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Rachel Butcher B5811641 In what circumstances could someone be justified in believing that a miracle had occurred?

In this essay I will focus on the conce t of !miracles"# and if !miracles" do ha en# what are !miracles" and under what circumstances do they occur? $y other concern is with the issue of justification% &o one has ever been# neither have we been# justified into believing in miracles% I intend to loo' at (ume"s hiloso hy on miracles and with some o osing views from )ohn *oc'e and +homas ,-uinas% ,n assum tion which is 'ey to this assignment is .% /% 0lifford"s suggestion that1 2It is wrong always# everywhere# and for anyone# to believe anything u on insufficient evidence3# 40lifford in 0ha ell# %556

7irstly we need to understand how miracles can be defined% 8hiloso hical discussions about miracles tend to be confined to the use of religion and religious e9 erience% 0ha broad definition of religion being1 2almost any e9 erience of something wonderful# e9ce tional# or of morally ositive value3 (e defines a miracle as being an event where there is no scientific e9 lanation# and it must be seen as divine action# an action in which ;od directly does something% , religious e9 erience is an e9 erience which draws a erson closer to ;od% ,ccording to 0ha ell 45:116# religious e9 erience is li'e erce tion< seeing or hearing or smelling things in the world around you% +his erce tion connects some eo le with an ins irational reality% +his 'ind of erce tion can be described as a ell 45:116 gives a

religious e9 erience for e9am le a miracle# through which eo le e9 erience ;od% +his discussion seems to focus on a few issues% +his first one is a theoretical one= what is a miracle? +here seems to be controversy over the idea that a miracle focuses on whether a miracle is contrary to natural law# meaning it must be a violation of natural law% +he second one is an e istemological% >nce we have an idea on what a miracle is# is there a good enough reason to believe that one has ta'en lace% .hether testimony can give us enough reason to believe that a miracle has ha ened% +his is when (ume refutes the claims of miracles% (ume seems to attac' the ossibility of there being miracles% In his essay# !>f $iracles"# (ume argues against identifying any event as being a miracle# while ma'ing allowances% (e offers an !in rinci le" argument and an !in fact" argument% , wise erson will weigh u his belief on miracles to the evidence% .hen the evidence ma'es the conclusion certain then we can tal' about roof% But when the evidence ma'es the conclusion only slightly ossible# then we tal' about robability% ?o this seems to be to be based on human testimony# thus the more the unusual the event# the less reliable the testimony% (ume argues that even if we admit that the evidence for a miracle has full roof# it is in rinci le im ossible to identify that event as a miracle% (e describes a miracle as being a1 2violation of the laws of nature# and as firm and unalterable e9 erience has established these laws# a roof against a miracle# from the very nature of the fact# is as entire as any argument from e9 erience can ossibly be imagined3 .hat is the natural order? +he more one observes a attern recurring again and again# the more reason one has to believe that the attern is natural @ that it is# in fact# how the world wor's% +he

evidence for miracles seems oor and does not amount to having neither full roof nor robability% (ume gives four reasons why there is little evidence for miracles1 1% +here have been no miracles which have been confirmed by eo le with good sense of good education# 5% 8eo le crave the miraculous and will believe the ridiculous# A% $iracles only ha therefore cancel each other out and su ort a doctrine% (ume en amongst cruel eo le# 4% ,ll religions have their own miracles and concludes that miracles can never be a basis for religion% I believe that (ume"s objection to witnesses and their testimony is valid% .e are familiar that from criminal cases# witnesses can be unreliable in their testimony% &ot deliberately but from the e9 erience being o en to individual inter retation% *oc'e argued that miracles need to be seen in a broader conte9t than just an unnatural ha if a miracle has ha messenger $iracles are often used as an argument in favour of ;od"s e9istence since as ?winburne in 0ha ell 45:116 suggests that if ;od e9ists we can e9 ect him to interact with us% +here have been many une9 lained events which have no better e9 lanation a art from them being miracles% 8eo le have many reasons for believing in miracles but for some eo le it is a matter of their faith1 meaning that their religion tells them to% +he 0hristian faith is based on the miracle of resurrection# without which the faith# it has no meaning% ?o it is a necessity for followers to believe% But# the issue here is that there is the idea in believing in something which cannot be e9 lained and without -uestion% ,ccording to +homas ,-uinas# a miracle= ening% $iracles are acts of great religious and moral im ortance% *oc'e argues that in order to judge ened# we need to ta'e into account the erson who erformed it and whether they were sent by ;od as a

