Philosophy 1: Beliefs about Deity (B601)


The Nature of God: Key Words

Deity- God or a form of God. 

Theists- Believe in a God.

Agnostic- a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

Atheists- Do not believe in a God.

Monotheism- The belief in one God only.

Polytheism- The belief in multiple Gods.

Anthropomorphism- God cannot be compared to anything on this earth.

Numinous- The feeling of awe and wonder which is felt during religious emotional moments.

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The Nature of God: Is God male or Female?

  • In Christianity, God is traditionally referred to with masculine terms for example he, his, him.
  • The Catholic Catechism states "He is neither man nor woman: he is God". This scripture discusses that God is not limited just to being 'The Father' which is a man's role- maternal imagery are also used in the bible. In Catholicism, God is referred to as masculine in Catholic teaching and practice.
  • Some Christians may believe that as God is a spiritual being, he has no literal sex as he has no body which is required to be assigned a sex. Using human characteristics to describe God can be limiting. Christians understand God to be greater than humans. This is anthropomorphism.
  • Jesus did refer to God as 'Father' and when God was incarnated as Jesus, he was a male human.
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The Nature of God: Is God male or Female? Quotes

  • It is important to note that God only appears physically once in the Bible: 'Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.' Genesis 3:8
  • 'No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.' 1 John 4:12
  • 'You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.' Exodus 33:20b
  • 'Let us make man in our image' Genesis 1:26
  • 'As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.' Isaiah 66:13a
  • God is spirit, neither man nor woman: 'God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.' John 4:24
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What is God like?

  • Benevolent- God is all loving and truly good.
  • Omnipotent- God is all powerful and in control of everything. 
  • Omniscient- God is all knowing and sees everything. 
  • Perfect- God is perfect in every way and has no faults.
  • Infinite- God is endless.
  • Eternal- God will exist forever. 
  • Transcendent- God is above and greater than this universe.
  • Immanent- There is no place where God is not.
  • Personal- God can communicate with us, he knows all about us.
  • Impersonal- God is uninvolved with human lives he just watches.
  • Judge- He is the judge of faith (Heaven or Hell).
  • Ineffable- There are no words to describe God.
  • Creator- God created life and Earth.
  • Holy- God is glorius, pure and admirable.
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The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is God in three forms. Whilst there is only one God, he comes as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each part of the Trinity fulfils a different role and each part is eternal- they each have always existed and always will. 

God the Father- He is the transcendent creator and judge. In the Apostles' Creed it says 'I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth'.

God the Son- Jesus, who is immanent and personal. Jesus is believed to be God incarnated (in human form on earth). Jesus is free from all sin, so came to earth to show God's love and power, to teach people how God wants us to live and give Christians a pathway to heaven. The Apostles' Creed says 'I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by  the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary'.

God the Holy Spirit- SImilar to a Guardian Angel. with Christians as their constant guide and comforter, inspires Christians. The Apostles' Creed says 'I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life'. 

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Arguments for the existence of God

  • Argument from experience: Some people experience God through miracles or prayers. Some people experience God when they feel awe and wonder and the stunning world around us. This us known as a numinous understanding of God. Some believe he communicates with us.
  • Moral Argument: People have a basic understanding of what is right and wrong. Some Christians believe that God gave us our conscience and his true goodness, gives us an idea of what is good and what is not. 
  • Teleological (Design) Argument: The universe shows evidence of design as it is too complex to just coincidentally be that way. Christians may believe that the person who must have designed it was God. 
  • Cosmological Argument: Everything shows evidence of cause and effect- once thing triggers the next thing to happen. The first causer must have been God. 
  • Ontological Argument: As we are able to think of God, God must exist. God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'.

Reasons why Christians believe in God:

-For people who are brought up to believe in God, religion can form an important part of their lives.

-The Bible provides Christians with evidence that God is real.

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Arguments against the existence of God

Reasons why some people do not believe in God:

  • If God was in control, why did He make us imperfect? Humans have to learn to be perfect, if God made us perfect we wouldn't have any free will and would simply be robots.
  • Why would God create a world with design flaws like earthquakes? Some things happen that humans cannot understand. Humans shouldn't question God's authority.
  • Why does evil exist in the world? Evil and suffering help us to appreciate the good things in life. It helps us grow into better people and encourages to show compassion for others.
  • Why doesn't everyone have the same understanding of right and wrong? Some people choose not to listen to their conscience.
  • Why is there no hard evidence for the existence of God? A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol, and it is down to a Christian's faith to prove his existence.
  • When prayers appear to be answered, it is simply a coincidence. When amazing things happen, that doesn't mean they're miracles. Science can explain how the universe came into existence: the Big Bang. Science can also explain the complexity of life; natural selection, evolution. Science cannot explain everything. It might explain how things work but not why, God is the reason behind science.
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A miracle is a supernatural act, that breaks the laws of nature and is inexplicable by science.

Christians believe that miracles are God's intervention in our world, and one of his ways of communicating with us. Many Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches believe that God  is still performing miracles today.

The Christian religion is founded on key examples of miracles which are described in the Bible. Christians believe that: 

  • God came to Earth in human form as Jesus.
  • Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant.
  • Jesus performed the following miracles to show his power over creation:

-Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

-Jesus walked on water.

-Jesus healed the sick from illnesses like leprosy and blindness.

-Jesus died on the cross and rose again (was resurrected).

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God intervening in the world through Jesus

  • Jesus is referred to as Lord, showing his power over creation.
  • Jesus is also described as Christ and the Messiah which means 'anointed one' which shows he is thought of as a King.
  • Christians believe that Jesus is their Saviour and the redeemer. They believe that faith in Jesus can save them from sins and that Jesus sacrificed himself so that humans could be forgiven by God.
  • Jesus is believed to be eternal. This means he always existed, even before he came to earth and always will exist.
  • Christians believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Jesus as a teacher:

  • The Sermon on the Mount: 'blessed are the peacemakers for they are the sons of God' and 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Matthew.
  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan: A story which reminds people to look after people in need and not treat people from other countries or religions badly.
  • The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats: A story which teaches people that they should look after needy people in society because this shows their love for God.
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God intervening in the world-The Holy Spirit

  • Christians believe that the Holy Spirit  is permanently within every Christian. The Holy Spirit is often symbolised as a dove or as tongues of fire.

What happened at Pentecost:

  • Jesus told his followers that the Holy Spirit would visit them after he rose to heaven. 
  • The disciples were all gathered together to celebrate the festival of Pentecost (like Harvest festival).

'Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.' This is described in the Bible in the Book of Acts.

  • This describes an important miracle of the Holy Spirit- because the disciples were now able to speak different languages, they went out to spread Jesus' teachings. They converted many people to become followers of Jesus.
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