The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God saying that if there are phenomena that can not be accomplished by any creature – miracles – it is God who makes them , and thus gives them a personal, eye-catching testimony about oneself. The argument may also apply to the truth of religion or other aspects. In the philosophy of science, the argument from miracles is the argument for scientific realism as the best philosophical explanation of the success of science.
In Catholic theology , the miracle was an argument on the deity of Jesus or the credibility of Christianity or Revelation.
Peter, on the day of the Pentecost, appealed to the miracle as an argument for the credibility of the mission of Jesus Christ. He used the terms dynameis (works of God’s power shown in a miraculous fact), terata (unusual deeds) and semeia (signs in which the saving action of God is manifested). These terms indicate specific features and functions of miracles that indicate God as their author. On the occasion of healing chromium, Peter linked the miracle argument with the biblical argument and salvation events made by Jesus. Stephen , using the miracle argument, presented the history of salvation in which he outlined the wonderful works of God. These works, in the context of the history of salvation, become an argument capable of persuading a man to consider God’s works.
The term ajatū is used to describe a miracle in theology of Islam, which can mean both an unusual sign and a statement. Muhammad believed that the only miracle is the revelation of the Koran. In his opinion, other miracles would darken only the highest miracle, which is the book. The Koran as a miracle was for Mohammad an argument for the truthfulness of its claims and missions due to the revelation of the book by the archangel Gabriel , and thus – the most perfect work in terms of content and form. The Islamic prophet believed that only Allah can make miracles, and evidence for the Qur’an’s authentication is unnecessary hence physical miracles were an ineffective means of proof for him. This conviction resulted from the fact that miracles were for him ambiguous facts and could easily be reduced to witchcraft . According to Mohammed, it is rather a creative work of Allah – creating the world and preserving it in existence, which is a miraculous gift, a real miracle – is a sign indicating the omnipotent and ingenious action of God. On the other hand, miraculous interventions of God during the victorious battles were to confirm the authenticity of the mission of Muhammad and the truth of Islam.
Philosophy of science
In the philosophy of science, the argument from miracles (also called the argument from the success of science) has nothing to do with the theological connotation. This is the leading argument for scientific realism , formulated in the mid-1970s by Hilary Putnam , also under the name “miracle argument”, appearing for the first time with James Robert Brown in 1982. The argument consists of two parts – a slogan (according to which successes of science would be something like miracles, if not explained by referring to scientific realism) and strictly argumentative (which states that scientific realism is the best philosophical explanation for the success of science).
The arguments are based on the work of Alan Musgrave and John Worrall. Musgrave believed that Christoph Clavius and William Whewell considered the successes of scientific theories (eg Ptolemy’s astronomy ) as a criterion for their veracity. According to Musgrave, Clavius adopted some form of reality of Ptolemaic epicycles and eccentrics, if they were only a figment, then the predictive success of Ptolemy’s theory would be mysterious. The first twentieth century philosopher who formulated the argument for the success of science was J. J. C. Smart, postulating “an argument from a cosmic coincidence”. This argument is a critique of the phenomenal interpretation of scientific theories, for which theoretical beings constitute a useful fiction. In Smart’s opinion, a realistic interpretation of the theory is simpler and more credible.
The first philosopher who developed a more systematic argument for the success of science for realism was Hilary Putnam. He compared it with the success of theory from miracles. In his opinion, the successes of science can best be explained by referring to the approximate truth of the theory. Therefore, “a positive argument for realism is that it is the only philosophy on which the success of science is not presented as a miracle”. However, the structure of Putnam’s argument is not uniform, consisting of three partial arguments in which three concepts of the success of science – predictive, progressive and methodological – were used.
A slightly different version of the argument from miracles was proposed by Richard Boyd . The difference between Putnam and Boyd’s argument is based on a different basis and the criterion of scientific realism – for Putnam it was a phenomenon of success of scientific theories, and for Boyd – success (reliability) of scientific methodology . Boyd believes that the ability of a scientific methodology to acquire new knowledge about nature is a demanding explanation of the phenomenon. The phenomenon of the particular instrumental reliability of the aesthetized scientific methods should be explained, and the best explanation is scientific realism.