Intellectual History Review 25 (2):167-189 (2015)

Diego Lucci
American University in Bulgaria
The philosophical debate on miracles in Enlightenment England shows the composite and evolutionary character of the English Enlightenment and, more generally, of the Enlightenment’s relation to religion. In fact, that debate saw the confrontation of divergent positions within the Protestant field and led several deists and freethinkers to resolutely deny the possibility of “things above reason” (i.e. things that, according to such Protestant philosophers as Robert Boyle and John Locke, human reason can neither comprehend nor refute, and that humanity must thus receive as supernatural). In their attacks on miracles, the deists adopted various strategies, which can be classified in two main groups. On the one hand, Charles Blount, John Toland, Anthony Collins, Thomas Woolston, and Peter Annet, although employing different concepts of reason and having different views of God and nature, rejected miracles on the basis that God is unable to contravene the eternal, immutable, and mechanical laws of nature. On the other, William Wollaston, Matthew Tindal, Thomas Chubb, and Thomas Morgan, whose theories on natural religion presented striking similarities, saw God as unwilling to interpose in human or natural affairs. They shunned the possibility of miraculous events while simultaneously acknowledging the presence and efficacy of divine providence in the government of the universe. In other words, they considered God as the active governor of the universe, rather than a distant and inert clockmaker removed from his Creation, but they held that God would not suspend the laws of nature, in which his impartial wisdom, forethought, and goodness found perfect expression.
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DOI 10.1080/17496977.2014.992628
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Hume, Holism, and Miracles.David Johnson - 2019 - Cornell University Press.

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