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David Hume's Critique Of The Belief In Miracles

1721 words - 7 pages

In explaining Hume's critique of the belief in miracles,we must first understand the definition of a miracle. TheWebster Dictionary defines a miracle as: a supernatural eventregarded as to define action, one of the acts worked by Christwhich revealed his divinity an extremely remarkableachievement or event, an unexpected piece of luck. Therefore,a miracle is based on one's perception of past experiences,what everyone sees. It is based on a individuals own reality,and the faith in which he/she believes in, it is based oninterior events such as what we are taught, and exteriorevents, such as what we hear or see first hand.When studying Hume's view of a miracle, he interprets ordefines a miracle as such; a miracle is a violation of thelaws of nature, an event which is not normal to most ofmankind. Hume explains this point brilliantly when he states,"Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it has ever happened in thecommon course of nature. It is no miracle that a manseemingly in good health should die on a sudden." (Hume p.888)Hume states that this death is quite unusual, however itseemed to happen naturally. He could only define it as atrue miracle if this dead man were to come back to life. Thiswould be a miraculous event because such an experience has notyet been commonly observed. In which case, his philosophicalview of a miracle would be true.Hume critiques and discredits the belief in a miraclemerely because it goes against the laws of nature. Humedefines the laws of nature to be what has been "uniformly"observed by mankind, such as the laws of identity and gravity.He views society as being far to liberal in what they considerto be a miracle. He gives the reader four ideas to supporthis philosophy in defining a true miracle, or the belief in amiracle. These points leads us to believe that there has neverbeen a miraculous event established.Hume's first reason in contradicting a miracle is, in allof history there has not been a miraculous event with asufficient number of witnesses. He questions the integrity ofthe men and the reputation in which they hold in society. Iftheir reputation holds great integrity, then and only then canwe have full assurance in the testimony of men. Hume isconstantly asking throughout the passage questions to supportproof for a miracle. He asks questions such as this; Who isqualified? Who has the authority to say who qualifies? As heasks these questions we can see there are no real answers, inwhich case, it tends to break the validity of the witnesses tothe miracle.Hume's second reason in contradicting the validity of amiracle is that he views all of our beliefs, or what we chooseto accept, or not accept through past experience and whathistory dictates to us. Furthermore, he tends to discredit anindividual by playing on a human beings consciousness or senseof reality. An example is; using words such as, theindividuals need for "excitement" and "wonder" arising frommiracles. Even the individual who can not enjoy the...

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