Jump to content

Absence Of Evidence


dB-Paradox
 Share

Recommended Posts

I met with an OT scholar from my old church today. He is not a fundy, but still believes the NT to be historically accurate. I asked him about such things as the so-called custom of Pilate releasing a criminal. Since there is no extra-biblical evidence of this custom, I asked how he can trust the biblical account of it (among other things mentioned only in the bible). His response was something like this...'If we only had a shoebox full of surviving newspaper clippings from the time our city was first born, that doesn't really give us much of an accurate picture of the whole picture. Then he said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" referring to this custom which is only in the biblical account. He was saying that just because it's not in any other secular source doesn't mean it's not true. He said the same about the resurrection. Interesting, and I admit he has made a good point (about the absence of evidence). So sure, maybe Pilate releasing a criminal is not in any surviving secular documents, but I think he missed the point when it came to the resurrection. Anyway, what are your thoughts regarding the 'absence of evidence' comment he made? Is it good logic?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Valk0010

Though what I am about to say isn't specific to your case, but the the absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence only in certain cases. I will leave other people who know more then me on this to finish the question. I personally can't say the argument works or not. But I will throw this out there. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence where there is good reason that something should be there. That in the general rule as far as I can understand it, for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

The quote is attributed to Carl Sagan, but he said it while referring to people who use "woo-woo" logic. It seems it will always be misinterpreted as something he meant to be true. Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence and that was his point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I met with an OT scholar from my old church today. He is not a fundy, but still believes the NT to be historically accurate. I asked him about such things as the so-called custom of Pilate releasing a criminal. Since there is no extra-biblical evidence of this custom, I asked how he can trust the biblical account of it (among other things mentioned only in the bible). His response was something like this...'If we only had a shoebox full of surviving newspaper clippings from the time our city was first born, that doesn't really give us much of an accurate picture of the whole picture. Then he said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" referring to this custom which is only in the biblical account. He was saying that just because it's not in any other secular source doesn't mean it's not true. He said the same about the resurrection. Interesting, and I admit he has made a good point (about the absence of evidence). So sure, maybe Pilate releasing a criminal is not in any surviving secular documents, but I think he missed the point when it came to the resurrection. Anyway, what are your thoughts regarding the 'absence of evidence' comment he made? Is it good logic?

 

I agree with Valk on the use of the argument. It depends on the situation. The absence of any evidence that a nuclear warhead destroyed a city in the US yesterday would indeed constitute evidence of absence. The absence of evidence that someone named Larry in Detroit, Michigan sneezed yesterday does not constitute evidence of absence.

 

As far as Pilate releasing a prisoner every year, that may not be something that a historian would take note of, as it is not all that significant. A prominent person rising from the dead, particularly if many others rose from the dead at the same time, as Matthew states happened in Jerusalem, would definitely be noteworthy. The absence of evidence for something like that should be evidence of absence.

 

Respectfully,

Franciscan Monkey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The fact that a young man wandered the countryside performing miracles and raising the dead was only recorded by the biblical contributors and no other sources is just another miracle of god, thereby proving his existence. Absence is evidence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pilate releasing criminals is certainly minuscule when compared to the assertion that a man was executed and then was raised from the dead three days later. Or that hundreds of the dead themselves rose the grave and walked about the streets of Jerusalem. On top of that, I don't base my entire world view and belief system on absence of evidence, sure historically we have to make a number of assumptions, but it's not like we are making positive supernatural claims and then basing religions on whether or not we have the "full picture".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as Pilate releasing a prisoner every year, that may not be something that a historian would take note of, as it is not all that significant. A prominent person rising from the dead, particularly if many others rose from the dead at the same time, as Matthew states happened in Jerusalem, would definitely be noteworthy. The absence of evidence for something like that should be evidence of absence.

 

QFT

 

Local customs would not necessarily have left a paper trail in Roman bureaucracy et al. A person resurrected from the dead is another thing entirely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyway, what are your thoughts regarding the 'absence of evidence' comment he made? Is it good logic?

Absence of evidence is not evidence for absence. That is very true.

 

But unfortunately, Christians think of it this way: absence of evidence is evidence that something did happen. Which is also wrong.

