Religious Studies Unit 4 Spec. B

  • The Existence of God
  • Revelation
  • The Problem of Evil and Suffering
  • Immortality
  • Science and Religion
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How do we prove that things exist?

  • Personal Experience
  • Reliable Evidence
  • Logic - usin a chain of reasoning to reach a conclusion

How to prove that God exists?

  • Thiests are certain that god exists because:

1. they are certain they have been in contact with God directly

2. accept accounts that other people have given of their experience with God as evidence that God exists

3. believe that God is the only logical experience for the origin of the universe and the order in it.

  • Athiests reject any belief in God
  • Agnostics - believe any evidence found cannot prove nor dispove God's existence. Belive we can never be sure whether or not God exists.
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First Cause Argument (Cosmological)

  • Everything that exists was caused to exist
  • The universe exists, so must have a cause
  • There had to be something eternal in the universe that was not caused by anything
  • The eternal first cause was God
  • Therefore, God exists.

The F.C or Cosmolgical argument tries to prove that there is a perfect, well-ordered Universe and that its only that way because Gid bought the cosmos into existence.

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Arguments for First Cause

St. Thomas Aquinas

  • Christian that lived in the Middle Ages
  • Belived that the Universe must have had a beginning
  • Argued that things cannot come into existence by themselves and Universe must have been caused by something outside it.
  • First Cause is God, if God had not existed then there would be no Universe and we wouldn't exist.
  • We do so God exists.


  • we are able to measure time, so Universe had a beginning because to measure time, we need a beginning.
  • Thiest - measurement of time is evidence that Universe had begnning and this beginning was caused by God.

Religions e.g. Islam  support and eccept scientific findings as believe that they support God's existence and creation of the Universe. Belive that was how God bought the Universe into existence.

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Arguments against First Cause

Big Bang Theory

The beginnings according to scientists took place when a singularity exploded and from this explosion, all the matter that makes the universe came into being.

Athiests - prove that the Universe resulted from a random spontaneous event and it was not the action of God. Therefore, religious accounts of creation are just myths.

Challenge - athiests believe that the first cause contradicts itself. If argument states that things exist because they are caused by God, then what caused God? If God is eternal, then why can't the Universe be eternal?

Big Bang is thought to be a challenge to the First Cause argument only if it is thought to be a spontaneous random event without reason or cause.

Basic problem - relies on the belief that the Universe had a beginning and it is possible that the Universe is infinite and we cannot prove that it was God that caused it to happen.

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Design Argument (Teleological)

Design Argument - the argument that God designed (made) the universe because everything is so intricately made in its detail that it could not have happened by chance. 

The Universe was designed --> needs a designer --> designer is God --> God exists.

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Arguments for Design Argument

1. Thomas Aquinas

Said that Universe could only be kept in perfect order by an intelligent being. Bellive that the Sun, Stars, Moon and Planet rotate in the Universe in a set person because God keeps them in their place

2. William Paley

'Watch' argument - if we found a watch and didnt know the function, still know that it has been designed for a purpose. Same way, we look at the natural world, we can tell there is evidence for design: eyes for sight, bird wings for flight, etc.

3. Anthropic Principle

Developed by F.R. Tennant, argues that God planned the world just right for human life to develop. Gravitational force at moment when Universe began was just right the Universe to come into existence...As Universe expanded, it was at the correct rate to allow development of galaxies and stars. Once Earth developed, it had all the right conditions for life to develop. Thiests believe that this fine tuning cannot have happened by chance and it was caused by God.

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Arguments against Design Argument

The theory of Evolution

Scientific belief that life forms have changed over time, developing from simple to complex beings.

Athiests would argue that its through evoloution that features like opposable thumbs developed and they were not designed by God.

Richard Dawkins - evolution gives the appearance of design, not God. Objects like that are called DESIGNOIDS.

Challenge - depends on the belief that everything in the world in designed and the designer is God. Not everyone believes that humans are the result of design and even if we believe that the world is designed, we cannot prove that the designer is God. Can be the work of manny gods or an apprentice god (?).

Thiests - if humans had evolved through natrual selection, they would not need to write books, paint pictures or create music, etc. The fact that humans can do this suggests that humans are designed and designer is, for a thiest, is God. 

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A miracle is a seemingly impossible occurence, usually good. To be a miracle, there needs to be a religious significance of purpose to the event e.g. strengthen faith or demonstrate God's faith.

Types of Miracles:

1. Events that defy the laws of nature and cannot be explained by science. E.g. Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

2. Events that dont break the laws of nature but a coincidence occurs at just the right time to ensure a good outcome.

Case Study

Stairwell B, 11th September 2001

A group oof firemen and a woman they were rescuing were trapped under stairwell B but they survived and managed to make contact with the outside world. The fact that people like this survived while over 3,000 people died is a miracle.

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Arguments against Miracles

Basic problem: miracles are hard to prove. 

  • what appears to be a miracle may be something that science cannot yet explain.
  • Thiests want miracles to happen so give miraculous claims to ordinary events.
  • The cure of a miracle may be the result of mind over matter and the belief that the sufferer will be cured.
  • It may be that the doctor wrongly diagnosed an illness and the person was cured naturally.
  • Some 'miracles' are fake or made up by the individual wanting fame or money.

