bookmark_borderWilliam Lane Craig’s Logic Lesson – Part 4

In the March Reasonable Faith Newsletter William Craig asserted this FALSE principle about valid deductive arguments that have premises that are probable:
… in a deductive argument the probability of the premises establishes only a minimum probability of the conclusion: even if the premises are only 51% probable, that doesn’t imply that the conclusion is only 51% probable. It implies that the conclusion is at least 51% probable.
There are a variety of natural tendencies that people have to reason poorly and illogically when it comes to reasoning about evidence and probability.  So, it is worth taking a little time to carefully review Craig’s mistake in order to LEARN from his mistake, and to understand how the logic really works in this case, so that we can avoid making the same mistake ourselves, and so that we can more readily notice and identify when others make similar mistakes in their reasoning.
One way that Craig’s principle can fail is because of the fact that a valid deductive argument can have multiple premises and because standard valid forms of deductive inferences/arguments require that ALL premises be true in order to work, in order to logically imply the conclusion.  In the case of a valid deductive argument with multiple premises that are probable rather than certain, it is usually the case that ALL of the premises must be true in order for the argument to logically imply the conclusion.
If the probable premises of such an argument are independent from each other (so that the truth or falsehood of one premise has no impact on the probability of the truth or falsehood of other premises in the argument), then the simple multiplication rule of probability applies, because what matters in this case is that the CONJUNCTION of all of the probable premises is true, and the probability of the conjunction of the premises of such an argument is equal to the product of the individual probabilities of each of the probable premises.  This means that the premises of a valid deductive argument can each have probabilities of .51 or greater while the conclusion has a probability of LESS THAN .51.  Examples of such arguments were given in Part 2 of this series of posts.
Another way that Craig’s principle can FAIL is based on situations where one or more premises of a valid deductive argument have dependencies with other premises in the argument.
Here is an example of a valid deductive argument with a premise that has a dependency on another premise :
1. I will get heads on the first random toss of this fair coin.
2. I will get tails on the first random toss of this fair coin. 
THEREFORE:
3. I will get heads on the first random toss of this fair coin, and I will get tails on the first random toss of this fair coin.
The probability of (1) is .5, and the probability of (2) is also .5 (considered on its own).  However, these two premises are mutually exclusive.  If (1) is true, then (2) must be false, and if (2) is true, then (1) must be false.  Thus, the conclusion (3) asserts a logical contradiction, and thus the probability that (3) is true is 0.   In the case of this argument, we cannot simply multiply the probability of (1) , considered by itself, times the probability of (2), considered by itself, in order to determine the probability of the CONJUNCTION of (1) and (2).
We have to multiply the probability of (1) times the probability of (2) GIVEN THAT (1) is the case.   Because the truth or falsehood of (1) impacts the probability of the truth or falsehood of (2), we cannot use the simple multiplication rule with this argument.  We must use the general multiplication rule:
The probability of the conjunction of A and B is equal to the product of the probability of A and the probability of B given that A is the case.
Here is the mathematical formula for the general multiplication rule of probability:
P(A & B) =  P(A) x P(B|A)
NOTE: The general multiplication rule can be used whether or not there is a dependency relationship between the premises of an argument.  If there is no dependency relationship between A and B, then the probability of B given that A is the case will be the SAME as the probability of B considered by itself.
Since the truth of (1) clearly excludes the possibility of the truth of (2), the probability of (2) GIVEN THAT (1) is the case is 0.  The probability of the conjunction of (1) and (2) is thus equal to:  .5   x  0  =  0.  So, the probability of the conclusion (3) is 0, even though the probability of (1) is .5.
This demonstrates how the probability of the conclusion of a valid deductive argument can be LESS THAN the probability of a premise in the argument (considered by itself).  The main reason why the probability of (3) is 0 is that there is a logical incompatability between premise (1) and premise (2) which rules out the possibility of it being the case that BOTH premises are true.  The truth or falsehood of (1) has an impact on the probability of the truth or falsehood of (2), so there is a dependency between the truth or falsehood of these premises.
Considered by itself, premise (2) has a probability of .5, but for the argument to work, both premises have to be true, and the probability of (2) can be impacted by whether (1) is true or false, so we need to assess the probablity of (2) on the assumption that (1) is true, and when we do so, the probability of (2) in that scenario is reduced from .5 down to 0.  Therefore, it is this dependency relationship between (2) and (1) that results in the conclusion having a probability that is extremely low, as low as probabilities can get: 0.
The same mathematical relationship holds when the probability of an individual probable premises is greater than .5:
4. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
5. I will roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
THEREFORE:
6. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
The probability of (4) considered by itself is 5/6 or about .83, and the probability of (5) considered by itself is 1/6 or about .17.  However, these two premises are mutually exclusive. If (4) is true, then (5) must be false, and if (5) is true, then (4) must be false. Thus, the conclusion (6) asserts a logical contradiction, and thus the probability that (6) is true is 0. In the case of this argument, we cannot simply multiply the probability of (4) considered by itself, times the probability of (5) considered by itself, in order to determine the probability of the CONJUNCTION of (4) and (5).
Because there is a dependency relationship between (4) and (5), we must use the general multiplication rule to determine the probability of the conclusion.  The probability of the conjunction of (4) and (5) is equal to the product of the probability of (4) and the probability of (5) given that (4) is the case:
P[(4) & (5)] =  P[(4)]  x  P[(5)|(4)]
=  5/6  x   0 =  0
Thus, because of the dependency relationship between (4) and (5), the probability of the conclusion is reduced to 0, even though the probability of premise (4) considered by itself is 5/6 or about .83, which is GREATER THAN .51.  This argument is therefore another counterexample to Craig’s principle.  It is a valid deductive argument which has a probable premise with a probability GREATER THAN .51 but where the probability of the conclusion is LESS THAN .51.
The dependency relationship between premises need not be as strong as in the above examples. So long as the truth or falsehood of one premise impacts the probability of some other premise in the argument, Craig’s principle about valid deductive arguments can  FAIL.
Here is a counterexample against Craig’s principle that involves a dependency relationship that is weaker than in the above examples (something less than being mutually exclusive):
10. I will not select a heart card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck.
11. I will not select a diamond card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck.
THEREFORE:
12. I will not select a heart card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck, and I will not select a diamond card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck.
The probability of (10) considered by itself is .75, and the probability of (11) considered by itself is .75.  However, there are dependency relationships between these premises which make the conjunction of the premises less probable than if we simply multiplied these probabilities of each premise considered by itself.
If we ignored the dependency then the probability of the conjunction of the three premises would be calculated this way: .75  x  .75  = .5625 or about .56.  But to properly determine the probability of the conjunction of the three premises, we need to use the following equation (based on the general multiplication rule):
P[(10) & (11)] =  P[(10)]  x  P[(11)|(10)]  
=  3/4   x   2/3    =   6/12  =  1/2  =  .50
Thus, the probability of the conclusion of this argument is .50, which is LESS THAN .51.
The probability of premise (10) considered by itself is 3/4 or .75, and the probability of (11) is 3/4 considered by itself, which is GREATER THAN .51, and the probability of (11) given that (10) is the case is 2/3 or about .67, which is still GREATER THAN .51, but the probability of the conclusion of this argument is LESS THAN .51, so this argument is a counterexample to Craig’s principle, and part of the reason why the probability of the conclusion is so low is that there is a depenedency relationship between the premises.
Here is a final counterexample based (in part) on there being a dependency between premises:
14. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
15. I will not roll a five on the first random roll of this fair die. 
16. I will not roll a four on the first random roll of this fair die.
THEREFORE:
17. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a five on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a four on the first random roll of this fair die.
Each of the premises in this argument has a probability of 5/6 or about .83 when considered by itself.  If we ignored the dependency relationship between these premises, then we would calculate the probability of the conjunction of premises (14), (15), and (16) simply by multiplying these probabilities:  5/6  x  5/6  x  5/6   =  125/216   which approximately equals .5787 or about .58.  However, because there are dependencies between these premises, we must use the general multiplication rule.  Here is a formula for this argument that is based on the general multiplication rule:
P[(14) & (15) & (16)] =  
P[(14)]  x  P[(15)|(14)]  x  P[(16)|[(14) & (15)]]  
= 5/6  x  4/5  x  3/4  =   60/120  =  1/2  =  .50
Thus, the probability of the conclusion (17) is 1/2 or .50 which is LESS THAN .51.
So, the probability of each premise (considered by itself) is greater than .51, and the probability of premise (16) given that all the other premises are true is 3/4 or  .75, which is still greater than .51, but the probability of the conclusion (17) is LESS THAN .51, so Craig’s principle FAILS in this case, and thus Craig’s principle is shown to be FALSE.

