Creation Scientists take a literal approach to Genesis 1, believing it to be an actual account of the creation of the universe. They use science to back up this view. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) was created to complete research into backing up this theory.
Founded by Dr. Henry Morris in 1970, ICR exists to conduct scientific research within the realms of origins and Earth history, and then to educate the public both formally and informally through graduate and professional training programs, through conferences and seminars around the country, and through books, magazines, and media presentations.
We will look at some of the main beliefs held by the ICR in upcoming posts but just now we will look at the idea that the universe is just a few thousand years old.
There are many different pieces of evidence for this theory put forward including the dating of comets, the lack of salt in the sea floor and the soft tissue in fossils. See the below image. A lot of the explanations are quite complex and so providing you are able to summarise the young earth theory and perhaps remember a few of the supporting evidence.
For Scientific Materialists, it is unreasonable to believe that a God or Supernatural being created the Universe. Instead, they deduce through scientific reasoning and the scientific method that the origin of the Universe can be explained solely through science with no religious input.
One believer of this approach is Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist who is firmly against the idea of God and has published several pieces discrediting religious responses to the origin of the universe. In contrary to this is Edward Osbourne (E. O.) Wilson, a scientist who was brought up as a Christian but became an atheist. He does, however, believe science and religion can work together to provide a better understanding of how the world works.
Stephen Hawking has dedicated his life’s work to the exploration of Black Holes and in turn the Big Bang Theory. He believes that all the evidence that is currently available points to the Big Bang is the beginning of the universe. Until other evidence disproves this theory he believes that this is the only plausible explanation for the origin of the universe. When looking at what is a reasonable
When looking at what is a reasonable explanation, scientists look to theories that can be proven or disproven with the Scientific method. This is why revelation is unacceptable to many as it cannot be tested, verified or falsified.
Scientific theories, regardless of what they are about, are theoretical. This means they are theoretically right until a new piece of evidence can prove or disprove the hypothesis. You can read more about the scientific reasoning behind the Big Bang Theory in a previous post The Big Bang Theory Explained
When discrediting religion, many would use the argument that a book written thousands of years ago cannot have all the answers. If God did create the universe and the Bible is God’s word, why does it not explain more about the origins of the universe? However, the counter-argument of this is that the Bible should not be taken literally.
When you are asked about whether it is reasonable to believe a God created the universe you have to always remember what is reasonable to one person may not be reasonable to another. It is all down to personal interpretation.
The Four Sights are the 4 things that Siddhartha Gautama saw for the first time when he left the palace after living a sheltered life. When thinking about the four sights you need to try to think of it from the perspective of never seeing these things before and how your eyes would be opened to the truth.
My S3’s recently completed a task where they created eye’s that explained the sight and the significance of it inside. The Eye being opened symbolised the Truth being revealed. Here are some of their ideas.
First Sight – An Old Man
The first thing that Siddhartha saw was an Old Man – weak and frail. This is a major revelation as Siddartha would have come to the realisation that you are not young, fit and healthy forever. It is something that no one can escape.
Suffering is caused by old age because your body becomes weaker and sore and daily tasks may become hard due to this.
It is significant because it told Siddhartha that one day he too will become old and not live forever and be able to do everything he wants to do.
Second Sight – A Sick Man
The second sight was a sick man. After seeing the old man this would also be a shock as Siddhārtha had been sheltered from this and had never come across the concept of people getting sick, ill, helpless and even so ill they die.
Suffering is caused by the person being sick and not able to function. Suffering is also caused but the family worrying about this person.
This is significant because it shows that illness can affect everyone no matter what your circumstances are.
Another pupil put it:
sickness is inevitable and abnormal for someone who had never seen it. To see someone sick would be extremely alarming and confusing as they were unaware the body could do this.
Sickness is still a huge problem in society whether it is something as unforgiving as cancer or something as small as a cold it still affects us. It can happen to anyone, of any age, including Siddhārtha.
Third Sight – A Corpse
The third thing that Siddhartha saw was a corpse on a funeral pyre. This would have been a shock as this would be an awakening that life is not a continuous event. Think about it when people get a diagnosis of only a few months to live they change the way they live their lives some may write a Bucket List of things that they want to achieve before death. It changes their perspective.
“Death also affects the family of the loved one. If Siddhārtha never knew his family were going to die he may take them for granted. Whereas if he knew his family would die he would protect them and cherish the time he had with them.”
Fourth Sight – A Holy Man
After the first three Sights, Prince Siddhartha realises he has been duped throughout his life. He has been surrounded by luxury, shielded from suffering and true reality by his father. It is the fourth Sight which first awakens him to other possibilities and an escape from suffering. He sees a wandering holy man, a Sadhu, who appears happy in the midst of the suffering.
“The wise man is at peace with the world even though he has no possessions. This shows Siddhartha that he does not need material things to be happy. Siddhārtha feels betrayed by his family and so feels he must go find the truth.”
Did Siddhārtha really never experience these things?
It is highly unlikely that Siddhartha went through his whole life not experiencing any of these four sights. His teachings often take the form of stories with deeper meanings behind them and it is thought that this is such a story. Siddhartha is getting the point across as if you had never witnessed these four sights before in order to show the impact they have had on his life. He is emphasising the sheltered life he has lived.
Siddhartha returned to the palace. He went to see his father and asked, “Why have you lied about the existence of suffering, sickness, poverty, old age and death. Suddhodana said that if he had lied it was because he loved his son. But Siddhartha said that his father’s love “had become a prison, how can I stay here when there is so much suffering in the world, I have to do something about it”.
