Religious Studies - The Existence of God

Basic information about the existence of god

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How do we prove that God exists?

There are three ways in which the existence of things is proved:

  • Personal experience - "I have seen it, so I know it exists."
  • Reliable evidence - "I have not seen it, but other people have convinced me that they have seen it, so I accept that it does exist"
  • Logic - "I have not seen it but there must be a logical reason for why it exists"
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Types of people with different views of God

There are three main types of people who have a view of God:

  • Theist - A person who believes that God exists. They are certain of this because they have been in contact with God directly, accept the accounts of other people who have claimed to have been in contact with God directly and/or believe that God is the only logical explanation for the origin of the universe.
  • Atheist - A person who believes that God does not exist. They do not believe that any evidence accepted by theists is sufficient enough to prove God's existence.
  • Agnostic - A person who believes that we cannot be entirely sure whether or not God exists. They believe that any evidence accepted by theists does not prove God's existence in any way.
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The First Cause Argument

Some theists would use the existence of the universe to prove God's existence. They would argue that:

  • Everything that exists was caused to exist
  • The universe exists so this must have a cause 
  • There had to be something eternal that was not caused by anything
  • The eternal first cause is God so therefore God exists.

The most popular version of the argument is that everything in the world around us has a cause but the chain of causation cannot extend back into infinity. There must be a first cause and this is God.

The First Cause Argument is also called the cosmological argument.The word cosmological refers to the origin and structure of the universe.

Creation refers to the manner by which God brought the universe into being.

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The Design Argument

The Design argument says that the universe is too ordered and too complicated to have come about by random chance, so it must have been designed. A design needs a designer and the designer of the universe is God. Most Christians would accept that the account of creation in Genesis supports this argument as it shows that the development of the universe was planned by God.

This argument is also called the teleological argument.

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Miracles are events performed by God that appear to break the laws of nature. However, miracles need to have some religious significance or purpose to be considered a true miracle.

Types of miracles are:

  • Events that break the laws of nature and cannot be explained by science. 
  • Events in which no laws of nature are broken but a coincidence occurs at just the right time to cause a good outcome.

Theists use miracles to prove the existence of God by saying that because there is no natural explanation for what happened, then it must be a supernatural event. The miracle must have been caused by something outside of nature and as God is outside of nature, then it shows that God is intervening in the world. Therefore, God does exist.

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Religious experiences

Religious experiences are experiences that are outside of normal experiences, usually involving the supernatural. Some theists are certain the God exists because they claim to have met god personally. A religious experience can occure to one person or a group of people.

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Morality is a sense of right and wrong that helps guide people's behaviour. A moral action is an action that is believed to be right according to the rules/laws of society, religion or country in which a person lives.  

Theists argue that the fact that most people have a powerful sense that they should behave in a moral way is evidence for God's existence. They argue that people have an built-in sense of morality and that this sense comes from a source outside of them. This source is God and therefore God exists.

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Really useful for INT 2 RMPS :-) Really helped me with revising for my NAB on Friday, Thanks :)

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