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

‘Our knowledge of miracles leads us to the conclusion that God exists.’ Discuss this point of view.

Extracts from this document...


'Our knowledge of miracles leads us to the conclusion that God exists.' Discuss this point of view. A miracle may be defined in different ways, presenting the first problem in establishing their occurrence. A miracle is a concept which, in everyday usage, might mean little more than an unexpected yet welcome event. However, in religious terminology it is usually considered to describe something of much greater significance. And yet, even here, opinion varies on what may or may not be legitimately classed as a miracle. St Thomas Aquinas identified three definitions of a miracle. The first includes all those events in which something is done by God that nature could never do (the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for example, would fit into this category). The second describes events in which God does something that can occur in nature, but not in that order. The third relates to events in which God does what usually occurs in nature, but without the operation of nature. Another biblical example of this third definition might be a man recovering from polio in a minute. It is certainly not impossible to recover from polio, but to do so in one minute would be, according to Aquinas, 'miraculous'. There is another understanding of what constitutes a miracle. RF Holland proposed that 'A coincidence can be taken religiously as a sign and called a miracle.' Moses is said to have parted the Red Sea. ...read more.


iii. Stories of miracles come from, in Hume's own words, 'ignorant and barbarous places and nations', and therefore they cannot be particularly trustworthy. Hume concludes that, having weighed the evidence on both sides, it is more sensible to reject reports of miracles than it is to believe them. His fourth point argues as follows: iv. All religions claim miracles to support the traditions of their own faiths. Assuming mutual exclusivity - as Hume wrote, 'In matters of religion, whatever is different is contrary' - the differing miracle accounts only serve to undermine each other, cancelling each other out and providing a 'complete triumph for the sceptic.' Hume's argument has a number of worthy points, but many of his claims are quite severely flawed. The first argument that there is a greater probability that a given miracle didn't happen than that miracle did happen is formed upon somewhat bizarre reasoning. The whole concept of a miracle relies on its being improbable; impossible even. Its occurrence should neither undermine our understanding of natural laws, nor force us to revise them. Richard Swinburne argued that scientific evidence would always outweigh the probability of a miracle, because a miracle is by definition contrary to scientific laws. Instead, he identified three types of historical evidence that can be used to support miracles: 1 Our apparent memories 2 The testimony of others 3 The physical traces left by the events in question He emphasised the fact that our understanding of natural laws is founded on these types of evidence. ...read more.


Wiles' argument relates to the debate about evil and suffering in the world. Why should a just and omnibenevolent God intervene at Lourdes to cure an old man from terminal cancer, and not have some miraculous intervention prevent the atrocities of the Holocaust, or the millions dying of disease and famine? Wiles claims that the idea of an interventionist God is 'both implausible and full of difficulty for a reasoned Christian faith.' It is a debased idea of God, and effectively a God who is not worthy of worship. In Keith Ward's book Divine Action he gives the explanation that God acts so infrequently in the world so as not to disrupt the whole order of creation. God's purpose in performing miracles is, according to Ward, not to reduce the suffering of humanity but to build faith. If, then, a miracle were to occur, what should be made of it? Is the conclusion that God exists a logical and justifiable one? This rather depends upon the prior beliefs of the individual. One who witnesses a miracle and already believes in a loving God could reasonably and easily attribute the miracle to God. The miracle would be an act that would reaffirm their faith. However, if the same miracle were to be witnessed by an atheist, the miracle alone would probably not be sufficient to suddenly generate a belief in God. It must be concluded that the occurrence of a miracle can really do little more than strengthen the previous beliefs of one who already believes in God. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miracles 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 GCSE Miracles essays

  1. Miracles are about faith, not fact. Discuss.

    His argument started with the fact that the more an event occurs, the more believable and likely it is to be true. Because miracles are so rare, the likelihood of them being true is low. Hume said that we have faith in the constant functioning of natural laws.

  2. To what extent is faith a legitimate basis for knowledge claims, in religion and ...

    Depending on their experiences, that is a direct result of their faith. On the other hand, the sceptic would argue that the definition of knowledge is partly that there has to be some form of widespread agreement, and substantial evidence with justification.

  1. is faith a legitimate basis for knowledge claims?

    My cousin, who dropped out of junior college, once argued that science cannot prove things it. Instead it can alter existing beliefs and replace it by ones that sound more rational. For example the theories about the size of the universe and the structure of matter have been gradually disproved in the past and displaced by fresh ones.

  2. Miracles. Many people have different views on what a miracle really is. For ...

    Demons went out from various people screaming "You are the Son of God!" Jesus gave the demons an order and would not let them speak for they knew he was the Messiah. In this story Jesus showed great power by healing many people and being able to order demons to

  1. A Biblical Mentoring Relationship: The Story of Elisha

    The way that I was viewing was more in the eyes of walking in divine authority and proper submission. It has now been just over a year since Jeff and I have been in a mentoring relationship.

  2. To what extend is faith a legitimate basis for knowledge claims, in religion and ...

    Furthermore another example is the food chain. Because of the food chain every animal depends on each other for survival. The organization of the animal food chain is astonishing since all are linked. This organization is not only shown in the food chain in general but also in the organization of a each procedure of a living creature, for example the digestive system.

  1. 'Miracles are based on fact, not faith' - Discuss.

    many gods would account for the miracles reported by the religions or the possibility that an all - powerful God may choose to present himself in different ways to relate to different people. He seems to be saying that all religious people are either being deceived or are deceiving as he does not believe any of the miracles reported.

  2. 'Miracles are a matter of faith, not fact', discuss.

    Rather, (and this is Hume's point) it is more probable that another undiscovered natural cause was to blame, and therefore, if theists are to contend that God has intervened, surely the burden of proof should fall onto them. This begs the question, 'can we find evidence that God has in fact intervened in the world'?

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