Are Miracles Violations of the Laws of Nature?

Document Type : Research Paper


Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion, University of Urbino, Italy


Classical theism holds that God rules the world not only indirectly, by the natural laws established with creation, but through actions or direct interventions that interfere with natural processes and human actions. These direct interventions are usually called miracles. Modern Western philosophy, at least starting from Spinoza and Hume, has defined miracles as “violations of the laws of nature” and criticized them on this ground. Actually, if God is the author of the natural laws, it seems contradictory that he violates them performing miracles. In the last decades, analytical philosophy of religion developed a considerable discussion on this topic. This debate has seen, on the one hand, those, like N. Smart and R. Swinburne, who defend the definition of miracle as a violation of natural laws, and those, like K. Ward, R. Larmer, and D. Corner, who reject it and sustain alternative definitions of miracle. In my article, I refer to this debate with the purpose of showing that the notion of miracle as a violation of the natural law is a coherent one from a theistic point of view.


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