2those things are ro erly called miracles which are done by divine agency beyond the order commonly observed in nature%3 +homas ,-uinas develo ed 5 lines of argument for ;od"s e9istence# which are 'nown as the 5 ways% +hese 5 arguments derive from factual evidence and e9 erience% .hilst (ume condemned miracles# ,-uinas identified A ty es of miracles= 1% Bvents done by ;od# which nature could never do# for e9am le ma'e the sun go bac'wards# 5% Bvents in which ;od does something which nature can do but not in this order# for e9am le1 life after death# A% Bvents which could ha en naturally but ;od brea's the rules of nature# for e9am le1 someone who is instantly cured from a disease which can be cured in time% ,-uinas allowed for some events to be miracles but he rimarily identified miracles as ;ods intervention% , miracle is an act of ;od which is beneficial to the erson who is e9 eriencing it% +his may brea' a natural law# but it does not have to% +homas ,-uinas suggests that miracles have a divine origin and (ume"s argument is wea'% ,-uinas argued that for the event to be named a miracle# it has to be something that is intrinsically wonderful% It must have a cause which is absolutely hidden% .hat is obvious about ,-uinas" understanding of miracles is that he allows for the ossibility of miracles ha ening within a system of natural activity# this is something which (ume ignored% +homas ,-uinas argued that the ossibility of ;od"s activity with the natural realm is art of the order of things% But# this o ens u the -uestion of# if ;od is acting in the normal order of things then how will we 'now when a miracle has ha ened? ,-uinas would have said ;od has his reasons and who are we to -uestion them but that is not good enough% .hat 'ind of ;od says not today# but maybe tomorrow?

,-uinas realised that you may need to have a firm base in your faith but acce t the fact that you come to ;od by your faith first% $iracles may not rove that ;od e9ists but once you believe this might hel to secure your faith% But if ;od was able to answer all our rayers with miracles# we would not be the masters of our own destiny% If ;od chose who he gave a miracle to then this oses a moral issue# but if he gave no<one a miracle then we would not 'now if he e9isted% If this was the case then maybe (ume was right when he said that miracles were down to a ! articular volition of the deity"% In conclusion# I have borrowed from the hiloso her Cavid (umes# )ohn *oc'e and +homas ,-uinas% +he argument begins with an assum tion that is very favourable to those who believe in miracles% *etDs say that the witnesses of miracles are very reliable @ far more reliable than ordinary witnesses% +his is not to say that miracle witnesses are infallible% If they were# then of course we could trust their re orts and there would be nothing more to discuss% But witnesses# we 'now# are never erfect% +hings aren"t always as they seem# our eyes on occasion mislead us# and sometimes we see what we want to see% 0ircumstances or religious e9 eriences are too ersonal and subjective to rovide convincing roof that a miracle has occurred% +hus the weight of testimony is not enough to convince the sce tic% If we have good enough reason to believe that ;od e9ists# then in certain circumstance it might be reasonable to believe that a violation is due to ;od"s interference%

References 0ha ell# +% 45:116 +he 8hiloso hy of Religion 4,555 Boo' 56#

$ilton /eynes# +he > en Eniversity% 0ottingham# )% 4ed6 45::86 .estern 8hiloso hy= ,n ,nthology# 45 nd Bdition6% >9ford# Blac'well 8ublishing *td% !Religious B9 erience" 45:116 4,555 ,udio 0C6# $ilton /eynes# +he > en Eniversity% *oc'e# )ohn# An Essay Concerning Human Understanding# *ondon# 16F:1 edited with a foreword by 8%(% &idditch# >9ford= 0larendon 8ress# 1FG5