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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.
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
3. God exists and only one person believes in him. There is God and faith but no
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?
The real God – if such a thing exists – may be very different
from the god portrayed by Jewish, Christian or Muslim
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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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.
"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"
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