AQA Religious studies (Short Course) Revision GCSE

AQA Religious studies (Short Course) Revision GCSE Topics 1,3,5 and 6

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Arguments For God Existing and Their Problems

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Cosmological Argument/ First Cause

- God must exist otherwise where did the world come from? The world and all lifes nature simply existing is proof beyond human exists

- The world cannot be made from nothing, it couldn't of just appeared. God is the only thing un-made (eternal) so he must of created the world

- All things exist because they have a cause

- The bible contains written evidence how God created the world, therefore he must exist e.g. the genesis creation story:

Day 1 - Light, Day 2 - Sea and rain, Day 3 - land, Day 4- The sun and stars, Day 5 - Animals and Day 6 - Humans

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Cosmological/ First cause argument problems

- According to scientists, the world was created by a chemical explosion, not by God and the world that exists today is a result of development over millions of years.

- The holy books are not factually correct.  the stories details tells us that God made light on the first day but we know that natural light comes from the Sun, however, he does not create the sun until the 4th day. It therefore cannot be trusted as a proof that god exists.

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The Design/ Teleological Argument

- The theory that God must exist as it is so complex and in detail that something like the big bang could not of caused it. It must of been created by God to make it so precise.

E.g. The sun - the sun is the exact correct distance from the earth for life to occur.

The breathing cycle - Humans need oxygen to live and plants require carbon dioxide to live. It must of been planned by an intelligent designer (God) for us human and plants to get what we need from eachother to survive and live.

The human eye - We accept that camera's have a designer , so we should accept that the human eye has a designer as it does the exact same function apart from the imaging process and design is far superior.

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The Design/ Teleological Argument Problems

- The world has not been intricately and delicately designed as the earth still has many major flaws (e.g. natural disasters or diseases) , so therefore, the world did not have an intelligent designer. 

- It has not been delicately desgined, it has just been created so life forms can exist, hence why animals have adapted over many years.

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The Argument of peoples experiences of God

- A major argument proving God is the religious experiences people have with them. The bible, Qu'ran and Toran all have history documents stating people had religious experiences. Millions of people pray to God and believe they are communicating with him.

- The experiences should be trusted as sufficient evidence as just because it didnt happen to ourselves , it does not mean it is not true. Some people posess the skills to communicate with God, others don't, just like some people have the skills to become a professional footballer and others don't.

Two ways God can be experienced:

1) General Revelation - God is revealed in the natural world. We see the earths nature that gives us the feeling of 'numinous'. It is a feeling of being overwhelmed by earths beauty, thoughtful creativity of life.

2) Special Revelation - God directly communicates with a person in prayer or meditation. People have experienced life changing experiences called 'conversions'. They have changed from criminals to believers. They have been changed from the selfish. hateful people to loving friendly people. This proves that God has interviewed in their life to bring about change. A 'spiritual experience'

E.g. A man called Nicky Cruz was a gangster in New York in the 1950's/60's and had a religious experienced which stopped him from his criminal ways into a christian preacher. Only a powerful creator could make such a dramatic change.

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Arguments Against God Existing and Their Problems

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The argument of suffering and evil

- God by definition is meant to be omnipotent and benevolent. Some people believe that God cannot exist when he created the world as so many disasters and gross evil acts occur

- If a powerful, loving and caring God existed, he would put a stop to all this pain and suffering. Therefore, he does not exist.

Argument Problems:

- God gave humans 'free will' to make our own decisions. It is not God but our faults that suffering occurs through our bad decisions e.g. poverty in Africa occurs because of greed even though we have enough resources round the world to prevent this

-God does not cause natural disasters. They are driven by nature. Some may even say natural disasters occur because of an increasing human population

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The Argument of peoples experiences of God Problem

- A persons experience is only personal evidence that God exists. To all others, it is possible suggestive evidence that God exists. It is not a physical piece of evidence

- The person could be lying as it is what they believe in. The person may be deluded or could have been an illusion of God that is not real

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Big bang theory and Evolution

- The existence of the world is not proof that a creative and designing power exists. According to scientists, the big bang theory and evolution created the world . Therefore, God does not have to exist just because the world does.

- The big bang theory was believe to of occure 15 million years ago. This explosion is thought by scientists that it created the world. Then over the millions of years, the world has evolved into what it is today.

Argument Problems:

- How can an explosion create something so delicate and intricate. Explosions do not create, they destroy.

- The big bang theory does not disprove God as it needed matter in the first place. God could of added the matter to make the big bang occur , creating the world.

- The theory of evolution is flawed as we did not develop from apes and primates as they still exist today

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Superhuman Imagination

- God is simply an idol created by human imagination. We all wished to be constantly happy, know everything and never die, just how we describe God. Therefore, God only exists in our imagination.