bookmark_borderWilliam Lane Craig’s Logic Lesson – Part 3

I had planned to discuss counterexamples (to Craig’s principle) that were based on dependencies existing between the premises in some valid deductive arguments.  But I am putting that off for a later post, in order to present a brief analysis of some key concepts.
It seems to me that an important part of understanding the relationship between valid deductive arguments and probability is keeping in mind the distincition between necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. So, I’m going to do a brief analysis of this relationship.
SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS ESTABLISH A MINIMUM PROBABILITY
1. IF P, THEN Q.
Claim (1) asserts that P is a SUFFICIENT CONDITION for Q.
Assuming that (1) is true, the probability of P establishes a MINIMUM probability for Q.
If the probability of P was .60, then assuming that (1) is true, the minimum probability for Q would also be .60, because whenever P is true, so is Q.
However, (1) is compatible with Q being true even if P is false. There could be some OTHER reason for Q being true:
2. IF R, THEN Q.
If (2) is also true, and if R has some chance of being true even when P is false, then the probability of Q would be GREATER THAN the probability of P.  In this scenario the probability of Q would be GREATER THAN .60.
Suppose that the truth of R is independent of the truth of P. Suppose that the probability of R is .80. We can divide this scenario into two cases:
Case I. P is true.
Case II. It is not the case that P is true.
There is a probability of .60 that case I applies, and if it does apply, then Q is true. This gives us a minimum baseline probability of .60 for Q.
But we must add to this probability any additional probability for Q being true from case II.
There is a probability of .40 that case two applies, and if it does apply then there is a .80 probability that R is true (since the probability of R is not impacted by the truth or falsehood of P).  Since R implies Q, there is (in this second case) a probability of at least .80 that Q is true. So, we multiply the probability that case II applies times the probability of Q given that case II applies to get the (minimal) additional probability: .40 x .80 = .32.
To get the overall minimal probability of Q, we add the probability of Q from case I to the (minimal) probability of Q from case II: .60 + .32 = .92 or about .9.
NOTE: The actual probability of Q might be higher than .92, if there is some chance that Q was true even if both P and R were false.
NECESSARY CONDITIONS ESTABLISH A MAXIMUM PROBABILITY
3. IF Q, THEN P.
Claim (3) asserts that P is a NECESSARY CONDITION for Q.
Assuming that (3) is true, the probability of P establishes a MAXIMUM probability for Q.
If the probability of P is .60, then assuming that (3) is true, the maximum probability of Q would be .60, because whenever P is false, Q must also be false.
However, (3) is compatible with Q being false even when P is true. There could be some OTHER reason why Q is false:
4. IF Q, THEN S.
If (4) is also true, and if S has some chance of being false even when P is true, then the probability of Q would be LESS THAN the probability of P. In this scenario, the probability of Q would be LESS THAN .60.
Suppose that the truth of S is independent of the truth of P. Suppose that the probability of S is .20.  We can immediatly infer that the maximum probability of Q is .20, because the truth of S is a necessary condition for Q.  However, the combination of (3) and (4) reduces the maximum probability of Q even further.
We can divide this scenario into two cases:
Case I. P is true.
Case II. It is not the case that P is true.
Let’s consider case II first.  There is a probability of .40 that case II applies (because there is a probability of .60 that case I applies and the combined probabilities of both cases = 1.0), and if it does apply, then Q would be false (because P is a necessary condition of Q).  This establishes a baseline minimum probability of .40 for the falsehood of Q.
But we must add to this probability any additional probability for Q being false from case I.
There is a probability of .60 that case I applies, and if it does apply, then there is a .20 probability that S is true (because the probability of S is not impacted by the truth or falsehood of P), thus if case I applies, then there is a probability of .80 that S is false, and thus a minimum probability of .80 that Q is false (because S is a necessary condition of Q).  We meed to multiply the probability that case I applies times the (minimal) probability that Q is false given that case I applies:   .60 x .80 = .48.
Now we must add the probability of the falsehood of Q from case II with the (minimum) probability of the falsehood of Q from case I to get the overall minimum probablilty of the falsehood of Q:  .40 + .48 = .88.  The overall minimum probability of the falsehood of Q is .88, and this implies that the overall MAXIMUM probability of Q is .12.
NOTE: The actual probability of Q could be lower than the maximum probability, if there is some chance that Q was false even if both P and S were true.

bookmark_borderWilliam Lane Craig’s Logic Lesson – Part 2

I admit it.  I enjoyed pointing out that William Lane Craig had made a major blunder in his recent discussion of the logic of deductive arguments (with premises that are probable rather than certain).
However, there are a variety of natural tendencies that people have to reason poorly and illogically when it comes to reasoning about evidence and probability.  The fact that a sharp philosopher who is very experienced in presenting and analyzing arguments could make such a goof just goes to show that it is easy for people to make logical mistakes and to reason illogically, especially when reasoning about evidence and probability.
So, I think it is worth taking a little time to carefully review Craig’s mistake in order to LEARN from his mistake, and to understand how the logic really works in this case, so that we can avoid making the same mistake ourselves, and so that we can more readily notice and identify when others make similar mistakes in their reasoning.
In the March Reasonable Faith Newsletter Craig asserted a FALSE principle about valid deductive arguments that have premises that are probable:
… in a deductive argument the probability of the premises establishes only a minimum probability of the conclusion: even if the premises are only 51% probable, that doesn’t imply that the conclusion is only 51% probable. It implies that the conclusion is at least 51% probable.
 
One way that this principle can fail is because of the fact that a valid deductive argument can have multiple premises and because standard valid forms of deductive inferences/arguments require that ALL premises be true in order to work, in order to logically imply the conclusion.  In the case of a valid deductive argument with multiple premises that are probable rather than certain, it is usually the case that ALL of the premises must be true in order for the argument to logically imply the conclusion.
If the probable premises of such an argument are independent from each other (so that the truth or falsehood of one premise has no impact on the probability of the truth or falsehood of other premises in the argument), then the simple multiplication rule of probability applies, because what matters in this case is that the CONJUNCTION of all of the probable premises is true, and the probability of the conjunction of the premises of such an argument is equal to the product of the individual probabilities of each of the probable premises:
P
Q
THEREFORE:
P and Q
If the probability of P is .5, and the probability of Q (given that P is the case) is .5, then the probability of the conjunction “P and Q” is .25..  Here is an example of such a valid deductive argument:
1. I will get heads on the first random toss of this fair coin.
2. I will get heads on the second random toss of this fair coin. 
THEREFORE:
3. I will get heads on the first random toss of this fair coin, and I will get heads on the second random toss of this fair coin.
The probability of (1) is .5, and the probability of (2) given that (1) is the case is also .5 (because these two events are independent–what comes up on the first toss has no impact on what comes up on the second toss), so the probability of the conjunction of (1) and (2) is .25.  Thus, the probability of (3) is .25.  This example shows that the probability conferred on the conclusion of such an argument can be LESS THAN the probability of any individual premise of the argument.  This is because when you multiply one number that is greater than zero but less than 1.0 by another number that is greater than zero but less than 1.0, the product is LESS THAN either of those factors.
The same mathematical relationship holds when the probability of the individual probable premises is greater than .5:
4. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
5. I will not roll a six on the second random roll of this fair die.
THEREFORE:
6. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a six on the second random roll of this fair die.
The probability of (4) is 5/6 or about .83, and the probability of (5) given that (4) is the case is also 5/6 or about .83 (because these events are independent).  Since both premises have to be true in order to logically imply the conclusion, the multiplication rule applies in this case, so the probability of the CONJUNCTION of (4) and (5) is equal to the product of the probabilities of each individual premise:  .83 x .83 = .6889  or about .69, which is LESS THAN the probability of each of the individual premises.
Based on this sort of mathematical relationship, we can devise an example on which Craig’s principle will FAIL:
7. I will not roll a six or a five on the first random roll of this fair die.
8. I will not roll a six or a five on the second random roll of this fair die.
THEREFORE:
9. I will not roll a six or a five on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a six or a five on the second random roll of this fair die.
The probability of (7) is 4/6 or about .67, and the probability of (8) given that (7) is the case is also 4/6 or about .67 (because these are independent events).  The probability of the conjunction of (7) and (8) is equal to the product of their individual probabilities: .67 x .67 = .4489 or about .45.  To be more exact the probability of the conjunction of (7) and (8) is equal to: 4/6  x 4/6 = 16/36 = 4/9 = .44444444…  Thus, although the probability of each premise is greater than .51, the probability of the conclusion (9) is less than .51.  Therefore, Craig’s principle FAILS in this case.  Thus, his principle is FALSE.
Here is one more similar counterexample against Craig’s principle:
10. I will not select a heart card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck.
11. I will not select a heart card on the second randomly selected card from this standard deck (after replacement of the first card back into the deck).
12. I will not select a heart card on the third randomly selected card from this standard deck (after replacement of the first and second cards back into the deck).
THEREFORE:
13. I will not select a heart card on the first randomly selected card from this standard deck, and I will not select a heart card on the second randomly selected card from this standard deck (after replacement of the first card back into the deck), and I will not select a heart card on the third randomly selected card from this standard deck (after replacement of the first and second cards back into the deck).
The probability of (10) is .75, and the probability of (11) given (10) is .75, and the probability of (12) given both (10) and (11) is also .75.  The probability of the conjunction of these three premises equals:  .75 x .75 x .75 = .421875 or about .42. Thus, the probability of the conclusion (13) is .421875 or about .42, which is LESS THAN .51, even though each of the premises has a probability that is GREATER THAN .51.
Here is my final counterexample based on the multiplication rule:
14. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die.
15. I will not roll a six on the second random roll of this fair die. 
16. I will not roll a six on the third random roll of this fair die.
17. I will not roll a six on the fourth random roll of this fair die.

