Monday, 3 June 2013

The "Miracles" Apologetic

Does belief in a miracle account depend on the prior acceptance of the possibility of miracles? I'm often subjected to arguments that that seem to think the answer is yes. The argument goes as follows:
The only reason that you can't accept a miracle account is that you hold to a worldview that excludes the possibility of miracles. So of course you're going to find miracle accounts absurd, you've written them off in advance.
At first glance, there appears to be something there. If one takes a naturalistic worldview, it's hard to see how miracles will fit into such a view. If one, however, took a theistic view, there's no problem understanding miracles - they are God intervening in the natural order.

But this can't be the case, for the simple reason that miracle accounts don't cut it even if one does accept their possibility. If one claimed that God teleported them halfway around the world, even if one believed in God and God's infinite power, the account doesn't become plausible.

The apologetic is rendered vacuous under scrutiny. It's nothing more than a mere deflection of the epistemological problem that miracle accounts have. Whether or not a worldview can possibly encompass miracles, there's no worldview that's going to plausibly encompass miracles. The reason being that miracles by their very nature are implausible events - events that are outside of the natural order - so appealing to miracles is by definition appealing to unlikely accounts.

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