Author Topic: Epistemology of Faith  (Read 1046 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2018, 04:18:41 PM »
I always bring up the analogy of human faith, like a man from "Australia" (which for the sake of argument let's assume is a place to which you've never been). He claims to be Australian, to have grown up in Australia, that his peculiar accent is authentically Australia: and he tells you all sorts of interesting facts about Australia. You can't prove by reason alone that Australia exists, but based on the testimony of this man who seems to be very credible, you accept its existence and the things he has to say about it. In this case the will does compel the intellect to believe what the purported "Australian" is saying, by motive of wanting to know more about this region of the world and its people. His authority is based on his being a first-hand witness to the place of Australia.

This also applies to most areas of human learning. For example, physics. When you are learning physics, you don't have immediate access to the instruments which are used to reproduce the scientific evidence supporting a particular theorem; rather, you accept the theorem based on the authority of the doctor of physics, your will compelling your intellect to believe because it desires to know more about this science, trusting in the teacher's authority. His experience, his PhD, etc., make him a credible witness.

It is not a question here of the will compelling the intellect to believe, but the intellect realizing the best course of action is to assume what is said is true, while realizing the possibility that it is false.  The intellect makes a judgment on the trustworthiness of the man from Australia or the physics professor due to various factors and therefore accords to what they say a certain relative certainty - but it admits the possibility the man from Australia is lying or deluded or that the physics professor is mistaken.  Or do you accept the testimony of people who claim to have been abducted by space aliens, or phlogiston theory of burning?  (Now, if you are going to spend a lot of money on a trip to this "Australia", or on building something that necessitates that what the physics professor says is true in order to function as advertised, you may want more evidence than just their word for it.)

Quote
Now it's essentially the same with the preaching of the faith.

If so, there's a problem, for "faith" is just pragmatism under another name; and yet the Church insists on an "absolutely true" type of belief, and not merely a "good enough for all practical purposes" belief.

Quote
The apostles were men who were very holy, who performed supernatural miracles, who taught a sublime doctrine, who were exemplars of charity and good works, who risked the direst persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of their gospel: and they claimed to speak with the authority of God. And they were credible witnesses. God exists, and God sends messengers in the world to tell us about Him, and these messengers live holy lives and perform superhuman feats to prove their authenticity – What's absurd about this?

Thus the apologetic argument, but it is nowhere near as strong as you seem to think.

Supernatural miracles: this assumes that what is written about them is correct, but any writer can attribute a supernatural miracle to anyone; we don't have direct evidence of such.
Taught a sublime doctrine: Doesn't make it true.  Moreover plenty of non-Christian doctrines are "sublime", such as Plato's cave.
Exemplars of charity and good works: Found all over the place, even among non-Christians.  Even today we see many taking months out of their lives and living in a h*ll-hole to help victims of the tsunami in Indonesia.
Risked persecution and martyrdom: Only shows the strength of their belief, not that it is true.  (Would they risk their lives for something they knew to be false, says the apologist.  No, but they may well risk their lives for something they earnestly believed to be true, despite it being false.  We see lots of types of this behavior today, what with jihadis, suicide bombers, etc.)
Claimed to speak with the authority of God: So does every preacher and imam known to man.

Quote
And what's absurd about believing them? How is it any more absurd than believing the Australian or the physics professor? These men seem to know about the things of God as much as the Australian and the physicists know their expertise, so why not believe them for the sake of knowing more about God and what He has to say to us?

That's pragmatism, and not being absurd is a much lower bar than absolute truth.  It might be a good idea and not absurd to believe them, but that doesn't absolutely guarantee that everything they say is true.

Quote
The only difference here is that the Object of knowledge and the One revealing the knowledge is ultimately God Himself, who is intrinsically infallible; therefore, if these apostles really are authentic messengers sent by God, then their message is infallibly true (whereas the Australian could always be lying or blurring the truth, and the physicist's theorems could later turn out to be false or inadequate).

Yes, if.  Now, how do we arrive at this if.  That's the big question regarding epistemology of faith.

Whenever there is a claim that something epistemological is to be accepted based on authority, obviously epistemologically prior to that something is recognition of the authority as such.  Now, if recourse is had to another (more basic) authority, that only moves the question one step back.  If appeal is made to our reason to recognize such authority, then "faith" is just rationalism under another garb - reason is in fact the final authority, no matter how much people might pretend otherwise.  Believing something "on the authority of God revealing" is in reality believing something on the strength of my reason, which has concluded God has revealed it.  This is the dilemma Thomism can't extricate itself from, for fear relying on something internal as the basis for faith makes it subjective.

Quote
True, but this is why it all rests on believing in the first place in the authentic Magisterium. If you believe that God speaks through the Church, then believing any particular doctrine which the Church proposes becomes relatively straightfoward...

Right but the whole question is how one comes to believe in the authentic Magisterium.
 

Offline Arvinger

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 250
  • Thanked: 257 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2018, 05:52:11 PM »
Supernatural miracles: this assumes that what is written about them is correct, but any writer can attribute a supernatural miracle to anyone; we don't have direct evidence of such.

Just wanted to chime in with a question - what kind of evidence would you expect for the miracle which happened in the 1st century Palestine? The kind of records and resources which were available back then pretty much rule out other type of evidence than textual one. An atheist Robert Price argued in one of his debates that it is too late to know whether there was any miracle associated with the life of Jesus - according to him that is because historical material from antiquity by its nature cannot provide the kind of evidence which would prove that a miracle happened. Therefore, Price argued that Jesus really was who the New Testament teaches and God holds us accountable to Him, "we are screwed", because there is no way to find that out. That raises an obvious question - why is a reliable historical document insufficient to establish an occurence of a supernatural event? We use ancient historical documents to establish events which did take place and did not involve supernatural, and accept them as historical on the basis of these sources. Why then reject a source (if it can be judged as reliable on the basis of common standards of historical research) if it speaks about supernatural events? The only reason can be naturalistic presuppositions which rule out a priori that a miracle could have happened. Many will say "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", but this claim smuggles a presupposition that a claim of supernatural event is "extraordinary", which begs the question in favor of naturalism and justifies using double standards in treating natural and supernatural claims in historical sources.

Translating it into an example. The analysis of historical documents according to common standards of historical research leads to conclusion that Hannibal commanded in the battle of Cannae. Everybody accepts that, historical records are considered sufficient to establish that. If the same standards of historical research and analysis of ancient sources (in this case the Gospels) lead to conclusion that Jesus Christ most likely rose from the dead (a historical case for resurrection on the basis of "minimal facts" is very strong), why insistence that these records are insufficient? Seems to me like a double standard based on naturalistic presuppositions which consider miracles to be "extraordinary" a priori and thus requiring "extraordinary evidence".
 
