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What, if anything, would give us good reason to believe that a miracle has occurred? watch

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    Would there be any evidence to convince people that a miracle had taken place, given that a miracle by definition defies science; and in a skeptic society everybody either believes science has the answer or that science will find out the answer in the future.

    Is science therefore the default solution? And therefore does that mean even if a miracle did take place, nobody would ever know, except God?

    Thoughts?
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    I suspect that there were, or have been, many events, or not necessarily as grand a term as that, which occured before a period in which the scientific method arrived to explain such an event or otherwise.
    Following that, it seems reasonable to certainly have at least an element of doubt and skepticism.
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    Indeed. Though I'm not arguing that this skepticism is undeserved. I'm merely arguing that even if a miracle did occur, nobody would accept it.
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    Is it a miracle because it defies science or does it defy science because it is a miracle?
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    Both.
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    If a miracle is a breach of science then new theories would have to be developed to encompass the breach, thus "miracle" is defined out of existance.
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    (Original post by Blue!)
    If a miracle is a breach of science then new theories would have to be developed to encompass the breach, thus "miracle" is defined out of existance.
    A miracle isn't a breach of science, it's a breach of a law of nature.

    We don't develop new laws of nature, do we?
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    A miracle by definition is something that is, as phawkins says, a breach of the law of nature, and as such, beyond the comprehension of a human being.

    That said, I don't think that miracles are proofs for the existence of god (nor should they be used as such).
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    We don't develop new laws of nature, do we?
    Well, in the history of science we have.

    A miracle by definition is something that is, as phawkins says, a breach of the law of nature, and as such, beyond the comprehension of a human being.
    So we can't witness miracles? Or we just wouldn't understand what we were seeing if we witnessed one?
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    (Original post by Blue!)
    So we can't witness miracles? Or we just wouldn't understand what we were seeing if we witnessed one?
    We can witness them. We'd just not understand what they were.
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    (Original post by Blue!)
    Well, in the history of science we have.
    False.

    We may have thought that Law1 was a law of nature, but in reality it was not. We merely thought that it was. We then discover that Law2 is a law of nature (not Law1).

    If Law2 actually is a law of nature, and God suspends it, then that is a miracle. If Law1 is 'broken' (say, we witness a counter-example to Aristotelian physics) then this is not a miracle, since it was never a true law of nature.
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    The New Catholic Encyclopedia defines a miracle as something “above the course of nature and beyond its productive powers” – an extraordinary event that is produced by God, acting through others, and verified by witnesses. Once beatified, the candidate is referred to with the title “Blessed,” as in the Blessed Mother Teresa, who was beatified in a 2003 ceremony.

    Modern miracles typically involve some kind of unexpected recovery from an illness or condition that medicine cannot explain. This recovery would typically occur following the patient’s or family’s prayers to the candidate, or being placed near an image or medal of the person (as in Mother Teresa’s case).
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    TML, the most well-known philosophical discussion of miracles is by Hume. You can find it here:
    http://18th.eserver.org/hume-enquiry.html#10

    Here's a summary by a chap I was talking to about this a while back (he's addressing me):
    Hume’s argument is, in fact, easily strong enough to destroy people’s belief in miracles they THINK they have observed themselves. Your statement of the argument was ok, but if you formalise it a bit, you can see how much stronger it is.

    Take some putative miraculous event, M. We have a good reason to believe a miracle occurred if and only if we have a good reason to believe (i) that M, and (ii) that M is a transgression of a law of nature. Now the point is, with regards ANY naturally occurring event, if we have a good reason to believe (i), we have a good reason to believe NOT-(ii), and vice versa.

    For say M violates some putative natural law, L, and we have a lot of inductive support for L, then we have a good reason to believe that not-M. Conversely, if we have good reason to believe that M, better reason than to believe that L is a natural law, then we will not believe that L is a natural law, and thus not believe that M is a transgression of a natural law. We can never have both, thus we can never rationally believe that a miracle has occurred.

