Hume on miracles

November 5, 5 Minutes Lesson:

Hume on miracles

As a Christian examining these arguments, we find little of value to convince us to reject a biblical worldview saying that God can and has intervened in natural history to perform miracles.

Introduction One of the most influential critiques of miracles ever written came from the pen of the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume. This was the Age of Enlightenment, a time in which skepticism about miracles was becoming increasingly widespread among the educated elite.

But this is not all. He also argues that since miracle reports typically occur among uneducated, barbarous peoples, they are inherently untrustworthy and, hence, unworthy of our belief.

From the SparkNotes Blog

For Christianity is full of miracles. According to the New Testament, Jesus walked on water, calmed raging storms, healed diseases, exorcised demons, and brought the dead back to life! Should believers be quaking in their boots, fearful that their most cherished beliefs are a lie?

And to cap it all off, the essay represents the kind of overreaching that gives philosophy a bad name.

SparkNotes: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Section X

But Earman argues his case quite forcefully and persuasively. And in the remainder of this article, I think the truth of his remarks will become increasingly evident. First, we might question whether miracles should be defined as violations of the laws of nature. If so, then his argument begs the question, assuming the very thing that needs to be proved.

It would be as if he argued this way: Such an argument is clearly fallacious. After all, there is a great deal of human testimony that solemnly affirms the occurrence of miracles. Thus, the only way that Hume can maintain that the uniform experience of mankind is against the occurrence of miracles is by assuming that all miracle reports are false.

Second, human beings love bizarre and fantastic tales, and this irrationally inclines them to accept such tales as true. Third, miracle reports are usually found among barbarous peoples.

And finally, the miracle reports of different religions cancel each other out, thus making none of them effective for proving the truth of their doctrines. What should we say in response to these arguments? How many witnesses were there? Are they known to be honest, or are they generally unreliable?

These questions are particularly important when one considers the cumulative power of independent witnesses for establishing the occurrence of some highly improbable event like a miracle.1 The role of miracles in justifying religious belief. It is natural to think that miracles can, in principle, provide some evidence in favor of religious belief.

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Suppose that we think of a miracle as an event which is an exception to the laws of nature. In this section, entitled "Of Miracles," Hume argues that we have no compelling reason even to believe in miracles, and certainly not to consider them foundational to religion.

Our knowledge of miracles derives exclusively from the testimony of others who claim to have seen miracles.

Hume on miracles

Since we. A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.

"Of Miracles" is the title of Section X of David Hume's An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (). Philosopher David Hume's view on Miracles Summary We hope this summary of "Hume's view on miracles", and philosophy of religion has been stimulating and you continue to the next summary of the philosophical works of philosopher David Hume.

Hume is joining a debate about miracles that was going on at the time, about whether historical reports of miracles, e.g. in the New Testament, could be believed, and .

SparkNotes: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Section X