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Given that there is no reason to accept some of them but not others aside from a prejudice in favour of one religion , then we must hold all religions to have been proved true — but given the fact that religions contradict each other, this cannot be the case. Holland has argued that Hume's definition of "miracle" need not be accepted, and that an event need not violate a natural law in order to be accounted miraculous. That is, he rests his case against belief in miracles upon the claim that laws of nature are supported by exceptionless testimony, but testimony can only be accounted exceptionless if we discount the occurrence of miracles.

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].

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  • David Hume 's Theory Of Induction;

He says that his initial proposition - that laws of nature cannot be broken - is effectively the same question as 'Do miracles occur? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. David Hume. Argument for the existence of God from design Problem of induction Is—ought problem.

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Of Miracles by David Hume

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This means that a miracle must express divine agency; if we have no reason to think that an event is something done by God, we will have no reason to call it a miracle. More recently, the idea that a miracle must be defined in terms of natural law has come under attack.

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Holland has argued that a miracle may be consistent with natural law, since a religiously significant coincidence may qualify as miraculous, even though we fully understand the causes that brought it about. The outcome of any discussion of miracles seems to depend greatly on our worldview. The usual theistic view of the world is one that presumes the existence of an omnipotent God who, while transcending nature, is nevertheless able to act, or to express his will, within the natural world. Clearly belief in miracles is already plausible if our enquiry may presume this view of things.

Those who would defend supernaturalism sometimes do this through a commitment to an ontology of entities that exist in some sense outside of nature, where by "nature" is meant the totality of things that can be known by means of observation and experiment, or more generally, through the methods proper to the natural sciences. 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.

While supernaturalists typically hold that God reveals his nature in part through observable phenomena as for example in miracles, or more generally, in the order of nature , as we shall understand it here, methodological supernaturalism is committed as well to the view that our knowledge of God must be supplemented by revelation. Knowledge of God that is passed down in scripture, such as the Bible or the Qur'an, is generally conceived by theists to have a revelatory character.

Supernaturalistic accounts of the miraculous very commonly make reference to supernatural causes, which are thought to play a useful role in the construction of supernatural explanations. However, as we will see in sections 10 and 11, belief in miracles does not obviously commit one to belief in supernatural causes or the efficacy of supernatural explanations.

Naturalism is sometimes further characterized as holding that nature is uniform, which is to say that all events in nature conform to generalizations e. Naturalists do commonly hold this view—confidence in the uniformity of nature is an important part of the scientific enterprise—but strictly speaking this represents an additional metaphysical commitment regarding the nature of the universe and its susceptibility to human understanding.

If nature turns out not to be fully lawlike, this would not require the rejection of naturalism. A failure of uniformity, or what a believer in miracles might refer to as a violation of natural law, would imply only that there are limits to our ability to understand and predict natural phenomena.

Naturalism denies the existence of supernatural entities and denies as well the claim that revelation is capable of providing us with genuine knowledge. Where the supernaturalistic worldview is quite open to the possibility of miracles, naturalism is much less sympathetic, and one might argue that the tenets of naturalism rule out the possibility of miracles altogether; see Lewis Ch.

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Much, of course, depends on how we conceive of miracles, and on what we take their significance to be. One concern we might have with the miraculous would be an apologetic one. By "apologetic" here is meant a defense of the rationality of belief in God. Historically, apologists have pointed to the occurrence of miracles as evidence for theism, which is to say that they have held that scriptural reports of miracles, such as those given in the Bible, provide grounds for belief in God.

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While this argument is not as popular now as it was in the 18th century, the modern conception of the miraculous has been strongly influenced by this apologetic interest. Such an interest puts important constraints on an account of miracles. If we wish to point to a miracle as supporting belief in a supernatural deity, obviously we cannot begin by assuming the supernaturalistic worldview; this would beg the question. If we are trying to persuade a skeptic of God's existence, we are trying to demonstrate to him that there is something beyond or transcending nature, and he will demand to be persuaded on his own terms; we must make use of no assumptions beyond those that are already acknowledged by the naturalistic worldview.

Because the history of modern thought regarding miracles has been strongly influenced by apologetic interests, the emphasis of this entry will be on the apologetic conception of the miraculous—that is, on the concept of miracle as it has been invoked by those who would point to the reports of miracles in scripture as establishing the existence of a supernatural God. It is important to bear in mind, however, that any difficulty associated with this apologetic appeal to miracles does not automatically militate against the reasonableness of belief in miracles generally.

