SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
WHY WE SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK OUT MIRACLE STORIES CAREFULLY AND NOT TAKE EVIDENCE OR TESTIMONY FOR THEM FOR GRANTED
David Hume did not tell us to reject all miracles. He said he knew of no convincing ones and warned we must check out miracle stories carefully for it is easy for people to make mistakes or tell lies. It is only people who don't want a very high standard, the same standard you would need to show a mother is unfit to raise her child, who try to lie and distort his wisdom.
Hume has been taken to task for his assertion that the uniformity of experience shows that we should not accept that miracles are true. He is accused of saying that what we normally experience is what we will always experience. This is regarded as dismissing miracles and is seen as unfair. We are told he should in fact say that experience does show us what usually happens but perhaps there are exceptions even if we don’t know what they are. In fact that is what he said. If you have a high standard for checking miracle claims you are tacitly admitting there is a lot of improbability there. Improbability not impossibility.
The not knowing of genuine miracles means that if you witness a man rising from the dead you have to affirm that maybe another and bigger miracle has killed him. Or maybe this rising was a paranormal or occult deception. Confessing miracles happen does not get you far. It leads to more confusion not less.
It is easier and wiser to assume an error or a lie when reliable Ann reports a miracle. Nobody is totally reliable. Not only that it is natural to do so. For you to believe her, you have to attempt a miracle of a kind on yourself. You have to override the easiness of her being wrong. And the likelihood that she is wrong. That is the relevant miracle.
Hume knows that you cannot just assume there is no evidence for miracles without looking. He is not begging the question. All he said was even if it is true that somebody did turn porridge into custard one morning you need to see this for yourself and you cannot now and that is why their testimony is not enough. He pointed out we do this already except when there are miracle claims we have a biased affection for. The believer in the rising of Jesus or the coming of the Koran by an angel is being a Hume with all miracles barring one.
If hypothetically Hume meant that a wise person will never believe a miracle even a true one for that person is confident that nature doesn’t let alterations in the form of miracles happen but works like a fixed system, that may be seen as overstating. He could say that we must neither believe or disbelieve but not dismiss any evidence either way but look at it. The fact remains that you do not “have” to believe in any miracle. And nobody can tell you what one to believe in. You simply cannot obsess about persuading people to believe in the resurrection of Jesus when there might be a better miracle out there. Not all miracle claims go against our experience that miracles are very unlikely to the same extent. For example, Jo's acne vanishing in minutes does not have the same unlikeliness that Jo rising from the dead would have.
Also you can present the evidence for a miracle and there is nothing wrong with this even if you think it is not enough to warrant you to believe. There is a subtle weaponising of miracles by religion to try and impel you to believe. Don't give in.
All Hume is demonised for by Christian philosophers is for saying in his roundabout way that you let the evidence tell you if miracles happen and then decide to believe on the basis of evidence. His point is that the evidence is never good enough as far as he can tell. He is not saying it is impossible for him to come across a miracle tomorrow that does have suitable evidence.
Many say that our uniform experience shows not that miracles don’t happen but that we should not believe in them. Uniform experience does not mean we cannot make room for people breaking records that have not been done before or cannot recognise any new discovery. It means recognising how patterns that underpin all these things do not change. A brick does not float in mid-air by itself. That would be a miracle if it did happen. Science making a brick float is not a miracle but using natural laws to do it. The patterns allow for surprises and using the rules not to break but to overrule the rules but not miracles. Nobody is saying and nobody can really mean it when they say, “What we normally experience is what we will always experience and there will be no departures from the norm. There will be no exceptions.”
You can say that experience says that to you. And it does. So natural anomalies can be believed in. Miracles are outside of this world altogether and we should not believe in them even if we don't reject them either. Stay on the fence.
Why is it you only consider something in history to be a miracle when somebody says it is? What if we had a New Testament that merely said Jesus was taken down from the cross and buried and then jumps to him being alive after? We would just leave it at that. Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not belief in the resurrection but choosing to go along with what somebody says about it. It is not about Jesus then in that respect.
Hume would have seen the suggestion, "You have your theory. It is preferable to have a way of showing it is false. It is a good way of concentrating on good theories instead of bad ones" as a good help. Anything that just avoids it is one thing but something that immunises itself from it like religion does is another.
This is the Falsification Principle of Karl Hopper. He saw theories as predictions. If you treat your theory as saying what will happen you keep looking for ways to prove it wrong. As long as it stands it remains acceptable but only as long as it stands. This proves to be a good tool for dividing real science from fake science.
Popper argued that if your experiments show x to be true you need to know how you could show this to be false. If there is no problem with falsifying it, if it holds its own against experiments that might show it false, then you regard it as valid until it does end up disproven which will hopefully be never.
Popper is said to have endangered science by saying that a theory is only good if it can be shown false and passes the negative test but this rules out the Law of Universal Gravitation. It cannot be falsified and there are other laws of science the same. The answer to this is that it remains undeniable that his principle gives a good if rather fuzzy guideline. It gives us enough for us to suspend faith in the resurrection of Jesus.
Extraordinary evidence does not mean you need a new miracle to tell you about a miracle that has happened. It does not mean that the miracle that was reported must repeat itself for you either. It means evidence on the level that say a vaccine works, that John is Dina's fifth cousin at most and so on. That is not a big ask.
Religion with its miracles cannot meet that but that does not stop it trying to get access to influence children in school unduly and take people's money. The time and energy is spent on garnering money and power instead of evidence for its faith claims.
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