MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

168 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...

4 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

17 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£26 /hr

Jonathan A.

Degree: Economics (Masters) - University College London University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Maths+ 4 more

Philosophy
Maths
Government and Politics
Economics
.TSA. Oxford.
-Oxbridge Preparation-

“About Me: I am studying for an MSc in Economics at University College London.  I did my undergraduate degree in Oxford studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and as a result amfamiliar with the tutorial system from the student's...”

£20 /hr

Charlie H.

Degree: Social and Public Policy, Philosophy and Sociology (Masters) - Glasgow University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Sociology+ 2 more

Philosophy
Sociology
Religious Studies
Extended Project Qualification

“About Me: Hi, my name is Charlie and I am a MA Social and Public Policy, Sociology and Philosophy student at the University of Glasgow.  I have always had a passion for the subjects that I learn (both in my degree and at high school),...”

MyTutor guarantee

£20 /hr

Katie R.

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - University College London University

Subjects offered: Philosophy, Religious Studies+ 2 more

Philosophy
Religious Studies
Philosophy and Ethics
.TSA. Oxford.

“Hello! My name is Katie and I'm currently an undergraduate studying Philosophy at University College London. My academic interests include philosophy of language, and political philosophy. I am a friendly, approachable person and I ha...”

MyTutor guarantee

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

What is the logical problem of evil?

What is the ‘is-ought’ fallacy?

What is the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness?

Explain and illustrate two reasons for holding the view that at birth the mind is a tabula rasa (blank slate). [15 marks]

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