The arguments from miracles
• Miracles, which are disruptions of the ordinary course of nature, are clear proofs of the
existence of a supernatural power, namely god.
• Types & examples of miracles
o Motion of inanimate objects
o Theological miracles: bleeding wafers, crying statues
Glossalia (speaking in tongue, babbling non-sense, fits)
o Human (?) power over nature
• St Andre Bessette 1845-1937
o Canada's most important Saint?
West Mount Basilica
• Hume's empirical argument: reliability of miracle reports
o "given the report of a miracle it is always more rational to disbelieve a report of a
miracle than to believe it"
o The a posteriori argument (in readings)
o Human predilection for surprise and wonder; human credulity overcomes reason
o Supernatural and miraculous relations….are observed to abound among ignorant
and barbarous nations (Miracles stem from the views of the uneducated
o Therefore, it is always more probable that testimony is false than a law of nature
has been violated
• If this was true in Hume's time is it still true today?
• The immediacy and reliability of information
• Though there is still much credulity in the world, broadly a skeptical
attitude has made gains
• Miracles could occur among peoples that are not "ignorant and
• If a miracle is evidence for theism, it need not be read as evidence for a
particular version of theism