Essay mark scheme – miracles and a benevolent God

Critically assess the view that the concept of miracle is inconsistent with belief in a benevolent God.

January 2012 Q2 OCR A2

AO1 candidates usually begin this response by outlining their understanding of the concept of miracle, which is fine as long as it does not turn into their pre-prepared Hume answer.

Better responses will explain what it is about this concept which for some philosophers makes it impossible to believe in a good God in any sense.

Many will be aware of the writings of Maurice Wiles and the kind of God he believes would be implicit in a world where He would seem to be behaving in a partial and unfair manner.

Some may alternatively attack the statement from a Dawkins kind of position where there is no God and miracles are therefore just events which science cannot yet explain but will be able to some day.

Others may explain the writings of philosophers such as Keith Ward and explore what a universe would be like if God intervened all the time and the implications of that for the way we would have to interact with our world. Would we, for example, seek to use science to cure illness when we could just pray hard and move mountains?

AO2

In their evaluations candidates may be tempted to slip into responses which are more correctly directed at whether or not miracles can or do happen. This can only be credited at a general topic level; to answer the above question fully candidates must address the issue of whether or not we can at the same time hold that God is benevolent and intervening in the world to help a few people.

 

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