Believing in God

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  • Believing in God
    • Christian upbringing
      • Christian parents:
        • Are likely to have their babies baptised. Here they promise to bring their children up to believe in God and be good christians
        • Will teach their children to believe in God
          • Proverbs 22:6: Train a child in the way they should go and when they are old they shall not depart."
        • Will teach their children to pray to God e.g. the Lord's prayer, and to worship in church e.g Sunday Mass
        • May send their children to a Church school e.g Catholic schools
      • How this may lead them to believe in God
        • Children of Christians will have been told about God by their parents and they believe their parents
          • Swinburne's Principal of Testimony and Credulity:  "Unless we have a valid reason to doubt someone we accept what they say is true. Otherwise society descends into anarchy"
        • Christians pray to God, so they will believe God exists
        • Seeing so many people worship God when they go to church will make them believe God exists
        • They will be taught that God exists when they go to Sunday school and will believe it because their teachers will tell them it is true
          • Occam's Razor: "The simplest explanation is most likely the true explanation"
    • Religious experience
      • Numinous: May be filled with the awareness that there is something greater than them which must be God
      • Conversion: Feel that God is calling them to do something for him and change their beliefs
      • Miracle: If they can't find a scientific reason they might start to believe in God. Occam's Razor
      • Prayer: If a prayer is answered they might start to believe in God
    • William Paley's Design Argument
      • "If you see something complex e.g. a watch you think there is a designer. The world is complex therefore we think there is a designer - God"
      • 1. Anything that has been designed needs a designer
      • 2. There is lots of evidence that the world has been designed e.g. laws of science like gravity, DNA
      • 3. If the world has been designed, the world must have a designer
      • 4. The only  being omnibenevolent, omniscient and omnipotent is God
      • 5. Therefore, God exists
    • St Thomas Aquinas' Causation Argument
      • "Everything that exists is caused by something else. The universe exists. Therefore, it was caused by something. That is God"
      • 1. Cause and effect s a basic feature of the world. Any cause has an effect and any effect has a cause
      • 2. This means that the universe must have a cause
      • 3. God is the only logical cause of the universe
      • 4. Therefore, God must exist
    • Scientific explanations of the world
      • How Christians respond
        • Non-literalist Christians accept the scientific explanations but believe they show how God created the universe and humans
          • Genesis 1:3: "In the beginning God said 'Let there be light', and there was light."
        • Literalist Christians say that the scientific explanations are wrong and the Biblical story of creation is fact because it is the word of God
        • Other non-literalists believe that both science and the Bible are true because one of God's days could be billions of years
      • Matter is eternal, it cannt be created or destroyed, and so must have always existed
      • About 15 billion years ago, the matter of the universe exploded. This is know as the Big Bang Theory
        • Georges Lemaitre's Red shift theory: Red shift in light from other galaxies prove that the universe is expanding from a finite point (The Big Bang Theory)
      • The gases  on Earth's surface produced primitive life, which has evolved through natural selection.
        • Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection: Lifeforms have adapted to suit their environments, and the fittest have survived
    • Unanswered prayers
      • If people do not feel God's presence when they pray, or have unanswered good prayers, they may start to doubt God's existance
      • How Christians respond
        • Selfish prayers are answered, but not in the way you want. He might not help you pass an exam so you work harder next time
          • Irenaeus: "Evil is a test for us to overcome which will bring us closer to God"
        • God might have different plans
          • John Hick's Epistemic Distance: "We,as finite human beings, do not recognise God's plan. What we call evil is part of a greater plan that is good. Like an ant on a carpet cannot recognize the pattern, we cannot see the good"
        • God will answer prayers in the best way even if it is not what they want as God loves people
    • Evil and suffering
      • John Mackie's Inconsistent Triad: I"f God was omni-benevolent, he would want to remove suffering. If God was omniscient, he would know how to remove it. If God was omnipotent, he would be able to remove suffering. Evil exists, therefore God cannot"
      • How Christians respond
        • Praying for those who suffer
        • Helping those who suffer by following Jesus' example of helping those who suffer
          • Mother Teresa taking care of the sick in Calcutta
        • Claiming that evil and suffering are the fault of humans misusing their free will and what we consider evil is just an absence of good
          • St Augustine: "Evil does not exist: It is merely an absence of good"
          • James 1: "Each person is persuaded to do what is wrong when they are tempted by their own desire. Then after desire has bee given into, it becomes sin and sin eventually leads to death"
        • Explaining that what we consider evil might be part of God's greater plan
          • John Hick's Epistemic Distance
        • Claiming that evil and suffering are part of a test to prepare people for heaven
          • Irenaeus: "Evil is a test for us to overcome which will bring us closer to God"
        • This is the best of all possible worlds
          • Leibniz's 'Best of all possible worlds': "God created this as the best world possible. The things we consider evil are actually necessary."

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