April 24, 2009

Bayes’ Theorem and the Argument from Design

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism, Creationism, The Universe tagged , , , , , at 12:28 pm by Andrew

Mark Reid has a great article up analyzing the Argument from Design using Bayes’ theorem. The focus is not on whether the Argument from Design is true, but rather explaining how one’s evaluation of Argument from Design depends upon prior beliefs about the supernatural generally. His conclusion validates that:

Bayesianism therefore has an explanation of why religious folk are more ready to accept the argument by design than skeptics.

The whole article is definitely worth a read.



  1. John Huey said,

    While this article refers to just the question of ID, I would guess that it could be generalized to encompass all religious arguments. I has been my experience that the best predictor of how convincing someone finds a religious apologetic argument is if they already believe.

  2. Nathaniel said,

    Actually, Reid concludes that Binmore’s conclusion (quoted by Andrew in the OP) is too quick; the real diagnosis, he says, is that advocates of ID and non-advocates disagree about the value of L.

    As far as it goes, this analysis seems correct: Reid is right and Binmore is wrong.

    • Andrew said,

      Of course, Reid still validates the internal quote by Binmore, which is to say that Bayesian probability analysis can explain receptivity to the argument from design. I also think it’s a bit strong to say that Binmore is “wrong”; Reid’s argument is that Binmore’s initial exercise didn’t go into sufficient depth (which is a fair criticism given the scope of the original argument).

      • Nathaniel said,


        Actually, Reid does disagree with Binmore. That’s why he writes:

        However, contrary to Binmore’s conclusion, I believe the real reason ID advocates and skeptics disagree as to the strength of the argument by design is due to differences in this likelihood ratio.

        The key words are “contrary to” (indicating that he disagrees with Binmore) and “real reason” (indicating that Binmore’s proposed reason was not the real reason).

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