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Chapter One: Defining God

Section 11: Summary

Before we ask if God exists we have to have a clear idea of who or what God is. Is there one definition that everyone agrees on?

1. We start by separating God, faith and religion. The fact that some people believe in God does not mean that God exists.
Section 1

2. If God does exist, most believers agree he is transcendent (he exists both within and outside the universe), eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. Section 2

3. However, believers do not always agree on the following points: can we experience God directly?, is he compassionate? is he the source or essence of good? Section 2

4. Our perception of God may not reflect reality. Your idea of God may be very different from mine - and we may both be wrong. Section 3

5. Furthermore, our perception of God has changed over time. He began as many gods who had very human emotions but limited powers and evolved into a more distant, omnipotent deity. Section 4

5. Part of this evolution can be seen in the Bible, where the original Hebrew text reveals there were several gods at the beginning of the Jewish / Christian creation story.
Section 5.

6. Polytheism (many gods) persists in Hinduism, which combines the idea of many gods with the notion of a single all-powerful god (Section 8) Christianity retains elements of polytheism (Section 6), while Islam claims there has only ever been one God. (Section 7).

7. Does God decide the fate of our immortal soul? Yes, according to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. No, says Buddhism , where our afterlife depends on the law of karma, not God's judgement. Section 8

8. Can believers experience God directly: is he knowable or unknowable? If God is unknowable, how can we know that he exists? Section 9.

9. There are many perceptions of God, only one of which may reflect reality. That means that either consciously or subconsciously, believers choose the God they wish to

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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worship. Whether or not God exists, believers create their own deity - a deity that always reflects their own personality. Section 10.

We have completed the first stage in our research. There is a core concept of God - he transcends the universe, is all-powerful and all-knowing - but beyond that there is uncertainty. Our next step is to see if that core concept makes sense or if the idea of God is contradictory and therefore impossible.

Chapter Two: Problems with God

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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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