Matters of Life and Death

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Christian beliefs about life after death

All Christians believe in life after death because:

  • Jesus rose from the dead.
  • The Bible says that there is life after death.
  • The churches teach that there is life after death.
  • They believe that life after death gives life meaning and purpose.

The two key Christian beliefs are resurrection and immortality of the soul.

Christians let life after death affect their lives in the following ways:

  • Christians will try to live a good Christian life so that they can go to heaven.
  • Living a good life involves following the teachings of Jesus, reading the Bible, going to church etc.
  • The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats tells Christians that they should help others if they want to go to heaven.
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Muslim beliefs about life after death

Muslims believe in life after death because:

  • The Qur'an teaches that there is life after death.
  • Prophet Muhammad taught that there is life after death.
  • Muslims believe that life is a test from Allah, and how well they perform in this 'test' determines where they will spend their afterlife.
  • Islam has six fundamental beliefs and one of these is that there is life after death.

Because of this:

  • Muslims would live a good Muslim life - to do this they would follow the five pillars of Islam.
  • They would follow the holy law of the Shari'ah Law.
  • Muslims believe that nothing should be removed from the body after death as a body is needed in the afterlife.
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Non-religious reasons for believing in life after

Near-death experiences: This event normally happens to patients who have been pronounced dead for a very short amount of time. This convinces them that there is an afterlife as they claim to have experienced it.

Ghosts: People claim to have seen ghosts, which leads them to believe in life after death as they believe they have evidence of paranormal spirits.

Mediums: People such as mediums believe in life after death because they claim to be able to make contact with the dead and ghosts.

Reincarnation: Some people believe in life after death because they sometimes experience déjà vu or memories from past lives, which leads them to believe that they have previously lived and died in the past and have been reincarnated into who they are now.

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Why some people do not believe in life after death

Some people don't believe in life after death because:

  • They don't believe in God.
  • They think that religions have too many conflicting ideas about life after death - e.g. both reincarnation and resurrection can't both happen, so they don't believe it is true.
  • They don't believe in holy books.
  • There is nowhere for life after death to take place, so they believe it doesn't exist.
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The UK law on abortion

Abortion is only allowed in Great Britain if two doctors agree one of the following:

  • The mother's life is at risk.
  • The mother's physical or mental health is at risk.
  • The child is very likely to be born severely handicapped.
  • There would be a serious effect on other children in the family.

Abortions cannot be carried out after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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Christian attitudes to abortion - against

Some Christians are against abortion because:

  • The sanctity of life is the belief that all life is holy and belongs to God, therefore only God has the right to end a life and end a pregnancy.
  • They believe that life begins at the moment of conception, therefore abortion is seen as ending life - links to 6th Commandment 'Thou shalt not kill'.
  • They believe that every human being has a right to life, and so abortion is denying a child this right.
  • They believe that adoption is better.
  • The woman can suffer from trauma.
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Christian attitudes to abortion - permitted

Some Christians are against abortion but believe it must be permitted in certain circumstances:

  • Jesus told Christians to 'love their neighbour as themselves' and abortion might be the most loving thing to do (also links to Situation Ethics).
  • The mother's life may be at risk - it would be easier on families to lose a foetus rather than a woman.
  • Some Christians believe that life does not begin at conception - therefore it isn't murder and is allowed.
  • If abortion was illegal, this would lead to backstreet abortions which are incredibly dangerous.
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Muslim attitudes to abortion

Many Muslims believe that even though abortion should be discouraged, it is allowed up to 120 days into the pregnancy:

  • There are teachings which say that a foetus does not receive its soul until 120 days into the pregnancy - therefore it is not a human until then and abortion does not violate the sanctity of life until this point.
  • The Shari'ah Law states that the life of the mother is more important than the life of the child.

Some Muslims believe that abortion is wrong and should never be allowed whatever the circumstances:

  • They believe that the soul is given at the moment of conception and so the foetus is a human being from conception - violates the sanctity of life.
  • The Qur'an says murder is wrong and abortion is murder if life begins at conception.
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The UK law on euthanasia

The law in Britain does not allow anyone to end another person's life either by giving drugs or by switching off a machine, even if the person has requested it. People who do it could face prison.

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Christian attitudes to euthanasia

Some Christians believe that euthanasia is wrong because:

  • They believe in the sanctity of life (life is sacred and belongs to God) so only God should decide when life ends.
  • Euthanasia is murder, the 6th Commandment is 'Thou shalt not kill'.
  • The Bible bans suicide.

However a few Christians accept a limited use of euthanasia because:

  • Modern medical science means that we can no longer be sure of what God's wishes about someone's death actually are.
  • Jesus said 'love thy neighbour as thyself', euthanasia might be the most loving thing (Situation Ethics).
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Muslim attitudes to euthanasia

Most Muslims are against euthanasia in all forms. This is because:

  • The Qur'an says that suicide is wrong and will result in being sent to hell on the Last Day. This includes assisted suicide.
  • Many Muslims believe that voluntary euthanasia is the same as assisted suicide.
  • Muslims believe in the sanctity of life.
  • Taking a person's life is like 'playing God' (shirk). The Qur'an says that only Allah can take life.
  • Islam teaches that life is a test set by Allah and Prophet Muhammad said that ending life early would be like cheating in that test.
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The media and the freedom of religious criticism

For:

  • The media has the right to freedom of speech.
  • By criticising what religions say the media can educate people.
  • The media should point out contradictions in what religions say.

Against:

  • What religions say is only for the benefit of religious followers.
  • By criticising religions the media could cause conflict.
  • The media may be biased.
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