 

If there is not evidence, a critical skeptical mind is an accurate response, not belief without evidence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As stated, the quote is false. The statement: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. The issue is how strong is the evidence of absence. And that can only be answered on a case by case basis. But the statement as worded is patently false and overly simplistic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I met with an OT scholar from my old church today. He is not a fundy, but still believes the NT to be historically accurate. I asked him about such things as the so-called custom of Pilate releasing a criminal. Since there is no extra-biblical evidence of this custom, I asked how he can trust the biblical account of it (among other things mentioned only in the bible). His response was something like this...'If we only had a shoebox full of surviving newspaper clippings from the time our city was first born, that doesn't really give us much of an accurate picture of the whole picture. Then he said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" referring to this custom which is only in the biblical account. He was saying that just because it's not in any other secular source doesn't mean it's not true. He said the same about the resurrection. Interesting, and I admit he has made a good point (about the absence of evidence). So sure, maybe Pilate releasing a criminal is not in any surviving secular documents, but I think he missed the point when it came to the resurrection. Anyway, what are your thoughts regarding the 'absence of evidence' comment he made? Is it good logic?

 

 

 

I think you took the wrong approach to the argument. There may not be any extra biblical accounts of Pilate ever releasing a criminal, but there is LOTS of extra biblical evidence that he would NOT release someone like Jesus. Josephus, Philo and others had lots to say about Pilate, and none of it is very flattering. Josephus wrote that on several occasions Pilate actually INCITED insurrections so that he could purge them with his soldiers. That he would let a person who calls himself "King of the Jews" go free is almost inconceivable in light of the type of man we know he was. We know from extra biblical sources that Pilate is not the sort of governor that would have acted so kindly to any Jew who openly admitted to sedition. It that respect, there is no "silence" at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as Pilate releasing a prisoner every year, that may not be something that a historian would take note of, as it is not all that significant. A prominent person rising from the dead, particularly if many others rose from the dead at the same time, as Matthew states happened in Jerusalem, would definitely be noteworthy. The absence of evidence for something like that should be evidence of absence.

 

QFT

 

Local customs would not necessarily have left a paper trail in Roman bureaucracy et al. A person resurrected from the dead is another thing entirely.

 

Or several hundred of them resurrecting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Truth does not require evidence, such as I'm a light skinned male, but u all have no evidence for it, however its still true

 

"Light skinned" is subjective and therefore not a fact. I could test your DNA to prove you're male.

 

"God exists" is not provable, and therefore is either a subjective view or a non-testable theory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

U can't prove that God is not provable. In order to say he's not provable you're gonna have to use this scientific method which for some reason some people think is the only way something can be declared true

Link to comment
Share on other sites

U can't prove that God is not provable. In order to say he's not provable you're gonna have to use this scientific method which for some reason some people think is the only way something can be declared true

 

Can't argue with logic like that. Wendytwitch.gif

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest I Love Dog

Truth does not require evidence, such as I'm a light skinned male, but u all have no evidence for it, however its still true

 

It does, for instance in a court of law. Trying to prove your innocence without evidence is difficult, even impossible, as many who have been falsely imprisoned will testify to.

 

Belief in a god, however, does not require truth or evidence, just faith that he/she/it exists.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Truth does not require evidence, such as I'm a light skinned male, but u all have no evidence for it, however its still true

 

It does, for instance in a court of law. Trying to prove your innocence without evidence is difficult, even impossible, as many who have been falsely imprisoned will testify to.

 

Belief in a god, however, does not require truth or evidence, just faith that he/she/it exists.

 

I understand the court situation, but still, a person who is falsely imprisoned is still truthfully innocent they just couldn't prove it. Its just messed up that they are in prison

Link to comment
Share on other sites

U can't prove that God is not provable.

 

Divine forces in general can't be disproven (what if they're just hiding from us, somewhere out of our mortal sight?).

 

The judeo-christian-islamic monster gawd, however, is clearly disproven by the attributes commonly assigned to it by its respective cults' scripchas and the claims of its cultists.

