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Author Topic: Math Proves Christ's Resurrection?  (Read 2805 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: April 04, 2010, 10:14:57 AM »

Not that stuff like this has any bearing whatsoever on my Faith, but I did find it interesting. Math is not my forte, so I'll leave it for you experts to determine the validity of this argument. Either way, He Is Risen! Wink

Math Proves Christ's Resurrection?

It is faith, not proof, that makes Christians believe in Jesus Christ's resurrection, the central tenet of the religion. Until now.

Oxford University professor Richard Swinburne, a leading philosopher of religion, has seemingly done the impossible. Using logic and mathematics, he has created a formula that he says shows a 97 percent certainty that Jesus Christ was resurrected by God the Father, report The Age and Catholic News.

This stunning conclusion was made based on a series of complex calculations grounded in the following logic:

-The probability of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.

-The probability that God became incarnate, that is embodied in human form, is also one in two.

-The evidence for God's existence is an argument for the resurrection.

-The chance of Christ's resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.

-Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.

"New Testament scholars say the only evidences are witnesses in the four gospels. That's only five percent of the evidence," Swinburne said in a lecture he gave at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. "We can't judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there's reason to suppose there is a God. Secondly, if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate, and thirdly, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did." He says that even Jesus' life is not enough proof. However, the resurrection is "God's signature," which shows "his approval of Jesus' teaching."

The calculations that Swinburne says prove the resurrection are detailed in his book, "The Resurrection of God Incarnate."

Source: http://channels.isp.netscape.com/whatsnew/package.jsp?name=fte/resurrection/resurrection&floc=NI-slot1a


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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2010, 11:02:57 AM »

Swinburne's Bayesian argument is an appendix to The Resurrection of God Incarnate, not the main thrust of the book. That's just as well, as the use of the Bayes theorem is so controversial that it would undermine Swinburne's very admirable defence of Christianity to depend on it.

The Resurrection of God Incarnate is one of Swinburne's more accessible works. Try reading it yourself.
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2010, 04:28:27 AM »

I am skeptical of the proof list above listed. I mean, where does he get the stuff, and why does he say theres a chance the resurrection was not reported, when obviously it was? I mean, that's 100%. We do have a "report" of it. I mean, am I psychotic and the Bible doesn't exist?
« Last Edit: July 26, 2010, 04:29:01 AM by rakovsky » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2010, 05:41:55 AM »

Its best to read the book and not criticise the book based only on a newspaper review. Swinburne is a very interesting thinker.
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2010, 05:13:35 PM »

-The probability of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.
He loses my vote right here, on point number one.  Just because a trial has two potential outcomes doesn't mean the outcomes are equally likely.  (Consider the New England Patriots playing the Upper Sandusky Junior Varsity.  The game has two possible outcomes (high school rules w/no ties).  Anybody willing to take Sandusky at even money?)

I am skeptical of the proof list above listed. I mean, where does he get the stuff, and why does he say theres a chance the resurrection was not reported, when obviously it was? I mean, that's 100%. We do have a "report" of it.
I haven't read the book, but he must be trying to use Bayes' Theorem.  In order to answer the question "how likely is it that a resurrection that didn't occur would be reported to have occurred", you need to have several pieces of data (or guesses), including "what is the probability that a resurrection that DID occur would NOT have been reported."  It's actually a pretty cool tool, and learning it tends to be a rather universal "aha!" moment among statistics students.
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2010, 05:21:40 PM »

I wouldn't assume that the book review has reviewed or reported the book accurately.

Anything critical you can think of I can assure you that Swinburne has thought of. His mind must be 10 times bigger than mine.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 11:21:29 PM »

-The probability of God's existence is one in two. That is, God either exists or doesn't.
He loses my vote right here, on point number one.  Just because a trial has two potential outcomes doesn't mean the outcomes are equally likely.  (Consider the New England Patriots playing the Upper Sandusky Junior Varsity.  The game has two possible outcomes (high school rules w/no ties).  Anybody willing to take Sandusky at even money?)

Maybe it is one in two chance for Sandusky. Sandusky would only be playing them if it was a practice game or extremely unusual event, and in such an unusual event, maybe something would happen in the premise that would make it 1-1 odds. Or maybe the New England Patriots would lose to Sandusky higschool if the game was played with the current team roster but 40 years from now.

You got to think this through. Why would the teams be playing in the first place if there was no fair chance of the other side winning? And in such an unusal situation, the likelihood might be 1-1. I am thinking of some excuses, but even then, still, exact 1-1?
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 04:07:02 PM »

Maybe it is one in two chance for Sandusky...  Why would the teams be playing in the first place if there was no fair chance of the other side winning?
Oh.
My.
Goodness.
I specifically chose a silly example to illustrate a fundamental principle of probability, thinking it would be beyond debate.  Wrong, I guess.  All right, I'll try again.  In the next 24 hours, there are exactly two possibilities -- either the moon will collide with earth or it won't.  If you wish to argue that the outcomes are equally likely, enjoy.

