You have made reference to Occams Razor as an argument implying that you understood how it is used in science. But the argument you were making was not Occam but seemingly the classic David Hume argument against the likelihood of miracles. Hume was not a scientist. And contemporary philosophy of science (the foundation of the scientific method) rejects Hume. For to accept his argument would present us with no way, also, to explain quantum theory and chaos theory.
Occam argues that given two different testable hypotheses (not theories or proofs) that provide the same result, then the one which is simplest is likely to be the preferred one. Occam cannot be used to argue against miracles as a miracle cannot, by definition, be tested.
I suspect, but do not know, that you have a Bultmannian hang up regarding miracles. As you know, Rudolf Karl Bultmann's wrote that "No modern educated person can accept the possibilities of miracles." Perhaps he should have said that he did not believe in miracles or opined that modern man should not believe. To wit how wrong he was:
A recent Harris Poll (The Harris Poll, Feb 26, 2003) of Americans found that 84% of all adults believe in miracles (93% of Christians) and 80% believe in the resurrection (96% of Christians). The percentage of those who believe in miracles is supported by a 1988 Gallup Organization poll that found that 79% of American adults believe that God works and still works miracles. In the more recent Harris poll it is interesting to note that for people with post-graduate degrees, 72% believe in miracles and 64% believe in the resurrection.
Some, such as 'political' scientist George Bishop, have argued that there is a direct correlation between scientific knowledge and disbelief in miracles (Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 19, Number 3. "Religious Beliefs of Scientists"). He implies that the non-believers are the scientists and the rest of us just don't have the scientific knowledge to understand.
But John Polkinghorne, quantum physicist, cites studies that show more than 40% percent of scientists worldwide believe in "hand-of-God" divine action (see "Belief in God in an Age of Science," Yale University Press, 1998) including miraculous formed images. A Nature magazine article "Scientists are still keeping the faith" by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham (Apr 3, 1997, vol 386) reports that 39.3% of scientists (limited to the hard sciences) believe in "a God to whom one may pray in expectation of receiving an answer." This polling statement implies at least a degree of divine actioni.e. miracle.
An international survey by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) in 1991, with a more restrictive affirmation statement that read, "I definitely believe in `religious miracles'" showed belief at 45.6% among American scientists with slightly less belief in middle European and post-Soviet block nations.
Belief in miracles (or magic as you like to call it) is not founded on special knowledge such as science or philosophy.
If you wish to argue by science, then be scientific.
posted on 04/17/2004 3:47:23 AM PDT
> If you wish to argue by science, then be scientific.
I have been. Your arguement regarding miracles is that lots of educated people believe in them; but then, lots of educated people also believe in Creationism, Clintonism, Communism and Socialism. A lot of educated people wanted Howard Dean for President.
"Lots of educated people believe that" is a meaningless arguement. Education or intelligence do not prevent one from having irrational beliefs based on emotion rather than reason.
> Belief in miracles (or magic as you like to call it) is not founded on special knowledge such as science or philosophy.
Indeed. It's based on wishful thinking.
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