RS iGCSE Part 1 Sect. B: Ultimate Reality and Meaning of Life

RS iGCSE Part 1 (Sect. B)

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Introducing Children/Believing in a Faith

Religious Nurture - being brought up to follow teachings/practices of a religion

Some children brought up in religious atmosphere > don't question their faith, but then...

  • some lose faith as they grow older
  • some return to their faith later

Conversion > Theist:

  • don't believe in God until a dramatic spiritual experience converts them to a religious believer


  • don't follow any religion/don't believe in any God


  • uncertain as to whether God exists or not & believe nothing can/is known about His existence
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Power of Faith > Converted Believers

* Faith can instil positive feelings e.g. comfort, well-being, security *

Christianity is a monotheistic faith.

Q: Explain why some people may say they 'know' God exists:

  • A non-believer may have been converted after a spiritual experience when God revealed himself to them or spoke to them through a vision - proving His existence to them.
  • Answered prayers and miracles are seen as signs of His existence

> Events that turn in their favour when the odds are against them e.g. securing a job when there are many, seemingly better candidates for it (Matt)

> Healing a terminally injured/ill family member or friend (Rochelle)

  • Complex mechanisms like the eye are enough proof for some that there is a designer (a God) out there
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The Trinity

Christians believe: there are 3 persons in 1 God - He can be understood in 3 ways.

When they refer to the Trinity > the way in which God is described & how people understand what God is; he has 3 personalities;

1. the Father >creator of the universe and everything in it, supporter of all life

2. the Son >as Jesus, sent by the Father to the world, in human form, to die for the sins of mankind, making salvation possible, spoken of as Saviour, Friend and Lord. Must live by his example as written in the Gospels.

3. the Holy Spirit >who Jesus promised would enter into people's hearts and minds once he returned to his father in Heaven after his resurrection, to offer guidance and comfort, as God, living inside His believers. God's love and power works in the world today, helps believers to do God's will and become like Christ, is the bringer of peace (dove)!

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God the Judge

Christians stress God's love and forgiveness BUT:

God is also The Judge

They believe:

at the end of time, all men and women will stand before Him to be judged.

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Beliefs - Creation of Universe


Creation of universe = action of eternal, infinite God


Universe itself is eternal and infinite = did not need creating

^ Usually, these people do not believe there is a God.

* Faith is more important than argument, when you believe in God. *

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4 Spiritual Experiences

1. Worship > Have spiritual experiences as part of an act of worship. Worship creates an atmosphere in which such experiences can happen:

  • peace
  • closeness to God
  • time alone (to channel feelings and thoughts), away from society

2. Solitude > Silence can bring many people an experience of god.

  • Quakers listen for inner voice of God.
  • Monks and nuns use silence and solitude to her God speaking to them.

3. Conversion > changes whole direction of their lives.

4. Miracles > an experience which seems impossible, unexpected and, often, against all logic e.g. coming out of a long-term coma can make people accept God

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Religious Arguments for Creation of Universe

1. Argument from Causation (God is the First Cause)

Every effect has a cause. The universe is an effect - so, who created it? The only possibility is God. Something cannot come from nothing.

2. Argument from Design (Universe NOT an accident)

Points out presence of design and purpose in the whole of life (Paley's watch, the eye, the thumb). The only possible designer ('divine creator') is God.

3. Moral Argument

Looks at conscience of humans. Everyone knows what they often 'ought' to do. Why do they feel like this? This 'categorical imperative' could only come from God - he gave us the ability to know difference between right and wrong.

4. Ontological Argument

Should describe God as 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' = He must exist otherwise we would not have the ability to think of a word to describe God.

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The Creation in The Bible Genesis 1 & 2

Bible, Genesis 1 - What was created?

Monday: Universe                        

Tuesday: Sky                                     

Wednesday: Earth                             

Thursday: Night and Day                

Friday: Creatures e.g. birds, fish        

Saturday: Animals, Humans                

Sunday: Sabbath Day, rest

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The Creation in The Bible Genesis 1 & 2

Bible, Genesis 2 - What was created?


