What are miracles
A miracle is held to be an action of God or another agent which goes against the laws of nature and has some religious meaning or significance.
Aquinas defined a miracle as a divine cause.
Miracle comes from the Latin: Miraculum which literally means an object of wonder.
Biblical examples: Jesus healing the paralytic (Mark 2) amongst others including the raising Lazarus from the dead, healing people with leprosy and a woman who had been haemorrhaging.
Miracles are a breach of the laws of nature brought on by the deity or some other invisible agent.
It is never rational to believe that miracles happen. There is no testimony sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavour to establish. Hume argues that there are two possibilities: 1. That God does perform miracles. 2. The event didn't happen.
Hume says 2 will always be more rational because we have a constant experience that natural laws hold and its going to be more likely that the reports of the breach of a law of nature were exaggerated and never happened. Natural laws are fixed.
1: The probability of miracles actually happening is low. No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle.
2. Miracles were not reported to happen with educated people - they circulate because of gossiping (human nature) As soon as a country develops these stories go.
Criticisms from Maurice Wiles
God never intervenes for individual acts as this would be problematic.
An interventionist God is a weak idea - if God acts in the world it raises the issue of the problem of evil. God would seem to be arbitrary: allowing some suffering despite showing the possibility of divine intervention in particular cases elsewhere.
It is better to conceive of God as having made the world as a single creative act rather than having to keep making small changes here and there.
God therefore wouldn't be worthy of worship - he instead would be worthy of condemnation.
Swinburne on miracles
1. Laws of nature are generalisations. 2. Natural laws are corrigible.
Miracles are events that do not fit in with the laws of nature and you cannot change the laws because of a singular event - it would be illogical.
Swinburne questions what Hume meant by educated: educated people do claim miracles so what level of education is required ?
Swinburne also questions whether miracles from other religions cancel each other out. Miracles he concluded do not prove a religious belief is right or wrong. Just because they are claimed doesn't cancel them out.
Swinburne criticizes Hume for suggesting that there is no evidence reliable enough for miracles. There are four kinds of historical ways of collecting: memories, testimony, physical traces and understanding modern science. By looking at the above it is a matter of debate about interpreting what happened. The more evidence - the more to support claim - the stronger probability of it happening.