God & Human Situation

David Bayne
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GCSE A2 Mind Map on God & Human Situation, created by David Bayne on 05/21/2013.

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God & Human Situation

Annotations:

  • The human situation is the relationship between God and humanity. Throughout the history of Christian philosophy many have attempted to offer valid ways in which humans share a relationship with God. This section will cover the different attempts and also focus on the impact of such beliefs on the way people live their lives
1 Aquinas
1.1 Complete dependence

Annotations:

  • St Thomas Aquinas argued that the relationship between God and humanity is one of complete dependence.         In other words, humans depend on God for their initial and continued existence. The concept of dependence is clearly shown in Aquinas’ Cosmological Arguments. In each of his ‘Three Ways’ Aquinas rejects the concept of the universe existing infinitely and argues that a necessary being (God) was responsible for bringing everything into existence. Therefore, as God is the efficient cause of the universe then we are dependent on God for everything. Aquinas also believed that God was not only an initial cause of the universe but that God was also the sustainer of motion, cause and existence.           This type of cause is referred to as ‘Cause in Esse’. Cause in esse can be illustrated by the relation between the electricity supply to keep the image on a TV screen. The electricity supply keeps the image on the screen in the sense that the supply has to be there continuously here and now to keep the image there. If the supply is cut off the image will go. This is the sense in which Aquinas argues humans are dependent on God. He is needed as a constant presence to keep all causal chains working
1.2 Cause in Esse (sustainer)
1.3 God as necessary being
2 Augustine
2.1 Began in perfection
2.2 Corrupted by humans
2.3 The Fall

Annotations:

  • St Augustine believed that the relationship between God and humanity began in a state of total perfection. However, this perfection was corrupted by the actions of humans and their relationship with God was tainted; in other words, humans fell from their state of perfection by using their free will to make choices that drove a wedge between God and the world. Augustine based this concept on the Genesis account of the fall of man when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Though not named in the Bible, the concept for the ‘Fall’ comes specifically from chapter 3 of Genesis. Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God forbade. After doing so they become ashamed of their nakedness and God consequently expelled them from paradise. Augustine’s understanding of the human situation in relation to God is best understood through his theodicy. A theodicy is a way in which philosophers try to reconcile the existence and nature of God with the problem of evil and suffering. His theodicy is referred to as a ‘soul deciding theodicy’ which means that humans were created with free will and can choose to have a relationship with God. Our relationship with God is based on our ability to make free decisions
2.4 Soul deciding theodicy

Annotations:

  • Augustine argues that the world was created to be wholly good, but has fallen short of this since then. In other words, evil does not come from God but arises when God's creations fail to live up to the standards God expects of them. The world is now imperfect because it has been corrupted (a) by humans themselves and (b) by other spirits (fallen angels). The corruption of human beings happened to our remote ancestors (Adam & Eve, according to the Book of Genesis) and is passed on down the generations through the sexual act as original sin. Augustine focuses on God’s justice. Augustine says that it is precisely because God is ‘Good’ that He must insist we are punished for our wicked behaviour and won't just perform a miracle to return the whole human race to its unfallen, good state.
3 Irenaeus/Hick

Annotations:

  • John Hick developed his understanding of the relationship between God and humanity from the views of the early Church father Irenaeus.   Irenaeus argued that God created the world imperfectly so that every imperfect immature being could develop through a soul-making process into a ‘child of God,’ in God's perfect likeness. For Irenaeus, God could not have created humans in perfect likeness of himself because achieving the likeness of God requires the willing co-operation of humans. God thus had to give humans free will in order for them to be able to willingly co-operate. Since freedom requires the ability to choose good over evil, God had to permit evil and suffering to occur. John Hick highlighted the importance of God allowing humans to develop themselves. He reasoned that if God made us perfect, then we would have the goodness of robots, which would love God automatically. God wants humans to be genuinely loving and therefore gives them free will. If God interfered or became too close, humans would be unable to make a free choice and thus would not benefit from the developmental process. Therefore God created humans at an epistemic distance from himself, a distance of knowledge. This concept is summed up adequately by Peter Vardy’s analogy of the King and the Peasant girl. Vardy accepted that if humans are to have a truly loving relationship with God then the relationship we have with God has to be completely free. “A King falls in love with a peasant girl. If the King wanted to force her to marry him, she would not haveany choice but to do so. The peasant girl could feign or manufacture feelings for the King but the King could not force her to give genuine, unrequited love. However, the King wants the girl to love him freely and truly, so he disguises himself as a peasant and allows her to fall in love with him, not because he is King, but because she loves him freely of her own choice, which gives that love true value”  God as the omnipotent King opts not to force humanity into a relationship because it would not be genuine. Our relationship with God is then one which is truly loving because it is built on a faith that has been freely chosen rather than programmed and switched on when God saw fit.
3.1 God created imperfectly
3.2 develop into child of God
3.3 free will
4 Calvin

