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

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Introduction

'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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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