Tag: Christianity

Is it possible that God could have created the Universe? Higher Origins Essay Help

Is it possible that God could have created the Universe?

Higher Origins Essay Help

The VIEWS Structure

This guide will follow the VIEWS format; which is a good example of how to structure essay paragraphs.

Viewpoints

Interpretation

Example

Weaknesses

Strengths/ Rebuttal

Some may find it easier or more logical to switch the weaknesses and strengths around, finishing on the weakness. Or as I have done below started with a strength, given a weakness then given a rebuttal.  This will help you consider evaluation, analysis and knowledge points. Make sure you always answer the question and link back to the question.

Is it possible that God could have created the Universe? Discuss

There are many different approaches to this question and it is not as straightforward as it seems. This guide aims to look at four different responses to this argument.

  1. Yes, because the Bible says he did. (Creationists Christians)
  2. Yes, because the Bible says he did and this can be backed up with science. (Creation Scientists)
  3. Yes, because there are many scientific theories that are explained by God. (Liberal Christians)
  4. No, because there is scientific evidence to say God was not required to create the Universe. (Scientific Materialists)

Viewpoint 1 –  Creationists

Christians would look to the Bible for guidance and help in their life. However, it is up to personal faith and belief as to how you interpret the Bible. Many take a literal approach and believe every word of the Bible to be the truth. These people are called Creationists. They believe the bible is a Special Revelation from God and is his exact words and therefore the ultimate truth. This means that when they are looking at the Book of Genesis which details the creation stories they believe this to be a complete truth.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Creationists would take the seven-day creation story literally and so believe that because the Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it, this is the only evidence that they need. Some may say that the Bible is not enough evidence to prove God created the Universe, especially because it was written thousands of years ago and there has been scientific research that claims otherwise. However, by only looking at the Bible and discrediting any other theories or evidence requires a lot of faith and belief and so this could be seen as a strength. Therefore Creationists Christians believe that God is the only answer for the creator of the Universe.

 

Viewpoint 2 – Creation Scientists

Creation Scientists hold a similar belief in that they believe the Bible to be a literal account of the creation of the Universe, but they would also back this up with scientific evidence. This means that they believe the Universe is only a few thousand years old and it was created in 6 days. The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is a research group set up by Dr. Henry Morris, sets out to find Scientific Evidence to back up the Creation story as found in the Bible. For Example, the ICR claims that Fossils cannot date back millions of years old as there is still soft tissue present in it. They also have used Science to back up their theory that the Universe is only several thousands of years old because of the lack of sodium in the world’s oceans. By taking the story from the Bible and backing it up with scientific findings that follow the scientific method, Creation Scientists are able to prove the possibility of God creating the Universe. Their hypothesis has been taken from the Bible and they have used testing and verification to conclude that their theory was correct. Many would argue a weakness of this viewpoint is that Creation Scientists are only taking into account the parts of science that fit their theory and discrediting other scientific ideas. Creation Scientists would rebut this saying that Atheists who discredit the idea of God are ignoring evidence such as the Bible and other ways in which God has revealed himself. Therefore Creationists Scientists would believe that it is fully possible to believe that God created the Universe.

Viewpoint 3 – Liberal Christians

There are many that believe that scientific theories such as the Big Bang Theory can work with the Biblical Account of Creation. Christians who interpret the Bible in a metaphorical way, believing the Bible to be a story to help explain God’s power, would believe that the creation story of Genesis and the Big Bang Theory could work together. For example, in Genesis 1 it says that there was immense darkness before God said: “Let there be Light”. This can be compared to the Light that was emitted when the Big Bang started and so it could be argued that God was the cause of the Big Bang. The process of the Big Bang could fit in with the process of the Big Bang and the 6-day creation story could instead be interpreted as 6 stages or time periods. A strength of this argument is that allows Christians or theists to believe in God and have their faith backed up with scientific theories. Scientists do not know for example what started the Big Bang and so for many Christians, this something is God. Scientist E. O Wilson who is an atheist agrees that it is possible that religion and science can work together. A weakness of this approach, however, is it is not clear as to how much of the Bible should be taken metaphorically. This could cause people to pick and choose parts of their own religions. However, Liberal Christians would argue this is all part of the free will that God has given them, the ability to make reasoned judgments based on his guidance. Overall Liberal Christians believe that it is entirely possible that God created the Universe.

