Friday, June 12, 2009

David Hume says . . .

In my post on Atheist Dogma, the inevitable happened. Those who don't do much reading almost always retreat to David Hume's long refuted statements about miracles. I don't have enough time nor space to go over all his mistakes but I would like to touch on a couple.

Hume says:
There are only two kinds of truths - those that are true by definition and those that are true by empirical confirmation.

However -
This statement by Hume is neither true by definition not is it provable by empirical confirmation. Hume’s statement is not merely false, it is also incoherent.

Hume says:
Mathematical truths are analytic, i.e., Mathematical truth or falsity can be established by examining the statement itself. Mathematical axioms are true by definition; they are inherently true.

However -
Take for example, "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."
This seems self-evidently true, and yet it cannot be confirmed simply be examining the sentence. So how do we know that it's true? We have to check. We have to make two dots a distance apart, draw a line between them and test the “axiom.” Why does this matter? Because mathematical laws are like scientific laws. We can verify them only be examining the world around us. When we do that however, we make a disturbing discovery. Scientific laws are not verifiable.
No finite number of observations, however large, can be used to derive an unrestricted general conclusion that is logically defensible. This is why Hume nor anyone else can say that miracles cannot / do not happen. Hume insisted that miracles violate laws of nature but Hume’s own skeptical philosophy has shown that there are no known laws of nature that can be stated categorically. Miracles can be dismissed only if scientific laws are necessarily true - if they admit no exceptions. But Hume himself said that is not possible.

Hume says:
1) Natural law is by definition a description of a regular occurrence
2) A miracle is by definition a rare occurrence
3) The evidence for the regular is ALWAYS greater than that for the rare
4) A wise man always based his belief on the greater evidence
5) Therefore a wise man should never believe in miracles

However -
Obviously the evidence for the regular is NOT always greater than for the rare. For example, how about the origin of the universe? That’s just about as rare as an event gets. How about another rare event - life arising from non life. It happened only once but again, I think most would agree that we have a fair bit of evidence running around that it did take place. In fact, virtually every event in history has taken place only once (the first time) and yet we know that it did in fact happen. Even Hume himself should have no trouble believing that he came out of his mother’s womb, yet it happened only once.

Hume’s third point must be considered false. In fact his entire argument is false. Any arguments against miracles must fail because they are based on false philosophical assumptions rather than observational evidence.

Hume says:
1) A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature
2) Firm and unalterable experience has established these laws.
3) A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.

Because Mr. Hume’s conclusion is question begging, I’ll take it from here -

4) Therefore the Second Law of Thermodynamics cannot be violated.
5) Therefore the universe cannot be infinite nor can we have an infinite regress of prior universes.
6) Therefore the universe had a beginning
7) Therefore the universe had a cause

The universe cannot cause itself nor can it precede itself either physically or chronologically

That means that the universe was caused by the working definition of a Miracle.
Now, David Hume presumes to know all experience is uniform against miracles.
However, neither he nor anyone else can make that claim. Many people are convinced that they have experienced a miracle, the greatest of which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is confirmed on multiple levels and beyond dispute except in the minds of ideologues for whom nothing could change their minds.

However -
1) A miracle is a violation of the know laws of nature.
2) Scientific laws are, on Hume’s own account empirically unverifiable.
3) Thus, "violations" of the known laws of nature are quite possible.
4) Therefore, miracles are possible.



The Atheist Missionary said...

Sure, miracles are possible. But if you believe Jeezus actually rose from the dead, I know someone from Nigeria who would like to wire you a handsome sum of money. He just needs you to send him $1000 first. Or you can save your money at the reincarnation bank ...

Makarios said...

Well, if you can give me a good explanation for:

The tomb was empty

The disciples went from cowards who denied and ran away from Jesus to fearless witnesses who proclaimed the resurrected Jesus

The skeptic Paul went from killing Christians to becoming one of Christianity’s most powerful witness

The skeptic James, Jesus’ brother went from thinking His brother was insane to worshipping Him as Creator God.

The disciples and Paul and James and hundreds of others endured years of hardship and finally painful deaths rather than go back on their claims that they saw, spoke with, ate with the resurrected Jesus.

Now, one explanation is that Jesus actually did rise from the death and your explanation would be . . .