Miracles As Events of Religious Significance

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  • Created by: Rayhana
  • Created on: 10-04-13 16:53


  • Many violations of natural laws would be considered by some particularly religious believers to have great religious significance. For example, miraculous healings might be taken as signs that point to the existence of a loving God.
  • This approach was taken by the author of John's Gospel who uses the word sign instead of miracle. This implies that although Jesus's miracles are important, their key significance lies in what they reveal about Jesus and God.
  • Richard Swinburne considers that religious significance is an essential part of a miracle, without it the term cannot properly be used.
  • For example, stigmata are manifestations of the wounds of Christ on the cross in the bodies of his followers. They do not bring any physical benefits to those that bear them, but they can have a very powerful effect on their faith. Some Christians would see them as pointing to a deep, spiritual unity with Christ.

Problems with signs:

  • It is not always clear of what the importance of the experience is supposed to be.
  • David Hume notes that since miraculous healings occur in so many different faiths, it may even be uncertain as to which God the sign is pointing to.

Coincedental Miracles:

  • Instead of miracles being seen as direct actions by God, some may argue that miracles are things that are within the laws of nature but which are so unexpected that God is considered to have manipulated events to bring about a beneficial state of affairs.
  • God is indirectly helping in some way.
  • For example, The Nebraska Choir incidence may be considered to be a miraculous. Fifteen members of a Church choir were all late to practice and at 7:25pm the building had exploded. If people were on time would not have survived the explosion. Some would argue that this is a miracle from God, but does not intervene with the laws of nature e.g. All had reasons as to why they were late, phone ringing, car won't start etc. Those that were late explained the event as a miracle. However, it can be argued that this is purely just a coincidence.
  • The Nebraska Choir incidence does not break the laws of nature as God does not intervene and could be seen as a coincidence by sceptics and non-believers. 
  • Religious believers would argue God did intervene as he would do 'little things' to make the members late through everyday things e.g. car won't start or God changed the way they thought that they were not in fact ready.
  • R.F Holland states: 'A coincidence can be taken religiously as a sign and called a miracle'. He points out that if someone had prayed to God for the safety of a friend who was in danger and then a remarkable series of events saved the person's life, the person who made the prayer would be very likely to regard the event as miraculous. 
  • For example, he gives an example of a boy on the traintracks, the train driver has a heart attack pressing…


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