miracles revision

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Chapter 3
Definitions of miracle
The word comes from Latin miraculum, meaning `wonder'
Many different definitions
o Can mean something extraordinary which has been brought around by
God for a particular reason
Steven Evans: `Obviously the miracles of a religion such as Christianity are
not merely bizarre events or stunts. They have a function and purpose, and
usually that function is a revelatory one.'
o Macquarrie says that some 19th century philosophers and theologians tried to
argue everything is a miracle as a miracle is an event that excites wonder
and is attributable to God
o Hume: `A miracle may be accurately defined, a transgressions of a law of
nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some
invisible agent'
John Macquarrie acknowledges this also, suggesting the traditional
Christian view would be that when a miracle occurs, natural laws are
Leaves open the option of miracles being performed by angels or
R.F. Holland A miracle can happen which doesn't break the laws of nature
o Child on railway line around a bend so that the driver of an oncoming train can't
see him. Child's mother watches afar and is helpless but the driver faints and the

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Hume's rejection of miracle
Miracles are by definition beyond the realms of reasonable belief
o No sensible person could seriously believe that a miracle had happened when
other interpretations are far more likely
Wise and sensible people form their beliefs based on evidence
A sensible belief will be proportioned to the evidence
o It must be more likely that something is true than false
before a sensible person will believe it
o In the case of miracles we should weigh the evidence looking at which…read more

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People have a natural tendency to look for marvelous events to believe in the
supernatural and paranormal
This may colour interpretations of events
o There are no wellsupported cases where miracles had been witnesses by a
suitable number of reliable people
o Different miracle stories from different religious tradition tended to contradict each
other, making the other seem less likely or cancelling them out
Christianity's miracles show Jesus' authority but Islam will show
Muhammed being given first authority by God
Criticisms of Hume's approach to…read more

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Maurice Wiles and miracles
His book `God's action in the World' he wanted to explain how God could be seen as
taking part in the affairs of people and showing concern for events of history though in a
way that made sense to modern people rather than first century people of Biblical times.
`..the notion of miracle cannot simply be ruled out on scientific grounds as logically
impossible, since the world we know is not a closed, deterministically ordered system.…read more

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