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"A miracle is a transgression of a Law of Nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent" - Comment on the adequacy of this definition of a miracle.

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Introduction

"A miracle is a transgression of a Law of Nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent" - Comment on the adequacy of this definition of a miracle. The above mentioned definition of a miracle was put forward by David Hume, and is probably the most well known definition available. It is often referred to as the classic understanding of a miracle is. This essay will discuss the key aspects of the definition, including: what is meant by laws of nature, and the intervention of a Deity or invisible agent. It will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this definition including arguments from Davies, Hick and Holland. To be able to comment upon the adequacy of this definition, one must be able to understand what Hume means by laws of nature. An ambiguity with the term 'law of nature' and what is meant by it, is whether Hume meant it to be a direct violation of a law of nature, or if he meant to present a miracle as contrary to the ordinary course of nature. ...read more.

Middle

Hick agrees with the other statement, he believes that the laws of nature should be revised to encompass the unexplainable as it happens. Hick states that natural laws are: "...generalisations formulated retrospectively to cover whatever has, in fact happened" Therefore, if the laws of nature can continually be stretched to explain what might be perceived as a miracle, then event would be able to be explained through the laws of nature, Hick logically concludes: "We can declare a priori there are no miracles" The next major point one needs to examine before evaluating the adequacy of the argument is the mention of Hume that the intervention of a Deity of invisible agent is required for an event to be considered a miracle. This is an obvious weakness when being discussed by an Atheist, with the simple argument that God doesn't exist; but this begins another philosophical debate. The philosopher Mackie agreement with Hume states: "...a miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself" This argument causes problems for a religious believer however. Within the Classical Theistic concept of the nature of God is the belief that God is omnipresent. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is only when the interposition of a Deity is removed from the definition that an event with supposedly supernatural causes can be described as violating the laws of nature. From the clear flaws raised by this essay, one can conclude that the definition presented by Hume is not an adequate definition of miracles, as it eventually contradicts itself. If something has a supernatural cause, then nature can not be held in comparison with it to determine if it is indeed a miracle. Similarly, the question raised by Hick, that the laws of nature can be stretched, may be considered extreme to conclude that there are no miracles, but still holds weight, in that what people may have considered to be a miracle 100 years ago is not a miracle any more. To be adequate, Hume needed to define the term 'law of nature', and with that, explain how a supernatural event can be compared with nature. As Vardy states: "Hume's argument has much to commend it, but if we examine his claims in closer detail, their effectiveness will be seen to be more limited than he might have imagined" The general idea of a miracle being something out of the ordinary holds true of Hume's definition, but it is not enough to explain the unexplainable. ...read more.

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