Could Miracles Happen?

What There Is and Why There Is Anything

Another great article on Aeon magazine this week is about why no one should believe in miracles, by Lawrence Shapiro.  Shapiro takes a tasty stock of Hume’s argument against miracles, adds a dash of Bayesian epistemology, and rounds things off with a nice discussion of the base-rate fallacy—surely worth a read.  But after reading it, I wondered why we don’t use this much simpler argument against supernatural intervention:


  1. Miracles violate the laws of nature.
  2. The laws of nature are exceptionless—that is, they are (expressed by) true universal generalizations
  3. Conclusion: There are no miracles.

The argument is valid, and both of its premises have a claim not merely to truth, but to conceptual truth. The first premise is a characterization of what makes God’s miraculous action supernatural: miracles contravene or override the natural laws which govern the world.  The second premise is guaranteed by most views…

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Atheists should be tolerant of religion

Recently, there was an NPR story by Marcelo Gleiser on how scientists should respond to people's anxiety about science and God.  Jerry Coyne responded in a post asking if faith should ever not be contested (excluding dying grandmothers and such).  In his response, Coyne referred to a famous quote by Karl Marx. Religious suffering is, at one … Continue reading Atheists should be tolerant of religion