Dowe devotes a section of his book to the idea of miracles. Miracles are an aspect of religion that really pushes science, due to the fact that when kept separate, the existence of miracles still challenges principles of science. Dowe assesses an argument from an empirical approach that aims to debunk miracles as a basis for believing in God. He also looks to an apologist who seems to find the overlap of where science can be used in favor of religion.
David Hume is the philosopher Dowe looks to for the argument against rational belief in God. Hume offers the concept of proportioning belief to evidence. Laws of nature are seen as evidence to which result in a full proof. This can only happen when all the evidence is in agreement. When all evidence is not in agreement Hume refers to it as probability. Dowe does not concur with the argument for evidence and is inclined to agree with John Mackie. Mackie through deduction asserts that with the way Hume has defined proof and probability, laws can be asserted which do not turn out to be laws. Dowe suggests further that strong evidence for laws of nature which depend on uniform experience hinge on the extent and representative nature of the experiences (85). Hume also looks at the place of testimony as evidence. Hume's first argument is aptly summarized, "no human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle" (96).
Hume's second argument (which he never really addressed) deals with the thinking in which the overlap of religion and science occurs. Dowe follows the argument out where Hume did not and plays it to the end. Dowe maintains that when faced with the occurrence of a miracle, Hume would infer to the idea of natural explanation which awaits discovery, over and above inferring to God (97). George Schlesinger provides defense using a scientific method called inference to the best explanation. The inference idea subscribes that which the evidence confirms above the other and to the least complex of two hypotheses. Dowe aligns with Schlesinger's proposition of inference to the best explanation. This seems to be a strong argument for religion.
Dowe's argument for Schlesinger's defensive appears to be well founded. The most compelling aspect of the argument is what Dowe states at the end of the chapter. Dowe insists adamantly that scientists use inference to the best explanation. Reading further in Dowe's book, it is easy to understand what he meant. The chapter on evolution shows that Darwin was really using the same inference to the best explanation with his observations. One of the best ways to find harmony between ideas is to take the method used to produce contrary support and show how it works in favor as well. This ability demonstrates the capacity in which overlap is able to take place. One method of looking at one issue with two answers does not seem logical. The ability to prove one side right over another is no longer available as a consequence. Dowe's point here is not to prove one side correct or incorrect. Dowe argues the harmonious interaction that is possible between religion and science. The interaction is seemingly forced on the issue of miracles. Suggesting that miracles happen creates a crossover into the scientific realm. Meeting the conflict with a thinking that relates to science creates a very sturdy position on which to stand.
The argument Dowe proposes also has implicit weakness. Hume intended to prove there exists no rational belief for the existence of God. While Dowe rises to the argument with the help of Schlesinger, Dowe does not meet Hume head on. The idea of inferring to the best explanation is used by both parties in the argument, but to seemingly different ends. Hume strives to show that there is no rationale for the belief in God through the apportioning of belief to evidence and inferring to the best explanation. The central idea to Hume's thinking is proof. Dowe is not on the path to find proof that God does exist, which places him in an entirely different world. Dowe's point of intersection decays once this is taken into account. The premise of Dowe's argument is harmony of interaction but the interaction is not on the same plane. Dowe looks to best explanation concerning miracles while Hume looks proof of miracles. Dowe does not place emphasis on Hume's being correct which is what Hume stresses most. This was Dowe's main idea, but for the sake of arguing on miracles the argument falls short. Hume has the advantage of setting the stage for the encounter.
Dowe's chapter on miracles is a very thought provoking and confusing chapter. The strength of the argument Dowe proposes seems to have a weakness that dwells within. The issue is not necessarily with the argument that he presents, but at the point that he finds the intersection of the areas of which he is referring, science and religion. Dowe's line of thought may be correct, but the point from which he starts does not coincide which where he ends up. Can the harmony still exist if the point of intersection shifts?