Quotation of the Day Before Yesterday

Very little, if anything, can be absolutely proven about history even if it happened yesterday. One deals with probabilities. Sometimes these probabilities are overwhelming, but even so we should remember they are probabilities so as to deal reasonably with the less probable events [Henry Neufeld].

And it doesn’t just apply to history. Other than within the context of various formal logics and (some) mathematics, there is “very little, if anything” that can be proven. Of course, there are some things that have such a high probability that it is perverse to think otherwise. And there are some things that have such a low probability that is perverse to think them at all. But to assign 100% or 0% probability to anything is equally perverse.
For the pedantic: In this context, I take “thing(s)” and “anything” to mean any well formed sentence that purports, rightly or wrongly, to describe or explain one or more facts of the matter. I think Henry means about the same thing. If you require more definition(s) you are too pedantic for this post.
For the curious: Regarding the underlying subject of Henry’s post and James McGrath’s post to which Henry refers, it is perverse to think that the Jesus of the Christian New Testament did not exist at all. While there are sufficient exceptions to support my previous point, I think it equally perverse to imagine that most of the things the Christian New Testament says about him represent facts of the matter concerning him.

One thought on “Quotation of the Day Before Yesterday”

  1. Thanks for the link!

    I think it equally perverse to imagine that most of the things the Christian New Testament says about him represent facts of the matter concerning him.

    I would agree. In fact, I think this argument primarily impacts those who think that 100% of the gospel accounts are historical. If one admits that there is probability involved, there will also be more and less probable events in the life of a historical figure. Much of the gospels must be regarded as either very improbable or so lacking in evidence that one can’t guess the probability.
    Which is why I also say that a miracle cannot be demonstrated historically, because any miracle is not just improbable, but impossible. The impossible cannot be the most probable explanation of a set of historical data.

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