Meta, I read through this thread again, and it appears that you tried to reply to the post I made on Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:25 am, but edited it instead. Below is my reply to some of your comments in that post.
Tyrrho: Whether they are descriptive or prescriptive is a bit of a red herring. The fact is, they are so reliably consistent that we have very good reason to believe there are no exceptions.
The regularity of the law wouldn't make any difference if our observations of it are incomplete. There are ovations of other rising form the dead. But what difference should the regularity of events make f there's a transcendent cause that is not naturalistic? If our perceptions are incomplete then it's only supposed that there's no intervention!
It doesn't matter if our observations are incomplete. If there are no known exceptions, that is strong reason to believe there are no exceptions, especially if many of our theories are based on the assumption that there are no exceptions, and these theories have been used to make many predictions, which all turned out to be accurate.
And while the possibility of a transcendent cause can't be ruled out, there is no way of taking it into account in our probability calculations.
Tyrrho: It doesn't beg the question. It makes the very obvious point that the prior probability of a miracle occurring must be balanced against the prior probability of the report of a miracle being wrong.
Yet if the observations are not complete the alleged probability of the report being wrong is just assumed based upon ideology. Everything evidence for the report is made it's denounced on basis of theory rather than actual evidence. when good solid evidence is made it's immediately swept under the rug on the assumption that it can't becuase we swept all the past evidence under the rug.
Observations are never complete. You have to makes estimates of probability based on what you know.
Tyrrho: I will grant you that someone who already believes in God will quite reasonably allow a higher prior probability of a miracle occurring, and is more likely to accept the testimony. So testimony of a miracle might provide confirmation of what you already believe. I just don't think it works in providing an atheist with a good reason to believe.
then how do you explain conversion experience miracles? what makes you think that x-rays and cat scans care about prior events or belief systems?
Hey, if I have a conversion experience miracle, then I'll stop arguing with you.
But someone else's conversion experience doesn't seem particularly miraculous to me.
X-rays and cat scans mean nothing without accompanying testimony, and it is the probability of that testimony being inaccurate that is at issue.
Tyrrho: Keep in mind that Hume is thinking of miracles that violate the laws of nature, and is not claiming that they can't happen. His argument is epistemological rather than ontological, and is probabilistic, rather than deductive.
His reason for casting into doubt is based upon the assertion since prior reports have been swept under rug that it's safe to assume they haven't happened. Arguing that they can't happen for some reason would make more science logically than just arguing they don't because there's really no reason to think that once one becomes aware of the claims.
In practical terms, it might be impossible for one (who is an atheist) to come to believe that a miracle has occurred, since by the time enough repeatable evidence had been gathered to show that a law of nature had been violated, the law would have been either modified or discarded, and the event would no longer be considered a miracle. But it is still a question of whether we can have good reason to believe that a miracle has occurred, rather than whether a miracle is possible.
Tyrrho: I haven't heard of any Lourdes miracles that violate any laws of nature.
of course all of them do. The rules demand that they must have no naturalistic explanation or they are not chosen. Any time an incurable disease is cured and there's no sign of remission (remission is not ever the total over night disappearance of all traces of disease but a slow reversal of disease process) that is a violation of natural law.
You can't have a cure without any sign of remission, by definition.
The body heals itself of disease in ways that we don't completely understand. That doesn't mean that these ways are not natural.
Tyrrho: A "miraculous" cure doesn't violate any conservation laws, or laws of motion, thermodynamics, etc. The human body is sufficiently complex that the fact that we can't explain the cure doesn't mean there isn't a natural explanation.
You are trying to say that there are no possibilities of miracles because nothing that happens in the human body can be opposed to natural law, that's foolish. Rising from the dead, eyes that were totally blind seeing again over night perfect vision, lungs growing back over night perfectly new (not saint making miracle) those are things that "can't happen" but did.
Rising after appearing to be dead does not violate any natural laws. Rising after actually being dead for some time would, but it is awfully hard to distinguish one from the other.
Eyes that were totally blind seeing again might or might not be a violation of natural law. If it was a matter of nerve regeneration, we know that does happen on rare occasions.
Lungs growing back over night sounds awfully hard to document. One would have to wonder why we don't see cases of arms and legs growing back overnight.