If you mean the bit about Ockham's razor, I didn't mean to insult you, I just didn't think that it was particularly relevant to the point that I was making. Here's the whole thing and my remarks. "If a miracle is not a violation of the laws of nature, then how are we to separate the miraculous from the mundane? Obviously, the only way to do that for sure would be to prove that divine intervention is involved, but such proof is going to be elusive or impossible to find if the divinity is acting through the medium of natural laws." These words are the part of the passage that I commented on. If it's possible for something to be a miracle and simultaneously be scientifically indistinguishable from a non-miraculous event, then what kind of evidence can the (misnamed) "skeptic" appeal to to "debunk" it? Please be aware that I am not trying to argue for the reality of miracles (something that will likely fly right over the heads of some on Sciforums), let alone tying to convince you to believe in them. I'm merely arguing that conceived in Augustine's manner, miracles are going to be rather difficult to "debunk". You continue: "Given, then, that we can't prove divine intervention, can we perhaps infer it from circumstances in some way? I think not. For example, how will we distinguish between a fortuitous, unlikely coincidence and a divine act?" I agree with that... if the goal was to convince somebody who doesn't believe in miracles that an event was a miracle. As an agnostic, I fall in that category myself. I don't really believe in miracles. I don't consider miracles to be strong theistic evidences. But the issue here isn't convincing me, it's explaining how the (misnamed) "skeptic" can successfully "debunk" somebody else's belief that some event is a miracle. What we have is a religious individual A who basically constructs a narrative around events, such that the events are interpreted as meaningful and perhaps even revelatory. Then along comes another individual B, our atheist who has constructed a counter-narrative in which precisely the same events are interpreted as being without any purpose or meaning. The events themselves are equally consistent with both narratives. So one's choice of interpretive narrative wouldn't seem to be a function of empirical evidence at all. Hence there wouldn't seem to be any empirical evidence that the atheist could appeal to in order to scientifically "debunk" a miracle. "Some people are probably willing to label any fortunate or happy event - the birth of a child, say - as a miracle from God. But there's no evidence at all that such events require any intervention by a god. We are left, therefore, with two options: (1) put the fortunate event down to entirely natural processes; or (2) put the fortunate event down to entirely natural processes manipulated by God. Occam's razor suggests that adding God into the mix is a superfluous hypothesis that should be discarded, since the alternative explanation is simpler and has equal explanatory power." Again I agree. But parsimony doesn't really "debunk" the religious person's interpretation, it just provides a reason why the atheist isn't willing to adopt it. Many times (in science particularly) the accepted explanation for something isn't the simplest account. What's more, the religious person could (and probably would) present a counter argument that doesn't depend on metaphysical parsimony at all, arguing that the miraculous interpretation makes the universe a meaningful and emotionally evocative place instead of dehumanizing it. "It seems you agree with me, then, that to add God into the interpretation is to add a belief that is not grounded in any objective facts. Why do it, then? The only reason I can see is that it makes the religious person feel good, or it comforts them, or it otherwise appeals to their religious worldview. There's danger in believing things are real just because you'd like them to be real. Don't you think?" I agree. If we take that to heart, then we would all need to be agnostics. Again, the actual evidence is consistent with both versions. So it isn't really an empirical matter at all. It isn't a scientific question and it can't be settled by use of the mythical "scientific method". It's more about one's choice of metaphysical presumptions and about what kind of metaphysical assumptions one finds most resonant. It's a question of what kind of universe people would rather believe that they live in. "Fine, but why assume the source of the meaning is God, rather than in the human beings who assign significance to the events?" Fair enough. Atheism is a choice of interpretive principles as well. Just because the atheist chooses to interpret events as having no goal, intention, meaning or purpose doesn't mean that events lack them. If the goal is to "debunk" the choice to interpret events in such a way, the goal still hasn't been met. "The relevant point is the one about onus of proof. It should be up to the person alleging a miracle (or 1550 of them) to present the evidence for those miracles and to explain how he knows they are miracles. It is not up to other people to try to prove the negative. The time to believe in the miracle is when there is sufficient evidence to justify belief." No,no,no,no. there we disagree. The burden of "proof" (actually its a burden of argument) lies with whoever wants to convince somebody else to change their mind. That second person has to be provided with some reason why they would want to. Which once again works against the "debunker". If somebody sets out to discredit somebody else's belief, the burden is always going to lie with the one hoping to do the discrediting. The believer won't change their mind unless the atheist succeeds in convincing them. Of course if the believer wanted to convince you of the truth of their belief, then the burden would indeed be on them. You won't change your mind unless the believer succeeds in convincing you.