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Evidence for religious ideas

Religious ideas

What about religious ideas? Why should anyone think that a religious idea is true? “How do we know that religion is more than just stories and rumours?” as one student recently asked us.

Evidence in religion is often open to different interpretations. Some people see the beauty of nature as evidence for God and some do not. Evidence in religion can also be subjective. Some people say they have experienced God’s presence and some do not. Some religious ideas are ones that can be tested by looking for historical evidence, but this may only show us a part of the story. How can you be sure that God really interacted with people, even if they say this is what happened?

Religion and Religious evidence

Here is some of the evidence that religious people describe as supporting their belief in a Creator God. As you’ll see, it is harder to be certain about these claims. There are other ways to interpret the same observations:

The Argument from Design

You probably agree that our Universe is amazing. This is the evidence that we all see – a beautiful Universe. Some people see the beauty of nature as evidence that our Universe is God’s brainwave; Others say that this is how nature turned out and that we have learned to appreciate it.

The Cosmological Argument

Our Earth is sometimes called the ‘Goldilocks planet’. This is the place where everything is ‘just right’ for life. There’s water, warmth and everything that’s needed for life to start.
Some people see the development of life on Earth as evidence of God’s Creative work in progress. Others do not. They say that things could have turned out differently and in that case, we would not be here.

A passion for exploring

Some religious people see the existence of science itself as evidence for the idea that God exists. God created a universe which can be explored using science and He gave humans a passion for exploring, they say. Once again, this is far from the only way to explain why people are attracted to puzzles and mysteries.

Why believe?

Evidence in religion is important as a way to justify and test beliefs but it is not the end of the story. There are other types of reasons to consider too. See what you think of the two below.

Religious scientists today

Professor Sir Colin Humphreys is a Christian and a scientist. He does think that God exists – to find out why, watch this video.

Another idea to consider

Hmm, here’s another reason that has been given for believing in God. Read the argument by Blaise Pascal below. In your view, is this a good reason for believing that God exists?

The Argument for God presented by Blaise Pascal

A mathematician living in the seventeenth-century came up with this idea, which sounds something like a gamble. He said, if you believe in God and you turn out to be wrong, you won’t be any worse off. After all, there is no God to punish you for getting it wrong.

But if you deny God and He turns out to be real … and angry, this would be a serious mistake. On this basis, the sensible choice is to believe in God.

On the next page, what are we meant to think when science moves forward and seems to leave religion behind? Keeping it Consistent

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)