What Constitutes A Miracle? Sample Paper

A miracle is held to be an act of God, or an invisible agent, which goes against the laws of nature and has some religious meaning or significance. Definitions of miracles are often very broad and leave them particularly wide to interpretation. We may say that it is a miracle that someone has recovered from a cold, but that is only the believer’s interpretation and cannot be verified as miraculous. It simply reflects the way that the believer looks at the world, and that he or she sees a religious significance in the event even if another may see it as a co-incidence.

For example – 6-year-old Teesside girl fell 150ft off of the edge of a cliff in North Yorkshire and only received minor injuries, was this a miracle? Aquinas – – His definition of miracles is as ‘those things done by divine power apart from the order usually followed in things’. This view suggests that God can do what he wants with his creation. – Has identified 3 types of miracle: 1. An event done by God which nature could not do – could be said to be the most traditional approach. They are acts that contradict our regular experience.

Aquinas uses the example of the reversal of the course of the sun. 2. An event done by God which nature could do, but not in this order such as recovering from paralysis or a terminal illness. Its possible for these things to happen but it is not usually expected, and so could be attributed to the direct intervention of God. 3. An event done which nature could do but without using the principles or forces of nature. For example, recovering from a cold more quickly than usual perhaps because someone prayed for this, and then it might be called a miraculous intervention of God. This allowed for a range of possible events, which we could call miracles. – This also did not limit a miracle to a violation of a natural law and so is therefore, primarily identified by Gods intervention. – A miracle is an act of God, which is beneficial to the recipient, which may break a natural law but does not necessarily have to. C. S. Lewis – Miracles are a type of revelation.

Swinburne – Referred to the turning of water into wine and resurrection in saying that an event is only miraculous if it is a transgression of the natural law with a meaning. R. F. Holland – Any event with a religious significance to the individual can be referred to as a miracle. They may not even break the laws of nature. v Philosophers who are more critical of miracles John Macquarie – Why is it that one person interprets an event as an act of God and another does not? Hume – – Created a case against miracles saying not that they do not happen, but that it would be impossible to prove them – he is an empiricist (bases knowledge on experience). – A miracle is ‘A transgression of a law of nature brought about by a particular violation of a Deity’. Nothing that can happen in nature should be called a miracle. – Had 5 arguments against believing in miracles; one philosophical and four psychological. 1. Not enough evidence of miracles to outweigh our general experience. Rationality requires that belief is proportionate to evidence. ‘A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence’. 2. Insufficient witnesses – must be witnessed by a highly credible, good sense, well-educated person. How much education is ‘enough’? 3. The testimonies usually came from ignorant and barbarous nations.

4. People tend to exaggerate and are drawn towards the sensational and drama. The often have a desire to believe. 5. There are conflicting claims that cancel each other out. Hick’s response would be that all religions lead to one God though. – Hume will never be fully able to fully prove to believers that miracles do not occur, as the definition of a miracle implies divine activity and this is ultimately beyond our earthly considerations. But sceptics and believers can be said to both agree that the occurrence of miracles must be a very rare event. – In response: Hick would say that we do not know the laws of nature, and that they appear to have been broken before. Believed that when new things are observed our understanding of the natural law should simply be widened. – C. D. Broad – Similar response to Hick. Rejects Hume’s assumption that there are known fixed laws of nature, what if the laws of nature as we know them are wrong? The laws may need to be revised. – Vardy, (the puzzle of God, 1990) Notes that there is far more evidence today than in Hume’s time! Objective scientists have tested 74 miracles from Lourdes.

Maurice Wiles – Any God who performs miracles is not worthy of worship because there is no justification for one person to be healed and another not to be. An intervening God would bring up all of the issues of the problem of evil. Use example here of why God turned water to wine but did not stop the massacre of the Jews in the Holocaust. Bultmann – German NT scholar. Believed that Biblical miracles were simple part of mythological story with demons and voices from heaven etc. He set out to remove these ‘mythical trappings’ and expose the real historical Christ and the lasting message of Christianity.