THEREFORE:
18. I will not roll a six on the first random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a six on the second random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a six on the third random roll of this fair die, and I will not roll a six on the fourth random roll of this fair die.
Each of the premises in this argument has a probability of 5/6 or about .83.  The events referenced in the premises are independent from each other, so the probability of the conjunction of premises (14), (15), (16), and (17) is equal to:  
5/6  x  5/6  x  5/6  x  5/6 =  625/1,296 = .4822530864…  or about .48.  So, the probability of each premise is greater than .51, but the probability of the conclusion (18) is less than .51, so Craig’s principle FAILS in this case, and thus Craig’s principle is shown to be FALSE.
There is another way that Craig’s principle can FAIL, and that is because one probable premise in a valid deductive argument can have a dependency on another probable premise in the argument, and this can result in conferring a probability on the conclusion that is less than the probability of the individual premises.  I will explore this second issue with Craig’s principle in the next installment.

bookmark_borderWilliam Lane Craig’s Logic Lesson

The March Newsletter from Reasonable Faith just came out, and it includes a brief lesson in logic from William Lane Craig. However, the lesson presents a point that is clearly and obviously WRONG, and it promotes bad reasoning that could be used to rationalize UNREASONABLE beliefs.  It appears that WLC is himself in need of some basic lessons in logic.
William Craig recently debated a professor of philosophy named Kevin Scharp at Ohio State University, and in the current Reasonable Faith Newsletter, Craig criticizes what he takes to be Scharp’s main objection to Craig’s apologetic arguments:
What was odd about Prof. Sharp’s [correct spelling: Scharp] fundamental critique was that, apart from the moral argument, he did not attack any of the premises of my arguments. Rather his claim was that all the arguments suffer from what he called “weakness.” For even if the arguments are cogent, he says, they only establish that God’s existence is more probable than not (say, 51% probable), and this is not enough for belief in God. 
Why did he think that the arguments are so weak? Because I claim that in order for a deductive argument to be a good one, it must be logically valid and its premises must be more probable than their opposites. Prof. Sharp [sic] apparently thought that that is all I’m claiming for my arguments. But in our dialogue, I explained to him that that was a mistake on his part. My criteria were meant to set only a minimum threshold for an argument to be a good one. I myself think that my arguments far exceed this minimum threshold and provide adequate warrant for belief in God. I set the minimum threshold so low in order to help sceptics like him get into the Kingdom! 
This reply makes a fair point.  Establishing a minimum threshold for an argument to be considered “good” does not imply that no good arguments have premises that exceed this minimum.  Thus, when Craig claims that his deductive arguments for God’s existence are “good” arguments, he is NOT saying that the premises in these arguments each have a probability of only .51.
But then Craig goes further and provides this short lesson in logic (or lesson in illogic, as I shall argue):
Besides, I pointed out, in a deductive argument the probability of the premises establishes only a minimum probability of the conclusion: even if the premises are only 51% probable, that doesn’t imply that the conclusion is only 51% probable. It implies that the conclusion is at least 51% probable. Besides all this, why can’t a person believe something based on 51% probability? The claim that he can’t seems to me just a matter of personal psychology, which varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance.
Thus, Prof. Sharp’s [sic] fundamental criticism was quite misconceived, and since he never attacked the arguments themselves, he did nothing to show that the arguments I defended are, in fact, weak.
Craig’s claim that “even if the premises [in a deductive argument] are only 51% probable” this “implies that the concusion is at least 51% probable” is clearly and obviously false.  This is, for me, a jaw-dropping mistaken understanding of how deductive arguments work.
First of all, deductive arguments can have multiple premises.  If multiple premises in a deductive argument each have a probability of only .51, then it is OBVIOUSLY possible for such arguments to FAIL to establish that the conclusion has a probability of “at least” .51.  For example, consider the following valid deductive argument form:
1. P
2. Q
3. IF P & Q, THEN R
THERFORE:
4. R
Suppose that the probability of P is .51 and that the probability of Q (given that P is the case) is also .51.  Suppose that we know premise (3) with certainty.  What is the probability conferred on the conclusion by this argument?   In order for this deductive argument to confer any probability to the conclusion, BOTH P and Q must be true.  Thus it only takes ONE false premise to ruin the argument.  The probability of the conclusion would NOT be .51 but would, rather, be .51 x .51 = .2601  or about .26.   This is a simple and obvious counter-example to Craig’s claim.
Another problem is that there is almost always other relevant information that could impact the probability of the conclusion of an argument.  So, one might well be able to construct additional relevant deductive arguments AGAINST the conclusion in question.
Suppose that X implies that R is not the case, and Y implies that R is not the case, and Z implies that R is not the case.  Then we could construct three additional deductive arguments against R:
5. X
6. IF X, THEN it is not the case that R.
THEREFORE:
7. It is not the case that R.
===============
8. Y
9. IF Y, THEN it is not the case that R.
THEREFORE:
7. It is not the case that R.
===============
10. Z
11. IF Z, THEN it is not the case that R.
THEREFORE:
7. It is not the case that R.
Suppose that the probability of X is .9, and the probability of Y is  .9, and the probability of Z  is .9.   Suppose that the truth of X, Y, and Z are independent of each other.  Suppose that the conditional premises in each of the above arguments is known with certainty.  In this case, what probability is conferred on the conclusion that “It is not the case that R”?
Let’s (temporarily) ignore the prevous deductive argument in support of R, and imagine that X, Y, and Z are the only relevant facts that we have regarding the truth or falsehood of R.  Each of these three valid deductive arguments would, then, individually confer a probability of .9 on the conclusion that “It is not the case that R”.  Therefore, if we combine the force of these three arguments, they will confer a probabilty that is GREATER THAN .9 on the conclusion that “It is not the case that R”.  All we need is for ONE of the premises (X, Y, or Z) to be true, in order for the negative conclusion to be secured, and each of the three premises is very likely to be true.
We can analyze the probabilty calculation into three cases in which at least one of the three premises is true:
I. X is true  (probability = .9)
II. X is not true, but Y is true  (probability = .1 x .9 =  .09)
III. X is not true, and Y is not true, but Z is true (probability = .1 x .1 x .9 = .009)
Add the probabilities of these three cases together to get the total probability conferred on the negative conclusion:
.9 + .09 + .009 = .999
Thus, the combined force of these three deductive arguments would make it nearly certain that “It is not the case that R”, assuming that these three arguments encompassed ALL of the relevant evidence.
But we also have the posititive evidence of P and Q to consider, which will, presumably increase the probability that R is the case and reduce the probability of the negative conclusion that “It is not the case that R”.
Adding in this additional relevant evidence, however, could make the overall probability calculation significantly more complex.  It all depends on whether the truth of P is independent of the truth of X, Y, and Z, and whether the truth of Q is independent of the truth of X, Y, and Z, and whether the truth of the conjunction “P and Q” is independent of the truth of X, Y, and Z.  If there are dependencies between the truth of these claims, then that will rquire additional complexity in the probability calculation.
If for the sake of simplicity, we assume that the truth of P is independent of the truth of X, Y, and Z, and the truth of Q is independent of X, Y, and Z, and the truth of “P and Q” is independent as well, we can at least conclude (without needing to do any calculations) that the overall probability of R will be greater than .001 and less than .2601, in which case Craig’s claim that the probability of the conclusion must be “at least 51%” is clearly false in this case, in part because of additional relevant evidence against the conclusion.
Thus, there are two major, and fairly obvious, problems with WLC’s claim: (1) deductive arguments with multiple premises can confer a probability on the conclusion that is LESS than the probability of any particular premise in the argument, and (2) there is almost always OTHER relevant information/data that impacts the probability of the conclusion of a particular deductive argument (which has premises that are only probable), and consideration of this additional evidence might very well lower the all-things-considered probability of the conclusion.
These two points are fundamental to understanding the logic of deductive arguments for the existence of God, so Craig’s apparent confusion about, or ignorance of, these points is shocking.

