It is now known that perpetual motion machines are scientifically impossible because of the Principle of Conservation of Energy. Now, suppose someone is able to create a perpetual motion machine. This would entail that a known law of nature has been violated. My question then is this: should that particular act be considered a miracle?

If someone figured out how to build a perpetual motion machine, this would mean that something formerly but falsely believed to be law of nature would have been found not to be. It wouldn't mean that a bona fide law of nature had been violated.

Or at least that's a reasonable thing to say. But I've assumed that God has nothing to do with the Ever-Whirling Whirligig. If there's a God, that complicates things.

There's a view that says there can't be miracles because by definition, miracles are violations of laws of nature and by definition, a false generalization isn't actually a law of nature, but that's a poor argument. If there is a supernatural God, then the reasonable way to understand laws of nature is that they're generalizations that hold true without special divine intervention. A good analogy (can't remember who offered it) is that the laws of nature are like the working of a clock when nothing messes with its mechanism. If God messes with the natural mechanisms and suspends them in some way or another, that could amount to a miracle.

There's a further issue for some people. A supposed miracle could always just be a case of our having thought something was a law of nature, when in fact the natural regularities don't work that way in the first place. That, of course, is true. But some people go on to say that we could never have good reason to think the apparently miraculous events really were divine interventions. The reply to that is that surely it depends on the details. In most religious traditions, miracles aren't just weird events. They have significance—they're messsages from the Divine. We can at least imagine cases in which the meaning of the event should be clear even to the skeptic. (At least I can, and I'm a skeptic.)

In any case, a perpetual motion machine doesn't seem like a good candidate for that sort of status.

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