Reasonable Faith Forums

Archived => Belief without Warrant => Topic started by: steve hinrichs on August 11, 2007, 12:03:11 am

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on August 11, 2007, 12:03:11 am
Read http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/spntid2.pdf


And discover the following    Conclusion

By use of the logical principle, Proof by Elimination (PE), this article presents a rationale for identifying supernatural intervention by requiring showing that the natural cannot successfully explain the event in question. This means that the event violates deterministic or indeterministic natural theories and cannot be explained by natural intelligence. Violation of deterministic principles present, a clear case that the supernatural has intervened. Violation of indeterministic is not necessarily definite. The strength of the argument depends upon how small the probability is for the best natural explanation. This probability should be determined by a conservative analysis.

Because of the strong desire humans have for purpose, it is natural to investigate if there is evidence that indicates if a supernatural intelligence has a purpose for humans. Religions typically claim there is, so the methodology provided in this article provides a rational basis to investigate their supernatural claims and others. If claims for the intervention of the supernatural can be shown to be successfully explained naturally, then there is no rational basis for claiming the supernatural has intervened.

The approach presented in this article uses PE a key logical principle used in science. The approach provides a basis to critic and potentially dismiss claims because it puts a priority on the natural explanation if it is successful and requires probability estimates to be conservative; thus, the approach is falsifiable; therefore, deserves being considered as scientific.

The strongest case from nature known by the author comes from the cosmological arguments in Section 4.3. The strongest case from religion known by the author comes from Section 4.1.2.

My webpage http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/home
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: theatheist on August 12, 2007, 12:37:10 pm
You might want to employ an editor to a) Sort out the typos and grammatical errors and b) make the piece readable.

What your paper seems to be saying, in a nutshell, is 'if something can be shown not to be caused by natural means then it must be caused by supernatural means'. It took you twenty pages of rather obtuse and pompous language to say that? I'm sorry if this sounds disrespectful and I can clearly see that you have exerted considerable effort and time on this but please you are actually saying nothing very much of any value to anyone. Or, am I missing something?



Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on September 01, 2007, 04:37:41 pm

All you did was state subjective adjectives such as, readable,  obtuse, pompous  and provided no rational criticism.  The reader of my article will obviously be aware that my approach is based on a key logical principal that science uses, proof by elimination.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on September 09, 2007, 05:45:44 pm
I found the article very interesting.

Taking a lot of pages to say something is usually a virtue of philosophy. As any experienced thinker knows, the obvious and simple are rarely very obvious or simple.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 17, 2007, 04:34:39 pm
Depending on your definition of "supernatural" the supernatural cannot possibly be rationally believed in.

Perhaps you could provide an example of something that cannot possibly be explained through natural means?
Do not forget that technology has now made possible what was thought impossible only decades ago.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 17, 2007, 05:03:20 pm
On what definition of rational?
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 17, 2007, 05:29:45 pm
The definition I am using for rational is as follows:

Consistent with or based on reason; logical

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 17, 2007, 05:52:39 pm
So, what is the definition of supernatural that is inconsistent with that?

That definition has problems.

We know that light displays contradictory properties. Is it therefore irrational to believe in light?

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 17, 2007, 06:05:15 pm
Drm970 wrote: So, what is the definition of supernatural that is inconsistent with that?

That definition has problems.

We know that light displays contradictory properties. Is it therefore irrational to believe in light?



It means it is irrational to hold that our model of light is an accurate reflection of reality.  It is logically impossible for something to have contradictory properties.  If both are simultaneously held it only proves that they do not indeed contradict.

The problem is that defaulting to a supernatural explanation will always be an argument from ignorance.

An example definition of "supernatural" that I have found many agree with is:
That which cannot be analyzed, measured, or observed.

Any supernatural happening by the above definition would automatically be impossible to verify empirically, or provide any evidence for whatsoever.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 17, 2007, 06:18:36 pm
Of course, all of the non-deductive theistic arguments take their premises to be evidence for the conclusion of the existence of the supernatural. Barring a refutation of all of those arguments, I think you're being a bit blustery in saying there could be no evidence for the supernatural.

However, it seems what you really mean is that the existence of God cannot be empirically verified. Nor can God be "measured" and such is fairly obviously true. I think that definition of the supernatural is a bit silly, however. Supernatural literally means above nature. Thus, I think the better definition is "That which preceeds(temporally, logically, or causally) nature," or "that which nature is dependent upon for its existence," or "that which transcends nature." You also seem to be implicitly assuming some empirical or verificationist form of rationality, which is self-referentially problematic. The principle itself would not satisfy its own criterion and would end up being rational to believe in.

I agree with your comments on the nature of light. However, the point is that currently light seems to have obviously contradictory properties. I don't hold it as rational to believe something really does have logically contradictory properties, far from it. I think that's the height of irrationality. However, what it does show is that it's not always irrational to believe in something, even if that something appears to have logically contradictory properties. We are free to hold onto such beliefs in certain circumstances and hold out for an explanation which removes the apparent contradiction.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 17, 2007, 06:20:21 pm
I meant to say "irrational to believe in" in the paragraph about empirical and verificationist rationality.

We need to start a petition for an edit button.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 17, 2007, 09:46:52 pm
The reason why the supernatural cannot have applicable evidence is because it (at least by my definition) deals with ultimate cause... or at least unverifiable cause.

While your definition is technically accurate, nature could be taken as just a subset of the supernatural, which could cause confusion.

I would prefer to differentiate the two.  Would you agree that anything which can be observed, currently or hypothetically, is natural?
Supernatural would just be that which is, excluding all that is natural.

By these definitions, even claimed miracles would be natural.  For example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ would be an observable event that did or did not occur.  His brain, heart, and other organs ceased functioning, which could have been observed and measured at the time, and supposedly they began functioning again.

What caused the return of bodily function?  Perhaps a timely electrical stimulation.  That could be observed and measured.  What Caused the electrical stimulation?  Perhaps the direct action of a supernatural agent.  This could not possibly be measured or observed.
Would you agree that introducing additional cause where it is not necessary is irrational?  If so, then anywhere a natural explanation exists (or even potentially exists) a theist cannot assume a deity.

My question then is, can an argument from ignorance ever be valid?

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 17, 2007, 11:16:35 pm
Taking the natural as subset of the supernatural would strike me as semantic trickery. The computer program depends upon the medium upon which it exists, but the computer program is not the medium upon which it exists. It is a bit tricky to separate the supernatural from the natural. The idea is that there are things other than nature as we know it. Such an idea isn't terribly astonishing. We countenance entities in modern physics which would've been taken as supernatural in previous stages of scientific development. However, just because we can take the supernatural and remain it to the "natural" doesn't imply much of anything. I can call a Ford a Lamborghini if I want to. It doesn't change much about what it really is.

Would you agree that introducing additional cause where it is not necessary is irrational?


No. I know of no form of rationality on which this would be irrational. Introducing entities which are unnecessary is contrary to Occam's razor. But, Occam's razor is a very sharp instrument, and must be wielded with care. As we know, solipsism would be the best hypothesis according to a careless use of Occam's razor. But clearly there is something insane about solipsism.

My question then is, can an argument from ignorance ever be valid?


No, I don't think so. However, I don't know of many theistic arguments which are actually arguments from ignorance. An argument from ignorance would take the form "If we don't know the explanation for X, then the explanation must be Y." Even the worst theistic arguments generally do not take a form at all like that. Instead, they take the valid form of "No class of explanations C will do in explaining X, therefore, the explanation of X must be of another class of explanations." Such arguments are only bad because they are trivial. They amount to: If not A, then not A. Which isn't terribly interesting.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 19, 2007, 06:17:56 pm
Drm970 wrote: Taking the natural as subset of the supernatural would strike me as semantic trickery. The computer program depends upon the medium upon which it exists, but the computer program is not the medium upon which it exists. It is a bit tricky to separate the supernatural from the natural. The idea is that there are things other than nature as we know it. Such an idea isn't terribly astonishing. We countenance entities in modern physics which would've been taken as supernatural in previous stages of scientific development. However, just because we can take the supernatural and remain it to the "natural" doesn't imply much of anything. I can call a Ford a Lamborghini if I want to. It doesn't change much about what it really is.



