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160 P A R T II T R A D I T I O N A L A R G U M E N T S F O R T H E E X I S T E N C E O F G O D II.4 The Kalam Cosmological Argument WILLIAM LANE...

“Religion and science” (Murray and Rea) 193-200, 209-226

  • How do Murray and Rea define science?

A. Padgett “Science and Religion” (Canvas)

  • Describe some examples of how religion has played a constructive and supportive role throughout the history of science.

“Cosmological Arguments” (Pojman Ch 2)

  • According to Pojman what does it mean to say that something is contingent? How is an a-priori argument different than an a-posteriori argument?

“Theistic arguments” (Murray and Rea) 135-146

  • According to Murray and Rea, what is the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)? Do you think this is a plausible principle?

“The Kalam Cosmological Argument” W. Craig and J. P. Moreland (Canvas)

  • How do Craig and Moreland use Hilbert’s Hotel to support their argument?

“God, physics and the Big Bang” William Stoeger (Canvas)

  • According to Stoeger, what is the philosophical significance of the Planck era in cosmic history as it relates to the limits of science?

“Teleological Arguments” (Pojman Ch 3)

  • According to Pojman what is the essence of the Darwinian objection to the teleological argument?

Robin Collins “A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God” (Canvas)

  • According to Collins why is the universe analogous to a biosphere that is tailor-made to support human life?

“Theistic arguments” (Murray & Rea) 123-135

  • According to Murray and Rea what is the “multiverse objection” to the teleological argument from fine-tuning? Do they find this objection plausible? Why or why not?

Simon Conway Morris “Evolution and Convergence: Some Wider Considerations” (Canvas)

 According to Conway-Morris are some outcomes of the evolutionary process fundamentally predictable (or inevitable)? Why or why not?