Annotations:

  • The protestant reformer John Calvin believed the human situation in relation to God was based on an idea known as predestination. Christian theology teaches that God is both omniscient and omnipotent and many people have interpreted this as meaning that he not only knows what choices individuals will make but that he may also control those choices by virtue of his omnipotence. Calvin famously argued that predestination is “the eternal decree of God, by which he determined that he wished to make of every man.” Calvin focused on the idea that God alone determines who will be saved. This is known as the Doctrine of Divine Election. By this Calvin meant that some people are destined for a relationship with God while some are not.What is noticeable is that whether one is saved or goes to hell is not a matter of human choice. Calvin ultimately argues that whether a person is among God’s elect is a matter for God, who is omnipotent and omniscient, and is thus a mystery beyond human comprehension (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion).Calvin’s understanding of predestination is often termed ‘Double Predestination’.  This refers to the dual concept of his view that God has elected some to be saved and others will not. It is important to note here that double predestination is not God ‘helping’ some and ‘harming’ others. In fact, the concept should be viewed as God acting in the lives of the chosen and not in the lives ofthose who have not been chosen. God’s inaction in the lives of those who have not been predestined is simply that, inaction. For example, a teacher may choose students in a class who they believe to have superb potential (TheElect). Due to this choice the teacher will then offer more attention to this group, perhaps give them moreresponsibility or even offer them more help than the others (The Non-Elect). Thus, if we now apply this analogy to God; God will positively intervene in the lives of those he haschosen thus giving this group the opportunity to have a relationship with God. On the other hand, God does not negatively intervene but rather does not offer the same opportunity.
4.1 Predestination
4.2 Divine Election
4.3 Double Predestination
5 Freud
5.1 Guilt

Annotations:

  • Freud feels that the Oedipus complex led to an act in the past which led to the creation of God. The guilt of the past act has been passed on to all human beings. Freud describes the past act which led to the repressed guilt shared by all humanity. He draws on the ideas of Charles Darwin, who suggested that primitive men lived in hordes like apes. These hordes were ruled over by a powerful father. The father was jealous of the sons, as he wanted all of the women for himself. He drove them out of the tribe to prevent them from having sex with any of the women. The sons felt a mixture of feeling towards the father both admiration and bitterness. (Oedipus Complex) One day the sons get together and kill the father. They feel incredibly guilty for the crime they have committed. They create a totem animal to worship as a father substitute. The animal is sacrificed each year in the special totem meal which commemorates the original crime of killing and devouring the father. For Freud, this act is the beginnings of God/religion. The guilt of the action of killing the father is passed on to all future generations. As time passed, emphasis on the totem proved unsatisfactory. As longing for the father grew, so did his reputation. Eventually he took on divine significance and became transformed into the gods of religions. Freud points out that the gods of religion are treated with the same ambivalence as was the original father figure, proving that there is a connection. “Totemic religion arose from the filial sense of guilt”
5.2 Primal Horde
5.3 Oedipus Complex
5.4 Helplessness

Annotations:

