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Chapter One: Defining God

Section 1: God, faith and religion

The fact that people believe in God does not mean that God exists.

God, faith and religion are three different ideas.

1.1a Clarify terms

God is a supernatural being who created the universe.

Faith is an individual’s belief that God exists.
A religion is the collection of beliefs about God’s nature and his involvement with humanity.

These three ideas - God, faith and religion - exist independently of each other. In theory, God could exist without faith or religion, faith or religion could exist without God and faith could exist without God or religion.

1.1b Examine options

Look at these possibilities:

1. God exists but no-one believes in him. There is God, but no faith or religion.

2. God does not exist, but one person believes in him. There is faith, but no God or religion.

3. God exists and only one person believes in him. There is God and faith but no religion.

4. God exists, and many people believe in him. They have agreed a collection of ideas about his nature. God, faith and religion all exist.

5. God does not exist, but many people believe in him. They have agreed a collection of ideas about his nature. Faith and religion exist, but God does not.

1.1c Check conclusions

Because all three ideas (God, faith, religion) exist independently, we have to conclude that the fact that people believe in God does not mean that God exists.

This fact - that God's existence or non-existence is independent of faith and religion - means that we cannot use faith or religion to prove or disprove God's existence. It also means that our first question cannot be: is Christianity, or Islam, or any

Chapter One: Defining God

Does God exist? Before we try to answer that question we need to have a clear idea of who or what God is. How do we describe God? What versions of God are on offer?

1.1: God, faith and religion
Do they need each other?

1.2: What is God?
God comes in several styles and models

1.3: Perception and reality
Is what we see what we get?

1.4: The evolving God
From prehistory to today

1.5: El, Yahweh et al
The Old Testament family of gods

1.6: Three's company
The Christian Trinity

1.7: Allah
Over to Islam

1.8: Majors and minors

1.9: The unknowable God
Is he there?

1.10: Your god or mine?
Made in our image

1.11: Summary

Finished this chapter? Move on to

Chapter Two
Problems with God

The real God – if such a thing exists – may be very different from the god portrayed by Jewish, Christian or Muslim scripture.

But whichever picture of God we look at - from the Bible and Koran to the images presented by other faiths and believers - we are confronted by problems. When examined closely, God's nature is so contradictory that it is unlikely, if not impossible, for him to exist.

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other religion true?

Before deciding whether any religion is true, we must first prove the existence of God; only if we are certain that God exists, can we ask which version of God (which religion) is true or comes closest to truth.

Next: Chapter One: Section 2
What is God?

"I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."
Thomas Edison, inventor, interviewed in the Columbian Magazine (1911).
Note that in the same interview, Edison said "I never have denied Supreme Intelligence. What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might."

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If God existed, he would...

admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create

recognize that eternity is meaningless

deny both heaven and hell

disown all men and women who speak in his name

denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"

help the human race to thrive without him

If God existed, he would be an atheist.

What is the difference between science and faith?

science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything

faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing

Which do you trust?

"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"

Check the answer

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