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Unformatted text preview: 38 Arguments Against the Existence of God The answer to this question depends upon how we define "miracle." It is possible to define the term in either purely physical and nonreligious terms, as a breach or suspension of natural law, or in religious terms, as an unusual and striking event that evokes and mediates a vivid awareness of God. If "miracle" is defined as a breach of natural law, one can declare a priori that there are no miracles. It does not follow, however, that there are no miracles in the religious sense of the term, for the principle that nothing happens in conflict with natural law does not entail that there are no unusual and striking events evoking and mediating a vivid awareness of God. Natural law consists of generalizations formulated retrospectively to cover whatever has, in fact, happened. When events take place that are not covered by the generalizations accepted thus far, the properly scientific response is not to deny that they occurred but to seek to revise and extend the current understanding of nature in order to include them. Without regard to the relevant evidence, it cannot be said that the story, for example, of Jesus's healing the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6-11) is untrue, or that comparable stories from later ages or from the present day are untrue. It is not scientifically impossible that unusual and striking events of this kind have occurred. Events with religious signifi- cance, evoking and mediating a vivid sense of the presence and activity of God, may have occurred, even though their continuity with the general course of nature cannot be traced in the present very limited state of human knowl- edge. In. the religious apologetic of former centuries miracles have played an i mportant part. They have been supposed to empower religion to demand and compel belief. In opposition to this traditional view many theologians today believe that, far from providing the foundation of religious faith, miracles presuppose such faith. The religious response, which senses the purpose of God in the inexplicable coincidence or the improbable and unexpected occur- rence, constitutes an event a miracle. Thus miracles belong to the internal life of a community of faith; they are not the means by which it can seek to evangelize the world outside. 4 The conclusion of this chapter is thus parallel to the conclusion of the preceding one. There it appeared that we cannot decisively prove the existence of God; here it appears that neither can we decisively disprove God's exis- tence. We have yet to consider what is, for many people, the most powerful reason for doubting the reality of a loving God, namely the immense weight both of human suffering and of human wickedness. This is so important an issue that the entire next chapter will be devoted to it....
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This note was uploaded on 09/16/2010 for the course PHIL 206 taught by Professor Draper during the Spring '08 term at Purdue.
- Spring '08
- The Bible