Tuesday: Man - Adam, from the soil

Wednesday: A Garden - Eden

Thursday: Rivers -  Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates

Friday: Wild animals and all birds of Heaven

Saturday: Woman - Eve

Sunday: A day of rest which God blessed and made holy     

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Religion vs Science

Scientific truth - Relies upon facts and experiments that can be repeated over and over again

Science - Creation of Earth

  • Chemical forming of DNA and mutations of DNA causing variations in species
  • Natural selection, survival of the fittest
  • Evolution

Religious truth - what people believe about their faith and teachings found in holy books e.g. Bible, Qu'ran

Religion - Creation of Earth

  • God created the Earth and mankind in 7 days, told in Genesis

* Christian God was the cause of the Big Bang and he created all creatures within the 7 days so Evolution is against Christian belief *

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Evil & Suffering - Christian Perspectives

1. Suffering is a TEST

God allows Satan to test Job to see if he deserts God. When Job doesn't lose his faith in God, he is rewarded.

2. Suffering is a PUNISHMENT for SIN

Job's friends are very keen on this idea; they tell him he must've sinned greatly to suffer so much and must search his life for unconfessed sins and repent. Job protests that he has always been faithful and good. God eventually speaks and rejects this idea and accuses the friends of being wrong-minded.

3. Suffering is a part of GOD'S PLAN

Humans must accept what they can't understand. God doesn't say what his plan is; we never know - but Job is satisfied. He's healed and his wealth is restored to him.

* Suffering is the beginning, but not the end. After suffering you will go and meet God in Heaven, like Jesus' resurrection. *

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Evil Raising Questions about God

The existence of natural and moral evils and suffering raises questions for people who believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent.

People suffer so maybe...

God can't do anything about human suffering > isn't all-powerful > there's no God

God doesn't know about human suffering > isn't all-knowing > there's no God

God doesn't care about human suffering > isn't all-loving > there's no God


  • test of loyalty and faith
  • punishment for mankind's wrongdoings and sins
  • St. Augustine, "God would not allow any evil to exist...unless out of he could draw a greater good" - God had a reason and one day, we will benefit. What appears evil may be good in the context of eternity.
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Why might God have created suffering?

  • part of God's plan, we just don't understand
  • God will give us power to cope
  • suffering will end one day, in heaven, if not before
  • how we deal with our suffering could lead others to God
  • you can learn from your suffering, it strengthens us
  • Jesus suffered too
  • if God interfered every time people did something that could cause harm to themselves or other and we'd be His puppets
  • God has shown how people should live but we choose whether or not to follow His instructions and we deal with any consequences

Free Will: The Adam and Eve story teaches that God gave humanity free will - the freedom to choose. Their decision to disobey Him brought them knowledge of good and evil. Because of their Original Sin, the tendency to evil is in everyone.

The Garden of Eden was a beautiful, good garden where humans and animals lived in perfect harmony because they obeyed God's laws. The Original Sin meant that we could not have that 'perfect harmony'. The Bible assumes that evil comes from human failings.

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Non-Religious Explanations for Evil

Moral Evils

It's a psychological phenomenon:

  • Created from the psychological forces that shape our character
  • Parental influences from when we were youngest, and most impressionable
  • Schooling, what and how we have been taught
  • Television, films, magazines help us distinguish between what the world sees as good, and bad

Natural Evils have nothing to do with human beings > it is the natural world fluctuating, it is science.

Suffering from these is an inevitability but we can cope with it:

  • Emergency response teams to help survivors
  • Science allows us to predict some - therefore can reduce damage
  • Can prepare e.g. earthquake-proof buildings, concrete lava shelters
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The Meaning of Life

Religions teach that life itself must have a meaning because this is what God gives to it.

The Psalmist in the Bible speaks for many people from different religions when he says: it is the fool who declares that God does not exist.

Yet many don't believe in God - atheists. The creation of the universe was an accident, then there is no purpose, unless we create one ourselves.

>> Our purpose could be to make the world a better place.

Christianity teaches that because we were purposefully created, life must have meaning, because of God.

* People set themselves life goals, but this is not the meaning of life in religion. Christianity says, Life has a natural meaning and there are goals set by the creator that we cannot change.

