The 18th century philosopher David Hume claimed that there had never been credible testimony offered by anyone claiming they witnessed a miracle

The 18th century philosopher David Hume claimed that there had never been credible testimony offered by anyone claiming they witnessed a miracle. Hume’s argument regarding the improbability of miracles is fallacious. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), Hume attempts to fortify his stance but uses a cartesian circle, and thereby does not wholly prove against the existence of miracles.
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. Hume’s resistance to the teleological contention for God’s presence, the contention from design, is for the most part viewed as the most intellectual endeavor to disprove the argument prior to Darwinism.
I would like to define a few terms before I start. Merriam-Webster defines a testimony as a “firsthand authentication of a fact”. It defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs”.
American evangelical theologian Norman Geisler defines a miracle as a “divine intervention into, or an interruption of, the regular course of the world that produces a purposeful but unusual event that would not (or could not) have occurred otherwise (13)” in his book Miracles and Modern Thought. In Miracles by C.S. Lewis, he defines a miracle as “an interference with Nature by supernatural power (15).” Cowan and Spiegel in The Love of Wisdom define miracles as “events that inspire awe and amazement (308).” Hume defines a miracle as “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Hume has two arguments against miracles in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, with the first being the argument of the credibility of witnesses and the second being in the event that any miracles have ever had credible witnesses.
For the first argument, Hume easily dismisses the eyewitness of miracles challenging the reliability and credibility of testimony because of the fact that they can serve as a faulty source of knowledge. His argument begins with the view that a wise person always believes what is most probable. “A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence (Hume 106).” Hume asserts that it is more plausible that the testimony is false than the possibility of a miracle happening. He says that experience is the “only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact (105).” He likewise contends that miracles exist primarily among the ignorant. “It forms strong presumption against all supernatural and miraculous relations that they are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous nations.” He goes further with the idea that if someone testifies about a miracle, they “received them from ignorant and barbarous ancestors…” Further, “the advantages are so great of starting an imposture among ignorant people that . . . it has a much better chance for succeeding in remote countries than if the first scene had been laid in a city renowned for arts and knowledge (126).” Another argument by Hume is that “there is no testimony for an alleged miracle that is not opposed by an infinite number of witnesses . . . ” Miracles have a self-canceling nature. He sums up his argument saying
“Upon the whole, then, it appears that no testimony for any kind of miracle has ever amounted to a probability, much less to a proof.” Further, “even supposing it amounted to a proof, it would be opposed by another proof derived from the very nature of the fact which it would endeavor to establish. (123)”
With a specific end goal to perceive some occasion as a miracle, there must be some apparent normality to which that occasion is an evident exemption. You can’t perceive something as strange if you do not know what is normal.
It is no miracle that a healthy man should die unexpectedly claiming that regularly can happen, “but it is a miracle, which a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event; otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. . .(110)” How can Hume claim uniform experience against miracles? To realize that experience against miracles is completely uniform, he would need to know everything in the universe, which is impossible. Therefore, Hume cannot know for sure if miracles have or have not occurred by his logic.
What would it take for Hume to accept a testimony? Hume allows on a basic level that one may acknowledge witnesses who were unquestionably reliable, claiming public events, and would have much to lose by lying; yet researchers take note that in practice, he rejects individual testimonies that, so far as anybody can perceive by means of ordinary methods for inquiry, would meet this very rule. He is hypocritical to the point that he talks in regard to how he would accept testimonies for things such as water freezing but not miracles. Does he have prejudice against miracles? Naturalism is the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world. His naturalistic bias is very evident because he would not allow any amount of evidence to support a miracle
A final confrontation against David Hume comes from the New Testament and the authenticity of the miracles performed. Hume says “there is not to be found, in all history, any miracle attested by a sufficient number of men of such unquestioned good-sense, education, and learning as to secure us against all delusion in themselves”. Nor are there enough witnesses of “such undoubted integrity, as to place them beyond all suspicion of any design to deceive others.” No witnesses are “of such credit and reputation in the eyes of mankind, as to have a great deal to lose in case of their being detected in any falsehood.” The disciples quickly come to mind as examples that prove this reasoning wrong. The apostles had everything to lose if they were lying in regard to the resurrection of Jesus. If they were found to be lying, they would surely have been put to death. “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (Matthew 19:27)” Not just on the resurrection of Jesus, most of what we believe about Christianity would not be true based on the premises of Hume, as most of what we know and believe comes from one source, the Bible. Craig Keener in Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Account says that “Virtually all historical claims depend on interpreted testimony and other interpretations of evidence; most of us would not for that reason discard any possibility of inferring information about some past events based on our extant sources”. If Hume’s views were used as the basis for all knowledge, we would not have the scientific advances that we have today. Things like our legal system and our courts would not be a possible solution to solving crimes because if we can not accept testimonies, we would not be able to have any knowledge. His views are not conducive to a progressive world in all areas such as science and knowledge.
Hume claimed that there had never been credible testimony offered by anyone claiming they witnessed a miracle. He fails to fortify his stance by using a cartesian circle. Many of his arguments were contradictive such as that we can accept testimonies for some events but not for others. His defenses were easy to breakdown and disprove from a Christian perspective. Due to this, Hume does not wholly prove against the existence of miracles.

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