4. The amount of testimony necessary to prove a miracle is no greater than that which is requisite to prove the occurrence of any other unusual but confessedly possible event.
Hume, indeed, argued that a miracle is so contradictory of all human experience that it is more reasonable to believe any amount of testimony false than to believe a miracle to be true.
The original form of the argument can be found in Hume?s Philosophical Works, 4:124-150. See also Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1887:615. For the most recent and plausible statement of it, see Supernatural Religion, 1:55- 94, The argument maintains for substance that things are impossible because improbable. It ridicules the credulity of those who ?thrust their fists against the posts, And still insist they see the ghosts,? and holds with the German philosopher who declared that he would not believe in a miracle, even it he saw one with his own eyes. Christianity is so miraculous that it takes a miracle to make one believe it.
The argument is fallacious, because
(a) It is chargeable with a petitio prineip ii, in making our own personal experience the measure of all human experience. The same principle would make the proof of any absolutely mew fact impossible. Even though God should work a miracle, he could never prove it.
(b) It involves a self-contradiction, since it seeks to overthrow our faith in human testimony by adducing to the contrary the general experience of men, of which we know only from testimony. This general experience, moreover, is merely negative, and cannot neutralize that, which is positive, except upon principles which would invalidate all testimony whatever.
(c) It requires belief in a greater wonder than those that it would escape do. That multitudes of intelligent and honest men should against all their interests unite in deliberate and persistent falsehood, under the circumstances narrated in the New Testament record, involves a change in the sequences of nature far more incredible than the miracles of Christ and his apostles.
(a) John Stuart Mill, Essays on Theism, 216-241, grants that, even if a miracle were wrought, it would be impossible to prove it. In this he only echoes Hume, Miracles, 112 ? ?The ultimate standard by which we determine all disputes that may arise is always derived from experience and observation.? But here our own personal experience is made the
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