Existence of God

Name 4 types of religious experience and give an example of each.
*Numinous experience*
Father Dubois’ experiences while praying to St. Mary. *Conversion*
Raymond Nader during Lebanon’s civil war.
*Miracles*
Bernadette at Lourdes
*Answered prayer*
Healing a sick relative
Give 3 developed arguments for religious experiences proving that God exists.
*Numinous* You can’t argue against a numinous experience, people have felt the presence of God and this can be explained in no other way than that he exists and visited them.
*Conversion* Conversion stories prove God exists, why else would people suddenly commit themselves to God? They must have experienced something real. *Miracles* happen that break the laws of science, so there must be a God out there powerful enough to perform events that have no natural explanation. *Prayers* Prayers are answered and who else can answer them but an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent being?
Give 3 developed arguments against religious experiences proving that God exists.
*Trick of the mind* Numinous experiences are simply a trick of the mind; people who claim to have had them are only imagining what they want to believe. *Illusions* Miracles are simply illusions. If Dynamo can walk on water without divine intervention then how do we know other supposed miracles are not actually magic tricks?
*Believe what you want to believe* Conversion experiences only happen to people who want them to happen. True atheists have never been won over by them which proves they are a human decision rather than a divine one.
Give 4 developed points to explain the design theory.
*Paley’s Watch* Paley’s analogy explains that if you walk through a field and find a pocket watch, its intricate workings and parts will lead you to assume that there it must have been designed by a designer to fit together and work so perfectly
*Laws of science* One reason people think the universe has been designed is that things like gravity and magnetism are so complex that they can’t have happened spontaneously
*DNA/beauty of nature* The incredibly intricate structure of DNA and stunning beauty of nature e.g. sunsets prove that things haven’t just happened by chance, there is thought and design behind them *Design needs a designer* This figure would need to be eternal, transcendent and omnipotent so has to have been God
Give 3 developed arguments for the design argument proving God exists.
*Evidence* There seems to be plenty of evidence of design in the world. Scientists are constantly discovering things which seem to be designed.
*Paley’s Watch* Anything that is designed must have a designer – Paley’s watch.
*Complexity* Only God could have designed a universe so beautiful and complex. Surely science is an insufficient explanation for the wonder we feel at the world?
Give 3 developed arguments against the design argument proving God exists.
*Only a designer* Just because the world appears to have been designer doesn’t mean that the designer is the figure we see as the Christian God.
*Evil* Hurricanes and diseases imply the designer could be evil.
*Scientific explanation* Science can explain the argument without needing even to think of God – Big Bang etc.
Give 4 developed points to explain the causation theory.
*Aquinas* St. Thomas Aquinas set out the causation theory in his work ‘Summa Theologica’. He argued that everything that happens on the earth has a cause. *Science* The laws of science have proven the theory of cause and effect to be true e.g. ice has to be caused by the temperature falling and water becoming solid.
*Goods train analogy* In any causal chain you have to have a beginning, just like the carriages of a goods’ train won’t move without an engine at the front.
*First Cause* Causation theory says that the universe all needs a First Cause, like the engine, and that the only possible First Cause is a powerful one outside the universe which can only be God, so he must exist.
Give 3 developed arguments for causation theory proving God exists.
Any 3 of:
*Evidence* There seems to be plenty of evidence of causation in the world: all things and events have causes e.g. ice.
*Omnipotence* Surely only a being as powerful as God could be responsible for causing the universe? Only a Being outside the universe could be responsible for causing the universe. The only Being outside the universe is God.
*uncaused causer* According to the theory God is a necessary being, outside of space & time, self-generating. God is uncaused.
*Big Bang* Even if science promotes the Big Bang theory, we can still ask who caused the Big Bang and the answer to that could be God.
Give 3 developed arguments for causation theory not proving God exists.
*Who caused God?* Why should the causes stop at God? If everything needs a cause then God must need a cause.
*Matter is eternal* Science has proved that matter is eternal, and that the Big Bang and evolution started from there, therefore matter doesn’t require a cause, so God is not needed to start the world’s creation *Another creator* Even if the First Cause were to exist it would not have to be God, it could be any sort of creator or even the matter of the universe.
Give 4 developed points to explain why the scientific explanation of the world leads some people to become atheists or agnostics
*Matter is eternal* Science explains that matter has always existed and cannot be created, so rather than something creating the world its creation was begun 15 billion years ago when the Big Bang occurred. The Red Shift Effect proves that this happened naturally and without divine input.
*Evolution* Also happened over millions of years which contradicts the Biblical account of creation found in Genesis.
*Big Bang* Genesis makes no reference to the Big Bang which has been proven by Red Shift Effect. *Discrepancies* The fact that science directly opposes what the Bible says about the order and timescale of creation proves to some people that God does not exist because otherwise surely the Biblical account would be more accurate.
Give 3 developed arguments that science needs God to explain the universe.
*Science doesn’t explain why*
God designed the processes that science has discovered, e.g. evolution, there had to be a reason for a planet as complex as ours.
