What Are the Odds I Can Fly to the Moon and Back? Zero. A Bayesian Analysis.

Christians (and a few atheists) get butt hurt when we tell the truth that brain dead cold cadavers stay dead, that there's a zero chance one or more of them have ever come back to life. Here are the facts: 108 billion human beings have been born into the world (per one estimate), all of whom died except those still alive, 7.5 billion of us. Those of us alive will die and our deaths will be permanent just like all other species on the planet, who share with us a common ancestor, along with everyone yet to be born (no known estimates for this figure). I think we can safely say everyone born has died or will die, and never come back to life. While taxes may not always be a permanent state of affairs, death is.

Let me give an analogy. What are the odds I can fly to the Moon and back on my own via self-propulsion without the use of modern technology, not even oxygen tanks? Zero. Again, Zero.

Of course, admitting we cannot fly to the Moon and back entails two sequiturs. The first is we would be closed-minded to the testimony of someone claiming to have done it. I wouldn't spare a nanosecond to entertain such an obviously bogus claim. There is no chance of it happening, none! Atheists seem unwilling to say they are closed-minded. But when it comes to flying to the Moon and back we are closed-minded, just as is everyone else on the planet. Being closed-minded is therefore a virtue in those cases where we should be closed-minded. Being open to these types of claims means we're not thinking correctly and could waste way too much time on them, when thinking about anything else is more productive.

The second sequitur is that with a zero prior probability we're only admitting there's no credible evidence to convince us someone can fly to the Moon and back, not that some evidence as yet unimagined could convince us. Only current knowledge should be considered, not wildly bizarre scenarios. This prior or antecedent probably is not something uniformed by the actual state of affairs. It is context dependent. It's dependent on our background knowledge. But not just any claim of background knowledge will do, for it must be knowledge, not opinion or guesses or superstitions or wish fulfillment or indoctrination or brainwashing information. So given a prior probability of zero entails a Bayesian analysis showing that flying to the Moon and back has a zero chance of being done, for zero times any number leaves us with zero. This calculation is only as good as our knowledge about the claim under investigation. In this case, it doesn't take much to know this.

Why do I insist on this? Because it's the truth. Knowing what I do about the deluded minds of believers, all we have to do is give them a chance to be right, any chance will do, even an extremely low chance. For the omnipotent god of theirs can overcome any odds if there's a chance. What's the chance that while reading a Batman comic book the Joker could jump out of it and attack me? Zero! But with their god anything can happen, right? NO! Not a chance [unless it comes to alleviating the most horrendous suffering ;-)]. There is no way to make it so, not given current understandings and current assessments of objective evidence based on solid knowledge-based backgrounds. But if we allow bizarre, merely imagined scenarios, into our equations, then we're allowing faith into them, which is something we're trying to assess, faith claims, and that's something atheists should reject outright.

To see a good discussion of these issues read these comments.