Miracles (Hume and Wiles mainly)

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  • Miracles
    • Definitions
      • Aquinas = "that which has a divine cause, not that whose cause a human person fails to understand" - miracles are events caused by God
      • Hume = "violation of the laws of nature" - a miracle is an example of something that broke the laws of nature [a paralytic being healed]
    • Bible and miracles
      • The Bible paints a picture of God being closely involved with creation and acting in it [Joshuas defeat of the 5 kings in joshua 10]
      • 2 important examples of new testament miracles = Jesus' birth and Jesus' death and resurrection
    • Hume
      • Lack of probability
        • It is more likely that the report of a miracle is incorrect than the laws of nature being violated
      • Practical argument
        • 1 = lack of convincing testimony from educated people, 2 = only seem to happen among the ignorant and barbarous nations, 3 = contradictory reports in different religions
      • Inductive problem
        • Hume argues that it is irrational to believe in miracles because they violate the laws of nature
          • Something being more probable is not proof that it is correct and Hick noted that exceptions would indicate the need to reformulate the original hypothesis
    • Wiles
      • Wiles believed that there was only one miracle = the creation of the universe
      • If miracles are violations of laws of nature they have to occur infrequently to avoid the laws of nature becoming meaningless, the pattern appears to be strange, evil questions God
      • Wiles implies that a view of God who acts in the world leads into difficulties with evil
        • God acting in the world leads to a God who is ARBITRARY or BIAS
      • 1 = allows belief in God and uphold scientific laws, 2 = solves the problem of evil, 3 = allows people to reinterpret prayer, connection with God
      • 1 = does not accord with traditional teaching, 2 = not appropriate to conform God to human rationality, you cannot call him bias as he is not limited, 3 = Polkinghorne does not reflect religious experience


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