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Assess Hume’s Reasons For Rejecting Miracles. (35 Marks)

810 words - 4 pages

Hume was a verificationist and approached miracles from an empirical view, relying on probability as a basis for his reasons for rejecting miracles.

Hume defined miracles as a ‘violation of the laws of nature’, he believed that the laws of nature were set in stone, through the use of a posteriori knowledge Hume identified them as being universal and unchanging. Hume observed that some Biblical miracles, such as Jesus walking on water, violated those laws of nature. He then went on to identify the probability that a violation of these laws could occur, Hume argued that if the probability of an event occurring was low then there was little chance that the miracle had actually occurred. ...view middle of the document...

Thus, he concluded that reports of miracles such as these could not be trusted due to a lack of empirical evidence to support such claims. Secondly, Hume also noted that miracles occur within the ‘barbarous’ periods of history as well in the ‘less civilised societies’; he believed that they occurred in these societies as the lack of education would lead the people to be awed by such events that would possibly be known as natural events in civilised societies. Events such as the Aurora Borealis may have been believed by the uneducated as miracles caused by God as a demonstration of His power and presence within the universe, when the scientific explanation is simply a refraction of particles within the atmosphere. These two practical arguments are reasonable reasons for rejecting miracles, the tendency to lie for personal gain occurs commonly in the world, one example would be of a woman who claimed to have survived 9/11 but was actually in another country during the event. The lack of education is also a valid reason as many miraculous reports come from the medieval period or in the less educated nations across the world, there is a lack of knowledge that prevents people from understanding some natural phenomenon, instead believing them to be a miracle.

Another observation by Hume was...

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