A successful criticism of the apologetic appeal will show at most that a warranted belief in miracles depends on our having independent reasons for rejecting naturalism; again, see Lewis A major concern with the rationality of belief in miracles is with whether we can be justified in believing that a miracle has occurred on the basis of testimony. To determine whether the report of a miracle is credible, we need to consider the reliability of the source.

Are S's reports generally true?

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Clearly if she is known to lie, or to utter falsehoods as jokes, we should be reluctant to believe her. 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. We should also consider whether other reliable and independent witnesses are available to corroborate her report.

We must also ask whether S is herself a witness to E, or is passing on information that was reported to her. If she witnessed the event personally, we may ask a number of questions about her observational powers and the physical circumstances of her observation. There are quite a few things that can go wrong here; for example, S may sincerely report an event as she believed it to occur, but in fact her report is based on a misperception.

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. If it was dark, and the weather was bad, this would have made it difficult for S to have a good view of what was happening. And of course we should not neglect the influence of S's own attitudes on how she interprets what she sees; if she is already inclined to think of the man she reports as walking on water as being someone who is capable of performing such an extraordinary feat, this may color how she understands what she has seen.

By the same token, if we are already inclined to agree with her about this person's remarkable abilities, we will be all the more likely to believe her report. If S is merely passing on the testimony of someone else to the occurrence of E, we may question whether she has properly understood what she was told. She may not be repeating the testimony exactly as it was given to her. And here, too, her own biases may color her understanding of the report. The possibility of distortions entering into testimony grows with each re-telling of the story.

It will be fruitful to consider these elements in evaluating the strength of scriptural testimony to the miracles ascribed to Jesus. The reports of these miracles come from the four gospel accounts. Some of these accounts seem to have borrowed from others, or to have been influenced by a common source; even if this were not the case, they still cannot be claimed to represent independent reports. Assuming they originate with the firsthand testimony of Jesus' followers, these people were closely associated and had the opportunity to discuss among themselves what they had seen before their stories were recorded for posterity.

They were all members of the same religious community, and shared a common perspective as well as common interests. While the gospel accounts tell us that miracles took place in front of hostile witnesses, we do not have the testimony of these witnesses. It is sometimes suggested that these men undertook grave risk by reporting what they did, and they would not have risked their lives for a lie.

But this establishes, at best, only that their reports are sincere; unfortunately, their conviction is not conclusive evidence for the truth of their testimony. We could expect the same conviction from someone who was delusional. Let us consider a particular report of Jesus' resurrection in applying these considerations.

Problems with Hume’s argument against miracles, part 1

Popular apologetic sometimes points to the fact that according to Paul in 1 Corinthians , the resurrected Jesus was seen by five hundred people at once, and that it is highly improbable that so many people would have the experience of seeing Jesus if Jesus were not actually there. After all, it may be argued, they could not have shared a mass hallucination, since hallucinations are typically private; there is no precedent for shared hallucination, and it may seem particularly far-fetched to suppose that a hallucination would be shared among so many people.

Accordingly it may be thought much more likely that Jesus really was there and, assuming there is sufficient evidence that he had died previously to that time, it becomes reasonable to say that he was resurrected from the dead. But let us suppose that Paul means to report that the five hundred saw Jesus in the flesh. Unfortunately we do not have the reports of the five hundred to Jesus' resurrection; we have only Paul's hearsay testimony that Jesus was seen by five hundred. Furthermore Paul does not tell us how this information came to him.

It is possible that he spoke personally to some or all of these five hundred witnesses, but it is also possible that he is repeating testimony that he received from someone else. This opens up the possibility that the report was distorted before it reached Paul; for example, the number of witnesses may have been exaggerated, or the original witnesses may have merely reported feeling Jesus' presence in some way without actually seeing him. For the sake of argument, however, let us suppose that there was at one time a group of five hundred people who were all prepared to testify that they had seen a physically resurrected Jesus. This need not be the result of any supposed mass hallucination; the five hundred might have all seen someone who they came to believe, after discussing it amongst themselves, was Jesus. In such a case, the testimony of the five hundred would be to an experience together with a shared interpretation of it.