Miracles Flashcards Preview

Religious Studies A Level > Miracles > Flashcards

Flashcards in Miracles Deck (46)
Loading flashcards...
1

What two main important definitions of a miracle does the course focus on?

  1. A violation of, or exception to Natural law
  2. An event of religious significance

2

Natural law was once percieved in prescriptive terms - what does this mean?

Nature was required to behave in ways that scientists required it to behave.

3

Natural Law is now concieved of as descriptive - What does this mean?

Scientists understand nature by simply trying to describe and understand what happens naturally.

4

How is natural law seen in religious sense?

In religious terms natural law comes from God and guides human moral behaviour.

5

What is David Hume's famous defination of a miracle?

A transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity or by the interposition of some invisible agent.

6

The word miracle comes from latin miraculum - what does this literally mean?

Wonder

7

What four examples does Richard Swinburne give as violations of natural law?

  1. Levitation
  2. Resurrection from the dead in full health of a man whose heart has not been beating for twenty four hours and who was dead also by currently used criteria;
  3. Water turning into wine without the assistance of chemical apparatus or catalysts;
  4. A man getting better from polio in a minute.
     

8

What is a Theist?

Someone who believes that the world was not only made by God but that its existence continues to depend totally on its creator.

9

What is a Deist?

Someone who believes that, having created the world, God leaves it to run itself - governed by the natural laws He created.

10

Who said that it was not the events themselves that made them remarkable, but the timescale and the order in which they occur?

Richard Swinburne

11

Swinburne said that the trangression of a natural law was not enough to make something a miracle - he said they had to have some deeper meaning and significance - some underlying plan. What two examples did he use to illustrate this?

  1. God making a falling feather land in a different place.
  2. God upsetting a childs toy box for no reason

12

Thomas Aquinas desribed three ways that God can interact with the world - what are these?

  1. God’s sustaining activity (God is present, but God exists to sustain our universe. It does not involve individual actions, he is forever sustaining).
  2. Primary actions by God (God intervenes in our world through key events in history – such as the ‘great flood’, God sending Jesus into the world)
  3. Secondary actions by God (God using human beings as agents by which to bring about change in our world – sending the prophets to change the ways of others!)
     

13

Why would Brian Davies argue that it does not make sense to speak of an interventionist God?

He adopts a theistic view that If God is present in every action (what is considered miraculous and what is not) God cannot be seen to interact occasionally because He is always acting.

14

Who defines natural laws as... ‘generalizations formulated retrospectively to cover whatever has, in fact, happened’.
 

John Hick

15

John Hick argues that... if we in fact define miracles as ‘violations of natural laws’ then there are in fact no miracles. Why does he say this?
 

He argues that we base our knowledge and understanding of ‘natural law’ on the fact that we have experienced it.

If we see a 'miracle' we are simply witnessing a previous un-witnessed event.

This event can then be added to our knowledge of how natural law works.
 

16

What argument do some scientists use to claim that miracles may be natural events?

They may claim that because our knowledge of natural law is incomplete but continually growing, there may one day be a valid explanation for what are now considered miracles.

17

Where science could not explain somethig, God was said to have intervened - filled the gaps in scientific understanding. However, what is the problem with this 'God of the Gaps' idea?

As our knowledge of the world around us grows there seems to be fewer and fewer events that need to be explained by a divine intervention - less gaps for God to fill. This may eventually lead to no gaps and no need for a God.
 

18

What is the placebo effect - and how does it relate to miracles

The placebo effect refers to the power of the human mind to bring about physical improvements. Doctors sometimes use fake pills - but if the patient believes they are real and are therefore likely to work, recovery may take place.

If a religious person believes God will intervene to help them it might promote recovery which the person would then attribute to Gods intervention.
 

19

John Hick argues that if we see a 'miracle' we are simply witnessing a previous un-witnessed event which can then be added to our knowledge of how natural law works.

Does this mean that no event can ever be truly said to be miraclulous?

 

John Hick himself admitted that it was not possible to rule out miracles and that not everything could be proved to be an extention of our knowledge of natural law.

He said... there are many unusual and striking events evoking and mediating a vivid awareness of God.

20

Who said... “In all my scientific knowledge and understanding I can explain how the universe began……
I still, however, cannot explain why.”
 

Stephen Hawkings
 

21

David Hume was an empiricist - what does this mean?

The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge

22

Hume did not say miracles are impossible yet he refused to believe in them - what was his main objection?

Hume’s point was not so much that miracles are impossible, but that it would be impossible for us to prove that one had happened.
 

23

Hume’s said that it would be impossible for us to prove that a miracle had happened.

He proposed four grounds for discrediting the existence of miracles.

What was his first?
 

There is not to be found in all history, any miracle attested by a sufficient number of men, of such unquestioned good sense, education and learning, as to secure us against all delusion.

24

Hume’s said that it would be impossible for us to prove that a miracle had happened.

He proposed four grounds for discrediting the existence of miracles.

What was his second?

 

`The passion of surprise and wonder, arising from miracles. ..gives a tendency towards belief of those events... A religionist may be an enthusiast and imagines he sees what has no reality.‘

25

Hume’s said that it would be impossible for us to prove that a miracle had happened.

He proposed four grounds for discrediting the existence of miracles.

What was his third?
 

`It forms a strong presumption against all supernatural and miraculous relations that they are observed chiefly to abound amongst ignorant and barbarous nations.' 

26

Hume’s said that it would be impossible for us to prove that a miracle had happened.

He proposed four grounds for discrediting the existence of miracles.

What was his fourth?

 

 `In matters of religion, whatever is different is contrary. ..every miracle, therefore, pretended to have been wrought in any of these religions... destroys the credit of those miracles.'

In other words - all religions can't be true but all religions claim to have seen miracles - some or all are not telling the truth.

27

Hume argued that the laws of nature are well established and witnessed and unchanging - a miracle account would have to outweigh all the evidence in favour of a natural law.

How does this argument fail?

A miracle is meant to be an exception to the rule - it breaks the rule. As such, its occurrence in no way challenges the general rule. Miracles and natural law can exist side by side.

28

Brian Davies used an illustration about men walking on the moon. What point was he trying to make?

He was saying that an Empiricist view based entirly on past experience is false - Just because you haven't seen it before does not mean it won't happen.

29

Swinburne said that the same types of evidence are needed to establish science and miracles.He argued that they were just as valid for either.

What are these three things?

  1. Our apparent memories
  2. The testimony of others
  3. The physical traces left behind by the events in question.

30

Many of Hume's arguments against miracles fail because of what?

He is not precise enough.

For example...

  • how many witnesses are sufficient?
  • how much education id necessary?
  • What makes a nation barbarous?
  • Etc.
    .