The following users thanked this post: Michael Wilson, Xavier, bigbadtrad

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 6555
  • Thanked: 4239 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2018, 07:34:39 PM »
Quote
Taught a sublime doctrine: Doesn't make it true.  Moreover plenty of non-Christian doctrines are "sublime", such as Plato's cave.
Can the sublime teachings of Our Lord as found in the Gospels and Epistles find anything that is even remotely similar? I've read testimonies of non-believers who while maintaining their skepticism, still admit that there is nothing like the Gospels.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier, bigbadtrad

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2018, 08:07:20 PM »
That raises an obvious question - why is a reliable historical document insufficient to establish an occurence of a supernatural event? We use ancient historical documents to establish events which did take place and did not involve supernatural, and accept them as historical on the basis of these sources. Why then reject a source (if it can be judged as reliable on the basis of common standards of historical research) if it speaks about supernatural events? The only reason can be naturalistic presuppositions which rule out a priori that a miracle could have happened. Many will say "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", but this claim smuggles a presupposition that a claim of supernatural event is "extraordinary", which begs the question in favor of naturalism and justifies using double standards in treating natural and supernatural claims in historical sources.

First of all, the Gospels are not exactly a "reliable historical document" as the term is commonly understood - their stated goal is not to provide a disinterested historical record of what went on in Palestine at the time, but to convince people that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that thus Christianity is true.  No historian worth his salt would only rely upon sources known to be biased.

But more importantly, there are in fact very good reasons to accept the history in historical sources, while remaining skeptical about miracle claims, that doesn't involve an a priori naturalistic presupposition involving an impossibility for miracles.  Anyone with a basic knowledge of Bayes' Theorem will realize this.  Yes, I know some apologists claim "naturalistic presuppositions" when others claim ordinary evidences don't establish miracle claims the way they do for ordinary claims, but this is false - the prior probability of miracles is much, much, much lower than ordinary things, such that ordinary evidences lead to a very high posterior probability for ordinary things, while the posterior probability is still low for the miracles (although nevertheless substantially higher than the prior).

If you don't understand all the Bayesian jargon, I'll ask you this.  Why do you not accept the testimony of people who insist they were abducted by or otherwise had direct contact with space aliens, when you would accept their testimony as to which city they live in.  I mean, they're reliable people based on common standards; they've even passed lie detector tests, even sophisticated fMRI techniques designed to detect lies.  Why reject a source judged as reliable based on common standards if it talks about aliens?  Is the only reason an anti-alien presupposition?  But how is such a presupposition justified - existence of aliens isn't contrary to reason nor does it contradict faith.  If you say an alien visitation is an "extraordinary" claim that would require extraordinary evidence, that is just begging the question against aliens and justifying using double standards between alien and non-alien claims in human testimonies.  The answer is that you (sensibly) regard the likelihood that the witnesses are lying or delusional (even despite the evidence showing them to be generally reliable people) as much higher than the prior probability of an alien visitation.

So, standard apologetics doesn't take into account the prior probability of a resurrection, which is obviously infinitesimally low.  Unbelievers therefore regard the likelihood that the Gospel writers were lying, delusional, or simply misinformed as much higher than the prior probability of a resurrection.  They are not unreasonable in so doing.

Quote
Translating it into an example. The analysis of historical documents according to common standards of historical research leads to conclusion that Hannibal commanded in the battle of Cannae. Everybody accepts that, historical records are considered sufficient to establish that. If the same standards of historical research and analysis of ancient sources (in this case the Gospels) lead to conclusion that Jesus Christ most likely rose from the dead (a historical case for resurrection on the basis of "minimal facts" is very strong), why insistence that these records are insufficient? Seems to me like a double standard based on naturalistic presuppositions which consider miracles to be "extraordinary" a priori and thus requiring "extraordinary evidence".

But that's just it.  The "common standards of historical research" don't suffice for miracle claims, for which the prior is much, much lower than ordinary historical events.

 

Offline John Lamb

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 1460
  • Thanked: 1607 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2018, 04:44:56 AM »
I always bring up the analogy of human faith, like a man from "Australia" (which for the sake of argument let's assume is a place to which you've never been). He claims to be Australian, to have grown up in Australia, that his peculiar accent is authentically Australia: and he tells you all sorts of interesting facts about Australia. You can't prove by reason alone that Australia exists, but based on the testimony of this man who seems to be very credible, you accept its existence and the things he has to say about it. In this case the will does compel the intellect to believe what the purported "Australian" is saying, by motive of wanting to know more about this region of the world and its people. His authority is based on his being a first-hand witness to the place of Australia.

This also applies to most areas of human learning. For example, physics. When you are learning physics, you don't have immediate access to the instruments which are used to reproduce the scientific evidence supporting a particular theorem; rather, you accept the theorem based on the authority of the doctor of physics, your will compelling your intellect to believe because it desires to know more about this science, trusting in the teacher's authority. His experience, his PhD, etc., make him a credible witness.

It is not a question here of the will compelling the intellect to believe, but the intellect realizing the best course of action is to assume what is said is true, while realizing the possibility that it is false.  The intellect makes a judgment on the trustworthiness of the man from Australia or the physics professor due to various factors and therefore accords to what they say a certain relative certainty - but it admits the possibility the man from Australia is lying or deluded or that the physics professor is mistaken.  Or do you accept the testimony of people who claim to have been abducted by space aliens, or phlogiston theory of burning?  (Now, if you are going to spend a lot of money on a trip to this "Australia", or on building something that necessitates that what the physics professor says is true in order to function as advertised, you may want more evidence than just their word for it.)

Quote
Now it's essentially the same with the preaching of the faith.

If so, there's a problem, for "faith" is just pragmatism under another name; and yet the Church insists on an "absolutely true" type of belief, and not merely a "good enough for all practical purposes" belief.

I believe you're mischaracterising the general notion of faith. With faith, we do not merely hold the witness' declarations under consideration, rather we actively assent to them dismissing all possible doubts. What you're describing is a conditional or hypothetical assent, whereas faith produces a full & firm assent.

Quote
Quote
The apostles were men who were very holy, who performed supernatural miracles, who taught a sublime doctrine, who were exemplars of charity and good works, who risked the direst persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of their gospel: and they claimed to speak with the authority of God. And they were credible witnesses. God exists, and God sends messengers in the world to tell us about Him, and these messengers live holy lives and perform superhuman feats to prove their authenticity – What's absurd about this?

Thus the apologetic argument, but it is nowhere near as strong as you seem to think.

Supernatural miracles: this assumes that what is written about them is correct, but any writer can attribute a supernatural miracle to anyone; we don't have direct evidence of such.
Taught a sublime doctrine: Doesn't make it true.  Moreover plenty of non-Christian doctrines are "sublime", such as Plato's cave.
Exemplars of charity and good works: Found all over the place, even among non-Christians.  Even today we see many taking months out of their lives and living in a h*ll-hole to help victims of the tsunami in Indonesia.
Risked persecution and martyrdom: Only shows the strength of their belief, not that it is true.  (Would they risk their lives for something they knew to be false, says the apologist.  No, but they may well risk their lives for something they earnestly believed to be true, despite it being false.  We see lots of types of this behavior today, what with jihadis, suicide bombers, etc.)
Claimed to speak with the authority of God: So does every preacher and imam known to man.