Argument Problems:

- How can so many people be wrong? There are many theists in the world , they surely can't be all wrong.

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The Problems of Evil and Suffering

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The problems of believing in God and the existence

- Why does God let people suffer if he is meant to be benevolent?

- Religious people believe he is all-powerful (omnipotent), so if he has the power to stop evil, why does he not do it? Does this mean that the Devil is winning over him?

- Religious people also believe he is omniscient. If he knows suffering is occuring, why does he not stop it?

- If God created the world, he created all it's faults to. Greed, selfishness must of all been made by God which cause pain. Also, nature was created by God but he still allows natural disasters to occur. So God must be the creator of all this pain and suffering?

- Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? young children who have done nothing wrong suffer from diseases. We cannot see Gods purpose behind suffering and his acts are unjust and unfair

- If God created humans, why did he give us 'free will'? Why did he not just make us all perfect and good?

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Why does God let suffering happen?

1) Punishment - For all the wrong things that we do, jolts our conscience so we change.

2) Test of faith - test our faith and trust in God

3) Appreciation - There has to be badness for us to appreciate goodness

4) Free will - It is cause by humans immoral decisions

5) Acceptance - God is superior then us, we will never understand his decisions but we should just accept them and believe they are for the better

6) Education - important lessons for our souls, we learn important things about life from it

7) To keep us alive - Pain tells us something is wrong, so we can do something about it

8) Satan - It is Satan who causes the pain, not God

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What are the positives of suffering?

- God is love. Suffering allows others to show care and support for others, bringing people closer together, healing pain and feeling love. This brings both the victim and the carer closer to God

- People can get closer to God through praying whilst suffering. This makes them feel as though God is present and is comforting them

- Suffering can be seen as a test of their faith from God. If they pass they will get rewarded and blessed in this life or their afterlife.

- Pain and suffering allows a person to grow spiritually. It allows us to appreciate others and the world more, feeling blessed from gifts of the world and that their suffering has passed. It created more caring and loving people.

- If a persons suffering leads to death. It means that the person is no longer suffering and is with God who is looking after them.

- Suffering from nature may simply be accepted as a consequence of nature. We may need natural disasters in order for the world to go round. They are challenges set by God, teaching us how to get round them.

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Where does evil come from?

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People see evil and suffering as having no organisation. Evil and suffering are jsut caused by nature and people. It is a random negative force at work in the world. We just have to accept is as part of our life and find ways to get round it.

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Human 'free will'

God gave all humans 'free will'. In the bible, Adam and Eve had the choice to take and apple from the 'tree of knowledge' or not, but Adam decided he would even though God told him not too. Due to this, we are able to know if things are moral or immoral, bad or good behaviour. This was the trust God gave to humanity. We cause Evil and suffering through our wrong choices, just like Adam and Eve did.

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Some people believe that Evil comes from Satan. Satan once was an angel called Lucifer, who got cast out of heaven. Ever since he has been challenging God, attempting to cause evil and suffering in the world and get rid of any of Gods goodness.

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The human mind

Many people believe it is a state of mind and it is within all of us humans. If us humans have a bad experience, it brings out hate in us and allows us to commit evil deeds so others can feel pain also. Therefore, evil is not an external force but a psychological thing found in all of us.

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What is the nature of Evil?

An impersonal force - Humans are naturally sinful. We do what we can to get what we want even if we know that we have to do something wrong in order to do so.

A personal being - This can be described as the devil. It is the thought of a supernatural being existing within a human. God's adversary, the enemy of humanity

A psychological phenomenon  - Evil exists within the human mind. It is the result of human behaviour and how we choose to act. Behaviour depends on our upbringing.

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How religious people respond to Evil


- Jesus taught to 'love your enemies and pray for those who persecute (harm to) you' (Matthew 5 v 44)

- The lords prayer says 'forgive those who sin against us and lead us not to temptation' . This means that we should forgive those who have sinned and not seek revenge on them

- A Christian should try and fight against Evil. E.g. Martin Luther King fought against racial discrimination


- Muslims try and keep peace with others. It is not their job to judge. It is Allah's. When a person dies, Allah will judge their actions whilst they were alive. He will deal with them.

-  A Muslim should stand up and fight against Evil e.g. Muhammad Ali was an American Muslim who refused to go to Vietnam as a soldier.

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Topic 5 - Miracles

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Three definitions of miracles

The impossible becomes possible - We can define a miracle a coincidence that happens at the exact correct time to bring a good outcome. A misfortune is prevented and something good is achieved.

An act that breaks the law of nature - A miracle can be something that has happened that is contrary to the laws of the natural world. 

