Truly law like

Proposition (1') would appear to be satisfactory, as a crude approximation, to a law of nature. Moreover, resurrection, assuming that we now define it as restoration by non-technological means of biological function after all such function has completely ceased, would appear to violate this "law". Having thus at least partially resolved the aforementioned difficulties concerning the definitions of "death" and "resurrection" and the nature of the "law" that resurrection would supposedly violate, we are left with the same situation as before.

Understanding (1') simply as an absolutely exceptionless empirical generalisation, which it must be in order to qualify as a law of nature in our current Humean sense, renders resurrection as defined above logically inconsistent with the truth of (1'). For the same sorts of reasons given in our previous examples, resurrection cannot both occur and also constitute a violation of (1'), or of any other law of nature, for that matter.

Notice, however, that unless we simply presuppose the truth of (1') as an absolutely exceptionless generalization, there is absolutely nothing here which implies that resurrection cannot or even does not occur. Any accumulation of empirical data which tends to confirm (1') inductively will at most show that resurrection is statistically improbable or unlikely, which believers in resurrection will readily admit, since this simply seems to support the view that resurrection is miraculous.

The only thing that has been shown here is that if resurrection does occur, it cannot constitute a violation of a law of nature, and thus cannot be a miracle as presently understood. There still seems to be something wrong here. We seem to have arrived at a dead end. Perhaps we need to go back to the drawing board and base our discussion of miracles on a different, more robust view of the laws of nature. Whatever else we may say about miracles, there is a tendency to think that there must be something especially noteworthy about them.

Thus, for example, they often tend to be especially beneficial to particular individuals, and to be of divine origin. Being especially beneficial, however, does not distinguish miracles from simple good fortune. As for divine origins, God is both the Creator and Sustainer of the universe from a theistic point of view, so that all existing things are of divine origin in a fairly straightforward sense of the term.

In particular, everything that exists is thought to exist because and only because He has created it and continues to sustain it. Perhaps, then, miracles are especially noteworthy because they occur (or are thought to occur) despite extremely powerful natural obstacles or "forces"ified, appears to be truly law-like, as do the previously mentioned examples concerning the boiling point of water and the relationship between thunder and lightning.

The propositions "each of the coins in my pocket is a penny" and "every human being is less than twelve feet tall", however, even if true, do not appear to be truly law-like. Since all of these propositions, however, can be universally true empirical generalisations in the "weak" sense previously discussed, we need some principled way of distinguishing between these intuitively distinct types of universality.

It has often been noted that truly law-like propositions, unlike accidentally true universal generalisations, "support" counter-factual conditionals. Thus, for example, from the fact that "all copper expands when heated", it seems possible to infer that "this" piece of copper, for example, which has never been heated, will expand if now heated, and even that this piece of rock, if it were copper, would expand if it were heated, even if, as a piece of rock, it would not.

From the proposition that "all the coins in my pocket are pennies", however, it does not seem to follow that if this quarter, for example, were a coin in my pocket, it would be a penny. (It would follow, of course, that if this quarter were one of the very coins that is now in my pocket, instead of being a quarter which is not now in my pocket, it would be opper expands when heated", appropriately qualified, appears to be truly law-like, as do the previously mentioned examples concerning the boiling point of water and the relationship between thunder and lightning.

The propositions "each of the coins in my pocket is a penny" and "every human being is less than twelve feet tall", however, even if true, do not appear to be truly law-like. Since all of these propositions, however, can be universally true empirical generalisations in the "weak" sense previously discussed, we need some principled way of distinguishing between these intuitively distinct types of universality. It has often been noted that truly law-like propositions, unlike accidentally true universal generalisations, "support" counter-factual conditionals.

Thus, for example, from the fact that "all copper expands when heated", it seems possible to infer that "this" piece of copper, for example, which has never been heated, will expand if now heated, and even that this piece of rock, if it were copper, would expand if it were heated, even if, as a piece of rock, it would not. From the proposition that "all the coins in my pocket are pennies", however, it does not seem to follow that if this quarter, for example, were a coin in my pocket, it would be a penny.

