Do you think in miracles? Why they make sense to many

Do you think in miracles? Why they make sense to many
29 March 2024 J.W.H

This yr, one of the vital essential holidays within the Christian calendar, Easter, coincides with perhaps the silliest of annual secular holidays, April Fools' Day. Easter commemorates a miraculous event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. April Fool's Day characterised by practical jokes and deception.

The combination of those two days raises the query: is belief in miracles the mark of a idiot? One of its key thinkers, the Scottish philosopher David Hume, said yes.

Hume's definition

Hume published perhaps his most generally read work 270 years ago,An inquiry into human understanding” A milestone in philosophy, its tenth chapter, titled “On Miracles”, was deliberately omitted.

Scottish philosopher David Hume.
Georgios Kollidas/

Hume later explained that he removed this passage in order to not offend the religious sensibilities of his readers – and maybe also to spare himself the condemnation it’d cause. However, section 10 is included in all modern editions.

In “On Miracles,” Hume claims to have discovered an argument that may test what he calls “all superstitious illusions.” That's what it's based on definition miracle: “The transgression of the law of nature by a deity or an invisible agent.”

Although this definition was not original to Hume, it quickly gained widespread acceptance. Just 60 years later, Thomas Jefferson created his own version of the Bible, “The Life and Morals of Jesus”, from which all miracles were blotted out as an affront to reason.

Just a little about Hume

Born in 1711 in Edinburgh, Hume he entered university there on the unusually young age of 12, but never graduated. He read voraciously. As a young man, he experienced something near a mental breakdown. His initial attempts at writing philosophy “went to waste because of the press,” but he landed a job as a university librarian. He later wrote a bestseller history of england. In many essential philosophical works, he exemplified skepticism, the view that certain kinds of data are unimaginable, and naturalism, the assumption that only natural forces could be invoked as explanations.

Hume's skepticism led him to reject many speculations in regards to the nature of reality, similar to belief within the existence of God. Although he produced many essential philosophical works, his views on religion hampered his profession. He died, probably of some type of abdominal cancer, in 1776.

On the role of miracles in Christianity, Hume wrote in:Miracles”:

“Not only was the Christian religion initially accompanied by miracles, but even today no reasonable person can believe in it without miracles. Reason alone is not sufficient to convince us of its truth; and whoever is led by faith to assent to it, is conscious of a constant miracle in his own person, which calls into question all the principles of his understanding, and gives him the determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.”

By defining miracles as highly improbable or even perhaps unimaginable events, Hume essentially guarantees that reason will all the time weigh heavily on them. He points out that different religions have their very own miracle stories, but because they contradict on many points, they can’t all be true. He also claims that those that claim to have witnessed miracles are naive and hopelessly biased as a consequence of their very own religious beliefs.

Hume's lasting influence

Hume's views on miracles have many defenders today. For example, a biologist Richard Dawkins defines miracles as “coincidences that have a very low probability but are nevertheless within the realm of probability”, meaning that they could be explained by science. Dead polemicist Christopher Hitchens he rejected claims of miracles, saying, “What can be stated without evidence can be rejected without evidence.”

Hume's description of miracles is so ubiquitous that it could possibly even be present in a dictionary. Oxford Dictionary definition A miracle is “an extraordinary and welcome event that cannot be explained by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to divine action.” If miracles usually are not outright contrary to science, because the definition suggests, then they not less than resist explanation by scientific principles and thus stand out as supernatural, a category of events that many individuals dismiss out of hand.

Augustine's alternative view of miracles

Of course, other descriptions of miracles are possible. Augustine of Hippo, writing within the fifth century, explicitly rejected the concept miracles were contrary to nature, maintaining as an alternative that they were contrary only to our knowledge of nature. He then argued that miracles were possible due to hidden abilities in nature, placed there by God. In other words, our knowledge of what is of course possible is proscribed and recent possibilities may emerge over time.

In previous moments in history, many possibilities that we take without any consideration today would have seemed miraculous. Human flight, wireless transmission of the human voice, and transplantation of human organs would have seemed unimaginable to people like Hume and Jefferson. It is probably going that as history continues to unfold, recent abilities of nature will probably be discovered and human beings will gain recent powers that we cannot imagine today.

Miracles versus science

However, it might be a mistake to assume that the course of history inexorably transfers extraordinary events from the realm of miracles to science. Augustine he also famously wrote:

“Isn't the universe itself a miracle, though visible and created by God? No, all the wonders performed in this world are less than the world itself, the heavens and the earth and all that is in them; however, God created them all in a way that man cannot comprehend or fathom.”

Augustine doesn’t claim that human understanding cannot develop or that science is unimaginable. Nor does he consider science and miracles to be opposed. On the contrary, Augustine emphasizes an account of science and the human desire for knowledge that treats the world we experience each day as no less miraculous than any event that science cannot explain. From this perspective, on a regular basis life is stuffed with miracles if we perceive them accurately.

Miracles today

As a physician, I usually experience this sense of wonder in my medical practice. We know so much about how babies are made, how human beings grow and develop, how infections and cancer occur, and what happens once we die. However, there are also many things we don’t understand. In my experience, deepening our scientific understanding of such events and processes doesn’t diminish our wonder at their beauty. On the contrary, it deepens and enriches it.

A two-cell embryo undergoing mitosis.
Mandril Vodolazhskyi/

Examining cells under a microscope, using CT and MRI scans to see into the inner recesses of the human body, or just listening rigorously as patients share insights about their lives – these experiences open up the wonderland that Augustyn points to. Of course, many individuals outside of medication enjoy similar experiences, similar to when sunlight passes through leaves or creates a rainbow by passing through raindrops.

Some, Hume amongst them, might say that it might be a blessing to erase all traces of miracles from our view of the world, even perhaps to reject the potential for miracles altogether. Others – including me – think in another way. Instead of in search of to erase the miracles from life, we as an alternative seek to reawaken our awareness of their presence. For those that see the world this fashion, April 1 this yr just isn’t a lot about fraud because the flowering of a renewed sense of wonder on the fullness and great thing about life.

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  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”