Do the various claims of miracles made by conflicting religions serve as evidence that all such claims are false?

March 10, 2008 | By | 6 Replies More

David Hume made the argument that the various claims of miracles made by conflicting religions serve as evidence that no such claims are true.   The topic is thoughtfully discussed by Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism:

In other words, Hume says, the conflicting miracle claims of various religions cancel each other out. These religions cannot all be true, since they make incompatible theological claims. (I note for completeness’ sake that they can all be false.) We can safely assume that, if a religion is false, any miracle claims advanced in its name are exaggerations or frauds. It follows that when considering whether any particular miracle claim is true, we must consider all the miracle claims of all other religions to count as evidence to the contrary. And since there are so many of these, no matter which religion’s miracle claims you’re considering, the vast number of miracle claims from other religions which stand in opposition to it make the claim under consideration very probably false.

Check out the full post (and the vigorous discussion) here.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. HUH? says:

    sorry, but i, um, don't get the logic.

    if one person says 2 + 2 = 4, and ten other people say 2 plus 2 = 5, does the fact that ten people are wrong mean all eleven are wrong?

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Huh: I had the same thought, but still found this reasoning interesting, as long as one is speaking as a matter of evidence rather than a matter of logical proof. If you are trying to logically prove that a miracle is false by reference to many other questionable claims by competitor religions, that proof fails for the exact reason you mention.

  3. Ebonmuse says:

    A more relevant analogy would be if all eleven people made different claims about the answer to a given problem, and none of those claims could be objectively checked.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    How about this way: All miracles are true signs of a supernatural existence (deity, afterlife, whatever) that no religion has yet embraced, and is inherently unobservable to instruments.

    Most of the Miracles cited in the original post are statistically ordinary occurrences that willing minds cast as miraculous because of mis-perception.

    An image appears to the mind of an observer. This does not mean that something could have been captured by a camera.

    An event occurs at a particular time following some ritual. That event was inevitable, and the timing was in statistically expected range, but it seemed miraculous.

  5. HUH? says:

    "A more relevant analogy would be if all eleven people made different claims about the answer to a given problem, and none of those claims could be objectively checked."

    Sorry, I don't agree. If a claim cannot be (using your term) "objectively checked," then the claim is no more dubious because eleven people made related (but different) claims than it would be if only one person made the claim.

    Expressed differently, if I claim that my goldfish transmutted overnight into a Corvette (but my claim cannot be "objectively checked") then my claim is no more or less dubious than if ten other people claim their guppy (or some other fish) transmutted overnight into a Ferrari (or even a Maserati for that matter).

  6. grumpypilgrim says:

    Don't you see? They're *miracles*, so, of course, they can all be true (grin). The very fact that they can't logically happen is what makes them miracles.

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