RS Beliefs about Deity

trinity etc

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 11-05-12 19:40

1.1 Beliefs about the Nature of God

  • God's nature=his characteristics, attributes, qualities etc
  • People find it very difficult to say what God is like because he is beyond human understanding
  • God has been called a shepherd, a judge, a king, a warrior and a father
  • This way of explaining God is called anthropomorphism - these are human images, and so can limit God to being less than God, as God is not a human being
  • God is outside time and space, he is transcendant and eternal
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent
  • This means he wants the best for people and gives them rules to live by
  • God will judge everyone
  • God created the universe for a purpose

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The Trinity

The Trinity

  • Xians believe that God is made up of 3 different persons
  • This means there are 3 ways of God being God:
  • God who is Father, the transcendent creator                        
  • God who is Son: Jesus, who is immanent and personal, who came to Earth and lived a human life                                        
  • God who is Holy Spirit: immanent but impersonal, the way God inspires and guide Xians every day 

The Nicene Creed is the main Xian teaching about the Trinity:          "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth...We belive in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God...We believe in the Holy Spirit... the giver of life... who proceeds from the Father and the Son"

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Key words


  • Transcent - above all
  • Immanent - within all
  • Omnipotent - all powerful - created Universe out of nothing
  • Omnibenevolent - all loving - he sacrificed his Son for us
  • Omnipresent - all present/all around
  • Omniscient - all knowing
  • Impersonal - mysterious, holy, a force for good
  • Personal - a friend who is concerned
  • Monotheists - people who believe in 1 God
  • Eternal - no beginning, no end
  • Judge - Will judge everyone on judgement day and decide whether they go to Heaven or Hell
  • All Good and Perfect with no Sin
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Reasons for Belief: The Ontological Argument

  • God is "That than which nothing greater can be conceived" -St Anselm of Canterbury
  • Basically, we cannot think of anything greater than God, so God must exist


  • This seems to say that we can know the nature of an unknowable God
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Reasons for Belief: The Cosmological Argument

  • St Thomas Aquinas - "Everything has to come from something, you cannot make something out of nothing". 
  • TA also said that God is a "Necessary Being" - God must exist, because he cannot not exist
  • Therefore the Universe must have a cause, and everything in the Universe must have a cause, and everything can be traced back to a First Cause, and this is God. 
  • Atheists would argue that the Big Bang caused the universe, but theists would say that God caused the Big Bang - a domino effect, with God pushing the first domino.
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Reasons for Belief: The Teleological or Design Arg

  • The universe is too ordered and complicated to have come about of its own accord. 
  • William Paley gives the example of a watch maker - if you found a watch on the ground, you wouldn't think it had appeared on its own, you would think that it had been specifically made for a purpose.
  • Things like DNA, the human eye etc are too intricate and perfect to have been made by chance
  • Charles Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species challenged the theory of Intelligent Design by developing the theory of Natural Selection
  • Intelligent Design - a theory which says life is so complex that it must have been designed by a higher intelligent being, and so did not evolve by natural selection
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Reasons for Belief: The Argument from Experience

Some people claim to have had religious experiences such as:

  • Miracles
  • Having their prayers answered
  • Seeing/talking to God
  • The numinous (a mysterious power which suggests the presence of a spirit or God

If people have experienced God, he must exist!

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Arguments against Belief in God

  • There is no reliable evidence for God's existence
  • Atheists argue that because everything in the universe can be explained WITHOUT using God as the explanation, there is no point in saying he exists
  • If God is perfect, why are there so many design flaws - earthquakes etc
  • People are not born knowing the difference between right and wrong - they learn it
  • Natural Selection is more believable then Intelligent Design
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Religious Experience

  • an event which people feel gives them direct contact with God
  • an experience which draws you closer to God

Conversion: when your life is changed by giving yourself to God i.e. Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus

Miracles: "Those things done by divine power apart from the order usually followed in things" Aquinas. A marvellous event which cannot have been brought about by humans or natural means

Numinous: the feeling of the presence of something greater than you

Prayer: An attempt to communicate with God

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A miracle is:

  • Something out of the ordinary that catches the attention
  • Intended by God as a sign of his love and/or power
  • A marvellous event which cannot have been brought about by humans or nature and so is said to be performed by God
  • Something that usual shows control over the laws of nature such as a dead person coming back to life
  • "Those things done by divine power apart from the order usually followed in things" St Thomas Aquinas
  • Miracles in the Bible - i.e. when JC walked on water
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Different Christian Views on Miracles


  • All the Miracles transpired exactly like the Bible says
  • Pentecostal or Fundamentalist Christians


  • Most miracles occured as the Bible said
  • Inspired by God, but written down by man
  • RC, C of E


  • Miracles are symbolic and convey a message
  • The spiritual message about God's love for humanity which lies behind the miracles is more important
  • Quakers (Society of Friends)
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