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Proving God Exists

Length - 8:32
Published - Apr 2013
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Proving God Exists – For most people who believe in God, their faith is enough to know that he is real. But is there a way for them to prove to non-believers that God exists? This film takes a look at the various arguments for the existence of God, and wonders how convincing they are… Animation by Ceiren Bell

TrueTube films are designed for use in a number of ways. Some ideas of where this film could link to your curriculum are below:



Component 2 - Religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world: Theme C - The existence of God and Revelation: The Design Argument:The Design Argument, including its strengths and weaknesses.

The First Cause Argument: The First Cause Argument, including its strengths and weaknesses.



Area of Study 3 - Section 2: Philosophy of Religion: religious experience: Cosmological argument: the cosmological argument for the existence of God and its use by religions as a philosophical argument for the existence of God, including reference to Thomas Aquinas' First Three Ways of showing God's existence; divergent understandings of the nature and importance of what the cosmological argument shows about the nature of God ; religious responses to nonreligious (including atheist and Humanist) arguments against the cosmological argument as evidence for the existence of God.

Design argument: the classical design argument for the existence of God and its use byreligions as a philosophical argument for the existence of God; divergent understandings about what the design argument may show about the nature of God for people of faith, religious responses to non-religious (including atheist and Humanist) arguments against the design argument as evidence for the existence of God.



Component Group 2–Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective - the existence of God, gods and ultimate reality, and ways in which God, gods or ultimate reality might be understood; through revelation, visions, miracles or enlightenment.



Component Group 2 - Religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a Christian perspective- The existence of God - The nature of reality - Key philosophical concepts: • Arguments about the existence of God • Ideas about the purpose of the world • Ethical living •Christian philosophical views on the nature of reality and the reasons for belief in God, including: •• The world as designed and the argument from the evidence of design and purpose •• The world as requiring a cause and the argument from the concept of first cause •• The world as formed for humanity, as expressed in Genesis by the Anthropic principle •• The world and moral consequence, soul-making and judgement • The value and importance of arguments for the existence of God

Proving God Exists

Is it possible to prove that God exists? Well, probably not, but it hasn't stopped people trying over the years. You see, it's not enough for some people to believe there's a God just because it says so in a holy book. How do I know the Holy book is true, they say. And the answer, because God wrote it, doesn't seem to satisfy them. Ah, but what about religious experiences? Say the believers Surely, they prove that God exists? Well, not necessarily. People who say they've had religious experiences could be mistaken, or making it up, or mad. Sorry. Science and coincidence can often explain the rest. So where does our sense of right and wrong come from, say the believers? It must come from God. Well, again, not necessarily. Humans could have worked it out for themselves. For example, if a man is living in a small community. it's not going to work if he steals someone's food, sleeps with someone's wife, or shoots someone's brother. And if he did, the rest of the community would have something to say about it. Probably along the lines of don't do that, it's wrong.

While the search for solid evidence goes on, there are three main arguments that try to prove, from what we already know, that there is without any doubt, a God. So let's start with the cosmological argument or first cause argument, which goes like this. God must exist because who else could have made the universe? Everything has a cause. Nothing just happens. A vase doesn't smash by itself. A ball doesn't bounce by itself. A child doesn't just suddenly appear. They all have causes. And so, the argument goes, the universe must have a cause as well. A first cause. Therefore God exists. And what caused us? We don't have to be here, but we are. So something, or someone, must have had a reason for creating us. Or to put it another way, the universe is big. In fact, the universe is a bigger place than it's comfortable to imagine. Each person is a tiny dot on the planet, which is an even tinier dot in the solar system, which is an even tinier dot in the galaxy, which is an even tinier dot in the universe. If we didn't exist, the cosmos wouldn't even notice, and yet here we are. So there must be a cause, therefore God exists.

But there are problems with this argument. It's all built on the idea that everything has a cause. So who or what caused God? And if the universe is so big, then it's highly likely that in all that space with countless billions of planets to choose from, other life forms exist on some of them. And like our alien friends, we could be here just because we got lucky.

The teleological argument, fortunately also known as the argument from design, states that because the world is the perfect environment for humans to live in, it must have been designed specifically with humans in mind, therefore God exists. In 1802, a man called William Paley had a best seller on his hands when he wrote an explanation of the argument. It goes like this. Say you're walking in the country and you find a stone. You pick it up and look at it. It doesn't do anything, however much you shake it. The stone obviously has no purpose. So you throw it away and you walk on a bit and find a watch. You pick it up and look at it. It ticks. It has numbers. It has hands that go round. Unlike the stone, it's obvious that the watch has a purpose. And so it must have been designed by someone. Now, take a look at the world. It's the perfect environment for human beings. There's air, food and water. It's the right temperature. It has the right amount of gravity, and everything seems to work together to provide humans with a good home. It's obvious that it has a purpose. In fact, it's just the sort of place someone might design for humans to live in.

Well, said, Mr. Paley, it's staring you in the face, isn't it? It was designed. Therefore God exists. For a little while this argument seemed to clinch it. Nice one, Mr. Paley. But then, along came Charles Darwin and turned the whole argument on its head. The world, he said, wasn't made to suit people, people changed to suit the world. The Earth appeared by chance, and as plants and animals grew, they adapted over millions of years to deal with what was already here. And that wasn't the only problem with the argument from design. People pointed out that the design isn't perfect. There are lots of dangerous and nasty things out there diseases, for example, that spread without check, causing suffering and death. So if the world was designed, they said this must be the prototype, and as a parting shot, they added, if God designed us, then who designed God? So that just about wraps it up for the teleological argument.

But there's one more to look at, the ontological argument, and it's a bit of a mind mangler. It goes like this. If God is the greatest being in the universe, then he must exist, because if he doesn't exist, he wouldn't be the greatest being in the universe, therefore, God exists. Or to put it another way, something that exists is greater than something that doesn't exist. So in order for God to be the greatest possible being in the universe, he must exist. The general opinion of this argument is that it's trying to confuse people into believing in God. Eminent philosophers are divided on whether it's brilliant or a bucket full of gibbon dribble, but it's not as mad as it might sound. Describing something in a certain way can sometimes mean that it must exist. For example, the tallest man alive. Even if you had never met the tallest man alive, you would know that he exists. Because somewhere in the world there is a man who's taller than the second tallest man alive, therefore the tallest man alive must exist. Or think of how you'd describe a triangle, a three sided shape. As soon as you start mucking about with the number of sides it has, it stops being a triangle. A three sided shape is always, by definition, a triangle.

So what about the description of God as the greatest possible being? Philosophers have argued that something doesn't have to exist for it to be great. Greatness is so hard to define. Someone could describe the greatest possible chocolate bar, the size of a tower block and full of marshmallow pieces, but that doesn't mean it must exist. But if it doesn't exist, then can it really be called the greatest? And so on, but you can argue about the meaning of words as much as you like. The ontological argument doesn't prove the existence of God.

These arguments have made a lot of theologians, philosophers, and scientists very famous over the years, but they have failed to prove that God exists. But then no one has managed to prove that God doesn't exist either. Some would say that it's pointless to try and prove or disprove the existence of a God who is, if he exists, completely beyond our understanding anyway. In the end, what it comes down to is this. Do you believe in God or not?

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