  • Freud argues that the main characteristic of an illusion is that it is “derived from human wishes.”  There is no real proof or evidence for God and yet sensible men and women continue to believe. For Freud, this suggests that God persists because He contains within himself the wishes of those men and women which are so important to them that they cancel out any doubts they may have about the truth of the religion itself. Freud believed that humans wish to defend themselves against the power of nature by creating divine beings. God can help people to deal with suffering and feelings of helplessness in their lives. Even death is not to be feared for the religious, who regard it as the start to a new life where those who have had a good but painful life will be rewarded. Freud felt that every human being faces a conflict between what society expects from him/her and his/her own human instincts. God, according to Freud, helps us to deal with this helplessness, as it teaches that he is watching over us and will make up for our suffering. It encourages believers to ‘love their enemies’ rather than being aggressive towards them. God also gives humans a conscience which prevents them from acting on their instincts, promising that controlling the instincts in this way will be rewarded in the afterlife.  Freud felt that childhood was characterised by a feeling of helplessness. In childhood, one is comforted by the protection of the father. In adulthood we no longer have this protection. In a response to this helplessness, humans respond by turning to God as a supreme father figure, seeking the same comfort they felt in their childhood due to the protection of their own father. For Freud, God is nothing more than wishful thinking, an illusion.
5.5 Wishful thinking
5.6 Weaknesses

Annotations:

  • Religion as a force for good. Freud offered a critique of his own position in ‘The Future of Illusions’ (1927).  In it he acknowledges the argument that religion has done much that is good. For instance, religion offers people real consolation during difficult times. Religion provides certainty and order in an otherwise chaotic world. Therefore, rather than being the cause of neurotic behaviour it could be argued that God/religion can help people to overcome neuroses.
  • Criticism of the Primal Horde. Freud’s idea would only work if guilt could be passed down generationally. The ambivalence and guilt that leads to religious activity would need to be present in every generation. Even if the primal crime of patricide actually happened, guilt for the act cannot be passed on. While the Oedipus complex theory might account for some remarkable attitudes to sexuality and sexual activity in society, it creaks under the weight that Freud places on it. Therefore, Freud’s argument that religion arises out of repressed sexual guilt, appears to be false.
  • Issues with the father figure. It was also pointed out that Freud’s argument that religion arises out of the worship of a father figure neglects to consider the religions in which the point of worship is a woman, or the religious systems that have no deity at all. Freud focuses on religions with male deities such as Judaism and Christianity. He ignores religions with important female goddesses, such as Hinduism and religions which do not have a deity at all, such as Buddhism. The issue here is that Freud is using a small amount of evidence and applying this to the concept of God/religion as a whole.
  • Malinowski and the Oedipus Complex. Malinowski is a famous Sociologist who discredits Freud’s Oedipus complex. He argues that the family is not the same in every society and so the Oedipus Complex cannot be universal. If it is not universal, then it cannot be the cause of all religion. For example, in Trobriands, the family is matrilineal and the Father has nothing to do with the upbringing of the children. Therefore, there is no Oedipus Complex there and their religion must require a different explanation. Freud’s attack that religion is based on sexual guilt is thus called into question.
  • The Historical and Anthropological Evidence. Freud’s theory of the horde was based on the ideas of Darwin. However, they were just ideas. It is now generally accepted that there was more variety in primitive societies than Freud suggests. For example, not all tribes had totem animals. This suggests that Freud’s idea that guilt was handed down from generation to generation is incorrect. Therefore, he is wrong to suggest that religion is based on this guilt. The crime of the killing the father probably didn’t happen and if it did, the guilt could not be passed onto everyone in the way that Freud suggests. This also brings the Oedipus Complex into doubt.
6 Marx

Annotations:

