Professor Alan Lurie writes about his beliefs on What God is. He is from a Jewish faith and this could be useful when asked in an exam or assignment about beliefs about God.
As a rabbi, I am often asked to define the word “God.” And as a person whose life is centred on knowing God, I’ve attempted to give thoughtful responses. But I’ve discovered that my attempts, which are given with the intention of reducing misunderstandings, usually produce the opposite results, and create more misunderstandings. This is because whatever one’s position — from atheistic to fundamentalist and all points in between — we all, as products of a culture steeped in religion, necessarily carry ideas about God, and many of these ideas can be held so stubbornly that any meaningful conversation is immediately derailed.
For many people, the word “God” just seems to ring badly. It feels stuffy, old-fashioned and self-righteousness — a relic from a less enlightened age. For others, the answer has already been given by the doctrine of their religion, and so the issue is closed. For others, the very notion of God is absurd, and so the issue is also closed.
In your exam you may be asked about The Nature of Human Beings. This is a revision guide for key ideas that you will need to know for your exam.
Created in the Image of God
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
What does this mean?
Christians believe that humans were made in the image of God. This means that they were created to resemble God’s spirit. This is also known as Imago Dei. This is what sets humans apart from animals. This is why Humans can communicate with God. By being created in God’s image this means that Christians believe they must act in a way that would please God.
Christians believe that God is all Loving and therefore they should act like that – read more here.
Christians believe that God gave all Humans Freewill. Freewill is the ability to make decisions for themselves. However Christians believe that God has planned everything in the Universe out. Some would argue this is incompatible with Freewill. However Christians would answer this by saying that they free to make their own choices but God will know what choice they will make.
Having freewill means that Humans are free to make decisions- Christians believe that everyone should be using their Freewill wisely. They should look to the Bible for guidance as to how to live their life as well as follow the example of Jesus. It impacts on a daily basis as they should be thinking about what would please God in each situation.
What is the Human Condition?
The Human Condition is used to explain the idea that because Original Sin is in the world the whole of humanity suffers. This can only be rectified if Humans live a life that would please God. e.g. in his image or likeness.
Christians believe that God created the Universe. He chose to create it out of love for humanity. Some may argue that he created it because he wanted to be worshipped, therefore it was selfish his creation however Christians would debate this. They would argue that as God is Omnipotent he doesn’t need to be loved.
One of the main theme running through Christianity is the theme of Love. God is full of Love as we should all be.
For Christians it is not important how God created the Universe, as they believe that is beyond their own imagination and for them it doesn’t really matter. This is their faith. There are different arguments for the compatibility of God and Science. Read about them here. There are two versions of the Creation story in the book of Genesis.
Genesis 1 is also known as the 7 Day creation story. This is the story that God created the Universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th.
Genesis 2 is the story of Adam and Eve. Where God created humans first and placed them in a Garden. This provides an account of how sin entered the world
There are different types of Creationist Christians (You can read about this in more depth here) In general they believe that the story in the Bible is the literal truth.
Liberal Christians take these as stories or parables. Stories that help tell a more complex idea. This is how many Christians would then link in these ideas with Scientific Theories like the Big Bang Theory and Evolution.
Our S3 Pupils are embarking on a Unit looking at different philosophical ideas. Firstly we are starting with some Epistemology, this is the study of knowledge.
We began by thinking about what is knowledge and reality. Do we ever really know anything? How can we trust what we know? This led to some great conversations on things we thought we knew but actually turned out to be false. For example people believing the world was flat and some people who still believe this to be true.
We then looked at some optical illusions and discussed how our senses can deceive us.
This led us to discuss the work of Rene Descartes. Descartes argued that because our senses have tricked us before it cannot be guaranteed that they would not trick us again. Descartes argued whether it was possible to truly know anything. His conclusion was that the only thing that we could truly know is that we exist. We don’t know if we are being controlled, like a Sim or whether we are dreaming we are humans. This is quite a difficult concept to comprehend. Therefore we are watching the film, The Truman Show to apply this knowledge of Descartes to the concept of reality.
This is a summary of what Muslims believe about God. The Arabic word for God is Allah, that is what many Muslims call him as most of islamic texts and words are written in Arabic.
Muslims believe in Tawhid – this is the belief that there is one supreme god. Muslims are Monotheistic, this means they only have one god. They believe that God is eternal, he has always existed and always will. Allah has no gender, no partners and no equals. His nature is beyond our human understanding.
Importance of Tawhid
Tawhid is very important to Muslims. Allah should always be the forefront of Muslims minds. It is the first part of the Shahadah. This is the first thing whispered into a baby’s ear and should be the last thing a dying muslim says. It should also be the first and last thing Muslim says each and everyday. This highlights that Allah is the only one god. He has complete creative power.
Allah is the creator of the Universe and has the power to do anything and everything Muslims believe he is all loving and all knowing. Although Allah has created the whole world and is beyond the universe. he is close at hand. He is immanent. This is the belief that he is close at hand, he is here with us. He knows our unspoken thoughts, he is even closer to us than us than our own heartbeats.
Shirk is seen as the one unforgivable sin in Islam. It means associating other beings with Allah. It is idolatry. If your try to compare Allah to anything in creation, or suggest they have the same abilities , this would be shirk.