Hume on miracles

Babbageemphasis original; cf. Let us see how this problem arises in connection with these two conceptions of the miraculous.

Swinburne miracles

All effects follow not with like certainty from their supposed causes. But it is the apologist who tries to understand supernatural causes as analogous to the sort of causes that are of interest to natural science. Aside from the possibility that she may be influenced by some tangible self-interest, such as a financial one, her report may also be influenced by emotional factors—by her fears, perhaps, or by wishful thinking. On the other hand, when Hume looks at whether or not we should believe that a miracle has occurred, he seems to take an opposite view. But as the former grow thinner every page, in proportion as we advance nearer the enlightened ages, we soon learn, that there is nothing mysterious or supernatural in the case, but that all proceeds from the usual propensity of mankind towards the marvellous, and that, though this inclination may at intervals receive a check from sense and learning, it can never be thoroughly extirpated from human nature. Thus she may report having seen a man walk across the surface of a lake; this may be her understanding of what happened, when in fact he was walking alongside the lake or on a sand bar. And thus the impostor above mentioned was enabled to proceed, from his ignorant Paphlagonians, to the enlisting of votaries, even among the Grecian philosophers, and men of the most eminent rank and distinction in Rome: nay, could engage the attention of that sage emperor Marcus Aurelius; so far as to make him trust the success of a military expedition to his delusive prophecies. According to this method of reasoning, when we believe any miracle of Mahomet or his successors, we have for our warrant the testimony of a few barbarous Arabians: And on the other hand, we are to regard the authority of Titus Livius, Plutarch, Tacitus, and, in short, of all the authors and witnesses, Grecian, Chinese, and Roman Catholic, who have related any miracle in their particular religion; I say, we are to regard their testimony in the same light as if they had mentioned that Mahometan miracle, and had in express terms contradicted it, with the same certainty as they have for the miracle they relate. Hume 90—91 also borrowed this line of reasoning. But other factors are also cited in favor of miracle claims: the existence of commemorative ceremonies from earliest times, for example, or the transformation of the eyewitnesses from fearful cowards into defiant proclaimers of the resurrection, or the conversion of St. Mohr, pp. Now, a miracle is defined as: "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.

Moreland and William Lane Craig agree with Earman's basic assessment and have critiqued Hume's argument against being able to identify miracles by stating that Hume's theory "fails to take into account all the probabilities involved" and "he incorrectly assumes that miracles are intrinsically highly improbable" [12] C.

If the odds of the particular combination chosen in the California Lottery last week were 40 million to 1, the probability of that combination being chosen is very low.

arguments against miracles

The disciples were transformed from fearful cowards into bold proclaimers who were willing to face persecution and death for their message. Defenses of supernaturalism may also take a methodological turn by insisting that the natural sciences are incapable of revealing the totality of all that there is.

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However, we may observe, that, in such a case, he would have no cause to complain of experience; because it commonly informs us beforehand of the uncertainty, by that contrariety of events, which we may learn from a diligent observation.

And when afterwards they would willingly detect the cheat, in order to undeceive the deluded multitude, the season is now past, and the records and witnesses, which might clear up the matter, have perished beyond recovery.

The only thing you have to go on is the eyewitness testimony.

mckinnon miracles

In any case where two arguments from experience point to contradictory conclusions, the stronger argument must prevail. His argument for this claim is somewhat difficult to follow, but it appears to run approximately like this: The will of God is identical with the laws of nature.

The issue is that when you are assessing the validity of a hypothesis, given some eyewitness testimony, you are unlikely to be assessing that hypothesis in isolation from all other hypothesis.

Beckett 29—37 3. Indeed, often when someone says "It was God's will," they are calling attention to the inscrutability of events.

The conclusion is therefore typically categorical.

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Hume on Miracles