David hume on miracles
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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

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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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