(It would follow, of course, that if this quarter were one of the very coins that is now in my pocket, instead of being a quarter which is not now in my pocket, it would be a penny, but this is obviously beside the poinse that fire loses the active causal power which would ordinarily enable it to consume the bush, nor is there any need to assume that the bush loses the passive causal power which would ordinarily enable it to be consumed by fire, any more than it is necessary to suppose that rubber bands lose their elasticity when they are not being stretched.

The relevant law of nature can then be regarded as expressing a universal tendency on the part of fire and of bushes to interact in a specific way due to their respective inherent causal powers. The biblical miracle of the burning bush does nothing to invalidate this tendency, nor to render it less universal, despite the fact that these tendencies do not produce the expected result in this case.

The laws of nature can thus be regarded as universal in the sense that they describe universal tendest manner, since there is nothing inherent in natural laws in the weak sense of law considered so far which needs to be "overcome". As it turns out, of course, theists are not alone in wanting to formulate a more robust concept of the laws of nature. Those who specialise in the philosophy of science have also felt the need to develop a strong sense of the term "law of nature".

In particular, they have felt the need to distinguish between universal empirical generalisations which are "truly law-like" and those which are merely "accidental". The proposition "all c penny. Knowing this and nothing else, howeverse that fire loses the active causal power which would ordinarily enable it to consume the bush, nor is there any need to assume that the bush loses the passive causal power which would ordinarily enable it to be consumed by fire, any more than it is necessary to suppose that rubber bands lose their elasticity when they are not being stretched.

The relevant law of nature can then be regarded as expressing a universal tendency on the part of fire and of bushes to interact in a specific way due to their respective inherent causal powers. The biblical miracle of the burning bush does nothing to invalidate this tendency, nor to render it less universal, despite the fact that these tendencies do not produce the expected result in this case.

The laws of nature can thus be regarded as universal in the sense that they describe universal tendest manner, since there is nothing inherent in natural laws in the weak sense of law considered so far which needs to be "overcome". As it turns out, of course, theists are not alone in wanting to formulate a more robust concept of the laws of nature. Those who specialise in the philosophy of science have also felt the need to develop a strong sense of the term "law of nature".

In particular, they have felt the need to distinguish between universal empirical generalisations which are "truly law-like" and those which are merely "accidental". The proposition "all cmething happen or which brings it about, laws se that fire loses the active causal power which would ordinarily enable it to consume the bush, nor is there any need to assume that the bush loses the passive causal power which would ordinarily enable it to be consumed by fire, any more than it is necessary to suppose that rubber bands lose their elasticity when they are not being stretched.

The relevant law of nature can then be regarded as expressing a universal tendency on the part of fire and of bushes to interact in a specific way due to their respective inherent causal powers. The biblical miracle of the burning bush does nothing to invalidate this tendency, nor to render it less universal, despite the fact that these tendencies do not produce the expected result in this case. The laws of nature can thus be regarded as universal in the sense that they describe universal tendest manner, since there is nothing inherent in natural laws in the weak sense of law considered so far which needs to be "overcome".

As it turns out, of course, theists are not alone in wanting to formulate a more robust concept of the laws of nature. Those who specialise in the philosophy of science have also felt the need to develop a strong sense of the term "law of nature". In particular, they have felt the need to distinguish between universal empirical generalisations which are "truly law-like" and those which are merely "accidental".

The proposition "all cof the burning bush, there is no need to suppose that fire loses the active causal power which would ordinarily enable it to consume the bush, nor is there any need to assume that the bush loses the passive causal power which would ordinarily enable it to be consumed by fire, any more than it is necessary to suppose that rubber bands lose their elasticity when they are not being stretched. The relevant law of nature can then be regarded as expressing a universal tendency on the part of fire and of bushes to interact in a specific way due to their respective inherent causal powers.

