David humes argument against the belief in miracles

Search The Argument from Miracles Miracles have traditionally been taken as validations of religious claims. His resurrection from the dead was the greatest of these miracles, and is still frequently taken today to be a solid reason for believing in the existence of God. Setting aside the question as to just how strong the evidence for the resurrection, or for any of the other miracles reported in the New Testament, is, religious sceptics frequently cite David Hume as having undermined any such argument for belief in the existence of God. According to Hume, no matter how strong the evidence for a specific miracle may be, it will always be more rational to reject the miracle than to believe in it.

David humes argument against the belief in miracles

The simplest and easiest to understand of all the arguments ever offered by believers is the Argument from Design. The argument is remarkably simple.

Of Miracles - Wikipedia

It goes as follows: The existence of a suit implies the existence of the tailor who made the suit. The existence of a poem on a piece of paper implies the existence of the poet who created that poem.

In other words, the suit itself is the proof of the existence of the intelligent creator of the suit, no other evidence is necessary. There are levels of design, sophistication, and functional complexity that the human mind simply refuses to accept could be accounted for by any undirected process.

How to precisely define such levels is not our topic of discussion. It is clear, however, that a suit and poem by Robert Frost, and a living bacterium, are certainly well over that line.

The entire plot of the classic film, A Space Odyssey is based on this obvious principle. At a dramatic moment in the film, when a rectangular monolith is discovered buried on the moon, it is clear to those who discover it and accepted as absolutely logical and reasonable by everyone watching the movie that this is unmistakable proof of alien life.

After all, a precisely measured monolith couldn't possibly have made itself or "evolved naturally. Does the incontrovertibly true Argument from Design apply to living organisms? The human body is an incredible piece of machinery; who put it together? It certainly required a great deal more sophistication to build a human being than to construct a rectangular monolith.

David humes argument against the belief in miracles

The existence of highly sophisticated living organisms implies a highly sophisticated designer of these organisms. Believers call this designer, the Creator or God.

David humes argument against the belief in miracles

What could possibly be the flaw in such an argument? Nobody Disagrees With "The Argument from Design" Before we actually deal with the objections raised by atheists and skeptics, I want to stress: Nobody disagrees with the Argument from Design.

There is nobody in his right mind who does not understand that the existence of the suit itself proves the existence of the tailor who made the suit and that the poem itself proves the existence of the author of that poem.

In the debate between skeptics and believers the disagreement is not about the validity of the Argument from Design. The argument itself is undeniably true. The point of contention is the following: Skeptics raise two basic objections to applying the Argument from Design to the world of living systems: We will deal with both.

Frank Sonleitner and Dr. Julian Baggini claim that Hume's philosophy invalidates any attempt to apply the Argument from Design to the living world: Norman Kemp Smith, late professor of metaphysics at Edinburgh, in his introduction to Hume, explicitly points out that organisms are not like designed, manufactured objects.

Sonleitner, NCSE Website Furthermore, as David Hume points out, we can only hypothesize [a designer of a watch], because we know by experience what the cause of watches are.

We have no experience of causes of the universe, so we are not justified in making any assumption about who or what they might be. Will any man tell me with a serious contrivance that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and art To ascertain this reasoning, it were requisite, that we had experience of the origin of worlds We are not discussing the "causes of the universe" or the "origin of worlds," i.

Let me give a few simple examples. The Filter and the Pump — Most Definitely Within Our Experience Suppose someone is unfortunate enough to suffer from impaired kidneys and must be hooked up to a dialysis machine several times a week. The sympathetic engineer tells him that our current technology is unable to produce such a device and the best we have to offer is the dialysis machine.

Experience teaches us that highly sophisticated filtering devices do not make themselves, any more than suits make themselves.

It would be foolish to suggest that the construction of the filtering device we call a kidney is out of our experience when we actually build kidneys; we just call them dialysis machines. They perform the exact same function as real kidneys, which are essentially nothing more than highly sophisticated filters, except that we experience and understand them well enough to know that they are primitive compared to an actual kidney.Atheism, Baggini, p.

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume (Penguin Classics, ) p. For arguments sake I am assuming that Hume's argument makes sense. Note that this is not an argument against the possibility of miracles; Hume’s conclusion is not that miracles do not happen.

Rather, his conclusion is that no evidence is sufficient to establish that a miracle has occurred, that even if a miracle has occurred we ought not to believe . David Hume (Hume /; cf. Voltaire / ) famously defined a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature,” and this definition has been the focus of lively discussion ever since.

Hume's argument is actually directed against testimony-based belief in the miraculous, although others have extended the argument to the case of miracles directly experienced. It proceeds by two steps.

Levine argues that Hume’s miracles argument cannot be read independently of his treatment of causation, and that the two are inconsistent.

Featured Stores

Nevertheless, a Humean argument can be made against belief in the miraculous. Livingston, Donald W. Hume’s Philosophy of Common Life. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific argument for the existence of God, presented by its proponents as "an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins".

Proponents claim that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." ID is a form of creationism that lacks empirical.

Hume, David: Religion | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy