“GOD EXISTS!” Argument No. 10 - Miracles
- Miracles are events that violate the laws of nature.
- Miracles can be explained only by a force that has the power of suspending the laws of nature for the purpose of making its presence known or changing the course of human history (from 1).
- Only god has the power and the purpose to carry out miracles (from 2).
- We have a multitude of written and oral reports of miracles. (Indeed, every major religion is founded on a list of miracles.)
- Human testimony would be useless if it were not, in the majority of cases, veridical.
- The best explanation for why there are so many reports testifying to the same thing is that the reports are true (from 5).
- The best explanation for the multitudinous reports of miracles is that miracles have indeed occurred (from 6).
- god exists (from 3 & 7).
And here’s why it’s faulty:
- FLAW 1: It is certainly true, as Premise 4 asserts, that we have a multitude of reports of miracles, with each religion insisting on those that establish it alone as the true religion. But the reports are not testifying to the same events; each miracle list justifies one religion at the expense of the others. See FLAW 2 in the Argument from Holy Books (Coming soon).
- FLAW 2: The fatal flaw in The Argument from Miracles was masterfully exposed by David Hume in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Chapter 10, “On Miracles.” Human testimony may often be accurate, but it is very far from infallible. People are sometimes mistaken; people are sometimes dishonest; people are sometimes gullible — indeed, more than sometimes. Since in order to believe that a miracle has occurred we must believe a law of nature has been violated (something for which we otherwise have the maximum of empirical evidence), and we can only believe it on the basis of the truthfulness of human testimony (which we already know is often inaccurate), then even if we knew nothing else about the event, and had no particular reason to distrust the reports of witness, we would have to conclude that it is more likely that the miracle has not occurred, and that there is an error in the testimony, than that the miracle has occurred. (Hume strengthens his argument, already strong, by observing that religion creates situations in which there are particular reasons to distrust the reports of witnesses. “But if the spirit of religion join itself to the love of wonder, there is an end of common sense.”)
The Argument from Miracles covers more specific arguments, such as The Argument from Prophets, The Arguments from Messiahs, and the Argument from Individuals with Miraculous Powers.