Christianity and miracles – For some, signs and miracles may prove religion, and also offer evidence of Gods power and work. – The Roman Catholic Church – in support of the literal interpretation of miracles as in the Bible. – Marks Gospel – Miracles come as a result of a persons faith rather than to make people believe. – Believers may give a symbolic or metaphoric meaning to miracle stories. Essay – ‘Stories about miracles are an obstacle to faith for modern people. ’ Discuss. • Look at the criticisms of Hume and Wiles and whether the concept of miracle is valid for modern people. Consider the argument that miracle stories support faith by demonstrating the nature and power of God (like in Bruce Almighty), (use Biblical examples). • Consider the argument that miracle stories should be ‘demythologized’ to enable modern people to have faith without attempting to suspend their rational disbelief (i. e. Bultmann). ‘By definition miracles do not occur’. Discuss. ‘A miracle is commonly defined as an event that transgresses the laws of nature’. Discuss. Asses Hume’s reasons for rejecting miracles. Discuss the view that the concept of miracle is inconsistent with the belief in a benevolent God.

Paul Of Tarsus Christian Missionary

Paul of tarsus did much to advance Christianity among the gentiles, considered one of the primary sources of the Christian doctrine, Jew and roman citizen of tarsus Some argue it was he who truly made Christianity a new religion promoted Christianity throughout the world, some say founder of Christianity Early life didn’t support Christianity he persecuted Christians because they said Jesus was the son of god went against Jewish religion, believed Christians were blasphemers Believed they were political threat to Rome On the road to Damascus he was struck blind and Jesus questioned why do you persecute me and my followers, he went to Damascus got healed by a Christian and changed his view point on Christianity – Converted ad 33-36 All of humanity was going to be redeemed by Paul’s work of preaching Jesus Became preacher of Christianity, describes himself as Jesus servant, preached in synagogues, christens and to Jews Promoted Jesus was messiah Christian missionary, known as the founder of Christianity was a Pharisee Paul undertook 3 missionary journeys and established Christian communities in Asia Minor and Greece. When he returned after his 3rd journey Paul was arrested Most effective missionary of the Christian communities and its first theologian Paul’s Jewish roman and Greek background prepared him ideally as the apostle to the gentiles More than one quarter of the Christian scriptures are attributed to Paul As a theologian he made it clear to the early Christian communities the meaning of following Christ In his missionary work he established churches in the political and cultural centers of the western world.

His theology has been used as a source of the church and spiritual renewal at crucial times during the history of Christianity eg protestant and catholic reformations Extremely important summery of the Christian faith his writings – Centre of his teachings was understanding the death and resurrection of Jesus Paul preserved Christianity’s Jewish heritage, affirmed gods ongoing call to the Jewish people, and interpreted all this in the light of Jesus message Was dedicated to Christianity, established Christian churches throughout the roman empire and wrote many letters to his churches and individuals Teachings of Paul is a guidance for Christians Paul used his new life as an example of an enthusiastic and evangelic apostle He lived out his own mission which was to spread the gospel of Jesus Persuaded people of Antioch of gods kingdom arriving, would not arrive until her converted gentiles Successfully recruited Jews and gentiles alike, his writings stated that faith in Christ was important in salvation for Jews and gentiles alike Contribution Writings of St. Paul include Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Those of disputed authorship are Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, 3 Corinthians, and Epistle to the Laodiceans, his letters are the earliest surviving Christian literature. Paul met James, the brother of Jesus, and Peter, the Apostle, in Jerusalem. He then went on to Antioch where he converted Gentiles.

This helped make Christianity a universal religion (missions, journeys) Through Paul’s writings and missionary Journeys to the communities of Antioch, Galatians, Romans, Philippians and many more he was able to establish Christianity as a separate entity from Judaism for the first time through Paul’s dedication to writings and his missionary Journeys he was able to establish some of the earliest Christian communities seen as their own entity, separate from Judaism for the first time. One of the main contributions that led to the separation of Christianity from the Jewish Sect was the Council of Jerusalem – a meeting of Church leaders to discuss the Jewish law}.

At this meeting the question was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised, while many were agreeing to this ideal Paul encouraged liberation from the law instead stressing that faith alone would bring salvation and there was no need for circumcision Through his writing Paul incorporated ideals of the theology of Christ and the Church, the salvation of God, sexual morality, marriage and encouraging liberation from Jewish Law through his writings which now form over of the New Testament, through which he wrote to Christian communities about beliefs, lessons, advice and support has had a huge impact upon Christianities development and expression both throughout History and today

In The Skin Of A Lion

Many angles can be taken in perceiving the truth and “real” story mixed in with the tangle of official history. Ondaatje clearly empathises with the side of the workers in the novel. He positions us to feel connected with the workers, as he feels that the soul of the bridge is the men who toiled to make it possible. Nicholas Temelcoff, Patrick and Hazen Lewis are all manual labourers who take no part in the grand schemes of construction, but it is their lives that are risked, their sacrifices that build the waterworks.

