Essay on David Hume and Hume’s Argument

Submitted By bigskoiner
Words: 2241
Pages: 9

Essay question: ‘Miracles only happen to ignorant, barbarous and uneducated people’ discuss
This quote, in my eyes was a very braze, rash and ignorant (yes it contradicts the statement) made by David Hume (Scottish, 1711-1776). Hume defined miracles as a ‘violation of the laws of nature’ and consequently rejected their occurrence as both improbable and impractical. This view has been supported by modern scientists and philosophers such as Atkins, Dawkins and Wiles to a certain extent. However St. Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274) and Richard Swinburne (1934, 80 years old)to a certain extent reject Hume’s reasons, instead arguing that miracles have a divine cause and that Hume’s arguments are weak. This essay will argue that Hume’s reasons for rejecting miracles are not valid and in doing so, consider his two main arguments; lack of probability and Hume’s practical argument. It will also give reason to support why he may have a slight reason and truth behind the statement but will consider that his own statement was ‘uneducated’.
The statement vividly shows that Hume clearly rejects miracles as if he believed in them, it would be more than mildly preposterous to indicate himself out as some of these highly negative and insulting remarks (‘ignorant: having a lack of knowledge and not taking in other ideas, which is negative because it is showing that you are not clever and are unsociable as you cannot listen to other people; barbarous: coming from barbarian meaning mad, cruel and brutal, which is negative because you don’t respect or treat anyone well and uneducated of course means to not know the relevant information on a giving subject or circumstance). I thin the statement could be bias as he is an atheist in my strong opinion as Christianity believes strongly in miracles (many were said to be conducted by miracles such as ‘Jesus feeds the five thousand’ and if you object to these you can’t really believe in that religion as both Churches appoint an realise miracles so you are objecting to the Church. Other religions such as Sikhism have parables which are events which are believed to have occurred which also hold a very strong and powerful meaning about life or a fundamental part of the religion so if you object I don’t feel you can be a Theist. This means that his views are more likely to be biased as he doesn’t not believe in one side (that’s not to say he could though) but his work is all objecting to religion so I believe he hasn’t taken the necessary outside views from people to help achieve a much more accurate statement.
Hume uses words such as ‘uneducated’ in his quote to describe what sort of people believe in miracles. This means that he is trying to explain that people only believe in miracles if they do not know the valid amount of knowledge required to understand the event that has occurred. This use though is unmeasurable as you can’t properly measure someone’s education. It is unclear at what stage a person becomes ‘educated’ sufficiently to reject miracles. It is also unfair to assume that a person believes in miracles simply because they do not know any better, as it is possible to both have a strong belief in God and a good understanding of Science. Further to this it is unclear what constitutes being ‘ignorant and barbarous’ as whilst earlier nations may now seem uneducated compared to modern times, the nation may have been highly educated for the time as the standards change. Therefore the relevance of Hume’s argument against miracles can be questioned.
My 3rd point against this statement is that Hume comes under a lot of scrutiny from me about the hypocriticism that he uses. He explains how people ‘think’ they have witnessed or experienced a miracle as they are ‘barbarous’, ‘uneducated’ and ‘ignorant’. But if Hume has a fair point to his argument then I believe it should be rephrased much better. ‘Barbarous’ as we have found, means brutal and vicious and Hume is certainly associated with this highly critical