Miracles

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  • Miracles
    • Supporters
      • Aquinas
        • Definition of miracles = as ‘those things done by divine power apart from the order usually followed in things’. This view suggests that God can do what he wants with his creation.
        • Identified 3 types of miracle
          • Events done by God that nature could never do; e.g. stopping the sun in the sky as in Joshua 10, or at Fatima in Portugal, when the sun moved in the sky.
          • Events done by God that nature can do, only God does not use the laws of nature; e.g. healing someone by forgiving them their sins.
          • Events done by God that nature could do, but not in that order; e.g. bringing someone back to life (Lazarus), or healing someone of blindness (Blind Bartimaeus).
        • Miracle = act of G-d which = beneficial to recpient which may break natural law but doesn't have to
      • Tillich
        • Miracles = signs from G-d  (rel sig) - should reveal something about him to people 
        • argues that a miracle is an event that does not contradict the rational structure of reality
        • Miracles have to violate laws of nature to be out of ordinary, not G-d violating laws of nature. Must go against laws of nature to be a miracle
        • Miracles have to reveal something about God's nature -  focuses more on the consequences and effects it has on the person. Means - natural events may be perceived as miracle + have rel dig for person witnessing events 
      • C.S. Lewis
        • Stated that we're either naturalists or super naturalists [believe in God] and if we're super naturalists, we can accept the possibility of miracles
      • Polkinghorne
        • Science cannot completely disprove it's occurrence
        • Laws of nature don't change yet consequences may
        • Consequences may change if God begins to deal with humans in a new way
    • Critics
      • Wiles
        • G-d who intervines selectively wouldn't be worthy of worship because of his failure to act on wider scale
        • God either performs partisan and arbitrary miracles, in which case he is not worthy of miracles, or he does intervene at all.
        • against a God that would act in the world and is good, but won't prevent the holocaust of WW2. This raises q's about his omnipotence and goodness - PROB OF EVIL
        • idea of God acting in special or particular cases in response to prayers = rejected. God actions leads to q's about God being biased.
        • Arbitary - based based on random choice
        • Partisan - favours some but not all
        • If miracles violate laws of nature then they would have to occur infrequently to avoid laws of nature becoming meaningless
        • Leaves view that G-d = disinterested + only intervenes in world occassioanlly
      • Hume
        • impossible to prove them – he is an empiricist (bases knowledge on experience).
        • ‘A transgression of a law of nature brought about by a particular violation of a Deity’.
        • Nothing that can happen in nature should be called a miracle
        • 5 arguments:
          • Not enough evidence of miracles to outweigh our general experience. Rationality requires that belief is proportionate to evidence. ‘A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence
          • People tend to exaggerate and are drawn towards the sensational and drama. The often have a desire to believe.
          • conflicting claims that cancel each other out. Hick’s response would be that all religions lead to one God though.
          • testimonies usually came from ignorant and barbarous nations.
          • Insufficient witnesses – must be witnessed by a highly credible, good sense, well-educated person. How much education is ‘enough’?
        • Occurrence of miracles must be very rare event - skeptics + believers
      • Holland
        • miracles = interpretations as imagine if a child was playing of a railway and got stuck when a train was coming and the train miraculously stops, his mother would call this a miracle but in actual fact the train driver collapsed onto the dead man's handle.
      • Vardy
        • miracles show God to take sides and be immoral: why does God not intervene to stop big disasters but seems to save a small choir group in Nebraska?
    • On the fence
      • Swinburne
        • Quantum Laws prove that the universe is probabilistic - miracles do not violate laws
        • Humans have created these laws, this means that miracles could be thought of as being natural - 'Perhaps God can suspend natural laws on occasions'
        • If God = all loving he would want to interact with his creation and may do so through miracles
        • Miracles, in their very nature, have to be occasional - if they were regular life would be confusing + would not consider them amazing
        • The Principle of Testimony: In the absent of special consideration = reasonable to believe that experiences of others = probably as they report them. In other words you should believe other people
        • The Principle of Credulity: If it seems that X = present, then probably x = present. In short what one seems to perceive = probably the case (It is a principle of rationality). He puts the onus on the sceptic to disprove religious experience otherwise it should be taken at face value.

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