Philosophy Bro explains complex ideas of philosophy in easy to understand language, created by Tommy Maranges, the author of Descartes' Meditations, Bro.

David Hume's "Of Miracles": A Summary

Unfortunately, we can’t see everything that goes on everywhere all the time to verify it for ourselves. That would be really convenient, but it’s just not possible. So we have to rely on the testimony of others to verify things we haven’t seen for ourselves. How do we actually know Charlie Sheen is a bro king? We didn’t witness him having sex with porn stars and partying for 36 straight hours for ourselves - maybe that never actually happened. Still, in the face of zero denials and 24/7 news coverage, it’s pretty hard not to believe - the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Charlie Sheen is a Fucking G Hypothesis, and it’s perfectly reasonable to believe it based on all that. It turns out, though, we have the same rule for everything, even the laws of nature. How do we that gravity causes rocks to fall to the ground when they’re dropped? Because every single person in history who has ever dropped a rock on Earth reports that it fell. Everyone. No exceptions. Gravity, magnetism, speed of light, we know all that shit because we’ve seen it, and everyone swears they see it too - that’s how laws of nature are discovered. It’s that simple.

Of course, not everything is universally agreed upon. Did OJ Simpson really kill Nicole? Well, I mean, the evidence seems pretty compelling to all of us out here, but the 12 people whose opinion really mattered, who really got treated to the full exposition of the evidence, said they weren’t sure. So we can’t say outright, “He absolutely killed that bitch.” At best we can say, “Probably. He probably absolutely killed that bitch.” Really, we should say, “Maybe. Maybe he absolutely killed that bitch.” We have to weigh the evidence and the testimony, just as with any claim - we can only believe a claim insofar as the evidence favors it over its denial. Sometimes, it’s just barely.

Sometimes people claim even crazier shit than, “OJ is innocent.” What could possibly be crazier than that? Fucking miracles. Occasionally someone insists that somewhere, for some period of time, the laws of nature stopped working and something absolutely batshit insane happened, like the sun danced in the sky or a bro rose from the dead, and he expects you to take him at his word. “No, seriously, bro, I swear. It fucking happened. I saw it!” as if you don’t have the right to be incredulous at such a fucking outlandish claim. And then he gets pissed off at you for not believing him - “How could you know? You weren’t there! You didn’t see it!” So then you have to put on the patient gloves and kindly explain why he should get the fuck out of your face. “Okay dipshit, look. There’s a ton of shit I haven’t seen. In fact, there’s a ton of shit *no one* has seen, like a man coming back from the dead. So you’ll excuse me if I look for alternate causes when everyone in the world has, for thousands of years, reported with just about 100% accuracy - ‘dead people: still fucking dead’ and then suddenly you claim that maybe a hundred of you saw something different.”

After all, I only know that everyone everywhere has stayed dead because we all agree that’s true. I only know the sun doesn’t fucking dance because I’ve seen it do the exact same thing every day of my life: not fucking dance. So has every single person in the world. It’s like we’ve repeated this experiment billions of times, and now you’re telling me that one bro saw something different? It’s you against every single person in history. Is it possible you were deceived or mistaken? Doesn’t that seem more likely? The evidence doesn’t look good, champ.

But what if it’s true? What if it really did happen? What would it take to render a miracle probable? Look, I’m all about the possibility that the future won’t be exactly like the past - I’ve built my entire career on the idea - but again, it doesn’t look good. So far, no miracle has even close to enough people testifying for it, much less trustworthy people. You say a hundred people witnessed the miracle? Funny how that miracle would entirely confirm the religious beliefs of all hundred of them - what a strange coincidence! Besides, people want to be fooled. They love believing in the supernatural, in shit that seems impossible. Maybe it’s not a miracle that Jesus appeared in your ham sandwich - maybe it’s just that, given all the ham sandwiches made in history, one of them was bound to look sort of like a guy in flowing robes with long hair eventually. Some people refuse to accept reason and leave their superstitions behind, but that doesn’t mean I should have to believe their bullshit.

Plus, have you ever noticed how the more civilized we get, the fewer miracles get reported? It’s not strange that none of the crazy shenanigans from the Old Testament happen anymore - it makes prefect sense, really. I guess I could see how you might think a bunch of people dying suddenly is the wrath of some gods, until you learn about germs. Do you think it’s strange that the very earth shakes beneath your feet? It’s called plate tectonics, bitch, get a taste. Those are the opposite of miraculous, it turns out - it’s the laws of nature acting whether we like it or not. It’s never long before we come up with ways to actually explain things in accord with everything else, but until then we have thousands of years of literature about miracles to put up with, and thousands of people who prefer to believe that literature than everyone else on the planet, and their own experiences besides.

Except we have a bunch of different literature about miracles. So not only do people who believe in miracles disagree with people who don’t, they disagree with people who believe in other miracles. Look, if you want to believe that you saw a guy rise from the dead and no one else did, that’s one thing. But you’re telling me that you saw a bro rise from the dead, but that someone else in the Middle East making the same claim is obviously a liar and a heretic? Why the fuck should I believe you but not him? Every religion is outweighed by the denial of every other religion, and everyone else in history.

You can’t prove religion via miracles, because you can’t prove miracles. Your complete suspension of reason in favor of faith is your business, but if you try to 'prove’ your religion based on reason, I’m going to embarrass you. Seriously bro, your continued faith is really the only miracle I can believe in, since it violates the very laws of nature and reason more flagrantly than any dancing sun could.

Mailbag Monday: The Problem of Evil

Immanuel Kant's "How is Metaphysics in General Possible?": A Summary