*God used science* Important events discovered through science, e.g. the Big Bang cannot have happened by chance. First, there must have been someone to start the process off. Second, these events had to happen in a particular way, e.g. the Big Bang had to happen at exactly the right microsecond in order for stars to form.
*Biblical account and science fit* Although there seem to be tensions between the scientific explanation and the Biblical account of creation, the scientific explanation is compatible with the Bible if it is not interpreted literally (e.g. the ‘days’ may refer to ‘ages’ lasting billions of years).
Give 4 developed points to explain why unanswered prayers may lead some people to become atheists.
*No response—no one there* When a person prays they are trying to contact God, usually through words. Unanswered prayers may lead some people to become atheists because if they attempt to contact God through words and they don’t even feel His presence, let alone get a response, they may presume that there is nobody there to listen to them
*Omniscient* Christians believe that God is omniscient, if God is supposed to be present to hear your prayer, but you can’t feel that presence, why would you believe in Him?
*Omnipotence* Christians believe that God is omnipotent and therefore powerful enough to respond whatever the request. If this is the case yet He doesn’t respond to someone’s prayer He can’t exist in the way Christians believe
*Omni-benevolence* If God is all loving to the extent that He will always want to help then an unanswered prayer leads some people to reject belief in this sort of God. For example, if a person prayer desperately for God to help a sick friend but they die regardless they may think ‘how can there be an all loving God who hears my request but ignores it totally and brings neither me nor my friend any comfort’
*Wider scale* Unanswered prayers on a wider scale, such as those for world peace, may also lead a person to question whether God can really exist and ignore so many peoples’ cries for help
Give 3 developed arguments that support the statement that unanswered prayers disprove the existence of God.
Omni-benevolence* If God existed, he would be *omnibenevolent* but God cannot be omnibenevolent if he does not answer every prayer. If God was omnibenevolent he would want to answer every prayer. If people are praying for something, they must really want it and a loving God would want to fulfill peoples’ desires
*Communication = the only proof* Prayer is the only way to communicate with God and communication is one of the best ways of confirming whether someone or something exists. If God does not answer prayers how can anyone know that he exists?
*Personal experience* If someone has a personal experience of praying and not receiving an answer, they will lose their faith that God loves them and stop believing he exists.
Give 3 arguments against the statement that unanswered prayers disprove the existence of God.
*Selfish* If you pray for selfish things, e.g. God allowing you to pass an exam without any work. God will let you fail so that you work hard the next time.
*What we need* Just like a human parent, God may answer our prayers by giving us what we need rather than what we have asked for, e.g. we might ask to win the lottery when we only need enough money to buy food, clothing and shelter.
*Unexpected* Your prayer may not be answered in the way you expect because God has different plans, e.g. he may want an ill person to enter heaven.
Give 4 developed points to explain how religious people may explain unanswered prayers
*Selfish* God hears all prayers because He is omniscient but that He will not grant prayers that are selfish such a person asking to do well in an exam when they hadn’t revised.
*God’s plan* Although God is omnipotent and so has the power to change things he won’t if what a person asks for goes against His plan for them e.g. a prayer that asks for a person to be cured of cancer when God has planned this end to their life and is trying to take their pain away.
*Unexpected answer* Christians may say that God is omnibenevolent and so He will always do what is best for people, rather than what they want and that people should trust that He will answer their prayer in the best way even if it seems to go unanswered.
*Faith* Finally, they may tell people with unanswered prayers that they should have faith and follow the advice in Matthew’s Gospel not to test God but to trust in God’s will because he has their long term happiness in mind.
Give 4 developed points to explain how the existence of evil and suffering show that God does not exist
*Prominence of evil* Some people look around the world and see so much evidence of evil and suffering e.g. poverty, murder, disease etc. that they find it impossible to believe that an omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent God could possibly exist.
*Inconsistent triad* If God were omniscient he would be aware of the vast evil and suffering present in the world, if He were omnipotent he would be able to stop all the evil and suffering in the world and if He were truly benevolent then would want to do so. However, we are surrounded by moral evil, war for example, and natural evil, natural disasters continue to happen and kill thousands so God cannot possibly exist.
*Natural evil* An all loving God would not have designed a world with such natural evils in it in the first place. Surely God would be omnipotent enough to create a world without humans capable of dreadful crimes like murder and without the suffering caused by diseases like cancer? As evil and suffering is so prominent in the world they prefer to believe that they are a result of the accident that was the Big Bang and the process of evolution.
*Moral evil* If the traditional Christian idea of God exists why doesn’t he intervene and stop the moral evil e.g. something as horrific as the Holocaust, from happening?
Who came up with the analogy of the watch?
William Paley
What are the 4 pieces of evidence for the design theory?
• Laws of Science
• Living things / DNA
• Evolution
• Beauty of Nature
How can evolution be used as evidence of design?
Some people argue that the way of life which all living things have evolved from simple to complex life forms suggests the existence of a guiding designer of god.
How can laws of science be used evidence for the design argument?