  • Karl Marx argued that religion is like other social institutions in that it is dependent upon the material and economic situation of a society. Religion/God has no independent history; instead it is the creation of society. As Marx wrote, “The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.” Marx’s opinion is that religion is an illusion that provides reasons and excuses to keep society functioning in a certain way. He suggests that there is a conflict between the ruling classes (those who hold the wealth and control the production), and the working class (those who sell their labour but are largely alienated from the results of the work they do). Marx’s main criticism of religion was that, in the face of real oppression on earth, it offered spiritual blessings in heaven. People would therefore put up with their present suffering in the hope of a spiritual reward – using it like a drug to ease the pain of their situation. Marx is saying that religion creates illusory fantasies for the poor. Economic realities prevent them from finding true happiness in this life, so religion tells them this is acceptable because they will find true happiness in the next life. The problem is that opiates fail to fix a physical injury — you only forget your pain and suffering. This can be fine, but only if you are also trying to solve the underlying causes of the pain. Similarly, religion does not fix the underlying causes of people’s pain and suffering — instead, it helps them forget why they are suffering and causes them to look forward to an imaginary future when the pain will cease instead of working to change circumstances now.Even worse, this “drug” is being administered by the oppressors who are responsible for the pain and suffering. Marx famously described religion as: “The sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The people cannot be really happy until it has been deprived of illusory happiness by the abolition of religion. The demand that the people should shake itself free of illusion as to its own condition is the demand that it should abandon a condition which needs illusion.”
6.1 Illusion
6.2 Religion/God created by society
6.3 Suffer in silence
6.4 Weaknesses

Annotations:

  • Religion and social change. Karl Marx argues that the concepts of God and religion were simply social institutions that kept society functioning in a certain way. That way was to maintain a distinction between the working and ruling classes. In other words, it made those in the working class accept the lot they had been given and rather than try to change their future it kept them content in the knowledge that something better awaited them. However, many sociologists and philosophers have argued that Marx neglected the role that religion could play in social change. The teachings of Jesus, rather than keeping people in suffering, do the opposite. They inspire people to act against oppression and fight for a more equal world.
  • Are working class people duped by religion? Is there any evidence to suggest that the working classes in the UK have been duped by religion? In other words, there are millions of religious people within the UK alone who would argue that their religious beliefs have little to no impact upon their social status. Therefore, Marx’s arguments don’t apply to everyone; it is not possible that poor religious people remain poor because of their faith as so many other factors apply e.g. education / family background / economy. Moreover, many religious people in the UK are also in the ruling classes and have achieved financial success irrelevant of the teachings of their religion.
  • Neo-Marxism - Liberation theology. Marx’s critique of religion suggests that people would therefore put up with their present suffering in the hope of a spiritual reward – using it like a drug to ease the pain of their situation. Marx is saying that religion creates illusory fantasies for the poor. However, many have turned Marx’s ideas into a force for changing the situation of the poor. This form of Neo-Marxism is known as Liberation Theology. Therefore, the views of Marx, rather than decreasing the appeal of God / religion has in fact given it extra impetus to carry out the message of Christianity they believe Jesus wanted from the world.
7 Durkheim

Annotations:

  • Durkheim focused on the earliest religious tradition he could identify, the Australian Aborigines and wrote his ideas in the book ‘The Elementary Forms of Religious Life’. Durkheim defined religion as:"A unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart andforbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them." (Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life) As this definition makes clear, Durkheim believedthat religion has a unifying role in society – it unites groups of people in a moral community who share a set of beliefs. However, Durkheim does not say that religionrelates to a God that exists. For Durkheim, religion is a reality that exists in society – religion cannot be separated from society. He described religion as a ‘mode of action’, meaning that it was something that united people in society and enabled the people to act together as a society. For example, if you want to build a bridge, you needto work with other people. Durkheim was arguing that religion was in some ways like glue that held society together so that it could achieve its results. Through his investigation of Aboriginal society hefound that its beliefs were linked with a totemic object, most commonly an animal. A totem is a sacred thing; that is, a totem is setapart from and different from things in ordinary life. Durkheim called things in ordinary life ‘profane’ which means they are not sacred. The totem unites a group and is treated with respect.Durkheim concluded that totems were the symbol of a tribe (a modern example would be the cross for Christians). Durkheim’s theory challenges religious belief in God because the origin of God is from the social interaction between people. The earliest tribesmen invent God in theirdiscussions and represent God through the totem. Therefore, religion/God has no divine origin; Goddoes not found religion, instead belief in God is a product of society and people interacting in society that is passed on down the generations. If we did not live in societies then God would nothave been invented.
7.1 Unifying role of religion
7.2 religion is a reality, God might not be
7.3 Totem
7.4 Weaknesses