Siddhartha visited his wife and son as they slept to say good-bye. He could not wake them, for if he did, his love would not allow him to go. His heart was aching but he realised he had to leave them. The whole palace had fallen into a deep sleep, and a mysterious mist had descended. Only the great elephants were awake, and Siddhartha and Channa.
What does it mean by Going Forth?
He had reached the point where the conventions, the pattern of life that had been laid out for him was stifling. So he had to get out. In the story, Siddhartha resolved to take the example of the Sadhu to heart, and leave the palace and seek answers to his questions of why there is poverty, old age, disease and death. He had to Go Forth – to find the Truth.
Siddhartha realised that he had to separate himself from the demands of the group of which he was a part – he had to go his own, individual way. He needed to get away from the roles he was expected to play and that he did not choose. He felt that he had caught a glimpse of something richer, of new possibilities and that his old life was holding him back.
Siddhartha realised that he literally had to leave home. He therefore leaves parents, wife, child, tribe – and he goes at night. Siddhartha steals away from the group, he just slips out, otherwise they won’t let him go.
Going Forth is about is starting to control and determine your own identity yourself, and not letting others do it for you. This is what “leaving the group means”.
What Does Going Forth Mean?
Everyone has set roles that they fit into. We have to act a certain way in the different groups we are in.
In the family you function in a role, as son, daughter, mother, etc. The danger is that we over identify with a familial role as if this is just ALL you are, which is how families can become stifling. Often only when you have left home do you really relate to your parents as people, see them perhaps as fallible or funny, and have a much richer and perhaps more loving relationship with them.
Other groups that one may Go Forth from are your social scene, its fashions, its jargon, and its chitchat. Then you may go forth from an obsessive, unhealthy sexual or emotional relationship – one that is based on mutual emotional dependence and exploitation.
Then there is the Going Forth from the economic group and perhaps your job. There is the danger of over identifying with what you do. People ask, “What are you”…and you give them a job title, a role. You play or live a role.
Prince Siddhartha was raised a Hindu and had readily accepted the caste system. The caste system was a structure in society which was heavily related to the religious beliefs of reincarnation. It was strongly felt that actions in this life determined the life you would lead in the future – if you were evil and nasty you would be reincarnated into someone who suffered, if you were kind and good you were reincarnated into someone rich. This strong belief meant that many people felt you ‘deserved’ the life you had and that whilst you could still be kind to others there was no obligation to support the most vulnerable in society.
The Caste System
People were born into the caste system and then had to choose professions accepted within the caste system, which usually meant following your family’s jobs. You could not work your way through the castes, or marry someone from a different caste. If you broke the caste system you were rejected from society – you became an ‘out-caste’. This system had been heavily reinforced for thousands of years. (If you think about the different factions in Divergent with the factionless being like the Out-Caste)
The very bottom of the caste system was the ‘Untouchables’ to have any contact with this group immediately made you impure. You can see the broad strata in the image on the right.
Buddha was opposed to this structuring and said it was wrong to assign someone to a caste for their whole life. He said people should be judged on ‘merit’ (what they could do) rather than what they were born into. He changed his beliefs from his previous Hindu upbringing to something which was seen as completely radical for his time.
Buddha also believed that everyone could be on a path to enlightenment and could do things to improve their chances of achieving enlightenment, whereas Hinduism mainly left the religious roles to the Brahman’s, Buddha said everyone could find a spiritual path to enlightenment.
The Buddha also departed from Hindu beliefs about God. For the Buddha the aim of existence was to cease existing, to end suffering you had to end your own rebirths because you could never escape suffering.
Buddha believed there was no God which radically departed from Hindu beliefs. In Hinduism there was one God reflected in many other gods e.g. god of fertility, god of life, god of harvests etc. For the average Hindu householder they picked a god who would best serve them and built shrines to worship them, e.g. a farmer would choose the gods of rain, sunshine and fertility and worship them.
Buddha changed his life dramatically – from a wealthy prince ready to rule over a large empire established by his father to a wandering ascetic looking for truth. His previous life was full of luxury and material goods but his new life was austere and spiritual. With this change in circumstances there was a change in attitude and beliefs.
The 3 Dimensions of Going Forth
Going Forth’ can be broken down into three parts:
The Physical Journey. Prince Siddhartha physically leaves the palace, his life of luxury, his family, friends and the life he knows in search of something unknown. He rides out on his horse beyond the palace walls in search of truth.
The Emotional Break. Prince Siddhartha has to break his emotional ties to his family, his culture and his own identity. He must go forward independently and open his mind to new ideas and experiences.
The Psychological Shift: Prince Siddhartha has been awakened to a different reality and this changes the way he thinks. He wants to end suffering for all, he wants to find peace for himself, he has been challenged to think differently. He has had a culture-shock and he starts to question cultural values. So he goes in search of truth and an end to suffering.
Karma and Path to Enlightenment
Buddha’s idea of karma was also different. In Hinduism there was a linear approach to karma – a person would do something and immediately there was a consequence or an identifiable trace between cause and effect. However, Buddha saw Karma as much more complex and working in more challenging ways.
Buddha also accepted many ideas prevalent in Hindu culture – encouragement to be vegetarian and not to harm other living beings, ideas about searching for truth by looking within, the practices of meditation and yoga and so on. So whilst he went forth and revolutionized some beliefs, he also stayed true to many cultural beliefs.
Buddha taught his followers in many different ways and encouraged them to find their own path to enlightenment. He used stories, teaching, meditation, self-denial and other methods to show that there were many paths towards enlightenment. This was different to the Hindu tradition which prescribed particular practices.
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.
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.