We’re going to be seeing a lot of this, probably for the rest of our lives, so I’m trying to wrap my mind around it. When Carrier gives examples, I can usually track it, but he has a way of running on about how correct he is, and I get lost. His posts build on earlier posts and he links them, so, if you follow that, you can get down to the basics. That’s how I got to this subsection, he was talking about how Christian apologists “gerrymander” their arguments by moving something from the evidence category into the prior probability category. That’s where the Bayesian theory stuff gets difficult for me.
The example here is, when faced with evidence for how the universe works (without God), they present something claiming to explain why God would make the universe look like it had that evidence. They have no evidence for that, it’s the kind of thing philosophers came up with a thousand years ago, before we knew anything about forces or atoms. So, that’s where they should be making a “prior probability” calculation, taking all the times in history when someone said their god did it and counting all the times that those gods just faded away, that no one believes them anymore. That’s pretty much all of them, so the prior is 0%. Or, if you want to start as if you just don’t know, it’s 50/50.
He goes on to show how each ‘excuse’ that is made multiplies, cutting the odds in half each time. Meanwhile, there is evidence for a universe from quantum physics to elements being cooked and becoming life and evolving. That adds up. In Bayesian terms, it’s a probability for atheism and against theism. You must apply both of those. Apologetics takes something with no evidence and adds it to their argument as if it is evidence for.
Saying, but it’s a living being, about a fertilized egg, is pretty much the same tactic.