Pascal Boyer argues that while there is a wide array of supernatural concepts found around the world, in general, supernatural beings tend to behave much like people. The construction of gods and spirits like persons is one of the best known traits of religion. He cites examples from Greek mythology , which is, in his opinion, more like a modern soap opera than other religious systems. Sigmund Freud also suggested that god concepts are projections of one's father. In line with this reasoning, psychologist Matt Rossano contends that when humans began living in larger groups, they may have created gods as a means of enforcing morality.
In small groups, morality can be enforced by social forces such as gossip or reputation. However, it is much harder to enforce morality using social forces in much larger groups. Rossano indicates that by including ever-watchful gods and spirits, humans discovered an effective strategy for restraining selfishness and building more cooperative groups.
Arguments about the existence of God typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive types. Different views include that: "God does not exist" strong atheism ; "God almost certainly does not exist" de facto atheism ; "no one knows whether God exists" agnosticism  ; "God exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" de facto theism ; and that "God exists and this can be proven" strong theism. Countless arguments have been proposed to prove the existence of God. Lewis , and the Ontological Argument formulated both by St. Anselm's approach was to define God as, "that than which nothing greater can be conceived".
Famed pantheist philosopher Baruch Spinoza would later carry this idea to its extreme: "By God I understand a being absolutely infinite, i. Scientist Isaac Newton saw the nontrinitarian God  as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. In Query 31 of the Opticks , Newton simultaneously made an argument from design and for the necessity of intervention:. For while comets move in very eccentric orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs concentric, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets on one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this system wants a reformation.
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Thomas believed that the existence of God is self-evident in itself, but not to us. Now because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature—namely, by effects. Thomas believed that the existence of God can be demonstrated. Briefly in the Summa theologiae and more extensively in the Summa contra Gentiles , he considered in great detail five arguments for the existence of God, widely known as the quinque viae Five Ways.
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Some theologians, such as the scientist and theologian A. McGrath , argue that the existence of God is not a question that can be answered using the scientific method. Some findings in the fields of cosmology , evolutionary biology and neuroscience are interpreted by some atheists including Lawrence M.
Krauss and Sam Harris as evidence that God is an imaginary entity only, with no basis in reality. Different religious traditions assign differing though often similar attributes and characteristics to God, including expansive powers and abilities, psychological characteristics, gender characteristics, and preferred nomenclature.
The assignment of these attributes often differs according to the conceptions of God in the culture from which they arise. For example, attributes of God in Christianity , attributes of God in Islam , and the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Judaism share certain similarities arising from their common roots.
The word God is "one of the most complex and difficult in the English language.
That the Bible "includes many different images, concepts, and ways of thinking about" God has resulted in perpetual "disagreements about how God is to be conceived and understood". Many traditions see God as incorporeal and eternal, and regard him as a point of living light like human souls, but without a physical body, as he does not enter the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
God is seen as the perfect and constant embodiment of all virtues, powers and values and that he is the unconditionally loving Father of all souls, irrespective of their religion, gender, or culture. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian Bibles there are many names for God. One of them is Elohim. Another one is El Shaddai , translated "God Almighty".
Vaishnavism , a tradition in Hinduism, has a list of titles and names of Krishna. The gender of God may be viewed as either a literal or an allegorical aspect of a deity who, in classical western philosophy, transcends bodily form. In most monotheistic religions, God has no counterpart with which to relate sexually. Thus, in classical western philosophy the gender of this one-and-only deity is most likely to be an analogical statement of how humans and God address, and relate to, each other.
Namely, God is seen as begetter of the world and revelation which corresponds to the active as opposed to the receptive role in sexual intercourse. Biblical sources usually refer to God using male words, except Genesis —27 ,   Psalm —3 , and Luke —10 female ; Hosea —4 , Deuteronomy , Isaiah , Isaiah , Isaiah , Psalm a mother ; Deuteronomy —12 a mother eagle ; and Matthew and Luke a mother hen. Prayer plays a significant role among many believers. Muslims believe that the purpose of existence is to worship God.
