Do You Believe in Miracles

Ami Denman Dr. Anderson Phil 1043 4/26/13 Do You Believe In Miracles? Do you believe in miracles? I find it rather intriguing that some people still try to use science or any number of other disciplines as a way of explaining, give meaning or rationalizing the question of miracles or the existence of a higher power.
I find it hard to understand why humans deny at least the possibility that everyday life presents us with mysteries that cannot simply be explained by human reasoning, rational explanations, the laws of science, or by the laws of nature, but instead just simply acknowledge that some things are unexplainable or justifiable and just miraculous.
Although the belief in miracles have seemly been acknowledged as factual for centuries in works such as the Bible, many philosophers and scientists still question the validity of a miraculous event or experience and refuse to ascribe to the reasonable explanation that some things in the natural world cannot be proved by the method of science and are explicitly miraculous. A miracle can be de? ned by Hume as a ? transgression of a law of nature by the violation of a particular deity or invisible agent?.

For scholars such as Maurice Wiles, Alastair McKinnon, and Steven Bayne a miracle can never occur because the actual concept of a miracle is incoherent. Bayne states, “Given Hume’s view on the nature of belief and belief production, it seems…that we should begin not by asking whether belief in a miracle can be rationally justified, but by asking whether a belief in a miracle is even possible. ” However, I will aim to demonstrate why miracles can occur because ultimately the de? nition of miracles put forward by David Hume is archaic and irrelevant to today’s society.
David Hume proposed a theoretical and practical case for why it is impossible for one ever to know if a miracle has occurred. His theoretical case begins by stating that all our knowledge comes from sensory experience and empirical evidence and the only proof for a miracle is its testimony. The probability that this is incorrect due to the witness being deluded or unreliable is much greater than the probability that a miracle has actually occurred, that is that the laws of nature have been violated.
For this reason it seems clear that a miracle can never occur because the chance of the testimony being incorrect will always be greater than the laws of nature being wrong. For Hume ? a wise man proportions his beliefs?. There are several problems with this proposition, which demonstrate why Hume is incorrect, and miracles do actually occur. The ? rst is that his theory is founded upon Newtonian laws of nature and thus he argues that laws of nature are absolute and ? xed. However, works of Einstein have showed that laws of nature are in fact not absolute and ? ed and much of Newton? s work is to be doubted upon. Furthermore, quantum mechanics has shown that actually laws of nature don? t always have regularity the study of particles on such a detailed level has shown that movement in the particles is random. The implications of these discoveries in science have meant that theories such as Hume, which base themselves on Newtonian laws, are also invalid like Newton’s work. Miracles can then occur and cannot be explained by science like quantum mechanics.
However, there are not just problems for skeptics and scientists with accepting the existence of miracles. Maurice Wiles an American theologian suggested that if we accept miracles then we are lead to the conclusion that God is arbitrary and partisan therefore not a morally good God. Wiles says that this is unlikely, it is more likely that God is morally good and chooses not to intervene. He states that the only intervention God has in the world is creation and now sustaining his creation.
Wiles on these grounds reject the notion of a miracle and suggests that they can never occur. What Wiles fails to realize is that God is not human, he is a being out of this world with characteristics possessed by no humans and so it is not necessary that this dilemma can be applied to him. As St Augustine said God is beyond human reasoning and it not necessarily that we will understand him or his behavior fully. Also, what Wiles is saying contradicts belief which has been around for over 2,000 years.
It seems more likely that Wiles is incorrect than all the philosopher and theologians who predeceased him. For this reason, we can reject Wiles? argument and believe that miracles do actually occur. Swinburne, nevertheless, attempts to answer Wiles? dilemma. He gives that analogy of a child and parent relationship. Just like a parent keeps rules and expects the child to follow them, now and again the parent may agree to break the rules if for example a child pleads a lot. The same way God may violate the laws of nature if he so feels that it is logical.
This is a credible suggestion for God? s apparent arbitrary and partisan nature because religious scripture can be used to back up the belief that a parent and child relationship is analogous to the relationship between us and God and it makes sense. Furthermore, if God decided to constantly perform miracles there would be no such thing as faith and judgement because everyone would believe in God. We would not even make advancements because we would be so reliant on God? s intervention.
This suggestions show that there may be other reasons to why God intervenes in such an “arbitrary and partisan” fashion. Alastair McKinnon went one-step ahead of Hume and stated that miracles are impossible because the concept of a miracle is incoherent. McKinnon begins by de? ning a law of nature, for McKinnon a law of nature is a descriptive sentence which describes a course of event for example, if I drop my pen and say gravity has caused my pen to fall on the ground, I am just describing what happened and nothing more than that.
McKinnon goes onto question how can one then say miracles, which are violations of laws of nature, occur. It is impossible to suggest that a course events could be violated. McKinnon therefore concludes that the existence of miracles is impossible. McKinnon’s view on this topic is not a popular one and this is because he rests his case in the belief that laws of nature are merely descriptive. Most scholars and nearly all scientists would disagree and explain that a law of nature is more than that, a law of nature explains how things occur nd make predictions and thus it seems perfectly logical for this to be violated, hence miracles to occur. Another problem with all of the arguments explored in this essay is that they seems to categorize miracles are natural events yet there is no proof for that. Miracles may actually be supernatural events caused by something out of this and again leading to the possibility that miracles can occur. My position and the scholarly views presented have been built on the foundation that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature when actually this may not be true. The de? ition proposed by Hume suggests we have some kind of God of the gaps that where science cannot be used to explain something we use God when actually in our modern world a miracle is not looked at in terms of the laws of nature it has violated and probability. For most people a miracle is an event which holds religious signi? cance. This de? nition was put forward by R. F. Holland and P. Tillich and seems to be much more realistic. It can be conceived then that miracles can occur because at the end of it Hume? s de? nition of a miracle is outdated and not a clear representation of how people understand miracles today.
A miracle is any event whether it breaks the laws of nature or not but holds religious signi? cance for the individual. Bibliography Anghel. Alexandru. “Hume On Miracles and the Lourdes Phenomenon”. Scientific Journal of Humanistic Studies 4. 6(2012):25-32. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. “Are Miracles Identifiable? ” Web. 10 Apr. 2013. www. thywordistruth. com/Miracles/miracles. pdf Bayne, Steven M. “Hume On Miracles: Would It Take A Miracle To Believe In A Miracle? ”. Southern Journal of Philosophy, 45,1,pp 1-29, Academic Search Complete.
Web. 2 Apr. 2013. Corner, David. “Miracles. ” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. March 24 2005. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. www. thestudentchatroom. co. uk/Wiki/Revision:Miracles Corner, David. “Philosophy of Miracles. ” Continuum Studies in Philosophy. International Publishing Group. Jan 21 2007: p 17. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Cowan, Steven B. , and James S. Spiegel, Loving Wisdom: A ChristianIntroduction to Philosophy. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009. Frost-Arnold, Greg. “The No-Miracles Argument For Realism: Inference To An Unacceptable Explanation. Philosophy Of Science 77. 1 (2010): 35-58. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. Larmer, Robert. “Miracles, Divine Agency, And The Laws Of Nature. ” Toronto Journal Of Theology 27. 2(2011): 267-290. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2013. McKinnon, Alastair. “Miracles and Paradox. ” American Philosophical Quartely 4. (Oct 1967):308-14 Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Yurs, Mark E. “The Ethics Of Preaching On The Healing Of Jesus. ” Clergy Journal 85. 1 (2008): 12-14. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2013.

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