3.1 Believing in God

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  • Created by: emmacram
  • Created on: 12-03-16 18:42

Catholic Upbringing

  • Main features - Catholic parents are likely to: have their babies baptised and promise to bring up their children to believe in God and be good Catholics.
  • teach their children to believe in and pray to God
  • take their children to Mass where they learn to worship God
  • send their children to a Catholic school
  • How it may lead to belief in God - Their Catholic parents will have told them about God and they will believe their parents
  • Catholics pray to God, so they will believe that God exists because their parents wouldn't pray to nothing
  • Seeing so many people worshipping God will make them believe that he exists.
  • They will be taught of God's existence at school and believe it as their teachers say its true.
  • Good thing - Helps keep a family together as they join in with Catholic activities.
  • Gives children an understanding of what is right or wrong, giving them good morals.
  • Gives children a sense of belonging and community, giving them emotional stability
  • Bad thing - Children are brought up following a religion they didn't choose for themselves
  • Can take away a child's human right to freedom of religion
  • May work against community cohesion by making Catholic children think followers of other religions are wrong.
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Religious Experience leading to belief in God

  • The numinous is a feeling of the presence of God. When people are in a religious building, in a beautiful place or looking up at the stars on a clear night, they may be filled with the awareness that there is something greater than them, which they feel to be God. 
  • Conversion is used to describe an experience of God, which is so great that people experiencing it want to change their lives or religion and commit themselves to God in a special way. Conversion experiences make people believe in God as they feel that God is calling them to do something for him.
  • A miracle is an event that breaks a law of science and can only be explained by God. If you experience something that seems to break the laws of science, you will look for an explanation and if the only explanation you can think of is a miracle, you will start believing in God.
  • Religious believers think they can make contact with God through prayer. If the person praying feels that God is listening to the prayer, then they are likely to belive that God exists. An answered prayer would also lead to belief in God.
  • Disproving God's existence - A numinous experience is caused by your surroundings, such as a church or the stars, so it may have nothing to do with God.
  • All miracles can be explained, e.g. Jesus may not have been dead when he was taken down from the cross and so he just recovered rather than rising from the dead.
  • There are more unanswered prayers than answered ones.
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Design Argument leading to belief in God

  • Anything that has been designed needs a designer.
  • There is plenty of evidence that the world has been designed (laws of science such as gravity and magnetism, DNA being a blueprint for life, etc.)
  • If the world has been designed, the world must have a designer.
  • The only possible designer of something as wonderful as the universe must be God.
  • The appearance of design in the world proves that God exists.
  • Design argument not proving God exists - No designer would have created earthquakes, etc.
  • Science can explain the appearance of design without needing God.
  • The argument does not explain how things like dinosaurs could have been part of a design plan for the world.
  • Even if the argument worked, it would only prove that the universe has a designer, not that this designer is God.
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Causation Argument

  • Cause and effect seem to be a basic feature of the world. Whatever we do has an effect. Modern science has developed through looking at causes and effects, and scientific investigations seem to show that any effect has a cause and any cause has an effect.
  • This means that the universe, the world and humans must have had a cause.
  • God is the only logical cause of the universe.
  • Therefore, God must exist.
  • Proves God's existence-Makes sense of usand the universe as it explains how/why we are here
  • The argument fits in with our common sense. We cannot believe that something can come from nothing and the argument shows that everything came from God.
  • The argument fits in with science which tells us that every effect has a cause so the universe must have a cause.
  • We believe that things must have started off, the first cause must be God.
  • Against God's existence - If everything needs a cause then God must need a cause.
  • It is possible that matter itself is eternal and so was never created. That would mean that the process of causes could go back for ever.
  • Just because everything in the Universe needs an explanation doesn't mean the universe does.
  • Even if there was a First Cause it would not have to be the God of any particular religion.
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Scientific Explanations

  • Matter is eternal.
  • About 15 billion years ago, the matter of the universe exploded (the Big Bang Theory). The red shift in light from other galaxies is evidence that the universe is still expanding.
  • As the matter of the universe flew away from the explosion, it formed stars and then our solar system.
  • The gases on the Earth's surface produced primitive life.
  • How it may lead to agnosticism or atheism - If science can explain the universe and humans without God, it can lead some people to be agnostic as they no longer need God to explain why we are here.
  • Other people may become atheists because they believe that if God existed, he must have made the world and be the only explanation for it. So the way that science can explain the world and humand without God is proof to such people that God does not exist.
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Catholic Response to Scientific Explanations

  • Many Catholics accept that the scientific explanations are true, but they believe that the scientific explanations prove that God created the Universe because they believe:
  • Only God could have made the Big Bang at exactly the right microsecond to form the universe.
  • Only God could have made laws such as gravity which the matter of the Big Bang needed to form solar systems.
  • Only God could have made the gases on Earth react in such a way to form life.
  • Some Catholics believe that both the scientific explanations and the Bible are correct. They claim that the main points of the Bible's story of creation fit with science, but one of God's days could be millions or billions of years.
  • God does not exist - If God existed he would be the only explanation of the world. Therefore the fact that science can explain the world and humans without God is proof that God does not exist.
  • The Big Bang was an accident and there is no evidence that it was caused by God.
  • An omnipotent and omniscient God would not have created the world in such a wasteful way with species developing and dying out over billions of years just so humans could arrive.
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Unanswered Prayers

