Essay On Miracles David Hume

Craig explains the matter this way: “If two witnesses are each 99% reliable, then the odds of their both independently testifying falsely to some event are only . Hume argues that since miracles run contrary to man’s uniform experience of the laws of nature, no testimony can establish that a miracle has occurred unless “its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.” Although Hume makes it sound as though establishing one miracle would require an even greater miracle, all his statement really amounts to, as John Earman rightly notes, is that no testimony is good enough to establish that a miracle has occurred unless it’s sufficient to make the occurrence of the miracle more probable than not. testimony is really ever sufficient to establish that a miracle has occurred. For it can be perfectly reasonable to accept a highly improbable event on the basis of human testimony. Suppose the evening news announces that the number picked in the lottery was 8253652. The problem, says Craig, is that Hume has not considered all of the relevant probabilities.As Craig observes, “this is a report of an extraordinarily improbable event, one out of several million.” If we applied Hume’s principle to such a case, it would be irrational for us to believe that such a highly improbable event had actually occurred. For although it might be highly improbable that just this number should have been chosen out of all the possible numbers that been chosen.

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Hume essentially “presents a two-pronged assault against miracles.” He first argues that “a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature.” But since “a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle,” he says, “is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.” In other words, given the regularity of the laws of nature, Hume contends that miracles are exceedingly improbable events. He also argues that since miracle reports typically occur among uneducated, barbarous peoples, they are inherently untrustworthy and, hence, unworthy of our belief.

Now clearly, if Hume is correct, then this presents a real problem for Christianity. According to the New Testament, Jesus walked on water, calmed raging storms, healed diseases, exorcised demons, and brought the dead back to life!

The result of this new formulation, however, is that “uniform experience does furnish a proof against a miracle in the sense of making the . After all, there is a great deal of human testimony that solemnly assumption, as we’ll see, is completely untenable when miraculous events are attested by numerous, independent witnesses.

In Part II of “Of Miracles,” David Hume argues that there has never been the kind of testimony on behalf of miracles which would “amount to entire proof.” He offers four reasons for this claim.

One of the most influential critiques of miracles ever written came from the pen of the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume.

The title of the essay, “Of Miracles,” originally appeared in Hume’s larger work, , first published in 1748.

But notice how this will influence our estimation of the probability of miracles.

If belief in God is part of our general knowledge of the world, then miracles will be judged to at least be possible.

When Hume says that the laws of nature are established upon “a firm and unalterable experience,” is he claiming that the laws of nature are never violated?

If so, then his argument begs the question, assuming the very thing that needs to be proved.


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