Matters of Life and Death

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  • Created on: 02-01-10 22:36

C2: Different Christian attitudes to life after de

In the Creed, Catholics say,'I believe in the life everlasting'. This means that they believe that the soul is immortal and lives on after the death of the body. When people die, they are judged by God, those who are perfectly purified will go to heaven and those who rejected God and very evil people will go to hell. Chrisitans who have died with unforgiven sins and possibly good members of other religions and good non-believers will go to purgatory to be purified of their sins.

Why Catholics believe these teachings:

  • it is taught in the Catechism which is the official teaching of the Catholic Church
  • the Bible and the Church teach that God is a God of love, and a loving God will surely give everyone a chance to go to heaven
  • at his ascension, Christ's risen body was taken to heaven where he is with the Father
  • Jesus told the theif crucified with him that he would go straight to paradise
  • there are references in the Gospels to Abraham, Moses and Elijah being able to communicate in heaven, therefore they must be living in a spiritual world
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C2: Resurrection of the body

Some non-Catholic Christians (especially Evangelical Protestants) believe that when people die their souls remain in the grave until the time when God will end the world. Then the dead will be raised, and the living and the dead will be given resurrection bodies. Everyone will then appear before God for the final judgement.

Why some Christians believe in the resurrection of the body:

  • it was Jesus' body that physically rose from the dead, and his ressurection body was different from his earthly body so Christians' bodies will rise and become risen bodies
  • St Paul teaches that people will have a resurrection like that of Jesus, and will have a spiritual resurrection body given by God
  • Jesus taught that he would come again at the end of the world for a final judgement resulting in heaven or hell.
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C2:Immortality of the soul

Many non-Catholic Christians believe that people are made up of a body (physical) and a soul (mind or personality). They believe that the soul is non-material and immortal. They believe that when the body dies, the soul leaves the body to live with God. These Christians also believe that there is a spirit world where God can be experienced in a much more immediate way than on earth. Other non-Catholic Christians believe that all souls will have opportunities to learn from their mistakes on earth, and so move up in a variety of types of heaven until they reach the presence of God.

Why some Christians believe in the immortality of the soul:

  • Jesus told the theif crucified with him that he would go straight to paradise
  • There seem to be something non-material and immortal about the human mind
  • At his ascension, Christ's risen body was taken to heaven where he is with the Father
  • the evidence of the paranormal seems to indicate the immortality of the soul rather than the resurrection of the body
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C2:Heaven and hell

All Christians believe in heaven as a perfect place in the company of God, although they may describe it in different ways and that it is a place of everlasting life where Christians go after death. Also, Christians believe that hell is the opposite of heaven and that it is a place of suffering away from the presence of God.

There are different attitudes about heaven and hell among Christians:

  • Catholics believe all Christians have the possibility of going to heaven and that good followers of any religion or nor religion may go to heaven, but those who have deliberately and knowingly rejected God will go to hell
  • Some Christians believe that only good Christians will go to heaven; bad Christians and all members of other religions will go to hell
  • Some Christians believe all good people will go to heaven whatever they believe; but bad people will go to hell
  • Other Christians believe there is no hell, only levels of heaven, so everyone will eventually go to heaven
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C2:Reasons why Catholics believe in life after dea

  • the main belief is that Jesus rose from the dead, all four Gospels record that Jesus was crucified and buried in a stone tomb and that on a Sunday morning some of his women went to the tomb and found it empty
  • the major creeds of the Church teach that Jesus rose from the dead and that there will be life after death. Christians are supposed to believe the creeds and so they should believe in life after death
  • many scripture scholars and historians back up the evidence for the empty tomb accounts
  • Catholics believe in the Communion of the Saints which is made up of Christians on earth, in purgatory and in heaven, united by baptism and forming the 'mystical body of Christ'. Therefore there must be life after death
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C2:Non-Religious reasons for believing in life aft

Near death experiences is one of the main reasons, it is a fairly recent phenomenon and happens when people are clinically dead for a period of time and then come back to life.

Evidence for a spirit world

Ghosts and ouija boards appeal to some people evidence of the spirits or souls of the dead surviving death, but the clearest evidence seems to come from mediums. A medium is a person who claims to have a gift of communicating between the material world in which we live and the spirit world inhabited by those who have died. Medium exist in all countries and in all religions. They claim that God is beyond religion and that spirits have second chances to make up for their mistakes.

The evidence of reincarnation

Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists believe that life after death involves souls being reborn into another body, there are meny stories of this in India some of which were investigated at the National Conference for Forensic Science in India e.g. the baby with a tail

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C2:Catholic Response towards non-religious beliefs

The Catholic Church rejects the evidence of mediums, ghosts, etc. as superstitions. The Church also rejects reincarnation, they believe that men die once and there is no reincarnation after death.

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C2:Why some people do not believe in life after de

Not all people believe in life after death because:

  • the evidence for life after death are either based on holy books and there is no way for a non-believer to decide which holy book should be believed or if at all
  • most beliefs in life after death assume that the mind or soul can survive without the body. The evidence of science indicates that the human mind relates to the intellect and that the mind cannot exist without functioning intellect. The brain stem is concerned not with the intellect, but with essential life functions such as breathing.
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C2:Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life

God created all life and so Catholics believe life is a gift from God and is therefore sacred. As life is sacred, it is holy and must be valued and preserved. Other reasons that Catholics believe that life is sacred is because of the life and death of Jesus which tells us that life must be valued and is holy. The sanctity of life means that Catholics must always treat lfe as holy and that they should leave the beginning and end of life in God's hands.