What word would you prefer, then, to designate any supernatural entities or agents which are not natural?


Drm970 wrote:
No. I know of no form of rationality on which this would be irrational. Introducing entities which are unnecessary is contrary to Occam's razor. But, Occam's razor is a very sharp instrument, and must be wielded with care. As we know, solipsism would be the best hypothesis according to a careless use of Occam's razor. But clearly there is something insane about solipsism.



Insane?  Utterly impractical, yes... but I wouldn't be so quick to call it insane.  Perhaps this also needs further clarification.
When I say an "unnecessary cause" I am meaning one which adds no explanatory power.  For example, a great deal of chemistry can be explained by understanding the various subatomic particles.  The predictions the model makes can be verified or falsified.  These particles are responsible for a great deal of behavior we witness.
This is not an unnecessary cause.
However, one could posit that the reason the subatomic particles behave thus is because undetectable gnomes enjoy manipulating subatomic particles.
Without any supporting empirical evidence, could one rationally hold such a model to be true?  This is what I was trying to get at by "unnecessary cause".



No, I don't think so. However, I don't know of many theistic arguments which are actually arguments from ignorance. An argument from ignorance would take the form "If we don't know the explanation for X, then the explanation must be Y." Even the worst theistic arguments generally do not take a form at all like that. Instead, they take the valid form of "No class of explanations C will do in explaining X, therefore, the explanation of X must be of another class of explanations." Such arguments are only bad because they are trivial. They amount to: If not A, then not A. Which isn't terribly interesting.



Oh?  I could be mistaken, but I seem to hear quite often arguments along the lines of "abiogenesis is far too unlikely to have occurred naturally, so it must have been intelligently instigated", "Life is far too complex and designed-looking to be explained by evolution", "fine-tuned constants show that our universe was intentionally created for human life by a designer-God" and so forth.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 19, 2007, 07:42:50 pm
Insane?  Utterly impractical, yes... but I wouldn't be so quick to call it insane.


No, I would stick to "insane."

Nothing adds explanatory power over solipsism.

What word would you prefer, then, to designate any supernatural entities or agents which are not natural?


Supernatural?

Oh?  I could be mistaken, but I seem to hear quite often arguments along the lines of "abiogenesis is far too unlikely to have occurred naturally, so it must have been intelligently instigated", "Life is far too complex and designed-looking to be explained by evolution", "fine-tuned constants show that our universe was intentionally created for human life by a designer-God" and so forth.


All of these arguments are of the aforementioned form and are thus not examples of arguments from ignorance. An argument from ignorance would look like this: We know of no natural explanation for the existence of life, so the explanation must be supernatural. However "Natural processes could not produce life, therefore the processes that produced life must be non-natural" is not an instance of an argument from ignorance. It's just a bare fact that if no natural process could produce X, and X was produced, it must have been a non-natural process that produced X. However, the reason why the argument from ignorance is a fallacy is because just because we don't know how X was produced by natural processes, it doesn't mean that it wasn't. The argument from ignorance is actually incredibly rare in all of philosophy. It is VERY common in the "paranormal" field of studies. I was considering this recently after watching one of those "ghost" shows on television. Their general modus operandi is to say "X is unexplained, therefore it is paranormal" and that is an argument from ignorance, but not one typically used in even the worst creationist literature.




Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 20, 2007, 01:48:37 am
I suppose I would require a technical definition of the argument from ignorance fallacy.

As someone saying that it is "too improbable..." or "science can't explain..." is relying on solely on current limitations of knowledge, I would say an appeal to ignorance would be what it should properly be called.

Regardless, it is enough that you recognize such arguments as fallacious.


Also, you seem to agree that a supernatural agent or entity is one that is not natural, nor can be natural.
Under this impression of "supernatural" would you say Jesus was natural or supernatural during his time on Earth (assuming the Christian scriptures to be accurate in relating His life).

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 21, 2007, 11:24:42 am
I suppose I would require a technical definition of the argument from ignorance fallacy.


Here you go.

10. Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam)
When the premises of an argument state that nothing has been proved one way or the other about something, and the conclusion then makes a definite assertion about that thing, the argument commits an appeal to ignorance. The issue usually involves something that is incapable of being proved or something that has not yet been proved.


These examples do, however, lead us to the first of two important exceptions to the appeal to ignorance. The first stems from the fact that if qualified researchers investigate a certain phenomenon within their range of expertise and fail to turn up any evidence that the phenomenon exists, this fruitless search by itself constitutes positive evidence about the question.


Patrick J. Hurley. A Concise Introduction To Logic. Fifth Edition. Wadsworth Publishing Company. 136-137

The second exception(if you caught that I left it out of the quote). Has to do with courtroom procedure and the fact that pointing out the prosecution's failing to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt is akin to an argument from ignorance. However, it is permissible in the courtroom.

As someone saying that it is "too improbable..." or "science can't explain..." is relying on solely on current limitations of knowledge, I would say an appeal to ignorance would be what it should properly be called.


We can always make the appeal that there is something we are missing. That there may be some knowledge waiting for us in the future which will explain all which seems unexplainable by our current methods. The probability claim is actually very much not an argument from ignorance. Such can be shown easily by considering the fact that the probability claim is itself a claim to a piece of knowledge. You buy a lottery ticket. I tell you "The chances of you winning the lottery are very low. Therefore you probably won't win the lottery." That follows the same structure as "The chances of life arising naturally are very low. Therefore life probably didn't arise naturally." Thus the crux of such origin of life arguments tends to be whether or not the probability of life's arising naturally really is low. Most admit that it is low, for any given planet or universe, but posit that the abundance of planets or (hypothetical) universes makes it somewhat probable all things considered.

It's also important to keep in mind that you need to be careful when coming back at such an argument with claims about our "limits of knowledge" in order to avoid committing the very same fallacy.

Under this impression of "supernatural" would you say Jesus was natural or supernatural during his time on Earth (assuming the Christian scriptures to be accurate in relating His life).


The philosophical issues surrounding this question are thick and obscure. I think the standard reply is that, since Jesus was both fully God and fully man, he is supernatural in his God nature and natural in his human nature. That opens up a large, smelly can of worms about whether it is possible to have both natures without contradiction. If it is impossible to have both natures, then obviously Christianity must abandon the incarnation doctrine, and that is not a pretty sight. However it seems there is no obvious problem with this doctrine, as per the book The Logic of God Incarnate and the shorter(easier) explication in Craig and Moreland's Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview.


Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 23, 2007, 05:04:56 pm
The primary difference between the lottery ticket and the origin of life is that we are are actually able to come up with a realistic probability for the former, while the latter has far too many unknowns.
We cannot even confidently make the assertion that life originating by natural causes has a low probability.

As for the whether Christ was natural or supernatural... I am willing to accept compound natures, though by my definition the two remain exclusive.
For example, if you wish to posit that man has a supernatural "spirit" or "soul" yet his physical body is strictly natural, then I would not see that as a contradiction.

Yet any part of a subject's nature that can be observed is natural.  It seems we sidetracked a little... I think we have a decent understanding of the terms now... would you say it is possible to have evidence then, for the supernatural?


Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 23, 2007, 06:46:07 pm
I think the primary issue with origins of life is the issue of natural processes. Natural processes tend to be regular. We can, it seems, legitimately claim that if we know of no natural processes which would produce life, then there probably aren't any. We would say that such a process, it seems, would be regularly observable if it existed. In the absence of such a process, the probabilities seem fairly workable. We have an, admittedly vague, idea about what it would take to get things started off, and we can make a decent guess at what the probabilities of those occurrences would be. I think this is, perhaps, avoidable, but those in favor of the natural origin of life need to give up the claim that life probably exists many places in the universe. If that were so, it seems we would observe life-generating processes now. I mean by life-generating processes, not the more mundane things such as birth, but that which reproduction presupposes.

As for consciousness being reducible to physical processes, I think the clearest problem with the idea is the one brought up by Thomas Nagel famously in his article "What is it like to be a bat?" you can access an online copy of the article here:

http://www.clarku.edu/students/philosophyclub/docs/nagel.pdf

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 24, 2007, 04:38:44 am
Now now, keep in mind it is not so simple!

First, we would need a perfect understanding of the environmental conditions.  Exactly what chemicals were present in what quantities is very important.  Temperature, pressure, fluid turbulence, electrical discharges... all could play a role.

Secondly, once life originated, natural selection would do the work of diversifying and keeping it around.  Assuming that past conditions were favorable, and further assuming that present conditions are still favorable, it is entirely possible that abiogenesis is a fairly regular occurrence... but what are the odds that this arrangement of proteins would be successful enough to escape falling prey to more advanced organisms and reach the point that it would actually be noticed.
Were it so successful, who would think anything of it, other than that a new microbe has been discovered?

Regarding the link and consciousness... I see no argument demonstrating that it must be from a non-natural or physical source.  True, it would be wrong to claim any kind of certainty at this point regarding the nature of human awareness, but that does not mean it must forever be outside the scope of empirical science.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 24, 2007, 06:01:38 pm
Ah, but the lack of simplicity is the problem.

As you pointed out, several variables are significant. We would be justified, I think, in saying that the chance of all of the variables falling within the required ranges would seem, prima facie, to be low. Of course, it may actually be high. That is certainly possible, but, it seems that a belief that the chances are low is the more justified belief at this time. The argument turns out the same either way.

Natural selection is more mystifying than it seems at face value. I grant that it has power, but I've been somewhat more skeptical of it lately, after having read Jerry Fodor's new paper on the matter.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 24, 2007, 06:15:38 pm
I forgot to address your response to Nagel's paper. It seems you either think Nagel has no argument, or you missed the force of his argument. His argument, if it establishes anything, establishes precisely that consciousness will remain outside the bounds of science of necessity. Since science is essentially a 3rd person practice, and consciousness is a 1st person phenomena. Science seeks the objective, but consciousness, by its nature, is subjective. No 3rd person description of phenomena will be able to capture the 1st person nature of consciousness. That is his argument, and it remains powerful even to this day.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 26, 2007, 11:56:34 pm
I agree it is not enough for there to be no known natural explantion.  Rather according to my method, there must be the reaosniong provided that all possible natural explanation are considered and none of them are plausible.  That is what section 2.5 of my pdf addresses.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 26, 2007, 11:59:17 pm

In my pdf, I present objective reasoning for evaluating claims about the supernatural.  The reasoning is based on the key logical principal of science, proof by elimination.  There are atheist and theists who just prefer their positions for subjective reasons.  The reasoning to reject the supernatural because the natural explanation is more simple or less ad-hoc (ocman's razor) and the reasoning of always waiting for possible evidence that will dismiss the supernatural, are approaches the can be used in an unfalsifiable way to dismiss evidence for the supernatural regardless of how objective, or strong the evidence is.  Philosepher of science, Popper pointed out the scientifc approaches should be falsifiable.

My approach is the type that the unbiased scientist as described below would follow.  

Considering three observers of a hypothetical Guru. The presupposed naturalist, the presupposed super-naturalist and the unbiased scientist. They all sit and watch the Guru flip a supposedly fair two sided coin and the coin keeps landing heads. The more it lands heads the more the presupposed naturalist believes it has heads on both sides. The more it lands heads the more the presupposed super naturalist believes in the super natural powers of the Guru. After the Guru is done the presupposed walk away with their strong opposing beliefs that contradict each other so they could not both be correct, but these two do not ask any further questions. The unbiased scientist is not convinced either way; however, for him the more the coin lands heads the more he wants to check out the coin to see if the super natural is occurring. After the Guru is done he goes up and ask the Guru if he can look at both sides of the coin. Also, he asks the Guru to do the same thing with his own coin he brought that he knew was not rigged. If the Guru still keeps getting heads even with a truly fair two sided coin, then the unbiased scientist becomes convinced that the super natural has intervened. However, if the unbiased scientist discovers a trick of the Guru such as the coin has heads on both sides then he is not convinced the Guru was performing a supernatural event.

I do not think anybody is a perfect Presuppositionalist or unbiased scientist; however, I think a honest thing to do whenever we are developing our beliefs is to honestly ask if am I thinking more like a Presuppositionalist or an unbiased scientist. This should give better insight into oneself as they better understand their own presuppositions and why they hold onto them.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 27, 2007, 11:05:35 pm
Though we may never be able to use scientific methods to qualitatively describe consciousness in detail, that does not mean we cannot demonstrate its roots exist in neurology.

Again, I will admit that I have not read on this area, but would it not be entirely possible to link consciousness to a specific area of the brain, just by differing neural activity when one is conscious and when one is not?
Could we not show that cognitive function is lost when a certain area of the brain is damaged, or that those with underdeveloped brains never demonstrate self-awareness in the first place?

This would be enough evidence to support that consciousness has a natural origin, even if it will never be completely explainable empirically.

As for the likelihood of abiogenesis, it seems we are at an impasse.  Many people would say something seemed unlikely before natural processes explaining a phenomena were adequately understood.  It would seem very unlikely to me that similar fossils are found on continents separated by vast oceans... if I was unfamiliar with plate tectonics.




Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 27, 2007, 11:15:36 pm
rrr333 wrote: I agree it is not enough for there to be no known natural explantion.  Rather according to my method, there must be the reaosniong provided that all possible natural explanation are considered and none of them are plausible.  That is what section 2.5 of my pdf addresses.




From your pdf:


Reasonable assumptions can be made that limit the number of possibilities to a finite number. For example, if your car is
seen being driving away, it can be assumed if this is a natural phenomenon that a human is driving it away or there is a
remote control device in the car. If you just thoroughly check the car and found no remote control device, then if it occurred
naturally, one could assume a human was driving it away. Since the number of humans is finite, the number of possible
thieves is finite. In this case to determine the actual individual who stole the car, one would have to show that all other
humans except for a certain one was driving the stolen car. If it can be shown no human was in the car and since there is
no remote control device, PE would indicate the supernatural intervened.



You set up a false dichotomy, in saying that a remote control device and a human thief are the only way your vehicle could be driving away.  It could be autonomously equipped, such as the DARPA vehicles.
Any assumptions you make will prove insufficient regarding natural causes, as we do not possess full knowledge of all natural possibilities.  In order to possess full knowledge, and thereby allow the valid potentiality of proving the supernatural through PE, we would ourselves be omniscient.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 27, 2007, 11:39:42 pm
rrr333 wrote:

The reasoning to reject the supernatural because the natural explanation is more simple or less ad-hoc (ocman's razor) and the reasoning of always waiting for possible evidence that will dismiss the supernatural, are approaches the can be used in an unfalsifiable way to dismiss evidence for the supernatural regardless of how objective, or strong the evidence is.



Give me an example of such evidence.


Given your scenario, I would say the unbiased scientist was not thorough enough.  I would say in addition to using another coin, he should also require the guru to perform the same feat in another location.  

