David Hume's Argument Against Belief in the Existence of Miracles Essay

David Hume's Argument Against Belief in the Existence of Miracles Essay

Length: 1988 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

David Hume was a British empiricist, meaning he believed all knowledge comes through the senses. He argued against the existence of innate ideas, stating that humans have knowledge only of things which they directly experience. These claims have a major impact on his argument against the existence of miracles, and in this essay I will explain and critically evaluate this argument.

In his discussion 'Of Miracles' in Section X of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Hume defines a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws”1. Basically a miracle is something that happens which is contrary to what would happen given the structure of the universe. He also states that a miracle is a “transgression of a law of nature by a particular volation of the deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent”2. Hume argues that it is impossible to deduce the existence of a deity from the existence of the world, and that causes cannot be determined from effects.

One of the most important aspects of Hume's argument is his understanding of probability. Hume states that belief is often a result of probability in that we believe an event that has occurred most often as being most likely. In relation to miracles this suggests that miraculous events should be labelled as a miracle only where it would be even more unbelievable for it not to be. This is Hume's argument in Part 1 Of Miracles, he states that if somebody tells you that a miracle has occurred you do not have to physically go out and look at the evidence to determine it, all you really need to do is consider the concept of the miracle and if it is a violation of the laws of nature, we have to reason in acco...


... middle of paper ...


...
Works Cited

Beuchamp, Tom (ed), David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ( Oxford University Press 1999).

Bricke, John, Mind and Morality, (Clarendon Press Oxford 1996).

Geivett, R Douglas & Habermas, R Gary, In Defense Of Miracles, (InterVarsity Press, 1997).

Houston, J, Reported Miracles- A Critique of Hume, (Cambridge University Press 1994).

McGrew, Timothy, "Miracles", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Norton, David (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Hume, (Cambridge University Press 1993)

Taylor, Christopher, PY2901 Lecture , Lecture Handout (St Andrews 2011).

http://www.humesociety.org/hs/issues/v16n1/fogelin/fogelin-v16n1.pdf

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/victor_reppert/miracles.html

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Existence Of God 's Existence Essay examples

- The existence of God has been an ongoing question that almost everyone has been searching for an answer.Back in the day when the idea of God was the centre of everyones conversation , Philosophers/Scientist began to argue of God’s existence and what God was like.With little knowledge and evidence to study whether God was real or not people came to realize that after years and years there was just not enough to justify either side which is why one should keep an open mind on topics like this.Our minds are still developing and there are such complex things out there that one day we hope to find a definite answer for.There is going to be objections that discuss on why other philosophers don '...   [tags: Existence, God, Theology, Logic]

Term Papers
1259 words (3.6 pages)

The Argument For The Ontological Argument Essay

- For many, the idea of existence as a predicate causes issues for the ontological argument. In the argument Anselm states that God is a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and using logic he comes to the conclusion that God must exist by definition. This can be seen as strength to the argument as if it is a valid deduction it proves God’s existence to an atheist as well as a believer. However, Kant counters this argument by saying that existence could not be a predicate of anything....   [tags: Ontology, Ontological argument, Existence]

Term Papers
1297 words (3.7 pages)

David Hume on the Existence of Miracles Essay

- In this paper I will look at David Hume’s (1711-1776) discussion from the An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Of Miracles regarding whether it is a reasonable assumption to believe in the existence of miracles. I will first discuss why the existence of miracles matters and how miracles relate to our understanding of the laws of nature. Secondly, I will look at how Hume argues that it is never reasonable to believe in miracles. I will then provide objections to this argument which I feel support the idea that belief is not only reasonable but a necessary condition for a faithful life....   [tags: phylosphical analysis]

Term Papers
1462 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on God 's Existence Of God

- ... The concept of evil is the primary argument that gives an account that there 's no prove that God exists. Its miles stated from the subsequent 3 arguments that the lifestyles of God cannot be true so the first one states that; evil is there and but God has the ability to save you it from taking place. The second argument that helps the un existence of God is argued from the point that he isn 't all loving because he has left evil to occupy the character of people. The 0.33 assertion that argues out the inexistence of God is that he isn 't always customary because he cannot save you evil and but he has the hobby of doing so....   [tags: Ontology, Existence, Metaphysics, Logic]

Term Papers
1126 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

-      In Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion we are introduced to three characters that serve the purpose to debate God and his nature, more specifically, what can mankind infer about God and his nature. The three characters; Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes all engage in a debate concerning this question and they all serve the purpose of supporting their views on the subject. It is the “argument from design” put forth by Cleanthes that is the focal point of the discussion, and it is Demea and Philo who attempt to discredit it....   [tags: Hume Religious Essays]

Term Papers
1522 words (4.3 pages)

Essay about The Absurdity Of A Simple Time Telling Device

- The intricacy of a simple time telling device has sparked controversy about the creation of the universe. In William Paley’s “The Analogical Teleological Argument” he argues that the universe must have been created by a universe maker, God, due to its complexity. However, David Hume, provides an empiricist objection by arguing that one cannot prove the existence of a universe maker due to lack of experience regarding the creation of a universe. Ultimately, I will argue that Paley’s argument by design is not sufficient for proving God 's existence because, as individuals, we cannot assume that the world works the way we wish it....   [tags: Teleological argument, Existence, David Hume]

Term Papers
1173 words (3.4 pages)

Essay about The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

- The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God The ontological argument is an a priori argument. The arguments attempt to prove God's existence from the meaning of the word God. The ontological argument was introduced by Anselm of Canterbury in his book Proslogion. Anselm's classical argument was based on two principals and the two most involved in this is St Anselm of Canterbury as previously mentioned and Rene Descartes. The ontological argument argues that if you understand what it means to talk about God, you will see His existence is necessarily true....   [tags: Theology Religion God Essays Papers]

Term Papers
1544 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on The Design Argument for the Existence of God

- The Design Argument for the Existence of God While theology may take God's existence as absolutely necessary on the basis of authority, faith, or discovery, many philosophers have thought it possible to demonstrate by reason that there must be a God. The teleological argument, also known as the argument from design quite simply states that a designer must exist since the universe and living things display elements of design in their order, consistency, unity and pattern. The argument says that things in the world move towards goals, just as the arrow does not move toward its goal except by the archer's directing it....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
917 words (2.6 pages)

The Argument of Evil for the Existence of God Essay

- The Argument of Evil for the Existence of God One of the major arguments proposed against the existence of God in contemporary western philosophy is the problem of evil. It is based upon the inability to reconcile the magnitude of evil in the world with the all-loving nature of God. John Hick describes the problem from the perspective of its proponent, "If God is perfectly loving, God must wish to abolish all evil; and if God is all-powerful, God must be able to abolish all evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving." This thus causes difficulty for the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God who possess both qualities of being all-loving and omnipotent....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
677 words (1.9 pages)

David Hume’s Treatment of Mind Essay

- This paper critically examines Hume’s argument against the knowledge/existence of substantival mind. This denial is rooted in his epistemology which includes a theory of how complex ideas which lack corresponding impressions are manufactured by the imagination, in conjunction with the memory, on the basis of three relations among impressions: resemblance, continuity and constant conjunction. The crux of my critique consists in pointing out that these relations are such that only an enduring, unified agent could interact with them in the way Hume describes....   [tags: Philosophy Papers]

Term Papers
3820 words (10.9 pages)