Prayer often also includes supplication and asking forgiveness. God is often believed to be forgiving. For example, a hadith states God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance. This does not imply that God is human, or located at a specific point in the universe. Adherents of different religions generally disagree as to how to best worship God and what is God's plan for mankind, if there is one.
There are different approaches to reconciling the contradictory claims of monotheistic religions. One view is taken by exclusivists, who believe they are the chosen people or have exclusive access to absolute truth , generally through revelation or encounter with the Divine, which adherents of other religions do not. Another view is religious pluralism.
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A pluralist typically believes that his religion is the right one, but does not deny the partial truth of other religions. An example of a pluralist view in Christianity is supersessionism , i. A third approach is relativistic inclusivism , where everybody is seen as equally right; an example being universalism : the doctrine that salvation is eventually available for everyone. A fourth approach is syncretism , mixing different elements from different religions.
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An example of syncretism is the New Age movement. Jews and Christians believe that humans are created in the image of God , and are the center, crown and key to God's creation, stewards for God, supreme over everything else God had made Gen ; for this reason, humans are in Christianity called the "Children of God". During the early Parthian Empire, Ahura Mazda was visually represented for worship. This practice ended during the beginning of the Sassanid empire.
Zoroastrian iconoclasm , which can be traced to the end of the Parthian period and the beginning of the Sassanid, eventually put an end to the use of all images of Ahura Mazda in worship. However, Ahura Mazda continued to be symbolized by a dignified male figure, standing or on horseback which is found in Sassanian investiture. At least some Jews do not use any image for God, since God is the unimaginable Being who cannot be represented in material forms.
The burning bush that was not consumed by the flames is described in Book of Exodus as a symbolic representation of God when he appeared to Moses.
Early Christians believed that the words of the Gospel of John "No man has seen God at any time" and numerous other statements were meant to apply not only to God, but to all attempts at the depiction of God. However, later depictions of God are found. Some, like the Hand of God , are depiction borrowed from Jewish art.
The beginning of the 8th century witnessed the suppression and destruction of religious icons as the period of Byzantine iconoclasm literally image-breaking started. The Second Council of Nicaea in effectively ended the first period of Byzantine iconoclasm and restored the honouring of icons and holy images in general. Even supporters of the use of icons in the 8th century, such as Saint John of Damascus , drew a distinction between images of God the Father and those of Christ. Prior to the 10th century no attempt was made to use a human to symbolize God the Father in Western art.
A rationale for the use of a human is the belief that God created the soul of Man in the image of his own thus allowing Human to transcend the other animals. It appears that when early artists designed to represent God the Father, fear and awe restrained them from a usage of the whole human figure. Typically only a small part would be used as the image, usually the hand, or sometimes the face, but rarely a whole human.
In many images, the figure of the Son supplants the Father, so a smaller portion of the person of the Father is depicted.
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By the 12th century depictions of God the Father had started to appear in French illuminated manuscripts , which as a less public form could often be more adventurous in their iconography, and in stained glass church windows in England. Gradually the amount of the human symbol shown can increase to a half-length figure, then a full-length, usually enthroned, as in Giotto 's fresco of c.
The "Gates of Paradise" of the Florence Baptistry by Lorenzo Ghiberti , begun in use a similar tall full-length symbol for the Father. The Rohan Book of Hours of about also included depictions of God the Father in half-length human form, which were now becoming standard, and the Hand of God becoming rarer. At the same period other works, like the large Genesis altarpiece by the Hamburg painter Meister Bertram , continued to use the old depiction of Christ as Logos in Genesis scenes.
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In the 15th century there was a brief fashion for depicting all three persons of the Trinity as similar or identical figures with the usual appearance of Christ. Daniel In the Annunciation by Benvenuto di Giovanni in , God the Father is portrayed in the red robe and a hat that resembles that of a Cardinal. However, even in the later part of the 15th century, the symbolic representation of the Father and the Holy Spirit as "hands and dove" continued, e.
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