The Miracle Myth

Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified

Larry Shapiro

Columbia University Press

The Miracle Myth

Pub Date: August 2016

ISBN: 9780231178402

192 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $27.95£22.00

Pub Date: August 2016

ISBN: 9780231542142

192 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $26.99£22.00

The Miracle Myth

Why Belief in the Resurrection and the Supernatural Is Unjustified

Larry Shapiro

Columbia University Press

There are many who believe Moses parted the Red Sea and Jesus came back from the dead. Others are certain that exorcisms occur, ghosts haunt attics, and the blessed can cure the terminally ill. Though miracles are immensely improbable, people have embraced them for millennia, seeing in them proof of a supernatural world that resists scientific explanation.

Helping us to think more critically about our belief in the improbable, The Miracle Myth casts a skeptical eye on attempts to justify belief in the supernatural, laying bare the fallacies that such attempts commit. Through arguments and accessible analysis, Larry Shapiro sharpens our critical faculties so we become less susceptible to tales of myths and miracles and learn how, ultimately, to evaluate claims regarding vastly improbable events on our own. Shapiro acknowledges that belief in miracles could be harmless, but cautions against allowing such beliefs to guide how we live our lives. His investigation reminds us of the importance of evidence and rational thinking as we explore the unknown.
The Miracle Myth is an extremely impressive book. It is beautifully written, engaging yet philosophically sophisticated, and offers a novel perspective on the question of how to assess the reliability of accounts of miracles. Even those of us who remain convinced that the evidence for miracles is compelling will find plenty to think about in Shapiro's arguments. David A. Skeel, author of True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World
The Miracle Myth is an exceptionally clear book on a controversial and interesting topic. Michael P. Lynch, author of The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data
Shapiro does more than hammer some more nails in the coffin of miracles that David Hume fashioned. He marshals much of what we have learned about inference to the best explanation and Bayes's theorem in the 270 years since Hume's inquiry. Yet he does it with Hume's lightness of touch, a wealth of relevant examples of contemporary credulousness, and no equations. It is a book to enjoy and then pass on to friends given to wishful thinking. Alex Rosenberg, author of The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions
Most people, at least in the United States, believe in miracles. But should they? In this easy to read and often witty book the philosopher Shapiro demonstrates that there is no scientific or logical justification for doing so. I suspect that The Miracle Myth will convert few true believers, but even they should benefit from reading it. Ronald L. Numbers, author of The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design
Shapiro makes a clear argument, which allows us—believers or not—to examine critically our own positions. Library Journal
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Justified and Unjustified Belief
2. Miracles
3. Justifying Belief in Supernatural Causes
4. Justifying Belief in Improbable Events
5. Evidence for Miracles
6. Jesus's Resurrection
7. Should We Care That Beliefs in Miracles Are Unjustified?
Appendix 1. What Is Supernatural?
Appendix 2. Supernatural Causes
Notes
Further Reading
Index

Read the preface:

About the Author

Larry Shapiro is professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Embodied Cognition (2011), Zen and the Art of Running: The Path to Making Peace with Your Pace (2009), and The Mind Incarnate (2004), and the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition (2014) and Arguing About the Mind (2007).