bookmark_borderDoes God Exist? Part 1

The overarching question for my ten-year plan is:
Is Christianity true or false?
After I clarify this overarching question, the first major question to investigate is this:
Does God exist?
I will, of course, at some point need to address the traditional arguments for the existence of God (ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments).  But I want my investigation to be systematic, and to avoid the problem of BIAS in the selection of arguments and evidence to be considered, especially to avoid the problem of CONFIRMATION BIAS (which is a common problem with Christian apologetics, including Richard Swinburne’s otherwise very careful case for God).
Here are some thoughts on how to approach this investigation:
FIRST, I will need to analyze the meaning of the sentence “God exists”.  I will probably follow Swinburne and analyze this sentence in terms of criteria, but then advocate, as Swinburne did, using a necessary and sufficient conditions definition instead of the criterial definition.
SECOND, following Swinburne, I will determine whether the sentence “God exists” is used to make a coherent statement.
If I determine that the statement “God exists” is incoherent, then that settles the issue:
One should reject the assertion that “God exists” because this sentence does NOT make a coherent statement.
Coherence is connected to logical possibility, so one way of analyzing the question “Does God exist?” is in terms of logical possibility and logical necessity and certainty and probability (click on image below for a clearer view of the diagram) :
Does God Exist - 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I believe, however, that the sentence “God exists” can be used to assert a coherent statement, if one makes a few significant revisions to the concept of “God”, along the lines that Swinburne has suggested, with a couple of other revisions.  So, I expect that I will determine that some traditional conceptions of God make the sentence “God exists” incoherent, while with a few significant changes, a concept of God that is similar to the traditional conceptions will allow the investigation to continue beyond this initial question of coherence.
THIRD, there are various alleged ways of knowing or having a justified belief that “God exists”, which need to be considered:
1. Innate Knowledge
2. Religious Experience/Internal Witness of the Holy Spirit
3. Deductive Arguments for (and against) the existence of God
4. Non-Deductive Arguments for (and against) the existence of God
In terms of deductive arguments, I initially thought that it is possible that the issue could potentially be settled at that stage, if there were sound deductive arguments for the existence of God or against the existence of God.  But on reflection, I don’t think that is correct.
First of all, it is possible that there will SEEM to be sound arguments for the existence of God AND sound arguments against the existence of God.  If I identify any such arguments, then I would, obviously, focus some time and effort on trying to weed out one or more of these arguments as merely SEEMING to be sound, but not actually being sound.  But it is possible that I will end up with what SEEM to be sound arguments on both sides, in which case deductive arguments will NOT resolve the question at issue.
Furthermore, even if I find sound deductive arguments only for one position, say for the existence of God, and do not find sound arguments for the opposite position (say, for the non-existence of God), this still probably will NOT settle the issue.  The problem is that one or more premises in the sound argument(s) is likely to be less than absolutely certain.
Philosophical arguments for and against God usually involve some abstract principles, like the Principle of Sufficient Reason.  While some such premise might seem to be true, it is unlikley that a reasonable and objective thinker will arrive at the conclusion that such a premise is certain.  Because there is likely to be a degree of uncertainty about the truth of one or more premises in any deductive argument for or against the existence of God, the identification of one or more apparently sound deductive arguments will probably not settle the issue, even if all of the sound arguments support one side (theism or atheism).
So, it seems very unlikely that one can avoid examining evidence for and against the existence of God, evidence which only makes the existence of God probable to some degree or improbable to some degreee.  Furthermore, non-deductive arguments or cases can be quite strong.  If you have enough evidence of the right kinds, you can persuade a jury to send a person to his or her death for the crime of murder.  Sometimes, if the evidence is plentiful and the case is strong, a jury will return a verdict of “guilty” for first-degree murder in short order, without any significant wrangling or hesitation by the jurors.  Evidence can sometimes justify certainty or something very close to certainty.
If sound deductive arguments can fall short of making their conclusions certain, and if non-deductive reasoning from evidence can sometimes make a conclusion certain or nearly certain, then it would be foolish to fail to consider both sorts of arguments for and against the existence of God, even if we find some sound deductive arguments only for one side of this issue, and no sound deductive arguments for the other side.  Evidence and relevant non-deductive arguments/cases would still need to be considered.
Another possible way to analyze the question “Does God exist?” is in terms of the traditional roles that God plays:
Q1.  Is there a creator of the universe?
Q2.  Is there a ruler of the universe?
Q3. Assuming there is a creator of the universe and a ruler of the universe, are these the same person?
Q4. Has this person revealed himself/herself to humans through miracles, prophets, and inspired writings?
The first three questions are sufficient to determine whether “God exists” is true, so the fourth question is a bonus question that allows for a distinction between what I call “religious theism” and “philosophical theism”.
It seems to me that a very basic and important question to ask about God’s character is whether God has attempted to reveal himself/herself to humans.  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all agree that God has attempted to reveal himself through miracles, prophets, and inspired writings, and this is a very basic and important belief in these western theistic religions.  So, this traditional view of God can be called “religious theism”.  But one could believe in the existence of God without buying into the idea that God has revealed himself through miracles, prophets, and inspired writings.  I call such a stripped-down version of theism”philosophical theism”.
Here is a diagram that spells out this way of approaching the question “Does God exist?” (click on the image to see a clearer version of the chart):
Does God Exist - 2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have in mind, by the way,  time frames for each of the above questions:
Q1*.  Did a bodiless person create the universe about 14 billion years ago?
Q2*.  Has an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good person been in control of every event in the universe for the past 10 billion years (or more)?
Q3*.  Did a bodiless person who is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, create the universe about 14 billion years ago, and then procede to control every event in the universe for the past 10 billion years (or more)?
Q4*.  Did a bodiless person who is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good, create the universe about 14 billion years ago, and then procede to control every event in the universe for the past 10 billion years (or more), and then in the past 10,000 years reveal himself/herself to humans through miracles, prophets, and inspired writings?
I believe that Jeff Lowder’s approach to the question “Does God exist?” involves general categories of evidence, which he then examines for both evidence that supports the existence of God and evidence that goes against the existence of God.  This is somewhat similar to Swinburne’s approach, which starts out looking at evidence concerning the physical universe, then looks at evidence concerning evolution of human bodies, then evidence concerning human minds and morality, then evidence concerning human history, then religious experience.  But Jeff is more systematic in covering broad categories of evidence and more objective in looking for evidence supporting either side of the issue.
If you have another systematic approach to answering the question “Does God exist?”  I would be interested to hear about it.

bookmark_borderResponse to William Lane Craig – Part 8

I have one final objection to raise against Luke Johnson’s use of the “method of convergence”.  I have been using the phrase “the devil is in the details” to summarize a number of problems with, or objections to, Johnson’s use of the “method of convergence” to establish some key claims about Jesus.  But there are some specific DETAILS about the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that I have not yet mentioned but that represent more such details that raise doubt about the claim that “Jesus died on the cross on the same day he was crucified.”
First of all, we don’t know how crucifixion CAUSES a person to die.  There are various theories, of course, but it would be unethical to put those theories to a full scientific test, because it would be unethical to crucify human beings and to carefully observe their deaths in order to answer this historical/medical question.  However, one popular theory is that crucifixion kills a person by asphyxiation, but actual scientific tests of crucifixion (where subjects were strapped, not nailed, to crosses) have indicated that, contrary to the asphyxiation theory, people can breathe without difficulty while hanging from a cross.  The subjects, of course, were only attached to the crosses for a few minutes, not for several hours, so the asphyxiation theory has not been disproved, but it has been cast into doubt.
Because we don’t know how crucifixion causes death, we can hardly be certain that it caused Jesus to die in a matter of just a few hours (Jesus was crucified around 9am according to the synoptic Gospels and around noon according to the Gospel of John.  The  Gospels agree that Jesus was buried before sundown on the day he was crucified, around 6pm, so his apparent death would have been sometime in the late afternoon, between 2pm and 5pm).  If Jesus had been on the cross for several days, that would make his death highly probable because people usually died after three or four days.  But since Jesus was allegedly on the cross for between about three hours (noon to 3pm) and eight hours (9am to 5pm), the fact that he was hanging from a cross for a few hours is not sufficient to confidently conclude that he died on the cross.
One important detail is the use of NAILS.  Most paintings and sculptures of the crucifixion show Jesus as nailed to the cross, but the synoptic Gospels do not mention hammers, hammering, nails, or nailing.  The synoptic gospels only say that Jesus was crucified, and crucifixion was often carried out by binding the victim to the cross, without using nails.  The Gospel of John also does not mention hammers, hammering, nails, or nailing in the description of Jesus’ crucifixion.
However, in the story of Doubting Thomas, which is found ONLY in the Gospel of John, we are told that the risen Jesus had marks in his hands/wrists from nails.  Since nails are mentioned ONLY in the Gospel of John and in the dubious story of Doubting Thomas which also occurs ONLY in the Gospel of John, the evidence for the use of nails in Jesus’ crucifixion is weak and questionable. (Note: The Doubting Thomas story says nothing about nail wounds in Jesus’ feet, only in his hands.)
If Jesus had been bound to the cross rather than nailed to the cross, then that would mean that instead of having a serious wound in each hand/wrist and in each foot/ankle, he would have had no serious wound in each hand/wrist and no serious wound in each foot/ankle, meaning that four of the serious wounds traditionally believed to have been inflicted on Jesus, might be fictional rather than factual.  If  Jesus had been bound rather than nailed to the cross, this would significantly reduce the probability that he would die after just a few hours of hanging on the cross.
One other very important wound that Jesus allegedly received while on the cross is the SPEAR WOUND to his side.  The story of the spear wound, however, is found ONLY in the historically dubious Gospel of John.  None of the synoptic Gospels record this event, and none of the other Gospels ever mentions a wound in Jesus’ side.
Furthermore, there is good reason to suspect that this spear wound incident was created on the basis of an O.T. prophecy, which is specifically mentioned in the Gospel passage that relates this story (John 19:36 & 37):
36. These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.”  
37. And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
The author of this Gospel might have accepted these scripture passages as divinely inspired prophecy which MUST be fulfilled, and on this basis INFERRED that Jesus MUST have been stabbed with a spear while on the cross, and then created the story about the spear wound, without any thought or intent to deceive the readers of this Gospel, being fully confident in the inspiration of the O.T. and in his interpretation of these ‘prophetic’ passages.
I, however, am quite confident that the O.T. was NOT inspired by God, and even if it were inspired by God I have no good reason to trust or rely upon the interpretation of these O.T. passages by an unknown first-century Christian author.  Since there is a good chance that the story was created on the basis of the O.T. passages, there is a good chance that the spear-wound story is fictional and false.  If the spear-wound story is fictional and false, then one of the most serious and important wounds traditionally believed to have been inflicted on Jesus was NOT actually inflicted on Jesus.   If there was no spear-wound to Jesus’ side while he was hanging on the cross, then that would significantly reduce the probability that Jesus would die after just a few hours on the cross.
Within the general constraints of the Gospel accounts, but allowing for some dubious details to  be fictional, it is quite possible that Jesus was merely tied to the cross (not nailed), that he hung from the cross for just a few hours (from noon to 3pm), and that there was no serious spear-wound inflicted on Jesus while he was on the cross.  Given that we simply do not know how crucifixion causes death (other than by dehydration, starvation, and exposure over a period of days),  the fact that Jesus was crucified fails to show that the death of Jesus on the cross is highly probable.
These are all details concerning the alleged crucifixion of Jesus:
How many hours was Jesus on the cross?  
How was Jesus attached to the cross?  
If nails were used, were they used only for his hands or only for his feet or for both hands and feet?  
Was Jesus stabbed with a spear while he was on the cross?  
If so, where on his body did the spear penetrate?  
If Jesus was stabbed with a spear, how deep and how wide was the spear wound?
If Jesus was stabbed with a spear, were any vital organs seriously damaged by this? 
None of these details are known.  We can only formulate educated guesses in order to answer these questions.  But the probability that Jesus would have died on the cross on the same day he was crucified depends to a large degree on the answers to these questions about the details of Jesus’ alleged crucifixion.
As Luke Johnson repeatedly and correctly points out, when it comes to such details, we cannot rely upon the Gospels to provide solid historical evidence:
A careful examination of all the evidence offered by outsider and insider sources justifies making certain statements about Jesus that have an impressively high level of probability.
Such statements do not concern details, specific incidents, or the sequence of events.
(The Real Jesus, p.111-112)
Johnson is skeptical when it comes to the DETAILS provided by the Gospels, but we must acknowledge that “the devil is in the details”.
In order to determine the probability that Jesus died on the cross on the same day he was crucified, we need to answer questions of a detailed nature, such as the questions I have outlined above about the details of Jesus’ crucifixion and wounds.  I agree with Johnson that we cannot confidently rely on the Gospels when it comes to such details, but the implication of this is that we are NOT in a postion to confidently conclude that it is highly probable that Jesus died on the cross on the same day he was crucified.
======================
Here is an INDEX to posts in this series.