I don't deny that these motives can be dismissed; many people do dismiss them. I only claim that they make the faith sufficiently credible as to make any reasonable person's assenting to the faith not absurd. The point of raising these evidences is to show that faith is not entirely arbitrary or irrational in choosing what or whom to put its faith in.

Quote
Quote
And what's absurd about believing them? How is it any more absurd than believing the Australian or the physics professor? These men seem to know about the things of God as much as the Australian and the physicists know their expertise, so why not believe them for the sake of knowing more about God and what He has to say to us?

That's pragmatism, and not being absurd is a much lower bar than absolute truth.  It might be a good idea and not absurd to believe them, but that doesn't absolutely guarantee that everything they say is true.

1. It's not pragmatism, which means equating truth with usefulness; whereas here we're speaking about listening to a teacher to acquire truth for its own sake. "Faith seeking understanding".

2. "It might be a good idea and not absurd to believe them, but that doesn't absolutely guarantee that everything they say is true." Well then you don't know what a prophet is, because the Old Testament is quite clear that a prophet is a man sent by God in God's Name, and seeing as God is Truth itself, the preaching of a prophet is undoubtedly true.

Quote
Whenever there is a claim that something epistemological is to be accepted based on authority, obviously epistemologically prior to that something is recognition of the authority as such.  Now, if recourse is had to another (more basic) authority, that only moves the question one step back.  If appeal is made to our reason to recognize such authority, then "faith" is just rationalism under another garb - reason is in fact the final authority, no matter how much people might pretend otherwise.  Believing something "on the authority of God revealing" is in reality believing something on the strength of my reason, which has concluded God has revealed it.  This is the dilemma Thomism can't extricate itself from, for fear relying on something internal as the basis for faith makes it subjective.

You're failing to distinguish the "motives of belief" from the "form of belief". Reason is what gives us motives for believing, but it does not cause us to believe (it merely answers prior objections to believing). [Although reason is not alone in producing these motives: one's own private spiritual experiences, or one's experience of the life of Christians, or one's experience of witnessing a supernatural miracle or event – these can also provide motives, which do not of themselves produce faith, but which lay a foundation.] Once the mind has dismissed all objections, the will under the influence of grace – seeking greater understanding of and union with God – moves the intellect to assent to believing the preaching of the apostolic witness concerning God, and since the fundamental presupposition involved in this act of faith is the presupposition that the apostolic witness is prophetic (i.e. ratified by God, and therefore infallible) the form of belief this act takes is an act of divine faith, producing infallible certitude commensurate with an infallible authority.

Quote
First of all, the Gospels are not exactly a "reliable historical document" as the term is commonly understood - their stated goal is not to provide a disinterested historical record of what went on in Palestine at the time, but to convince people that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that thus Christianity is true.  No historian worth his salt would only rely upon sources known to be biased.

Caesar wrote his Gallic Wars to glorify himself, but we don't dismiss the events described in them for that reason; and the gospels most certainly were written as historical documents. To accept them uncritically may be a Christian bias, but to dismiss them uncritically (including the supernatural events described in them) is evidence of an anti-christian or naturalistic bias. That there's been a naturalistic bias in academia for the last 200 years or more is so obvious you have to be malicious to deny it. Our ancestors (Christian or not Christian) would not automatically dismiss any document describing supernatural or preternatural events, because they weren't foolish enough to be naturalists.

Quote
But more importantly, there are in fact very good reasons to accept the history in historical sources, while remaining skeptical about miracle claims, that doesn't involve an a priori naturalistic presupposition involving an impossibility for miracles.  Anyone with a basic knowledge of Bayes' Theorem will realize this.  Yes, I know some apologists claim "naturalistic presuppositions" when others claim ordinary evidences don't establish miracle claims the way they do for ordinary claims, but this is false - the prior probability of miracles is much, much, much lower than ordinary things, such that ordinary evidences lead to a very high posterior probability for ordinary things, while the posterior probability is still low for the miracles (although nevertheless substantially higher than the prior).

Bayes' theorem is irrelevant here, because history is governed by the Will of God, not mere chance. And the "chance" that God would allow a 1st century Jewish man to stir up the whole of Judaea with reports of miracles, and then allow the greatest of world religions to rise up from Him and the witness of martyrs simultaneous to the destruction of the Second Temple and the end of the Mosaic religion – is "infinitesimally low".
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 04:58:49 AM by John Lamb »
As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier

Offline Xavier

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, May Your Triumph Come! In Union with Pope Francis and the Bishops, we implore the Consecration of Russia to Your Immaculate Heart!
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3452
  • Thanked: 2745 times
  • Indian Catholic
    • Marian Apostolate Life Offering.
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2018, 06:07:03 AM »
I agree with you, John, about the public, visible teaching authority instituted by Christ, and the external motives of credibility. However, the ways of Christ with souls are innumerable and all wonderful, and there are also what theology calls "internal motives of credibility". There was a prepared text for Vatican II (strongly anti-modernist) that was never passed that spoke of both external and internal ones.

Quote from: Kreuzritter
I trust the Church and believe what she proposes because of this and Christ's introducing me to it as a means through which to reveal truths

I think this epistemology is fine and eminently Catholic. Some are led from the Church to Christ (such was the case for St. Augustine, who had previously belonged to a heretical sect with false beliefs), others from a strong faith in Christ (sometimes converts from Protestantism, sometimes others) to a firm belief in the visible Church and so on.

Both are ok and part of grace's mysterious work in our souls. Our Holy Father Pope St. Pius X laid out the path as: from God as Creator of Life, to Christ as Lord of History, to the Church as Guardian of Truth.

Here for us all is the Church's own epistemology in Pope St. Pius X'Oath against Modernism. The full oath is worth reading and swearing to as a balm for our Faith against all the errors of naturalism and modernism.

Quote
THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM

To be sworn to by all clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors, and professors in philosophical-theological seminaries.

I . . . . firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:19), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly, I believe with equally firm faith that the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time. Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely. Fifthly, I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord.

Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili,especially those concerning what is known as the history of dogmas. I also reject the error of those who say that the faith held by the Church can contradict history, and that Catholic dogmas, in the sense in which they are now understood, are irreconcilable with a more realistic view of the origins of the Christian religion. I also condemn and reject the opinion of those who say that a well-educated Christian assumes a dual personality-that of a believer and at the same time of a historian, as if it were permissible for a historian to hold things that contradict the faith of the believer, or to establish premises which, provided there be no direct denial of dogmas, would lead to the conclusion that dogmas are either false or doubtful. Likewise, I reject that method of judging and interpreting Sacred Scripture which, departing from the tradition of the Church, the analogy of faith, and the norms of the Apostolic See, embraces the misrepresentations of the rationalists and with no prudence or restraint adopts textual criticism as the one and supreme norm. Furthermore, I reject the opinion of those who hold that a professor lecturing or writing on a historico-theological subject should first put aside any preconceived opinion about the supernatural origin of Catholic tradition or about the divine promise of help to preserve all revealed truth forever; and that they should then interpret the writings of each of the Fathers solely by scientific principles, excluding all sacred authority, and with the same liberty of judgment that is common in the investigation of all ordinary historical documents.

Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that there is nothing divine in sacred tradition; or what is far worse, say that there is, but in a pantheistic sense, with the result that there would remain nothing but this plain simple fact-one to be put on a par with the ordinary facts of history-the fact, namely, that a group of men by their own labor, skill, and talent have continued through subsequent ages a school begun by Christ and his apostles. I firmly hold, then, and shall hold to my dying breath the belief of the Fathers in the charism of truth, which certainly is, was, and always will be in the succession of the episcopacy from the apostles. The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.

I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. . .
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 06:10:07 AM by Xavier »
Please listen to the frequent messages and take heed of the directions given from Our Living Lord and Our Loving Lady from around the world here: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/ Great things are at stake. Please consecrate your life to the Blessed Mother so that the Kingdom of God may come, "Ad Sanctam Trinitatem per Mariam, Ut adveniat Regnum Deum, adveniat Regnum Mariae, ergo TOTUS TUUS ego sum, MARIA" See http://www.maria-domina-animarum.net/en/flowers/1-250

Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ It is recommended that you make this Life Offering as soon as you feel ready, and to renew it from time to time.

Please read the Blessed Mother's amazing promises in the link: A simple effective way for thousands of us to save millions of souls. The Doctors and Apostles say if we save even just one other soul through prayer and sacrifice, we also ensure the salvation of our own! Let us Offer our Lives in Sacrifice to Jesus and Mary to Save All Souls everywhere.
 

Offline Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 943
  • Thanked: 707 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2018, 06:39:21 AM »
Yes, I know some apologists claim "naturalistic presuppositions" when others claim ordinary evidences don't establish miracle claims the way they do for ordinary claims, but this is false - the prior probability of miracles is much, much, much lower than ordinary things, such that ordinary evidences lead to a very high posterior probability for ordinary things, while the posterior probability is still low for the miracles (although nevertheless substantially higher than the prior).

You haven't established what a "prior probability" of miracles is, let alone its value.

Quote
If you don't understand all the Bayesian jargon, I'll ask you this.  Why do you not accept the testimony of people who insist they were abducted by or otherwise had direct contact with space aliens, when you would accept their testimony as to which city they live in. 

Who says I don't? I certainly don't deny their experience out of hand, and if I question their interpretation of it, it is not due to any imaginary "prior probability" I sucked from my thumb pulled out my ass, but only for theological reasons.

For those of you who don't understand what he's getting at with Bayes's Rule, just imagine you've bought some tickets from a raffle and won on some number of them. The essential question is, what does this information alone tell you about the "probability", here undefined because we're rejecting "frequentist" interpretations after all and "rational degree of belief" is just a crock of tendentious semantic horseshit, of drawing a winning ticket from this raffle. So imagine you bought three tickets which all won: the question is, what was the "probability" P of drawing three winners given the fraction of winning tickets n: if n=1, P = 1; if n=0.5, P = 0.5x0.5x0.5=0.125 (do! those relative frequencies!). We "should" therefore judge it to be more "probable" that n=1 than the other cases; in fact, using Laplace's Law, you can work out the exact proportion of winning tickets which is most "probable". Taking this further, you can work out the "probability" that something has happened multiplying observations with "prior probabilites", and we arrive at Bayes's Rule:



Of course, this formula has a sensible frequentist interpretation and can be derived from such considerations. Also, prior probabilities as causes of observed frequencies can be intrinsic  to a process through mechanical law but in practice are ultimately derived from frequencies of observed outcomes in tests.

How exactly Quacke intends to apply this to the Resurrection is anyone's guess, since we're not dealing with a set of raffle tickets and "identical" events that can be compared and we chave no grounds to assume the principle of indifference, nor has he clarified his "prior probabilties" or how he intends to arrive at them.


Quote
The answer is that you (sensibly) regard the likelihood that the witnesses are lying or delusional (even despite the evidence showing them to be generally reliable people) as much higher than the prior probability of an alien visitation.

That's not an answer; it's just babbling. And the crux of it all is your contention of relatively low prior probabability of alien visitation in the case of alleged alien visiations, something you either have to establish independently or admit to question-begging.

Quote
So, standard apologetics doesn't take into account the prior probability of a resurrection, which is obviously infinitesimally low.  Unbelievers therefore regard the likelihood that the Gospel writers were lying, delusional, or simply misinformed as much higher than the prior probability of a resurrection.  They are not unreasonable in so doing.

You keep saying that, yet you've done nothing to demonstrate the objective existence of such a "prior probability" or how the reasons for adducing this likelihood differ from the prsuppositions of those who entertain naturalistic presuppositions.

 

Offline Kreuzritter

  • Wachtmeister
  • ***
  • Posts: 943
  • Thanked: 707 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2018, 08:31:32 AM »
As to frequencies:

Even if we could establish a relative frequency of actual miracles in a sample of claimed miraculous events, there's no obvious causal underpinning they have in common under which we can assume that the information in some sample tells us something about the individual cases that we might treat them as values of the same random variable. The case versus all events is even worse, for though we might establish that miracles are at best uncommon events in a world order assumed to normally run on mechanical laws, this doesn't tell us anything about the truth status of claimed miracles, even in the mean. This is not like tossing the same coin over and over, where we take the coin to be unchanged and the results to tell us somethingabout the coin's intrinsic composition and behaviour under mechanical laws that generates a distribution of a "random"variable, nor like a raffle, in which the distribution of "random" draws is inevitably going to tend toward that of the finite total of the raffle itself.

Moreover, none of this has any intrinsic relation to how we should judge the evidence, particularly that of witnesses, prodcued in support fo a miraculous claim, and to invoke it as such to dismiss or accept such evidence speaks not only of intellectual laziness but prejudice.
 
The following users thanked this post: Arvinger

Offline Arvinger

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 250
  • Thanked: 257 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2018, 09:22:31 AM »
First of all, the Gospels are not exactly a "reliable historical document" as the term is commonly understood - their stated goal is not to provide a disinterested historical record of what went on in Palestine at the time, but to convince people that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and that thus Christianity is true.  No historian worth his salt would only rely upon sources known to be biased.

There is hardly any historical source which is not biased in one way or another. For example, Livy was extremely pro-Roman an anti-Carthaginian, while Julius Caesar wanted to present his campaigns and victories in as glorious light as possible. While that might cause us to question specific details (hardly any historian believes that the Gaulish relief force which arrived to Alesia had 250.000 warriors, as Caesar claims), but nonetheless we accept those as reliable historical sources. Also, there is nothing wrong in writing a historical document form a certain viewpoint, especially if it corresponds to reality - if Jesus really was the Son of God, there is hardly anything wrong in writing a document which aims to present this reality.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
But more importantly, there are in fact very good reasons to accept the history in historical sources, while remaining skeptical about miracle claims, that doesn't involve an a priori naturalistic presupposition involving an impossibility for miracles.  Anyone with a basic knowledge of Bayes' Theorem will realize this.  Yes, I know some apologists claim "naturalistic presuppositions" when others claim ordinary evidences don't establish miracle claims the way they do for ordinary claims, but this is false - the prior probability of miracles is much, much, much lower than ordinary things, such that ordinary evidences lead to a very high posterior probability for ordinary things, while the posterior probability is still low for the miracles (although nevertheless substantially higher than the prior).

