As mentioned previously, I am following a book club type format for this book over on another blog. I was going to just participate over there but I have a lot more to say than I want to shove into their comments, so I figured I'd do a normal long form post over here and then just talk about 1 or 2 main points over there. I'm sticking to my normal format of bold for section heading, regular text for summary, and italics for my commentary.
Dawkins says that miracles are impossible, that just shows how invested he is in his naturalistic worldview. He should be open to the possibility that there are miracles. There is an anecdote about Johann Ludwig Krapf who say show on mountaintops in 1849, when he reported this he was not believed by the scientific community of the time who thought such a thing was impossible. Those scientists should have been open to an unexpected idea and in the same way so should Dawkins. By simply ruling out the possiblities of miracles before examining the facts he is making a huge mistake. Furthermore, Christianity would crumble if miracles were impossible.
I have a few comments here, but largely I agree with the sentiment expressed. To simply state that certain things are impossible and refuse to consider evidence is a bad thing. The story of Krapf given in the book is a good example of that and the Dawkins portrayed in the section is also an example of it. My impression of Dawkins is not that he has simply dismissed miracles out of hand, but rather that he has looked at plenty of miracle claims and found them lacking and now doesn't think they are worth his time. He is not saying they are 100% for sure not true, just that it sounds similar to other miracle claims that he has examined that have failed to stand up to scrutiny. (Again, this is my impression of Dawkins after reading a fairly small amount of his writing)
But you might ask, what about the fact that Dawkins has clearly stated that he doesn't believe miracles are possible? I honestly wonder if that is at least partly a communication/terminology problem. I would ask what is really meant when you call something a miracle? Do you mean something that is impossible but it happened anyway? Is it something that has a supernatural origin? What does supernatural really mean? These are words that we have an intuitive sense of what they mean, but nailing down a definition can be difficult. I've written about this a little bit before.
Are Miracles Improbably?
In the God delusion Dawkins defines miracles as "events that are extremely improbably".
Perhaps what I just wrote is not quite right, Dawkins did talk about definitions. Now I'm going to have to go back and read his book again when I have time.
This definition is difficult because improbable depends on what the background is. If a student goes to a school where 10% of the students surf it is improbable that he surfs but if he goes to a different school in Hawaii for example, it is much more likely that he surfs.
Point taken I suppose, but using examples where 10% is your boundary for improbable really doesn't compare to what Dawkins means. (I can say that with confidence without going back to his book)
If we assume God exists then it isn't improbable that miracles occur, if we assume naturalism then miracles are impossible. It depends on where you start.
Why don't you start with an open mind? Starting by assuming you are correct is garbage. Assuming God doesn't exist is just as bad of a starting point as assuming he does exist, and the people you are talking about don't do that.
Didn't Hume Disprove the Case for Miracles?
Hume says that miracles are not possible and we should just discount them. They are not repeatable, they don't happen. His argument in circular, it only makes sense to say miracles are impossible if you start by assuming that miracles are impossible.
If that is a fair summary of Hume I would agree, however, I honestly don't trust this author. I am putting that book on my reading list, it sounds interesting, I might even do some posts about it later.
Hume's "In Fact" Objection
Hume gives 4 facts that he says discount the rational belief in miracles.
1. No historical miracle has been sufficiently attested by honest and reliable men. But the gospel writers were both intelligent and capable so this criticism falls flat.
My understanding is there is little to no extra-biblical evidence for those miracles.
2. People crave miraculous stories and will tend to be gullible. The author agrees with this and urges caution
3. Miracles only occur among barbarous people. The Jews were highly educated and sophisticated.
4. Miracles occur in all religions and cancel each other out in terms of likelihood. But Christianity is unique in it's claims being supported.
Obviously he would claim that, I'm curious to see his evidence.
Miracle Case Study: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
While naturalism challenges the resurrection, so does the resurrection challenge naturalism. Hitchens says that we can just write off the resurrection claim without looking at the evidence but this is a mistake as many have found the claims credible. There are 5 facts in "The case for the Resurrection of Jesus" which are "well evidenced and granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, regardless of his or her theological persuasion."
I'm not going to go into the details here as I am not a historian and don't really have much to add on specifics. I will say this though, I don't find it credible when it is claimed that everyone or almost everyone agrees with me in the way the author stated. Further, they offered 4 people as examples and only 1 was a historian. Why would I care what Anne Rice thinks about this? Why would these be the 4 examples you give? It suggests to me your argument is weak.