An act of God - God directly or indirectly performs a powerful, unusual and unbelievable act that achieves good and which a human could not perform. e.g. God, through Moses, parted the red sea , so the Jews could escape from the Egyptian army who was going to slaughter them.

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Does God work in the world through miracles?

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Christians view - Yes

God works in the world directly through miracles. We saw Jesus performs miracles, curing diseases , showing Gods power and love. He was able to override power including disease. As God is in charge of nature, he has the power to be able to break the laws of it.

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Judaism - Yes

God has always worked in the world to protect them. One early example is the parting of the red sea's through Moses. One modern day example is although Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews, it was a miracle that some Jews in eastern Europe manage to escape. It may of been an act of God which prevented them getting captured.

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Islam - Yes

For Muslims, the greatest miracle is the Qur'an. Muhammad received Allah's words as instructions on how they should live in a good-manner and recorded it to pass on to people. This revelation is a Muslims miracle: a way that Allah contacted to humans.

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Atheism/Buddhism - No

Atheists and Buddhists do not believe in God, therefore God can not perform miracles. Miracles can occur , but they just are not caused by God.

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Can humans perform miracles?

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Humans can perform miracles but only when God is working through them. Humans can not perform miracles without Gods help. A human is Gods agent in power. It is not the human that is miraculous but it is Gods power.

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Buddhists do not believe in God. Therefore, miracles occur through the power of the mind and . Through meditation and leading a moral life, humans can produce miraculous powers. The Buddha is a miracle worker - he is believed to read peoples mind and hear over long distances

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Miracles do not occur. They are just evidence that we have not yet reached our fully understanding of the world. The unexplained evidence is something that we have not learnt yet. e.g in the past, an illness was thought to be caused by an Evil spirit but now we know what it is caused by - how do we know there is not even a more in depth explanation?

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Examples of Miracles

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Religious Holy Books

Judaism - Moses parting the red sea , so the Jews could escape from the Egyptian army who was going to slaughter them

Christianity - Jesus healed a paralysed man so he could walk again.

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During WW1, in August 1914, the British army were in retreat and under heavy attack from the Germans. During the battle of Mons in Belgium, many British soldiers claimed to have seen 3 angels appear in the sky who protected them so they survived.

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Person Experience

Through prayer, people have believed that God has cured their disease that they have asked of him. The cures have been gradual or sudden. Catholic Christians experienced this at Lourdes in France.

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What do miracles reveal about God?

God exists- The fact that the impossible has been made possible proves that their is a power beyond human knowledge to have caused it. This is God.

Gods Benevolence - Miraculous healings of people from diseases can be used as a sign of Gods love towards his creation

Gods immanence - Miracles show that God is everywhere an active in the world

Gods omnipotence - Miracles break the law of nature. This shows that God holds the power to interfere with the natural workings of the Earth. He changes those laws so miracles can occur

Gods omniscience - Miracles that happen as a coincidence to save someone from misfortune is a sign that God is all knowledgeable

Gods Transcendence - Miracles are events that not even science can explain. They are an occurance beyond our knowledge. This conveys how God is far beyond our understanding.

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The problems for believers created by miracles

1) There is no proof a miracle is caused by God - It may just be a state of mind, praying brings belief and gives the person confidence that they will recover. E.g Lance Armstrong who has won the Tour De France 6 times since his recovery of cancer. He believes that his recovery was due to positive thinking and living.

2) Miracles could give a miracle worker to much importance - Normally the person who has performed the miracle gets 'fame'. It hides Gods real message.

3) Miracles make God seem unfair - He seems to pick and ignore randomly, making him seem unfair and unjust.

4) God is transcendent - if a person believes God is transcendent, he is outside space and time and thus it is not possible for him to perform miracles within the world

5) Miracles take away the purpose of 'free will' - If God was to perform a miracle to stop someone doing something, then their is no point us having 'free will'.

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Evidence for miracles occuring

1) Too many miracles - There are too many accounts for at least some of them not to have happened and there is too many witnesses to some of them e.g. the drinking of milk by the statue of Ganesha in a Hindu temple, in India was seen on worldwide TV.

2) Miracles occur today - Miracles are not just events of the past, they still occur now. E.g. in the 1990's , a status of Virgin Mary was seen crying tears of blood in a church in Mexico

3) No scientific explanation - Many miracles have been investigated and no scientific evidence is able to back it up. E.g. When people get cured of a terminal illness after a doctor has given up hope

4) Research Programmes - Several research programmes have been carried out into the power of prayer. Evidence suggest that praying helps to cure diseases. This proves that God is intervening in out lives to make the impossible occur.

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Hume's argument against miracles

There is never enough evidence - Hume argues that if a miracle is going to be accepted, then there must be sufficient evidence that outweighs the law of nature. This cannot happen , so it is always going to be more likely that a miracle never occured.

