How do we prove that things exist?
There are three main ways of proving that something exists. (These can be applied to all of the topics for this part of the course.)
1) Personal Experience- e.g. I have seen it, so I know that it exists.
2) Reliable Evidence- e.g. I haven't seen it but I have been convinced by the accounts of others. This could be video footage, other people's stories of their experiences or the Bible.
3) Logic- e.g. I believe in God because I think it is more logical to believe that He exists.
They can also be used as reasons not to believe in something:
- A lack of personal experience
- Not been convinced by accounts/ do not think evidence is reliable
- Think it is illogical to believe
Beliefs and Titles
A theist believes in God
An atheist does not believe in God.
An agnostic is unsure about their beliefs. They need more proof to be convinced.
Make sure you don't get theist and atheist mixed up!
The Design (teleological) argument
The design argument was thought of by William Paley. Paley used a watch to express his ideas- if you found a watch on the street, even if you had never seen one before, you would know that it had been designed because of the way in which all the parts work together so well. As it has been designed, it must have had a designer- the watchmaker. He said that it was the same with the Universe- it is so perfect that it must have been designed! He said that only God could have designed something so complicated, so therefore God exists. (It's got a few holes in it, I know, but we'll get to that!)
Design argument continued...
- There is evidence that the world has been designed.
- Anything that has been designed needs a designer.
-If the world has been designed, then there must be a designer.
- Only God could have designed something so complicated.
- Therefore God must have designed the Universe.
- So God exists.
Evidence of design:
-DNA is evidence that God designed each and every one of us individually. Finger prints are also evidence for the same reason.
-Feelings of awe and wonder at the Earth's beauty enable us to love God and His creations. It makes us aware of how much God loves us and makes us want to take care of His creation, which was His wish. (Christian)
Problems with the Design argument.
- There is evidence for the lack of design in the Universe, e.g. natural disasters such as volcanoes and tsunamis that kill thousands of people- so the conditions are not perfect for life; evil and suffering- if the world is so perfect then why does this happen? Why would God design man to be evil?
- If there is a designer, there is no absolute proof that the designer is God.
- All the evidence for design can be explained without needing to consider God- science explains DNA and fingerprints, the Big Bang theory can explain the existence of the universe, as can Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
First Cause (cosmological) argument
Developed by Saint Thomas Aquinas.
- Everything that happens was caused to happen and everything that exists was caused to exist- science agrees with this.
- The Universe exists, therefore it must have been caused to exist.
- There has to be an eternal first cause, which exists outside of time and space and was not caused by anything.
- This eternal first cause must be God.
- Therefore God exists.
This argument can work in tandem with the Big Bang theory- maybe God caused the Big Bang.
Problems with the First Cause argument
- If everything that exists was caused to exist, then how can there be an eternal first cause? What caused God?
- The eternal first cause may not have been God.
- The eternal first cause could be the Big Bang.
- If someone does not believe in God, then they are unlikely to be convinced by the First Cause argument because they would not think that the eternal first cause is God if they don't believe.
Morality Conscience Argument
Morality is a system of ethics to distunguish between right and wrong.
The argument says: When we want to do one thing but we know that we should do another, the right thing (for example, you might want to go shopping with friends but you know you really should go and visit your ill relative), the feeling that we get is a message from God, telling us what to do. However, he is still giving is the choice so it is not taking out free will away. It is God's way of guiding us and helping us to make the right choices.
The feelings come from God, therefore God exists.
Problems with the morality conscience argument
Morality is believed by many scientists to be the product of evolution, as behaving in a moral way allows us to work together, therefore giving us an increased chance of survival. There is evidence for this as thousands of years ago humans behaved in a much less moral manner than we do now. So it doesn't come from God.
Morality is influenced by the media, society and our upbringing. We do not all have the same morals. For example, if you are raised to believe that drinking alcohol is wrong, you will feel that it is morally wrong to drink it and if you do, you are likely to experience feelings of guilt. However, if you are not raised to believe this then you are unlikely to feel guilty about drinking alcohol.
People's morals change as they are taught about right and wrong.
Some people have no morals and some murderers or rapists feel no remorse whatsoever, despite having acted in a way that most people consider wrong and causes great suffering to others.
The exam is 90 minutes long.
Only answer four sections (each section is a page)- do not answer all six!
Spend about 22 minutes per question.
Make sure you learn the three ways of proving that things exist, as these can be applied to all sections!
If you are running out of time, answer the six mark questions first! (I had to do this on the ethics paper and had I not, I would have dropped a grade, so trust me!)
When answering the six mark questions, do one paragraph on to argue for the statement, providing about three reasons, one against the statement and then another short paragraph giving your own opinion with a brief summary of why you think this. GOOD LUCK!