Annotations:

  • John Hick. The philosopher John Hick concluded that Durkheim’s theory that God is society may be true in the setting of the Aboriginal group but it cannot be applied to all religion. This attempt at a naturalistic explanation of religion is ‘not proven’. Durkheim had studied the behaviour of groups of Aborigines, with a close-knit community and a primitive form of religion. Like Freud, Durkheim has been criticised for making the mistake that the way in which the Aboriginal groups live could be extended to a universal theory of religion and society.
  • Popularity of religion. Durkheim predicted that religion's influence would decrease as society modernises. His view may apply to many European countries such as France, Spain and Great Britain. However, the influence of faith, notably the Catholic faith in the developing world proves that religion is still a very important concept for millions of people.
  • Society and religion are not identical. Society and religion are clearly not identical in our multi-faith pluralist society. It is clear that different religions have different relationships with society. Our society tolerates different views; it does not expect people to behave in the same way. We just have to look at the many different religious faiths that are present in the UK to understand that society and religion cannot be identical; if they were then surely the faith that we all practice would be the same. This is not the case, although religious groups share certain characteristics we simply need to observe the cultural differences between followers of Islam and Christianity. These differences are clear in how people dress, the food they eat and the worship that they undertake. Therefore, society and religion are not identical.
  •     Religion challenges society. The holiest people, the closest to God, are often prophetic voices that criticise society. If society were God, why would leaders such as Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad have stood up against the injustices within their societies? They should simply have stood back and accepted society as it was because this is how God had intended it. As this was/is not the case it offers a clear challenge to Durkheim and gives religious people a way in which they can argue against the sociological view of God / religion.
8 Pelagius
8.1 Moral perfection is attainable
8.2 Denied original sin
8.3 Humans can avoid sin
9 Under Judgement

Annotations:

  • For many Christians, the  concept of predestination and Divine Election is an uncomfortable belief. This is due to the idea that some are chosen to have a relationship in heaven with God irrelevant of how they have lived their lives whereas others will go to hell even if they have led a moral life. Instead, many Christians maintain the belief that God holds everyone to account and judges them according to their actions. Hence, God’s punishment for some is to send them to hell because that is what they deserve, and justice demands that they are appropriately punished. The concept of being under God’s judgement derives from the Bible. The Bible paints a very clear picture that the relationship between God and humanity is one in which the actions of humans throughout their lives will be taken into account and used by God to make a final judgement. E.g. Noah and the Great Flood, Jesus’ teachings on how we live our lives (Good Samaritan) and St Paul on judgement (resurrection) The important aspect of the biblical picture of God as judge is that He accepts people as they really are. So if people lead a good life and choose to be in a good relationship with God and other people, they go to heaven. Equally, if people choose to live a life of wrongdoing, God recognises that they have chosen to live in a state of disharmony and bad relationship with God and other people, so they bring hell on themselves. Within Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions no one is predestined to go to hell; God loves everyone, and wishes to forgive everyone and be in a good relationship with everyone if that is what they want. God predestines no one to go to hell; for this to happen, a willful turning away from God is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
10 Impact of secular views on society
10.1 Sigmund Freud and the rise of atheism

Annotations:

  • Before Freud, the rise of atheism had come from biology, physics and cosmology. Freud’s challenge to God and religion offered perhaps the first psychology based case for atheism. In his 1927 ‘The Future of an Illusion’, he argued that religious belief is a confusion of wishful thinking and reality. Adults are frightened by things such as death so they defensively invent a divine parent who will protect them, just as their biological parents did when they were young. But since there is no evidence for the existence of such an entity, belief in it is an “obsessive infantile neurosis”. Freud was confident that as science progressed, the fears that drive humans to religious superstition would diminish. Consequently, he concluded, the future of the religious “illusion” would eventually disappear. The reason why Freud’s ideas led to a rise in atheism was because it was a conflict model of psychology. His approach as we have seen was to reject religious belief and to reduce the religious impulse to one that can be explained in entirely materialistic terms. Therefore, Freud’s views were adding to a world view that God would be slowly squeezed out with each new discovery. This process leads some to conclude that belief in God can now be abandoned entirely because the concept of God is a manifestation of a faulty mind which can be cured.  If the cure is found then God will no longer be needed and people will become aware that their feelings of helplessness and guilt can be dealt with far more appropriately than turning to God / religion. In addition, according to a 2005 poll only 52% of European citizens responded that they believe in God. In the most recent census in the UK (2011) 32% of the UK population said they had no religion and only 18% are said to be a practicing member of an organised religion. These statistics highlight that atheism has risen, especially if we compare these to the 2001 census where 22% of the population said they had no religion.Therefore, Freud’s ideas (along with other scientific worldviews) are impacting the UK as we were once considered a Christian country and this belief is steadily decreasing.
10.2 Durkheim and the challenge of functionalism

Annotations:

  • The functionalist perspective, also called functionalism, is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. It has its origins in the works of Emile Durkheim, who was especially interested in how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable. Emile Durkheim explained his idea of functionalism by comparing society to the human body. Just as the body consists of different, interrelated organs that enable it to survive, society consists of different components that enable it to survive andwhich depend on each other.  For example, a functionalist might argue, for instance, that every society will have a religion, because religious institutions have certain functions which contribute to the survival of the social system as a whole, just as the organs of the body have functions which are necessary for the body's survival. The impact that Durkheim’s idea has upon society is that the concept of God / religion became viewed as a social structure that contributes to society as a whole. Durkheim does not say that religion relates to a God that exists. He argues instead that religion is linked completely with society. Durkheim’s views have led many people to question the origin and purpose of organised religion. This is because the concept of God existing objectively (having an actual existence or reality) is called into question as Durkheim suggests it has been cultivated and developed by people within societies. Therefore, it leaves people questioning why they attend places of worship. Is it because of the existence of a divine being or because it helps them to integrate within society? Durkheim’s impact is that more people now see it as the latter and as a result they are beginning to leave the religious life behind. However, Durkheim saw social life as impossible to achieve without the shared values and norms achieved through collective conscience. Instead of people turning to religion to achieve this collective conscience we are now seeing people moving toward a more civil religion. Instead of the concept of God people look to other institutions such as the Royal Family or national sports. If we look at the events of the past few years such as the royal wedding, the Queen’s jubilee and the London Olympics we see that people in the UK were united over a common cause. The impact we have here is that this common cause was secular and no longer associated with religion.
10.3 Karl Marx and Liberation Theology

Annotations:

  • Although Marx believed that God / religion was an illusion that keeps society functioning in a certain way (i.e. keeping the poor, poor) the biggest impact that his views have had on religion has been a positive one. Marx’s views have close links with a movement within the Catholic Church known as ‘Liberation Theology’. Liberation theology was a radical movement that grew up in South America as a response to the poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people. The movement was caricatured in the phrase ‘If Jesus Christ was on Earth today, he would be a Marxist revolutionary’. It is a movement in Christian theology, developed mainly by Latin American Roman Catholics, that emphasises liberation from social, political, and economic oppression. Most controversially, the Liberationists said the church should act to bring about social change, and should ally itself with the working class to do so. Some radical priests became involved in politics and trade unions; others even aligned themselves with violent revolutionary movements. A common way in which priests and nuns showed their solidarity with the poor was to move from religious houses into poverty stricken areas to share the living conditions of their flock. The primary architect of liberation theology in the Latin-American and Catholic context is Gustavo Gutiérrez.  A Catholic priest who grew up in grinding poverty in Peru, Gutiérrez employed Marx’s critiques of ideology, class, and capitalism as part of his theological analysis of how Christianity should be used to make people’s lives better here and now rather than simply offer them hope of rewards in heaven. Gutiérrez’s theology is one that places action first and reflection second, a big change from how theology has traditionally been done. The late Pope John Paul II was frequently criticised for the severity with which he dealt with the liberation movement. His main objection was to stop the highly politicised form of liberation theology prevalent in the 980s, which could be seen as a fusion of Christianity and Marxism. He didn't mean that the Church was not going to be the voice of the oppressed, was not going to champion the poor. But it should not do it by partisan politics, or by revolutionary violence. The Church's business was bringing about the Kingdom of God, not about creating a Marxist utopia.
11 Impacts on people's lives
11.1 Negative

