Posted:

**Nov 20, 2011 10:49 pm**Link to paper here, pdf here.

I'm deeply skeptical that logic, formal or informal, is applicable to determining historicity. Bayes' theorem gives a formula, and judgment calls aren't formulaic. Carrier's right to say that historical assessments of probability are informal, and I don't see a problem with that, as the assessment of probability can stand or fall on its use of the evidence. There's no mystery here: if one argument can be shown to have applied the evidence more accurately than another, then probability is on its side.

And as usual with Carrier, it's all about religion: historiography is a means to an end. There's a potentially fascinating discussion to be had here, but I fear that Carrier is plugging this line merely to wipe out the historical Jesus: just as his opposite number, William Lane Craig, uses Bayes' to prop up Jesus' corpse. Both are looking for formal objectivity where it's unlikely to be found.

I'm deeply skeptical that logic, formal or informal, is applicable to determining historicity. Bayes' theorem gives a formula, and judgment calls aren't formulaic. Carrier's right to say that historical assessments of probability are informal, and I don't see a problem with that, as the assessment of probability can stand or fall on its use of the evidence. There's no mystery here: if one argument can be shown to have applied the evidence more accurately than another, then probability is on its side.

And as usual with Carrier, it's all about religion: historiography is a means to an end. There's a potentially fascinating discussion to be had here, but I fear that Carrier is plugging this line merely to wipe out the historical Jesus: just as his opposite number, William Lane Craig, uses Bayes' to prop up Jesus' corpse. Both are looking for formal objectivity where it's unlikely to be found.