Christianity- Religion and Science

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Christian ideas about the origins of the world and

The Bible gives its own story about how the world was made, and this is different from the views held by most scientists. The book of Genesis, which introduces the Bible, teaches that the universe was made by God, and that God made it all out of nothing.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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.
(Genesis 1:1-3)

Genesis describes, in two stories how God made the world for people to live in. God planned it all, and then made it exactly according to plan, putting everything in its place. Nothing happened by chance or by accident. It was all made because that was what God intended. Everything in the world exists for a reason, and God has a purpose for it.

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Christian ideas about the origins of the world and

According to the teachings of Genesis, all of the different species were there from the beginning:

And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25)

In Genesis, God made men and women as a special creation and gave them pride of place. They were made in the image of God, and given the Garden of Eden in which to live. Everything was perfect until Adam and Eve disobeyed God.

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Christian ideas about the origins of the world and

God made all the different animals, and presented them to the first man so that he could choose names for them, showing that from the very beginning, people hada control over animals:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

This teaching has presented difficulties for some Christians, who realise that the story in the book of Genesis contradicts scientific ideas about evolution, because it says that all the different species were there from the start, rather than evolving gradually. It also contradicts scientific theories about how the universe began, because it does not mention any explosion or expanding universe. It gives the impression that the Earth existed in the way we know it today, right from the start, rather than gradually cooling over millions of years.

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Christian ideas about the origins of the world and

Many modern Christians believe that the scientists are probably right, and that the universe began with a Big Bang. They also believe that people evolved gradually, rather than being created in the beginning as a completed species. These Christians believe that the creation stories in the Bible are a poetic way of describing important truths, but that they tell the truth using myth-stories which contain important truths, but do not necessarily describe exactly what happened historically. The events in the Bible are not always meant to be taken literally. The Bible accounts are perhaps rather like a hymn, praising God for creation rather than giving accurate details about how everything began.

Some Christians, however believe that the Biblical accounts are literally true. The Bible, they believe, comes from God, and God does not make mistakes. If God says that this is how the world began, then it is true, whatever the scientists might think. These Christians believe that interpreting Genesis as a myth is dangerous, because people might then interpret a lot of other important events as myth too, such as the Virgin Birth or the resurrection of Jesus, and say that they did not really happen.

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Christian views about people and animals

According to Christianity, people are different from the rest of the animal world, because unlike animals, they have souls. In Genesis, when God makes the other animals, they aremade just as the plants are made; but when Adam is created, he is special. Humanity is made 'in the image of God':

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

In Genesis, people are seen to be a special creation, different from everything else in the world. It is not clear what it means to be made 'in the image of God'. Perhaps it means that the writers of Genesis though that people actually looked like God; or perhaps they meant that humans share something of the nature of God. When Adam is created, God gives him something extra, which the animals do not have, and this is symbolised as the 'breath of God'.

the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

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Christian views about people and animals

Christians believe, that people, unlike animals, have a soul, something which does not die when the body dies, but can live on after death. For this reason, people are different from other animals, in Christian belief. Their lives are sacred, and they have special rights and duties which other animals do not share.

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Christian ideas about stewardship

Christians, like Jews, believe that people were put on the earth to act as 'stewards'. A steward is someone who takes responsibility for the welfare of others, for example at a festival a steward might show people where to park their cars or where to find lost children. In the Bible, people were given this kind of care-taking role as soon as they were created:

Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.' (Genesis 1:26)

Christians believe that this means they should take responsibility for the earth and the other species in it. They should care for it, protect it, and preserve it for future generations. They should recognise that the world belongs to God, and that they are looking after it for God; it does not belong to them. The writer of Psalm 24 reminds people that God the King is the creator of the world:

The earth is the Lord's, and all that is in it, The world and those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

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Christian ideas about stewardship

Christianity also teaches that people should not take and use more than is necessary. They should not be greedy, and judge their success in life by the amount that they consume, but should concentrate instead on God and on caring for the poor. It is wrong, according to Christianity, to be too concerned about having possessions and wearing the most fashionable clothes:

He said to his disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.' (Luke 12:22-23)

Although the Bible contains many teachings warning people about greed, people in rich countries still consume far more than they really need, and are using up the world's resources a lot more quickly than they can be replaced.

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Christian responses to environmental issues

Christians have not always been concerned about environmental issues. Some people, in fact, blame Christianity for giving people the impression that they have the right to do whatever they want with the world, because of the Biblical teachings that people should rule over the other species. In general, the Church has not encouraged people to be more aware of environmental issues, and the organisations that have done the most to protect the environment have not been Christian.

But recently, Christians have become very much more aware that the environment faces serious problems. Large areas of rainforest have been destroyed, the seas have been fished too intensively, poisonous waste has been carelessly dumped and many species have been lost forever because of human actions. Many Christians believe that they have a duty, as stewards of the earth, to take better care of the world around them. Sometimes, this involves joining campaigns and protests, such as those organised by Greenpeace or the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

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Christian responses to environmental issues

Christians can also take more care in their everyday lives to avoid causing unnecessary damage to the environment. For example, they might make an effort to recycle things rather than just throw them away. They might try to reduce the amount of pollution produced by cars, by cycling to work or by using public transport. They might try to find out the environmental policies of different candidates whenever there are elections, so that they can use their votes in ways that support care for the environment.

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