At this point I must ask you in what way you define supernatural.  What if the Guru had discovered some repeatable, verifiable method by which he can generate a force through a mental exercise?

Though the method would not be understood at the time, would this necessarily be supernatural, or just some innate ability of humankind (or perhaps even only this specific man through some mutation) .


I now have a scenario for you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3f-WPrKnRU

Criss Angel is a very talented magician.  In addition to this instance, where he manages to walk through glass, he also has the impressive ability of levitation.

However, I have seen the levitation trick explained.  Very clever, and it was done without using any of the natural tricks I would have considered.  However, I would have been wrong to assume it was supernatural, as all of the possible natural methods did not encompass all it could possibly be.

Still, I am yet to hear the explanation for how he walks through glass.  I notice that it appears he has something under his shirt.  There seems to be no seem in the glass, so it is unlikely that he removes or slides part away and then reinserts it.  Obviously he is not moving through it as a liquid, as glass at that temperature is far too brittle.  If he increased the temperature that far he would himself come to physical harm, and the paper would burn.  I'm guessing that those in the crowd are in on the trick... or at the very least the man on the inside.  Video editing is possible, but at least Snopes agrees that it is one, unedited continuous take.

Assuming the video was unedited, would you feel that this was supernatural?


I don't.  I believe there was a natural explanation, and that explanation lies behind a thin sheet of paper.  Our view of the scene was incomplete.  We were withheld key data that is necessary to properly understand the phenomenon witnessed.

I think this is an excellent analogy for all insufficiently understood phenomena.  If not a direct hindrance to observation, at the very least ignorance of physical properties and natural principles limits our field of view... and obscures the key to full understanding.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 28, 2007, 03:41:01 pm
That which is not natural is, well, not natural. So, if one were to eliminate all possible natural explanations, one would be justified in believing in a supernatural explanation. You seem to be confused in that you think "all natural explanations" is equivalent to "all natural explanations I can think of."
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 28, 2007, 08:24:41 pm
Drm970 wrote: That which is not natural is, well, not natural. So, if one were to eliminate all possible natural explanations, one would be justified in believing in a supernatural explanation. You seem to be confused in that you think "all natural explanations" is equivalent to "all natural explanations I can think of."



Obviously.  My point is how can we ever possibly know that we have eliminated all natural explanations without ourselves being omniscient.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 28, 2007, 10:01:00 pm
That's true. But we cannot possibly know something doesn't have an overdetermined supernatural explanation without being omniscient either. Not much follows.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 28, 2007, 10:24:34 pm
Drm970 wrote: That's true. But we cannot possibly know something doesn't have an overdetermined supernatural explanation without being omniscient either. Not much follows.



Is there any scenario in which every potential natural explanation can be ruled out?
I would say no, and you would seem to agree, as to make such a statement one must be omniscient.
Therefore one cannot prove the supernatural as a cause for any event through PE, as the OP's .pdf suggests.

While we are able to rationally conclude a phenomena is of natural origin when we have repeatable methods and empirical data demonstrating an effect of a natural mechanic, can the same be said for the supernatural?
Since PE fails as a method for proving the supernatural, is there some other method by which we may logically arrive at a supernatural cause?
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Drm970 on October 28, 2007, 10:50:09 pm
I don't agree necessarily. If some phenomenon runs contrary to the deliverances of an established physical theory, we would be rational in ruling out natural explanations for that phenomenon. We could always say that some other understanding of what it is to be "natural" would account for said phenomenon naturally, but then the analogous fact is that we could always await some account of the universe where "natural" phenomenon becomes "supernatural."

A rational methodology is not a methodology of certainty, or should not be, in any case. We could rationally conclude something was of supernatural origin and be wrong about it. The same goes for the natural. In fact, the same goes for every area of inquiry and almost every type of explanation.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 28, 2007, 11:34:11 pm
Proof by elimination (PE) is the key logical principal of science.  PE is valid for natural or supernatural if the evidence and reasoning is there to rule out all hypothesis except for one.  There is no other logical concept that can do what PE does for science.  In other words, without PE there can be no logical basis to determine somehting true through science.

PE does not fail.  The failure is in the lack of reasoning or evidence to rule out all other hypothesis.




Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 28, 2007, 11:37:58 pm

In the Incarnation forum I do have a post "Messianic Prophecy" where I do provide reasoning to show that I have considered all possible natural explanations.  I will not debate it here, but will debate it there. Here is the place to debate the general method not a specifc argument about real evidence.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 29, 2007, 06:10:22 am

As explained in Ref. 1, scientist typically go through a process of eliminating false hypothesis. According to proof by elimination "PE", if there is an all-natural theory that explains a certain real event and all other possible natural hypothesis for explaining that certain event are false except for one specific natural hypothesis, then this one remaining non-false natural hypothesis is the correct theory. The approach for identifying supernatural intervention proposed in my article makes use of this logical principle, by just extending it to the case where there is no plausible natural hypothesis. If there is a correct hypothesis and all possible natural hypothesis for explaining a certain real event are false, then there is a logical argument that the cause involves non-natural phenomenon; thus, the supernatural was involved with causing the event to occur.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 31, 2007, 06:44:44 am
rrr333 wrote:
PE does not fail.  The failure is in the lack of reasoning or evidence to rule out all other hypothesis.



I was saying that PE fails to prove the supernatural in any instance for the reason you just stated: "lack of reasoning or evidence to rule out all other hypothesis".

Essentially, this is my point:
1. PE is only valid where every explanation can be ruled out except for one.
2. In order to rule out every potential natural explanation, man would have to know every single mechanic, law, force, and phenomenon in nature and would need to know that there are no others... essentially being omniscient.
3.  Man does not know every single mechanic, law, force, and phenomenon in nature, and if he did he would not know for certain that no others exist, for he is not omniscient.
4. Therefore man cannot use PE to prove the supernatural occurred in any circumstance.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on October 31, 2007, 06:51:39 am
rrr333 wrote:

As explained in Ref. 1, scientist typically go through a process of eliminating false hypothesis. According to proof by elimination "PE", if there is an all-natural theory that explains a certain real event and all other possible natural hypothesis for explaining that certain event are false except for one specific natural hypothesis, then this one remaining non-false natural hypothesis is the correct theory. The approach for identifying supernatural intervention proposed in my article makes use of this logical principle, by just extending it to the case where there is no plausible natural hypothesis. If there is a correct hypothesis and all possible natural hypothesis for explaining a certain real event are false, then there is a logical argument that the cause involves non-natural phenomenon; thus, the supernatural was involved with causing the event to occur.




The problem is we can make probability statements regarding the natural, but we cannot do so for the supernatural.

As an example, I can cast a standard six-sided die.  If I tell you it does not land on one, two, three, five, or six it would not be an unreasonable assumption to assume that it landed on side four, as that is by far more probable than the die balancing on an edge, corner, or all of its molecules suddenly disappearing or rearranging themselves into a non-die object (though theoretically there is always a non-zero chance of this happening).
However, how can one measure the relative probability between the natural and supernatural, even given the statistically unfavorable result of the die balancing on a corner with every cast?  We can say that it naturally COULD occur, though the odds may be one in trillions.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on November 04, 2007, 07:49:22 am
References

1.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/jesustomb1.pdf
2.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/spntid1.pdf
3.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/critic71.pdf
4.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/reason1.pdf

There are phenomenon such as discrete phenomenon that require just a finite analysis to consider all possible explanations.  There are phenomenon such as continuous phenomenon that could require an infinite analysis or knowledge to consider all possible explanations.  So while it may be true for some cases this it is not possible to consider all possible explanations, there also may be cases where it is possible to consider all possible explanations.  So it is not appropriate to generally say it is never possible to consider all possible explanations.  That is just useless generalizing.  Rather scientist should focus the discussion on understanding what type of problems require finite knowledge or analysis and what type require all knowledge which humans do not have. 

