How to answer a question about God and the five classical arguments.

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In an examination you may be asked:
What do religious people mean when they say that they believe in God?
PON SAYS NO!!!: Religious people say that they believe in God because it makes
them feel better to think that there is a God looking after them. They also do it so
that they can go to church and meet other people like themselves and this makes
them feel happy.
An answer like this is not going to get very many marks in an examination.
PON SAYS YES!!!: When people say they believe in God they are talking about
spiritual truth. They have faith that God exists and looks after them according to the
teaching of their religion. These people cannot know that God exists in the way that a
scientist knows that if you heat water eventually it will boil. This belief might be
based on one of the arguments for the existence of God (use example). In
particular it might depend on the experience of God which the individual believer
feels that they have had.
There are five classical arguments that have been made to make people know or think that God
exists/doesn't exist:
Ontological: St Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)God can be defined as "that than which nothing
greater can be conceived". Therefore God (like unicorns) exists in the mind. It is not possible to think of
any being greater than God (as God is "that than which nothing greater can be conceived"). Therefore
God must exist in reality.
Cosmological: St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)Everything has to come from something. You cannot
make something out of nothing. Therefore there must have been a `First Cause' that created the
`something' (the universe). That First Cause is God.
Teleological: William Paley (1734-1805)If you were walking on a heath and saw a watch on the
ground you would assume that its parts had not come together by chance because it is too ordered and
complicated. Therefore someone must have designed it or it would not work. Because the universe is
also ordered and complicated, someone must have designed that too. That 'someone' is God.
Religious Experience: Some people claim that they have had a religious experience eg, a miracle (a
fortuitous event believed to have been caused by divine intervention), a vision, or a particular prayer to
God answered.
Therefore God exists.
Morality: Some people say that everyone knows the difference between `right' and `wrong'. They
describe this as having a sense of morality. This sense of morality has to come from somewhere, and
the only possible source is God. Therefore God exists.


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