MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

102 views

Explain Hume’s Argument Against Miracles

Firstly, we must begin with what Hume defines miracles as. Hume states that a miracle is “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent”. By this, Hume means to suggest that a miracle is a breaking of a law of nature by the choice and action of a God or supernatural power.

Hume sets up this definition in order to counter with five main arguments.

1) “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence”.  Here, Hume means to suggest that a wise man considers which side is supported by the most evidence. Everitt calls this the proportionality principle. For example, if we take the miracle of Jesus walking on water from the bible, Hume would suggest that there is more evidence to support the fact people cannot walk on water rather than the one time that Jesus did, and so we should not believe it.

2) Hume also says that we must choose the lesser miracle. Hume here points to Ockham’s Razor as support for this, which basically states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. In order for a miracle to be true, denial of the miracle would have to be more miraculous than its acceptance. If we took the example of Jesus being resurrected, Hume would suggest that we consider what is more likely: that those making the claim are mistaken, or that Jesus actually came back to life? Here Hume would argue we must logically choose the first option.

3) Hume also suggests that with all claims of miracles made, there is inadequate witness testimony. Witnesses must, according to Hume, be well educated and intelligent. They should have a reputation to lose and nothing to gain from their claim. There must be a “sufficient number” of witnesses in order for a claim to be considered. Hume also states that humans love the fantastic and want to believe in miracles, and believers desire to promote their religion. As a result, Hume argues that many, if not all, claims of miracles in current sources are inadequate and should be dismissed.

4) Following this, Hume also claims that miracles often come from “ignorant and barbarous nations”, making accounts of miracles unreliable. For example, many of the claims of miracles within the bible are made by poor, uneducated fishermen and peasants, which Hume argues is not an adequate source.

5) Finally, Hume argues that miracles in other religions cancel each other out. Miracles from Hinduism or Buddhism, he argues, cancels out those from Christianity of Islam. As such, Hume suggests that instead of picking just one to believe in, we should deny them all.

Patrick S. A Level Philosophy tutor, GCSE Philosophy tutor, A Level P...

3 months ago

Answered by Patrick, an A Level Philosophy tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

16 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Lily B.

Degree: Philosophy and Politics (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Politics+ 7 more

Philosophy
Politics
Philosophy and Ethics
Government and Politics
Geography
Extended Project Qualification
English Literature
English Language

“About Me I am in my final year of a BSc in Philosophy and Politics, discovering that the world is a lot more complicated than I had first presumed! In Philosophy, I am particularly interested in the mind and the artificial intelligenc...”

MyTutor guarantee

£24 /hr

Jack Robert C.

Degree: Masters of Letters in Intellectual History (Masters) - St. Andrews Unversity University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Politics+ 2 more

Philosophy
Politics
History
English

“The beckoning of an authentic life shattered my soul around the age of twelve, falling into anabyss where the light of Philosophy and study of the academic disciplines redeemed my existence and became my redemption. I am now happy in ...”

£20 /hr

Juliet M.

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, History+ 2 more

Philosophy
History
English Literature
Dutch

“Hello! My name is Juliet and I am a philosophy student at Durham University. I also takeEnglish Literature modules as I have a genuine love for reading and writing.I have strong communicative skills and am able to condense informatio...”

About the author

£20 /hr

Patrick S.

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Philosophy and Ethics+ 1 more

Philosophy
Philosophy and Ethics
English Literature

“Having grown up around numerous teachers, I have always had a natural comfort in teaching environments. As a result, it is not surprising that teaching is my long term goal with my degree, or that I have spent much of my time accumula...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Patrick

Critically Analyse Anselm’s First Ontological Argument

Explain Hume’s Argument Against Miracles

Explain Joseph Fletcher’s Approach to Ethics

Explain Paley’s Teleological Argument

Other A Level Philosophy questions

Explain Paley’s Teleological Argument

Why might moral reasoning be a problem for moral non-cognitivism?

To what extent (if any) do your preconceived ideas affect what you see? Is this a problem for foundationalism?

How qualified are you to help me

View A Level Philosophy tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok