If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
David Hume's Case Against Miracles
A miracle is an event that is not naturally possible. It is supernatural. The supernatural makes it possible. The alternative is to think that only natural things happen.
David Hume contended that regardless of whether miracles happen or not it is irrational to believe in them. They are not believable.
The Christians look at the wording used by the David Hume. Then they resort to manipulation to try and make it look ridiculous. Their rejection is not based on what Hume meant but on their distortions.
Let us spell it all out.
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature
Wilful Christian Distortion
He is claiming that a miracle is impossible by definition for its a violation of nature. He defines miracles so as to make them look stupid. It is a straw man approach.
The True Meaning
He is not saying that a violation of the laws of nature is impossible. He is basing his case against the believability of miracles on how unlikely they are not on his definition of a miracle. If he uses the wrong definition then his argument is still valid.What of the following thoughts?
"If there is no God, a violation might happen. If there is a God a violation cannot happen. Why? God alone originates all things and all events. It is contradictory to say a God has arranged how things will be and then has to fight those laws to make even a brief change."
So if there is a supernatural God there can be no violation. But the reality is that if there is no supernatural at all, a violation still cannot happen. A new law appearing or coming into action that makes it all different is not a violation of the laws that already exist. It is not a violation for every event is just different laws, some stronger than others, at work. If the temperature is huge then spilling water on the floor will be impossible for it will evaporate before it hits the floor. So the heat is a bigger thing than the water making it to the floor. Laws working against each other is not a violation for each law is about working against other laws.
God has to set up laws - nature will work this way and not that way. To do a miracle, he is said not to break his own laws but to make an exception to them. The exception will have to prove the rule so the miracle must be done for extremely good reasons. One reason will be to provide really good evidence for the existence of a miraculous God. You would need to have an explanation for the exception. No such explanations for miracles are even attempted. Christian say that you cannot know God's reasons. But if he wants us to believe in miracles he has to tell us - period.
What Hume is saying about miracle so far matches the Christian view.
the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.
Wilful Christian Distortion
He is saying that past experience tells us what natural law is. But this is stupid. Just because nobody ran at x speed before in a race in the past does not mean nobody can do it now.
The True Meaning
He is not talking about unique natural events - every event is unique but about events that are magical such as somebody running a hundred miles in two minutes.
Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a miracle to prevent them?
Wilful Christian Distortion
He is being biased - he is saying that a natural explanation is always more likely than a miracle. He does not consider the fact that there might be good evidence for at least some miracles.
The True Meaning
Hume is discussing the assumptions we must make before we start considering evidence so that we can believe what the evidence points to. There is nothing biased about that. In fact it is what makes him unbiased. Evidence requires that you make some assumptions about what evidence is. To recognise that x stole from your purse you have to assume that no alien did it invisibly with some super-science and that no demon made you think x did it. Evidence by its nature is anti-supernatural. Evidence is what you get when you assume there is no supernatural interference. The Christians say Hume is biased and should believe in miracles if the evidence is good enough. But that is contradictory when evidence is presuming miracles don't happen!The Christians accuse Hume of saying evidence for miracles does not make them credible just because he doesn't want to believe. They lie about his motive.
The Christians do not really believe their objection to Hume. When a criminal says that a witch planted the evidence pointing to him as the bad guy and that he is innocent of any crime, the Christian does not start saying, "Let us see what evidence there is that he is telling the truth." The Christian simply dismisses his claim. The Christian holds that under natural law it must be assumed that he is lying or mistaken.
It is far more important to investigate a miracle claim made by a criminal like that than it is to investigate a miracle claim by some girl that the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared to her. Why? Because an innocent man may be found guilty and condemned for something a miracle was to blame for. Somebody gets hurt.
The Christian is more concerned about wanting to believe that God puts his stamp on Christian doctrine by doing miracles to show the doctrine is true and more concerned about getting people impressed by the religion and amazed than goodness and honesty. The people that run to apparition sites do not go to help the sick - even if they do help the sick. There are sick people in other places and they don't bother with them. It is really the magic and the experience of magic they are after.
The Christian only takes miracle reports seriously when he wants to. The harm done by not investigating the criminal's claim is irrelevant to him. The Christian cares about winning the religious argument more than anyone or anything.
If you investigate a claim that a girl saw the Virgin, then you should investigate the criminal's claim. The latter should be prioritised. Imagine what that would do to the world? Every criminal would be saying that demons or aliens or witches set him up. The implication is sufficient to show why miracles should not be believed or countenanced and should not be sought. They are a licence to complete madness. If the believer does not go that far, then he becomes a hypocrite. He loses any right to criticise the mad miracle beliefs of others that he disagrees with.
But once you permit belief in miracles or endorse it, you have no choice but to take the consequences. You have no right to say that considering the criminal's claim is not an option because it will be disastrous. If the criminal has a point then it is not disastrous but rather very difficult. You cannot argue that it is wrong to give the criminal a sincere hearing regarding the supernatural claims just because it is difficult or dangerous. Claims being difficult or dangerous do not make them untrue.
