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John Locke And David Hume: The Definition Of Miracle Essay

If you had to define the word miracle how would you define it, do you even believe miracles to be true? I know that myself surely believes in them. This whole world is too amazing not to believe. The word miracle and meaning behind it is something I have never dove deep into and have never really questioned so, after reading chapters eight and chapter nine in Faith& Reflection and seeing two different definitions of what John Locke and David Hume think a miracle is to them, I definitely have two new views on the definition of a miracle and I am very eager to share my thoughts with you.

To start off, I want to be clear and state that I believe that John Locke’s thoughts and beliefs on miracles could in principle, be justified. Locke not only gives his personal definitions but, he backs them up with stories and facts. Although there were parts of David Hume’s that I wanted to agree with and that truly made me think, I do not believe that his definition and thoughts of a miracle could be justified and I overall do not agree with his thoughts and beliefs of a miracle.

My personal concept of miracles have always been an event no one sees coming, that benefits and helps the overall good of all people, something that almost is too good to be true and can not be explained. I had grown up thinking miracles have always been God’s work and to this day I believe that. So, upon reading John Locke’s thoughts, facts, and definition of a miracle I was imminently drawn to him. I never have thought of the idea of miracles never really happening or never ringing true so upon reading Hume’s thoughts on miracles I was almost left speechless and a little confused on my thoughts but, I knew in my heart the true meaning and understanding of the word miracle and I did not agree with Hume’s thoughts.

First I am going to discuss John Locke’s beliefs and why I believe that they are justifiable. Locke’s theory of faith depends upon some kind of supernatural signs that the messenger really is from God. Signs that Locke calls- miracles. He defines miracles as an event which seems to the spectator to be outside the usual course of nature, beyond what he takes to be a natural physical law (Tiel, 43). Locke talks about attestation miracles, a miracle offered to vouch for a prophetic claim and a sign designed to vouch for someone that he, God, really is delivering a message (Tiel, 43). But, Locke’s thoughts and beliefs go deeper than these simple definitions.

Locke backs up his thoughts and beliefs with cold hard facts and examples. My favorite example that was used was the story from the Hebrew Bible about Gideon. Gideon was an Israelite, who was called out by God to raise an army and throw off an oppressor. Gideon was unsure if he was going crazy so he decided to test God, asking him to do certain things such as making the sheep’s skin dry of dew in the morning, when he woke up and this task was done Gideon was impressed but was not yet sold on the fact it was done. He then asked God for everything else to be dried of dew in the morning except for the sheep’s fur. When he woke up to find this exactly done Gideon was impressed and knew it was simply the work of God, or as some would call a miracle (Tiel, 48).

Locke’s theory can be justified because if this is not a miracle then what would be? If people can get healed from terminal illness and not call it God’s work or a miracle then what would we call it? There is too much goodness that God surprises us with and for us not to accept it and call it his work and an out-right miracle would just simply not be right.

Everyday things happen that change situations for the better. Such amazing things and we are unable to explain how they happened, leaving us to define these mystery events and outcomes only as God’s work, or as a miracle. One question I would like to ask Locke though, would be if a spectator does not see this event happen or witnesses a “miracle” first hand, is it still considered a miracle? This is something I was confused on upon reading Locke’s thoughts on miracles. If you were to ask me, I would say it absolutely is considered a miracle. God’s work can go unseen by us but that does not mean he has stopped working. I believe God works in many ways, throughout our everyday here on earth. The littlest things could be a miracle made and chosen by God and every decision I make I believe to be God’s work and that it is something he has lead me to do or has had happen to me.

On the other hand, we have David Hume’s thoughts and theories on what a miracle is. Hume defines a miracle as a violation of a natural law. Hume also notes that a natural law is a principle drawn from unexceptionable experience (Tiel, 50). Hume then goes on to say that no miracle can occur because a miracle is an event that is to both occur and violate a natural law that says that they never occur. Hume then talks about an epistemic attack, where it’s easier to say that you are seeing things and that you are crazy rather to think that you are witnessing a miracle.

I stopped for a few after reading this paragraph, I was a little confused and my thoughts seemed to be getting mixed up with Hume’s opinion. I believe that Hume’s thoughts and beliefs on miracles were not justified because he does not have any truth to back them up, only his opinion and although it stopped and made me think in the end it just does not make sense.

Although I do not exactly agree with Hume I would love for him to expand his thoughts further. If I could ask Hume some questions one of my top ones would be, if miracles never truly happens and they are not considered God’s work then how come people with terminal illnesses can wake up and be cured one day? There is not real answer to this and if that doesn’t show that there is a God and that he gives us miracles then I’m not sure what does!

In conclusion, I believe miracles happen everyday. Events that outcomes once seemingly set are changed by the work of God. Locke’s theory on miracles clearly back this up and this is why I find his theory justified. Hume’s theory has so many unanswered questions and leave me confused and without answers, leaving his theory unjustified in my eyes. Maybe none of us know the truth though, maybe God does not want us to know and just wants to surprise us day in and day out, keeping us thinking. Either way God’s work does not stop

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