The biblical miracle of the burning bush does nothing to invalidate this tendency, nor to render it less universal, despite the fact that these tendencies do not produce the expected result in this case. The laws of nature can thus be regarded as universal in the sense that they describe universal tendencies inherent in the physical structure of the world, and as empirical in the sense that these tendencies are empirically discoverable. Most importantly within the present context, they can be regarded as truly law-like since they enable us to explain observable regularities in terms of those physical powers which are responsible for them.

Finally, this particular analysis of the laws of nature, unlike the previous analyses, enables us to understand why the laws of nature support counter-factual conditionals. Moreover, miracles, whether are not they ever occur, can at least be defined in such a way as to make them possible without obviating the possibility that there are also laws of nature. In other words, miracles and the laws of nature can be defined in such a way as to be mutually consistent. There is still at least one problem, however, in defining the laws of nature in this way.

The so-called causal powers, or, equivalently, their occurrent manifestation in any specific event, are in principle unobservable. The problem inherent in Hume's attempt to account for our concept of causation is not simply that we cannot distinguish empirically between causal and non-causal relationships. This problem would be solved if what we have here referred to as "causal powers" were in some way visibly labelled as such. A more important problem, especially within the present context, is that we do not observe the supposed "necessity" inherent in causal relationships which is what makes them especially interesting and important to us.

This is a problem for two reasons. In the first place, it raises the question as to how we can possibly explain anything in terms of causation when we do not observe the very aspect of causation which renders it explanatory. In the second place, it raises the question as to whether we even know that causation as thus characterised exists. Even if we are justified in presupposing that there must be something that brings things about in the precise way that they are brought about in the physical world, how do we know that there are causal powers inherent in physical objects that do everything that needs to be done?

Although we may be able, in quasi-Kantian fashion, to justify postulating the existence of causal powers simply in order to explain the various regularities which are observed to exist in the interactions between observable things, it would appear that we might have to regard these powers in themselves as noumenal or other-worldly in nature. With this in mind, it may be significant that the existence of laws typically presupposes the existence of a lawgiver, and that lawgivers are typically intelligent agents that develop laws with some purpose in mind with the intention that they be enforced.

Theists can provide an explanation for the existence of causal powers in terms of a divine lawgiver, which also clarifies the concept of a miracle and the relationship between miracles and the laws of nature. According to a theistic point of view, as previously mentioned, God is both the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. As such, He is directly responsible not only for the original creation of all existing things ex nihilo, but also for their continued existence. In other words, for any physical thing at any time, God brings it about that that thing exists at that time.

In an exactly similar fashion, for any physical thing existing at any time, God brings it about that that thing is endowed with whatever causal powers it happens to be endowed with at that time. Within the context of this theistic model of creation, the various regularities which we observe in the physical world are simply the result of the fact that, for the most part, God continuously sustains the same set of entities and continuously supplies them with the same sets of causal powers.

From this theistic point of view, it is only because God acts in this way that science as we know it is even possible. If God frequently and randomly created new entities or failed to sustain existing ones, or changed their inherent properties, it is difficult to see how human beings could even function or survive, much less engage in the process of formulating and testing general hypotheses concerning the nature of the physical universe, activities which are central to and at least partly definitive of the modern scientific enterprise.

The existence of the above-mentioned regularities brought about by causal powers, often referred to as the laws of nature, is thus not only consistent with, but can also be explained in terms of, a theistic worldview, in that it can simply be regarded as resulting from the continuous typical action of God in creating and sustaining the universe. Miracles, then, occur whenever God creates new entities or fails to sustain existing ones, or, more likely, when He endows entities with new, possibly temporary, causal powers, or fails to sustain, perhaps momentarily, existing ones.

They constitute "violations" in the sense that they are events that cannot be explained and could not have been predicted in terms of the normal laws of nature. These violations, however, do not invalidate these laws, since the relationships between causal powers which these laws describe continue to exist unabated. We have thus explained not only the nature and existence of laws of nature, but also how the occurrence of miracles is consistent with the existence of such laws.