• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The idea of miracles is a major obstacle to faith in the modern world - discuss

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"The idea of miracles is a major obstacle to faith in the modern world" - discuss From the ideas about the nature of creation to ideas about the laws of nature itself, miracles, and the idea of the impossible, have been part of our culture for centuries. Miracles have been a measure for dispute within religion and between religion and rationality, from St. Augustine in the fourth century to David Hume in the eighteenth century. They have also been used by the corrupt and powerful to gain perverse ends, and romanticized in works of literature such as Caxton's Legenda Aurea. Some miracles have been derided as mere magic, and have been proven fraudulent, yet for many the idea of the miraculous has maintained a grip on the imagination. Miracles are certainly religiously significant, but their meaning varies between faiths. Within Islam, for example, everything happens in order that the will of God can be fulfilled, and therefore nature, history and time are absolutely fluid, constructed by God as a test of the will of God. In Hinduism, there is a sense of the world being infinitely more wonderful than is first perceived, and sometimes, other layers of reality or possibility are seen. In the Christian faith, the main focus of this essay, miracles play a key role in the story of Jesus. ...read more.

Middle

However, there is a fascinating comment in the Jewish Talmud, which says, "It is as wonderful to watch the support of the family for somebody in trouble as it is to see the parting of the red sea". In Hebrew, 'mopet' is the word used to mean 'miracle'. It can be translated roughly to the words 'wonder' and 'sign', and often miracles in the New Testament are 'signs' indicating the character of Jesus, the promised one, and his demonstration of Gods 'wonder'. For example, there is a parable where Jesus is in a boat with his disciples on the sea of Galilee, when a huge storm begins to swirl and creates towering waves. Jesus says a word and everything is calm, and this is meant to show that in Jesus there is the capacity to inhabit the power of the creator God. The apostle John said tales of miracles such as this are not just idle stories to impress, but that they help us to "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (John 20:31). Perhaps it is these symbolic truisms and signs in miracles which are necessary to Christianity, not just the literal belief in its occurrence. It seems that attempts at rationalizing miracles in the Judeo-Christian tradition have been largely fruitless to the believers, as ordinary miracles of love, care and compassion are just as impressive as dramatic nature-defying ones. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tolkein, some of the most intelligent and best-informed people he knew, we supernaturalists. Following his conversion, C.S. Lewis and others like him argued that miracles are reasonable and plausible. This polarity of worldview is framed by John Lafarge's comment that, "For those who believe in God, no explanation is needed; for those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible". It might seem to an atheist that the idea of God performing miracles is extremely improbable - surely an omnipotent God has no need for miracles, and even if it were to demonstrate His 'divine power', surely He could do something incontrovertible instead of conjuring obscure 'signs'. Clearly, thoughts of aerial phenomena, levitation and healing powers are deep rooted in the human psyche. In the age of magic they were prominent and overt. With the development of organized religion, they became refined and submerged, but the strong primeval element has never been far below the surface. Now, with the decline of organized religion, they have resurfaced in technological guise, employing the language of spacecraft and pseudoscience. Perhaps therefore, the idea of miracles is not so much an obstacle to those who already believe or who have an attraction to the supernatural, but far more so to the modern skeptic. It is ultimately a matter of faith, but for the religious the idea of miracles is not an obstacle, rather it is a celebrated and exciting dimension of some of the world's major religions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Religious language is meaningless, Discuss

    a road sign. A symbol is something that stands or is used in place of something else. Tillich held God could only be described using symbols but never literally. He said the symbol is transcending meaning something in it's own sense which points to something greater of higher in reality.

  2. Assess Humes reasons for rejecting miracles

    someone could simply learn to walk again after being paralysed as a result of a miracle, as this would constitute a violation of the laws of nature. This also supports the idea that Hume's argument is valid. However he rejects Hume's concept of the laws of nature being fixed and

  1. "Religious Language is meaningless." Discuss.

    Although Wittgenstein's language games theory seems like a good one, many philosophers have criticised the theory. If people in different "games" talk to one another, how could they understand? For example, how could science talk to religion? An outside observer might understand the game more because the believer may have such an unshakeable faith that they would take no criticisms.

  2. Assess Nietzsche's idea of the Will to Power

    Nietzsche describes, in Beyond Good and Evil, a hierarchy of "drives" which are the core of human existence. Each of these drives is attempting to gain dominance over the other. This relationally constituted structure is the Will to Power. Likewise, every living being is imposing their Will to Power onto others.

  1. Ethical language is meaningless. Discuss.

    Any other interpretation of ethical statements is meaningless. A.J Ayer said that there are only two kinds of meaningful statements: analytic and synthetic statements. Analytics statements are the idea that the truth or falsity of the statement can be determined simply by understanding the terms that occur I them.

  2. Philosophers Views on Miracles Essay

    Secondly, Aquinas identified those acts that God did that nature could do, but not in the same order for example the recovery from paralysis, or perhaps from a terminal illness. It is not logically impossible for these things to happen, but they are not usually expected.

  1. Analyse Wiles view on miracles

    This means that God reveals himself through his work, he sustains the laws of nature in the world so the does not need to break his own laws in order to be active within the world. Wiles claimed to be a Christian.

  2. Describe and explain the atheistic rejection of miracles

    He argued that breaking such laws would be illogical. Hume was an empiricist, which means that he used his experience as his guide in matters of fact. But he excluded the experiences of others who made claim to miracles. He put forward four main arguments of why this could not

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work