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Reasons for Beliefs

Reasons to believe in God

Religious Upbringing, Answered Prayer, Numinous experience 

Reasons to not believe in God

Believe in Evolution and Big Bang Theory

Unanswered prayer

Unexplained Evil

Religious Upbringings

  • Going to religious school, reading holy books, participating in celebrations e.g. Christmas and Easter, learning how to pray and being initiated into the religion e.g. Baptism
  • All of the above make it natural for a person to believe in God as it reinforces what they are told is true by their parents
  • Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion - Roman Catholic children
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Religious Experiences

Religious Experiences

  • Answered Prayer
  • Miracle 
  • Numinous Experience

Why may this lead to a belief in God? 

You may believe that the event cannot be explained by anything but God. Conversion experiences may lead to someone wanting to give their life to God - charismatic phenomena. Also, they may feel in contact with God (mystical experience)? A numinous experience also may make you believe in God, as of awe and wonder. 

Other possible explanations

  • Illusion
  • Psychologically induced
  • Can actually be explained by science
  • Science is constantly developing so it may be explained in the future
  • There are over 7 billion people in the world - there are bound to be unusual experiences for some
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Arguments (Philosophical)

Cause and Effect (Thomas Aquinas) 

  • Everything has a cause 
  • Each effect has a prior cause, which can be explained
  • It would be absurd to think that there was not something that started it off - since everything has a starting point
  • The chain of cause leads us back to God
  • As God is omnipotent, the First Cause must be God

Design (William Paley) 

  • A watch is very complex. It is not created by chance - there must be a watchmaker who designed it 
  • This logic applies to the world - our world shows evidence of design - the human body, temperatures etc (Goldilocks Effect)
  • Therefore, it must have been designed by this 
  • The designer must be God as he is omnipotent
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Scientific Explanations

The Big Bang Theory

The universe began in an explosion of energy and matter. This matter was compact and in a single point and the pressure build up to form and explosion. At this point, time and universe began. As the matter cooled, it formed stars, planets etc. Evidence: Red Shift, Cosmic Background Radiation

Evolution

Charles Darwin believed that all life originated from simple cells. As these cells developed, they became more complex. Life on earth evolved through a process of natural selection (i.e. the survival of the fittest) 

How does this show God doesn't exist?

Neither ideas involve God and it shows God is not necessary to understand the beginning of the Universe. Also, Evolution completely undermines the idea that God created everything. The Big Bang Theory completely undermines the Genesis story. It also suggests the universe is millions of years old, whereas evolution suggests it is millions of years old

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Evil

Types of Evil

Natural evil -> not caused by humans e.g. earthquakes

Moral evil -> caused by humans 

Inconsistant Triad

God is believed to be: omnipotent, omnibenevolant and omniscient. These three cannot work together, proving either God does not exist or he is not all three things

Problems of Moral Evil and Natural Evil

Why does natural evil even occur - why did God create it for his people? God created everything to be perfect - how does this explain natural evil? Also natural evil does not discriminate against those who commit sin and those who do not? 

Humans are supposed to be made in the image of God? 

Christians may respond to this by using the idea of three will and the idea of ultimately going to heaven.


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Life After Death

Non Religious People

Reasons to think there is life after death - evidence of ghosts, near death experiences

Reasons to think there is not - No scientific evidence, death means the end of life so it is logically impossible, we only recognise eachother as of our body - how could we do this otherwise? 

Christians

Resurrection: Jesus' teaching of the Sheep and the Goats (sheep will go to Heaven). The belief that your body will rise from the dead to be judged on the Day of Judgement

Heaven and Hell: Heaven is a paradise where there will be no more death or morning. Some believe it is a physical place, whereas others say it is being cut off from God. Some believe there is no hell because Jesus said that there are many rooms in his father's house. Roman Catholics also believe in purgatory (as written in the Catholic teachings) 

Immortality of the Soul: The soul lives on after the death of the body. When you die you pass straight to a level of heaven which fits the type of person you are, meaning there is no hell (writings of St Paul) 


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Islamic views on Life after Death

  • Heaven and Hell
  • At death, two angels will question the soul asking 'Who is your Lord? What is your relgion?'. Those who know the answers remain in comfort until the Day of Judgement - Muhammed taught 
  • Resurrection - the body remains in the ground until the end of time when it is raised and judgement occurs
  • Qu'ran describes heaven as a physical place 
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Abortion

Legally, in the UK, abortions can take place right up to birth but only if the mother's life is in danger. It can take place up to 24 weeks in other circumstances and only if 2 doctors agree with it. They can only agree if the mother, foetus or existing children will be mentally or physically afected by it. The father has no rights.