Viewpoint 4 – Scientific Materialists

There are many who do not believe it is possible for a God to have created the Universe, these people are referred to as Scientific Materialists. They look to scientific theories to explain the origins of the universe. Scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins would argue that there is no need for a God. They would look at the Big Bang Theory and summarise that it does not require a God. There are many instances of spontaneous, unexplained actions that can happen in the Universe that can cause a chain of events. It is argued that one of these unexplained combustions could have caused the Big Bang and therefore requires no God. A strength of this is that it is using the evidence available to come to a conclusion and is not relying on faith or religious revelation, which cannot be verified. However, it could be argued that scientific theories such as the Big Bang Theory are only ever theories, based on the evidence available at that time. Science is continually changing and developing and so theories can change. However, for many atheists who do not believe in God, science seems to be the only logical approach to questions about the Origin of the Universe.  For Scientific Materialists, it is impossible for a God to have created the Universe.

Conclusion

In your Higher exam – it is recommended you bring together all of your ideas and summarise your arguments and answer the question. You can answer the question and add your personal opinion using phrases such as “in my opinion”,as an overall conclusion I would say that” or “I agree to a certain extent…”

When writing an essay, use the skills phrases to help you which are available on the https://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/RMPSCourseSpecN5.pdf

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The Life of Jesus – Revision Resource

The Life of Jesus – Revision Resource

This is a great website that talks you through all the things you need to know about Jesus.

In the National 5 and Higher Exam – you will need to know Who Jesus was, Beliefs about him, his teachings, what impact he had as well as basic information about his life.

You may be asked to reflect on who he was in relation to God. Also you should be able to describe a few parables in detail.

http://request.org.uk/jesus/introduction-to-jesus/

This Website  – REQuest is really easy to use and helpful at guiding you through Jesus’ life.

Why not use it to answer some of these questions.

  1. Create a timeline of key events in Jesus’ life.
  2. What is the significance of the Incarnation (Birth of Jesus) to Christians (4)
  3. What are Christian Beliefs about Jesus? (4)
  4. Explain what is meant by the Holy Trinity. (4)
  5. Jesus is often referred to as the Messiah – What does this mean? (4)
  6. Jesus taught people how to live by using parables.
    1. Summarise 2 parables and their meanings.
    2. Explain how Jesus used Parables to teach people how to live their lives (4)
  7. Summarise the Easter Story. (4)
  8. How do Christians celebrate this? (4)

The website also has lots of other information for revision. I will pinpoint some other parts.

Is God A Man In the Sky? – Huffington Post Article

Is God A Man In the Sky? – Huffington Post Article

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The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo at the Sistine chapel, Vatican city, Rome, Italy

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.

Read the rest of the article here… 

Christian Beliefs about Nature of Humans

Christian Beliefs about Nature of Humans

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. 

Freewill

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.

Read more about it here. 

 

 

Christian Beliefs about Creation

Christian Beliefs about Creation

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

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.

TheCreation1

 

Genesis 2

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

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Creationist Christians

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

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 links with the Philosophical ideas of Telelogical and Cosmological ideas.

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See this table for different interpretations of the Genesis stories.

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National 5 Revision Guides and Questions

National 5 Revision Guides and Questions

Hello National 5s

Below are the revision guides for your three units to complete in the exam.

I will add more and more revision guides to this website for the topics that you need to know about for the exam.

Remember to use this website to help or come along to B12 after school for help.

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Use these Revision Questions to help test your knowledge of the above content. There are revision guides on this page for most of the topics if you need extra help.

National 5- Revision Questions

 

Is it Reasonable to Believe that God Created the Universe? Higher Model Answer

Is it Reasonable to Believe that God Created the Universe? Higher Model Answer

Is it reasonable to believe that God Created the Universe? (20 Marks)

Below is a model answer of the above question. I have added in some links to help with additional reading.

