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

Examine the way in which one philosopher understands the term miracle

Extracts from this document...


Examine the way in which one philosopher understands the term miracle (6 marks) Thomas Aquinas understood miracles to be 'those things done by divine power apart from the order usually followed in things'. So in other words those things that God did, that nature cannot do, this is the most traditional approach to defining a miracle. It is effectively a breach of a law of nature, contradicting our regular experience of how the world works. Aquinas gave the example of a reversal in the course of the sun; this is the first type of miracle put forward by Aquinas. Apart from this conventional approach to defining a miracle, Aquinas put forward two other additional types of miracles; Acts that God did, that nature could do but not in the same order. For instance, recovering from a terminal illness, it's not logically impossible for this type of miracle to happen; they are just not usually expected. Nature can bring about a natural remission or recovery, but we would not expect this to happen (would you expect someone to recover from the latter stages of cancer overnight?) ...read more.


people with a good, non-bias reputation, however, many regard Hume's criteria for testimony to be too harsh, if applied consistently to past historical events, everything in history may be false testimony! He also forgets to mention what would be sufficient testimony? Hume also says the laws of nature are so firmly established that it would take an almost infallible claim to confirm such testimony, though, this is self defeating; Hume's own definition claims that miracles are the transgression of the laws of nature. He goes onto say in say in his book (Enquiry concerning human understanding (1978) that different religious claims cancel one another out, since all claims cannot be true we should assume that none are, for instance if a miracle in Islam discredits Christianity as a true religion, then equally any claim of a Christian miracle will likewise discredit Islam making them both null and void, undermining the evidence. This argument that miracles have a self-cancelling nature has again been questioned; there seems little reason to think different religious accounts cancel each other out. ...read more.


However, others have rejected this argument saying that God has reasons for acting the way he does; people might say God allowed Auschwitz so we could learn from it, for our own benefit. Pointless miracles also to an extent discredit beliefs in miracles. As Swinburne claimed, without an apparent aim or purpose it is hard to credit 'miraculous' happenings with being an act of God. He used the example of a feather '... land here rather then there...' this seems to have no deeper religious significance, and so Swinburne went onto say a miracle must have an ultimate purpose and we should be able to see religious significance. Hence in conclusion, the belief in miracles is ultimately up to the believer, miracles are always going to be incoherent for atheists as for them God does not exist so they will automatically look to a different premise. At the end of the day nothing about miracles is incoherent if you believe that God exists and has all the powers described in classical theism. On occasion it is perfectly reasonably that he might break the epistemic distance, so despite arguments against miracles, belief in miracles is nevertheless strong. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mohsin Ali Raja 09/05/2007 RE/ Philosophy. ...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. David Hume and Miracles.

    Hume's inability to recall what he had written only a couple of lines previously is proving a severe hurdle to the effectiveness of his use of logic. For Hume's third example in contrast to his second he chooses circumstances where the miracles instead of the witnesses are numerous.

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

    The Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah and they expected him to chase away the Romans and protect the Jew, however he used Miracles to show people of Gods power and gain their trust and these miracles were revolutionary.

  1. Christianity through a study of Luke and Acts

    My legs were totally black. Something amazing happened. My legs were completely unharmed." Society today is much more scientifically based than it was when Jesus was alive. We nearly always need proof to believe that anything is real. If something cannot be proved, we think it is false, we need evidence.

  2. What problems are there in defining miracles? (7)

    This point is argued by many theists such as Brian Davies who argue that every single event which happens in our world is dependant on God. Brain Davis states: 'God is present in what is not miraculous as he is in the miraculous' This is saying that if God is

  1. What is a miracle?

    Richard Swinburne, on the other hand, claims that miracles have to have significance. He suggests that because the laws of nature can be foreseen, if an apparently infeasible and perhaps "impossible" event happens, then we have rights to class it as a miracle.

  2. What is meant by the term miracle?

    But setting people who are oppressed by evil spirits is something that people living today reckon that they can relate to. Jesus performed many miracles throughtout his ministry here is a list for his miracles and their bible references: Healing People * A man who had a skin disease (called leprosy in some translations)

  1. Examine the arguments, which can be used to discredit belief in miracles - In ...

    much smaller time scale, which therefore could render his work as a miracle. The occurrence of exorcisms, which although would not be thought of as entirely implausible, would be seldom expected, and therefore can be reputed as miracles. The third and final type of miracle in Aquinas's view were events

  2. Explain the term miracle.

    I beg you, don't torture me!" Healing from sickness is the third type of miracles described in Luke's Gospel. One of those miracles is a Healing of a Sick Woman. It tells us that woman's faith has healed her and that this miracle was a sign that Jesus is God.

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