Advice on revision

Especially for those who are thinking of not revising a particular area I would have to say be very careful. There are 5 areas – Life after death, Religious language, the nature of God, religious experience (inc. revelation) and miracles. There are four questions, so 4 out of these 5 will come up. Say you don’t revise one of them and it comes up then you are down to three questions you can do. Say one of these questions is on someone you don’t know very much about like Tilich’s views on symbol or Wittgenstein’s views on language games or Otto’s views on Religious experience, then you are left with having no choice but to do two questions which you might not particularly like. So it’s not a good strategy. I note that Miracles came up in Jan 2010, then was absent in Jun 2010, then came up in Jan 2011, so it’s entirely possible it may come up. Miracles is not as tricky as, say, Religious Language. Here’s the Miracles question mark scheme for the Jan 2010 exam for you to look at:

Evaluate the claim that belief in miracles leads to a belief in a God who favours some but not all of his creation. [35]
Some candidates may begin by looking specifically at the problems involved in defining miracles. For example they may use the definition made famous by David Hume, namely that they are a violation of the laws of nature. They may also be aware that Keith Ward describes this definition as unhelpful in the sense that it implies that there is something wrong with believing in miracles.
Others, recognising that the question is similar to one of the problems raised by Maurice Wiles, which raises questions about either the power of God or the goodness of or indeed both. If God is willing to intervene to help some who suffer, say for example in Lourdes, why does he not intervene in places such as Darfur.
Another aspect of this question that candidates may explore is the idea of God answering prayers through miracles which, if they are to be believed, paint God as both arbitrary and biased.
Others may use other examples of types of miracles to argue that God may be in fact using nature to help rather than violating the laws of the universe. For example it is arguable that God used natural means to help the Hebrew slaves leave Egypt and to guide them through the desert.
Candidates may begin by agreeing with the view put forward by philosophers such as Maurice Wiles and assess the kind of areas which would support his argument; for example, developing an assessment of whether God is capable or willing to help in situations such as Darfur.
Alternatively, candidates may argue that this discussion depends on an anthropomorphising of God, namely the suggestion that He would approach these issues the way a human being would. They could then evaluate the extent to which this is a reasonable approach to trying to understand the mind of God.
It is important that any assessment focuses on the issue of whether or not belief in miracles does lead to this understanding of God and that the essays do not just become a general account of whether or not there are such things as miracles.


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