If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Hume on Cause & Effect
You pour water from a glass. You are the cause and the water on the floor is the effect. One without the other makes no sense. Or does it?
Philosophy superstar David Hume said that our belief in cause and effect is lazy thinking. We think that just because we stop feeling thirsty after drinking water that the cause was drinking the water and the effect was the satisfaction of thirst. He wrote, "we cannot penetrate into the reason for the conjunction." He is saying that we do not know what the link, if there is one at all, is.
Believers then ask how he could say miracles do not happen for he denied that we really can know how cause makes the effect.
Hume did not say that miracles are impossible only that it is daft to believe in them. It was the improbability and unbelievability he focused on and based his argument on. The cause and effect material has nothing to do with this.
Also, all religion claims that miracles are based on the notion of cause and effect. All religion teaches that. It is believed that God directly causes a miracle. So God is the cause and the miracle is the effect. Religion does not see the miracle as an uncaused event but as the activity of say God.
If miracles happen out of nowhere and don't need a God or a supernatural power to do them then they are just random magical events. Miracles are useless shows of power if they are not an effect caused by a supernatural cause. We should be frightened to believe in random miracles for who knows what this randomness might bring!
One random event is a collection of events. Every event is a collection of events. So if miracles look like they are following a pattern and give a sensible message that does not mean they are intended. They could still be random in the following sense. A random event (meaning events) could be the creation of a randomness without any pattern or it could be the creation of a pattern. But one is still as random as the other for it came from randomness. A pattern has NOTHING to do with showing something isn't random or causeless.
Is it true that miracles depend on cause and effect? Religion only assumes there is a cause. Perhaps there is no cause!
Chemotherapy treats cancer. Take that as a fact Assuming chemotherapy helps treat cancer is dangerous. It trivialises how good chemotherapy is and trivialises those it has helped. To assume is effectively no better than a denial that it is any good. You might as well deny it. Assuming means you don't know if you think it works or not but choose to act as if it does.
The believers as good as deny cause and effect in desperation to make miracles look credible. They as good as deny they believe in the very cause and effect they believe in. Would you trust such people?
The religionist should say miracles might depend on it and they might not. The religionist has no right to say they do depend. Religion says they do depend so religion is just built on half-truth.
Are miracles claiming to be evidence that cause and effect really is lazy thinking? The answer is yes even if we do not see that implication. It is still there. We need to reject the notion of miracles in order to have a working hypothesis of nature. We need to assume that nature is not altered by supernatural forces. We need to assume cause and effect.
Hume asserted that the thought that the future will always be like the past is lazy thinking. If I say that aspirin cures my headache, I am saying it because I perceive it has happened and so it will happen if I take a pill now.
Religion pounces on that to say, "Then if dead men stay dead in the past, that doesn't mean God can raise a man from the dead right now". But Hume is not even thinking of the supernatural here but only what nature itself says. Hume's assertion does not challenge natural cause and effect only that we know what effects will come. What he means is, the past always shows change so you cannot say the future will be like the past. So instead of thinking the future will be like the past realise that the only sense in which that is true is that the future can keep changing. Nothing else.
David Hume declares that if causes and effects exist then "causes and effects are discoverable, not by reason, but by experience". So he uses this idea to say that we cannot be rational and believe in miracles. We see by experience that dead people stay dead. Thus a follower of this principle tends to say we should not believe that Jesus Christ rose. He disputes not the resurrection but its believability. Let's rephrase. It is not saying that Jesus didn't rise. It is only saying that if he did, and if there is evidence, we still cannot believe. There are things we cannot be expected to believe and that is one of those things. If miracles and magic don't fall into that category then nothing does.
Christians object that if science makes a new discovery contradicting previous scientific positions, then Hume's argument forbids us to accept the new discovery. But the answer is that we are still not getting away from past experience but from our interpretation of that experience. People decades ago thought a brick was solid. We now know its mostly empty space. We always knew that our senses could tell us something was solid when it was not. It is not true that our past experience told us the brick was solid but only that we perceived it to be.
There is a world of difference between saying a strange or unexpected event is magical/miraculous or natural. We know that we must expect unexpected things within nature! The Christian objection deliberately misses that point.
Even if cause and effect is demanded by reason then it is still accepted by us largely because of experience and not reason. Nobody is really able to tell you that it must happen and lay out the logical reasons.
That shows that our nature is to accept that past experience proves that a miracle is unlikely and so we are entitled not to believe and unentitled to believe. To believe in a miracle requires a bit of self-corruption.
There are no errors at all in Hume's reasoning.