"Hey guys, last summer i spend 3 days in the stomach of a live sperm whale"
The imediate reaction when you hear that is to think im lying. If i had written that in a book called "The things I did last summer", everyone would tend to treat that rest of the material in that book with sceptisism. Sure there might be explanations, the whale might have had a giant bag with me surgically placed inside it which i lived in while i breathed through a tube, or Thor the thundergod may have prevented me from dying, but at the end of the day its the kind of statements that hurt your crediability.
The obvious connection i want to make is with the bible (and the jw interpretation of it). It says a guy DID infact live inside a whale for a couple of days, however (im guessing) it would be rationalized in the following way: "I know the bible is true, so when it says Jonas lived inside a whale that was a miracle. It does not affect the crediability of the bible because God does perform miracles and this is just one of them". What happends here is that the person says the bible is true, invent a RATIONALIZATION of the evidence (that God may have performed a miracle), use THAT to explain the evidence, and thus isolate the bibles crediability from evidence. This is done time over here on this forum, with 607-chronology, noahs ark, no evolution, magic hair, talking snakes, etc. playing the role of the whale.
This way of arguing is simply false, provided one will accept the basics of statistics and logic. If a person wish to continue argue this way, fine, but you got to throw logic out of the window and pretend that does not matter. Thats what i want to point out in this thread.
In reality, noone was not born knowing that the bible was true. They was convinced. Thats why the preaching work makes sence: you CONVINCE people by arguments. Thus the truthfullness of the bible is inferred based on evidence, i want to show here how evidence affect the level of trust we can put in the bible.
Say we are having yet another discussion with a guy who likes to defend biblical 607 chronology, and he point out that he trust the bible more than secular history. Lets call the belief the bible is true for "B" and the evidence from secular history which contradict the bible for "H". What we want to do is talk about the level of trust we put in the bible given the evidence from history. In statistics we write: P(B | H). We want to compare that to our level of trust in the bible BEFORE introducing the evidence, P(B). Notice this analysis is insulated against various retionalizations, like "the kings may be lying", "we may find more cuniform tablets", etc. Using bayes theorem we may calculate:
P(B | H) / P(B) = P(H | B) / P(H)
the bible is true, B, or not true, here "not B". We may marginalize over this event and get:
P(B | H) / P(B) = P(H | B) / [ P(H | B)P(B) + P(H | not B)P(not B) ]
However, since we must assume P(H | B) is much less than P(H | not B), ie. if we assume the bible is false, its a hell of a lot easier to explain secular history around 607 than if we assume bible is true, we must have (P(B) + P(not B) = 1):
P(B | H) / P(B) < P(H | B) / [ P(H | B)P(B) + P(H | B)P(not B) ] = P(H | B) / P(H | B) = 1
Thus: P(B | H) < P(B)
So we are just stating the obvious fact that evidence that contradict the bible, even if it may be rationalized by various explanations, reduce the probability of the bible being true, no matter how you twist it. you got to throw out statistics and or logic to get a different result.