Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Are Miracle possible?

Spinozian View

To begin looking at this question I want to go back to the root of this argument. The root really starts with a man named Benedict de Spinoza. He is responsible for developing an argument against miracles in his 1670 work entitled Tractatus Theolodico-politicus that goes as follows:

1. Miracles are violation of natural Laws.

2. Natural laws are immutable.

3. It is impossible for immutable laws to be violated

4. therefore, miracles are not possible.

As one reads this argument that Spinoza postulates, one can not help but ask the fundamental question, “are natural laws immutable? Furthermore, does he have a good working definition of miracles? The Next observation that we can make is that he has not given us a fair fight. Spinoza in his argument as already eliminated the possibility of miracles by stating in the second premise that natural laws are immutable.In short this is the fallacy of stacking the deck. With in the scientific community it is well agreed on that natural law don’t tell us what must happen, but only describes what usually dose happen.

Lets look at Spinoza’s argument a little deeper. The first thing that Spinoza want to argue is that nothing happens contrary to the eternal and unchangeable order of nature. Spinoza in his work is putting forth that all that happens in nature is according to Gods will, so the way Spinoza sees it if a natural law was to be violated the this would be God going against his very nature. Spinoza writes this,

Now, as nothing is necessarily true save only by Divine decree, it is plain that the universal laws of nature are decrees of God following from the necessity and perfec-tion of the Divine nature. (6:17) Hence, any event happening in nature

which contravened nature's universal laws, would necessarily also contravene the Divine decree, nature, and understanding; or if any-one asserted that God acts in contravention to the laws of nature,he, ipso facto, would be compelled to assert that God acted against His own nature—an evident absurdity Bk.XX:27588.

Spinoza goes on to say,

We may, in fact, say that a miracle is an event of which the

causes cannot be explained by the natural reason through a refer-

ence to ascertained workings of nature; but since miracles were

wrought according to the understanding of the masses, who are

wholly ignorant of the workings of nature, it is certain that the

ancients took for a miracle whatever they could not explain by the

method adopted by the unlearned in such cases, namely, an

appeal to the memory, a recalling of something similar, which is

ordinarily regarded without wonder; for most people think they

sufficiently understand a thing when they have ceased to wonder

at it.

Spinoza is the originator of what Richard Dawkins calls the God of the gaps. So the question now come “Where is Spinoza taking us?” This is where his second argument comes in. Spinoza says that a proof for the existence of God must be absolutely certain. Spinoza puts it this way:

wherefore if we would conceive that anything could be done in nature by any power whatsoever which would be contrary to the laws of nature, it would also be contrary to our primary ideas, and we should have either to reject it as absurd, or else to cast doubt (as just shown) on our primary ideas, and conse-quently on the existence of God, and on everything howsoever

perceived. (6:30) Therefore miracles, in the sense of events contrary

to the laws of nature, so far from demonstrating to us the existence of God.


Did you catch what Spinoza did? He has now put his reader in such a position that for them to admit miracles, we break the laws of nature and thereby, cast doubt on the existence of God. Thus Spinoza argument leads one directly into Atheism.

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