Non Religious Views

For - Mother's rights come before the foetus', if the child is not going to have a good quality of life, there is no point in it being born - saving it from suffering. It is the woman's body and her choice. 

Against - believe that life begins as soon as the egg is fertilised as all of the DNA is now present, so it is essentially murder. Even if the child is disabled or has a poor quality of life - this is no reason to kill it!

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Religious Views on Abortion

Christianity

Generally against -'God gives life and only God can take it away', sanctity of life, 'Do not kill', 'I knew you before you were born'

Exceptional Circumstances - Only allowed in the case of a ectopic pregnancy (developing in the fallopian tube) as it a prime intention to save the mother's life. Protestants believe that it can sometimes be the lesser of two evils

Islam

Generally against - Sanctity of Life, Shirk - a sin to act like God as life belongs to Allah, on Judgement day the mother will have to explain to the unborn why it was aborted

Exceptional circumstances - Ensoulment - up to 4 months the mother has greater rights, Shari'ah also states that the mother's life is a priority since as the loss of the mother would be a lot more severe on the family

     

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Different types of Euthanasia

Voluntary - When a patient asks a doctor to end their life when they are unable to do it for themselves

Non-voluntary - When a doctor ends a patient's life in their best interests

Active EuthanasiaAn action which directly causes death

Passive Euthanasia - When treatment is withdrawn or death death occurs as a side effect

Euthanasia is illegal. It is also illegal to help someone commit suicide (assisted suicide)

Non relgious views

For - In the best interests of the patient and you should have control over your life. If the person is technically dead, it is acceptable

Against - There is always a chance that someone could recover, death is permanent and someone could change their mind

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Religious Views on Euthanasia

Christianity 

Against - Sanctity of Life, 'The Lord Gives and takes away', 'Do not Kill'

Exceptional Circumstances - Allow life support machines to be switched off since the person is technically dead (so God has already decided). The machine is only artificially keeping them alive. Jesus was also compassionate - surely we should show compassion to those who are sufering.

Muslim

Against - Only Allah gives life and ends it, it is a sin to act like him (Shirk), Sanctity of Life, Life is a test and to end life is to cheat the test. Also, in the Qur'an Muhammed forbade a soldier dying on the battlefield from taking his own life.

Exceptional Circumstances - Allah is compassionate - this could be applied to ending suffering. Muslim lawyers have argued that it could be allowed if it is switching off a life support for someone who is technically dead

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Matters of Life and Death in the Media

Should the media be free to criticise religious views on abortion and euthanasia? 

No

Sensitive subject

Media may be influenced/biased - e.g. director may be an athiest

Lead to discrimination against religious groups

Yes

Freedom of speech

Balanced opinion - seeing both sides of the argument to let people make their own mind up

Religion isn't necessarily right and we should challenge this

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How have attitudes to marriage and family life cha

  • Less people are getting married
  • Couples are choosing to cohabit 
  • 40% of marriages now end in divorce - women's rights and easier and cheaper to obtain
  • More reconstitute families with step siblings and half siblings
  • Women having babies later in life - choosing careers instead
  • Less time spent with the family

Attitudes to sex have also changed in society. It is more acceptable to have pre-maritial sex and promiscuity is more acceptable. Adultery is also less frowned upon than it was in the past (more common?)

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Divorce

Christianity

Roman Catholics do not accept divorce as being married is a sacrament (a gift from God) where the couple become 'one flesh'. An annulement (a declaration that the marriage was not a true marriage) is acceptable. You have to get one from the Church. 

Protestants allow it because they recognise that some marriages will fail and Jesus taught forgiveness. It also is the lesser of two evils and Jesus allowed it in the case of adultery

Free Churches argue that when love dies, so does the marriage

Muslim

Against - Family is the basis of society and divorce threatens this and are told divorce is most hated by Allah

It is possible to seek a divorce if it is the last resort. There are also regulations e.g. if someone is in prison. To do so, you must declare the intention to divorce 3 times in one month, you then must live together (iddah) for 3 months to ensure the wife is not pregnant and then you can remarry

Some Muslims allow divorce, as it is a contract and it can be ended

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Religious Views on Family Life

Christianity

  • Very important - it is the purpose of marriage
  • 'Honour your parents'
  • God is a good father and Mary as a mother provides a role model for parents
  • At baptism, the child is given godparents to support the parents
  • Church is seen as an extended family
  • Church provides support groups for the family

Islam

  • Extended families live together
  • Parents expected to bring children up as Muslims
  • Everyone is expected to have children
  • Duties of parents and children laid out in the Qu'ran
  • Family is the basis of an Islamic Socity
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Religious Attitudes to Sex

Christians and Muslims both believe that Sex should only be within marriage and both frown upon promiscuity and pre-marital Sex

Sex carries the possibility of creating children and both religions teach that children need the stability of family. 

Promiscuity is frowned upon because people are treating their bodies as objects and Christians teach that the 'body is the temple of the Holy Spirit'

Adultery threatens the stability of marriage and goes against the marriage vows. It is in the 10 commandments in Christianity and in some Islamic countries it carries the death penalty

Some more modern Muslims and Christians believe that this is outdated, as contraception is a lot more reliable these days

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Contraception

Christianity

Traditionaly most Christians have been against contracpetion, believing that sex should only occur within a marriage for the purpose of creating children.

Roman Catholic's still believe it is a grave sin as they were told to 'be fruitful and multiply'. They only allow natural methods (e.g. rhythm method') as it is not directly preventing the process of procreation in an unnatural way

Protestants allow barrier methods, as a responsible method of family planning and the lesser of two evils. 

Most Christians are against the use of the coil (IUD) and morning after pill as they are seen to be like an abortion.

Islam

Contraception is not mentioned in the Qu'ran but Muslims are expected to have children, so it must be a sin (only Allah has the right to decide). Muslims allow it in cases when being pregnant might threaten the mother's health. It is also better to avoid being pregnant than to have an abortion

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Religious Attitudes on Homosexuality

Christians

Accept - God created everyone in his image, love your neighbour, friendships of David and Jonathan

Reject - Bible says that homosexuals will be 'vomited out of the land', Sex is for creating children and this can only happen with a man and a woman, Adam and Eve were a woman and a man

Islam

Accept - Allah created everyonw, world is made like a flower garden - different people as part of one deign

Reject - All Muslims expected to have children, rejected by Shari'ah law, seen as a sin, illegal in some Islamic countries

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The Role of Women

In the last 100 years, the role of women in society has changed greatly

e.g. Sufragette movement, right to vote in 1918, world war 2 and women's roles, Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Acts in 1970s, First Female PM in 1917

Christian views

Traditionally men were dominant (male disciples). The Roman Catholic Church teaches that men and women are equal but it says that only men can be priests. Attitudes are changing and now women can be vicars in the CofE (since 1994).

In the Bible, Jesus treated men and women equally and they were created equally at the same time in the creations story, however Eve was only made because Adam was lonely. Also, St Paul wrote: 'wives submit to your husbands'

Islamic views

Traditionally men were dominant - they are equal but have different purposes in life because of biological differences. Each role is considered equal in value. However, women only inherit half of what a man does. Both, however, have an equal right to education, as Muhammed's wife was a businesss woman. 'All people are equal..as the teeth of a comb'

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Britain as a Multi-Faith Society

Britain is a multi faith society as there are many different races and religions living in the country. Since the Catholic Emancipation Act (1932), people of different religions have enjoyed equal rights). Since 2000, laws have been passed to ensure that people are not discriminated against on grounds of religion. 

Advantages: helps you to question your own beliefs, promotes understanding between people, variation in culture

Disadvantages: Exlusivism, people trying to convert others = racist, discrimination

How does the government deal with community cohesion? 

Set up a 'Britishness test' that all new Immigrants of the UK must take, so that all immigrants have basic knowledge of British life. They also must be able to speak English.

Community Facilitation Programme and Neighbourhood renewal Unit - set up to ensure that local ethnic communities are able to develop the skills needed to work and ensure opportunities for all

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Attitudes to Racism

Christians - against racism, everyone is created in the image of God, Jesus makes the hero of the Samaritans to most hated group of people, Christians are many races, St Peter has a vision from God telling him that God has no favourites, Love Your Neighbour

Islam - against racism, everyone is equal like the teeth of a comb, Ummah (Muslim Communisty is multi-racial and multi-cultural, Muhammed chose a black Ethiopian to do the first call of prayer, when Muslims go on Hajj they all dress in white to show they are equal in the eyes of God

How do religions promote cohesion? 

Council for Jews, Interfaith Network etc try to promote understanding and harmony. They work on the basis that God created all humans. At official functions, leaders of all the faith communities appear and pray together

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