In 1971 was born an individual, David Hume, who became a philosopher well known for his philosophical empiricism and views about miracles. Although his views were recorded over 200 hundred years ago, when the question of miracles is addressed today, many philosophers still rally around his perspective.
Hume was a sceptic and probably an atheist and denied that miracles ever took place in history. The really big issue, of course, for everyone when thinking about miracles is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because that is the biggest of miracles. Hume did not believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and also felt that early Christians could not be believed, so there was no proof that God existed.
Hume was not the first philosopher to object to miracles In the 1600’s Benedict Spinoza believed that miracles were not possible because this would be violation of natural laws which are immutable. He had a pantheistic world view so this in itself did not allow for a theistic God and miracles.
As a philosopher Hume has influenced many. He believed that everything that happened in our world did so according to “the law of nature”. Further, he argued that if someone reported a miracle then that individual was mistaken, delusional or lying for some reason. He never did say what he would conclude if he saw a miracle happen.
David Hume was proud of his arguments against the belief in miracles and so in effect against the belief in a supreme being. He said in his publication ‘Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding‘, “I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument of a like nature, which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitions, delusions, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endured”.
In Hume’s argument against miracles every objection always referred to someone else, who supposedly was deluded, mistaken or lying. Nowhere in his writing does one find information that he personally went to the person who claimed a healing/miracle to determine the validity of such a claim. The same holds true today. One needs to ask, if you are agnostic or atheist, why not go to the people directly involved and ask questions? And don’t just go to one such person but several. Are you afraid you might find evidence that is contrary to your current belief? All you need to do is find one genuine healing/miracle to prove that God exists. And that can change your thinking and life.
Below are recorded miracles and healings that have happened in the past and recent times.
The Old Testament records 16 miracles performed by God.
The New Testament records 40.
Justin Martyr in the year 153 wrote a book called, Second Apology, about healing and casting out demons. In the third century, Tertullian in his book, To Scapula, gave an account of healings and expelling demons. Origin also, in the third century, in his book, Against Celsus, stated that Christians were still expelling demons from persons possessed with them. Hippolytus of Rome (170-235) in a book, The Apostolic Tradition, wrote of the gift of healing. Novation (210-180), in Treatise Concerning the Trinity, mentioned healing. Gregory Thaumaturgus (213-170) had an impressive healing ministry.
Bede (673-735) was familiar with miracles. See, Bede’s Miracle Stories in, Bede, His Life, Times and Writings, by A.H. Thompson. Others who through God’s intervention became known for healings/miracles were Anselm (1033-1109); Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153); Dominic (1170-1221); St.Francis of Assisi (1181-1226); Colette of Corki (d 1447).
Martin Luther had 2 friends, Myconius and Melancthon, who were near death. In both cases he prayed that God would heal them. Both regained their health and lived several years longer. See, The Voice of Healing. About Valentine Greatlakes (1628-1682) read, From Epidauros to Lourdes: A History of Healing by Faith, by David Robertson. Greatlakes’ prayers cured the King of tuberculosis . He also prayed for many people with illnesses such as epilepsy, deafness and ulcers. Crowds came to him in great numbers for his prayers.
18th and 19th Centuries
Cornelius Jansen was leader of a group called the Jansenists. See, Miracles…in Early Eighteenth Century Paris, by Robert Kreiser “The expectation of miracles had become almost an integral part of the Jansenist worldview by the end of the seventeenth century”. One miracle recorded is the cure of Pascal’s niece on March 16, 1656, of a lachrymal fistula in her eye.
John Wesley (1703-1791). John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist Church. He was involved in prayers that set free several individuals who were demon possessed. He also tells about his horse. (That was his means of transportation.) His horse became very lame on one leg. They couldn’t determine the reason. Wesley prayed for his horse and the leg became well. The Letter of John Wesley, by Telford.
Edward Irving (1792-1834) and the Catholic Apostolic Church. A lady, Margaret MacDonald, was bedridden for a week when an individual named James walked to her bedside and addressed her in the worlds of the Twentieth Psalm and said, Arise and stand upright”, and she was healed. Told by Rev. A. Robertson, of Greenock, in A Vindication of the Religion of the Land.
John Busco (1846). Mr. Busco came down with pneumonia. The last sacraments were administered. A priest told Busco….”Ask God for your recovery for the sake of those five hundred boys”. John obeyed, and the next day convalescing. Gathering a People by Judith Tydings.
Charles Price, in 1925, held a crusade in Edmonton, Alberta, in the then old arena, and many experienced healings.
There are numerous others, in more recent times, who prayed for unwell people who received a miracle/healing from God. Some names are Smith Wigglesworth, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kulman, etc..
The writer of this post has before him a magazine, Christian History; Touching the hem of his garment; Christian experiences of divine healing. This magazine issue 142, pp7-61, provides many instances of healing and miracles. (Many more than those mentioned above, in this post.) You can find Christian History Magazine, on Facebook.
In many of the instances of healing given in this post, demons (wicked spirits) are mentioned. Atheists and sceptics would deny such beings exist, but this points out a flaw in their thinking, because they do not believe in spiritual beings of any kind. However, they can learn of these by looking for the evidence. One publication which provides such evidence is a book, An Exorcist, More Stories, by Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist in Rome.
If you are an unbeliever, you can research this topic more intensely and come to understand and accept the truth that miracles are possible today, because of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Ultimately, you will decide whether David Hume’s views of miracles are valid, or if Jesus’ views are valid, as recorded in scripture and as has happened since then.
David Hume is buried in a tomb in Scotland which you can see if you search, ‘David Hume, Tomb’. He died some 250 years ago. On the other hand, Jesus died about 2000 years ago, but needed no permanent tomb because he was resurrected from the dead and works miracles today.
In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said, “I am he that lives and was dead: and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen: and have the keys of hades and of death”.
Jesus also said, in Mathew 11:28, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest”. That invitation still stands today.
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