Quote from: peterfarrington
Anything critical you can think of I can assure you that Swinburne has thought of.
Perhaps.  But just because he's thought of them doesn't mean he's formulated an effective explanation.  Most writings of this kind are designed merely to convince those who are already convinced.  And to be honest, he lost me even before I read his first argument.  The whole notion of trying to prove God's existence, Christ's resurrection, or any other theological concept using math is ludicrous.  God transcends math, so math is incapable of doing what Swinburne wants.  It is akin to wanting to use arithmetic to prove the central precepts of the calculus.  It can't be done.  Calculus transcends arithmetic.
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2010, 10:32:56 AM »

Maybe it is one in two chance for Sandusky...  Why would the teams be playing in the first place if there was no fair chance of the other side winning?
Oh.
My.
Goodness.
I specifically chose a silly example to illustrate a fundamental principle of probability, thinking it would be beyond debate.  Wrong, I guess.  All right, I'll try again.  In the next 24 hours, there are exactly two possibilities -- either the moon will collide with earth or it won't.  If you wish to argue that the outcomes are equally likely, enjoy.

There may well be a small breakaway piece of the moon within orbit of the earth. We would have to find this breakaway and decide if it will land within the next 24 hours, and the rest of the moon will follow it a few million years from now. Further, someone reading this a few million years could have such a probability while they are reading it. What is unknown to one person might be true for another.

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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2010, 10:35:12 AM »

Quote from: peterfarrington
Anything critical you can think of I can assure you that Swinburne has thought of.
Perhaps.  But just because he's thought of them doesn't mean he's formulated an effective explanation.  Most writings of this kind are designed merely to convince those who are already convinced.  And to be honest, he lost me even before I read his first argument.  The whole notion of trying to prove God's existence, Christ's resurrection, or any other theological concept using math is ludicrous.  God transcends math, so math is incapable of doing what Swinburne wants.  It is akin to wanting to use arithmetic to prove the central precepts of the calculus.  It can't be done.  Calculus transcends arithmetic.

What do you mean it can't be done? Multiplication is based on arithmetic, and calculus is based on multiplication and other basic ideas, I think.
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2010, 05:17:28 PM »

It can't be done.  Calculus transcends arithmetic.
What do you mean it can't be done? Multiplication is based on arithmetic, and calculus is based on multiplication and other basic ideas, I think.
Not really.  Calculus depends on the notion of limits, an idea that isn't present in arithmetic.  The whole reason Newton et al discovered (or invented, depending on your philosophy) the calculus was to solve problems that couldn't be solved by the mathematics of the time -- but that seemed like they should have been solvable.
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2010, 11:20:53 PM »

Most writings of this kind are designed merely to convince those who are already convinced.  

There have been many instances over the years where a philosopher of religion who argued for atheism came to theism after finding that his colleagues' arguments held water.

In any event, it's worth pointing out that the use of the Bayes theorem is essentially an addendum to The Resurrection of God Incarnate. It doesn't play much of a role in the bulk of the argumentation.

EDIT: Oops, I didn't notice I had already made the same comment before the thread was dredged back up.
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2010, 12:02:55 AM »

  Calculus depends on the notion of limits, an idea that isn't present in arithmetic.  The whole reason Newton et al discovered (or invented, depending on your philosophy) the calculus was to solve problems that couldn't be solved by the mathematics of the time -- but that seemed like they should have been solvable.
The ancient Greeks, such as Antiphon and Eudoxus and Euclid calculated the area of regions and the volumes of solids by inscribing (and in some cases also circumscribing) a sequence of polygons or other familiar objects whose known area converges to the unknown area of the shape it is approximating.
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2010, 04:28:05 PM »

The ancient Greeks, such as Antiphon and Eudoxus and Euclid calculated the area of regions and the volumes of solids by inscribing (and in some cases also circumscribing) a sequence of polygons or other familiar objects whose known area converges to the unknown area of the shape it is approximating.
Quite true.  And as you correctly point out, they were approximating the calculation.  If you want the actual value, you have to go a step or two further and use calculus.  The best arithmetic can do is provide bounds and reasonable approximations, which illustrates my point quite well -- the real answers had to wait until Newton.  (For all I know, he probably thought "Hey, they were onto something there," and took it the next logical step.)
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2010, 06:27:07 PM »

And as you correctly point out, they were approximating the calculation.  If you want the actual value, you have to go a step or two further and use calculus.
I don't see how you would get the actual value of pi. You can only apporximate the value, and as far as I know, the best approximation is to about 10^12 digits.
http://www.super-computing.org/pi_current.html
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2010, 06:55:06 PM »

I don't see how you would get the actual value of pi. You can only apporximate the value, and as far as I know, the best approximation is to about 10^12 digits.
Again, this is my point exactly.  Arithmetic can only approximate the value, and supercomputing applications are merely means of doing a lot of arithmetic really fast.

The exact value of Pi is expressible in numerous ways -- for one example, 4[Sumk=0Inf{(-1)k/(2k+1)}].

This is an exact value.  But it can only be approximated using arithmetic, because the value itself involves making an infinite number of calculations, which obviously can't be done.
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2010, 07:08:06 PM »

I wouldn't say that Analysis (calculus) transcends arithmetic, but rather that it expands on arithmetic. Calculus requires the fundamental axiom (or the Bolzano–Weierstrass theorem or the least upper bound axiom, they're all mathematically equivalent, assuming any of the three is enough to prove the other two):

Every monotone increasing sequence of real numbers which is bounded above tends to a limit.

This is not a necessary result of arithmetic and cannot be proven from the axioms of number theory.

Oh, and the 'mathematical' argument presented is so absurd, it isn't even worthy of comment. Even granting the utterly absurd assumptions, the math doesn't add up (how does 1:2 * 1:2 * 1:10 = 1:1000? since when is 1:1000 97%?). I doubt whoever thought up this 'proof' could even pass fourth grade math.
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