The claim that people may have direct experiences of God has often been rejected as impossible but the reasons commonly advanced for these rejections are not very good ones. Philosophers call an experience in which the object of experience has been truly perceived a veridical experience. The task of checking experiential claims is not so easy and straightforward as it might appear to be. Even in simple cases there are more objective and subjective conditions that must be satisfied for a successful observation to be carried out. The importance of these subjective factors is at least part of what is meant by those religions that emphasize the necessity of faith to know God truly. The existence of a community of religious believers who claim to have experience of God may even provide evidence of God’s reality for those who personally do not have such experiences. A good deal of what humans know is not gained through firsthand experience but through the testimony of others.
A miracle is a special act of God which he performs at a particular place and time as an act distinct from his normal activity of sustaining the universe including its natural processes. It is true that something different happens when a miracle occurs. When God steps in specially, a new factor is added to the situation. Miracles are traditionally taken as validations of religious claims. Jesus did many miracles and his resurrection from the dead was one of the greatest miracles. According to David Hume, no matter how strong the evidence of a particular miracle might be, it will always be more rational to reject the miracle than to believe in it. Sometimes it is alleged that miracles are impossible because they are violations of laws of nature and the assumption behind this objection is that the laws of nature are necessary. In one sense, miracles are indeed violations of laws of nature but the laws of nature are most plausibly interpreted as descriptive of the actual processes of nature, not as descriptions of the way nature had to be. Some contemporary philosophers have also tried to rule out miracles through different arguments. If an exception to the law of nature occurs, this only shows that the supposed law of nature in question is not a genuine law of nature since it did not hold universally. Some philosophers claim dogmatically that miracles cannot happen. Miracles seem possible at least and it also seems possible for there to be compelling evidence for their occurrence. It seems possible that a reasonable person could become convinced that miracles have occurred even if he did not have a previously high estimate of the likelihood of God’s existence.
the problem of evil
Some philosophers have put forward arguments from the evil that purport which seems to show that God does not exist or that belief in God is unreasonable. Many people, both believers, and non-believers are bothered by evil. When faced with suffering, they may ask the question of why. This may ultimately lead to the existence of evil and suffering which is thought to undermine the rationality of belief in God. There are different types of evil and versions of the problem and many types of responses. Moral evil is a type of evil that is all the evil that is due to the actions of free, morally responsible beings. The natural evil is all the evil that is not due to the actions of morally responsible beings such as the pain and suffering caused by natural disasters and many diseases. The theistic responses to the problem of evil can be divided into two types. The more ambitious type of response is a theodicy which attempts to explain why God actually allows evil. It tries to show that God is justified in allowing evil, and it lays out the reason why God allows evil and tries to show that those reasons are good ones. A more modest type of response is called a defense that tries to argue that God may have reasons for allowing evil that we do not or cannot know.
The term faith is sometimes used to refer to the assumptions, convictions, and attitudes which the believer brings to a consideration of the evidence for and against religious truth. Faith is all these though this must be taken to imply that there are no significant differences between the various kinds of faith. In the ongoing life of an actual person, there are simply two different moments in what might be called the faith dimension of life. The faith which we bring to our reflection embodies previous commitments and the commitment which is the outcome of the reflection is the faith that we bring into our future reflection. Faith can be thought of as prayer, conviction, and commitment. The general structure of faith has the personal commitment which both informs reflection and is shaped by reflection and is common to both the believer and non-believer.
Evans, C. Stephen and R. Zachary Manis . Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith. New York: HarperOne, 2009.