Unit 4, Miracles

Revision cards for AQA Religious Studies B: Unit 4

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What is a miracle?

  • The impossible becomes possible; when a coincidence occurs at exactly the right time to bring about a good outcome. A misfortune is prevented and some good is acheived. The unlikely becomes a reality.
  • An act that breaks the laws of nature; a miracle can be defined as something that hapens that is contrary to the laws of nature.
  • An act of God; God directly or indirectly perfroms a powerful, unusual and unbelievable act that achieves good, and that we believe no human power could do.

Does God work in the world through miracles?

  • YES Christianity; God works directly in the world through miracles. As God is in charge of nature, being able to break these laws proves that he is at work in the world.
  • YES Judaism; God has always worked in the world to protect the Jews through miracles.
  • YES Islam; for Muslims, the greatest miracle is the Qur'an. Muhammad received Allah's words as instructions on how humans were to live in a God like manner, and recorded them to pass on to other people.
  • NO Atheists and Buddhists; they do not believe in God, so they do not believe he works in the world through miracles. Miracles can occur, but they are not the result of God.
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Can humans perform miracles?

  • Christianity/Judaism/Islam; humans can perform miracles, but only when God is working through them. We cannot perform them without the help of God. We are God's agents for power. It is not the person, but the power of God which makes miracles happen.
  • Buddhism; Buddhists do not believe in God. Miracles are performed by humans, through the power of their mind. Through meditation, and leading a moral life, we can develop miraculous powers.
  • Atheists; miracles do not exist. We cannot explain what we are seeing, because our knowledge of the world is not yet complete. As our scientific and medical knowledge increased, we started to realise that etheral beings were not causing illness, and it was infact germs. Therefore we proved that curing disease is not a miracle.

Examples of miracles:

  • Holybooks; Jews believe that Moses parted the Red Sea, so he could save the slaves. Christians believed that Jesus healed a paralysed man.
  • History; the Angels of Mons were seen by many British troops during the battle of Mons, and turned the current battle around, by protecting them, and causing them to survive.
  • Personal experience; faith healing is where people are cured of illness by prayer. People are cured, after asking God for his help. Teh cures can be gradual or sudden.
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What do miracles reveal about God?

  • God exists; the fact that the impossible becomes the possible, and the laws of nature are overturned, are proof in themselves that God exists.
  • God's benevolence (love and care); God is benevolent. He created humans, and a world for us to live in. He provided us with life. The earth is a miracle and an act of love in itself. Miraculous healings of disease reveal God's love for us.
  • God's immanence (involvement); God is immanent. Miracles show that God is everywhere, and that he is active in the world. He is in control of world events. The world is not as chaotic as we may feel at times, because it is being overseen by God.
  • God's omnipotence (all powerful); God is omnipotent. Miracles break the laws of nature, and because he can perform these, it shows us his power. He changes the laws so that miracles can occur. His powers are not limited; they are beyond nature.
  • God's omniscience (all knowledgeable); God is omniscient. Miracles that happen as a conicidence show that God knowd what is happening. He knows it is necessary to act to bring good to someone, to save their life.
  • God's transcendence (beyond the world and human understanding); God is transcendent. Miracles are events that acannot be scientifially explained. They are impossiblities, caused by God. They show us that God is beyond human understanding, and is far greater than any human power.
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Can the existence of miracles cause problems for b

Yes.

  • There is no proof that miracles are caused by God; if someone has an unexplaianable recovery from an illness, there is no proof that God has intervened in the situation. Praying for someone could improve their mood, and give them much more positive thoughts and feelings, so they can recover faster.
  • Miracles could give the miracle worker too much importance; the person who performed the miracle gets and the fame, attention, and status, so God's message is consequently lost.
  • Miracles can make God's behaviour seem unfair; God picks and chooses who to help, and who to ignore, as he cannot help everybody. This is unfair and unjust. This goes against the idea that God loves everybody.
  • God is transcendent; if God lives outside of space and time, how can he act within the world? If he cannot he intervene with the world, he cannot perform miracles.
  • Miracles take away the purpose of free will; God gave us free will, so it is our ability to choose how we act. So, if God performs miracles, he is taking away our free will. 
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Evidence to say that miracles do happen and that t

  • Too many miracles; there are too many accounts of miracles for at least some of them to have happened.
  • Miracles occur today; miracles are not just events from the past, but happen in today's modern world. For example, when the statue of the Virgin Mary cried blood.
  • No scientific explanation; many miracles have investigated, and no scientific evidence can be found  to explain them. An impossibility has taken place.
  • Research programmes; several programmes have been carried out into the power of prayer to heal. Evidence suggests that prayer can help to cure people. This suggests that God is intervening in life, to make the impossible occur.

Hume's argument against miracles:

  • There is never enough evidence; the numbers witnessing the event must outweigh the number of people who have witnessed the laws of nature. There is never enough evidence to prove that a miracle has happened.
  • Witnesses are unreliable; the evidence of a witness to a miracle cannot be trusted, as they are baised. They may even lie or exaggerate about what they have seen.
  • Witnesses are uneducated; miracles in holy books were reported by uneducated people. They did not have a knowledge of science. For them, these events were miracles, not day to day events which can be explained by science.
  • Religions depend on miracles; religions depend on miracles to prove their beliefs and teachings. 
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