7 Miracles

In Chapters 4 and 5 I argued that it would be reasonable to believe in God conceived in a certain way. The belief discussed was the belief in a creator God; the belief that the world exists because it is good that a world like this should exist. I also argued in chapter 5 that there would be no difficulty in principle in supposing that God, so conceived, could act in the world. That would be the case if something were to happen more or less directly because it was good that it should happen. What I want to consider in this chapter is whether we could in practice have a good reason to suppose that God had in fact acted in the world on a certain occasion.

It is natural, in this connection, to think of miracles. And one could rephrase the question as, 'Could we have a good reason to believe that a miracle had occurred?' The questions, though, are not quite equivalent. In the first place, something would not count as a miracle, perhaps, unless it were in some way surprising. So miracles could not be commonplace. I shall not be interested in that feature of miracles. Secondly, although a miracle might stem immediately from divine action, the role of divine action might be more indirect. So that the apostles, for instance, may be thought of as performing miracles, the divine action consisting in this case in the conferring of abnormal powers. But, with those caveats, we may think of our question as a question about miracles.


Miracles as 'Violations of the Laws of Nature'

Let me first clear up a possible confusion about the relation between miracles and the laws of nature. The source of the confusion lies in

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God and Goodness
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • God and Goodness iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Scientific Outlook 7
  • 2: Objective Value 16
  • 3: The Possibility of Knowledge of Necessary Truths 37
  • 4: Existence and Goodness 48
  • 5: Goodness and God 64
  • 6: The Problem of Evil 90
  • 7: Miracles 115
  • 8: The Importance of Rational Belief 128
  • Bibliography 141
  • Index 145
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