bookmark_borderThe Slaughter of the Canaanites – Part 1

Jehovah, the god of the Old Testament, is cruel, unjust, and evil.  Jehovah, therefore, is NOT God, because God is, by definition, a perfectly morally good person.  Since Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah, obedience to Jehovah, and prayer to Jehovah, we can reasonably conclude that Jesus promoted worship of a false god and thus Jesus was a false prophet.  But if Jesus was a false prophet, then it is very unlikely that God, if God exists, would raise Jesus from the dead.  God would not be involved in a great deception, and raising a false prophet (who promotes the worship of a false god) from the dead would mean being involved in a great deception. (Perhaps Jehovah would have wanted to raise Jesus from the dead, but such an event would have no theological significance, because Jehovah is NOT God.)
There are many reasons for thinking that Jehovah is cruel and unjust, but one of the most glaring and obvious reasons is that Jehovah commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites living in Palestine and take their land.  Jehovah’s command appears to be a command to commit genocidal killing of thousands of people:
Deuteronomy 20:10-17 American Standard Version (emphasis added)
10 When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that are found therein shall become tributary unto thee, and shall serve thee.
12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
13 and when Jehovah thy God delivereth it into thy hand, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
14 but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take for a prey unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which Jehovah thy God hath given thee.
15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
16 But of the cities of these peoples, that Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth;
17 but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as Jehovah thy God hath commanded thee;
There are three main Christian responses to this disturbing Old Testament passage:
1. The Conservative Christian response:
The story of the slaughter of the Canaanites is FACTUAL, but Jehovah was morally justified in commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in Palestine.
2. The Liberal Christian response:
The story of the slaughter of the Canaanites is FICTIONAL, so Jehovah did NOT actually command the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, nor did such massive slaughter of the Canaanites actually occur.
3. The Moderate Christian response:
The story of the slaughter of the Canaanites is partly historical but is greatly EXAGGERATED in some Old Testament passages. The Israelites did fight with and kill some Canaanites in Palestine, but Jehovah did not command the wholesale slaughter of all Canaanites (men, women, and children) in Palestine.
 
The conservative approach is taken by the Christian apologist Clay Jones:
We Don’t Hate Sin So We Don’t Understand What Happened to the Canaanites
Killing the Canaanites
Clay Jones (blog)
 
The liberal approach is taken by the biblical scholar Peter Enns:
The Bible Tells Me So…
Blog Posts by Peter Enns on Canaanite Genocide
The Bible for Normal People (website)
 
What I have called the moderate approach has been taken by  the Christian apologists Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan:
Did God Really Command Genocide?
Is God a Moral Monster?
Interview of Matthew Flannagan on Did God Really Command Genocide? 
Interview of Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan on Did God Really Command Genocide?
God and the Genocide of the Canaanites Part I (blog post by Matt Flannagan)
God and the Genocide of the Canaanites Part II (blog post by Matt Flannagan)
God and the Genocide of the Canaanites Part III (blog post by Matt Flannagan)

To be continued…
 

bookmark_borderJesus: True Prophet or False Prophet? – Response to Eugene – Part 2

I have put forward part of a case against the belief that “God raised Jesus from the dead”.  This case is based on the controversial claim that “Jesus was a false prophet”.  Eugene has raised an objection to my case, and that objection comes in the form of an argument, an argument with a bit of logical complexity, which I have attempted to analyze and clarify.
I have left some of the statements or premises of Eugene’s argument as they were originally stated, but most of the statements I have revised two or even three times, in order to clarify the meaning of those statements and/or the logic of his argument.
Here is my most current version of Eugene’s Objection:
=================================
Eugene's Objection Rev 3
 
(1) To say that a thing partakes of too much inaccuracy is really just to say that a thing is inaccurate to the point of frustrating a given agent’s purposes for utilizing that thing in the first place.
(2) When we apply that understanding to God and his presumptive purposes for engaging prophets, we can see quite readily that the identification of the Jehovah-model (quite specifically Jesus’s own version of it) as something partaking of too much inaccuracy is simply unwarranted given your already-stated concessions.
(3) One of the primary purposes God might have for endorsing prophets is to convey through them correct ideas about God.
(4a) Three theological beliefs that God would want humans to get right are: (i) God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and also of non-human animals, and (ii) God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being, and (iii) God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.
(5a) As long as a prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them), then it doesn’t frustrate God’s purpose for using the prophet in the first place.
(6b) IF a prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them), THEN we cannot reasonably say that the prophet’s God-model is too inaccurate.
(7b) IF Jesus’s words (according to the Gospels) communicate the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii), THEN (based on the evidence of the Gospels) Jesus God-model is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them).
(8b) Jesus’s words (according to the Gospels) communicate the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii).
(9) According to the gospels, Jesus was emphatic that God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and animals too.
(10a) When we consider the extent to which Jesus endorsed the idea that “God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being,” the [Gospel] record is equally positive.
(11a) While the belief that “God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering” isn’t a major element of Jesus’s message, it is still present [according to the Gospels], at least implicitly.
(12b) Based on the evidence of the Gospels, Jesus’s God-model is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them).
(13b) Based on the evidence of the Gospels, we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is too inaccurate.
(14c) IF based on the evidence of the Gospels we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is too inaccurate, THEN the available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.  
(B1) The available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.
(C1) IF the available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”, THEN Brad’s argument against the belief that “God raised Jesus from the dead” is based on a claim that is not supported by the available evidence.
(A3) Brad’s argument against the belief that “God raised Jesus from the dead” is based on a claim that is not supported by the available evidence.
==========================
I’m going to start with the conclusion, and work my way backwards through the logical structure of the argument.
(B1) and (C1) provide an argument of the form modus ponens for the conclusion (A3).  Modus ponens is a simple deductive form which is clearly valid:
P
IF P THEN Q.
THEREFORE:
Q
So, the logic of the final argument is fine, and we just need to evaluate the truth of the premises (B1) and (C1).
Obviously, I disagree with Eugene about (B1).  But (B1) is supported by an argument, so we need to consider the argument he has given in support of (B1).
I also, however, obect to premise (C1), at least as it is currently formulated.  (C1) is false.  Even if Eugene is correct that the available evidence does not support my claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”, this is NOT my only reason for the claim that “Jesus was a false prophet”.
Three of my reasons for the claim that “Jesus was a false prophet” are related to Jesus’ promotion of Jehovah (worship of Jehovah, obedience to Jehovah, and prayer to Jehovah).  But the Gospels provide other reasons supporting the claim that “Jesus was a false prophet”.
For example, Jesus (according to the Gospels) taught that God was planning to eternally torture many people who were (on some occasions) lacking in kindness and generosity.  Jesus (according to the Gospels) taught that God was planning to eternally torture many people who have doubts about some theological claims about Jesus.  These are also reasons that show that “Jesus was a false prophet”.
Although Eugene’s objection, if correct, would put a big dent in my case, it would not destroy my case or cause it to “fall apart”.  But we can revise (C1) to qualify it a bit, and this will also require that we make a similar change to qualify the conclusion:
(B1) The available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.
(C2) IF the available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”, THEN some of Brad’s arguments against the belief that “God raised Jesus from the dead” are based on a claim that is not supported by the available evidence.
THEREFORE:
(A4) Some of Brad’s arguments against the belief that “God raised Jesus from the dead” are based on a claim that is not supported by the available evidence.

