Existence of God Revision Notes

Another brilliant set of revision notes on the Existence of God Unit.

Nature of God

  • Omnipotent – God is all powerful
  • Omniscient – God knows all
  • Omnibenevolence – God is entirely good
  • Omnipresent – God is present in all of time & space
  • Creator of everything that exists

Why might people disagree about the nature of God?

  • Many believe God is all powerful, yet we don’t see him acting in the world today the way he did in saving the Hebrews from Egypt
  • Believed to be all powerful/knowing/loving yet evil & suffering exists in the world. Makes some people question whether these can be true
  • Believed by Middle Eastern traditions to be the involved creator of all things, yet for some science disputes this through evolution & big bang theory
  • Some feel God is absent at difficult times in their lives, but others describe a feeling of closeness to God, and of his care through tough times. For example, in the holocaust some lost their faith, while others felt their faith was strengthened


Why questions about the existence of God are important for some people?

  • If God is real, people might want to connect with or know more about him
  • If you decide God doesn’t exist, it lets you get on with your life without fear of judgement
  • Knowing God exists may help people to find meaning, value or purpose in life
  • Answering one ultimate question can help you with the others such as if God is real there may also be an afterlife, creator etc.
  • If God does exist, you may need to take care to live in a way which pleases him in order to get a good afterlife


Aquinas’s Cosmological Argument

  • First of five ways – Motion – Says everything that moves in moved by something else. This cannot be infinite, or movement wouldn’t have started in the first place. Must be unmoved mover = God
  • Second of five ways – Causality – Everything has a cause. There cannot be infinite number of causes. Must be uncaused cause = God is the first cause
  • Third of five ways – Potentiality – Nothing can come from nothing. Something only comes into existence as a result of something that already exists. Must be something with necessary being that exists = God


Supporting Arguments

  • We can observe the universe exists and everything that exists needs a beginning/cause
  • Only god could be the cause of the universe because he is the only being powerful enough
  • Many mathematicians agree that infinite regress is impossible, so there has to be a first cause, and the only being we have knowledge of that doesn’t need a cause for its existence is god
  • Science supports the idea of the universe having a beginning, e.g. the big bang, and agrees that things can’t cause themselves
  • Ockham’s razor says the simplest explanation is the right one and the first cause is arguably the simplest


Opposing Arguments

  • The argument contains self-contradiction – it states that there are no uncaused causes, yet it also says that God does not need a beginning
  • Quantum physics suggests particles may be able to just appear, so perhaps the singularity occurred spontaneously
  • Why does the universe need a beginning? If God can be without cause, why can’t this be true of the universe itself? Maybe it just is and always has been
  • The universe may be going through an infinite number of expansions and contractions. This fits with eastern cosmology
  • The argument is based on assumptions, therefore proves nothing. At most it shows it might be reasonable to believe in God


Counter Arguments

  • David Hume – Hume argued that because everything within the Universe has a cause it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Universe itself must have cause. Hume also pointed out that we have no experience of creating universes and so cannot speak meaningfully about the creation of the Universe


Paley’s teleological argument

  • Paley’s watch analogy – If someone walking over a heath, stumbled against a stone and asked how it got there, they might reason it had always been there – it had no purpose or reason
  • If they found a watch, they might notice that its various parts are complex, and it shows evidence of regularity and purpose
  • It would be reasonable to conclude that the watch must have had a watchmaker
  • The universe, like the watch, shows evidence of regularity & purpose
  • It would therefore be reasonable to infer that the universe also had a maker
  • The designer of this complex universe must also be a superior intelligent being whom we can call God


Teleological argument – Supporting Evidence

  • The complexity of the human eye. The eye is a famous example of a designed complex structure. It has many elaborate and interlocking parts, all dependent upon one another
  • The regularity of the seasons
  • The position of the earth in the solar system is perfect for life to exist
  • The apparent design and purpose of the world e.g. predictability of sunrise, tides etc

Supporting Arguments

  • Life is too awe-inspiring and beautiful to be the result of chance
  • Things in the world show evidence of design for a purpose e.g. eyes for seeing, wings for flying etc.
  • It is not reasonable to believe that the debris from the Big Bang would form such complex things in the universe. The only logical explanation is an all-powerful God. The rise of life is contrary to physical law of entropy
  • The Theory of Evolution could be part of God’s plan. God used the mechanism of Evolution to create life
  • Genesis 1 and 2 explain that God created the world and all living things, and this is God’s word, therefore it can be trusted completely

Opposing Arguments

  • There is no proof that the universe needs a designer, maybe it has always been there
  • There is evidence of bad design in the world, so perhaps this is down to chance rather than design. Natural disasters like earthquakes point to a bad designer rather than the God of traditional Theism
  • Analogies used by Paley are based on assumption and not fact
  • Natural processes/the laws of physics/chance and necessity are enough to give a complete explanation so there is no need to resort to the idea of a designer God
  • Evolutionary theory acknowledges the appearance of design, but suggests that this has arisen due to entirely natural forces

Counter Arguments

  • Dawkins agrees the universe appears designed, but this finds a full explanation when chance mutations meet the necessity of natural selection
  • David Hume
  • Comparison between a watch and the natural world is wrong. Mechanical cannot be compared to the living world. He saw the universe as a living organism which changes and develops rather than a machine
  • There are lots of examples of bad design such as suffering and evil. Perhaps God was an incompetent designer?
  • The analogy points to many gods being the designers not necessarily the monotheistic Christian God
  • Even if we believe that God is the great designer of the Universe how do we know that God is still with us? Who is to say that God has not given up on us and gone to make a better universe elsewhere?




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