How do you know that the prior probability of miracles is much lower, other than naturalistic presuppositions? If we live in a world created by God, in which God actively intervenes, miracles are essential part of the world, such as rain or sun rising. In that case the most you can say that miracles occur relatively rarely, but that is not a good reason to consider a miracle to be improbable a priori - rather, each case has to be revieved individually on its own merits, and if strong evidence in favor of a miracle exists (like it does with a resurrection or numerous miracles, including modern ones, documented by Craig Keener in his book Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, or in case of the Miracle of the Sun), Bayesian theorem cannot be treated as an argument, because prior probability calcuated on the basis of natural explanations for other events means little to nothing in confrontation with evidence indicating otherwise.   

Besides that, Bayesian theorem used as you do it here can be easily used to disprove any religion, including Catholicism. There are thousands of religions, and 99,99% of them are false. Therefore, one could say that it is most probable that Catholicism is, like 99,99% of other religions, also a false religion which is a product of social evolution, etc. This is indeed an argument employed by atheists/agnostics. This is the major flaw of the Bayesian theorem - if something is rare and contradicts majority of cases, employment of Bayesian theorem effectively precludes one from arriving to truth (because if case X is really rare and indeed contradicts majority of other cases, its truthfulness and rareness will always be assumed to be improbable on the basis of majority of other cases). In other words, Bayesian theorem is rubbish when it comes to explaining events which have relatively rare explanations and contradict established patterns.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
If you don't understand all the Bayesian jargon, I'll ask you this.  Why do you not accept the testimony of people who insist they were abducted by or otherwise had direct contact with space aliens, when you would accept their testimony as to which city they live in.  I mean, they're reliable people based on common standards; they've even passed lie detector tests, even sophisticated fMRI techniques designed to detect lies.  Why reject a source judged as reliable based on common standards if it talks about aliens?  Is the only reason an anti-alien presupposition?  But how is such a presupposition justified - existence of aliens isn't contrary to reason nor does it contradict faith.  If you say an alien visitation is an "extraordinary" claim that would require extraordinary evidence, that is just begging the question against aliens and justifying using double standards between alien and non-alien claims in human testimonies.  The answer is that you (sensibly) regard the likelihood that the witnesses are lying or delusional (even despite the evidence showing them to be generally reliable people) as much higher than the prior probability of an alien visitation.

First of all, there is a tension between the existence of aliens and the Catholic teaching, so I would indeed be sceptical presuppositionally, but on the basis of a religious authority, which is justified (while naturalistic presuppositions are not, because they do not have epistemological basis). But let's leave that aside and assume, for the sake of argument, that existence of aliens is compatible with Catholic teaching. In that case I would certainly be open to the possibility that some of those testimonies might be true, if there is compelling evidence, and rejecting it a priori would indeed be an anti-alien presupposition which would not be justified epistemologically. Each case would have to be reviewed separately on its own merits.

The thing is that evidence for the resurrection is much stronger and much more extensive that in case of individual claim of alien abduction (empty tomb, post-resurrection appearences witnessed by hundreds of people, numerous lines of evidence indicating that Gospels are eyewitnesses' accounts, as presented by Richard Bauckham in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, inability of Jews and Romans to produce a body to quash Christianity at its inception, attestations of belief in resurrection from Carmen Christi, which - as even secular historians admit - dates to time almost immediate after death of Christ, etc.). There is simply more evidence and it is of better quality and it has more aspects to it than in the case of an individual claim of alien abduction, which is why I consider resurrection to be more probable than alien abductions. That does not mean that it would be justified to reject hypothetical compelling evidence for alien abduction on the basis of Bayesian theorem.   

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
So, standard apologetics doesn't take into account the prior probability of a resurrection, which is obviously infinitesimally low.  Unbelievers therefore regard the likelihood that the Gospel writers were lying, delusional, or simply misinformed as much higher than the prior probability of a resurrection.  They are not unreasonable in so doing.

They are unreasonable, because instead of reviewing an individual case and evidence for it with an open mind and on its own merits, they either employ naturalistic presuppositions (thus begging the question in favor of naturalism and sifting the evidence through their presuppositions), or employ Bayesian theorem which is flawed since in cases which contradict a general pattern or are special in some way it effectively precludes one from reaching truth by indicating correct explanation to be improbable. So, both cases include begging the question fallacy rather than examination of evidence. A very strong case can be made that the circumstances surrounding the days after Jesus' death which we know are best explained by the resurrection - none of the naturalistic explanations fit to the known minimal facts so well as resurrection. In that case it cannot be rejected on the basis of naturalistic presuppositions of Bayesian theorem.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti
But that's just it.  The "common standards of historical research" don't suffice for miracle claims, for which the prior is much, much lower than ordinary historical events.

Why don't they? These are exactly naturalistic presuppositions, which some historians (such as Bart Ehrman) admit openly, and which inevitably include begging the question fallacy in favor of naturalism. The reality is that miracle claims of the New Testament are rejected by majority of historians not because of rigorous examination of historical evidence (which should be the main tool of assessing these claims), but because of presuppositions derived either from naturalism of Bayesian theorem.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 09:26:45 AM by Arvinger »
 
The following users thanked this post: Xavier

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2018, 11:01:26 AM »
All of you really need to do better than argument by assertion, circular arguments, question-begging, appeals to authority, and just frank blustering, if you expect to have an epistemology of faith that makes sense and passes logical muster.  This is, I have come to realize, THE reason for the post-Vatican II problems as well as many of the problems pre-Vatican II.  Everything else can be traced back to this.  Now, you can insult me all you like when I bring this up, and quote pre-Vatican II manuals and Papal pronouncements all you like, but you are only shooting the messenger.  The problem is real, and burying your head like an ostrich won't make it go away.

The question that an unbeliever rightly asks is: How do you know your claimed infallible authority really is such?  And if you can't really arrive at and haven't arrived at such knowledge, but only loudly and belligerently claim such knowledge, the unbeliever will rightly dismiss your "faith" as mere fanaticism no different from radical Islam, and rightly seek to limit its application in public life.  (Some of you would bring back the Inquisition if you had power to do so.)

I believe you're mischaracterising the general notion of faith. With faith, we do not merely hold the witness' declarations under consideration, rather we actively assent to them dismissing all possible doubts. What you're describing is a conditional or hypothetical assent, whereas faith produces a full & firm assent.

This is epistemological nonsense. This makes faith subjective and voluntarist (whether you realize it or not) and so it is no wonder Modernism broke on the scene - it's only taken this to its logical conclusion. 

