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:
THE A PRIORI ARGUMENT:
- Miracles violate the laws of nature.
- The laws of nature are exceptionless—that is, they are (expressed by) true universal generalizations
- 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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