I'm currently marking a collection of essays on - among others - the topic:
Are miracles proof of God’s existence? Give reasons for your answer.
A lot of people are referencing Hume (it was in the reading recommendations) and giving the answer, "Miracles don't exist".
The reason why they came to this conclusion is that Hume provides a fairly thorough discussion of why we may not be able to trust the testimony of the miraculous from others. Any account that tries to provide such an incredible claim as the miraculous must be sufficiently thorough, detailed, well witnessed, and well evidenced... and no written or verbal claims by hearsay or historical record can stand up to skeptical scrutiny to such a high degree. Hume also makes the point that religious testimony is self-defeating because of two reasons: (1) a miracle that apparently violates the laws of physics is remarkable precisely because of the uniformity of our experiences that miracles like that just don't happen, (if they did, they wouldn't be amazing); and, (2) miracles of opposing religions provide contradicting testimony that point towards different gods (the argument being that if e.g. Islamic miracles are true then Christianity can't be correct, and vice versa). And so, the students reasonably conclude, "Miracles don't occur."
In my humble opinion, THAT'S NOT A VALID ANSWER. In fact, that answer is non sequitur.
The question doesn't ask, "Do Miracles occur?". It asks if miracles, for the sake of argument, would be proof of God's existence.
It's a problem I've noticed with discussion about religion in other contexts. People don't simply say, "I don't have sufficient evidence to believe in your proposed god", they tend to lean towards universalising generalisations like, "No evidence exists for your god" or ... "Miracles can't happen".
Now I'm not saying I have ever witnessed a miracle. I don't think I have. I'm not convince many or any have. But that's irrelevant. You can't just make the strong, negative claim of nonexistent-evidence-in-principle when examining the philosophical link between a miracle and a deity. If I sit inside with my curtains drawn, that doesn't mean that the photons shining on my garden aren't caused by the sun. I don't have to see the photons to hypothetically discuss the relationship.
I'll put the essay question into another context.
Would naked photos of your wife sleeping with another man be evidence of her affair? Give reasons for your answer.
Stupid Answer: The naked photos don't exist.
Irrelevant. Nobody said they did. But IF they did, would they be evidence? Yes.
Do miracles occur? Yes, no, maybe. Who cares! (in this case, that is)
So, what do you think?
Are Miracles proof of God's existence? Why? (hint: the answer is not, 'they don't happen')
Is Hume being unfair? Why or why not?
Have you ever witnessed a miracle?