Believing in God - a breakdown of the topic

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Features of a Roman Catholic Upbringing

Parents - Influences such as prayer and Bible stories from a young age (values and morals etc)

School - Education, respect and understanding of the religion as well as pastoral support

Sacraments - Baptism, holy communion and confirmation (sense of a faith journey)

Church - Being used the environment, little church and taking part

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Belief and Non-Belief in God

  • Why do Christians believe in God?

- Omnipotent

-Omniscient

-Omnibenevolent

-answers prayers and performs miracles

  • Why do Atheists not believe in God?

-Science, not religion explains how the world was created

-There is no physical proof of his existance

-Many theists' versions of events (e.g miracles) can be explained by science or coinsidences

-Evil and suffering in the world go against the idea that God is not omnipotent, omniscient or omnibenevolent

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Religious Experience

Numinous- the presence of something greater than you. An experience which completely amazes you and words are not enough to describe the experience (e.g a sunset/ the northern lights)

Prayer- an attempt to contact God usually through words- some people believe that God answers their prayers.

Miracle- breaks the laws of nature. Only God could've done it e.g the feeding of the 5000 or the healing of the crippled man.

Conversion- an experience that causes you to change your life and beliefs by giving it to God. An atheist may suddenly become a believer and follower of a religion. E.g St Paul on the road to Damascous or John Pridmore, the gangster turned Christian.

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Design Argument

Overview:

  • Design is a result of intelligent thought
  • The universe shows evidence of design (e.g gravity/ozone layer)
  • This suggests that that a being with intelligence designed the universe
  • It is too complex to have happened by chance or be designed by any other being than God
  • Therefore God exists

William Paley

if you were to find a watch in a field you would notice that the details of it conclude that the watch could not have happened by chance. It must have a designer. He applied this argument to the universe, therefore God must be the designer

Evidence of Design-

Human eye / DNA / Ecosystem / Sex life of a bumblebee

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Design Argument- Yes/No?

There is evidence of Design...

  • There is evidence to show that the world is designed (e.g DNA, Gravity etc)
  • All of this shows a purpose and regularity so there must have been intelligent thought behind it and this must be God.
  • William Paley and the watch analogy- the complexity and application of the Universe
  • The world is complex and simply cannot have just happened by chance- there must be a designer and this must be God

There is not evidence of Design...

  • The Universe is expanding all the time- it doesn't have a fixed design, it's chaotic
  • We cannot 'prove' God's existence- the argument only SUGGESTS he is a designer
  • Things in nature don't require a designer (e.g a spider's web shows years of evolution- it only appears to be designed)
  • Many advancements in the field of Science- Big Bang theory and many other discoveries involving the Universe.
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Causation Argument

Overview-

  • Everything in this life has a cause and effect.
  • It's the same with the universe- it must have a cause.
  • Scientists would argue that the Big Bang caused the universe
  • The Big Bang must have a cause and that cause must be God - 'unmovable mover'

Cosmological Argument

  • 13th Century- Thomas Aquinas argued that everything that happened is caused by something else. He argued that there must have been a first cause of the universe. He believed that this had to be God and called him the 'unmovable mover' - he started the universe.
  • Against Causation
  • The argument cannot be proven
  • Even if the world and everything in it seems to have a cause, it doesn't mean the universe has a cause
  • It only suggests that God is the cause
  • There are other possible causes - The Big Bang Theory
  • If everything has a cause then what caused God?
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Scientific Origins of the World

Evidence for the Big Bang

  • The universe is still expanding today
  • Remnant of heat from the Big Bang can still be detected (cosmic microwave background radiation)

Natural Selection- the way in which species naturally select the best characteristics for survival

Is there a God?

Science leads people to doubt God's existence

  • Alternate explanations of how the universe came to existence- no reference to God
  • Science offers evidence that can be seen and tested.
  • God cannot be proven...
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Christian Responses to Scientific Theories

Some Christians believe that scientific theories are compatible with God

  • Bible's description of the creation of the world is more of a story (six days of creation were 'stages')
  • Science = how / Bible = why

Other Christians believe that scientific explanations are wrong because they go against the Bible

  • These Christians are called Creationists
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Prayer

The issue with unanswered prayers

1) Prayers are communication with God. If not answered, they may think that God isn't listening

2) Pain Suffering and pray to God (9/11) Omnipotent?

3)Praying for an ill relative and they die. Omnibenevolent?

4)Natural disasters, terrorist attakcs (should've known that person was there.) Omniscient?

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Christian Responses to Unanswered Prayer

1. Some prayers are selfish

(E.g an already rich person praying to win the lottery.)

2.Motivated by hate

(E.g hurting a person you dislike.)

3. Test of our faith so we must go on trying

4.God may have made it that way so what it's for the best- long term.

  • Selfish
  • Hate
  • It's for the best
  • Test of our faith
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Christian Responses to Evil and Suffering

Bible

  • God created a perfect world
  • Adam and Eve used FREE WILL to disobey God. It allowed evil and suffering to infiltrate our world
  • God sent Jesus to overcome the evil in the world and die on the cross for our sins

Explanations

  • Could be due to the fact that God gave us FREE WILL
  • TEST FROM GOD- see how we react in times of difficulty
  • GOD'S PLAN- we should trust in God and accept he knows why it happened
  • JESUS' EXAMPLE- people should strive to do good

Responses

  • PRAYER- God will provide them strength in times of difficulty
  • HELPING OTHERS- becoming a doctor or nurse to help others/ solve the problems
  • VOLUNTEERING- support those who are suffering
  • STRENGTHENING THEIR FAITH- knowing that God has a plan for them
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Media Influence on Belief in God

TV-

  • Songs of Praise -shows worship in a Church
  • Vicar of Dibley-sitcom that deals wth religious issies
  • Documentary-Where is God? Questionning the existance of God

Film-

  • Bruce Almighty- taking of the role of job (understanding)

Positive                                                                                                                 

  • shows how we benefit religion

Negative

  • laugh/ridicule
  • question God's existence
  • Believers are carzy (stereotyping/something wrong with being religious)
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