THE CHRISTIAN WHOSE THINKING INSPIRED HUME'S DECISIVE REFUTATION OF THE BELIEVABILITY OF MIRACLES

From The Everlasting Check: Hume on Miracles by Alexander L George.  This book says that David Hume was not the debunker of miracles so much as simply warning us to be careful and how careful we should be. Alexander L George wrote this book to help clarify what Hume wrote. The book is extremely helpful to one who is confused by the lies and deliberate misrepresentations of those who don't want us to think more about why we believe in any particular miracle.

The book tells us how Hume uses the arguments of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Tillotson to attack “all kinds of superstitious delusions.” Tillotson's arguments were however directed only against the Roman Catholic superstition of transubstantiation.

Tillotson reasoned thus,

The ultimate evidence in favour of miracles is their being observed by eyewitnesses

The testimony of these witnesses is not as strong evidence for the miracle being real as what they have seen and heard.  In other words, if you see a miracle you cannot expect those who take your word for it to think it is true as much as you do.

Therefore the evidence that bread and wine really turn into Jesus is weaker than what observation tells us for we cannot observe this change.

We do observe that the supposedly changed bread and wine are not flesh and not blood.

This observation refutes any evidence that the bread and wine change “weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger.”

It is concluded that it makes no sense to think that bread and wine really turn into Jesus.

Tillotson said that miracles done to back up transubstantiation are no good for they try to dismantle the clear evidence of the senses that the miracle has not happened. “If we be not certain of what we see, we can be certain of nothing.”

George adds that the belief in transubstantiation needs evidence which it undermines.  Transubstantiation is self-undermining. Tillotson pointed out, “What can be more vain than to pretend, that a man may be assured that such a Doctrine is revealed by God, and consequently true, which if it may be true, a man can have no assurance at all of any Divine Revelation?”

Tillotson's reasoning could be applied to miracles other than magically transforming bread and wine.  Here is one example I like using the alleged power of water baptism to turn a baby from an anti-God into a child of God and set her free from sin so she can in theory live a perfect life.

The ultimate evidence in favour of miracles is their being observed by eyewitnesses

The testimony of these witnesses is not as strong evidence for the miracle being real as what they have seen and heard.  In other words, if you see a miracle you cannot expect those who take your word for it to think it is true as much as you do.

Therefore the evidence that baptism really changes a baby from a sinner into a good person is weaker than what observation tells us for we cannot observe this change.

We do observe that the supposedly changed baby grows up the same as an unbaptised person and is no better or worse.

This observation refutes any evidence that the baptism remakes a child for “weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger.”

It is concluded that it makes no sense to think that baptism really turns a child from an ordinary sinful rebel against God into a potentially sainted person who will be better than she would be if she were not baptised.

Once you say there are miracles that are not sent by God to those who can witness to them you are saying you don't know if the pool of water in your bathroom was a miracle or a leak. Doing that shows you are too biased.  If you do see an observable miracle nobody should believe you.  Bias does not necessarily always threaten truth.  But if it is too strong it is a threat.  In fact, you are the threat.