The intellect arrives at a relative (e.g. "general rule") certainty about the reliability of the witnesses and what the witnesses are saying, (e.g. as a general rule, physics professors with Ph.D's don't make mistakes about topics in freshman physics) but not an absolute certainty (it is still possible for a physics professor to make a mistake.)  Now, the will can dismiss doubt of the professor as a practical matter by not acting on it - the student doesn't know enough to tell if the professor is making a mistake or not; it is very, very likely that the professor is not making a mistake on any individual topic; the student simply has to trust the teacher in order to learn anything at all; and even if there are a few mistakes scattered in, there will still be an enormous body of true physics knowledge the student will have gained, etc.  And this, of course, is just common sense and how people act in everyday life.

What the will can't do is turn relative certainty into absolute certainty by mere fiat.  The physics teacher doesn't in fact turn infallible just because the will "commands the intellect" to say so and to "dismiss all doubts".  And if you say that intellect somehow "gains knowledge" of the physics teacher's infallibility due to the "command to assent", this makes knowledge subjective and voluntarist - the truth-maker for knowledge isn't truth, but what I decide is truth.  No doubt you will answer that the Church is infallible whereas the teacher is not - but this is just begging the question and arguing in a circle.  In effect, you are saying we know the Church to be infallible because it is.

Quote
I don't deny that these motives can be dismissed; many people do dismiss them. I only claim that they make the faith sufficiently credible as to make any reasonable person's assenting to the faith not absurd. The point of raising these evidences is to show that faith is not entirely arbitrary or irrational in choosing what or whom to put its faith in.

Agreed.  But they don't prove faith true either.

Quote
1. It's not pragmatism, which means equating truth with usefulness; whereas here we're speaking about listening to a teacher to acquire truth for its own sake. "Faith seeking understanding".

Agreed insofar as what the teacher is teaching; but we are talking about holding the teacher up as infallible, which hasn't been proven as true, but only as useful.

Quote
2. "It might be a good idea and not absurd to believe them, but that doesn't absolutely guarantee that everything they say is true." Well then you don't know what a prophet is, because the Old Testament is quite clear that a prophet is a man sent by God in God's Name, and seeing as God is Truth itself, the preaching of a prophet is undoubtedly true.

That is question-begging, assuming that such men are in fact prophets as defined by the Old Testament, when that is precisely what is at issue.

Quote
Whenever there is a claim that something epistemological is to be accepted based on authority, obviously epistemologically prior to that something is recognition of the authority as such.  Now, if recourse is had to another (more basic) authority, that only moves the question one step back.  If appeal is made to our reason to recognize such authority, then "faith" is just rationalism under another garb - reason is in fact the final authority, no matter how much people might pretend otherwise.  Believing something "on the authority of God revealing" is in reality believing something on the strength of my reason, which has concluded God has revealed it.  This is the dilemma Thomism can't extricate itself from, for fear relying on something internal as the basis for faith makes it subjective.

Quote
You're failing to distinguish the "motives of belief" from the "form of belief".

You've decided to pretend otherwise using fancy Thomistic terminology, but the objection still remains.  You are caught between the Scylla of a voluntarist faith and the Charybdis of a rationalist one.

Quote
Reason is what gives us motives for believing, but it does not cause us to believe (it merely answers prior objections to believing)...Once the mind has dismissed all objections...

If reason has succeeded in showing to absolute certainty that what it is to be believed is true, and that all objections to believing are false to absolute certainty, then it already knows that what is to be believed is true.  And if this is necessary for faith, then faith is simply rationalism under another garb.

Quote
, the will under the influence of grace – seeking greater understanding of and union with God – moves the intellect to assent to believing the preaching of the apostolic witness concerning God, and since the fundamental presupposition involved in this act of faith is the presupposition that the apostolic witness is prophetic (i.e. ratified by God, and therefore infallible) the form of belief this act takes is an act of divine faith, producing infallible certitude commensurate with an infallible authority.

The intellect already knows the preaching of the apostolic witness is true, once it knows that it is ratified by God.  No special act of the will is necessary.  Again you seem to imagining it to be possible for the intellect to dissent from the teaching of an infallible authority, once such authority is recognized as infallible; whereas in fact it is self-evident that whatever is taught by an infallible authority is true.

Quote
Caesar wrote his Gallic Wars to glorify himself, but we don't dismiss the events described in them for that reason; and the gospels most certainly were written as historical documents.

We certainly don't (or shouldn't) accept everything Caesar said at complete face value.  Because he is glorifying himself, there will be an obvious and real danger of exaggeration, and so in that sense his history won't be "reliable".  So sure, the Gospels were written to document the life of Christ, and so in that sense "historical", but they were also written with an agenda in mind.

Quote
To accept them uncritically may be a Christian bias, but to dismiss them uncritically (including the supernatural events described in them) is evidence of an anti-christian or naturalistic bias.

Agreed.  But as you said, all they can do is to get Christianity, so to speak, on the epistemological radar screen.

Quote
Bayes' theorem is irrelevant here, because history is governed by the Will of God, not mere chance.

That "argument" is mere bluster, and an admission that your apologetics cannot handle counter-arguments about not only the credibility of witnesses themselves, but the prior credibility of what they are claiming, which is in fact how everyone works in daily life.  If I claimed that I were going to rise from the dead, and several weeks after my death you were given statements from 20 people saying they had seen me alive after the date of death, would you believe them?

Quote
And the "chance" that God would allow a 1st century Jewish man to stir up the whole of Judaea with reports of miracles, and then allow the greatest of world religions to rise up from Him and the witness of martyrs simultaneous to the destruction of the Second Temple and the end of the Mosaic religion – is "infinitesimally low".

Well, persistence pays.  It took you to the last paragraph, but now here is something resembling a sound epistemology of faith.  It relies on the epistemology of (gasp!) Descartes, arguing that God would not permit such strong evidences to exist and point us in a given direction in important things such as religion if in fact what was evidenced was not true, since He is not a deceiver.  And, in fact, I found and find this argument determinative.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 11:05:13 AM by Quaremerepulisti »
 

Offline Xavier

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, May Your Triumph Come! In Union with Pope Francis and the Bishops, we implore the Consecration of Russia to Your Immaculate Heart!
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3452
  • Thanked: 2745 times
  • Indian Catholic
    • Marian Apostolate Life Offering.
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #25 on: December 29, 2018, 11:49:53 AM »
Catholics do and should welcome all converts, knowing the ways of the Good Lord are numerous and wonderful. But converts also have the obligation to learn the Faith by practicing it and to grow wise and mature in Spiritual understanding before trying to overthrow traditional and fairly certain teachings. Since Quare has said he agrees with the last part of John's post above, I have no disagreement with him there.

