Assess the View That Miracles Are Possible

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Miracles are important because they provide a basis for belief in God, many people believe God exists because they have witnessed miracles whilst others believe that a transcendent being doesn’t exist, and so try to prove that miracles don’t either. I believe the findings of modern science have not ruled out the possibility of miracles so it would be absurd to dismiss their possibility. There are many definitions of the term ‘miracle’, the most common being ‘an event caused by God’. However, David Hume defines a miracle as a ‘violation of the laws of nature’. Defining the word miracle is central in arguing for/against their existence, as the slightest difference in meaning can turn the whole argument around. For example, by Hume defining a miracle as ‘a violation of the laws of nature’ it becomes a fundamental challenge to what we know as human beings who have lived on the earth for millions of years. He puts forward the argument that it is more likely that we are interpreting an event wrong, than a violation of a natural law actually occurring. This is true according to his definition, but when you change that definition to ‘an event caused by God’, Hume’s argument becomes incoherent as it is inconsistent with the definition. In biblical times, people believe God acted in the world e.g. Joshua’s defeat of the 5 kings (Joshua 10). God is described as confusing the enemy, which emphasises the involvement of God in the world. God’s divine control is illustrated by referring to God’s power over nature. Christians believe miracles are signs of God being immanent and omnipotent. Miracles of Jesus especially revealed God to the people as many thought him an ordinary man until he performed miracles. However, this brings about the question, is God bias? God favours Joshua in battle but King Saul dies after God has rejected him. In the Old Testament, it is profoundly apparent that God favours one people, the Israelites, because he made a covenant with them. Yet in the New Testament they picture God acting through Jesus to enable all people to be saved, not just the Israelites. This inconsistency makes it more likely that the Christian God doesn’t exist which makes it more likely miracles don’t either as a large majority of miracles is claimed by Christianity. However, this is not the final word because Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and many more belief systems all claim miracles. God’s intervention in the world through miracles also raises questions about the problems of evil, e.g. if god can perform miracles, why not work them to help prevent suffering? Why did millions die in the concentration camps of WW2 if God has the power to prevent them? Christians respond to this problem by claiming it is beyond human ability to understand the actions of God. Others claim that God does act but people fail to recognise his actions e.g. many people died in the 2004 South East Asian tsunami but many people survived in extraordinary circumstances such as drifting on pieces of rubbish washed out to sea until rescued. This certainly provides good cause to believe in miracles but it brings back the question of why God is selective in who he saves and who he doesn’t. David Hume argues that when investigating miracle stories, evidence can be collected e.g. witnesses. Laws of nature appear to be fixed and unvarying e.g. law of gravity. Miracles appear to violate the laws of nature and so it is logical to conclude it is more likely the report is incorrect than a law being violated. However, Richard Swinburne responds by stating laws of nature are only good general descriptions of the world, they do not remove the possibility of miracles occurring. This is based on the assumption that all natural laws are corrigible if a new discovery is made. Hume’s practical argument states miracles have a lack of convincing testimony from educated people and only seem to happen among ignorant and barbarous people. He bases this on the observation that early history...
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