Believing in God

  • Created by: fbs1234
  • Created on: 04-04-16 21:02

Belief in God

Why people believe in god:

  • Religious upbringing
  • Religious experience
  • The design argument
  • Argument from causation

Why people dont believe in God:

  • Scientific explanations of the origins pf the world
  • Unanswered prayers
  • Evil and suffering
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Religious Upbringing

Main features of a christian upbringing:

  • Baptism
  • Parents teaching children to pray
  • Going to church
  • Parents sending children to Sunday school where they learn about Chrisitan faith
  • Parents send children to Christian school
  • Communion and Confirmation 

How religious upbringing may lead to belief in God:

  • Young children listen and believe their parents
  • God exists because he listens to prayers, and parents wouldnt pray to him if he didnt exist
  • Lots of people at church so God must exist
  • Sunday school would teach children why people believe in God and what they believe about him
  • Going to a church school - RE lessons and teachers tell them it's true
  • Being confirmed gives further knowledge about God and some people have a               religious experience when the bishop lays his hands on them
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Religious experience

NUMINOUS - feeling of the presence of God, when someone feels a presence greater than themselves some believe it to be God and this makes them believe he exists.

  • Example- Father Yves Dubois, numinous experiences whilst praying before a statue of the virgin Mary

CONVERSION - an experience of God leaving you wanting to change your life and commit yourself to God.

  • Example- Raymond Nader, during the civil war in lebanon Nader was a commander in the Christian militia, was praying at the shrine of St Charbel when he felt surrounded by light, he reached out to touch it and his arm was burned waht he and the church authorities believed to be the presence of St Charbel. He then gave up work in the militia to join a christian television station which is dedicated to spiritual peace and the defence of human rights and dignity.

MIRACLES - event that seems to break the laws of science, only explanation seems to be God

  • 1995, milk offered to statue of Ganesh seems to disapear into mid air

PRAYER - trying to make contact to God through prayer, if it seems God is listen to prayers the person is likely to believe in god

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Design Argument

Any complex mechanism is designed for a purpose, design incolves things working together to a plan for the intended purpose. 

Design in the world:

  • World works according to scientific laws
  • DNA forms all material of living organisms, seems to indicate design for structure of organisms
  • Beauty of nature - an artist would spend a long time designing it

Leading to support in God:

  • Evidence of design in the world
  • Anything designed needs a designer, something so perfect would need someone powerful (God)

May not lead to belief because:

  • Can all be explained by science, with no reference to God (evolution)
  • The universe could have a designer thats not neccessarily God
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Causation argument

Chain reaction - one thing causes another, there has to be a prime mover ( example being a line of railway wagons)

Evidence causing belief:

Anything we do has a cause and an affect, the world and humans must have come from somewhere and therefore God is the only logical cause of this, making people believe in his existence.

Disagreements with argument:

  • If everything has a cause then what caused God
  • Better explanations - matter of the universe s eternal and therefore goes on forever
  • The first cause doesnt have to be God it could be any sort of creator
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Scientific explanations of the world


  • Big bang 
    • Red Shift
  • Combination of gases forming primitive life i.e amoeba, genetic strucutre of these life forms caused them to produce changes (mutations)
  • Evolution
    • Fossils and links in DNA 

Leading to agnotiicism or athiesm

  • No reference to God needed to explain the world
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Christian response to scientific explanation

1) Scientific explanation true but it proves God exists:

  • Big bang had to be timed right
  • Had to be scientific laws i.e gravity  for solar systems to form, these laws had to be made by God
  • For life to be possible, carbon has to be able to bond with  four other atoms and water molecules, couldnt happen by chance so God must have ensured this happened

2) Science is wrong and the bible is right

  • All evidence of the big bang can be explained by the effects of Noah's flood
  • Age theory- things were created to look old, i.e trees with rings
  • God made the universe in the way described in the bible, this response is often called creationism

3) Both are correct

  • The main points of the bible fit with the science- "let there be light" is a reference to big bang
  • Each day of creation=millions of years and the order of animals is the same in the bible and theory of evolutions
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Unanswered prayers

How this can lead to agnosticism or athiesm

  • Not feeling God's presence when praying- if they cant feel him they may question if he's there
  • Prayers not being answered- praying for good things but bad things still happen could suggest he's not there

Religious response

  • Some prayers may be selfish or not be what's best for you, i.e asking God to help u pass a test but he wants you to work for it 
  • God may have different plans, i.e he may want a dying family member in heaven
  • God may not answer prayer in a way we expect, he gives us what we need rather than what we want / expect. 
  • God is omnipotent and benevolent and therefore will answer prayers in the right way it just might not be what we expected.
  • Jesus said that his followers must have faith to have their prayers answered
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Evil and suffering

Moral evil (sins) - caused by humans misusing their free will i.e war, burgalary or famine,           caused by people growing the wrong crops in order to make more money

Natural evil - suffering not caused by humans i.e natural disaster

How evil and suffering can can questioning belief of God

  • If he was omnibenevolent he wouldnt have created the world with flood, volcanoes etc.
  • Why would he allow humans to cause so much suffering
  • If god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent he would want to and be able to remove all evil and suffering from the world, therefore if he existed there would be no evil or sufffering in the world - therefore he either doesnt exist or he's not omnipotent and omni benevolent
  • If he was omniscient he would have created the universe in a different way to avoid suffering

The existence of evil and suffering challenges the beliefs of many religions and when religious people come into contact with it, it can often cause athiesm or agnosticism

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Christian response to evil and suffering

Response 1) 

  • Christians believe God wants them to help those that suffer, like jesus did, it's their duty to remove evil and suffering
  • God must have a reason for allowing evil and suffering
  • Christians believe that praying is a powerful way to deal with evil and suffering
  • Chirstians may also start charities ( CAFOD) or become doctors etc. to reduce suffering

Response 2)

  • Evil and suffering isnt God's fault, it's because he gave humans free will

Response 3)

  • Evil and suffering allows us to become good people, so we must face it to enter heaven, he will show his omni-benevolence and omnipotence in the end by rewarding us in heaven

Response 4)

  • He has a reason for evil and suffering, but he is divine, therefore we can't understand it
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