Annotations:

  • Dependent: Too dependent on God. The negative impact that the understanding of dependence can have is that we come to depend on God for too much. For example, in terms of religious experiences such as prayers and miracles there are some who may simply expect God to intervene rather than trying to improve their situation themselves. If humans see the relationship between God and humans as one of dependence then there is a danger that we begin to blame God for his lack of intervention rather than looking at how we ourselves could intervene.  Karl Marx and Alienation. Marx believes that those in society who are extremely poor will remain in this social class if they maintain an understanding that they depend on God for their salvation. Marx is suggesting that many people depend on God to change their fortune and will be content in the belief that God will reward them in heaven if they have suffered in this life.  Rejection of scientific ideas. Richard Dawkins believes dependence on God leads to the rise of Christian fundamentalism. It is this fundamental approach to dependence on God that causes the most problems toward scientific advancement toward the origin of the universe. Dawkins acknowledges: “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
  • Fallen: Underserved punishment. If God was an all-loving creator who gave humans freedom then why should we suffer for the sins of Adam and Eve? Can we be held responsible for the sin they committed in Eden? Is this fair? The answer is a firm no as it makes no sense for free individuals to be made to suffer for other peoples faults. For instance, imagine your mother committed a crime before you were born and that she was never caught and brought to justice. Now imagine, years after her death, the police find evidence that your mother was responsible for the crime. As your mother is no longer living the court decides that you should accept the guilt and be punished on her behalf. Would this punishment be acceptable?
  • Soul Making: Magnitude of suffering. The negative impact that the understanding of soul making has is concerned with the magnitude of suffering in the world. Many philosophers ask the question: is the extent of suffering really necessary for soul making? Does the wonderful future down the line really justify the seemingly overwhelming current amount of suffering and evil on earth? Couldn't God have set things up so that the wonderful future doesn't require quite as much extreme suffering?
  • Predestination: Church’s authority. If salvation comes through God's predetermined it doesn’t matter what the local priest thinks of your actions - the salvation of your soul is God’s decision. Whatever was being taught to Christians in church on a Sunday lacked any real impression on the congregation because they felt that their fate was already predestined. This led to a reduction in Church attendance.  Apathy. Predestination can lead to spiritual apathy or even despair. The notion that many people may be categorised as the ‘non-elect’ renders people disillusioned and increases their sense of alienation from their faith. If a person cannot change their fate through work and action then faith seems pointless. Moral Implication. The Gospel message as proclaimed by Jesus suggests that as well as faith in God there are specific moral actions that humans should undertake. For example, the parable of the Good Samaritan is a clear indication that faith in God is not enough. We must also do what we can to help in this life to help those most in need. However, if predestination is accepted then moral actions such as those proposed in the parable could lose their appeal. Instead, people could become inherently selfish as the needs of others are not important. Impact on human freedom. Christian theology teaches that God is both omniscient and omnipotent and many people have interpreted this as meaning that he not only knows what choices individuals will make but that he may also control those choices by virtue of his omnipotence. If this is what Calvin believed predestination to be then can humans really consider themselves to have free will? The fundamental problem with God having knowledge of the future actions of human beings is that it would suggest that future events that we think are contingent on present events and choices actually are not contingent but necessary.
  • Under Judgement Threat of punishment does not fit with God’s Omni-benevolence. The God of classical theism is believed to withhold the characteristic of being all-loving. If our relationship with God is one that is under his judgement then this love can be questioned. If God will reward people with eternal life in heaven because they accept him and believe in him then this supports the view that God is ‘all-loving. However, what does that mean for people who do not accept God and who don’t believe in God? Does this mean that God will punish these people with eternal punishment in hell? If so, then we have a contradiction as it seems improbable that a being that is considered omni-benevolent would be willing to see people suffer for eternity.  The impact on mental health. According to the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, the threat of being judged by God and sent to hell has a dangerous impact upon the mental health of individuals. In his book, ‘The God Delusion’, Dawkins refers to a correspondence he received from a young lady recounting the traumatic time in her life when she was abused and taught about hell as a punishment. The following extract highlights the impact: "Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a 7 year old) as ‘yucky’ while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest – but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to Hell. It gave me nightmares."(The God Delusion)
11.2 Positive