  • If people say their prayers in church and at home, but never feel the presence of God when they pray, they may feel there is no God listening to them. The feeling that no one is listening to their prayers leads them to agnosticism or even atheism.
  • Unanswered prayers are even more likely to lead people to believe God does not exist. Religious people believe that God answers people's prayers, and they often hea about people's prayers being answered. If their prayers to God are not answered, they may feel that God does not like them, or that God does not exist.
  • If someone has been a good Catholic (going to Mass on Sundays etc), but when they pray for God to cure their sick child, their child dies, that person may lose their faith in God.
  • If someone's prayers are not answered, particularly if they are praying for something like the end of human suffering in the war, etc, then they might stop believing in God. This is because they may think God could not exist if he lets such things continue to happen. In this way, unanswered prayers can lead a person to become an agnostic or an atheist.
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Catholic Response to Unanswered Prayers

  • If you pray for selfish things, like God allowing you to pass an exam without any work, God will let you fail so that you work hard next time.
  • Your prayer may not be answered in the way you expect because God has different plans, for example, he may want an ill person to enter heaven.
  • Just like a human parent, God may answer our prays by giving us what we need rather than what we have asked for.
  • Catholics believe that God loves people and so they believe God's love will answer their prayers in the best possible way, even though it may not look like a direct answer.
  • God does not exist - Christians believe that God is their loving heavenly Father who will answer their prayers, so if he does not answer them, he cannot exist.
  • Christians are told about answered prayers. For example, people being cured of terminal cancer by prayer, but far more people have their prayers unanswered. A good God would not answer a few prayers for a cure and not answer lots of prayers for a cure. Therefore, it is unlikely that God exists.
  • If there was a God, he would answer the prayers of good religious people and there would be no starvation/wars, etc. The prayers of such people are clearly not answered, so God cannot exist.
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Evil and Suffering

  • Evil and suffering takes two forms: moral evil is caused by humans using their free will (e.g. murder) and natural evil is suffering that has not been caused by humans (e.g. earthquakes).
  • How it causes people to question/ reject belief in God - If God is omnipotent, he must be able to remove evil and suffering from the world.
  • If God is omni-benevolent, he must want to remove evil and suffering from the world.
  • It follows that, if God exists, there should be no evil or suffering in the world.
  • As there is evil and suffering in the world, either God is not all-powerful and good or he does not exist.
  • Also, if God is omniscient, he must have known the evil and suffering that would come from creating the universe. So he should have created the universe in a way that avoided evil and suffering.
  • Most religious believers believe that God is omnipotent, omni-benevolent and omniscient. So the existence of evil and suffering challenges their belief in God.
  • For many religious believers, evil and suffering become a problem if they experience it (in an earthquake or their child dies from a disease), when it can change them into an atheist or an agnostic.
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Catholic Response to Evil and Suffering

  • Many Catholics believe from the Bible that God must have a reason for allowing evil and suffering, but humans cannot understand it, so the correct response of Catholics is to follow the example of Jesus and fight against evil and suffering as Jesus did by praying for those who suffer and by helping those who suffer. Many Catholics become doctors, nurses, etc. to help to reduce the amount of suffering in the world.
  • Many Catholics claim that, by giving humans free will, God created a world in which evil and suffering will come about through humans misusing their free will. So evil and suffering is a problem caused by humans, not God.
  • Many Catholics believe that the evil and suffering involved in this life are not a problem because this life is just a preparation for paradise. If people are to improve their souls, they need to face evil and suffering if he is going to give people the chance to become good people. But, in the end, he will show his omni-benevolence and omnipotence by rewarding the good in heaven.
  • Some Catholics claim that God has a reason for not using his power to remove evil and suffering, but humans cannot understand it. God is divine and there is no way humans can understand his thoughts.
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How Media Affects Belief in God

  • Stigmata documentary (belief in God) - Seen as a miracle because the priest (Padre Pio) has healing powers due to his stigmata.
  • George didn't want stigamata because it must be an act of God.
  • Also it's a miracle because he couldn't keep anything down except the host.
  • Stigmata documentary (no belief in God) - Some people faked it so they could all be fakes.
  • God wouldn't cause the pain that is supposedly caused as he is omnibenevolent.
  • Songs of praise (belief in God) - Explanation of the Church and why you should believe.
  • Shows a different side to religion.
  • Personal accounts
  • All faiths united
  • Children make it relatable
  • Songs of praise (no belief in God) - All seem to be old or too young to understand God so they may have been indoctrinated.
  • People use religion as an excuse to do terrible things.
  • It goes against the Sermon on the Mount.
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