The Existence of God You only need to refer to Christianity in this section. You will need to understand the arguments for and against the existence of God. Key Concepts: Atheist=Someone who does not believe God exists Theist=Someone who does believe God exists Agnostic=Someone who says we cannot know if God exists ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Origins of the universe There are a number of arguments as to how the universe came into existence. Creation Christians believe that God created the universe. The creation story is contained in Genesis, the first book in the Bible. God is believed to have created the universe from nothing in 6 days. God was the sole creator and creation was the will of God. The Big Bang This is a scientific theory that explains the origins of the universe. (Remember it is a theory not fact!) The theory states that there was a large explosion about 15 billion years ago and from this the universe gradually developed. This is linked with the theory of evolution, this was put forward by Charles Darwin. It is the idea that life developed gradually. Starting with simple single-celled organisms over large periods of time these evolved into more complex forms of life. The human race came into existence at a late stage in the evolutionary process………………… THIS FOR CHRISTIANS DOES NOT DISPROVE THAT GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE…………THEY BELIEVE THAT EVEN THIS THEORY SUPPORTS THE FACT THAT THERE WAS A FIRST CAUSE & THEY BELIEVE THIS IS GOD………………HE CAUSED THE EXPLOSION………………..THEY BELIEVE THAT THE GENESIS STORY DOES NOT NEED TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. The First Cause St Thomas Aquinas said that things could not cause themselves to come into existence, something has to cause them. He concluded that the universe could not bring itself into existence therefore it needed a first cause. He believed this first cause was God. Think of it like a domino rally! The Design Argument This argument was put forward by William Paley. He argued that the universe shows too much order to have come about by random chance. To help you understand this: would a hurricane tearing through a scrapyard produce a Boeing 747? He believed the universe must have had a designer (Think about how perfectly fish are designed for swimming and birds for flying!) Paley used the famous example of a watch. If we came across a watch we would know it had a designer by just looking at it, think about how all the cogs work together to make the hands move. Sir Isaac Newton also used the design argument. He said that just by looking at his thumb print he knew God designed the universe. Religious Experience Many people claim to know God exists as they claim that they have experienced him………………..Religious Experiences can take many forms e.g: Miracles, visions, voices, healing, prayers being answered, meditation, stigmata. Many people claim to have had a conversion experience…………….a major event has happened to them to convince them of the existence of God. This then means that they convert to follow religion. Some non believers are sceptical of these experiences and claim they are all in the mind or are fakes!!! ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Suffering and Evil This is a major problem for Christians. If God is good, loving and the creator-Why is there suffering? There are 2 types of suffering: Natural e.g Tsunamis, Man made e.g Murder and war. For many, suffering and evil are evidence that God does not exist. Nietzsche argued that the world was imperfect because of suffering and evil. He concluded that there was not order in the world. This can be seen by earthquakes etc. Therefore Nietzsche believed God does not exist. Epicurus said that God did not exist as there was evil in the world. He argued: If God cannot stop evil, he is not all powerful If God can stop evil in the world but chooses not to, he is not good If God can stop evil and chooses to do so there would be no evil, but there is! Why? Because God doesn’t exist!! However we know there is suffering but there are also still millions of Christians. For them suffering is not evidence that God does not exist. They provide a number of reasons as to why there is suffering. Free Will & Original Sin In the creation story (Genesis) God gave Humans (Adam and Eve) Free will. God instructed Adam & Eve not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge. They chose to disobey him and to sin. Therefore Christians believe humans brought suffering on themselves. They believe God did not programme humans like puppets but gave them freedom of choice. It is up to humans to make the right decisions. A Test of Faith Christians believe God will judge people on the way they have lived their lives. Those who have obeyed Gods rules will be rewarded and those that haven’t will be punished. Christians believe in order for this judgement to be fair, faith has to be tested. The story of Job contained in the Bible illustrates this. He suffers total disaster, his children are killed, he loses his property, he is also infected with a horrible skin disease…………..however through all this he remains faithful to God. This puts forward 3 ideas about suffering: Suffering is a test Suffering is a punishment for sin Suffering is part of Gods plan which is beyond human understanding Christians argue that God has experienced suffering in the form of Jesus. He had an extremely humiliating and painful death and suffered immensely…………however they believe this was for a purpose.