II.B.4 The Kal am Cosmological Argument WILLIAM LANE CRAIG AND J. P. MORELAND William Lane Craig (1949 ) is a research professor of philosophy at Biola University in Los Angeles. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Birmingham (England) and a Th.D. from the University of Munich (Germany). J. P. Moreland (1948 ) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California. Professors Craig and Moreland are the authors of numerous works in phi- losophy of religion, including Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (2003), from which the following selection is taken. The kal am argument is a version of the cosmological argument developed by the Arab Islamic scholars al-Kindi and al-Ghazali in the Middle Ages. In this article Craig and Moreland develop two versions of the kal am argument, both aiming to prove that the universe must have a cause of its existence. The cosmological argument is a family of arguments that seek to demonstrate the existence of a Sufficient Reason or First Cause of the exis- tence of the cosmos. The roll of the defenders of this argument reads like a Who s Who of western philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, ibn Sina, Al Ghazali, Maimonides, Anselm, Aquinas, Scotus, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and Locke, to name but some. The arguments can be grouped into three basic types: the kal am cosmological argument for a First Cause of the beginning of the universe, the Tho- mist cosmological argument for a sustaining a Ground of Being of the world, and the Leibnizian cosmological argument for a Sufficient Reason why something exists rather than nothing. The kal am cosmological argument derives its name from the Arabic word designating medieval Islamic scholasticism, the intellectual movement largely responsible for developing the argument. It aims to show that the universe had a beginning at some moment in the finite past and, since something cannot come out of nothing, must therefore have a transcendent cause, which brought the universe into being. Classical proponents of the argument sought to demonstrate that the universe began to exist on the basis of philosophical arguments against the exis- tence of an infinite, temporal regress of past events. Contemporary interest in the argument arises largely out of the startling empirical evidence of astrophysi- cal cosmology for a beginning of space and time. Today the controlling paradigm of cosmology is the standard big bang model, according to which the space-time universe originated ex nihilo about fifteen billion years ago. Such an origin ex nihilo seems to many to cry out for a transcendent cause. By contrast the Thomist cosmological argu- ment, named for the medieval philosophical theo- logian Thomas Aquinas, seeks a cause that is first, Taken from Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. Copyright (C) 2003 by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. 160 PART II TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
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not in the temporal sense, but in the sense of rank. Aquinas agreed that if the world and motion have a first beginning, some cause must clearly be posited for this origin of the world and of motion ( Summa contra gentiles 1.13.30). But since he did not regard the kal am arguments for the past s finitude as demonstrative, he argued for God s existence on the more difficult assumption of the eternity of the world. On Aquinas s Aristotelian-inspired meta- physic, every existing finite thing is composed of essence and existence and is therefore radically con- tingent. A thing s essence is an individual nature which serves to define what that thing is. Now if an essence is to exist, there must be conjoined with that essence an act of being. This act of being involves a continual bestowal of being, or the thing would be annihilated. Essence is in potential- ity to the act of being, and therefore without the bestowal of being the essence would not exist. For the same reason no substance can actualize itself; for in order to bestow being on itself it would have to be already actual. A pure potentiality cannot actual- ize itself but requires some external cause. Now although Aquinas argued that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes of being (because in such a series all the causes would be merely instrumental and so no being would be produced, just as no motion would be produced in a watch without a spring even if it had an infinite number of gears) and that therefore there must exist a First Uncaused Cause of being, his actual view was that there can be no intermediate causes of being at all, that any finite substance is sustained in existence imme- diately by the Ground of Being. This must be a being that is not composed of essence and existence and, hence, requires no sustaining cause. We cannot say that this being s essence includes existence as one of its properties, for existence is not a property, but an act, the instantiating of an essence. Therefore, we must conclude that this being s essence just is exis- tence. In a sense, this being has no essence; rather, it is the pure act of being, unconstrained by any essence. It is, as Thomas says, ipsum esse subsistens , the act of being itself subsisting. Thomas identifies this being with the God whose name was revealed to Moses as Iam (Ex 3:14). The German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, for whom the third form of the argument is named, sought to develop a version of the cos- mological argument from contingency without the Aristotelian metaphysical underpinnings of the Thomist argument. In his essay The Principles of Nature and of Grace, Based on Reason, Leibniz wrote, The first question which should rightly be asked is this: why is there something rather than nothing? Leibniz meant this question to be truly universal, not merely to apply to finite things. On the basis of his principle of sufficient reason, as stated in his treatise The Monadology , that no fact can be real or existent, no statement