Why catholics believe in the sanctity of life:

  • the Catechism teaches that all life comes from God and is therefore sacred
  • God made life sacred by becoming human in Jesus
  • the commandment 'Do not kill' teaches us that it is wrong to take another person's life, therefore it is sacred
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C2:The nature of abortion

British law on abortion

The 1967 Abortion Act states that an abortion can be carried out if two doctors agree that:

  • the mother's life is at risk
  • there is a risk of injury to the mother's physical or mental health
  • there is a risk that another child would put at risk the mental or physical health of existing children

Arguements about abortion

  • 'When does human life begin?'
  • 'Does a woman have the right to do as she wishes with her own body?'
  • 'Should doctors and nurses be forced to carry out abortion?'
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C2:Catholic attitude towards abortion

Catholics believe that abortion is wrong because:

  • life is holy and belongs to God; only God has the right to allow a pregnancy to end
  • life begins at conception, human life begins when an ovum is fertilised abd as there is no break from conception to birth, abortion is therefore taking life
  • the Ten Commandments teach that it is wrong to take life, therefore abortion is wrong
  • the Church believes there is evidence that women who have abortions can suffer from traumas leading to guilt complexes and sometimes mental illness
  • Adoption is always a better solution to unwanted pregnancy than abortion as it preserves life and brings joy to a new family
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C2:Liberal Protestant attitude towards abortion

These Christians believe that abortion can be permitted under certain circumstances because:

  • Jesus told Christ to love their neighbour as themselves, and abortion may be the most loving thing to do in certain circumstances
  • they believe human life does not begin at conception
  • the sanctity of life can be broken in such things as a just war, so why not in a just abortion e.g. when the mother's life is at risk
  • Christianity is concerned with justice, and if abortions were banned an unjust situation would arise. Rich women would pay for abortions in another country but the poor would use 'back-street' abortionists which may put their lives at risk
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C2:Catholic attitudes towards contraception

The Church teaches that using artificial methods of birth control goes against God's intentions, they believe this because:

  • Artificial methods of birth control seperate the unitive and creative aspects of sex which is not what God intended
  • Some contraceptives have abortifacient effects and so are against the teaching of the Church
  • the Catholic Church regards artificial birth control as a pajor cause of sexual promiscuity
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C2:Non-Catholic Christian attitudes towards contra

Almost all non-Catholic Christians believe that all forms of contraception are permissible as long as they are used to restrict the size of the family and not simply to stop having children altogether. They have this attitude because:

  • Christianity is about love and justice, and contraception improves women's health and raises the standard of living of children as families are smaller
  • There is nothing in the Bible which forbids contraception
  • God created sex for enjoyment and to cement the bonds of marriage. Within marriage contraception allows the role of sex to be separated from making children and this is not against God's will
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C2:Non-religious arguements on Euthanasia

Many non-religious people want Euthanasia to remain illegal because:

  • a cure might be found for the sufferer's disease
  • unscrupulous relatives might request euthanasia for rich people in order to gain from their wills
  • doctors should be saving lives not ending them
  • people might not be in their right mind when they ask for euthanasia

Many non-religious people want euthanasia to be made legal because:

  • Just as doctors can now switch off life-support machines, so judges have said that doctors can stop treatement
  • It is claimed that the NHS cannot afford to keep people alive for years on a life-support machine that could be used to save the life of someone who has a chance of recovery
  • Some people feel that it should be a basic human right to control the ending of your life, if people have the right to commit suicide then they have the right to ask a doctor to assist their suicide if they are too weak to do it themselves
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C2: The Catholic attitude to euthanasia

The Catholic Church teaches that euthanasia is wrong. Assisted suicide, voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia are all condemned by the Church. Catholics have this attitude because:

  • They believe in the sanctity of life, life is created by God and so it is sacred to God and it should be his decision when people die
  • They regard any form of euthanasia as murder, and murder is forbidden in the Ten Commandments
  • They believe that it is up to medical experts to determine when death has occured, if doctors say someone is brain-dead then they have already died. Therefore, switching off the life-support machine is accepting what God has already decided and is not euthanasia
  • It is the teaching of the Church that painkillers may be given to a dying person in great pain, this might shorten the person's life but the painkillers are given to remove any pain.
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C2: The non-Catholic attitude to euthanasia

Most non-Catholic Christians have very similar attitudes to euthanasia as Catholics, they believe any form of euthanasia is wrong and they do not allow the switching off of life-support machines etc. The have this attitude because:

  • They take the Bible teachings literally and the Bible bans suicide and all types of euthanasia is seen as suicide
  • They regard switching off a life-support machine, the refusal of extraordinary treatment or giving a large dose of painkillers as murder and it is banned in the Ten Commandments
  • They believe in the sanctity of life, life is created by God and so it is sacred to God, it is up to God and not humans to decide when people die
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