It is fair to say that even if the evidence for a miracle is convincing it is actually not enough. But surely it's contradictory to say a miracle is both convincing and not? Surely that is biased? Not as long as we see that there can be evidence for things that are not true.
We can admit that the evidence is good for a prince having been turned into a toad but we will still not take that as justification for thinking it really happened. Even religion agrees with us sceptics on that.
There is evidence for miracles that are rejected by the Church that is good as (and often better than) the evidence for the miracles that are accepted. If the miracle believer is honest, then he admits that there is evidence for one alleged miracle that contradicts that for another. For example, two apparitions of the Virgin Mary may give opposite messages. If miracles are signs from God about what religion or version of faith is true then he does not agree with himself!
The absurd consequences of belief in miracles warns us to beware them. Believe in them only as a last resort. Thankfully we never reach that last resort.
APPENDIX: THE GOD DEBATE BY LENNOX
The God Debate: A New Look at History's Oldest Argument
This Christian book by obfuscator Professor Lennox claims that Hume stated miracles don't happen for they are contradicted by natural law. That is a Christian lie. Anyway supposing the book is spot on. It argues that Hume confused uniformity with absolute uniformity.
What we are not told is that uniformity could be enough to make miracles unbelievable. You don't need to presuppose absolute uniformity if you want to show miracles are too much to believe in.
And if nature is not absolutely uniform then you cannot know if a claimed miracle was a fluke of nature or really a miracle.
Hume presumably argued that a miracle must be a pure once-off to be a miracle. Because Hume reportedly says that a miracle by definition is unprecedented, we cannot believe a miracle even if it really happens because it is so improbable.
Lennox is trying to make Hume look daft. Hume never said that. For Hume a brick floating in mid-air once every year is still to be suspected as a trick for bricks PROBABLY should not do that.
The book then repeats Lennox's allegation that Hume is merely inventing a definition of miracles that rules out the possibility of believing in miracles. Hume is accused of assuming that miracles are unbelievable and of being guilty of assuming what he wants to prove.
But Lennox does not really believe Hume is doing wrong. Does Lennox want to accuse those who say that miraculous trolls are improbable of bias? Life is not worth living if we are going to consider everybody to be irrational because there are many miracles they will not consider to be possible.
Also, Lennox is accusing Hume of saying nature is absolutely uniform so miracles cannot happen. But even if Hume did, his argument was not about miracles being impossible but about them being improbable. Hume did spell out when it is sensible to believe in miracles. It is not true that he reasoned that miracles don't happen therefore they don't happen.
It is not fair to accuse Hume of defining miracles as unbelievable and that he is guilty of assuming that they are unbelievable when that is the very thing that needs proving. Hume only said that because of the problem of human error and bias and lying it is not that simple. It is reasonable to hold that somebody who reportedly takes a ride in an alien spaceship is mistaken or lying. It is mistaken to believe them. Also, people do lie when they must know everybody knows they are doing it. Imagine how the tendency to lie could be stronger when the person tells a supernatural lie for that cannot be found out. You cannot prove that the person who claims visions of Jesus is lying. The supernatural cannot be disproved.
Later in the book, Lennox's distinction between miracle and supernatural is made. Lennox says that creation of all things from nothing is supernatural but not miraculous. Ghosts and possession by demons are supernatural but not miraculous. Lennox says that the miraculous will always be supernatural but he insists that not all that is supernatural is miraculous.
Lennox then by his definition cannot prove that the resurrection of Jesus was miraculous. Perhaps the people who met him after his death had supernatural experiences? His argument seems to be that though the supernatural makes all things, it is only when the supernatural is trying to give a religious message from God that it can be called a miracle. But what about the fact that the best miracle tales give no such message? They portray themselves as just happening!!
If ghosts and demonic possession are not miracles they can simulate miracles. Lennox does not and will not tell us that!!
The book says that Hume believed that if a miracle is unprecedented in one generation it needs to be performed in the next generation so that it can be unprecedented to it too.
Hume said none of that and it contradicts Lennox's allegation that for Hume a miracle is a total once-off. If a miracle gives you a great spiritual message then why is the miracle so important? Why can't the message be bigger than the miracle meaning you don't need a repeat of the miracle in every generation?
Hume said miracles may happen but if they do they are not believable for they are so strange and rare and can be believed if the evidence is good enough but it sadly never is. We follow this rule not just in miracles but in all strange things. For example, if an old man looked 20 we would keep the same rule. We would not believe he is really old even if he has papers. There is nothing wrong with any of that. Lennox and Co are lying about what Hume believed. They see nothing wrong with his view and so they have to make a laughing stock of it.
The Bible should give an argument like Hume's and refute it. It doesn't. This ruins its credibility and its miracle tales. The argument is fundamental.