true, unless there be a sufficient reason why it is so and not otherwise, Leibniz held that his question must have an answer. It will not do to say that the uni- verse (or even God) just exists as a brute fact, a simple fact that cannot be explained. There must be an explanation why it exists. He went on to argue that the sufficient reason cannot be found in any individual thing in the universe, nor in the col- lection of such things which comprise the universe, nor in earlier states of the universe, even if these regress infinitely. Therefore, there must exist an ultramundane being that is metaphysically necessary in its existence, that is to say, its nonexistence is impossible. It is the sufficient reason for its own existence as well as for the existence of every con- tingent thing. In evaluating these arguments, let us consider them in reverse order. A simple statement of a Leibnizian cosmological argument runs as follows: 1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 2. If the universe has an explanation of its exis- tence, that explanation is God. 3. The universe is an existing thing. 4. Therefore the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. Is this a good argument? One of the principal objections to Leibniz s own formulation of the argument is that the principle of sufficient reason WILLIAM LANE CRAIG AND J. P. MORELAND THE KAL AM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT 161
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173 8 God, physics and the Big Bang WILLIAM R. STOE±ER , SJ ²ver the past ninety years we have come to understand and appreci- ate the world, the universe which embraces it, and their emergence and development in completely new ways. ³hanks to astronomy and physics – particularly to the speciality known as cosmology – we now know that the universe we inhabit began expanding and cooling from an extremely hot and dense, homogeneous, simple state about 13.7 bil- lion years ago. ³hat initial state, often now referred to as the Planck era, was so extreme that our current physics is completely unable to describe it. ´pace and time as we know them had not yet emerged, and the fundamental forces of gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions were undoubtedly uniF ed, and thus indistin- guishable from one another. ²nly a thorough and complete quantum description of reality, including space-time and gravity – a quantum cos- mology – would be adequate. ³hat is something we do not yet possess, although many people are expending tremendous efforts to develop the components of such a description by exploring superstrings, loop- quantum gravity and non-commutative geometry, as well as exploiting semi-classical approaches to quantizing space-time, gravity and the uni- verse itself. 1 However, great progress is being made in this area, and there are strong reasons to expect that the process or processes by which our universe began its expansion, cooling and complexiF cation will even- tually be adequately modelled and understood. µn fact, over the past twenty-F ve years, educated preliminary proposals for such processes have been made. ³hese include the no-boundary proposal of Hartle and Hawking, and the chaotic in¶ ationary scenario of ·ndrei ¸inde. 2 ´uch proposals have led to the realization that our universe may be just one of an enormous number of other universes or universe domains. ¹e shall brie¶ y describe and discuss these and other tantalizing, imagina- tive and informed scenarios later in this chapter.
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174 William R. Stoeger, SJ Well before this focus on quantum cosmology , the strong evidence that the universe was much different in the distant past – hotter, denser and simpler, and produced by a physical process in the Big Bang – raised many philosophical and theological questions. Did God as creator trig- ger the Big Bang? Was it the moment of creation? With the prospect that physics and cosmology might be able to provide a detailed account of the origin of the universe, is there really any need for God – for a creator? Is not physics perfectly able to supply all that is needed for the origin of the universe, and in a much more compelling and well-substantiated way than either philosophy or theology can? There are also more subtle queries: What can the discoveries of cosmology and physics contrib- ute to philosophy and theology? What can a careful theology of cre- ation contribute to physics and cosmology? These are the questions we shall explore in this chapter. In doing so, we shall critically accept the primary conclusions which contemporary cosmologists have reached about the character and history of our universe. At the same time we shall argue that physics and cosmology as sciences are incapable of exploring or directly accounting for the ultimate source of existence and order which philosophy and theology, properly understood, provide. By the same token, philosophy and theology are not equipped to inves- tigate and describe the processes and relationships which contributed to the expansion, cooling and subsequent structuring of the universe on macroscopic and on microscopic scales. Thus, philosophy and theology seek to provide an understanding of the origin and evolution of the uni- verse which is complementary to that which physics and cosmology contribute – that is, a basic but unadorned ontological account which cannot legitimately displace or compete with the F ndings of cosmology. They probe and attempt to render intelligible the ultimate existence and ordering of the dynamisms, relationships and entities which are the primary concern of the natural sciences. In pursuing this discussion, we shall F rst brie± y summarize the central F ndings of contemporary cosmology, including an analysis of the concept of the Big Bang. As part of that process we shall explore some of the current scenarios for initiating that expansion from the Planck era. Next, we shall indicate some of the basic limitations of these scenarios – or indeed of any account of the origin of the universe couched in terms of physics alone. This will lead us to a brief exposition of what divine creation is and what it is not. Together these consid- erations will reveal the possibility of a deep consonance between any adequate physics of the Big Bang, quantum or otherwise, and a creator God, properly understood. A brief treatment of the anthropic principle
