A Course In Miracles Bookstore are commonly characterized as divine actions in violation of the laws of nature. Not a surprising definition.
However, while on the surface simple and clear, this definition encounters difficulties in application. And given that at least one major religion, Christianity, holds as a core tenet that God-made-man, Jesus Christ, performed miracles, these difficulties can call into question a major Christian tenet.
So while these difficulties enter into the realm of the esoteric, we should delve into their intricacies. We will examine three issues:
- Can we summon sufficiently accurate testimony to miracles?
- Would miracle events be distinguishable from the simply extraordinary?
- Do the laws of nature prevent God from performing miracles?
Critical Miracle Issue One: Testimony
Can sufficiently valid testimony be offered to support a miracle?
The noted 16th century philosopher David Hume voted to the negative, i.e. valid testimony can not be offered. For him, such testimony faces an essentially insurmountable hurdle. Hume stated:
“No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless it is of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact that it tries to establish.
“For, first, never in all of history has a miracle been attested by a sufficient number of men, of such unquestioned good sense, education, and learning as to guarantee that they aren’t deluded; of such undoubted integrity as to place them beyond all suspicion of wanting to deceive others; of such credit and reputation in the eyes of mankind as to have much to lose if they were found to have told a falsehood; and at the same time testifying to events-the reported miracle-that occurred in such a public manner and in such a famous part of the world as to make the detection of any falsehood unavoidable. All these conditions must be satisfied if we are to be completely confident of the testimony of men.
In other words, a miracle stands as so momentous and at the same time so unlikely, and mankind so notably fallible and imperfect, that no person could given testimony sufficiently credible. We should more question the testimony than believe the miracle.
Note, however, that is in our world. Mankind’s fallibility pertains to our actual, contingent, messy, version of a world.
Philosophy allows us to consider not just our world, but possible worlds. So could we, in some conceivable world, a world with a better human nature, achieve sufficiently credible testimony? Certainly. Give people more accurate perceptions, higher moral integrity and improved mental memory. Or populate the world with Three Rule Asimov robots. The accuracy of testimony in such conceivable worlds could rise to sufficient integrity.