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A. Outline at Least Two Defections of the Term Miracle. Examine Key Reasons for Believing in Miracles. B. Comment on the View That These Reasons for Believing in Miracles Are More Persuasive Than Potential Critiicisms.

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a) Outline at least two definitions of the term miracle. Examine key reasons for believing in miracles.

The term miracle is queried over constantly for the reason that there are various definitions all consisting of why we should believe miracles to be true. Two of which belong to Thomas Aquinas’ and Richard Swinburne. Each poses reasons for why one should believe in miracles and whether they do really and truly exist. Firstly Aquinas posits his suggestion that miracles are ‘Those things…which are done by divine power apart from the order generally followed in things’. He sets out his definition with three main aspects; starting with the idea that events are done by God which nature could never have the capability of doing. One example used to support this is that it’s logically impossible to stop the Sun yet God with his divine power can. Therefore if this is broken and an act goes against it, it is thus a miracle. The second proposition is that things that are done by God which nature can do but not in that order also qualify as being a miracle. The final idea that Aquinas puts forward is that the events done by God that nature can do but God does without the use of natural laws also are deemed to be miracles. The significant thing about Aquinas’s definition of a miracle is that he allowed for the possibility of miracles to occur within the system of natural activity. Moreover he allowed for the possibility that God’s activity with the natural realm may be part of the normal order of things. His definition didn’t limit a miracle to a violation of a natural law and so is therefore identified by God’s intervention. A miracle is an act of God according to him which is purposed to be beneficial to the particular person. Overall a miracle may perhaps break a natural law however it doesn’t always have to. This view suggests that God can do what he wants with his creation. Another definition to miracles is Swinburne’s which essentially argues that instances like water turning into wine can happen naturally or with the assistance of chemicals. What he believes to be a miracle is something that happens in a certain way. That it’s not about what is defined as a miracle. He puts forward the argument that events should not be seen as miracles unless they have a deeper meaning and greater significance to them. The very fact that something has simply broken a law of nature doesn’t thereby mean it’s a miracle; it needs more to it, as to define it as a miracle. Swinburne also believes it’s important we don’t ignore miracle claims just because they aren’t scientific because there is a still a chance they can occur. Ockham’s razor can be used to back up his point because it states the simplest explanation is the best which suggests if we have no way of explaining why an event has occurred after being thoroughly investigated then the simplest and perhaps more justified way of explaining it, is to say it’s a miracle. Swinburne’s other idea is that as humans we should and need to be less skeptical otherwise when doing certain things in life for instance, getting a train which says its going to London, if we never believed anything, we would spend time questioning and evaluating whether the train is actually going to London. There are others also which define miracles in very different forms, for instance Hume is very much at the other end of the spectrum to philosophers like Swinburne and Aquinas and strongly believes miracles do not exist. He defines miracles as ‘a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the deity...’ the basis of his argument feels there is no objection as such to miracles but however, he does have an epistemological problem with miracles. Essentially putting forward the notion that we don’t actually know a miracle has happened when a rational person has no understanding that a miracle has occurred. First and foremost if the laws of nature are violated, there is reason to believe a miracle has taken place. The other important aspect of his argument to remember is that ‘No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless it is such that the falsehood would be more miraculous’; equally, one has to weigh up the evidence and according to him, there has never been a miracle found on reliable information to be accepted as valid. Briefly, Hume postulated four other objections as part of his philosophical argument which are important when arguing against the existence of miracles. Finally there are many reasons why we should in fact believe in miracles, and one of which is the bible. It has been on this Earth and known by humans for an incredibly long time, and is still referred today when it comes to proving religious arguments. One example is that there have been many reported miraculous appearances by the Virgin Mary. And the bible consists of Jesus constantly practicing his miracles on disabled or extremely disadvantaged people.

b) Comment on the view that these reasons for believing in miracles are more persuasive than potential criticisms.

I believe when evaluating the reasons for believing in miracles and the potential criticisms that the reasons for are in fact a great deal more persuasive. Whilst the arguments against them appear to be coherently out together, the very idea that we still have liable reasons for them existing means we mustn’t discard the occurrence of miracles so easily. The first point I will make is that the while Hume has constructed his criticisms for believing in miracles in a way that one could be convinced, it stands to mind that his views on miracles seem to be slightly close-minded and offensive. For instance, his idea that miracles occur to the uneducated most often seems rather harsh and can come across as an unnecessary sweeping statement. For a philosopher to commit to such a statement as this, I don’t believe it to start his argument off well at all. Without a doubt miracles have occurred to those with substantial education thus providing them with enough sense and knowledge to see reason behind the fallacies of miracles. Furthermore, Hume merely postulates a philosophical argument and fails to explore the possibilities of miracles taking place but instead defines them out of existence. Other reasons why the criticisms to believing in miracles appear to be less persuasive is that When it comes to commenting on the view that reasons for believing in miracles is more persuasive, I believe Holland’s argument could be seen as a much more realistic outlook on miracles. That is because he postulates the idea that even events which don't break the law of nature may be considered miraculous if the sense of divine purpose and significance is strong enough. 'A coincidence can be taken religiously as a sign and called a miracle'. I find this reason for believing them a great deal more persuasive for the reason that the very existence of miracles is seen as less 'miraculous' if you like because once could wish to call something a miracle if they believe the significance and purpose of the very act is significant enough. Another reason why they seem more to exist is that Hollands defentition is subjective thus meaning one mans miracle is anothe mans coincidence. Despite this generally being a downside of his detention, it can equally mean that if one man believes a miracle to exist, it has. Thereby suggesting the existence of miracles is actually rather possible according to holland. In conclusion, I believe that the reasons for believing in miracles is noticeably more persuasive than the potential criticisms posed against miracles. For instance, as well as Hollands definition of miracles I believe that there have been such occurrences recorded in the past that have been perceived as miracles. These that have taken place have not only happened in non religious areas or been sighted by non religious believers but have been witnessed by others as well. So the very fact that miracles have actually been known to occur since the very age of B.C and still do now, it doesn't come as a surprise to me, that miracles are know to exist in this world.…...

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