Given the qualification in (C2), I would accept that premise, and given the similar qualification in (A4), I also accept the inference from (B1) and (C2) to (A4) as logically valid.
Eugene believes (B1) to be true, but I do not.  Eugene knows that I would resist and challenge (B1), so he has provided an argument to support this premise:
(13b) Based on the evidence of the Gospels, we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is too inaccurate.
(14c) IF based on the evidence of the Gospels, we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is too inaccurate, THEN the available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.
THEREFORE:
(B1) The available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.
This argument is not sufficient by itself, because premise (13b) is also controversial.  Eugene believes (13b) is true, but I do not.  And once again, Eugene is aware of the controversial nature of (13b) and so all of the rest of his argument, the premises prior to (13b), all work together as an argument suporting (13b).  Look at the argument diagram and you can see that every statement above premise 13 works to provide support for it.
Before we get into the question of the truth of (13b) and whether Eugene’s argument for (13b) is a solid argument, I want to take a look at the other premise of the argument for (B1):
 (14c) IF based on the evidence of the Gospels, we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is too inaccurate, THEN the available evidence does not support the claim that “Jesus promoted worship of a false god”.
Eugene does not provide an argument in support of this premise, so presumably he thinks the truth of this premise is self-evident or that it is at least fairly obvious that (14c) is true.  Since it is not obvious to me that (14c) is true,  I will not accept this premise unless and until some sort of explanation or clarification reveals it to be true.
First of all, the antecedent speaks of the “evidence of the Gospels” while the consequent refers to the broader concept of “the available evidence”.  Strictly speaking, the Gospels do NOT exhaust all of the available evidence about Jesus.
However, the historical materials relevant to Jesus outside of the Gospels are either more historically questionable than the Gospels or else are of very limited help in determining the beliefs and teachings of Jesus.  So, I’m inclined to accept the assumption that, for all practical intents and purposes, the Gospels are the best information we have about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus, and that we can safely ignore other currently available historical sources, at least for the present issues about Jesus’s beliefs and teachings.
This is especially the case in this context, because we are not really trying to get to a scholarly view of the beliefs and teachings of the historical Jesus, which would likely involve setting aside a great deal of the content of the Gospels as being historically questionable.  Rather, we are assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Gospels are historically reliable accounts of the life of Jesus, but not necessarily 100% accurate and reliable.
One open question (in my mind) is whether the Gospel of John should be considered to contain a reliable account of the words and teachings of Jesus.  Most Jesus scholars view the synoptic Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, & Luke) as much more reliable sources of information about the words and teachings of Jesus than the Gospel of John.  I agree with the majority of Jesus scholars on this point, and I believe John to be an unreliable source of the words and teachings of Jesus.
But I do want to be generous to the Christian viewpoint, and I also prefer to avoid going deeply into the maze of attempts to re-construct the historical Jesus.  So, we need to come to some sort of understanding about whether John will be acceptable as a source of information about the words and teachings of Jesus, or if we will focus on just the synoptic Gospels for answers to such questions.
Because Jesus was a devout Jew with a firm belief in the inspiration and authority of the Jewish scriptures, I assume that the content of the Old Testament is part of the relevant background evidence to be used in interpreting and understanding both the Gospels and Jesus’s beliefs and teachings.  The Old Testament, of course, was written before Jesus came on the scene, so it says nothing (of historical value) about the specific content of Jesus’s beliefs or teachings.
Another concern that I have about premise (14c) is the meaning and scope of the phrase “Jesus’s God-model”.  Does this mean “Jesus’s concept of God”?  If not, then how does a person’s “God-model” differ from that person’s “concept of God”?
Also, a key question is whether a person’s “God-model” can contain contradictory beliefs.  Can someone have a “God-model” that includes the characteristics “perfectly just” and “sexist” and “racist” and “pro-slavery” ?  Can someone have a “God-model” that includes the characteristics  “perfectly loving” and “bloodthirsty” and “cruel” and “pro-genocide”?  If such contradictions are ruled out a priori, because a “God-model” is necessarily a logically coherent set of characteristics or beliefs, then it looks to me like the game is rigged, and that the messy and often ugly reality of actual illogical human thinking about God is being ignored in favor of a much-too-tidy view of human thinking about God.
Unless Eugene insists otherwise, I will assume that a “God-model” can contain logically contradictory ideas or characteristics.  This means, by the way, that showing that Jesus believes that Jehovah is a perfectly loving and merciful person is NOT sufficient to show that Jesus’s God-model does not include the characteristics “bloodthirsty” and “cruel” and “pro-genocide”.
One final concern that I have about (14c) is that it may be too narrowly SUBJECTIVE in nature; it may place too much weight on Jesus’s personal beliefs and not enough weight on certain objective, publicly available facts.
Consider, for example, Hans, who is a promoter of the worship of Adolf Hitler.  It should come as no surprise that Hans has a very positive view of the character of Hitler.  Hitler was “wise, and just, and good”.  In fact Hitler, according to Hans, was perfectly wise, perfectly just, and perfectly good.  Hans adores Hitler and prays to Hitler each and every day, morning and evening.   Each year on April 20th, Hans and his fellow Hitler worshippers gather together to feast and to celebrate the birth of baby Adolf.
Does Hans “promote the worship of a false god”?  I’m inclined to think that Hans does promote the worship of a false god.  Furthermore, I’m inclined to believe this to be so, even if his conception of Hitler is of a perfectly wise, perfectly good, and perfectly just person.  I’m inclined to think this because the facts that show Hitler to be a cruel and unjust and evil person are publicly available facts, and Hans is simply an idiot for failing to recognize those facts and/or their implications.  Even if Hans is a holocaust denier, and loudly proclaims that Hitler would never be involved in killing an innocent human being, I would still be inclined to say that Hans “promotes the worship of a false god”.
One might want to argue that Hans does not INTENTIONALLY “promote the worship of a false god”, because Hans does not believe that Hitler did the evil things that the rest of us (who are not idiots) believe Hitler did.  So, perhaps Hans is not as guilty or as blamewothy as somone who promotes Hitler worship but who is fully aware of the fact that Hitler planned and ordered the slaughter of millions of innocent men, women, and children.
Nevertheless, Hans should not be completely let off the hook, and in any case, since Hans is promoting the worhip of an evil person, where publicly available facts show the person to be evil, it seems clear to me that God, if God exists, would never accept Hans as a messenger of  God’s  important theological teachings.  God, if God exists, would not use Hans as a prophet, because Hans promotes the worship of a false god.
Unless and until the apparently too-narrow focus of (14c) on purely subjective aspects (i.e. Jesus’s beliefs about Jehovah) is removed or justified, I do not accept (14c).  Premise (14c) is NOT obviously true; it is a dubious claim that stands in need of either  justification or qualification.