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II.C.4 A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God ROBIN COLLINS Robin Collins (1961 ) is professor of philosophy at Messiah College, and he has written several articles on the argument from design. The article included here presents a simplified version of an argument that he has developed in much more technical detail elsewhere. He begins by noting that life would have been impossible had certain laws of nature and fundamental physical constants (such as the gravitational constant) been even slightly different. He then argues that since this apparent fine- tuning of the laws and constants is significantly more probable on the assumption that the universe was designed to be hospitable for life than on the assumption that it was not designed at all, such apparent fine-tuning counts as evidence in favor of the existence of a designer. I. INTRODUCTION The Evidence of Fine-Tuning Suppose we went on a mission to Mars, and found a domed structure in which everything was set up just right for life to exist. The temperature, for example, was set around 70° F and the humidity was at 50 percent; moreover, there was an oxygen recycling system, an energy gathering system, and a whole system for the production of food. Put sim- ply, the domed structure appeared to be a fully functioning biosphere. What conclusion would we draw from finding this structure? Would we draw the conclusion that it just happened to form by chance? Certainly not. Instead, we would unan- imously conclude that it was designed by some intelligent being. Why would we draw this conclu- sion? Because an intelligent designer appears to be the only plausible explanation for the existence of the structure. That is, the only alternative explanation we can think of that the structure was formed by some natural process seems extremely unlikely. Of course, it is possible that, for example, through some volcanic eruption vari- ous metals and other compounds could have formed, and then separated out in just the right way to produce the biosphere, but such a sce- nario strikes us as extraordinarily unlikely, thus making this alternative explanation unbelievable. The universe is analogous to such a biosphere, according to recent findings in physics. Almost everything about the basic structure of the universe for example, the fundamental laws and parameters of physics and the initial distribution of matter and energy is balanced on a razor s edge for life to occur. As the eminent Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson notes, There are many lucky accidents in physics. Without such accidents, water could not exist as liquid, chains of carbon atoms could not form complex organic molecules, and From Reason for the Hope Within , Michael J. Murray, ed., © 1999, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI. Used with permission. 202 PART II TRADITIONAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
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hydrogen atoms could not form breakable bridges between molecules 1 in short, life as we know it would be impossible. Scientists call this extraordinary balancing of the parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe the fine-tuning of the cosmos. It has been extensively discussed by philosophers, theologians, and scientists, especially since the early 1970s, with hundreds of articles and dozens of books written on the topic. Today, it is widely regarded as offering by far the most persuasive cur- rent argument for the existence of God. For exam- ple, theoretical physicist and popular science writer Paul Davies whose early writings were not partic- ularly sympathetic to theism claims that with regard to basic structure of the universe, the impression of design is overwhelming. 2 Similarly, in response to the life-permitting fine-tuning of the nuclear resonances responsible for the oxygen and carbon synthesis in stars, the famous astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle declares that I do not believe that any scientists who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars. If this is so, then my apparently random quirks have become part of a deep- laid scheme. If not then we are back again at a monstrous sequence of accidents. 3 A few examples of this fine-tuning are listed below: 1. If the initial explosion of the big bang had dif- fered in strength by as little as one part in 10 60 , the universe would have either quickly col- lapsed back on itself, or expanded too rapidly for stars to form. In either case, life would be impossible. (As John Jefferson Davis points out, an accuracy of one part in 10 60 can be compared to firing a bullet at a one-inch target on the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light years away, and hitting the target.) 4 2. Calculations indicate that if the strong nuclear force, the force that binds protons and neutrons together in an atom, had been stronger or weaker by as little as five percent, life would be impossible. 5 3. Calculations by Brandon Carter show that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by one part in 10 40 , then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible. 6 4. If the neutron were not about 1.001 times the mass of the proton, all protons would have decayed into neutrons or all neutrons would have decayed into protons, and thus life would not be possible. 7 5. If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, life would be impossible, for a variety of different reasons. 