For religious believers, miracles are an example of God acting in the world and being involved in the world, for example in Joshua 10 God is said to hold back the sun in order to help Joshua's army in battle.
The Bible pictures God as being involved and active in the world, philosophers would say is shows God to be omnipotent (all powerful) and imminent (active and close in the physical universe.
1. An event caused by God - Christians, Aquinas
2. A violation of the laws of nature - Hume
3. "That which has a divine cause*, not that whose cause a human person fails to understand"
Aquinas' idea of a miracle comes from Aristotle who both believed everything that exists has a nature (what is it able to do). *Not a normal part of the nature of things.
The Bible and God's Activity
God is closely involved with his creation in the Bible, this is clearly seen in Joshua 10 - Joshua's defeat of the 5 kings. There are a number of important points to note in this story:
1. The victory of the Kings is God's, he has the real power and control.
2. God is described as throwing the enemy into confusion; the idea of God bringing confusion is the the Jewish scriptures, Exodus and emphasises God's involvement in the victory,
3. God's divine control is illustrated by his power over nature e.g. Joshua is described as throwing hailstones. In the times of Jewish scripture there was no such thing as 'nature' and the natural world was seen as unpredictable and at times displays amazing powers. It is seen as at times chaotic.
4. God's omnipotence is pictures through making the sun stand still. This is and example of God's involvement in the world and fits in with Job 38 when he gives orders to the sun.
5. At the end of the story, Joshua returns to the camp with God; God is the victorious leader not Joshua. Joshua is the servant who accompanies God.
Did people in biblical times believe God acted in the world?
- When the Bible was written, talk of God helping people to victory is literal.
E.g. Joshua is full of God's omnipotence over creation
- A reason for God appearing to violate the laws of nature could be that people in Biblical times lacked any ideas about the laws of nature, so explained miraculous events of the world around them by God.
God's action in the world in the New Testament
Two stories are significant:
- Jesus birth: An example of God acting in the world and, for Christians, becoming present in the world. Jesus, for Christians, is God in flesh, so he's an example of God acting in the world.
- Jesus' death and resurrection: The Gospel stories end with Jesus being raised from the dead. For Christians this is the most important action as it gives hope for eternal life. This had been lost by Adam and…