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Arbitrary ­ God is random in his selection of the circumstances in which he
Partisan ­ God is selective in who he helps and doesn't help
Aquinas concepts of miracles stem from his ideas regarding the laws of nature, and
his subsequent Natural Law.
He believes there are 3 types of miracles:
1. Events caused by God which nature could never do; Aquinas used the
example of the reversal of the course of the sun
2. Events which nature can do but God does them in an order which is
impossible, for example resurrecting Jesus from the dead transcends
human's abilities to change the life course
3. Events which could happen naturally but God breaks the laws of nature, for
example curing someone of a terminal disease which doctors may have found
a cure for in the near future
This therefore allows for a range of possible events, which we would call miracles.
These definitions also help to explain many of the events which occur in the Bible
which transcend natural laws.
A miracle to Aquinas is therefore an act of God which is beneficial to the recipient
and may break natural laws but do not necessarily have to.
R.F. Holland
He sees miracles as events which are remarkably and truly coincidental,
however are interpreted in a religious fashion
An example of this would be how there were a few people who survived in
one of the stairwells of the twin towers when 9/11 happened ­ it was a
remarkable coincidence however it has been religiously interpreted as being
an act of God
He doesn't see miracles as violations of laws of nature like Aquinas, but rather pure
Holland agrees with Hume's ideas and notes how if there were several witnesses of
the miracle, then the laws of the nature would have to be revised or falsified as
non-existent. However, this would not be a simple thing to do so it is better to see
miracles as coincidental.

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There is no hand of God, rather the event relies solely on the interpretation of the
A miracle is a sign event ­ it is something of religious experience that points
to and informs us about the nature of God
Tillich's key point is the impression it has on a person ­ it could lead them to change
the direction of their life.…read more

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In rejecting this, the naturalist assumes that the world is purely physical.
Richard Swinburne
If God is omnibenevolent, he would want to interact with his creation and may do so
via occasional miracles.
Swinburne believes that miracles, by their nature, are occasional events and if they
were more regular we would not know whether laws such as gravity were going to
operate.…read more

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For example, every time a baby is born we know it is due to sexual procreation
because this has occurred for over two thousand years; this makes the virgin birth of
Jesus less likely and therefore less of a miracle
Hume proposed the Practical Argument as he believes, practically speaking, that
miracles cannot happen:
1. Witnesses ­ miracles generally do not have many sane and educated
witnesses.…read more

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Wiles goes further in questioning why, if the Biblical miracles are taken literally, God
would do apparent contingent things such as turn water into wine or transport people
from one place to another, when chances to intervene which would positively impact
people have gone apparently ignored.…read more

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He found that people in today's societies found it difficult to believe the stories of the
NT. For this reason, the resurrection story should be regarded as a mythical event.
The resurrection is something that happened in the subjective experience of the
disciples, not something that took place in history.
He went on to include the resurrection and the miraculous stories in his classification
of stories which needed to be mythologised because he believes miracles get in the
way of faith.…read more

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Science tells us that the universe is not completely determined in every way, so
divine action is possible within certain constraints; although we cannot know when a
particular event is a direct act of God, it is not impossible that some events could be
the result of special divine activity.
Bad fortune does not count against God's ability to act because the constraints of
creation might not always make it possible for God to act.…read more

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Wittgenstein suggested the ideas of `language games' and `seeing-as'.
Although people assume they can attain pure knowledge of things in the world,
Wittgenstein argued that we cannot. Instead, we are all born into a certain social,
cultural and religious context, which radically affects and shapes how we see things.
So, religious believers will naturally see God working in the world in a certain way,
and will have no problem talking about miracles and God contradicting the laws of
nature.…read more


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