Miracle claims from ancient times are all over the place, and relying on them as proof for religious beliefs can be a real puzzle. You don’t want to be a stubborn Humean skeptic and just brush off every miracle story you hear, but you also don’t want to fall for just any wild tale. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between skepticism and openness, so you don’t get sucked into wasting your time investigating any and every old miracle claim out there. Anyway, in a recent video, I discussed the DOUBTS filter—a concept coined by philosopher Tim McGrew and utilized in his debate with Zachary Moore. Here’s a concise overview of the criteria: These … Read more
In my refreshingly friendly discussion with Derek Lambert from the MythVision Podcast, my biggest takeaway was that I don’t see how his mythic theory is falsifiable. Please bear with my post-discussion shower thoughts here. I wish I had this clarity during the conversation but I think we’ve all been there when the light bulb turns on in our heads and we think “oh, right. This is what I should’ve said to X! Ugh!” Anywho, Derek is willing to admit that the Gospel authors display historical knowledge about the geography, customs, and culture of the times, but he doesn’t see this as counting towards their historical accuracy. Derek essentially argues that even if many factual items … Read more
David Hume is celebrated for defeating the argument against miracles. But did he? Actually, if his argument is taken to its logical conclusion, it would be a science-stopper. For instance, did you know that scientists, using reasoning like Hume’s, once denied the existence of meteorites? Dr. Tim McGrew demolishes David Hume’s argument against miracles. This is an excerpt of a talk made at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Erik ManningErik is the creative force behind the YouTube channel Testify, which is an educational channel built to help inspire people’s confidence in the text of the New Testament and the truth of the Christian faith.
Miracles seem to be a special pleading problem for Christians. The Bible claims many miracles that we often take for granted. But we turn into Richard Dawkins when other religions claim miracles. David Hume made the same complaint in his “Of Miracles” essay. What if I said Christians can meet this challenge? Enter John Douglas. Douglas was an Anglican bishop who responded to Hume’s essay. In response, Douglas offered religiously neutral criteria to filter out unverifiable miracle claims. So what were the criteria? Douglas said we can rationally doubt a miracle when… It is first reported long after the alleged miracle occurred. It is first reported far away from where the alleged miracle happened. If … Read more
Carl Sagan popularized the slogan “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Skeptics use this phrase like a cudgel when arguing against historical miracle claims. But is this pithy slogan true? This is an excerpt from a talk by Dr. Tim McGrew of Western Michigan entitled “How to Think About Miracles.” Dr. McGrew shows this famous slogan is too slippery and generally unhelpful. It is not a good argument against miracle claims — like the resurrection of Jesus. Erik ManningErik is the creative force behind the YouTube channel Testify, which is an educational channel built to help inspire people’s confidence in the text of the New Testament and the truth of the Christian faith.
Christian doctrine is predicated on Jesus’ miracles. This is especially true concerning the resurrection. But don’t other religions make miracle claims too? With so many miracle claims in so many other faiths, how can anyone use miracles as evidence for a particular religion? This was one of the famous 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume’s favorite arguments against Christianity. His essay Of Miracles is still considered by many to be the death-knell to anyone who would try and argue for signs and wonders as an evidential basis for their faith. Hume wrote: “…that there is no testimony for any, even those which have not been expressly detected, that is not opposed by an infinite number of … Read more
Christianity says that God loves everyone. It also teaches that God is all-powerful and he’s worked some crazy-amazing miracles in the past. The Bible also says that God knows everything, so he’d know what kind of convincing people need. So why are there atheists? Therefore, the reasoning goes that there probably is no God, or at least not one who cares enough to communicate clearly with us. This is a pretty common thing you’ll hear when talking to skeptics. There are certainly fancier ways of laying out this argument, but this is what philosophers call the problem of divine hiddenness. One of the things that critics of this argument have pointed out is that God … Read more
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this experience: You’ve learned a thing or two about the cosmological argument or the design argument. You eagerly share it with a friend of yours who doesn’t believe in God, and they accept all the premises. But they aren’t moved. They’ll reply with something like: “Even if these arguments work, they don’t prove enough. They show there was a first cause of the universe or a designer, but that is a far cry from the God of traditional theism.” Or they might say “well, that doesn’t prove that the first cause or designer was Jesus or Yahweh. Try harder.” How do you respond to that? This reply is at least as … Read more
The argument for the resurrection of Jesus goes like this: Jesus’ disciples sincerely believed he rose from the dead and appeared to them. External evidence and events support their belief: Paul was a church persecutor, and he converted. James was a skeptic and he also became a believer. Plus there are good arguments for the empty tomb. There are no plausible natural explanations. The disciples didn’t hallucinate, and they weren’t deluding themselves. The facts are best explained by a miracle. Usually, the skeptic will either say there’s a better explanation or insist that miracles aren’t possible and simply refuse to look at the evidence. But here’s an odd objection. Skeptics will pick and third way … Read more
Following the tradition of the famous 18th-century philosopher David Hume, skeptics will often accuse Christians of special pleading. We eagerly accept the resurrection of Jesus and other miracles reported in the Bible. But we’re just as swift to reject miracle claims made by other religions. Critics will say if you accept one miracle, you have to open up the floodgates to them all. But is that true? Could there be a way to sift through all the noise? Enter Charles Leslie’s terse yet powerful book A Short and Easy Method With the Deists. This booklet is around 40 pages, but it packs a punch. Leslie’s method is a religiously neutral test regarding how we can … Read more