• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically assess Hume's dismissal of miracles.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Critically assess Hume's dismissal of miracles. In his dismissal of miracles David Hume argued not that miracles were impossible, but that it would be impossible to legitimately prove that one had actually happened. He said, for example, that if one was to say that through miracle a person returned to life after death then this would go against the laws of nature, which have been repeatedly supported over hundreds of years: No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish. (David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748) Or in other words you cannot prove something to be completely reliable unless the alternative to what you are trying to prove is even more implausible. Therefore, if one uses Hume's theory it can be said that one is more likely to be hallucinating than to be experiencing a miracle, which is a direct violation of natural law. ...read more.

Middle

(David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748) Hume's first point then is that those who have previously made claims concerning miracles have not been credible, as they were not of a high enough intelligence and reputation in Hume's eyes. Hume's second and third reasons support his first; the second point states that those who are testifying for a miracle will have 'a natural tendency to suspend their reason and support their claim'1: ...a religionist may be an enthusiast and imagine he sees what has no reality: he may know his narratives to be false, and yet persevere in it...for the sake of promoting a holy cause. (David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748) So in other words those who are testifying for a miracle are so enthusiastic about the existence of the said miracle that they have forgotten all common sense and are deluding themselves about the existence of miracles. The third reason is that he believed most miracles were said to have been observed among 'ignorant and barbarous nations' and therefore should be discounted, as these people are also not reliable sources. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hume said that: In destroying a rival system, it [a miracle] likewise destroys the credit of these miracles, on which that system was established. (David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748) This fourth point can easily be questioned as the premise that all miracles are a mutually exclusive invention of their own religion is not a fact. It is true that miracles cannot be used to support a whole tradition as then all miracles would cancel each other out, but this does not mean that miracles cannot occur objectively. Therefore, when regarding Hume's argument as a whole, it is clear to see that to make the argument more solid Hume needs to go into further detail about his four points. However, there are some points, for example the assertion which states that for a miracle to be true, a certain type of person needs to testify for it, which do not hold up when subjected to scrutiny and therefore on a whole I do not find Hume's dismissal a convincing argument. 1 Philosophy of Religion for A level for OCR, PG 176 Vicki Rounding 11th January 2005 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miracles section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Miracles essays

  1. David Hume and Miracles.

    Hume implies that it is always more reasonable to believe the more probable event. Though it may be more reasonable or reliable to believe in the probable, in actuality there are occasions where the improbable has to be believed. For example, when the duck billed platypus was discovered the zoologists

  2. R.S. Coursework - miracles

    Lourdes or other healing places have been classified as 'miracles', whilst some people believe strongly in them, others are less willing to accept them immediately. They are more cautious about accepting anything as a miracle for they would argue that it takes years even for doctors to proclaim an extraordinary

  1. Miracles. Many people have different views on what a miracle really is. For ...

    At the Pentecost the power of healing was given, as one of the gifts of the Holy Sprit to the disciples. The power of healing as Jesus performed in his time has been transferred or delegated to those who believe in him and gifted, this shows that Jesus is alive

  2. Examine the arguments, which can be used to discredit belief in miracles - In ...

    Due to the long-running debate between philosophers and theologians alike, many insights and different perspectives on the subject of miracles have been proposed over the years. However, nearly every argument has a restriction that is exploited by another statement, and so the debate continues.

  1. Talking about miracles

    something, which is unbelievable like someone who gets cures from an HIV disease. People relate the word miracle to something to do with the miracles of Jesus' weather knowingly or not. An example is if a person gets cured from sickness, survives death e.t.c it is used as an object of wonder, phenomenon, marvel or vision.

  2. The girl in the story was labeled as a girl, which is interesting to ...

    although seemingly naive and emotionally dependent on the older American, actually displays bits of spirit , cunning, and mature insight in her comments and attitude towards her lover that contradict her supposedly idealistic, "dreamer" personality. Although it seems as if it is the older American man who manipulates the young

  1. Discuss the differences and similarities between the two stories concentrating on how they begin ...

    The second story, "The Man Who Could Work Miracles", begins by looking back at events that have already happened in the past, "It is doubtful whether the gift was innate...". From the start, the language is much more complex and harder to understand, as it was written around half a century before 'A Sound of Thunder'.

  2. My Personal Theory on an Afterlife

    This is part of the definition of an ?afterlife?; a being/a ?soul? outside this limited body of ours. So why does it need a body in the first place? Perhaps it needs a body to develop and is unable to leave it until the body dies.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work