Miracles


Can We Believe in Miracles?

Is it possible to believe in miracles? The famous philosopher David Hume didn’t think so. He believed that miracles were so improbable that it was impossible to believe in them. To believe a miracle had occurred would require the testimony of people of such great learning that they could not possibly be deceived, of such good character that they could not possibly be deceitful, of such high reputation that the loss of face if they were found to be deceitful would be overwhelming, and with the miracle performed publicly in a celebrated part of the world that detection of fraud would be uncovered. In Hume’s view these criteria could never be satisfied. Hume even admits that he knew of miracles in France which “were immediately proved upon the spot before judges of unquestionable integrity, attested by witnesses of credit and distinction, in a learned age, and on the most eminent theater that is now in the world.” This would seem to meet his criteria, but still he rejects the miracles on the grounds of “the absolute impossibility or miraculous nature of the events which they relate.”

Source: Adapted from C. Brown, History and Faith (IVP, 1987). The Hume quotes are taken from Brown, citing Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding.