Many but not all the religions of the world have as part of their traditions claims of Miracles and they have different forms and play different roles within each religion.
The Miracles have served as the foundation for the historical proof of the existence of the God of the western religions. The leadership of the religions of the West do not want a miracle taken lightly and do not want false claims of miracles. These religions will often be the first to investigate claims of miraculous events in order to disprove them!
The concern is that if people come to accept the claim of a miracle and it later turns out to be disproved, then those who believed in it might come not only to stop believing in that particular “miracle” that had been disproved but in all other such claims and thus might come to lose their faith altogether.
The fear is that people would think something similar to this:
“If I could be fooled into thinking this recent event was a miracle, then what about those people long ago who reported experiencing a miracle? Could it be possible that they too were deceived? Or mistaken?”
Thus, what exactly makes up a miracle is and was for generations a matter for careful consideration, given the importance of the reports of such events, should they be correct and truthful.
A miracle (from the Latin mirari, to wonder), at a first and very rough approximation, is an event that is not explicable by natural causes alone. A reported miracle excites wonder because it appears to require, as its cause, something beyond the reach of human action and natural causes.
Historically, the appeal to miracles has formed one of the primary lines of argument in favour of specific forms of theism, the argument typically being that the event in question can best (or can only) be explained as the act of a particular deity.
Some miracles found in the Scripture are the burning bush, plagues of locusts and frogs, Nile from blue to red, death of children of the Egyptians, parting of the “Red” sea, virgin birth, wedding feast-water into wine, walking on water, cures of the blind, deaf, lepers, multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, raising the dead-Lazarus and the Resurrection.
A common approach is to define a miracle as an interruption of the order or course of nature (Sherlock 1843: 57).
Some stable background is, in fact, presupposed by the use of the term, as William Adams (1767: 15) notes:
“An experienced uniformity in the course of nature hath been always thought necessary to the belief and use of miracles. These are indeed relative ideas. There must be an ordinary regular course of nature, before there can be any thing extraordinary. A river must flow, before its stream can be interrupted.”
But, as it stands, this definition leaves us wanting a more precise conception of what is meant by the order or course of nature.
We might, therefore, try to tighten the definition by saying that a miracle is an event that exceeds the productive power of nature (St. Thomas Aquinas, SCG 3.103; ST 1.110, art. 4), where “nature” is construed broadly enough to include ourselves and any other creatures substantially like ourselves.
Variations on this include the idea that a miracle is an event that would have happened only given the intervention of an agent not wholly bound by nature (Larmer 1988: 9) and that a miracle is an event that would have happened only if there were a violation of the causal closure of the physical world.”
David Hume (Hume 1748/2000) famously defined a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature,” and this definition has been the focus of lively discussion ever since. He evidently means to denote something beyond mere changes in the regular course of nature, raising the bar higher for something to qualify as a miracle but also raising the potential epistemic significance of such an event if it could be authenticated.
Yet bringing the concept of natural laws into the definition of “miracle” is problematic and for a variety of reasons many writers (Brown 1822: 219–33; Beard 1845: 35; Lias 1890: 5–7; Huxley 1894:154–58; Joyce 1914: 17; Hesse 1965; Montgomery 1978) have found it untenable.
Tapping into the mainstream conversation, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has chimed in, to try to explain the generation-long question of whether miracles interrupt or complement nature.
In a post published on his Facebook page, the South-African based preacher and theo-author said that while the modern world thinks of miracles as the “suspension of the natural order”, Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order.
“The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken.
His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming if we believe,” wrote the Major 1, as he is affectionately known.
Since arguments about miracles take their place as one piece—a fascinating piece—in a larger and more important puzzle, the question thus remains does Bushiri’s hold any water in philosophy as it does theologically?
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