Miracles notes

All the notes I have on miracles summarised. Criticisms are in red for clarity.

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Miracles ­ summary notes
The principal issue when discussing miracles is not how they happen, but what they signify.
Also raised the issue of how to recognise true miracles from false ones (miracles done by
demons, or the anti-christ).
True miracles are designed to give us signs that tell us about God.
A miracle is not simply a wonder, but it is God showing something, teaching us about Him.
Therefore miracles do not have to be a breakage of the laws of nature, but instead something
from God, a manifestation of divine love.
Different types of miracles (for Aquinas, a miracles is a kind of intervention by God)
God does what nature could never do
God does things in a different order or quicker than the natural world would (e.g. mending
a broken bone in an instant).
R. F. Holland
Miracles are coincidences interpreted religiously. He gives the example of the boy on the
railway tracks ­ it is just a coincidence but can be interpreted as a miracle.
`a remarkable and beneficial coincidence that is interpreted in a religious fashion.'
Clearly could just be a coincidence ­ where's the evidence of God?
Hume defines a miracles as `a violation of the laws of nature'
Principle of induction ­ we make scientific judgements based on many instances. Hume argues
that the principle of induction is the basis of science, and claims that it is rational to believe
the highly probable.
A miracle is highly improbable, and there it is not rational to believe that miracles would
Hume gives four reasons why evidence for miracles isn't sufficient.
Belief should be proportionate to evidence. Evidence from the past supports the natural
laws ­ suggests that miracles don't occur.
Witnesses who claim to have seen miracles are often less educated and their reason may
be suspended by the `wonder' of the miracle. Humans love tales of the weird and
wonderful, so there is a natural disposition to accept whatever is said.
No miracle in history has been attested by `a sufficient number of men, of such
unquestioned good-sense, education and learning, as to secure us against all delusion in
Different miracles from different religions cancel each other out.
C. D. Broad ­ Hume assumes there are known fixed laws of nature, but scientific rules are just
generalisation, not set rules.
Are all witness reports necessarily unreliable? What if Hume himself witnessed a miracle?
Vardy ­ there is more evidence for miracles today than there were in Hume's time (74
scientifically tested miracles from Lourdes).
The idea that people aren't educated `enough' for their testament to count as strong evidence
is problematic ­ there is no measurement on how much education is enough?

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Swinburne ­ miracles from different religions don't cancel each other out. They may challenge
beliefs, but the miracles occurring just means that there is evidence for miracles in both
Swinburne ­ the principle of testimony (which argues that people do generally tell the truth)
and the principle of credulity (which argues that people should generally be believed unless
there is good evidence to doubt them (e.g. drink, incentive to lie)).…read more


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