Theology, philosophy, math, science, and random other things

A common mistake in Bayesian reasoning

You and your friend are investigating a murder, and you have following conversation: You: Alice is obviously the culprit. The knife has her fingerprints on it.  Your friend: Why are you ruling out Bob? It could have been Carol or Dan, too. Or anyone else, for that matter.  You: Um... because of the knife with […]

Basic Bayesian reasoning: a better way to think (Part 4)

Have you read the last several posts? In those posts we began the tale of Alice and Bob, a pair of murder suspects who recently started dating one another. Through their sordid tale, we'll examine Bayesian reasoning, the scientific method, and the so-called fallacy of "affirming the consequent". Alice and Bob are going through a […]

Basic Bayesian reasoning: a better way to think (Part 3)

In my last post, I introduced Bayes' theorem: P(hypothesis|observation) = P(observation|hypothesis)/P(observation) * P(hypothesis) Now, this is a powerful equation that tells us how to use observed evidence to update our beliefs about a hypothesis. But as I mentioned, it has two difficulties with its use: first, the probability prior to the observation - P(hypothesis) - […]

Basic Bayesian reasoning: a better way to think (Part 2)

In my previous post, I explained that instead of thinking of logical statements as only being "true" or "false", we should assign probability values for their chance of being true. This is the fundamental tenet of Bayesian reasoning. This allows us to employ the entire mathematical field of probability theory in our thinking and expands […]

Basic Bayesian reasoning: a better way to think (Part 1)

What is Bayesian inference? I've already mentioned it in several of my previous posts, and I'm sure to bring it up again in the future. I obviously think it's important. Why? Bayesian inference is the mathematical extension of propositional logic using probability theory. It is superior to deductive propositional logic, which is what many people […]

The dialogue between two aliens who found a book on Earth

Alice and Bob are two aliens. In their interstellar journey, they pass by Earth and there picked up a book. Some time afterwards, they meet to discuss their new acquisition. Alice:So, have you had a chance to look at that Terran artifact that we got? Bob:I have. It has many fascinating properties. I and my […]

How to determine the specific purpose of the universe

Last week, I cited the fine tuning argument to conclude that the universe does have a purpose, for it is nearly impossible for its features to be the result of purposeless randomness. Just as a rational but ignorant alien who comes across a human book will conclude that it has a purpose, we too are […]

Life, universe, and everything - does it all have a purpose?

As I said last week, the purpose of any physical object lies outside that object. Therefore the purpose of the universe, if it exists, must also lie outside the universe. No amount of searching only within the universe will discover it. Furthermore, the purpose of the universe may be focused on a very small portion […]

Isn't the universe too big to have humans as its purpose?

The following is a commonly expressed thought: "If the purpose of the universe is to create humans, why is it so inefficient? Humans have only been around for 200,000 out of the 13.8 billion years that the universe has been in existence. We only exist on one planet among the innumerable stars in a vast […]

Science as evidence for Christianity (Summary and Conclusion)

This is the summary and conclusion post for the "Science as evidence for Christianity" series. It contains links to all other posts in the series. Please view the individual posts for a more thorough discussion. We consider the whole of science as evidence to decide among various worldviews. This evidence overwhelmingly supports Christianity against its […]
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