Annotations:

  • Dependent: Supplication and Intercessionary Prayer. Supplication prayers are a type of prayer where we ask God for help. Intercessionary prayers are where we ask God to care for another person or part of his creation. Therefore, if humans share a relationship with God based on dependence then we can rely on God to answer these types of prayer. This offers great encouragement to Christians, especially in times of great crisis.  Existence. Aquinas suggests that God is the sustainer or motion, cause and existence – if this understanding is to be accepted then we should look positively on our relationship with God. The fact that the universe exists and continues to exist highlights that we can depend on God to maintain the causal chain within the universe and thus maintain our existence. The positive aspect of this idea is that humans know they can depend on God because our very existence proves his dependability.  Miracles. Most people who believe in God would say that miracles can and do occur. The positive impact that being dependent on God has in the lives of many Christians is that God can and will perform miracles to help his creation. This means that we can depend on God during our most desperate times and know that miracles, although uncommon are a possibility. This possibility leaves us with a clear hope that we, for example, can share in the resurrection that Jesus showed us when he returned from the dead.
  • Fallen: Free Will. The positive impact that this understanding of the human situation in relation to God stresses is the value of free will. This was the best choice God could have made for mankind and God is therefore not responsible for man’s evil choices. This means that God’s nature is not called into question; for example, definitions such as omnipotence and omnibenevolence are not affected because God decided to give humans free will and then was willing to stand back and accept the consequences. The philosopher Alvin Platinga argues that if humanswere created so that they can only choose good they would not be free.
  • Soul Making: Genuine loving relationship. John Hick’s understanding of ‘soul-making’ outlines that God has created us with complete freedom. This means that if we choose to believe in God then it is a truly loving choice as we have not been programmed or predestined to love God. As Vardy’s parable of the ‘King and the Peasant Girl’ highlights our relationship with God is one which is truly loving because it is built on a faith that has been freely chosen. Truly altruistic acts. Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone other than the self with no expectation of any compensation or benefits. Therefore, if God has created us with complete moral autonomy then any act we perform for the sake of someone else can be classed as truly good. This is because the act was not governed by a belief that we are duty bound to God or that God will offer us some form of reward. If we accept Hicks understanding a charitable act such as giving a homeless person money would be truly moral as I freely chose to help another person.
  • Under JudgementPromotes moral actions. If Christians accept that their relationship with God is one of being under hisjudgement then this could inspire them to lead a more moral life. The positive impact of this understanding is that humans will aim to fulfil the teachings of Jesus from the Gospels which will have an extremely positive effect on society. For example:The Greatest Commandment The Golden Rule Sermon on the Mount Justice. Many religious people accept the relation between God and humanity as under judgement due to the positive view on the concept of justice. There seems to be a great injustice in life due to the fact that innocent people tend to suffer when they do not deserve it. However, those who seemingly deserve punishment escape it. However, if we accept that our relationship is under judgement then we can expect justice at the end of our lives. Christianity is clear in its teaching that God will reward the virtuous (good) and punish the wicked (bad). Opportunity to achieve forgiveness. The positive aspect of being under the judgement of God as opposed to the concept of predestination is the opportunity for people to seek forgiveness from God. If we accept that humans will often fail then this would mean that God would be in the business of punishing everyone for all the sins that they have committed. However, if people turn away from sin, repent and believe in God, they can rebuild their relationship with God. This is positive as it means that humans have the chance to redeem themselves. For Christians, through the person of Jesus we’re giving an opportunity to change our lives and he offers a bridge between humanity and God.

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