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David Hume on miracles. The modern background: David Hume (Scottish, 1711-1776) on miracles ( An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding , 1748) Biographical notes. David Hume on miracles.

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david hume on miracles
David Hume on miracles
  • The modern background: David Hume (Scottish, 1711-1776) on miracles (An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748)
    • Biographical notes

Hume on miracles ~ slide 1

david hume on miracles1
David Hume on miracles
  • Hume’s famous df.: a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature brought about by the volition of a Deity.
  • Hume’s three arguments against the existence of miracles

Hume on miracles ~ slide 2

david hume on miracles2
David Hume on miracles
  • 1. The nature of nature -- the uniformity of nature
  • 2. Problems with testimony
    • Sufficient number of persons
    • The lack of “good sense, education, and learning” of those testifying to miracles

Hume on miracles ~ slide 3

david hume on miracles3
David Hume on miracles
  • Testimony is from those living in “ignorant and barbarous nations,” and not from those living in a “celebrated part of the world” (a consider-the-source type argument)
  • There is a propensity in humankind toward stories about the marvelous, unusual & strange
  • Are many instances of forged miracles

Hume on miracles ~ slide 4

david hume on miracles4
David Hume on miracles

General conclusion to the testimony arguments: Testimony when weighed against our experience loses.

Hume on miracles ~ slide 5

david hume on miracles5
David Hume on miracles
  • 3. A final argument: Religious pluralism & truth

Hume on miracles ~ slide 6

david hume on miracles6
David Hume on miracles
  • Note Hume’s assumption about the foundational role of miracles. “We may establish it as a maxim that no human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle, and make it a just foundation for any such system of religion.”

Hume on miracles ~ slide 7

david hume on miracles7
David Hume on miracles
  • Critical evaluation of Hume’s arguments
    • 1. The foundational assumption
    • 2. Hume’s skepticism about testimony
        • Persons from “ignorant & barbarous nations”

Hume on miracles ~ slide 8

david hume on miracles8
David Hume on miracles
  • 3. Hume’s dilemma: testimony or nature . . . a false dilemma?
  • 4. Does his definition of miracles have anything to do with the biblical notion of miracles?

Hume on miracles ~ slide 9

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