It is true the probability for the supernatural occurring cannot be directly calculated.  But by PE it is not required to calculate the probability of the supernatural to determine if the supernatural has intervened.  In fact it is common for science in evaluating just natural phenomenon to not calculate the probability for something occurring, rather the probability is calculated for the other natural alternatives occurring.  If the other natural alternatives are all shown to have a low probability, then an inference through PE is made that the remaining explanation must be true. 

For example, Plate tectonics or the movement of the continental plates was inferred by probability before there was any known evidence that the continental plates were moving.  I have read this was accomplished by calculating a nonextont probability of ~0.000001 (not a extont probability) for the match between the shapes of the continents in how they would have fit together as Pangaea, the original super continent.  So the probability of Pangaea forming was not and could not be calculated.  Rather the probability of the alternative explanation (just a coincidence of the perimeters matching) was calculated to be small inferring Pangaea. So in the same way supernatural intervention could be inferred in a valid way without directly calculating the probability for the supernatural occurring.   Section 4.3 of Ref. 1 explains why for probabilities of the nonextont type, the probability for something true cannot be calculated rather only the probabilities for the alternative being false can be calculated.  This is done all the time in valid natural science, so not being able to the calculate the probability for the supernatural does bnot make it impossible to show by science that the supernatural intervened.

The false reasoning, we do not know everything; therefore, we cannot determine anything is true can be applied to not just the supernatural, but also the natural.  Often Religious fundamentalist claim this when they say, “well, the universe may really by just thousands of years old like archbishop usher thought rather than billions, because we do not know everything and we may someday discover something new that proves it.”  All the stars in the universe could come together and spell out spell out “God Exists” and SRH could just say  “we do not know everything; therefore, we cannot determine anything about the supernatural is true”; therefore, I will not believe the supernatural intervened.  A 1 ton object could float up on Earth by command of a Guru and SRH would not believe the supernatural intervened even though it has been verified that the air nor any other natural field of force such as electrical or magnetic caused it. 

Whether from naturalist or supernaturalist I know Science does not have an interest in these types of approaches that are what I have documented as artificial invincible defense in Section 5.4 of Ref. 4.  They are not falsifiable.  The famous Philosopher of Science, Popper, was famous for pointing out that unfalsifiable approaches do not belong to science.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on November 04, 2007, 07:51:47 am
Section 5.4 of Ref. 4

5.4   Presuppositionalism and Invincible Artificial Defenses

Trying to use PE to prove something true about reality is an approach that really tries to make a case for something about reality with the least amount of assumptions about reality. The two assumption that PE makes is that there is a correct theory about the reality being considered and reality is self-consistent. Without this assumption, it would be impossible to develop a logical argument for anything about reality. Thus, PE involves the most minimal assumptions about reality, in other words, it make the most minimal amount of presuppositions.

Arguments for reality that do not make the most minimal amount of assumptions about reality, presume as true things that may not be necessary for determining the truth about some reality. Presuppositionalism is a category that describes these approaches where extra unnecessary assumptions are made for determining true something about reality. For example, a Presuppositionalist would assume planetary orbits were circular before making sure that the orbits did not follow another pattern such as an ellipse. A Presuppositionalist is one who gives presuppositions priority over the implications of observations. For an extreme example, if one presumed there were six apples in a basket and after seeing there were only four in the basket, still believed there were six in the basket, then he would be thinking as a Presuppositionalist. An unbiased scientist is one who tries to minimize presuppositions and tries as best possible to use logic such as PE and observations to determine the truth about reality. Note the "unbiased" adjective because there are those who claim to be scientists but are biased.

Presuppositionalism is quite common in many different parts of human society. Presuppositionalist often use invincible approaches to maintain their beliefs. A good sign of a Presuppositionalist is an unwillingness to admit to or follow legitimate rational criterion for determining (especially their personally preferred) hypotheses false. Not adhering to the implications of legitimate criterion for determining hypotheses false is an approach that allows one's beliefs to be disconnected from observations of reality that would imply their belief false. This could allow one to maintain their belief regardless of what is real; thus, such an approach would be invincible. This makes such approaches tempting because one can maintain the position they personally prefer. However, such approaches do not involve legitimate reasoning, in fact such approaches avoid legitimate reasoning because they are unfalsifiable, so such approaches are called Artificial Invincible Defenses. Scientific approaches are supposed to be falsifiable and open to consideration of any data that might show a hypothesis wrong. Thus, invincible or unfalsifiable approaches for the hypothesis selection process for determining belief do not deserve to be considered as scientific approaches. Popper is a philosopher who is famous for promoting the idea that the scientific process should be falsifiable (Ref. 6).

Humans are often highly motivated and when the motivation is for a good cause, the motivation can be a good thing. However, motivation can also make one biased in their hypothesis selection process for determining belief. For example, often people want to maintain a certain beliefs for personal reasons because of the consequence from changing their beliefs such as negative emotions. For example, they may want to be able to deny they have a problem such as alcoholism when it would be painful to admit it. Often in these cases in order to maintain their belief, people develop an artificial invincible defense where they can avoid the implications of the evidence. For example, they may claim there is no reason to believe any scientific argument that contradicts their personally preferred beliefs.

If someone is not interested in questioning their presuppositions when they can question them, then it is at least questionable what is their primary motivating interest; a personal interest of wanting to hold onto their presuppositions or an objective interest in determining the truth.

I do not think anybody is a perfect Presuppositionalist or unbiased scientist; however, I think a honest thing to do whenever one is considering their beliefs is to honestly ask if they are thinking more like a Presuppositionalist or an unbiased scientist. This should give better insight into themselves as they better understand their own presuppositions and why they hold onto them.


Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on November 04, 2007, 12:55:01 pm

I think you misunderstand my points of conflict with your argument.
Let me first say we are in agreement that when every potential explanation except for one can be eliminated, the remainder must be true.  I do not contest that in the least.
I therefore agree that PE in theory is perfectly sound.
I, however, believe that in most instances possibilities cannot be absolutely ruled out, but only found to be of low probability (often astronomically so).  However, PE still remains a powerful tool for establishing knowledge, as you can still say that the remaining choice is vastly likely to be true, so long as you can establish relatively likelihoods.
Additionally I do not think we can possibly know every possible explanation for a given phenomena without infinite knowledge, unless we introduce some arbitrary constraints.
Because of this I find PE to only be useful in instances where the mechanics are generally understood.

However, before we can have a useful dialog I will need you to provide your definition of "supernatural".


rrr333 wrote:

There are phenomenon such as discrete phenomenon that require just a finite analysis to consider all possible explanations.



Could you provide an example?  Your analogy with the cubes seems to me flawed, as you introduce the arbitrary constraint that the explanation must involve cubes of a certain dimension.  Were you not to make this assumption that the box contains cubes in the first place, the number of possible contents would approach the infinite.


rrr333 wrote: There are phenomenon such as continuous phenomenon that could require an infinite analysis or knowledge to consider all possible explanations.



I personally do not believe that is true, as I expect both time and matter to be at the most fundamental level discrete, I will agree that for all practical purposes the number of permutations is infinite.


rrr333 wrote:

It is true the probability for the supernatural occurring cannot be directly calculated.  But by PE it is not required to calculate the probability of the supernatural to determine if the supernatural has intervened.  In fact it is common for science in evaluating just natural phenomenon to not calculate the probability for something occurring, rather the probability is calculated for the other natural alternatives occurring.  If the other natural alternatives are all shown to have a low probability, then an inference through PE is made that the remaining explanation must be true.



