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Hume on Miracles
http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=2450 ^ | William M. Briggs

Posted on 05/31/2010 5:46:49 AM PDT by mattstat

It's Memorial Day, and it is not an abuse of the word "miracle" to suggest that it applies to the volunteering of the soldier who gives his life so that we might live in freedom.

Here is what I would consider a miracle: a generous, exceedingly wealthy patron decides, after reading this blog, that this man William M. Briggs deserves financial independence so that he is able to continue his curmudgeonly investigations of science and philosophy without having to worry about procuring his rent; and thus the patron provides this man Briggs a sack full of (tax free) gold.

I hope you agree with me that this event is possible It is also is extraordinarily unlikely---winning the lottery three times in a row has a better chance---but it is not impossible.

David Hume would not have labeled this glorious occurrence a miracle. To him, events which are possible, no matter how improbable, but which occur are not miraculous, just rare.

Here is what Hume would have called a miracle: the laws of physical science are suddenly altered in ways unknown and unknowable, such that the stack of newspapers at Briggs's feet are transmuted into gold (also tax free). And immediately after this just award appears, the laws spring back to their former state.

To Hume, "a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature." But that word "laws" is tricky. Few doubt that the universe is set up to work on certain inviolable guidelines, we just don't know what all the guidelines are. So how can we say when and if these sacrosanct rules have been broken?

Discrete (quantum) mechanics being what it is, or the, as yet, true but unknown laws that govern the workings of the universe being what they are, it is possible that...

(Excerpt) Read more at wmbriggs.com ...


TOPICS: Religion; Science
KEYWORDS: hume; miracles; science

1 posted on 05/31/2010 5:46:49 AM PDT by mattstat
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...
David Hume would not have labeled this glorious occurrence a miracle. To him, events which are possible, no matter how improbable, but which occur are not miraculous, just rare. Here is what Hume would have called a miracle: the laws of physical science are suddenly altered in ways unknown and unknowable, such that the stack of newspapers at Briggs's feet are transmuted into gold (also tax free). And immediately after this just award appears, the laws spring back to their former state.
Hume had never met Al Gore or James Hansen.
2 posted on 05/31/2010 4:09:37 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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