Religious belief: A natural phenomenon with natural causes

In our time, as in Hume’s, billions of people all over the world derive their moral framework, attitude towards life, and conduct towards others from belief in a supernatural entity and the
Philosophy News image
Suppose the government runs random screening for a very rare mutation – Mutation X – present in 1 in every million. The test is 99% accurate. If your result is positive, does this mean that you probably have Mutation X? No. Imagine that there are 100 million people, of which 100 are X-carriers and 99,999,900 are not. On average, 99% of the X-carriers, that is 99 people, will test positive. But 1% of non-carriers, that is 999,999 people, will also test positive. So you know that you are in one of these groups, but not which. In fact, you should be about 10,000 times more confident of being in the non-carrier group, because there are 10,000 times more people in it. You should be practically certain that the test is wrong. This is a secular, quantitative, and imaginary application of the simple and devastating critique of religion that we find in David Hume’s great 1748 essay ‘Of Miracles’. Hume’s main point is that ‘no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

blog comments powered by Disqus