The central claim that Hume is trying to make is that no testimony given by a person can establish a miracle. Hume explains how a miracle may exist, “Unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous” (Enquiry X.1, p. 77). Hume believes that the only way a miracle may occur is if the falsehood of the testimony would be a greater miracle, which is not possible to occur. Human testimony has no real connection with any miraculous event. Experience is what provides the ability for humans to believe in something. Experience provides truth, remembrance, and dismisses false statements when they are presented. The only way a miracle can exist is if the testimony given by the person could actually establish a miracle, which to Hume is not probable.
Hume states that proof derives from past experience, and probability is the result of opposed experiences, “And as the evidence, derived from witnesses and human testimony, is founded on past experience, so it varies with the experience, and is regarded either as a proof or a probability, according as the conjunction between any particular kind of report” (Enquiry X.1, p. 73-74). To Hume, the probability of something occurring in contradiction to all uniform experiences must always be judged to be less than the probability that the senses are deceiving ...
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...een observed” (Enquiry X.1, p. 77). To Hume, the laws of nature are things based on uniform experience, things that have previously happened, and will always occur. Now a violation of nature is something that does not always happen, for example, a rock not falling to the ground after a person lets go of it. So a miracle is something that is not expected to happen, or has never happened before. Following these premises, Hume says that a dead man coming back to life is a miracle; because it has never been observed is sort of ridiculous. People do not just sit and observe dead people coming back to life, because they know it just will not happen. This is a flaw in Hume's argument that I believe damages his point.
Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. 2nd edition. Eric Steinberg, ed.
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1993 .
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