Nicholas Temelcoff is therefore represented poetically, as the “man in the air” who “floats” and “pushes in the air before him as if swimming in a river”; he is described using the simile that “he knows his position in the air as if he is mercury slipping across a map. ” Patrick is the son of an “abashed man,” and he is fascinated with moths, but his vendetta against Harris and the waterworks is what most makes Patrick’s actions representative of class warfare.

Patrick manages to “swim through the tunnel” he “helped build” and set up explosives that could bring it all down. The very fact that a simple working man, a man who helped build the waterworks, is able to bring the entire construction to its knees symbolises the inherent power of the worker within society. While Ondaatje’s text can be viewed as Marxist, it also has elements that explore notions of gender. After Clara leaves Patrick, he becomes lost and it is Clara’s friend, Alice Gull that gives Patrick a purpose.

Alice therefore functions as a mentor figure and also functions as a vehicle for Ondaatje’s own beliefs; Alice states that “you reach people through metaphor,” before going on to describe her performance at the waterworks as “what I reached you with earlier tonight. ” The very fact that Ondaatje would choose to express his views through a female character, in this case Alice, foregrounds the feminine perspective within the text. Out of all the people Patrick deals with, it is only Clara and Alice who can really influence him.

Alice’s simile “like water, you can be easily harnessed” captures the power of women to shape the lives of men. Ondaatje’s representation of gender equality is shown in his willingness to foreground women in his text rather than make them marginalised characters act as ‘prizes’ for the male protagonist. Throughout the text, Patrick sees many people die around him, including his father, but it is only Alice’s death that shatters him. After Alice’s death when Patrick is in prison he stays silent, trying to hold onto Alice, “as if saying one word would release Alice from his body. In traditional texts, the woman is passive and the man is the active agent. However in the novel Clara saying “I don’t want you lost Patrick,” she realises she can’t stay with him. She is a free thinking woman in charge of her own destiny and does not go back with Patrick. Following Alice’s death and Patrick’s scheme against the waterworks, it is another female that gives him a reason to carry on. Patrick takes on the role of the father to Alice’s daughter Hana. Hana gives Patrick a reason to carry on despite having lost the woman he wished to grow old with.

From a personal perspective, Ondaatje’s novel values the contributions made by every member of society, not just exclusively one group. This reading values contributions made by individuals from society towards an overall cause. The story itself revolves around the construction of a bridge and waterworks, a project overseen by the commissioner of the public works, Rowland Harris. Harris is the man whom ‘official’ history remembers as the brilliant individual who ensured the construction was a success.

The project would not have worked unless there had been a commissioner to oversee the project and workers to build it. For all Harris’ faults, he had an incredible devotion to the project and its success. When the nun, seemingly falls off the unfinished bridge to her death, Harris’ reaction is not of fear for the nun, but sorrow for the bridge itself. Harris describes the bridge as “his first child” and his pity for it is shown as he realises that “it had already become a murderer. ” Ondaatje has used personification in this example to show how Harris views the bridge as a living child.

Harris himself even realises the contributions made by the workers, as he forgives Patrick for his attempted backlash against the waterworks. Patrick accuses Harris of excess when he states that Harris’ “goddamn herringbone tiles cost more than half our salaries put together. ” Rather than deny this, Harris states that “yes, that’s true,” but argues that it is necessary for the waterworks to live on. This conversation between Harris and Patrick is a good summation of the efforts of both the workers and the commissioner during the project.

Harris’ cliche, that he fought “tooth and nail” to get the materials needed, is contradicted by Patrick’s rebuke, “as much of the fabric as the aldermen and the millionaires. ” This is where the two paths, that of the workers, and that of the commissioner meet; Harris realises that Patrick and the other workers fought hard but are “among the dwarfs of enterprise who never get accepted or acknowledged. ” Ultimately the novel explores the multi-faceted natured of truth and the contributions made by a multitude of individuals rather than simply allocating glory to the upper echelons of society.

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