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The Miracle of Theism 1: Miracles and Testimony,


(a) Hume’s Argument- Exposition
(b) Hume’s Argument- Discussion

Mackie examines miracles as evidence for God. He starts with Hume, who gives a few reasons that miracles are usually not good evidence. First, there are no well attested miracles that good-sense men attest to. Second, people tend to believe in strange things. Third, ignorant barbarous nations tend to be the ones to create and spread the stories. Fourth, different religions have miracles that undermine each other. Fifth, miracles often begin religions, which often push for belief instead of skepticism.

Mackie analyzes Hume. As far as I can see, the general point is that miracles are much less likely to occur than mistakes of perception. They are also less likely to occur than collusion and story building among the faithful. We must always examine such things in light of background evidence, and that evidence seems to indicate that such occurrences are very unlikely, much less likely than lies or mistakes.

That doesn’t mean that these things can’t be shown to occur in principle. It would simply take quite a bit of evidence.

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