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  • Created on: 05-04-13 10:27

Role and significance of miracle stories in religi

Role - signs that demonstrate God acting in the world 

support development of religious faith

Highlight revelation in scripture - confirm scripture

connection of spiritual and physical world

Suggest supplicatory prayer is meaningful

Power of God

Prove connection of e.g. Saint to God


Importance in the history of religion and provides a focal point of worship

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Miracles and the competing truth claims

Assumption that only the one true religion would have true miracles

Every religion claims miracles but not every religion can be true - some contradict making different truth claims 

In this way all miracles from religion are evidence against miracles from other religions - therefore we should not accept any miracles as true - response miracles are not about truth claims

Religious pluralism: (different meaning - weak to strong)

Different religions exist in society
Religious tolerance
inter-religious dialogue and cooperation
belief that religions other than one's own make some valid claims
Belief that other religions make equally valid claims

The last 2 might suggest that all religions lead to God/heaven and God just appeared to different people at different times in different ways 

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What do we mean by miracle?

1. an event that has religious significance - allows events that are outside the laws of nature and allows subjectivity as to what has religious significance

2. event caused by God - no subjectivity and would be considered 

3. event that violates the laws of nature - most common view - objective 

Problem with third definition is that if you define a law of nature as general and contingent then a miracle would cause the law not to be general - this means miracles do not break laws of nature and are not therefore miracles

Could redefine as miracle is an event outside the law of nature - e.g laws of nature apply to natural events - miracle is not natural as caused by God - law is physically not logically impossible

Swinburne argues miracle is non-repeatable - problem e.g. feeding of thousands 

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Sceptical arguments regarding occurrence of miracl

Theological objections:

1. God choosing people in e.g. America over starving children in Africa - problem of evil is exaggerated - response purpose of miracle not to actually help but support their and other's faith
2. Specific works of God suggests he does not work throughout creation
Hume's argument against miracles:
- Miracles are one off events and therefore improbable - it is more logical to believe what is probable 
-  Never more likely that someone's testimony true than false because:
- No miracle attested to by people of good sense, education and reputation
- human nature enjoys surprise and wonder which gives us tendency to believe unusual things when belief is not justified
Also should not believe because the evidence of miracle is outweighed by our evidence of the laws of nature - does not mean we should reject unexpected as long as knowledge of it is widespread and we can think of analogous happenings
Objections - seems to argue you should not believe your eyes - if an event happened scientifically unexplainable and with mass consensus - marvels should not be believed e.g. suggests I should not believe England won world cup 

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Theological arguments against miracles

If God has his qualities why does he need to intervene 

- response built into the plan from the start

How could an atemporal God intervene

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