 

You lose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I met with an OT scholar from my old church today. He is not a fundy, but still believes the NT to be historically accurate. I asked him about such things as the so-called custom of Pilate releasing a criminal. Since there is no extra-biblical evidence of this custom, I asked how he can trust the biblical account of it (among other things mentioned only in the bible). His response was something like this...'If we only had a shoebox full of surviving newspaper clippings from the time our city was first born, that doesn't really give us much of an accurate picture of the whole picture. Then he said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" referring to this custom which is only in the biblical account. He was saying that just because it's not in any other secular source doesn't mean it's not true. He said the same about the resurrection. Interesting, and I admit he has made a good point (about the absence of evidence). So sure, maybe Pilate releasing a criminal is not in any surviving secular documents, but I think he missed the point when it came to the resurrection. Anyway, what are your thoughts regarding the 'absence of evidence' comment he made? Is it good logic?

 

Absence of evidence means that whatever historical "fact" your scholar friend is trying to defend is unsupported. In other words he has no reason, other than his preference to believe, to maintain that there was such a custom as releasing a prisoner, or that a multitude of dead people rose from there graves the moment Jesus gave up the ghost.

 

And since there is no historical evidence for such incredible events as resurrections , jesus' resurrection included, your scholar friend is believing something only because he wants to believe it's true and not based on the assured results of the scholarly endeavor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And since there is no historical evidence for such incredible events as resurrections , jesus' resurrection included, your scholar friend is believing something only because he wants to believe it's true and not based on the assured results of the scholarly endeavor.

This is absolutely true. Even he said something similar to this. He said that he believes in Christianity because for him, it's the best model for living. And I respect that he came up with a real reason to believe. However, he also mentioned something about, 'if we had a shoebox full of newspaper clippings from when our city was first settled, we wouldn't get an accurate picture of that early society'. He was calling the secular and archaeological evidence that shoebox of newspaper clippings, while referring to the gospels as the full picture! But the problem is, as already mentioned, that one would expect the shoebox full of newspaper clippings to contain such articles as dead people walking the streets of Jerusalem! But we don't have that!

 

The truth is (and I don't know why he doesn't see this, especially being a liberal Christian) that the gospels are not history at all. They are religious texts which have a sliver of history woven in. Not really much different than Hercules, Perseus, or even Krishna.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And since there is no historical evidence for such incredible events as resurrections , jesus' resurrection included, your scholar friend is believing something only because he wants to believe it's true and not based on the assured results of the scholarly endeavor.

This is absolutely true. Even he said something similar to this. He said that he believes in Christianity because for him, it's the best model for living. And I respect that he came up with a real reason to believe. However, he also mentioned something about, 'if we had a shoebox full of newspaper clippings from when our city was first settled, we wouldn't get an accurate picture of that early society'. He was calling the secular and archaeological evidence that shoebox of newspaper clippings, while referring to the gospels as the full picture! But the problem is, as already mentioned, that one would expect the shoebox full of newspaper clippings to contain such articles as dead people walking the streets of Jerusalem! But we don't have that!

 

The truth is (and I don't know why he doesn't see this, especially being a liberal Christian) that the gospels are not history at all. They are religious texts which have a sliver of history woven in. Not really much different than Hercules, Perseus, or even Krishna.

Right. And he only considers it the "best model" because (most likely) he was already immersed in that worldview with its misconceptions about the world, stereotypes of people and dogma based conclusions about reality (as opposed to observed realities). People are not the way people are, in his worldview. They are the way their dogma says people are.

 

Christianity fits the model of the way Christianity says the world OUGHT to be and not the way the world really is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

U can't prove that God is not provable. In order to say he's not provable you're gonna have to use this scientific method which for some reason some people think is the only way something can be declared true

 

Can't argue with logic like that. Wendytwitch.gif

 

 

 

 

Sarcasism aside. You can. The Scientific Method requires that any test be repeatable and measureable. God is supposedly infinate. By basic math that would make him unmeasureable.

 

Since you can't measure god, you can't empirically test god. Since you can meet half the requirement, it would be an effort in futility. Therefore, the simplest assumption would be the most likely. He doesn't exsist.

 

By that same token, Yakuza, You can't prove that he does exsist. Becuase if he/sh/it is infinate then he can't be measure, if not, then he/sh/it is not god.

 

Also you can't prove a negative. So saying you can't prove god is not provable is an illogical and grammatically incorrect statement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.