As Philo indicated in the opening post, I suggested on another thread that the mention of Bayesian analysis on a supposedly faith promoting blog was a mistake. Proper application of Bayesian analysis as a decision making tool regarding the foundational truth claims and unique teachings of Mormonism can never end well for the testimonies of the faithful.
Anyone who does even a minimal amount of reading on the subject of Bayesian inference and religion soon realizes (or should soon realize) that religion in general, and Mormonism in particular, do not fare well. Bloggers focused on the faith promoting content need read no further than the pages of MormonDiscussions.com to recognize the power of Bayesian analysis as a destroyer of unfounded belief.
On this board a great example of the utility of Reverend Bayes' theorem was its application to the oft heard apologetic claim that
'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence' when it comes to the abject lack physical evidence for the Book of Mormon. The opening post for this thread was based on the formal analysis of the claim as shown in
http://oyhus.no/AbsenceOfEvidence.html. There are other variations on this basic proof, one of the best illustrated being from RationalWiki
https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Absence_of_evidence.
Dean Robber's thread entitled
Moroni Challenge Mathematically Incoherent - Bayes (in which Lemmie provides another of her now famous math tutorials), and Analytics'
Bayesian Moroni Calculator at
http://www.lds4u.com/lesson1/bayesian.htm are two more examples from MormonDiscussions.com authors of how toxic Bayesian inference can be to Mormonism.
One feature of Bayesian analysis that I find to be of great value is that it favors simple (and therefore more elegant) models. In this respect, it can be thought of as incorporating an 'Occam's razor' module.
It is a given, for example, that the simpler the model, the more precise its predictions. The corollary here is that the more complex the model (or the more claims it makes) the less utility it has, and the less likely its predictions are to be valid in general. In probability speak, more complex models, or hypotheses if you will, must spread their allotted probability (=1) over more data space, and thus lend less credence to each possible prediction or outcome.
Here is an example: Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement about the truthfulness of Mormonsim's foundational claims in an interview conducted for FRONTLINE in January of 2007.
Gorden B. Hinkley on PBS FRONTLINE wrote:
Well, it's either true or false. If it's false, we're engaged in a great fraud. If it's true, it's the most important thing in the world. Now, that's the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. And that's exactly where we stand, with a conviction in our hearts that it is true --.
There was also this:
Gordon B. Hinckley also wrote:
Each of us has to face the matter — either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing. (Bolding mine.)
In an application of a Bayesian like approach to evaluating whether Mormonism is true or a fraud, as Hinkley indicates, one can simply start with a unbiased prior (say 50%) and then adjust the posterior probability in an iterative manner as they run through the truth claims of the Church. Here are a few truth claims to run through the process. If the LDS Church is as Hinkley states, then the following (and many more) must all be true.
(1) The LDS Church must be the restoration, by divine revelation, of the church that Jesus Christ established upon the Earth during his ministry.
(2) The Book of Mormon, which must contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, must also be a record of several small groups of Semites who traveled to the New World starting around 2,500 BCE.
(3) The Book of Abraham must be a true translation of extant Egyptian papyri as claimed by Joseph Smith.
You get the point.
The main point I wish to make, however, is the utility and value of a Bayesian approach (or at least Bayesian-like approach) to building one's worldview. The continual process of validating new information and then reasonably and logically determining the consequences of this information, if any, on ones belief system is fundamental to building a life based on objective truth and reality rather than on falsehoods and fantasy.