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In a world where priests can cast actual miracles, how would that affect the world's development? In particular, how would it alter the interactions between different religions? And how would these effects differ depending on the frequency of these miracles (i.e. certain high level priests can evoke them every so often, vs any priest can call on them virtually at will?)

Are there any areas besides religion that would be heavily influenced by such miracles? If so, how?

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closed as too broad by Wesley Obenshain, bowlturner, Donald.McLean, Wibbs, Nick Wilde Sep 16 '14 at 21:26

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ See: True Magic. (true-magic.com/view.php?id=1) Sorry, that's the first thing I thought of. XD I'll think about this and get back to you. $\endgroup$ – Jerenda Sep 16 '14 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect this is going to be a typical problem until we get more questions, but the range of answers to this question is very broad. $\endgroup$ – Wesley Obenshain Sep 16 '14 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ Uhm, actually I'm having trouble thinking of anything that wouldn't be affected by an abundance of true miracles happening. Medicine, in the case of miraculous healing. Agriculture and economics, if you consider miracles like the loaves and the fishes. Heck, it could probably even affect clocks and calendars; see Joshua 10:12-15. I would recommend picking just a few specific miracles, and working from there. $\endgroup$ – Katie Sep 16 '14 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ Would it be better to remove the final section and focus entirely on Religion? $\endgroup$ – Salvador Sep 16 '14 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'm of the opposite mindset in that I have trouble thinking of something that would be affected fundamentally by such a change. I can see only topical and miracle-specific changes to much of society. My answer was going to reflect that appropriately (though it seems I'm too late). $\endgroup$ – Attackfarm Sep 17 '14 at 0:34
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Religion

Being able to call down miracles regularly and often is a trump card for religious factions in strife. A good example comes from the (Christian) Bible. See the story of Elijah and the Priests of Baal in the Bible.

If these miracles are too common, people will get used to them, and may not take them as miracles anymore. This is especially true if other religions can perform those miracles, too, as seen in the biblical account of Moses calling down the Plagues of Egypt.

Science

Scientists would take the miracles as fact. Some could say "those are not miracles, it's science." Others could investigate these miracles and take a scientific approach to them, figuring out their laws and mechanics.

It would certainly give science a goal; to figure out why those priests can call down those miracles! This is, of course, assuming there is a division between science and religion in that culture.

Philosophy

If priests can call down miracles regularly or on-demand, and those miracles are taken as divine recognition of those priests, then that religion must be correct. No errant ideas or philosophies which counter that religion should exist, unless those philosophies can produce those miracles as well (via priests who subscribe to them). It would be a litmus test to see if those philosophies were correct or not.

Economics

Miracles on-demand would be demanded. Whatever these miracles can affect would be very different. This could lead to a market for purchasing miracles. The price would be determined by the availability of these miracles. People would come to rely on miracles the same way we have come to rely on modern technology. In some cases, the demand may result in people forcing priests to perform that miracle or face consequences.

If the miracle is common enough, why develop the technology to do it? Sure, you'd not be dependent upon a priest, but if those priests are everywhere, it may not be worth the resources to create that technology. That's the opportunity cost of regularly occurring miracles.

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    $\begingroup$ This would assume a very "mechanical" God who has no free will, and if a priest (or anyone with the knowledge) could perform the miracle on-demand, then it wouldn't really be a miracle, just one of the laws of physics. We might even call it "magic", not "miracle". For example, in Christianity it is important that you cannot "force" God to do something for you, this is what separates miracles from magic. $\endgroup$ – vsz Oct 22 '14 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ @vsz That's very true. I took this to be more like miracles on demand = the actions of D&D clerics. One could argue, based on belief, that miracles actually do happen from priests right now. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Oct 22 '14 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ I really like your take on the science section. Makes me think of a reference to the bible where God created a rainbow as his promise to not do that to the world again (or something along those lines). At the time, the rainbow would be a miracle but these days it can be explained how it happens. It brings up the line of thought, 'If a Miracle is done once, can it possibly be duplicated by study via Science?'. My reasoning for this, would be a miracle is simply adjusting how the world works which can be explained by science. Does each miracle change how the world works then? $\endgroup$ – dphil Jan 14 '16 at 14:28

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