bookmark_borderJesus: True Prophet or False Prophet? – Response to Eugene

Before I go on to  Part 4 of this series, I’m going to take time to respond to a defense of Jesus put forward by Eugene (see comments by Eugene on my Part 3 post).
I am arguing that it is very unlikely that God would raise Jesus from the dead, because Jesus was a false prophet.  Some key reasons supporting my claim that Jesus was a false prophet are that Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah, obedience to Jehovah, and prayer to Jehovah, and that Jehovah is a false god.  Jehovah is a false god because Jehovah is NOT a perfectly morally good person.  Jehovah promoted slavery, sexism, wars of aggression, genocide, cruelty, intolerance, and totalitarianism.  Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty deity, so Jehovah is a false god.
I have not yet defended my most controversial claim, which is that Jehovah is a false god.  I have only summarized my thinking (as in the previous paragraph).  But Eugene was impatient with my slowness in getting around to that key question, so Eugene began a defense of Jesus and the “Jehovah-concept” of God, in anticipation of my forthcoming criticism of Jehovah.  Eugene’s objections are thoughtful and clear, and have some initial plausibility; so I view Eugene as a worthy opponent who deserves a response that is as thoughtful and clear as his objections, and that will, hopefully, show that his objections are not as plausible as they initially seem to be.
Knowing Where to Draw the Line
“But how much inaccuracy is too much from God’s perspective?  Do you know?  I certainly don’t.  I don’t know where an utterly perfect Being would draw the line on acceptable imperfection.  Perhaps it is better not to pretend that we know.”
– Eugene
I admit that a perfectly good God might allow some degree of imperfection in how humans conceive of or represent God, and that God might allow some degree of imperfection in the concept of God held and promoted by a “prophet”; that is, by a messenger whom God uses to communicate important truths to groups of humans or to humankind in general.  Eugene is arguing that since I admit that a perfectly morally good God might allow a small degree of imperfection in how one of his prophets conceives of or characterizes God, that a perfectly morally good God might allow a large degree of imperfection in how one of his prophets conceives of or characterizes God.  Thus, even if Jehovah as characterized in the O.T. was cruel, bloodthirsty, and evil, this “imperfect” concept of God might be tolerated by God in the thinking and teaching of one of God’s prophets or messengers, and thus God might tolerate the promotion of the “Jehovah-concept” of God by Jesus, and God might still consider Jesus to be his prophet or messenger.
First, there appears to be a logical fallacy here, used by ancient Greek philosophers in the paradox of the heap.  If you start out with a heap of grains of sand (with say 100,000 grains), and remove just one grain of sand, that will not reduce the remaining sand to something less than a “heap” of sand.  But since removal of just one grain of sand must always leave us with a “heap”, we must still have a “heap” of sand even if we remove one grain of sand at a time until only one single grain of sand remains.  The final one grain of sand, it is concluded, must still be a “heap” of sand.
The fact that it is difficult (or even impossible) to “draw the line” on when a heap of sand becomes something less than a heap does NOT show that a single grain of sand constitutes a “heap” of sand.  Clearly one grain of sand is not a heap of sand.  The assumption is that all concepts must have absolutely clear and precise boundaries.  This assumption is false.  It may represent an ideal of clarity and precision, but this assumption does not represent how words and concepts actually function.  Concepts often have fuzzy boundaries, grey areas, that make it difficult or impossible to KNOW the precise location of the edge of the concept, to know, for example the exact number of grains of sand required to form a “heap” of sand.  The existence of borderline cases does not rule out the existence of clear cut cases.  One grain of sand is NOT a “heap” of sand, and 100,000 grains of sand clearly constitute a “heap” of sand (at least if they are gathered together into a roughly conical pile).
A second and more important problem with this defense of Jesus, is that it fails to take into account a critical distinction, the distinction between important and unimportant theological beliefs.  Inaccuracy in theological beliefs is no big deal, if we are talking about unimportant or insignificant theological beliefs, but inaccuracy in theological beliefs can be a big deal, if we are talking about important or significant theological beliefs.  My admission that God would tolerate a degree of inaccuracy in a person’s theological beliefs is based on the assumption that many (perhaps most) theological beliefs are unimportant or insignificant.
For example,  Christians have slaughtered each other over the theological doctrine of transubstantiation.  This was massive stupidity on the part of Christians because this theological belief is of very little significance.  A perfectly morally good God would never severely punish belief in transubstantiation, even if that belief was false.  Nor would a perfectly good God severely punish doubt or rejection of transubstantiation, even if that belief was true.  Transubstantiation is an insignificant theological belief, and God (if God exists) couldn’t care less whether humans accept or reject that theological belief.
But not all theological beliefs are as trivial and unimportant as transubstantiation.  What sort of theological beliefs would God be concerned about?  What sort of theological beliefs would God strongly desire for humans to get right?  Since God (if God exists) is a perfectly morally good person, we can reasonably infer that God would care most about theological beliefs that had significant implications for how humans treat each other and how humans treat non-human animals.
One theological belief that God would want humans to get right, is that God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and also of non-human animals, and that God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being, and that God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.  Such theological beliefs have implications for how humans treat each other and how humans treat non-human animals.  If humans got the WRONG IDEA about God, and formed false theological beliefs, such as that God does not care about fostering human happiness and well-being, and that God is pleased when humans are cruel and violent towards each other, and that God is pleased by cruel treatment of non-human animals, then such inaccurate theological beliefs would have serious negative impact on human and animal happiness and well-being.  So, these are the sort of theological beliefs that God would care about, assuming that God exists.
In characterizing the “Jehovah-concept” of God as being “inacurate”, and in insisting that we do not know whether the “Jehovah-concept” of God is “too inaccurate” to be tolerated by God, Eugene is suggesting that God does not care about the accuracy of important and significant theological beliefs, that God does not care about the accuracy or correctness of human theological beliefs that have significant implications for how humans should treat each other or treat non-human animals.   In other words, Eugene is implying that God would tolerate a mistaken conception of God which characterized God as a promoter of violence, cruelty, and injustice.   The “Jehovah-concept” of God is a concept of God as a promoter of violence, cruelty, and injustice, and so such a concept would never be tolerated by God, if God exists.  Any prophet who promotes a concept of God as being a promoter of violence, cruelty, and injustice, is clearly a false prophet.  Jesus promoted the “Jehovah-concept” of God, so Jesus is a false prophet, and it would be very unlikely that God would raise such a false prophet from the dead.
Finally, this comment by Eugene seems to have some similarity to the view called “skeptical theism”.  Skepticism has sometimes been used as a way of defending religious beliefs.  The problem with this approach is that skepticism is a two-edged sword.  If we really do not know whether a perfectly morally good person (who was also omnipotent and omniscient and eternal) would tolerate a prophet who promoted a false conception of God as a promoter of violence, cruelty, and injustice (when God is actually opposed to violence, cruelty, and injustice), then that would take the wind out of my argument against Jesus’ resurrection, but it would ALSO have very negative (skeptical) implications for the case for God and for divine revelation.
If proclaiming a concept of God as a promoter of violence, cruelty, and injustice is something that, for all we know, a perfectly good God might find acceptable in a prophet, then we are in no position to judge whether the creator of the world (assuming such a person exists) is good or evil, and even if we (somehow) decide that the creator is perfectly good, and that the Bible is a message from the creator, we have no reason for any degree of confidence in the messages in the Bible, given that God, on this view, tolerates false theological beliefs EVEN WHEN we are talking about IMPORTANT theological beliefs, theological beliefs that have significant implications for how humans should treat each other and non-human animals. 
Relatively Less Inacurate Theological Beliefs
“And so long as the Jehovah-model (in its various iterations) was still relatively less inaccurate than other models available in the same cultural milieu, my argument can function.” – Eugene
In the Ancient Near East (hereafter: ANE), one could argue, as Eugene does, that the god of the Israelites, Jehovah, was no worse than the gods of other peoples and tribes, and that Jehovah was, in some respects, a better person, morally speaking, than those alternative deities.  Eugene has not actually made the case for this claim, but let’s suppose that a plausible case could be made that Jehovah was a morally better person than his competitors in the ANE.  So what?  One might also argue that Hitler was a morally better person than Stalin, but that could only mean that Hitler was the lesser evil of two very evil men. So what?  That does NOT make Hitler worthy of being worshipped.
I admit that a perfectly good God might well allow humans to worship a deity that was characterized in a way that implies the deity was less than perfect.  But being less than perfect is different than being evil, than being a god who promotes violence, cruelty, and injustice.  God would never give his blessing to worship of Hitler, even if Hitler was the very best human leader that ever existed (i.e. even if all other human leaders did things worse than lead and command the genocidal slaughter of millions of innocent men, women, and children).  God, if God exists, is a perfectly morally good person, and such a person would never approve of the worship of an evil person like Hitler.  Jehovah is very similar to Hitler and Stalin.  Jehovah is an evil person who promoted slavery, sexism, intolerance, war, cruelty, genocide, and totalitarianism.  God would never approve of the worship of such a person.  Being the least evil person among various horribly evil persons does not make a person “good enough” to be worshipped.
Furthermore, Eugene’s view here seems to involve the same sort of implication as the “progressive revelation” apologetic move:  God must be an incompetent fool.  Contrary to Eugene’s view, God would settle for the lesser of evils ONLY IF there was no possibility of a good alternative.  One good alternative to worshipping Hitler (or Jehovah) would be to not worship anyone.  That might not be the most ideal situation (if God existed) but at least it would avoid the absurdity and depravity of worshipping a very evil person.
Not only could God figure out that obviously better alternative, but God could, unless God was an incompetent fool, figure out and communicate alternative conceptions of God that would be much better than Hitler or Jehovah, because the alternative conception would be of a good person rather than an evil person.  God is omnipotent and omniscient, so if God wants to come up with an improved concept of God (one that humans can learn and understand), then God WILL do so (if God exists).  God is omnipotent and omniscient, so if God wants to teach and communicate a new-and-improved concept of God to humans, then God WILL do so (if God exists).
Eugene is assuming that God is somehow limited to only the concepts of God that were available to people in the ANE at a given point in time.  But that assumption implies that either God is unable to come up with a better concept of God than the “Jehovah-concept” or that God would be unable to teach and communicate such a concept to humans who lived in the ANE.  Suppose we could gather together Aristotle, Plato, Anselm, Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Swinburne into one room, and ask them to come up with three alternative concepts of God besides the “Jehovah-concept”, concepts of a person who was a morally good person who was morally better than Jehovah.  Could they do this?  Of course they could.  Is God less capable, less creative, less intelligent, than these great thinkers?   Of course not.  God could come up with dozens or even thousands of improved concepts of God, without any help from Aquinas, Kant, or Swinburne.
If our gathered philosophers came up with three alternative concepts of God that were concepts of a person who was morally better than Jehovah, could God teach and communicate one of these alternative concepts effectively to Moses or to Joshua or to some other person in the ANE?  Of course God could do so.  So, as with proponents of “progressive revelation” Eugene’s view implies that God is either stupid or incompetent.  Since God is by definition omnipotent and omniscient, Eugene’s view implies something that is a self-contradiction.  A person who is stupid or incompetent cannot be God.  God, therefore, is not, and cannot be, limited to the meager and defective concepts of God that were available to people in the ANE at a particular point in history.
Finally, if for some reason (unknown to us) God was limited to only the concepts of God available to people in the ANE when he (allegedly) revealed himself to Moses, and if the “Jehovah-concept” was the least evil among the available concepts at that point in time, then the instant that God communicated the “Jehovah-concept” of God to Moses, God would begin to work on changing and improving that extremely defective concept of God.  And one of the very top priorities that God would have is to eliminate the violence, cruelty, and injustice contained in the “Jehovah-concept” of God.  Yet, when Jesus appears on the scene more than a thousand years later, we don’t hear any condemnation of slavery, wars of aggression, genocide, or other cruelty and injustice promoted by Jehovah.  Jesus shows no sign of revulsion at the evils of Jehovah.  Jesus fully embraced and worshipped Jehovah, and encouraged his followers to join him in worship of, obedience to, and prayer to Jehovah.
God would not have waited more than a week to begin correcting the perversion of worshipping an evil person.  The idea that God would sit around for over a thousand years and tolerate continued worship of Jehovah, and then send us Jesus as the penultimate revelation of theological truth, and have Jesus perpetuate this perversion of worship and obedience to an evil person, is absurd.
God is no fool.  If God exists, God would not approve of the worship of an evil person as God.  If God was limited to only the existing concepts of God available to people in the ANE at a particular point in history, then God would simply discourage worship of any person, rather than bless the worship of an evil person.  But God was limited to only the existing concepts of God available to people in the ANE only if God was either incompetent or a fool.  Since God, if God exists, is neither incompetent nor a fool, God had plenty of other alternative concepts of God available to communicate to Moses and Joshua, and to any other person in the ANE.
====================
Update on 7/21/15
In response to the above post, Eugene has put forward an argument (see comments by Eugene).  As a first step to take before evaluating Eugene’s argument, I have attempted to analyze the logical structure of his argument.  Here are the key claims (I have left out the evidence provided in support of the main factual claims about Jesus in order to maintain focus on the basic logical structure):
(1) To say that a thing partakes of “too much inaccuracy” is really just to say that a thing is inaccurate to the point of frustrating a given agent’s purposes for utilizing that thing in the first place.
(2) When we apply that understanding to God and his presumptive purposes for engaging prophets, we can see quite readily that the identification of the Jehovah-model (quite specifically Jesus’s own version of it) as something partaking of too much inaccuracy is simply unwarranted given your already-stated concessions.
[I think that (2) is an overarching summary statement: If (1) is true, then that leads to the conclusion (13).  So, (2) might not play a role as a premise in this argument.]
(3) One of the primary purposes God might have for endorsing prophets is to convey through them correct ideas about God.
(4) One theological belief that God would want humans to get right, is that God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and also of non-human animals, and that God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being, and that God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.
So, presumably…
(5) As long as a prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey this belief (or not to overthrow it), then it doesn’t frustrate God’s purpose for using the prophet in the first place.
and [thus]…
(6) We cannot reasonably then say that the prophet’s God-model is “too inaccurate.” [if the prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey this belief (or not to overthrow it)].
If that’s the case [if (6) is the case], then…
(7) It’s simply a matter of turning to Jesus’s words and investigating them to discover if they communicate that “God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and also of non-human animals, and that God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being, and that God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.”
When we do that, though…
(8) Jesus’s understanding of God, his own particular version of the Jehovah-model of God, passes the test.
(9) According to the gospels, Jesus was emphatic that God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and animals too.
(10) Moving on, when we consider the extent to which Jesus endorsed the idea that “God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being,” the record is equally positive.
(11) Finally, there is the matter of the belief that “God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.” While this isn’t a major element of Jesus’s message, it is still present, at least implicitly.
It seems then that…
(12) Jesus’s model of God, his own particular variant of the Jehovah-model, satisfies your proffered criteria for being sufficiently accurate.
(13) We really have no good grounds for thinking that Jesus’s God-model was inaccurate to the point that we could call it simply “a false god.”
(14) And if that’s the case [if (13) is the case], then your wider argument against the resurrection falls apart.
(A) Your wider argument against the resurrection falls apart.
 