8 Imaginatively, one could think of each instance of fine-tuning as a radio dial: unless all the dials are set exactly right, life would be impossible. Or, one could think of the initial conditions of the universe and the fundamental parameters of physics as a dart board that fills the whole galaxy, and the conditions necessary for life to exist as a small one-foot-wide target: unless the dart hits the target, life would be impossible. The fact that the dials are perfectly set, or that the dart has hit the target, strongly suggests that someone set the dials or aimed the dart, for it seems enormously improbable that such a coinci- dence could have happened by chance. Although individual calculations of fine-tuning are only approximate and could be in error, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life is almost beyond question because of the large number of independent instances of apparent fine-tuning. As philosopher John Leslie has pointed out, Clues heaped upon clues can constitute weighty evidence despite doubts about each element in the pile. 9 What is controversial, however, is the degree to which the fine-tuning provides evidence for the exis- tence of God. As impressive as the argument from fine-tuning seems to be, atheists have raised several significant objections to it. Consequently, those who are aware of these objections, or have thought of them on their own, often will find the argument unconvincing. This is not only true of atheists, but ROBIN COLLINS A SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 203
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Introduction Of all the sciences, perhaps the richest in metaphors is biology. In large part, these terms of expression refl ect a belief in the inde- terminacy, the open-endedness, the sheer unpredictability of the evolutionary process. Among the most familiar terminologies will be those of a “blind watchmaker” (Richard Dawkins), a “tinkerer” (Jacques Monod), or Stephen Jay Gould’s conceit of “re-running the tape of life.” Each addresses a somewhat diff erent aspect of evolution, but all these are consistent with the notion that both the process and, more importantly, the end result are random and accidental. T ese, and similar, tags refl ect also a variety of agendas, including those of atheism and relativism, but unconsciously they pose the paradox that, even if the processes involved are blind, somehow we not only fi nd ourselves as creatures in possession of meaning but, as often as not, are entirely awestruck at the com- plexities of resultant systems, be it in the utter intricacies of a bacterial cell or a singing human. Indeed, as our knowledge, espe- cially of biochemistry and protein function, continues to expand, so at least my sense of amazement can only grow. If the watch- maker is blind, he has an unerring way of fi nding his way around the immense labyrinths of biological space. And even if he doesn’t know where he is going, does He still know? 4 EVOLUTION AND CONVERGENCE Some Wider Considerations Simon Conway Morris 46
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At fi rst sight, this antithesis between the naturalistic world picture and a metaphysic that ultimately leads to a teleology would seem to be a con- junction of false opposites, a sort of category mistake. In many respects the study of evolution seems unequivocally to support the world pic- ture of Dawkins, Gould, and Monod—or so it would appear. Consider, for example, three key concepts, all central to the evolutionary synthe- sis: mutations, mass extinctions, and adaptive radiations. Any textbook on evolution failing to address three concepts would be badly amiss, but, in each case, important qualifi cations need to be made that show there are subtleties of interpretation that are less often explored, at least in some elementary textbooks on evolution. Mutations are widely construed as the motor of evolution, eff ectively random and whose end results are mostly for the worse. If chance—a cos- mic ray?—and disadvantage are the norm, then it is easy to see why evo- lution is so often seen as a largely fortuitous process. Yet there is consider- able evidence that the cards are actually very much stacked in the opposite direction, and that evolvability itself is a selected trait (e.g., Caporale 2003a,b; Earl and Deem 2004; see also Perfeito et al. 2007). T e identifi - cation of hypermutation and site sensitivity, especially in response of pro- nounced environmental changes, strongly suggests that, when the cards are dealt across the table of life, aces and kings appear with alarming fre- quency. T e concept of evolvability is an important shift away from the prior emphasis on randomness. ±o be sure, evolution is based on genetic change, but there are pervasive biases. Caporale (2003a, 467) has gone so far as to write, “Indeed, some potentially useful mutations are so probable that they can be viewed as being encoded implicitly in the genome,” and she notes further how “challenges and opportunities tend to recur, [so] a response that is better than random can be favored by selection” (468). What of mass extinctions? Here, too, the role of chance and acci- dent, combined with lurid descriptions of the catastrophic circumstances descending onto an unsuspecting world, has provided a powerful impe- tus to evolutionary thinking in terms of the radical, and unpredictable, redirection of the history of life. In promulgating these ideas, the late S. J. Gould may have been one of the most strident, but the general notion of accident and redirection has received widespread, if uncritical, approval. T e focus of attention, unsurprisingly has been the end Cretaceous (K/±) EVOLUTION AND CONVERGENCE 47
