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`By definition miracles do not occur' Discuss.
A miracle is defined as an action of God, or an invisible agent, which goes against the laws of nature
and has some religious meaning or significance. Definitions of miracles are very vague and it left to
interpretations. Some believe in miracles while other don't, it is said that in other to believe in
miracles one must believe in a God. Therefore it is hard for atheist to associate significant acts that
are out of the ordinary with God not to talk of calling it a `Miracle'. Some regard it as just a mere
For some believers their religion is proved by signs and miracles, evidence of God's power and work.
The Roman Catholic Church upholds the possibility of miracles and supports the literal interpretation
of miracles in the Bible. Marks gospel suggests miracles do not come to make people believe but as
a result of their faith. Literalist Christians hold that the stories of miracles must be taken as described
and point to a divine ruler of the universe. Others give symbolic or metaphorical meaning to the
stories- there is no breaking of any natural laws. Aquinas defines 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. Aquinas believed that a miracle was something done by God which
nature could not do, or could not do in that order, or is done in nature but without the usual operation
of nature, for example, the sun going backwards, a person living after death and so on. Aquinas
identified 3 types of miracles: An event done by God which nature could not do, an event done by
God which nature could do, an event done which nature could do but without using the principles or
forces of nature. This allows for a range of possible events which we could call miracles. This also
does not limit a miracle to a violation of a natural law and is therefore, primarily identified by Gods
intervention. A miracle is an act of God which is beneficial to the recipient, which may break a natural
law but does not necessarily have to.
Different philosophers define miracles in a different way. C.s. Lewis describes miracles as a type of
revelation. Swinburne explains that `if he (God) has reason to interact with us, he has reason very
occasionally to intervene and suspend those natural laws which our life is controlled'. Swinburne
acknowledges that it is difficult to outweigh the scientific evidence, but that we do have enough
historical evidence to suggest that there is a God and that God can violate the laws of nature.
Swinburne gives examples as levitation, resurrection, water turned into wine. He notes that on its
own a transgression of a natural law with no meaning is not considered a miracle. R.F. Holland argues
that miracles are: `a remarkable and beneficial coincidence that is interpreted in a religious fashion'.
He notes that coincidences that do not break natural laws but have religious significance can
sometimes be referred to as a miracle.
Science does not acknowledge miracles. Quantum physics states that no longer is the universe seen
to be governed by a set of constantly applied rules, as in the Newtonian system. The laws of nature
are seen as being more fluid. Miraculous events are therefore more easily accepted, but still not
necessarily divine. There is also the issue of whether the laws of nature are determined or statistical.
If they are statistical, then by definition, one would expect to see them break the rules on rare
According to Hume a miracle is `A transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the deity
or by the interposition of some visible agent (An enquiry concerning human understanding)'. Hume's
created a case against miracles saying not that they do not happen, but that it would be impossible
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to prove them. Hume's is an empiricist (bases knowledge on experience). He explains that nothing
that can happen in nature should be called a miracle. He identified 5 arguments against believing in
God mainly based on lack of substantial evidence. Hume will never be fully able to fully prove to
believers that miracles do not occur, as the definition of miracles implies a divine activity and this is
ultimately beyond our earthly considerations.…read more