Proper 12, B
As I was preparing for this Sunday in all prayerfulness, I googled… (I have to stop there. I know I’m like 12 words into the sermon and I promise I won’t keep interrupting myself because I know you all have other things that you need to do today, but I have disclose that there is some question in my mind as to whether the dubious verb “to google” in any form or tense should appear in any sermon ever anywhere. But, I go where the Spirit leads me and thus here we are, you and me together).
As I was preparing for this Sunday I googled the phrase “the problem with miracles”. Just that… “the problem with miracles”. With that simple query I found, or more accurately Google found, 14,400,000 results for “the problem with miracles”. Now we’ve talked in the past about “the problem with miracles”, but 14 m entries.
The Reverend Thomas Bayes, a Presbyterian minister and serious math nerd, developed what was later called Bayes theorem in the late 1760’s. Bayes theorem, which describes how to update probabilities in the face of new evidence, continues to prove crucial today in data gathering, machine science and AI. It has been used in testing new medicines, in weather forecasting, to improve mobile-phone reception, and apparently, in the assessment of miracles. Here is a simple representation using Bayes’ Theorem of how a miracle claim would be assessed, where m is the claim that a miracle has occurred, e is the evidence for the claim, and k is background knowledge:
p(e/m & k) × p(m/k)
p(m/e & k) =