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±46± God and Miracle in an Age of Science ±ALAN±G.±±PADGETT± One of the important issues which the Enlightenment has bequeathed to us is the question of miracles in the light of modern science. This topic is one of the areas where Christianity and science overlap, and some would say confl ict. Is it rational or otherwise intellectually legitimate to accept the occurrence of genuine miracles and at the same time embrace the teachings of modern science and a robust conception of the laws of nature? In this chapter I will argue for the positive case. The topic of miracles is quite extensive, and we cannot cover everything. We are not going to discuss issues of knowing or testimony concerning miracles, for example, nor go into details concerning special divine action. Instead we will start with the question of just what a miracle is, at least for Christian thought. I will argue that for many miracles it is wrong to believe they “ violate ” the laws of nature, a confused term which I shall conclude should be replaced with several more nuanced terms, including “ physical impossibility ” (see also Walker 1982 ; Corner 2005 , 1 – 7). Now Christian theology is grounded in Scripture, and so we will F rst work out a biblically informed conception of miracles before considering the metaphysical issue of their relationship to the acceptance of science and the laws of nature. ±Miracles:±±A±Theological±Def nition It is often remarked by biblical theologians that the concept of “ miracle ” in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament does not imply something beyond the capacity of nature to bring about. 1 The Hebrew biblical terms sometimes translated as “ miracle ” are better translated as “ sign ” ( ±ô±t ±)± or± ±“±wonder±”± (± m±ô±pet ) and are often seen together as “ signs and wonders. ” Similarly, the NT uses the Greek terms “ sign ” ( semeion ±)±and±±“±wonder±”±(± teras ±)±along±with±±“±power±”±in±the± sense of mighty deed ( dynamis ). In Scripture, these signs and wonders performed by God or God ’ s human agent may or may not be beyond the capacity of nature. ²or example, Isaiah walked three years naked through Jerusalem as a “ sign and wonder ” (Isa. 20:4). On the other The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity , ²irst Edition. Edited by J. B. Stump and Alan G. Padgett. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published 2012 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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534 ALAN G. PADGETT hand, some biblical miracles do seem to be beyond the capacities of nature to bring about. The standard Christian example is the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:22 – 24). Another example is one of the seven “ signs ” performed by Jesus in the F rst part of John ’ s Gospel, for instance turning water into wine (John 2:11). What is of central importance for the biblical authors is not the question of natural law, but a very different issue. There is indeed an important difference between genuine or true miracles and false ones. True miracles are done by God or God ’ s human agent: they are a special divine action. They point to God ’ s work of salvation and redemption (e.g., Exod. 7:1 – 7; John 2:11), or put differently, they are wondrous deeds that act as signs of the reign and realm ( “ kingdom ” ) of God in the world. 2 There are, however, false miracles which are done by false prophets (e.g., Deut. 13:2; Matt. 24:24). The difference here has nothing to do with the capacities of the natural world. Rather, the difference is spiritual: false miracles are used by evil beings to lead people away from God, just as true miracles act as signs of God ’ s reign and realm. Again, the miracles in question do not have to be beyond the capacities of nature to bring about, but they may sometimes be physically impossible or strictly extra - ordinary (as I will deF ne it). In his monograph on miracles, Signs of God ±,±Mark±Corner±(±2005±,±2±–±7)± rightly deF nes miracles ( true miracles, I would insist) as special divine actions that need not violate the laws of nature; but he fails to distinguish between true and false miracles. Thus not all miracles are special divine actions false miracles are not. Christian theology should recover in our time this biblical, spiritual understanding of what counts as a true miracle . It is far more helpful in our scientiF c age than Hume ’ s deF nition. This means rejecting what has become a standard meaning for “ miracle ” among theologians and philosophers, that is, a miracle must be a “ violation ” of a law of nature (e.g., Swinburne 1970 , 6). To insist on keeping Hume ’ s deF nition of miracle as a violation of natural law would mean that some of the key miracles in biblical salvation history (for example, the return of Israel from exile) would not be miracles at all on this deF nition which is absurd. As we have seen, what the Bible calls “ signs and wonders ” may or may not be beyond the powers of nature. We should on biblical and theological grounds resist the claim of Aquinas that “ a thing is called a miracle by comparison with the power of nature which it surpasses. So the more the power of nature is surpassed, the greater the miracle ” ( Summa Theologiae I, q.105, a.8). The greatness of a miracle, in theological terms, has to do with its importance for salva- tion and special revelation, not how far it exceeds the capacity of natural things to bring it about. In order to address the concerns of modern thinkers like Hume, therefore, we will need to use another term to speak of events which, in the words of Aquinas, are “ beyond the order commonly observed in natural things ” ( praeter ordinem communiter observatum in rebus ±)±(± Summa contra gentiles , iii.100). ²or this purpose I suggest we use two terms instead of “ violation ” : (a) physically impossible or (b) strictly extra - ordinary event. Violation and Intervention: A Critique of Metaphors ±The±F rst problem with the commonly asserted notion of a violation of natural law is theo- logical and rhetorical. Because our language gives shape to our social reality, these are impor- tant considerations. I F nd the very term “ violation ” to be unacceptable and confusing. To speak of God “ violating ” or “ breaking ” the laws of nature is, at best, rather loose. It is better to speak of God doing something that is physically impossible for two reasons. The F rst is greater precision. If we could replace “ violate ” and “ break ” with doing the physically impos-
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