Two significant ways of defining 'miracle' are (1) 'an event that has God as primary cause but has no secondary cause' and (2) 'a divinely originated interruption in natural law'. Both of these definitions raise the interesting question of how miracles relate to science. For instance, with regard to the law of the conservation of energy, does a miracle constitute the addition of new energy into the universe, which would be, in principle, scientifically detectable? At a more basic level, David Hume raised an influential epistemological objection to our ability ever to identify miracles in the sense of (1) and (2). According to Hume, given the scarcity of miracles and the concrete reality of human fallibility and scheming, it is always more plausible to conclude that the testifier to a miracle report is either mistaken or lying. One can critique this argument by countering that its a priori judgement is simply unjustified. For instance, one could argue that there are adequate grounds to conclude that Jesus was miraculously resurrected based on evidence for the empty tomb, post- resurrection appearances, and the origin and spread of the Christian faith. One could also define 'miracle' without recourse to special divine action as in (3) 'an event of divine origination that serves as a special sign for God's action/purpose in the world'. Picture a farmer who is facing drought and is distraught to hear a forecast with no rain. He prays for rain and within an hour it rains just the right amount. According to (3), this event could be considered a miracle if it was a divine response to prayer even though a meteorologist might give a fully 'natural' account of these same events.
   Further reading: Geivett and Habermas 1997; Lewis, C. S. 1947; Swinburne 1989b

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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