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Justified Belief in Miracles is Impossible

Justified Belief in Miracles is Impossible

David Kyle Johnson

Associate Professor of Philosophy, King’s College, 133 N River Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702, USA.



If one claims that some religious belief is justified by the occurrence of a miracle, that religious belief is justified only if the belief that the miracle occurred is justified. Hume famously argued that testimony cannot justify belief in the miraculous (and thus also cannot justify religious belief), but I will argue that nothing can justify the belief that a miracle has occurred—not even seeing a miracle for oneself. To establish this, I will explore two shortcomings in Hume’s argument that motive the development of a new (correct) criterion regarding when belief in the miraculous is justified; I will then show why it is impossible to fulfill this criterion. I will conclude by considering objections.


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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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