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Identify David Humes understanding of miracles.

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Identify David Humes understanding of miracles The philosopher David Hume has suggested that a miracle can be defined as 'A transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent. This is a definition that has found general acceptance by philosophers today. In other words, according to Hume, a miracle is brought about when some 'invisible agent' affects the working of the universe. It is important to note that this 'invisible agent' does not inevitably point to an act of God, as this 'invisible agent' is not, according to Hume, necessarily the God of traditional theism. To clarify exactly what is meant by a 'transgression' in this context, Richard Swinburne has used Biblical examples such as water turning into wine. ...read more.


However, this is a view held more by a majority than a minority as most theists argue that God governs the world through natural laws. Hick argues that any apparent violation of a natural law can be explained through an exception to that law. In criticism of these, Swinburne shows that events can be unexpected enough in order to be considered violations of what we should normally expect to happen. Hume provides the traditional arguments that can be postulated against the existence of miracles. Hume argues that it is always more likely that the testimony of a miracle is incorrect and that any such testimony is generally unreliable. Hume believes that natural laws have been observed to function on an unaccountable number of occasions and therefore evidence for a miracle would have to outweigh all of this collated evidence for the natural law. ...read more.


Whether one considers the belief in miracles to be strong or otherwise is dependant upon prior beliefs. If one already believes in a God or Gods it would seem reasonable to attribute miracles to them given the properties such as omnipotence which they are said to hold. At this point one may consider the principle of Ockham's razor where a simple and expected cause is the likely explanation for a certain event, it is not justifiable to invent a more complex one, even if it is a possible alternative. For the believer, divine intervention may well be the likely explanation. However, for a non-religious believer the occurrence of miracles would not be considered likely given that the event could be attributed to a variety of alternative explanations. Given the empirical basis of these explanations it would be difficult to consider the case for the existence of miracles as a strong one. ...read more.

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