Hume on Miracles Essay
When asked the question whether it is reasonable to believe that a miracle has occurred based on the testimony of other people, David Hume will always answer no.This paper will discuss why Hume feels it is unreasonable to believe in the occurrence of a miracle based on the testimony of others.Then, I will discuss and support reasons for believing in miracles using circumstances surrounding the testimony and the context of the testimony.
“A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined” (710).Hume argues that it is unreasonable to believe in the occurrence of a miracle based on the testimony of others because neither the reliability of laws of nature nor the reliability of human testimony is relations of ideas, or 100% certain.He is not claiming that a miracle could not take place because this would contradict the Matters of Fact argument.God is omnipotent and can, therefore, suspend the laws of nature.However, he is claiming that people should be skeptical about believing the testimony of others because of the possibility of an ulterior motive behind sharing the testimony.Why is the person telling the testimony?Is it because they want to deceive others?If so, what will they gain by deceiving !
others?Or maybe the person thought a miracle occurred because he was deceived by his senses. Hume argues that “if a civilized people has ever given admission to [a miracle], that people will be found to have received them from ignorant and barbarous ancestors, who transmitted them with that inviolable sanction and authority, which always attend received opinions” (711).This argument expresses his view that people believe in miracles because of what someone in the past has told them, whether they believe in the miracle…