Some thiests don't belive in miracles, argue that if they occur, then God is picking and choosing who he helps and that does not seem fair or loving. E.g. why did God choose to save 16 people when the North Tower of the WTC collapsed and left many others to die? As this does not seem loving or fair, thiests therefore believe that miracles do not exist since God is not like that.

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Religious Experience

An experience that is outside normal experinece, usually involving the supernatural.

The forms that they can take are:

1. Communicating with God through prayer and meditation.

2. Feeling God's presence in worship.

3. Feeing the presence of God in nature.

4. Experiencing a conversion.

5. Involvement in a miraculous event.

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  • Communicating with God through prayer and meditation

Prayer - believe is speaking to God and waiting for reply. During this time, can feel God's presence and in no doubt of God's existence.

Meditation - believers use it to feel closer to God. Some will withdraw from daily life and 'gon on retreat' to give their full attention to God.

  • Feeling God's presence in worship

For christians, this may be a charasmatic event which is worship based on belief that during worship, it may be possble to recieve gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Case Study:Pentecostal Worship

May also occur during sacrament, worship such as Holy Communion where it is belived that there is an outward sign of the inner gift of God.

Case Study:Catholic Mass

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  • Feeling the presence of God in nature

Feel the presence of God in nature because they are in awe and wonder at the beauty of nature.

  • Experiencing a conversion

Some thiests belive God has contacted them directly and as a result, they have experienced a conversion - they may be converted to believe in God or to change their belief about God. E.g. Saul --> St Paul 

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Arguments against Religious Experience

Problems - difficulty to prove as genuine as the only evidence for people who have not experienced them is the efffect on the individual who calims to have experienced God.

Athiests and Agnostics - people may be mistaken or misled. May have imagined event because they want to experience it so badly, or want to believe that God exists. They may have mistaken ordinary events as religious or were under the effects of alcohol or drugs or had a hallucination while ill that they thought was a real religious experience.

Theists - the influence of a religious experience is so great that it has to be genuine. The fact that people have had direct personal proof of the existence of God provides them with evidence that God exists. The experience can result in people converting to a faith, or find that their faith is strengthened and this to life changes. Some people are willing to die for their faith after experiencing an religious experience. Sometimes, several people share a religious experience so they can't all be hallucinating.

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Is a system of ethics which distinguishes between right and wrong.

Some theists argue that our sense of right and wrong is 'built in' by God. Argue that:

  • People have an inbuilt sense of morality.
  • This sense comes from a source outside of them.
  • This source is God.
  • Therefore God exists.

Some theists would argue that we do things that are normally right because its what we think we ought to do, even if we prefer to act in a different way: the fact that morality is a command that must be obeyed means that it comes from an ultimate authority  and this authority is God, therefore God exists.

Theists argue that moral behaviour must be rewarded so those who do not get a fair treatment in this life must be rewarded after death. This means that God must exist to raise people to life after death to heaven. 

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is the inner feeling you are doing right or wrong.

Some theists argue that the fact that we have a conscience is evidence of God's existence. Conscience is like the inner voice of God that guides our behaviour: it makes us feel good when we behave well and guilty or ashamed when we do something we think or know is wrong.

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Basic Problem: Morality

Problems - difficult to prove that morality exists and that morality is no more than rules or laws developed to control people.

Atheists and Agnostics - claim that morality is part of human development through evolution. Argue that morality is part of survival process that requires people to cooperate and reproduce so that they are more likely to survive than people who don't.

Theists that believe in the theory of evolution - consider that the fact morality helps people to survive is part of God's design for human development.

Theists - conscience is voice of God guiding them and when they get guilt feelings then that is God telling them they have done something wrong.

Atheists and Agnostics - people have guilt feelings because they have gone against the moral rules provided by the society, religion and/ or family in which they were raised in. Consider guilt feelings to be caused by a conflict between people's desire and the controlling influences of society, religion and/ or family. 

Also, not everyone feels guilt even if they do something that is considered bad.

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Atheists and agnostics -

  • why does behaving in a moral way should guarantee reward?
  • May be a random choice whether or not people have a happy life and it is not linked to the way they behave.
  • As there is no evidence to prove that there is a life after death, it cannot be used to support the argument from morality for the existence of God.

Theists - 

  • Believe that there is a life after death.
  • God has provided moral guidance so that people know how to behave.
  • And therefore, be rewarded for their good behaviour after death.
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Arguments against belief in the existence of God

  • Using Science to deny the existence of God

In the past when the origins of the Universe was not known and life on Earth could not be explained it was accepted that God created  and controlled everything. When people were unsure of anything they turned to religion for answers. However, as science begins things that were previously unknown, people have began to turn away from God

Atheists - science is now able to provide all the answers and belief in God is no longer needed. Also, science is now close to actually close to producing human life and so this is further evidence that God doesn't exist.

  • The presence of evil and suffering in the world

Atheists - suffering is often unjust and often affects good and innocent people.

1. The cruelty in the animal kingdom and the natural disasters that cause suffering are evidence of poor design

2. People don't always behave in a moral way so they must be able to ignore their conscience, so it must not be the voice of God.

Theists - some things are beyond human understanding.

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James Smeeton

really helpful 


thanks mate you have given me a lesson just before my exam and if i pass it is all down to u 


Joseph Rose

great. this made me fall in love with RE even more.


Hoping all goes well. Will leave a review when I get my results

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