Describe and explain the atheistic rejection of miracles

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Describe and explain the atheistic rejection of miracles

The existence of miracles is much debated amongst scholars, both atheist and theist. This is largely because the term ‘miracle’ is multifaceted, as it means different things to different people. This subjectivity makes it incredibly hard to prove or disprove. For example, St Augustine said that a miracle is, “An event we cannot forecast or expect with our present understanding of nature,” whereas Aquinas defines a miracle as, “things which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature.” Swinburne offers an additional definition: “If he (God) has reason to interact with us, he has reason very occasionally to intervene and suspend those natural laws by which our life is controlled.” These competing definitions have a common link: they all involve the divine interfering with nature. The atheist disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. Therefore it follows that they would reject the idea of divine intervention. Nevertheless, atheists have produced many detailed critiques of theistic miracles. In examining such critiques a good place to start would be the writings of Hume.
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In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748, David Hume defined a miracle as, “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular violation of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Hume’s attack on miracles seems to be on the anti-realist view: the breaking into the world or breaking natural laws. He argued that breaking such laws would be illogical. Hume was an empiricist, which means that he used his experience as his guide in matters of fact. But he excluded the experiences of others who made claim to miracles.

He put ...

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