Open Access Repository

The interventionist concept of miracle and the possibility of miracles

Henri, SJ 1981 , 'The interventionist concept of miracle and the possibility of miracles', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

PDF (Whole thesis)
whole_HenriStua...pdf | Download (8MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.

| Preview


In this thesis I investigate the interventionist concept
of miracle and the most serious objections to this
concept. In the first chapter I introduce the topic and
in Chapter Two I critically analyse D. Hume's attack
upon the evidential value of claims about purported
miracles. Hume's critique is the more significant since
he was the first significant philosopher to define a
miracle as a violation of a law of nature. After lengthy
analysis I conclude that Hume's attack fails.
In Chapter Three I analyse the charge that the fundamentals
of historical enquiry rule out the possibility of our
knowing that an alleged miracle has occurred. My analysis
concentrates on the major attacks made by Flew and Van
Harvey and the various rebuttals offered by their critics.
I argue that the fundamentals of historical enquiry do not
in fact rule out, either epistemically or psychologically,
the possibility of miracles. In Chapter Four I continue
the debate begun in Chapter Three by focussing on the
claim that there is no natural, as opposed to revealed, way
of distinguishing between a violation and a falsification
of a law of nature. On the prior assumption that such a
distinction makes sense I find that the argument fails.
In Chapter Five I drop the assumption that the interventionist
concept is coherent and take up a number of
challenges to its logical coherence. In Chapter Six I
continue this line by investigating the attacks from
science on the coherence of the violation model. In this
chapter I note that refinement to the traditional violation
model is required if it is to withstand some of these major
criticisms. In this chapter I also consider the possibility
of rejecting the violation model in favour of a non-violation
interventionist model. I conclude that the violation model
is the more acceptable but note that it requires further
In Chapter Seven I move away temporarily from the conceptual
and epistemic appropriateness of defining a miracle as a
violation of a law of nature and investigate the distinction
between a violation of a law of nature and a miracle. In
particular I look at the importance of the causal role of
God; the sign structure of the event and its religious
setting. I conclude that a miracle is in fact a complex
mesh of elements bringing together the scientific and the
religious. To define a miracle as a violation without
giving due reference to religious factors is insufficient.
In the final chapter I tie up a number of loose ends. I
argue that a distinction should be made between the laws of
science and the laws of nature and that a miracle is not a
physically impossible event but rather a scientifically
inexplicable event. I conclude by offering the following
definition of miracle.
A miracle is a violation of a law of science brought
about by the primary action of God, occurring in
religious context as a divine sign.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Henri, SJ
Keywords: Miracles
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1981 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1983. Bibliography: l. 202-211

Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page