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Asking questions about the meaning of life can get in the way of living life to the full, in some cases. The idea that mankind may have no purpose needs to be accepted.

Views on morality, self-worth, vision and good/bad come down to mankind's origin, so some people feel discovering our purpose is necessary.

Salvation - being released from limitations of human existence and sin to eternal life with God.

Liberation - being set free from the cycle of rebirth.

To achieve Salvation:

  • Roman Catholics - baptism begins salvation as this gives birth to the soul
  • Protestants - salvation is achieved by 'grace alone', by faith in God
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Atheistic Views on God

Why Atheists Might Not Believe in a God:

  • lack of clear evidence that God exists > links to Physicalism as we cannot see or touch God, he must not exist
  • people with logical, rational minds find it difficult to accept the concept of a divine being
  • suffering and evil > ideas about God not being omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent
  • advances in science and medicine and human beings' ability to control their environment > curing/treating terminal illnesses is going against God's plan
  • conflicting religious teachings about God and an ultimate reality and the purpose of life > stories in the Bible which have no relation to any other section of the Bible, seem to be fictional, 'one-off' tales
  • contradictory beliefs about topics > homosexuality in the Bible
  • non-religious upbringings
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Sanctity of Life

Sanctity of Life - belief that there is something holy and sacred about human life, meaning that it must be treated with great care - life belongs to God, it is a gift


God is found at the very centre of life, he created life in the beginning and each new life is a gift from Him.

Christians believe that Jesus showed how God himself viewed human life when he became a human. The birth and life of Jesus is known as incarnation (God becoming flesh).

All life and death decisions, including abortion and euthanasia, are ones that belong rightly to God alone.

The gift of eternal life is offered to those who believe in Jesus and come only come out of his death on the cross and his resurrection.

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Euthanasia Amongst Christians

Life is a free gift from God and everyone should be able to live and die in true dignity.

Church of England:

  • the sanctity of life > nothing must be allowed to interfere with this and doctors do not have to do everything to keep a person alive irrespective of the quality of their life. E.g. Those who are 'brain-dead' do not need to remain on respirators.
  • society should do everything in its power to make old people feel valued as members of the community

Roman Catholics:

  • euthanasia is wrong because all life comes from God and is sacred
  • only God can take away a person's life, we do not have the right
  • any act that deliberately secures the death of someone is murder
  • accepts that drugs given to relieve pain may, in the end, hasten death
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Arguments for/against Euthanasia


1. People should have the right to do as they wish with their lives, including death

  • if the future offers nothing but pain and a loss of dignity, they should be allowed to choose to die

2. Removes possibility of being a great burden to others, like friends and family

3. We end the life of animals when they are terminally ill or suffer from a low quality of life, why not do the same for humans?


1. It would undermine the confidence that patients have in doctors to stay alive

2. The principle that human life is sacred must be maintained at all costs

3. Hospices show that people can die with dignity and almost painlessly

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Christianity and Abortion

Roman Catholics:

  • It is wrong to take human life at any time
  • Strongly opposed to contraception and abortion > murder
  • Not support an abortion, even if it is **** or severely-disabled child
  • Teaching of the church says that the life of the baby should come first, even if the mother is at risk of death from childbirth
  • A child has the right to know both its parents

Methodist Church:

  • Not always wrong
  • Each case is individual and must be judged on its merits
  • Some situations > can be morally justified/seriously considered

Bible does not directly condemn abortion but says: man is made in the image of God and the Ten Commandments condemn murder

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Arguments For/Against Abortion


1. Every woman has right to choose what happens to own body

2. It is not possible to say when human life truly begins

3. There is no such thing as a totally safe contraceptive, so mistakes are inevitable

4. Women would be forced to use dangerous 'back-street abortions' if it was made illegal

5. A child should not have to be born as an unwanted baby


1. Child is a human being from moment of conception

2. Killing is a very serious moral evil, no difference between abortion and murder

3. Too convenient > seen as cheap, easy way out of the situation

4. Foetus has same rights as all humans, including right to live

6. People with serious physical/mental disabilities can live long, happy lives

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