be embraced. It only relies on the tools everyone, including Christians, use every day -- reason and rigorous analysis of the evidence toward validated, tested, objective knowledge.

Quote:
I chose leprechauns because that is a specific example I had seen used for the non-theist argument. I have already argued, as is still to my satisfaction (I hope the reader will not be tempted to "poison the well" and suggest that because I am Christian I am more unreliable than a non-Christian), that Christianity is certainly not inferior, on a logical likelihood basis, to Atheism.
It has nothing to do with your reliability or trustworthiness to represent things as you see them. The problem is a breakdown in reasoning. Christianity is wholly inferior on a logical, rational basis, and it is proud to be so -- it relies on faith, the hope in things *unseen*. It's claim to fame is the departure from reason to embrace the mystical, the supernatural, the "beyond-reason". Did the sun stand still so Joshua could finish his battle for a couple hours? Well, if that's the claim, that's quite a fantastic claim. It militates against *everything* we bring in empirically, and is extremely problematic as a practical event in a number of ways. Logically, it's a complete bust, a report that a fair judge, just going by the evidence available, would dismiss out of hand. But for those who embrace that story, it's not embraced because it's logical, concordant with all we know from physics and nature, but because of faith, a commitment that *trumps* logic and reasoning, rather than follows it.

That's just one example. I trust you understand I can go on and on with as many examples as you'd like to make this point.

Quote:
So, for the sake of argument, even if one would conclude that belief in Leprechauns is not inferior to Christianity (and therefore, given what has been established, not inferior to Atheism), that would do nothing to dilute Christianity's credibility anymore than Atheism's; that is, if one (for the sake of argument, as it has not hitherto been done) convinces me that belief in Leprechauns should also have an equal "1 in 51" share in chances of being true to Christianity and Atheism, it certainly doesn't upset my point.
I think leprechauns are more easily dismissed just on the basis that no one is seriously proposing them as actual beings (that I know of, anyway). That is an immediate "loss" in comparison to Christianity. But setting that deficit aside, the leprechaun is a much more plausible story than Christianity; we can much more easily rectify the claims of leprechaunism (as I understand them -- can be pressed to reveal pot of gold, will dart away instantly if you take their eyes off them, are diminuitive, human-like characters, practice in shoe making and repair...) against what we know of the real world than we might do the same for Christianity. On the "stretching credulity" scale, Christianity scale is a heavy hitter, and leprechaunism is small potatoes (to mix my metaphors).


-TS

(con't)
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