All I can say to this is that I hope it is not actually accepted practice, for it is absurdly wrong.  If the odds of all other alternatives are 10%, clearly the remaining explanation has 90% probability, and therefore it would be inaccurate to say that it "must be true".  


rrr333 wrote: So in the same way supernatural intervention could be inferred in a valid way without directly calculating the probability for the supernatural occurring.



Only if man knew all of nature.  Otherwise the unknown is all that could be inferred in a valid way.


rrr333 wrote:

The false reasoning, we do not know everything; therefore, we cannot determine anything is true can be applied to not just the supernatural, but also the natural.  Often Religious fundamentalist claim this when they say, “well, the universe may really by just thousands of years old like archbishop usher thought rather than billions, because we do not know everything and we may someday discover something new that proves it.”



That reasoning is perfectly sound, though utterly impractical.  Hence why it always falls to probabilities to determine what is likely an accurate reflection of reality, though we may never be absolutely certain.


rrr333 wrote: A 1 ton object could float up on Earth by command of a Guru and SRH would not believe the supernatural intervened even though it has been verified that the air nor any other natural field of force such as electrical or magnetic caused it.



That is no other KNOWN natural field of force caused it.  Again, I sense that our disagreement may only be arising on semantical grounds, and for that reason would like to hear your definition of "supernatural".  If you use supernatural and unknown interchangeably we are actually in agreement.



Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on November 23, 2007, 08:15:06 am
The definition of the supernatural is obvious, that which is not natural.  Whether or not the supernatural is known depends upon whether or not there is evidence for supernatural intervention.

One can call any hypothetical example arbitrary.  The cube example is fine for making the point.  It is not wrong to categorize extont and nonextont probabilities.  The categories as explained below have a logical basis.

SRH or anybody else can build an invincible defense for dismissing any claim with the reasoning, we do not know everything; therefore, we cannot determine anything is true.  This reasoning does not interests scientist because it is unfalsifiable; therefore, I label it an artificial invincible defense that SRH appears to have an interest in using in this discussion so I see no evidence of SRH interest in investigating the question of supernatural intervention scientifically.  In Ref 2, I presented the scientific approach for determining if the supernatural has intervened and SRH has dismissed it.

If all the stars in the universe except our sun coalesced in the sky and spelt “SRH God exist”, SRH could still dismiss this evidence by an artificial invincible defense.  Until SRH presents some approach that is not invincible to even the most extreme hypothetical example, then there is no reason for one to think that SRH has more than an artificial interest in determining if the supernatural has intervened.

References
1.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/jesustomb1.pdf
2.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/spntid1.pdf
3.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/critic71.pdf
4.   http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/reason1.pdf

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on November 23, 2007, 08:18:21 am

Excerpt from Ref. 1.

1.1     Initial Probability Description

This section discusses what I call the initial probability, but the more technical terminology is the naïve probability or prior probability.  This probability is just a basic probability not modified by conditions.  It is called the initial probability because it is the first probability calculation.  Subsequently it may be adjusted to produce the final probability.   There are two different types of basic probabilities which I call the extont and nonextont probability.  They are based on the two different types of finite probability sample spaces.  Extont probability as explained in Section 4.3.1 is based on a sample space that consists of outcomes that existed.  Nonextont probability as explained in Section 4.3.2  is based on a sample space that consist of outcomes that did not necessarily existed, but could have occurred.  

1.1.1     Extont Probability

The extont probability is based on a sample space that consists of a set of outcomes that occurred or are expected to have occurred.  The extont probability is calculated by dividing the number of actual outcomes that qualify as matching by the number of all the outcomes that could have occurred or are expected to have occurred.  It is the probability that a certain item is a specific unique item out of possible set of items which does contain that specific unique item.  In the following discussion are examples of extont probabilities.

Consider the case where there are 10 balls in a bucket labeled 1 through 10.  So these 10 possible outcomes all exist.  Suppose you randomly select a ball out of the bucket, the extont probability that it is ball #5 is 10%.  In this example there is 100% certainty that ball #5 and the other 9 balls do exist in the bucket so the probability is the extont type.  

Consider the case where you see two identical ossuaries both inscribed with Jesus son of Joseph and you know for sure one of them contains the Gospel Jesus.  In this case the extont probability that one of them contains the Gospel Jesus is 50%.  

The extont probability is the probability of one specific outcome divided by the sum of the probability of all the possible outcomes which do exist or occurred.  So the extont probability is a percentage that the probability for one outcome is of a total probability.  If the total probability is a measure of all the outcomes that exist or occurred, then the extont probability is a direct measure the % chance of a identifying a specific outcome.  Thus, only with extont probability is it appropriate to state the odds such as 2:1 for something being true or 1:2 against something being true.

1.1.2     Nonextont Probability

The nonextont probability is based on a sample space that consists of a set of outcomes that could occur, but did not necessarily occur.  The nonextont probability is calculated by dividing the number of potential outcomes that qualify as matching by the number of outcomes that could have occurred.  Since the nonextont probability is not based on a sample space of outcomes that existed or occurred, there is no direction relation of the nonextont probability to the chance of something being true.  In the following discussion are examples of nonextont probabilities.

Assume no special natural phenomenon occurring.  Consider you are investigated a coin and flipped it many times and found it to land 50% of the times head and 50% tales.  Then your friend came along and said by his supernatural powers he could make it land heads every time.  So you flip it once and it lands head.  The chance for this is a nonextont probability of 0.500.  So is 0.500 nonextont probability enough evidence to be convinced that your friend is supernaturally causing the coin to land heads?  Obviously not because a nonextont probability of 0.500 for an event means the event is just about what is expected to occur in a perfectly random world.  What if you flipped it again and it lands head a second time in a row?  The  chance for this set of events is a nonextont probability of 0.250.  Three times would be 0.125 etc ....  The chance is one divided by the number of the possible permutations which keep growing as you do more coin flips.  We often observe many events with probabilities quite low and do not assume the match was not just a random occurrence.  

The following is an example of the value of a nonextont probability that the whole world can appreciate.  Plate tectonics or the movement of the continental plates was inferred by probability before there was any known evidence that the continental plates were moving.  I have read this was accomplished by calculating a nonextont probability of ~0.000001 (not a extont probability) for the match between the shapes of the continents in how they would have fit together as Pangaea, the original super continent.  This is a one time event that has no freedom for biased selection of opportunities for matches, but there would be some subjectivity in interpreting how well the contour of the edges matched. In fact this was the initial clue that got the scientist looking for more evidence for continental plate movement and they sure found plenty of corroborating evidence.  

So the nonextont probability is just the probability of a match occurring by random.  The value for the nonextont probability is not directly related to something being true.  However, the smaller the nonextont probability for a certain hypothesis, the greater the chance for that hypothesis being false.  Also, nonextont probability argument strengths can be compared directly be comparing the nonextont probability values.

1.1.3     Comparison of Extont and Nonextont Probability

For both the extont and nonextont probability, the evidence is evaluated based on how well the evidence matches with the item the theory is trying to identify.  For the extont probability, the probability calculation is based on a sample space of outcomes that existed or occurred or are expected to have existed or occurred.  For the nonextont probability the probability calculation is based on a sample space of outcomes that could have occurred, but did not necessarily occur.  This difference makes the meaning of the value for the extont probability quite different from the meaning of the value for the nonextont probability.  As explained in Section 4.3.1, the value for the extont probability can be directly related to the chance of a hypothesis being true.  As long as the extont probability is less than 0.50 there is no justification for claiming the hypothesis is true.  The more the extont probability is over 0.50 and closer to 1.00 the more justification for claiming the hypothesis is true or the greater the argument strength.  As explained in Section 4.3.2, the value for the nonextont probability is not directly related to the chance of a hypothesis being true.  However, the smaller the nonextont probability for a certain hypothesis, the greater the chance for that hypothesis being false.  Thus, the higher the extont probability value, the stronger the argument that something is true and the lower the nonextont probability the stronger the argument that something is false.