Here is my interpretation of the logical structure of the argument:
Eugene's Objection
 
 
UPDATE on 7/22/15
In trying to clarify the premises of Eugene’s argument, I have come to see the logical structure a bit differently.  Here are the re-worded statements:
(1)To say that a thing partakes of “too much inaccuracy” is really just to say that a thing is inaccurate to the point of frustrating a given agent’s purposes for utilizing that thing in the first place.
(2)When we apply that understanding to God and his presumptive purposes for engaging prophets, we can see quite readily that the identification of the Jehovah-model (quite specifically Jesus’s own version of it) as something partaking of too much inaccuracy is simply unwarranted given your already-stated concessions.
[I think that (2) is an overarching summary statement: “If (1) is true, then that leads us to the conclusion (13).”  So, (2) probably does not play a role as a premise in this argument.]
(3)One of the primary purposes God might have for endorsing prophets is to convey through them correct ideas about God.
(4a) Three theological beliefs that God would want humans to get right are: (i) God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and also of non-human animals, and (ii) God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being, and (iii) God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.
So, presumably…
(5a) As long as a prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them), then it doesn’t frustrate God’s purpose for using the prophet in the first place.
and [thus]…
(6a) We cannot reasonably say that the prophet’s God-model is “too inaccurate” if the prophet’s model of God is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them).
(7a) If Jesus’s words communicate the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii), then Jesus model of God is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them).
(8a) Jesus’s words communicate the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii).
(9)According to the gospels, Jesus was emphatic that God cares about the happiness and well-being of humans and animals too.
(10) Moving on, when we consider the extent to which Jesus endorsed the idea that “God wants humans to get along with each other and to help each other to achieve happiness and well-being,” the record is equally positive.
(11) Finally, there is the matter of the belief that “God wants humans to avoid causing needless animal suffering.” While this isn’t a major element of Jesus’s message, it is still present, at least implicitly.
It seems then that…
(12a) Jesus’s model of God, his own particular variant of the Jehovah-model, is accurate enough to convey the beliefs (i), (ii), and (iii) (or not to overthrow them).
(13a) We cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is “too inaccurate” (i.e. inaccurate to the point that we could call it simply “a false god.”)
(14a) If we cannot reasonably say that Jesus’s God-model is “too inaccurate” (i.e. inaccurate to the point that we could call it simply “a false god”), then your wider argument against the resurrection falls apart.
(A) Your wider argument against the resurrection falls apart.
Here is my revised analysis of the logical structure of Eugene’s argument:
Eugene's Objection Rev1

bookmark_borderJesus: True Prophet or False Prophet? – Part 3

I am arguing that it is not possible for Christian apologists to make a solid rational case for the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead (GRJ).  My argument is based on the controversial claim that Jesus was a false prophet (JFP):
1. Jesus claimed to be a prophet.
2. Jesus was not a prophet.
3. IF a person P claimed to be a prophet but was not a prophet, THEN person P was a false prophet.
Therefore:
4. Jesus was a false prophet.
5. IF a person P was a false prophet, THEN it is not the case that God raised person P from the dead.
Therefore:
6. It is NOT the case that God raised Jesus from the dead.
In the previous post, I showed that if we grant, for the sake of argument, the assumption that the gospels provide historically reliable accounts of the life of Jesus, then they provide a lot of evidence that premise (1) is true.  If the gospels are reliable, then it is very probable that (1) is true.
But Christians believe that Jesus was a prophet, and they are also inclined to believe (1) to be true, so (1) is not controversial.  The controversial premise, the main point of disagreement between Christians and me is premise (2).  If I can show that (2) is true or that it is very probable that (2) is true, then that will get me very close to showing that Jesus was a false prophet, and that it is NOT the case that God raised Jesus from the dead (GRJ).  In other words, whether a good case for the resurrection can be made depends on whether premise (2) is true or very probable (on the assumption that the gospels are reliable).
Three key reasons in support of (2) are as follows (there are other good reasons as well, but these are ones I will focus in on):
7.  Jesus promoted obedience to Jehovah.
8.  Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah.
9.  Jesus promoted prayer to Jehovah.
These reasons are relevant as evidence for (2) because Jehovah is a false god:
(JFG)  Jehovah is a false god.
In other words, either Jehovah does not exist, or else Jehovah exists but is NOT God.
From these assumptions, one may draw the following conclusions:
10. Jesus promoted obedience to a false god.
11. Jesus promoted worship of a false god.
12. Jesus promoted prayer to a false god.
 
So, some key arguments for premise (2) are as follows:
 
Obedience Argument
10. Jesus promoted obedience to a false god.
13. IF a person P promoted obedience to a false god, THEN person P was not a prophet.
Therefore:
2.  Jesus was not a prophet.
 
Worship Argument
11. Jesus promoted worship of a false god.
14. IF a person P promoted worship of a false god, THEN person P was not a prophet.
Therefore:
2.  Jesus was not a prophet.
 
Prayer Argument
12. Jesus promoted prayer to a false god.
15. IF a person P promoted prayer to a false god, THEN person P was not a prophet.
Therefore:
2.  Jesus was not a prophet.
In my view, anyone who is familiar with the Bible will agree that given the assumption that the gospels provide historically reliable accounts of the life of Jesus, it is very probable that (7) is true, and very probable that (8) is true, and very probable that (9) is true.  Based on the gospel accounts, Jesus promoted obedience to, worship of, and prayer to Jehovah.
However, many Christians are ignorant about the Bible, and so may not be aware that the gospels clearly imply that (7), (8), and (9) are true.  Furthermore, some Christians who are familiar with the Bible are inclined to deny clear and obvious facts about the contents and implications of the Bible.  Therefore, although the gospels clearly support premises (7), (8), and (9), I am going to go ahead and lay out the evidence supporting these premises, in order to silence Christians who are ignorant about the contents of the Bible as well as Christians who are inclined to deny obvious facts about the contents of the Bible.
After I lay out the case for (7), (8), and (9), I will get into making the case for the more controversial claim that Jehovah is a false god (JFG).
The evidence of the gospels concerning (7), (8), and (9) must be understood in terms of a couple of general assumptions:
(JDJ)  Jesus was a devout Jew.
(JGJ)  Jehovah is the god of devout Jews.
The term “Jew” is somewhat unclear and ambiguous, because it can refer either to a person’s  ancestry, or ethnicity, or religion.  So, I am going to define what I mean by the term “devout Jew” at least in relation to the above two general assumptions:
A person P was a devout Jew IF AND ONLY IF person P generally and consistently tried to properly obey, worship, and pray to the god of the Israelites in accordance with the religious traditions of the Israelites.
Thus the question at issue becomes: Did Jesus generally and consitently try to properly obey, worship, and pray to the god of the Israelites in accordance with the religious traditions of the Israelites?  Another key question, with an obvious answer is: Was Jehovah the god of the Israelites?  If Jehovah was the god of the Israelites, then (JDJ) implies that Jesus generally and consistently tried to properly obey, worship, and pray to Jehovah in accordance with the religious traditions of the Israelites.
If (JDJ) and (JGJ) are both true, then the case for (7), (8), and (9) will be easy to make, based on the assumption that the gospels provide historically reliable accounts of the life of Jesus.
Was Jesus a devout Jew?
PBS Frontline has a website called “From Jesus to Christ”, and that site includes some scholarly commentary on this question.
Shaye C0hen (Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University) does a nice job of summarizing the evidence:
Was Jesus a Jew? Of course, Jesus was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues. He preached from Jewish text, from the Bible. He celebrated the Jewish festivals. He went on pilgrimage to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem where he was under the authority of priests…. He lived, was born, lived, died, taught as a Jew. This is obvious to any casual reader of the gospel text. What’s striking is not so much that he was a Jew but that the gospels make no pretense that he wasn’t. The gospels have no sense yet that Jesus was anything other than a Jew.
(from webpage titled He was born, lived, and died as a Jew,  viewed 6/27/15)
Let’s consider each of the claims put forward by professor Cohen on this question:
A. He was born of a Jewish mother….
B. He was born…in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world.
C. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews.
D. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues.
E. He preached from Jewish text, from the Bible.
F. He celebrated the Jewish festivals.
G. He went on pilgrimage to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem where he was under the authority of priests…
There are more reasons than these supporting the claim that Jesus was a devout Jew, but this will be a good start.