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Flashcards in Miracles Deck (46)
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Why did Maurice Wiles not like the idea of a God who intervenes?

  • God created the world how he intended it to be for eternity.
  • If miracles did occur then God would be undermining the laws of nature and the accepted order of life which He created
  • Petty miracles and acts of intervention do not fit with this God.


Why did Nelson Pike claim that it would not be possible for God to intervene in our world?

He argues that since God is outside of time (timeless), with no start or end, how can God act at any point in the world.


St Thomas Aquinas argued that God can be both timeless and act within a single moment in our time. Which modern philosopher would agree with him?

Richard Swinburne - who claims that God is not restricted by time. He argues that time does not affect God in the way it does us - for example, God does not age like we do.


What are the main moral problems with the idea of a God who intervenes?

The continued presence of evil and sufferring. Why does God not intervene to change this?


What is the main religious response to the problem that an interventionist God does not stop evil and sufferring in the world?

Some argue that if God intervened then it would affect our grasp of free will. They claim God would never do this. God has given us the ability to choose to do good and we must freely choose to use that ability.

Some argue that God has a particular reason for not intervening to prevent evil and sufferring - we cannot see the greater plan and must trust that God knows best.


Kieth Ward argued that even minor interventions by God may have far reaching and long lasting consequences therefore God only intervenes very occasionally.

When, according to Ward, would God intervene?

When it will build up peoples faith and when it would not simply bestow favours on individuals.


What does R.F.Holland have to say about amazing coincidences?

A coincidence can be taken religiously as a sign and called a miracle. If a series of remarkable and unexpected events come together to bring about good it could be seen as being filled with a sense of divine purpose and significance.


Peter Vardy and Julie Arliss used an example from america to show how a coincidence could be seen to be miraculous. What was the story?

The Nebraska choir coincidence. The sense of the miraculous comes from the sheer improbability that the only night when they were all late was on the only night they all needed to be.


What are the two different ways in which a coincidence might be considered a miracle.

  1. God directly intervenes in the natural event
  2. God is present in the natural event but not intervene in any way, shape or form.


How could God be seen to have directly intervened in the Nabraska Chior incident?

God put lots of obsticles in the way of the people involved so that they would be late. However, God’s involvement is less clear and much more subtle.


How could God be seen to have indirectly intervened in the Nabraska Chior incident?

It was a truly natural event in the sense that it is an event in which God does not intervene at all. He may, however, in some way be present.


Sometimes other natural events that do not even involve a surprising coincidence might be interpreted with a sense of religious significance.

Give an example ?



Examples could include

  • Witnessing a sunset,
  • Witnessing a new birth
  • Etc.


In what three ways may someone respond to the view that a coincidence can never be seen to be miraclulous?

Response 1: Proof not needed for the believer
Response 2: Anti-realism
Response 3:God as ‘being itself’ - the ‘ground of being’.


Why might a believer not need proof of a miracle to believe its true?

  • The person might feel that the religious experience is a personal experience, thus they know for themselves that God is present and real.
  • Numinous experiences, for example, often result in the person acknowledging a personal feeling of God’s presence – do they really need proof?


How does Anti-realism relate to belief in miracles?

Anti-realism a theory of truth. It says that there is no ultimate truth. Truth is relative.

The Nebraska choir incident: does not depend on what physically happened, but what people claim happened in the incident.
On this view, a single event in time can be both a miracle and not a miracle at the same time, and without any contradiction.
We construct that which is truth. It is all a matter of interpretation.


How did Paul Tillich respond to the idea that coincidences can be seen as miracles?

God is the power that gives existence to everything in our world. Without God, Tillich argues, nothing would exist.

He says that a ‘miracle’ is an event that gives the individual believer a powerful sense of the creative power that is God. We are most likely to sense this creative power in unexpected events – healing, coincidences…