The extont and nonextont probability types are the two basic type of probabilities so they cover the two basic ways of probabilistic analysis.  Both are important and are suited for addressing different issues.  If you are trying to identify something that you know exists, then the extont probability is appropriate because you can calculate the chance of the thing you found is that unique thing of interest.  For a sample space of things that exist, one can also calculate a nonextont probability; however, it would not be as useful as the extont probability because the value of the nonextont probability cannot be directly related to the chance that you have actually identified the unique item of interest.  If you are trying to check if something exist, then the nonextont probability is more appropriate because it does not assume the thing exists.  It is a calculation for the chance of the thing found matching the item of interest.  If there is a low nonextont probability of the thing not existing, then an inference can be made that the thing must exists.  An extont probability cannot be calculated for the chance of
    finding something existing whose probability for existence is unknown, because the total probability for the sample space would not be related to probability for something existing.  However, it would be conservative to assume the item of interest does exist and calculate a probability assuming it is part of a sample space of other similar items that are known to exist.  Thus, one could calculate a conservative estimate for the extont probability for identifying the item of interest.  One could assume the probability for existence which is the Fgj factor mentioned in Section 5.1.1; however, the Fgj value could be arbitrary.  The true strength can be no greater than that determined by a correct conservative extont probability calculation.

1.2     Inductive Reasoning using Proof by Elimination

Inductive reasoning uses probabilities and logic so the arguments typically never have 100% certainty.  Deductive reasoning just uses logic so the arguments typically have 100% certainty.  However, for any argument about something in reality being true, there is usually always some uncertainty.  Since the nonextont probability is not directly related to something being true, the question is how can it be used to determining if something is true.  Well the key theory used in science for determining if something is true is proof by elimination (PE).  This logical concept is explained fully in Ref. 4 and 20.  If there is a theory that describes a certain reality and all possible hypothesis for explaining that certain reality are false except for one hypothesis, then PE implies that this one non-false hypothesis is true. For example, if there were 10 different possible hypothesis for explaining a certain event and it was shown that 9 out of the 10 were implausible, implying they were false, then there would be a logical case that the one remaining plausible hypothesis is true.

Science typically does not prove anything true directly.  It only shows things false directly by showing an explanation has a low probability so it is implausible.  The way to show something true through science is to show all other possible explanations false implying the one remaining explanation must be true.  The is called proof be elimination.  In dealing with nonextont probabilities there is no definite way to define the % chance of something being true.  It is just the chance of something occurring by random.  The smaller the chance for something happening, the more likely a theory that it happened by chance is false.  

As explained in Ref. 4, in my experience scientist are not even interested in dismissing that a match occurred by random unless the nonextont probability is less than 0.01.  A significant match would be less than 0.0001 and a compelling match would be 0.000001.  If you want to see an objective way of determining this nonextont probability threshold read my explanation in Ref. 4 Section 2.2.5.  It basically depends upon the amount of  potential for theories inferred true to contradict that you are willing to accept.  

For example, in the coin flipping example in section 4.3.2 of just two heads in a row, obviously the 25% chance of this occurring by random does not mean that the chance of supernatural involvement is 75% or that there is a 75% chance of somehow a double headed coin was snuck in.  If you considered 25% chance as the threshold, then if you reran the hypothetical example of two flip coins many times, you would conclude 25% of the time the supernatural intervened and 75% of the time it did not.  This shows if you want an approach the does not make false conclusions or contradictions, then you would use very low probability thresholds for determining something false in order to get the point of determining something true by the process of elimination.

If you show an explanation has a logical contradiction, then consider it as having a zero probability for being true and 100% probability for being false.  Contradiction cannot be true.  Scientist do not like approaches that are likely to produce contradictions because they know that two things that contradict cannot both be true.  So they use low probabilities threshold for determining something false, so that way they will not mistakenly infer something is true that is false.  This applies to nonextont probabilities, the threshold is different for extont probabilities.

If you are 100% sure that your objective analysis has considered all possible explanations and you have correctly shown that all possible explanation except one has a low nonextont probability, then the nonextont probability is a
   measure of how much you have reduced the risk of being wrong that the one remaining explanation is the true explanation.

In Matthew 12:25-29 the Gospel Jesus uses the idea of proof be elimination to respond to the Pharisees who claimed that Jesus cast out demons by using Satan’s power.  Jesus explains that a partner of Satan would not cast out Satan’s demons; thus, Jesus power must not be from Satan.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Solomon Richard Hurst on December 09, 2007, 12:27:29 pm
rrr333 wrote:

The definition of the supernatural is obvious, that which is not natural.  Whether or not the supernatural is known depends upon whether or not there is evidence for supernatural intervention.


Ah!  But this is my core question!
If we have direct evidence for supernatural intervention we do not need to resort to PE.
Your definition remains vague, if you just define it as that which is not natural, you must define natural as well.  What would be an example of evidence for the supernatural?

rrr333 wrote:

One can call any hypothetical example arbitrary.  The cube example is fine for making the point.  It is not wrong to categorize extont and nonextont probabilities.  The categories as explained below have a logical basis.

SRH or anybody else can build an invincible defense for dismissing any claim with the reasoning, we do not know everything; therefore, we cannot determine anything is true.  This reasoning does not interests scientist because it is unfalsifiable; therefore, I label it an artificial invincible defense that SRH appears to have an interest in using in this discussion so I see no evidence of SRH interest in investigating the question of supernatural intervention scientifically.  In Ref 2, I presented the scientific approach for determining if the supernatural has intervened and SRH has dismissed it.



It is true that we cannot know anything with utter certainty... as even our senses are given to failure.  Of course solipsism is not a practical philosophy, so it is sensible and reasonable to grant some base assumptions in order to operate in our world.

Given this most fundamental assumption, that our senses on average accurately reflect reality, we can base all empirical science.

We run into a problem, as the supernatural is not a question of observation, but rather causality.  A rock flying through the air is not supernatural, but the force ultimately responsible for it may be.  Empirical science cannot collect relevant data, so it cannot make any statements regarding relative probabilities.



rrr333 wrote:

If all the stars in the universe except our sun coalesced in the sky and spelt “SRH God exist”, SRH could still dismiss this evidence by an artificial invincible defense.  Until SRH presents some approach that is not invincible to even the most extreme hypothetical example, then there is no reason for one to think that SRH has more than an artificial interest in determining if the supernatural has intervened.




Given these circumstances I would first ask others if they could see the same thing, as I would question the reliability of my own senses.  If I establish that I am indeed seeing what is actually there, I will have determined that some being or force capable of manipulating light, moving stars, or blotting out others and creating artificial points of light has sent someone or something called SRH a message, though the truth of the message could not so easily be determined.
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Christopher Kendall Beasley on December 12, 2007, 09:56:52 pm

Supernatural or not, thats a very intence proability... by chance, anyone know the chance of jesus predicting his resurection n it happning? concidering it was exactly right with how many days ect.

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Christopher Kendall Beasley on December 13, 2007, 10:21:49 pm

A long shot, but wouldnt supernatural be something Science can never be able to have a reason for? I mean look at the word, Super- more, extream, Natural- occurs in nature, thus bound by physics, quantum physics, math, and in general all of the Laws of the universe. Something that ecced's the abilities of rationalization, that we could never possibly be able to explain, such as how god has always existed, or "popped" into existance. If a tennis ball levitated n hit you in the head, supernatural, science cant explain that... but if someone hurdles a tennis ball at you, u have intertia, gravity, accelleration, mass, ect. in account, heres the kicker, is teh conscience natural? You cant touch it, you cant even describe where it is... its like a non-existant existance...