I just want to show both St. Chrysostom and St. Thomas also demonstrate the fact of the Resurrection - from its known effects in the lives of the Apostles - in a manner that a "Bayesian" approach would indeed consider to be "posterior probabilities". So the Angelic Doctor and the Golden-Tongued Archbishop of Constantinople were certainly aware of this objection of unbelievers and addressed (to put it mildly; soundly refuted and happily laid the basis for centuries that were ages of the greatest and strongest Faith) it. Also in a more recent discussion/debate between Ehrman/Craig which was mentioned in another thread, Prof. Craig takes the Bayesian approach and shows posterior probability would be close to 1 (even if we arbitrarily assume prior probability yo be low) based on four historical facts like the crucifixion, empty tomb etc almost universally taken for granted.
Please listen to the frequent messages and take heed of the directions given from Our Living Lord and Our Loving Lady from around the world here: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/ Great things are at stake. Please consecrate your life to the Blessed Mother so that the Kingdom of God may come, "Ad Sanctam Trinitatem per Mariam, Ut adveniat Regnum Deum, adveniat Regnum Mariae, ergo TOTUS TUUS ego sum, MARIA" See http://www.maria-domina-animarum.net/en/flowers/1-250

Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ It is recommended that you make this Life Offering as soon as you feel ready, and to renew it from time to time.

Please read the Blessed Mother's amazing promises in the link: A simple effective way for thousands of us to save millions of souls. The Doctors and Apostles say if we save even just one other soul through prayer and sacrifice, we also ensure the salvation of our own! Let us Offer our Lives in Sacrifice to Jesus and Mary to Save All Souls everywhere.
 

Offline Xavier

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, May Your Triumph Come! In Union with Pope Francis and the Bishops, we implore the Consecration of Russia to Your Immaculate Heart!
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3452
  • Thanked: 2745 times
  • Indian Catholic
    • Marian Apostolate Life Offering.
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2018, 11:57:17 AM »
Quote from: St. Chrysostom
For this reason therefore by the miracles [wrought by the Apostles] He renders the evidence of His Resurrection unequivocal, so that not only the men of those times--this is what would come of the ocular proof--but also all men thereafter, should be certain of the fact, that He was risen. Upon this ground also we argue with unbelievers. For if He did not rise again, but remains dead, how did the Apostles perform miracles in His name? But they did not, say you, perform miracles? How then was our religion instituted? For this certainly they will not controvert nor impugn what we see with our eyes: so that when they say that no miracles took place, they inflict a worse stab upon themselves. For this would be the greatest of miracles, that without any miracles, the whole world should have eagerly come to be taken in the nets of twelve poor and illiterate men!"

Quote from: St. Thomas
"The Divine Wisdom, that knows all things most fully, has deigned to reveal these her secrets to men, and in proof of them has displayed works beyond the competence of all natural powers, in the wonderful cure of diseases, in the raising of the dead, and what is more wonderful still, in such inspiration of human minds as that simple and ignorant persons, filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, have gained in an instant the height of wisdom and eloquence.* By force of the aforesaid proof, without violence of arms, without promise of pleasures, and, most wonderful thing of all, in the midst of the violence of persecutors, a countless multitude, not only of the uneducated but of the wisest men, flocked to the Christian Faith, wherein doctrines are preached that transcend all human understanding, pleasures of sense are restrained, and a contempt is taught of all worldly possessions. That mortal minds should assent to such teaching is the greatest of miracles, and a manifest work of divine inspiration leading men to despise the visible and desire only invisible goods. Nor did this happen suddenly nor by chance, but by a divine disposition, as is manifest from the fact that God foretold by many oracles of His Prophets that He intended to do this. The books of those prophets are still venerated amongst us, as bearing testimony to our faith. This argument is touched upon in the text: Which (salvation) having begun to be uttered by the Lord, was confirmed by them that heard him even unto us, God joining in the testimony by signs and portents and various distributions of the Holy Spirit (Heb. ii, 3, 4). This so wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian Faith is so certain a sign of past miracles, that they need no further reiteration, since they appear evidently in their effects. It would be more wonderful than all other miracles, if without miraculous signs the world had been induced by simple and low-born men to believe truths so arduous, to do works so difficult, to hope for reward so high. And yet even in our times God ceases not through His saints to work miracles for the confirmation of the Faith."

Please listen to the frequent messages and take heed of the directions given from Our Living Lord and Our Loving Lady from around the world here: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/ Great things are at stake. Please consecrate your life to the Blessed Mother so that the Kingdom of God may come, "Ad Sanctam Trinitatem per Mariam, Ut adveniat Regnum Deum, adveniat Regnum Mariae, ergo TOTUS TUUS ego sum, MARIA" See http://www.maria-domina-animarum.net/en/flowers/1-250

Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ It is recommended that you make this Life Offering as soon as you feel ready, and to renew it from time to time.

Please read the Blessed Mother's amazing promises in the link: A simple effective way for thousands of us to save millions of souls. The Doctors and Apostles say if we save even just one other soul through prayer and sacrifice, we also ensure the salvation of our own! Let us Offer our Lives in Sacrifice to Jesus and Mary to Save All Souls everywhere.
 

Offline Xavier

  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, May Your Triumph Come! In Union with Pope Francis and the Bishops, we implore the Consecration of Russia to Your Immaculate Heart!
  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3452
  • Thanked: 2745 times
  • Indian Catholic
    • Marian Apostolate Life Offering.
  • Religion: Catholic Christian (Roman Rite Latin Traditionalist)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2018, 12:19:06 PM »
And in more recent times. This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia,

Quote
Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by more than 500 eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them "that they speak no more in this name to any man" (Acts, iv, 17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ's Resurrection, fot the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12789a.htm

"B. Opposing Theories

By what means can the evidence for Christ's Resurrection by overthrown? Three theories of explanation have been advanced, though the first two have hardly any adherents in our day.[/quote]

(1)The Swoon Theory

There is the theory of those who assert that Christ did not really die upon the cross, that His supposed death was only a temporary swoon, and that His Resurrection was simply a return to consciousness .. "

Finally, in this discussion on the Resurrection, which took place jin a Catholic college, Holy Cross, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman the same ground is treaded. There are four or five well established certain facts. The question becomes, what explanation is the best: is it the one the eyewitnesses gave? Many, many former skeptics over the years, after carefully (and above all prayerfully!) examining the evidence have concluded that it is. To skip the jargon, the issue here is that even if we arbitrarily assume a priori the probability of a miracle is low, the posterior probability given or adjusted by those four facts would be close to 1 or most certain. In other words, if this were being discussed in a court of law, the most likely and certain verdict would be -Jesus Christ indeed rose from the dead! And the effects of that supernatural event are confirmed in the known facts of history.
Please listen to the frequent messages and take heed of the directions given from Our Living Lord and Our Loving Lady from around the world here: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/ Great things are at stake. Please consecrate your life to the Blessed Mother so that the Kingdom of God may come, "Ad Sanctam Trinitatem per Mariam, Ut adveniat Regnum Deum, adveniat Regnum Mariae, ergo TOTUS TUUS ego sum, MARIA" See http://www.maria-domina-animarum.net/en/flowers/1-250

Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For all the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for Priests, Nuns and Monks, for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ It is recommended that you make this Life Offering as soon as you feel ready, and to renew it from time to time.

