The skeptic David Hume gave what is perhaps the greatest attack on the Bible ever given. Many of today’s Bible critics are borrowing from Hume’s ideas, even though most of them have never read Hume.
In section 10 of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume states:
It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle . . .
Here Hume is defining miracles out of existence by simple assertion. He is stating that no one has ever experienced a miracle, and this uniform experience is a proof. Of course, this statement is used to discount the eyewitness accounts of the people who did experience a miracle, namely that many people claimed to have seen Jesus alive after He was killed. In other words, Jesus did not rise from the dead because we all know people do not rise from the dead, therefore all the eyewitness accounts of Jesus rising from the dead must be wrong. Modern atheists repeat such poor logic, only they are much more adept at ridicule and name-calling. If used on any other subject, a first-year philosophy student would not pass.
Hume goes on to attack the credibility of the eyewitnesses, saying that we all know that accounts of miracles are from uneducated people in far away places that cannot be verified or are proven false upon examination. Such a tactic is also a favorite of modern-day atheists, for it posits the Biblical account as something it is not. Reading what we are actually told in the resurrection accounts, the risen Jesus appeared in a city during a major feast with large numbers of visitors and in front of many educated people and government officials, even those who were attempting to disprove the event.
The resurrection of Jesus is indeed an unusual event, to say the least. But can we reasonably dismiss it out of hand?
The spouse of a co-worker of mine was once pregnant. Extensive pre-natal tests in one of the finest hospitals showed a major medical defect. Repeated tests confirmed the situation, and the parents were prepared for a major surgery on the baby as soon as it was born. Many Christians were in prayer, and the parents were highly stressed. Upon birth, the medical team was in place, but examination of the newborn showed a perfectly healthy baby, an absence of the condition that the same tests showed existed just a few days earlier. I, perhaps being more attuned to skeptics than I should, begged the parents to obtain copies of the medical records so they could document a miracle. But the parents were of course more relieved in a healthy baby than they were worried about skepticism, so they never asked for copies of the records. Can I document this miracle? No. Are some of the accounts like these false? Assuredly so. Do the vast majority of sick people never see a miracle? Right again. Are there religious con-men that fake miracles for personal gain? Yes. Can we dismiss all miracle accounts out of hand as impossible? Try to tell that to those who were actually there. These were top doctors, in modern times, with parents who have technical degrees from major universities. They all saw the tests. We cannot dismiss all these cases out of hand as impossible by using a-priori logical fallacies.
In the case of the apostles who witnessed the risen Jesus, they spent the rest of their days telling others about this man Jesus. Doing so cost them their lives and their livelihoods. A reasonable person will read their accounts of what they saw, touched, and heard, and realize that the evidence is on the side of the truth of what we read in the Bible. On this coming Easter, I urge you to read about Jesus.