This is a question that has been widely debated for years and as scientific advances happen, fresh debates also happen. In order for something to be reasonable, it must have evidence to back up the claim. When looking at the Existence of God, many would look to evidence to support their argument. However Religious people, such as Christians would also say that belief in something also requires Faith. There are different types of truth, which depend on faith. (Read more about this here. )

Christians fundamental belief is that God must exist because the Universe exists and he is the Creator of everything. For them, God reveals himself in different ways. Sometimes this may be directly communicating with people – for example giving the Ten Commandments to Moses. Those who believe Jesus was an incarnation of God, also believe that this was God revealing himself to humanity. There are many different types of revalation that God has used to show himself  to humanity. Christians believe that this therefore is proof that God exists and created the Universe because there is evidence of him in the Bible, History and in the world around us.

Critics of this argument would say that because the word exists and there are instances of God revealing himself do not actually prove God exists or that he created the Universe. There are questions raised about the physical appearance of God so much in the times of the Old Testament but not anymore. Scientists would argue that the Bible cannot be used as a source of Scientific knowledge as it is full of inaccuracies and contradictions. It was written by humans about their understandings of God. Scientists would argue that therefore it is not a divine revelation, instead interpretations of a divine revelation. What one person experiences is not valid scientific evidence because it is a personal experience that cannot be verified. This is where the argument of the difference between faith and reason comes in. God is so powerful and mysterious that he is beyond human comprehension, therefore depending on your own faith and reason it could be reasonable to believe that God created the universe.

The Christian creation story of Genesis 1 can be used to support beliefs in God. This is the story that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. This can be interpreted in different ways. Creationist or Literal Christians believe that this is true in every way. They believe that the Bible is God’s word and so we must accept everything that is in it as the truth. Therefore for literal there is no debate when asked if God exists. God is Omnipotent and can do anything. Some Christians would say that this literal view is not compatible with some scientific evidence and therefore would see the creation story as being symbolic. They still believe that God created the world but not in the 7 24 hour time periods that are described in the Bible. By interpreting the source in this way Liberal Christians can look at scientific evidence and interpret the source with other developments that humans have found to be true. Therefore many would argue that the Genesis story can either prove or at least support the belief in a God as a creator.

The Cosmological Argument is an argument first put forward by Thomas Aquinas. The argument suggests that everything that exists must exist because it was caused by something else. Everything in the universe must have a cause. There must have been a first cause to cause everything. This cause must have been an uncaused cause to start everything off. The only thing that is eternal and powerful enough is God. Therefore God must be the first cause and God must exist. This gives a philosophical reason for the existence of God and gives reason to the argument that God exists. Christians use this argument to support their belief that God created the universe.

There are flaws with the Cosmological argument as an explanation for how the Universe began. For example, the premise of the argument that everything must have a cause does not include God. For many there is the argument that if God does not need a cause why does the universe? This argument also only links to the conclusion that there must be a uncaused cause, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is God. Scientists would use the Big Bang Theory to explain how the Universe began. The Big Bang was the start of the Universe: Matter, Space and Time. There was nothing before it. Quantum Physicists suggest that matter can appear and disappear spontaneously and does not require a cause. There are many different pieces of evidence that Scientists use to back up the theory of the Big Bang. For example theory proposed by Hubble and Einstein explain that there must be a limitation to the energy in the Universe this can be seen in the Red Shift, which shows the Universe is expanding. Although there is a lot of scientific evidence that supports the Big Bang there is no conclusive explanation for why it happened. For many Christians and other religious groups this cause has to be God, as to them it is the only logical explanation. Some Creationist Christians may argue against the Big Bang Theory and instead would only accept the word of the Bible, and the 7 day creation story.

