Miracles and Physical Impossibility

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (1):71 - 79 (1977)
Abstract
WHILE THERE IS AGREEMENT AMONG MANY (BUT NOT ALL) THEOLOGIANS AND PHILOSOPHERS THAT A MIRACULOUS EVENT SHOULD BE CONCEIVED IN OPPOSITION TO THE NATURAL ORDER, THERE IS DISAGREEMENT ABOUT WHY THIS OPPOSITION MUST BE PRESENT. IN THIS PAPER I EXAMINE ANTONY FLEW’S EXPLANATION OF HOW AND WHY MIRACLES AND NATURE ARE OPPOSED, SUGGESTING THAT HIS ACCOUNT IS, AS IT STANDS, PROBLEMATICAL AND IN NEED OF REVISION. I ARGUE THAT IF MIRACLES ARE TO BE THOUGHT OF AS SUPERNATURAL INTERVENTIONS INTO THE NATURAL WORLD, AND HENCE IT IS THOUGHT APPROPRIATE TO SPEAK OF THEM AS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, THEN ONE MUST DEFINE THE PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE IN TERMS OF WHAT CAN BE EXPLAINED ONLY BY REFERENCE TO SUPERNATURAL FORCE, RATHER THAN IN TERMS OF WHAT IS LOGICALLY INCONSISTENT WITH LAWS OF NATURE
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