Theme C The Existence of God & Revelation


Design & Causation

Why is it important?

The belief that God created the world is important part of many religions & often strengthens faith.  Some want to know why life is as it is.  Other find purpose, structure & comfort from religion. 

Athesits reject the idea of divine deing.  Agnostics believe it is impossible to know either way for certain

The Design Arguement: "the Universe must have had a designer".

The origin of the universe:-

  • God must exist, as the world had to come from somewhere.
  • Everything that exists is proof that a power beyond humans exists.  There must have been a designer.  The bible, Qur'an and Torah support this arguement  Genesis 1.1 'god created the heavens & the earth'
  • An Anglican Vicar William Paley made an important analogy using the design of a watch. If you came across a watch in a field, you wouldn't assume that the parts had come together by chance - it is clearly something that has been designed for a purpose. Therefore you should not assume that the creation of the world was accidental - it was made by a creator (God) for a specific purpose.
  • Holy books contain written evidence that God created the world. They tell us that God made the earth in 7 days.
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Design Argument: cont

Strengths of the argument

  • Its based on our own experience of design - there appears to be many designed, ordered and purposeful objects which everyone can observe.
  • It complements a Christian view on the nature of God - It suggests purpose for human life which strengthens faith.
  • The argument brings science and religion to an agreement 

Evidence against the argument

  • Evil and suffering may suggest that God is a poor designer or there is no designer - if God is omnibenevolent then why is did he create a world that has suffering (Catholics would argue that people can learn goodness from their experience of evil and suffering).
  • Evolutionary theory, Darwin suggests that complex organisms have developed through genetic mutation and natural selection and not through design. 
  • Some Chritains, Muslims & Jews belive that evolution does not contradict the design argumet.  God or Allah must have 'designed' evolution.  Darain did not see it as conclusive proof against God's existence
  • Some people believe that God created the universe but not further involvement.  Some say no evidence at all
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Design Argument: Scriptures

Sacred text used as evidence that God created the world.

Bible contain written evidence that God created the world. They tell us that God made the earth in 7 days.

However... The story is not factually correct, as it contradicts itself (God made light on the first day, but He made the sun on the 4th day. The Sun is our natural source of light).

Qur'an says Allah created the world "Allah constructed it".  Allah created Adam from clay & breathed life & soul into him.  

Some beliverers take the descriptions in the scared text literally.  Others see the accounts as symbolic & look to science to explain how it happend - although they still believe God as the creator

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Causation: First cause

First cause based on Comsologcal argument, founded on a chain of logic. that is everything is caused by something else.  An event now is caused by an earlier event.  So in tracing event chain back in time, either

  • The chain goes back forever - i.e. the universe has always existed, it is enternal
  • Eventually you reach a starting point - an uncaused evernt or 'First Cause' - so that first caise must be God

Differing opinions on First Cause Argument

  • Some question its logic.  It contridicts itself, if everything is caised by another thing
  • There's no evidence if there was a first cause, it has to be divine being - a god
  • Some say that if there was a god as the first cause, it doesn't mean they exist now or that that god had the characteristics of a Chritian, Mulsim or Jewish god

However, many christain, Muslims and Jew use the first caiuse argument as evidence that there is a god.  Often used in combination with accounts rom the scripture & the design argument

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Existence of God: Experiences

What is it?

  • A religious experience is sometimes descired as a numinous. It is the feeling of having the presence of God which fills people with hope and sometimes fear.
  • Religious booke are histrical writing that document these experiences
  • People may feel an awareness of something greater than them and this they feel is God. The feeling may go beyond their usual 5 senses.
  • General revelation - God is revealed in the natural world around us. People claim to feel overwhelmed at the beauty and thoughtful creativity of life.
  • Special revlation - God directly communicates to an individual. This is through: prayer, meditation, and visions


  • The experiences often build faith or give a sense of encouragement to the reciever.
  • It can be an important reminder of the omnipresence of God.
  • It may also confirm God''s role as a creator and designer of the world.
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What is it?

  • A miracle is something that seems to break all the laws of science and leads people to believe that it could have only been the work of God. They always involve a religious experience.
  • According to John's Gospel, the first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding in Cana. As the wine began to run out, Mary asked Jesus to help - he turned water into wine.


  • The miracles that Jesus performed were clear signs of his divine nature and the nature of God's kingdom.
  • If a person witnesses and event that they belive God has caused or created, their faith is likely to be stregthened.
  • Miracles prove that God is omnipotent e.g. when he parted the red sea

Muslims believe the Qur'an is a miracle itself

  • The direct work of Allah, in a style impossible to copy.  
  • Prophets perofrmed miracles in order to show that they had been sent by God 
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God making himself known through ordinary, common human experiences

They are indirect

They include:

  • Seeing the presence of God in nature
  • seeing God in the Holy books of religion
  • seeing God in the writings of religious leaders
  • seeing God in the life and work of other people
  • seeing God's character revealed through faith
  • experiencing God through prayer and worship
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Revelation: Seeing God in nature & holy books

Many believers feel that nature provide spritial experiences

  • The beauty and power of nature
  • The complexity of the human body
  • The creation of new life
  • Are thought to be evidence that God is transcednence - he created it but isn't present in it
  • This leads to feelings of awe and wonder

Scrptures, believing that God's will & nature is revealed in teh holy books

  • Muslims beleive the Qur'an is the actual words of Allah
  • For other believers the words in their Holy book are inspired by God but not revealed by God directly
  • When readers read the books they hope to get a better understanding of the teachings of the religion
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Revelation: Seeing God in the life and work of oth

  • They way some people have led their lives are beleived to be so extraordinary by some religious believers that they believe God has guided them
  • By studying their life and work, believers feel they can find out more about God
  • Shows how God wants people to behave
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Special Revelation:

God making himself known through direct personal experience or an unusual specific event

Types of special revelation:

  • Enlightenment
  • Hearing God's call
  • Experiencing visions or dreams
  • Through miracles
  • Through prayer and worship

Visions are a dramatic form of religious experiences:

A person sees somethng sacred -such as an angel - and will tell about God & his will or about the person's own life.  A direct & powerful experience.  They often change how beleiveers live their lives

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Arguments against existence of God; cont

The argument of the existence of suffering and evil :-

  • God is supposed to be all-powerful and all-loving/caring.
  • Therefore why does he allow so much suffering to happen?
  • If he does not stop suffering, there is only one conclusion - he does not exist.

Solution to the problem of suffering

What is it?

Catholics believe that God is creator of all and that all of his creation was good, Catholics do npt believe that evil is a thing in itself but instead an absence of good or a wrong choice. 

Practical responses

Prayer  - Catholics are given the opportunity to share their suffering with God through prayer and this may give a sense of relief. During the Mass, prayers of intercession are offered for those locally, nationally or internationally who are suffering. 

Charity - Catholics believe that Jesus calls them to help those in need because helping others is the same as helping Christ. Matthew 25:31-46 (the parable of the sheeps and goats) makes it clear that those who help otehrs will be rewarded a place in heaven

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