Do You Believe in Miracles

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Ami Denman
Dr. Anderson
Phil 1043
4/26/13

Do You Believe In Miracles?

Do you believe in miracles? I find it rather intriguing that some people still try to use science or any number of other disciplines as a way of explaining, give meaning or rationalizing the question of miracles or the existence of a higher power. I find it hard to understand why humans deny at least the possibility that everyday life presents us with mysteries that cannot simply be explained by human reasoning, rational explanations, the laws of science, or by the laws of nature, but instead just simply acknowledge that some things are unexplainable or justifiable and just miraculous. Although the belief in miracles have seemly been acknowledged as factual for centuries in works such as the Bible, many philosophers and scientists still question the validity of a miraculous event or experience and refuse to ascribe to the reasonable explanation that some things in the natural world cannot be proved by the method of science and are explicitly miraculous.

A miracle can be defined by Hume as a ʻtransgression of a law of nature by the violation of a particular deity or invisible agentʼ. For scholars such as Maurice Wiles, Alastair McKinnon, and Steven Bayne a miracle can never occur because the actual concept of a miracle is incoherent. Bayne states, “Given Hume’s view on the nature of belief and belief production, it seems…that we should begin not by asking whether belief in a miracle can be rationally justified, but by asking whether a belief in a miracle is even possible.” However, I will aim to demonstrate why miracles can occur because ultimately the definition of miracles put forward by David Hume is archaic and irrelevant to today’s society.

David Hume proposed a theoretical and practical case for why it is impossible for one ever to know if a miracle has occurred. His theoretical case begins by stating that all our knowledge comes from sensory experience and empirical evidence and the only proof for a miracle is its testimony. The probability that this is incorrect due to the witness being deluded or unreliable is much greater than the probability that a miracle has actually occurred, that is that the laws of nature have been violated. For this reason it seems clear that a miracle can never occur because the chance of the testimony being incorrect will always be greater than the laws of nature being wrong. For Hume ʻa wise man proportions his beliefsʼ.

There are several problems with this proposition, which demonstrate why Hume is incorrect, and miracles do actually occur. The first is that his theory is founded upon Newtonian laws of nature and thus he argues that laws of nature are absolute and fixed. However, works of Einstein have showed that laws of nature are in fact not absolute and fixed and much of Newtonʼs work is to be doubted upon. Furthermore, quantum mechanics has shown that actually laws of nature donʼt always have regularity the study of particles on such a detailed level has shown that movement in the particles is random. The implications of these discoveries in science have meant that theories such as Hume, which base themselves on Newtonian laws, are also invalid like Newton’s work. Miracles can then occur and cannot be explained by science like quantum mechanics.

However, there are not just problems for skeptics and scientists with accepting the existence of miracles. Maurice Wiles an American theologian suggested that if we accept miracles then we are lead to the conclusion that God is arbitrary and partisan therefore not a morally good God. Wiles says that this is unlikely, it is more likely that God is morally good and chooses not to intervene. He states that the only intervention God has in the world is creation and now sustaining his creation. Wiles on these grounds reject the notion of a miracle and suggests that they can never occur.

What Wiles fails to realize is that God is not human, he is a being out of...
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