The witnesses are unreliable - Evidence of the witness to miracles can not be trusted. They desperately want miracles to occur to prove the belief of their religion, so they may exaggerate or even lie about what they have seen.

The witnesses are uneducated - Hume said that alot of people who claim they have seen a miracle are uneducated people. They are willing to accept extraordinary events as miracles as they have no other explanation of them; they have no knowledge of science

Religions depend on miracle - Religions depend on miracles to prove their claims are true. However, they cannot all be right , so they cancel each other out.

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Topic 4 - Immortality

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Ideas about Immortality

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A legacy

Some people believe they leave behind a legacy when they die. This could be from a piece of art work or music to a building they have created. However, once the legacy is gone, they are no longer remembered

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Through the memory of others

Some people believe that person lives on in the memory of others. They will have photographs and possessions of the deceased to bring back recollections of the person. However, once the last person who remembers them dies, the memory also dies.

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Christianity - Most Christians believes the spirit lives on in either Heaven or Hell. Some people believe in the physical resurrection of the body as well as the soul.

Judaism - Most Jews also believe in spiritual resurrection. The better life they have led , the closer they will be to God once they die but they do not believe in Hell.

Islam - All Muslims believe in the resurrection of the body and soul , and that the persons soul will be judged by Allah when they die. He will either send them to paradise or hell, depending on how they have led their lives.

However, a belief in physical resurrection seems unlikely in today's scientific age. We know that he body that is buried in the ground decays and in cremation, the body is burnt and destroyed. Also, a belief in spiritual resurrection has no proof. Medical professions have not found the part of the body known as the soul.

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The belief that when a person dies, their soul moves on to another body. In each reincarnation the soul will lead a different life. The aim is that the soul will improve itself through each life until it reaches perfection and goes into a 'bliss'.

Hindu's - They believe the soul it eternal. Their goal is to release themselves from the cycle of life, death and rebirth and to be united with the supreme reality. People who live in the right way will receive good Karma, affecting how they will live their next life.

However, people believe in reincarnation , you are not immortal. You are a different person with a different life. You are not the same being or personality at all.

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 Buddhism - Buddhists prefer to use the term 'rebirth' as they believe we do not have souls. Buddhists believes that it is an evolving character moving from one body to another. The quality of their life is linked to their previous one and how good someone acted. The cycle of rebirth is ended when they reach 'enlightment'

However, immortality is not an aim of a Buddhist, their aim is to reach Nirvana. Also, being reborn, you are not the same person. You are living a new life. 

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Evidence of Immortality and its Problems

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Scriptural accounts

Buddhism - There beliefs are based on the Buddha's teaching from 'Tripitaka'. To gain enlightment, a person must follows the Buddha's teachings.

Christianity - In the bible, Jesus says '..I am the resurrection and the life...whoever believes in me will never die'

Islam - The Qur'an states that there will be a resurrection of the body and judgement from Allah after death

However, if you do not follow the religion, you are unlikely to accept these as proof or evidence. There is so many different interpretations which make us wonder which one is actually true? as only one can. Furthermore, holy books came from a time of no scientific knowledge, and with today's science, a resurrection seems unlikely.

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Experience of ghosts

People have claimed they have seen ghost. A ghost could be a manifestation of a dead person. Ghosts support the belief of resurrection in a spiritual form for life after death.

However, ghost sightings could be a hoak, someone hallucinating or simply a trick of light

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This is the communication between the living and the dead. Mediums claim to be able to connect with the dead and pass messages on to those who are living.

However, some mediums have been discovered as frauds , already having knowledge about the deceased person and convincing relatives they have communicated to them

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Near death experiences

People have been resuscitated after their heart has stopped. They have claimed to see a tunnel of light and a sense of happiness not to return to their body. 

However, these experience could simply be the brain hallucinating due to its lack of oxygen

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Dualists say that there are two distinctive parts to a person - the body and the soul. The body decays after death whilst the soul lives on. We know we have a soul as it is that part of us that feels truth and goodness. Are soul is separate to our minds.

However, many religious people disagree with dualism as they believe in the physical resurrection of the body. Furthermore, medical knowledge tells us that the mind and body are inseparable, they need each other in order to function. Therefore, the mind cannot survive on its own. This is called materialsim. Also, we are simply products of evolution created by physical chemicals. There is no purpose or structure of life. The only way a person lives on is by passing on their genes to their next generation. Finally, atheists believe that there is no God and no power that lives forever. We are mortal - we live until we die and then we ceased to exist.

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You didn't mention that one of the issues regarding the First Cause argument is the question of who created god, also known as Infinite Regression, but apart from that these are some very useful notes.


thank you so much! i might actually pass my gcse now! :D




dude these are awesome thanks :D

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