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on January 01, 2008, 07:54:25 am

The definition of the natural events is obvious.  Events which fall in the range of the regular patterns predicted by the laws of physics. Obviously, events outside of this range or are very improbable according to the laws of physics would be rationally identified as supernatural events.  

Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Cletus Nze on January 07, 2011, 03:32:35 pm
rrr333 wrote: Read http://members.aol.com/SHinrichs9/spntid.pdf

And discover the following    Conclusion

By use of the logical principle, Proof by Elimination (PE), this article presents a rationale for identifying supernatural intervention by requiring showing that the natural cannot successfully explain the event in question. This means that the event violates deterministic or indeterministic natural theories and cannot be explained by natural intelligence. Violation of deterministic principles present, a clear case that the supernatural has intervened. Violation of indeterministic is not necessarily definite. The strength of the argument depends upon how small the probability is for the best natural explanation. This probability should be determined by a conservative analysis.

Because of the strong desire humans have for purpose, it is natural to investigate if there is evidence that indicates if a supernatural intelligence has a purpose for humans. Religions typically claim there is, so the methodology provided in this article provides a rational basis to investigate their supernatural claims and others. If claims for the intervention of the supernatural can be shown to be successfully explained naturally, then there is no rational basis for claiming the supernatural has intervened.

The approach presented in this article uses PE a key logical principle used in science. The approach provides a basis to critic and potentially dismiss claims because it puts a priority on the natural explanation if it is successful and requires probability estimates to be conservative; thus, the approach is falsifiable; therefore, deserves being considered as scientific.

The strongest case from nature known by the author comes from the cosmological arguments in Section 4.3. The strongest case from religion known by the author comes from Section 4.1.2.


My webpage http://members.aol.com/SHinrichs9/Homepage.htm


This is sheer NONSENSE - as is ANY notion of the "supernatural"! EVERYTHING is NATURAL - INCLUDING GOD! However, some NATURAL things are not accessible to some people - notably ATHEISTS! That, however, is not logical grounds to reject the existence of those things! MOST of what atheists consider "knowledge" has NEVER been experienced DIRECTLY by themselves - and probably NEVER will be in this lifetime. Nevertheless they regard these things to be true and part of their knowledge. They have CHOSEN to trust the sources of information about these things because they seemed reasonable to them. When they CHOOSE to reject other sources of information which they regard "irrational" they call these "supernatural". All that is in evidence here is THEIR PREJUDICE - nothing more!
Title: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: Cletus Nze on January 07, 2011, 03:36:40 pm
rrr333 wrote:

The definition of the natural events is obvious.  Events which fall in the range of the regular patterns predicted by the laws of physics. Obviously, events outside of this range or are very improbable according to the laws of physics would be rationally identified as supernatural events.  



In other words, what is FAMILIAR to you! Not too long ago, quantum mechanical - and prior to that, statistical mechanical events - were rejected out of hand by EVEN LEADING PHYSICISTS as being contrary to the laws of physics as known AT THE TIME! Atheists would have called them "supernatural" too at that time! The same is true of what atheists are unfamiliar with today! This whole line is reason is absurd and idiotic!
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on October 19, 2014, 12:14:42 am
Prior to the 1900’s before quantum mechanics was developed for physics, there was not a mechanistic description that explained emission spectrum of atoms or the Photoelectric effect so there was a lot of wrong speculation.  Just because scientist made wrong conclusion at that time does not mean it is impossible for there to be valid evidence for the supernatural.  The reasoning in my article uses the basic principle of science (PE) for determining a hypotheses true.  To call this reasoning stupid is essentially calling key reasoning of science stupid. 
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on May 23, 2015, 08:41:08 am
To claim that it is impossible in general for any supernatural or intelligent design claim to not be an argument from ignorance, is invalid criticism.  In fact the claim that there can always be some possible unknown explanation can be used to reject any scientific conclusion about anything.  For instance, one could claim there may be some unknown natural explanation (not the sun) for all the affects we see caused by the sun.  Therefore conclude, the sun may actually not exist but just be an illusion.  Valid criticism of the rationale for substantiation supernatural intervention would not be based on approaches that could also be used to reject scientifically well established natural theories.   So characterization such as “arguments from ignorance” or appealing to “unknown possibilities” without appropriate constraints are not valid criticisms.  Such critics obviously have to greatly reduce their standard for evidence when the evaluate natural claims otherwise they would not believe anything about the natural world.
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on May 23, 2015, 08:43:02 am
If all the stars of the universe collected together and spelt out “God exist”, these unconstrained criticisms could just claim there is some unknown natural cause; therefore, no reason to think God was involved.  When somebody builds such artificial invincible defense, they are not adding to objective process for determining what is true.  Rather they are just making evident their personal preference which they want to protect.  Both atheist and theist are have built these sorts of invincible defenses to protect their personal preferences.
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on May 23, 2015, 08:49:37 am
In the incarnation forum I do present evidence and reasoning that substantiates a supernatural claim.  The evidence implies the supernatural intervened to point to Jesus as the Messiah.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/incarnation/messianic-prophecy-jesus-daniel-2080210.0.html
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: steve hinrichs on July 11, 2015, 10:01:33 pm
This same argument was debated in the following amazon discussion group.

http://www.amazon.com/forum/religion/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1M9TK6UGAX6EO&cdPage=1&cdThread=Tx1J6SM7BMBMAQ3 (http://www.amazon.com/forum/religion/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1M9TK6UGAX6EO&cdPage=1&cdThread=Tx1J6SM7BMBMAQ3)
Title: Re: Rational Methodology for Identifying Supernatural Intervention
Post by: jayceeii on February 06, 2020, 11:25:05 am
Read http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/spntid2.pdf

And discover the following    Conclusion

By use of the logical principle, Proof by Elimination (PE), this article presents a rationale for identifying supernatural intervention by requiring showing that the natural cannot successfully explain the event in question. This means that the event violates deterministic or indeterministic natural theories and cannot be explained by natural intelligence. Violation of deterministic principles present, a clear case that the supernatural has intervened. Violation of indeterministic is not necessarily definite. The strength of the argument depends upon how small the probability is for the best natural explanation. This probability should be determined by a conservative analysis.

Because of the strong desire humans have for purpose, it is natural to investigate if there is evidence that indicates if a supernatural intelligence has a purpose for humans. Religions typically claim there is, so the methodology provided in this article provides a rational basis to investigate their supernatural claims and others. If claims for the intervention of the supernatural can be shown to be successfully explained naturally, then there is no rational basis for claiming the supernatural has intervened.

The approach presented in this article uses PE a key logical principle used in science. The approach provides a basis to critic and potentially dismiss claims because it puts a priority on the natural explanation if it is successful and requires probability estimates to be conservative; thus, the approach is falsifiable; therefore, deserves being considered as scientific.

The strongest case from nature known by the author comes from the cosmological arguments in Section 4.3. The strongest case from religion known by the author comes from Section 4.1.2.

My webpage http://sites.google.com/site/s2hinrichs/home
I don’t think you need to worry about proving something was a miracle. There just aren’t any, beyond the “ordinary” miracles of great body and fantastic planet, that all take for granted. The Lord doesn’t do miracles, the angels don’t do miracles, the humans certainly don’t do miracles, and the Holy Spirit or Invisible God also does not do these “special miracles.” What you do need to worry about, is human greed and lust for domination, that drives them to believe in miracles and to believe themselves imbued with occult powers, including through prayer. An expectation for miracles cannot be rooted out of the human mind it seems, but it turns out it is from lack of true appreciation for “ordinary” miracles.