The Teleological Argument is another argument used to support the argument about the existence of God. First proposed by William Paley, the argument suggests that the world is so perfect that it must have been designed. For example the Earth is the right distance away from the sun for life to survive. There are also examples within the complexities of nature, for many the only logical answer to how this could be would be the existence of a God. However there are critics of this argument such as Immanuel Kant, he argues that the structure and order on Earth is imagined. We want to see a perfect world so that is what we see. Hume also critiques this argument saying that the order of the world does not prove a god created it. It could be a group of gods or perhaps something other than God. An Argument is merely a theory and is not proof that something exists. This theory of a perfect world also does not fit in with the idea of evolution, which has been scientifically been proven by scientists such as Darwin. Many would however argue that Evolution was all part of God’s overall plan. As with most arguments about God, it is up to personal interpretation and faith. There is enough evidence to support either side of the argument and it could be proven either way. It is up to an individuals faith in God whether or not he exists and created the Universe.

To conclude, many would argue that it is indeed reasonable to believe that God created the Universe as belief in God requires an element of Faith along with reason. The idea of God can work with scientific theories such as that of The Big Bang Theory. For others the revelation of God through his creation and holy word is enough evidence. It does require an element of faith and that is down to personal interpretation.

 

Moral Debate of Punishment

Moral Debate of Punishment

Aims of Punishment

Punishment: something done to a person because they have broken a law

Protection: keeping the public from being harmed, threatened or injured by criminals

Retribution: an aim of punishment – to get your own back: ‘an eye for an eye’

Deterrence: an aim of punishment – to put people off committing crimes

Reform: an aim of punishment – to change someone’s behaviour for the better

Vindication: an aim or punishment that means offenders must be punished to show that the law must be respected and is right

Reparation: an aim of punishment designed to help an offender to put something back into society

This is a great website for revision on Purposes of Punishment.

Moral Debate of Punishment

Everyone has their own idea of why criminals should be punished. Some say it should be to protect the rest of society, some say to make an example of the criminal, some say it should be to help the criminal change their ways, some say its revenge.

When punishing someone there are moral debates raised about whether we should take into account the criminals personal circumstances, history, criminal record, family situation. Others say this is irrelevant all criminals should be treated the same.

People will look to religious teachings and texts for guidance on how they should respond to punishment, others may think from their own perspective, some may use a non-religious way of thinking such as Utilitarianism and Humanism.

There is a good summary of the arguments for and against Capital Punishment here.

Retribution

“An Eye for an Eye, A Tooth for a Tooth… A Life for a Life”

This quote is often used as religious justification of retribution, in the Bible, Qu’ran and Torah there is similar teachings, that criminals should get a punishment fitting of their crime. In the UK, retribution can be found in Community Service, Fines and outside the UK – Capital Punishment is a form of retribution.

Some argue that this is not a positive response to punishment and should not be the main aim of punishment.

Although others argue that it shows criminals that crimes will not be tolerated.

Forgiveness

Many believe that it is important to forgive, and they believe that punishment should be an opportunity for criminals to show remorse and forgiveness should be given. This is key in many religions such as Christianity. Jesus taught it was important to forgive.

This is how many people would approach punishment.

Essay Questions on Purposes Punishment

If you are asked about the Moral debate surrounding the purposes punishment in an exam you can approach this question in many ways. You can look at the different purposes of punishment, the arguments for and against each punishment and why people may debate on whether it is an appropriate aim. You could also look at religious and non- religious perspectives on punishment. Why do religious people hold views on punishment, what influences them.

Read how to write an essay question here. 

 

 

 

Original Sin

Original Sin

You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything, until you go back to the soil from which you were formed. You were made from soil, and you will become soil again.

(Genesis 3: 19)

The Fall

The story behind original sin is told in the Old Testament book of Genesis:

God originally made a perfect world. He created Adam and put him to live in the Garden of Eden – a blissful place where he had nothing to do but take care of the garden.

God told Adam that he could do anything he wanted, except eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Later, God created Eve to be Adam’s wife. Eve was tricked by the serpent into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of life and death. She gave some of the fruit to Adam and he ate it too.

Adam and Eve realised that they were naked and hid in shame. When God next visited the Garden he realised that they had disobeyed him.

God banished them from the Garden of Eden into the harsh world outside.

God also banned them from eating the fruit of the tree of life, and so death entered the world.

What is Original Sin?