    You say: “Not only does it not directly affect the justification of the person who experiences the miracle himself (which was my charge, remember?), it doesn’t seem to understand how religious people actually see miracles. IF you believe in God, then a miracle isn’t very unlikely within your worldview, is it? Suspending the laws of nature is just the sort of thing that God would be able to do.”

    But the argument, as I’ve stated it, clearly DOES directly affect the justification of the person who has seen the supposed miracle himself. For if he has greater evidence to believe that the event which he is seeing is a violation of a law of nature than he does to believe it is actually happening, then he should believe that it is not actually happening.

    Take a really obvious case: suppose I see a street-performer apparently floating. Because I have a massive amount of inductive evidence for the law of gravity, I will instantly assume he is doing some sort of trick.

    If I could (as NEVER HAPPENS) have enough evidence to believe he is actually floating (and, remember, I would need more evidence than I have for the law of gravity) then it is more rational to believe that there is no such thing as the law of gravity. And, therefore, no law is being violated, so the event is not a miracle. So either way you play it, it is NEVER rational to believe a miracle happens. Either you have more evidence for the law, and you should abandon belief that the event happened, or you have more evidence for the event, in which case you abandon the law. Whichever, you just can’t get (i) and (ii) together, so you never get miracles.

    I hope you see that this destroys even the strongest case, that of seeing the supposed miracle yourself.
    I still think there's something up with Hume's argument, but I'm not sure what.
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    TML, the most well-known philosophical discussion of miracles is by Hume. You can find it here:
    http://18th.eserver.org/hume-enquiry.html#10
    Thanks, I'll have a read of that later

    Essentially, the quote seems to encourage changing of the laws of nature to fit around an unexpected event. And assumes that the irrational cannot happen.
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    (Original post by TML)
    Essentially, the quote seems to encourage changing of the laws of nature to fit around an unexpected event. And assumes that the irrational cannot happen.
    Not exactly. It encourages changing our idea of what the laws of nature are (assuming there are actual laws of nature we can discover) and that in the event of something happening that apparently violates a law of nature, the rational response will always be one of: 1. Assume that what appears to be happening actually isn't because it violates a law of nature you have strong inductive evidence for, or 2. Decide that the event is happening and what you previously thought to be a law of nature actually isn't.

    It's not saying miracles can't happen, just that it's never rational to believe that they have. The only possible weakness I can see would be the idea of 'strong inductive evidence', which, as someone in one of my lectures once pointed out, is a notion Hume himself attacks.
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    The only possible weakness I can see would be the idea of 'strong inductive evidence'
    In the sense that there is no logical proof that inductive reasoning works..?
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    (Original post by Ozymandias)
    Not exactly. It encourages changing our idea of what the laws of nature are (assuming there are actual laws of nature we can discover) and that in the event of something happening that apparently violates a law of nature, the rational response will always be one of: 1. Assume that what appears to be happening actually isn't because it violates a law of nature you have strong inductive evidence for, or 2. Decide that the event is happening and what you previously thought to be a law of nature actually isn't.

    It's not saying miracles can't happen, just that it's never rational to believe that they have. The only possible weakness I can see would be the idea of 'strong inductive evidence', which, as someone in one of my lectures once pointed out, is a notion Hume himself attacks.
    Any theist who has to throw out induction is in hot water.
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    (Original post by TML)
    In the sense that there is no logical proof that inductive reasoning works..?
    More or less, yes.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Any theist who has to throw out induction is in hot water.
    Would the theist be any worse off than the atheist, though? It's not something I've ever really thought about.
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    (Original post by Ozymandias)
    Would the theist be any worse off than the atheist, though? It's not something I've ever really thought about.
    The atheist, provided he's not a fool, should not get himself into a situation where his epistemic system requires him to jettison induction. If the theist does so, that theist is a fool.
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    phawkins, surely you know enough to realise why it's fairly hard to argue that induction is rational? I'm not sure the atheist is any better off than the theist who argues induction is never rational...
 
 
 
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