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

What is a miracle?

Extracts from this document...


Religious Studies Philosophy What is a miracle? In order to assess the existence and determine the boundaries of miracles, first, it is necessary to ascertain a recognised definition of a miracle and what purpose they serve. The traditional perspective of miracles is that they must have three fundamental characteristics, being that the event termed a 'miracle' breaks the laws of nature, it has purpose and significance and has the potentiality of a religious explication, as agreed widely between many scholars. However, there are many difficulties in defining a miracle in such limited terms. This is due to the fact that, as with many other issues, both philosophers and theologians are divided when bringing about not only the existence of miracles into question, but also a definition of what a miracle really is and whether or not they are simply coincidences. The 16th century Philosopher, David Hume, is one of the most recognised scholars who have questioned the occurrence of miracles. Although he never publicly declared himself an atheist, Hume was extremely sceptical of miracles. In his most appreciated work, 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding', Hume disputed that it would always be impossible to tell if a miracle has taken place and that they are the most least likely of things to occur. ...read more.


He wrote in 'The Concept of a Miracle', "If God intervened in the natural order to make a feather land here rather than there, for no deep, ultimate purpose, or to upset a child's box of toys just for spite, these events would not be described as miracles". Therefore, the fact that some miracles seem to be as random and haphazard as those described above raises severe criticisms on the occurrence of miracles and how they are defined. Another problem with this argument is that it depends upon what is classed as significant, as what may prove significant to one person may not be to another. From a contrasting point of view, Holland, author of 'Religion and Understanding'; put forward the belief that a miracle can be deemed as 'a series of coincidences with significance'. Holland uses the story of a mother and her young child crossing an exposed railway track; as they cross, the child gets caught in the track just as a train is coming. The mother prays to God for help and the train fortunately stops before reaching her and her child. ...read more.


Miracles could also be a psychological alternative for those who believe what they want to believe, and by terming an event a miracle, this just acts as an explanation. In conclusion, all that can be said is that there is no definite resolution as to whether miracles occur or not, as when bringing their existence into question, the concept, purpose and interpretation of miracles is almost always unclear. Due to the fact that miracles mean different things to different people, there are many things that can define a miracle. For some people, the birth of a child would be a miracle, whereas others may need a religious significance to determine a specific event a miracle. Therefore, the most that can be said about a miracle is that it's an event which can be interpreted to have some significance, religious or not, that in some way can be the result of God's intervention in the world or in the lives of those who have faith. Joanna Lowe Page 1 Miss Arthur Sources: * Religious Studies, Philip Allan Updates - Sarah K. Tyler and Gordon Reid * http://www.uk.yahoo.com/search3/test/DEFL_1/tss/s/*-http://www.uk.rd.yahoo.com/search/ukie?-p=Miracles/&ei=UTF-8&x=wrt&y=y ...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.

    In all cases we must balance the opposite experiments where they are opposite, and deduct the smaller number from the greater number in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence. Hume opens his second part by suggesting that we have been a 'great deal too liberal

  2. How far may theology be reconciled with science in explaining the nature of, and ...

    If we broaden our view of theology, then maybe Jesus wasn't actually raised. Maybe his body was stolen by his disciples or hidden from his disciples so that it simply appeared as if Jesus had arisen.

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

    Despite the fact that Aquinas proposed an adaptable definition that is appropriate in our lives today and somewhat explained the position of God as an interventionist, there are still notable faults in his argument which undermine not only the existence of miracles, but how to define them.

  2. R.S. Coursework - miracles

    Although most Christians try to uphold the beliefs of the church that miracles were true events and that if they do not believe in them, they are denying God and all that Jesus has done for them, there may still be a variety of responses.

  1. What are Miracles?

    Liberal readers have a different understanding of the bible. They believe that the writers were only human, so human error could be involved with some of the passages, so the writers were only guided by God, not 'inspired' by God. They believe that the bible was not created to be taken literally, but was created to present the spiritual

  2. Examine two philosophical reasons for believing in miracles

    His first, about not a sufficient number of witnesses is very vague. He does not say what a 'sufficient' number is and never states what counts as 'good sense, education and learning'. There are examples of miracles which have been seen by many, for instance the parting of the red sea, or the feeding of 5000.

  1. Examine the way in which one philosopher understands the term miracle

    Where were the miracles in Auschwitz? Why doesn't a God who seemingly intervenes to heal an individual watch as millions die? According to Maurice Wiles miracles cannot happen on moral grounds. If God can alter the laws of nature, then why not save all those lost in disasters'...yet even so

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

    Scholars over the years have been very much dived in there thoughts on miracle and the problem of defining it has been at the centre of this. A key philosopher who discussed the concept of miracles is St Thomas Aquinas and his way of explaining the word miracle was to split a miracle into three sections.

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