Original Sin, refers to above passage in Genesis in the Bible, where Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden for disobeying God’s commands. This can also be known as The Fall. Many believe this is a literal story and this is how sin was brought into the world. Others believe it is a story or analogy used to explain why there is evil in the world, because humans have gone against God’s word.

Augustine, a theologian believed that because of this all humans are born sinful. We all have the capability and capacity to sin.

What does this mean for humans?

Augustine developed the idea of what has come to be known as ‘original sin’. Due to Adam and Eves actions in the Garden of Eden, the whole of humanity carries the same stain of sin and suffers and dies. Humanity needs God to save them from the suffering.

Christians believe that God gave them freewill and his word through teachings in the Bible, Jesus and preachers show Christians how God would like them to live their lives but it is up to each individual to make that choice.

An explanation for the evils of the world

Some Christians believe that original sin explains why there is so much wrong in a world created by a perfect God, and why people need to have their souls ‘saved’ by God.

A condition you’re in, not something you do

Original sin is a condition, not something that people do: It’s the normal spiritual and psychological condition of human beings, not their bad thoughts and actions. Even a newborn baby who hasn’t done anything at all is damaged by original sin.

Original sin affects individuals by separating them from God, and bringing dissatisfaction and guilt into their lives.

On a world scale, original sin explains such things as genocide, war, cruelty, exploitation and abuse, and the “presence and universality of sin in human history”.

The Fall and the Origin of Evil

Christians believe that when Adam and Eve sinned in Eden and turned away from God they brought sin into the world and turned the whole human race away from God.

The doctrine absolves God of responsibility for the evils that make our world imperfect by teaching that Adam and Eve introduced evil to a perfect world when they disobeyed him.

An alternative understanding of the story of the fall emphasises that Adam and Eve did wrong because they ‘gave in’ to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

These two versions offer radically different ideas about the origin of evil:

  • in the first version Adam and Eve bring evil into the world by disobeying God
  • in the second version evil already exists, and Adam and Eve bring sin to humanity by giving in to it

This second understanding fits well with human psychology. Looking at it this way, original sin becomes the tendency for human beings to ‘give in’ when tempted by the prevailing evils of the society around them, rather than standing up for good, and it helps explain why each individual finds temptation so hard to resist.

A third understanding teaches not so much that Adam’s sin brought sin into the world, but that it removed from humanity the gift that enabled people to be perfectly obedient to God.

Getting rid of original sin

The only way a person can ‘cleanse’ their soul from sin is to:

  • accept that Christ’s death on the cross atoned for this sin
  • accept that only God’s grace can cure this sin
  • confess their sins and ask for forgiveness
  • be baptised

Many churches accept that infants can be cleansed of original sin by being baptised soon after birth. The other elements required are carried out by adults on the baby’s behalf during the ceremony.

 

Read more about Original Sin here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/originalsin_1.shtml

 

 

 

Winter Festivals – Comparison Task

Winter Festivals – Comparison Task

December is not just the month of Christmas, in years gone by there have been many festivals that have been at this time. In fact, Jesus’ birth was most likely not in December, but there were so many festivals at this time that Christians chose this time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Pagan’s celebrate the Winter Solstice every year, which is the shortest day of the year. There is normally a big celebration at Stonehenge.

Video: Thousands visit Stonehenge for winter solstice – Telegraph

Hanukkah

dreidel_0
Driedel

In 2016, Hannukkah starts at dusk on the 24th December and lasts for 8 days. This is a Jewish festival of light. It celebrates the time when Jews won a battle against the greeks. They lit an oil lamp in their temple that only had enough oil to burn for 1 day but the oil lasted 8 days. This is why the festival lasts for 8 days. See the Video below to see how Jewish people celebrate Hannukkah.

https://www.truetube.co.uk/embed/916/700/395

Golden Menorah
Jewish people light a Menorah.
diy-dreidel
Make your own Dreidel

Christmas and Hanukkah

There are many similarities between Christmas and Hanukkah as well as some differences.

This week in class we have been looking at the similarities and differences between Christmas and Hanukkah- creating a Venn Diagram to compare the two. Here’s a blank copy of the Venn Diagram if you want a shot at comparing the two festivals.

Venn Diagram - Christmas and Hanukkah