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Reading Material: Catechism of the Catholic Church #31-35
Objective: Students will explore the different ways of knowing God and understand the importance of knowing God through revelation.
- In his search for God, man discovers different “proofs” or arguments about his existence.
- Our natural knowledge of God (through our own intellect), comes from ourselves (the human person) and the world around us.
- Proofs from the world around us include movement, “becoming”, contingency, order and beauty. These proofs help us arrive at the conclusion that God is the first cause and final end of the universe.
- Proofs from within ourselves: Our longings, desires and values (happiness, beauty, truth, etc.) are a sign of our spiritual nature and show that we were created for God.
- Since neither the world nor man have reasons to exist in themselves, these proofs show us that both were created by a greater Being that we call God.
- These proofs tell us that God exists, but they do not allow us to enter into a relationship with God or know a lot about him. That is why we need revelation. God has willed to reveal himself to us so we can have a personal relationship with him.
Focus: We can reach an unseen conclusion (God) through reason.
Preparation (by the parent or teacher): Put something that has been cooked on baked on the dining room table.
Discussion: Show the child(ren) the food on the table. Ask them what had to have happened for the food to have gotten there. Different answers could include: someone must have made it, someone must have been in the kitchen, someone must have put different ingredients together, etc. Ask your child how they know that someone must have been in the kitchen cooking if they hadn’t seen the person cooking. Discuss how we are able to know some things that we don’t see because of the result they produce (in this case, the food). It’s the same with God. Ask the child what are some things he/she sees that tell us God exists even though we don’t see him.
Focus: We can learn about God through reason by watching the world around us.
Activity 1: We can discover some things about God through our reason when we look at the world around us. Go outside and take different pictures of things, including natural landscapes and people, in addition to whatever other ideas you have. Then, look at your pictures, and write down what you know about God based on what you see in the pictures.
Activity 2: Watch and record the movements of the sun at the same time each day for 3 days. What patterns do you see? Choose something else in nature to observe for a day or two, and take note of what patterns/habits you see. What does the existence of patterns and habits in non-intelligent creatures tell us about God?
Activity 3: Complete the attached worksheet. Fill in the first column with a list of things you know about God. Then, in the second column, show whether you know them by revelation or reason (what we see in ourselves and the world around us).
Activity 4: Discuss, or write about the following: If we can reach the idea of God’s existence through reason alone, why is revelation important? What are some things we can’t learn about God through our reason?
Focus: The “Five Proofs”
Read about the five proofs of God’s existence, as explained by St. Thomas Aquinas. The first two links break down the five ways; the last link includes Aquinas’ own explanation.
Activity 1: Complete the following worksheet.
Activity 2: Write an essay explaining which of the five proofs you find most convincing and why. Bonus: Can you come up with a sixth “proof” of God’s existence based on reason?