These laws of gravity, electricity, magnetism, motion, bonding, gases etc. all involve complex things working together for a purpose. Some people see these as evidence that the world has been designed.
What does the theologian Richard Swinburn says about the laws of science?
Argues that these laws suggest that the universe has been “fine tuned” by a creator/designer God to allow human life to exist.
How can DNA be used as evidence of design?
All living thing contain DNA which provides the blueprint for their structure and capabilities. This suggests to some people that all living things have been designed for specific purposes/to have specific functions.
How can the beauty of nature be used as evidence of design?
Nature contains several complex structures such as the oxygen cycle involving trees and the beauty of a sunset. These are so intricate and beautiful that some people may argue they must have been designed by a higher power (God).
What is the other name for the causation argument?
COSMOLOGICAL argument
In the causation argument, what is God known as?
God is known as ‘the first cause’ in the causation argument.
Which analogy could you use for the causation argument which demonstrates cause and effect?
Goods’ train. In any causal chain you have to have a beginning, just like the carriages of a goods’ train won’t move without an engine at the front.
Who formulated the causation argument?
St. Thomas Aquinas
What’s the problem with saying ‘who caused God?’
This question misses the point. According to the theory God is a necessary being, outside of space & time, self-generating. God is uncaused.
What is Isaac Newton’s quote about thumbs and their design?
‘In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence’
What does ‘morality’ mean?
The sense of right and wrong that guides peoples’ behaviour. Moral action is an action that is believed to be right according to the rules and laws of society. However other people can look at the actions in their own opinion as morally right or wrong.
What is the Bible reference for the creation story?
Genesis 1:1-31
What does Genesis chapter 1:1 say?
‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’
What does Genesis chapter 1:3 say?
‘God said ‘Let there be light’. And there was light.’
How could you use ‘infinite regression’ to disprove the causation argument?
Some scientists propose a cycle of the universe expanding and contracting which continues forever.Couldn’t we just say the universe is self-generating (self-causing)? Why do we have to bring the idea of a super being (God) into it?
How could you use ‘quantum physics’ to disprove the causation argument?
Some theories of Quantum Physics now propose that some matter can come in and out of existence without a cause.If this is the case, couldn’t the whole universe have come about in this way?
Who developed the Anthropic Principle?
F.R. Tennant
What does the Anthropic Principle argue?
Modern version of the Design argument. God planned the world so that everything was just right for human life to develop. The gravitational force at the moment when the universe began was just right for the universe to come into existence. Theists believe that the fine tuning required to provide all the conditions for intelligent life to develop cannot be chance but the deliberate action of God.
What are the 2 different types of miracle? Give an example of each.
1. Events that break the laws of nature and cannot be explained by the sciences. E.g. John 11:1-44, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
2. Events in which no laws of nature are broken but a coincidence occurs at just the right time to cause a good outcome thanks to God’s intervention. E.g. a toddler trapped on the railway line in the path of an express train. The train driver collapses and the train comes to a halt before it hits the child.
What does the argument from miracles for the existence of God say?
As there is no natural explanation for what happens in miracles for the laws of nature/science to be broken, then it must be a supernatural even. The miracle must have been cause by something outside nature and, as only God is outside nature, then it must be the result of God’s intervention in the world. Therefore, God exists.
Give 2 examples of miracles.
The healing of Jean-Pierre Bély at Lourdes.
The miracle of stairwell B, 11th September 2001.
Give 3 arguments supporting the idea that morality is proof that God exists.
*Conscience* is like an inner voice from God that guides our behavior; it causes us to feel good when we behave well and guilty when we think/know something is wrong.
*Morality takes priority* we do things that are morally right because it is what we think we ought to do, even when we would prefer to act in a different way. This feels like a command that must be obeyed which means it comes from an ultimate authority and this authority is God.
*Reward* the fact that people who behave morally do not always get justice but they must be rewarded in some way and this has to be after death. Therefore God must exist to raise people to life after death in heaven.
Give 3 arguments against the idea that morality is proof that God exists.
*Guilt not from God* People have guilt feelings because of the conflict between their desires and the moral rules/controls of society/religion/family not because of God. Otherwise, everyone would feel guilt in the same way.
*Afterlife* There’s no guarantee of a reward. Moral behavior is not rewarded by an afterlife because there is no evidence to support life after death.
*Evolution* Morality is part of the human development through natural selection that evolution has caused as it helps people to survive.
Why do some people say that the fact arguments for the existence of God require faith makes them invalid?
Every argument for the existence of God fails because they require a leap of faith. None provide enough evidence of their own, their only strengthen the belief that theists already have. Atheists and agnostics find plenty of alternative explanations for the arguments and say there is still insufficient evidence to prove whether or not God exists.
Which 3 quotes from William Paley about the design argument could you use?
‘The watch must have had a maker’.
‘No animal can have been the author of its own design’.
‘The uniformity of plan observable in the universe’ (proves God).
Which quote from Immanuel Kant could you use for the argument from design or morality?
‘Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.’

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