Please read the Blessed Mother's amazing promises in the link: A simple effective way for thousands of us to save millions of souls. The Doctors and Apostles say if we save even just one other soul through prayer and sacrifice, we also ensure the salvation of our own! Let us Offer our Lives in Sacrifice to Jesus and Mary to Save All Souls everywhere.
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3879
  • Thanked: 1268 times
  • Religion: Catholic (Byzantine)
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2018, 12:20:46 PM »
Basically, it comes down to this.  In real life, yes we do use (and should use) both the a priori credibility of what is said in addition to the credibility of the witness in order to arrive at a conclusion regarding the credibility of the testimony.  Bayes' Theorem formalizes this, but it's simply what we do in everyday life.  Or do you believe people who claim to have seen Elvis (yes, The King himself) alive?  In a broader sense, it's how inferences are made from data.

Now apologists can stomp their feet all they like at this, just like they can and do pretend the Church didn't really get it wrong in the Galileo affair.  Or they can up their game and stop being cheap propagandists.  Up to them.  But if you don't think priors need to taken into account in apologetics, you are wrong, because apologetics is making inferences from data.  Otherwise apologetics is mere propaganda, and won't be taken seriously by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how inferences are made from data.  (Of course traditionalists in general don't have such rudimentary knowledge and don't think they need to get it, which is why they go running after the newest "Vaccines cause Autism!" pseudoscience.)

There is hardly any historical source which is not biased in one way or another. While that might cause us to question specific details (hardly any historian believes that the Gaulish relief force which arrived to Alesia had 250.000 warriors, as Caesar claims), but nonetheless we accept those as reliable historical sources.

Well, OK, but then it is exactly the "specific detail" of the resurrection which will be questioned, despite the general reliable historical reliability of the Gospels, since this obviously corresponds to the bias of the authors, who had a clear motive to embellish the historical account.

Quote
How do you know that the prior probability of miracles is much lower, other than naturalistic presuppositions? If we live in a world created by God, in which God actively intervenes, miracles are essential part of the world, such as rain or sun rising. In that case the most you can say that miracles occur relatively rarely, but that is not a good reason to consider a miracle to be improbable a priori

Yes it is.  Because miracles happen so extremely rarely, that is precisely what makes the prior probability of any given miracle very low.  Whereas the rain and sun rising happen so much more frequently, which makes their prior probability much higher.

It is not a "naturalistic presupposition" that miracles happen rarely.  It is an observable empirical fact.

Quote
- rather, each case has to be revieved individually on its own merits, and if strong evidence in favor of a miracle exists (like it does with a resurrection or numerous miracles, including modern ones, documented by Craig Keener in his book Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, or in case of the Miracle of the Sun),

The prior probability of any miracle is the probability of such before considering the evidence.  The posterior probability is the probability after considering the evidence, which is what is relevant.  So, yes, each is considered on its own merits.

Quote
Bayesian theorem cannot be treated as an argument, because prior probability calcuated on the basis of natural explanations for other events means little to nothing in confrontation with evidence indicating otherwise.   

That statement is false.  Prior probability isn't calculated on the basis of natural explanations, and yes it does have an impact on the final conclusion given the evidence.

Quote
Besides that, Bayesian theorem used as you do it here can be easily used to disprove any religion, including Catholicism. There are thousands of religions, and 99,99% of them are false. Therefore, one could say that it is most probable that Catholicism is, like 99,99% of other religions, also a false religion which is a product of social evolution, etc. This is indeed an argument employed by atheists/agnostics. This is the major flaw of the Bayesian theorem - if something is rare and contradicts majority of cases, employment of Bayesian theorem effectively precludes one from arriving to truth (because if case X is really rare and indeed contradicts majority of other cases, its truthfulness and rareness will always be assumed to be improbable on the basis of majority of other cases). In other words, Bayesian theorem is rubbish when it comes to explaining events which have relatively rare explanations and contradict established patterns.

That statement is likewise false.  Sufficiently strong evidence ("likelihood" in Bayesian jargon) can and does overcome a low prior probability to end up with a high posterior probability.  Now you may not like that stronger evidence is required to show something with a smaller prior probability.  But it is, whether you like it or not.

Quote
But let's leave that aside and assume, for the sake of argument, that existence of aliens is compatible with Catholic teaching. In that case I would certainly be open to the possibility that some of those testimonies might be true, if there is compelling evidence, and rejecting it a priori would indeed be an anti-alien presupposition which would not be justified epistemologically. Each case would have to be reviewed separately on its own merits.

That doesn't answer why you simply don't accept the testimony, if the witnesses otherwise appear reliable, when you would accept their testimony as to what city they lived in, if not for your prior strong belief aliens don't exist.

Quote
The thing is that evidence for the resurrection is much stronger and much more extensive that in case of individual claim of alien abduction (empty tomb, post-resurrection appearences witnessed by hundreds of people, numerous lines of evidence indicating that Gospels are eyewitnesses' accounts, as presented by Richard Bauckham in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, inability of Jews and Romans to produce a body to quash Christianity at its inception, attestations of belief in resurrection from Carmen Christi, which - as even secular historians admit - dates to time almost immediate after death of Christ, etc.).

Let's be honest here.  The real evidence that we have in front of us for many of these things is written claims that these things happened, not direct evidence that these things happened.

Quote
They are unreasonable, because instead of reviewing an individual case and evidence for it with an open mind and on its own merits, they either employ naturalistic presuppositions (thus begging the question in favor of naturalism and sifting the evidence through their presuppositions), or employ Bayesian theorem which is flawed since in cases which contradict a general pattern or are special in some way it effectively precludes one from reaching truth by indicating correct explanation to be improbable.

A naturalistic presupposition is unreasonable.  Using Bayes' Theorem is not.

Quote
So, both cases include begging the question fallacy rather than examination of evidence. A very strong case can be made that the circumstances surrounding the days after Jesus' death which we know are best explained by the resurrection - none of the naturalistic explanations fit to the known minimal facts so well as resurrection. In that case it cannot be rejected on the basis of naturalistic presuppositions of Bayesian theorem.

First, Bayes' Theorem doesn't have a naturalistic presupposition; it simply uses the empirical fact that miracles are very rare.

Second,
It is true that the facts are better explained (e.g. the likelihood is higher) by the Resurrection than by naturalistic explanations.
It is false that this demonstrates the Resurrection, or even makes it more likely than not; and that the only reason one would deny the Resurrection given the evidence is due to a naturalistic presupposition.

Now, the crux is whether you agree with that last sentence or not.
 

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 6555
  • Thanked: 4239 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Epistemology of Faith
« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2018, 12:32:34 PM »
The way I understand it, the prior probability of a miracle happening is "zero" isn't?
The prior probability of Jushua making the Sun stop in its course in the sky or that Jesus will resurrect from the dead is zero, because the Sun never stops in its course and nobody resurrects from the dead. The prior probability of the man that had his hip bone eaten away from Cancer would be healed perfectly after he went into the bath at Lourdes, was also zero. There are no natural explanations for these phenomenons and they don't happen except by a non-natural cause.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers