Hume On Miracles Essay

1688 words - 7 pages

David Hume provided one of the most compelling arguments to debunk the notion of miraculous events which are so dear to the heart of Christians in particular. Throughout this paper, I will argue that belief in miracles is justified. In order to make this argument, I will first examine Hume’s view that belief in miracles is not warranted. Then I will consider an opposing view that belief in miracles is justifiable through God’s constant activity in the world around us. Finally, I will contradict Hume’s view by arguing he gives a false definition of a miracle and if we do assume Hume’s view, no new facts could ever be proven.Hume understands a miracle as being a specific act by God that breaks a law of nature which has been created by God. He argues that we should not believe miracles ever happen. They could, but it is always more reasonable or wise to believe of any particular alleged miracle that it did not happen. He suggests it is more probable that someone has made a mistake or has lied.Hume goes on to explain himself by saying, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence" (p. 116). The main evidence we have for any belief is our own experience, but we must be skeptical about this since it might not represent the whole truth. When we base our beliefs on other people's testimony about their experiences, we should be even more skeptical as one must keep in mind that not all witnesses are reliable.Hume considers the case when there is disagreement in our experience of the testimony presented to us. In this case, we should weigh the different sides against each other. The case of the laws of nature having no exceptions is backed by all the science we have studied and by human experience. Hume explains that if an exception has been presented at some time to one or more of these laws, then this exception is based on the testimony of a few people who lived ‘far away and long ago’ (p. 116). He declares it is obvious that smart people will always put their faith in modern science versus an exception presented long ago.Hume explains that not all stories of miracles can be true. There are stories claiming to prove almost every religion there ever has been, and they cannot all be true. He begs the question, why believe one set of stories rather than another? Choosing one religion over another would be an arbitrary decision. Hume says a wise person will instead believe none of them (p. 116). The Bible is not necessarily more reliable than any other religious book, and they cannot all be true since what they say is often quite incompatible.Therefore, Hume is able to make his case against miracles for two sole reasons. First of all, we must consider the probability of the event reported and the credibility of the reporter. Second of all, miracles, as violations of natural law, are less likely to occur than any set of natural events required to explain the known facts. However, with many religions considering miracles to...

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