Main features of a Catholic upbringing
Catholic parents are likely to:
- Have their babies baptised, meaning they will promise to bring up their children believing in God and help them to be good Catholics
- Teach their children to believe in God
- Teach their children to pray to God
- Take their children to Mass
- Send their children to a Catholic school
How a Catholic upbringing may lead to belief in Go
It is natural for children with a Catholic upbringing to believe in God because:
- Their parents would have told them about God and they will believe their parents
- Catholics would not waste their time praying to nothing, so they will see that others (their parents) believe that God exists
- Seeing others worshipping God at Mass would make them believe God exists
- They will be taught at school that God exists by their teachers so they will believe in God
How religious experience may lead to belief in God
The numinous is a feeling or awareness of something greater than yourself which could be felt to be God. This feeling would lead them to believing in God.
Conversion is used to describe an experience of God, which is so great the 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 because they feel 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. You will want an explaination when you see something break a law of science, and when the only explaination is a miracle you will start to believe in God.
Prayer is the way to contact God. Some people believe in God as they can feel Him listening to them when they pray. Answered prayers lead to belief in God.
Religious experiences make people feel that God is real, and so they believe he must exist.
The argument from design
- Anything that has been designed needs a designer.
- There is plenty of evidence that the world has been designed: laws of science (gravity, magnetism), DNA etc.
- If the world has been designed it needs a designer.
- The only possible designer of something as wonderful as the universe would be God.
- The appearance of design in the world proves that God exists.
- No designer would create volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.
- Science can explain the appearance of design without needing God.
- The argument does not explain why extinct creatures such as dinosaurs could have been part of a design plan for the world.
- Even if the argument worked, it only proves that the universe has a designer, not that its designer is God.
The argument from causation
What it is:
- Cause and effect seem to be a basic feature of the world. Modern science has developed through looking at causes and effects, and investigations seem to show that any effect has a cause, and any cause has an effect.
- This means that the universe, world and humans must have had a cause.
- God is the only logical cause.
- Therefore God must exist.
- Explains how and why we are here and means that the universe makes sense.
- It fits in with common sense, something cannot come from nothing, this shows that everything came from God.
- It fits in with science which says that every cause has an effect, there for the universe would have a cause - God.
- Things must have a beginning or a First Cause - the argument explains this is God.
The argument from causation
- God would also need a cause.
- It is possible that matter is eternal and so was never created. This means that the process of causes could go back forever.
- Just because everything in the universe needs an explaination it does not mean the universe needs an explaination. The universe could be eternal.
- The first cause does not need to be a God of a particular religion, it could be good, evil, both good and evil or multiple gods.
Scientific explanations of the world. Agnosticism
Science explains that:
- Matter is eternal.
- About 15 billion years ago the matter of the universe exploded - the Big Bang theory.
- Red shift shows the universe is still expanding.
- As the matter of the universe flew away from the explosion, it formed stars and then solar systems.
- The gases on the Earth's surface produced primitive life.
- Evolution occurred which led to new life forms including humans.
Agnosticism and atheism:
- If science can explain the universe and humans without God, people will no longer need God to explain why we are here, which will lead to agnosticism.
- Some people will become atheists if they believe that if God existed, then God would be the only explaination of the world. Other explainations would be proof that God does not exist.
Catholic responses to scientific explainations
- the Big Bang had to have happened at exactly the right microsecond - only God could have done that.
- Only God could have made the laws of science such as gravity needed to form solar systems from the Big Bang.
- Only God could have made the gases react in a way which would create life.
- The points of the Bible creation story fit in with science, one day does not have to mean one human day, but a period of time.
Unanswered prayers leading to agnosticism or athei
- Some people never feel the presence of God in prayer so will feel like there is no God listening to them.
- Religious people believe God will answer their prayers. If someones prayers are not answered they will feel that God doesn't like them or that he does not exist.
- They may lose their faith if a prayer is not answered, especially when a loved one dies after praying to God for their recovery.
- When people pray for an end to suffering and evil and it continues they might stop believing in God. This is because they would expect a God to not let these things continue to happen.
- Therefore, unanswered prayers can lead a person to become an agnostic or an atheist.
Catholic response to unanswered prayers
God answers all prayers so what seem to be unanswered prayer can be explained by:
- God saying no to a selfish prayer.
- God has a different plan to what you have asked, he may want an ill person to join him in heaven instead of remaining on earth.
- God may give us what we need rather than what we want or ask for.
- God will answer their pray in the best possible way, this may not be a direct answer but an opportunity to find a way of providing themselves with what they have asked for.
- God will answer prayers in the best possible way, even if it is different from what they expected.
Evil and suffering leading to agnosticism or athei
Two forms of evil:
- Moral evil caused by humans as they have free will.
- Natural evil which is not caused by humans.
How evil leads people to question God:
- If God is omnipotent he must be able to stop the suffering and evil.
- If God is omni-benevolent he must want the evil and suffering to stop.
- If God is omniscient he would know that evil and suffering is happening and would have know it would happen.
- If God exists there should then be no evil or suffering in the world.
- As there is evil and suffering in the world either God doesn't exist or he is not all-good or all-powerful.
Catholic response to the problem of evil and suffe
God must have a reason for there to be evil and suffering but we cannot understand it. Therefore we must follow Jesus' example and to help those who are suffering and fight against evil.
By giving humans free will, God created a world in which evil and suffering will come about by humans misusing their free will. It is a problem caused by humans.
Evil and suffering in the world is not a problem as this life is to prepare us for the paradise which comes after death. There needs to be evil and suffering for us to chose to be good people. He will reward the good by granting them into heaven.
We can't understand God's reason for not removing evil.