- Mackie: "A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intudes into its."
- Hume: "A transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the deity."
- Tillich: "An event which is astonishing, unusual, shaking, without contradicting the rational structure of reality... an event which points to the mustery of being."
St Thomas Aquinas
- He referred to mircals as "those things... which are done by divine power apart from the order generally followed in things."
- He said there were three different types of miracles.
1) Events done by God, which nature could never do, for example, stopping the sun (Joshua 10:13). These are strong miracles - events which are considered to be impossible.
2) Events done by God, which nature could do, but not in that order (Mark 1:31). These events would not be inconceivable, but certainly highly unexpected. They are not tecnically impossible and may include many modern accounts of healing from terminal illness.
3) Events done by God, which nature can do, but God does without the use of nature laws (Mark 1:29-31). Thses events are not physically impossible. These are weak miracles since there is little proof that the event is out of the ordinary.
St Thomas Aquinas
- This allows for a range of possible events to be called miracles.
- This also does not limit a miracle to a violation of a natural law and so is therefore, primarily identified by God's intervention.
- A miracle is an act of God, which is benefical to the recipient, which may break a natural law but does not necessarily have to.
- "If he (God) has reason to interact with us, he has reason very occasionally to intervene and suspendthose natural laws by which our life is controlled."
- Swinburne acknowledges that it is dificult to outweigh the scientific evidence, but that we do have enough histrorical evidence to suggest that there is and that God can violate the laws of nature.
- The evidence in favour of a miracle must be considered properly, not just dismissed because it may not be scientific.
- If God is omnipotent, then he quite clearly could uspend the laws of nature although not too often as this will interfer with scientific progress and free will.
- Miracles are cinsistent with the nature of loving God to help humanity.
Swinburne: The Principle of Credulity
If it seem that X is present then probably X is present. IN short what one seems to percieve is probably the case (it is a principle of rationality). He puts the onus on the sceptic to disprove religious experience otherwise it should be taken at face value.
Swinburne: the Principle of Testimony
In the absent of special consideration it is reasonable to believe that the experiences of others are probably as they reported them. In other words you should believe others as well.
Philosophical Problems concerning miracles. The ma
- If there is no God, then how can miracle occur?
- Miracles are just occurrences that we cannot explain at the time but, in the furture, science will.
- Testimonies of miraculous occurrences are fale or mistaken.
- If God is all-loving and all powerful, why doesn't he intervene with miracles more often?
Peter Vardy - The Moral Dimension
- 'In The Puzzle of God' Peter Vardy said that there were good moral reasons for saying that there were no miracles. He argues thats:
- God fails to act where there is great suffering and a real need for miracles: "A God who intervenes at Lourdes to cure an old man of cancer but does not act to save starving millions in Ethiopia - such a God needs, at leasts, to face some hard moral questioning."
- God appears to help some people through miracles, but not others. Why does he not treat everyone equally? This is morally incompatible.
- He defined miracles as "A transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity." ( Miracles are things that go against the laws of nature).
- Hume said that there was no such thing as miracles because:
- They must break the laws of nature. However they are based on past human experinces and there is alot of scientific evidence to say that they are right and won't change.
- It would therefore be reasonable to reject the claim of a mircale because it would be contrary to human experience.
- There was not enough relieable witness: "There is not to be found in all history any miracles attested by a sufficient number of men, of unquestioned good sense, education and learning, as to secure against all delusion."
- Hume would only accept evidence from education and intellectual sources.
- Violation of the laws of nature+Poor quality testimony=Grounds to reject the claim.
- Only religious believers testified to miracles and they were unrelieable because they are always looking for miracles.
- The witnesses tend to be sympathetic to the idea of miracles and therefore more likely to describe any event as miraculous.
- Miracles tend to be observed by 'ignorant and barbarous nations'.
- Miracles are an important part in many different religions. If all religions reported miracles, then these claims cancell each other out.
Criticisms of Hume
- Hume believed the laws of anture were fixed and therfore could not be violated. However scientific advances since Hume's time would look to him like a violation of natural law.
- Laws of nature are based on human experience. However these laws are based on experience to date.
- Scientific knowledge is based on observation, and many (so-called) facts have been overturned following further evidence.
- Hume assumes that the 'law of nature' are constant whereas science moves knowledge ever onwards.
- Hume's language is veryambiguous. He does not say what 'unquestioned good sense, education and learning' means.
- Hume suggests that only religious believers see miralces and implies that, because of this, their testimonies are unreliable. Yet why should religious believers be more unreliable than anyone else?
- Hume argues that it is not possible for God to work miracles for people in different religions and that the testimonies of miracles from different religions cancel each other out. But why should this be so?
- If there is a GOd, he could do workto hep everyone.