Perspectives on World Religions

Christian Teachings about the Origins of the World and Humanity

  • Book of Genesis: Universe was made by God out of nothing
  • Humans were the last and special creation with unique status and place
  • Genesis 1: Dictated by God's voice - Poetic and Philosophical
  • Genesis 2: Presents God as a craftsman who fashions Adam from dust and 'breathes life' into him. 
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Origins of the World

Christian Teachings about the Origins of the World and Humanity

  • Book of Genesis: Universe was made by God out of nothing
  • Humans were the last and special creation with unique status and place
  • Genesis 1: Dictated by God's voice - Poetic and Philosophical
  • Genesis 2: Presents God as a craftsman who fashions Adam from dust and 'breathes life' into him
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Scientific Theories

Big Bang Theory: World originated  cosmic explosion.

Steady State Theory: Claims that the universe has no origin but is expanding because new matter is being created all the time (aka continuous theory)

  • Scientists are not 100% sure on how the world began
  • Some think that science explain how the world began but religion explains why
  • Difficult to take Genesis literally, so some Christians deny science in order not to undermine their faith
  • Some view religions as pre-scientifit times so their explanations are wrong and unscientific
  • Others think that it doesn't mean the religion is wrong but they should look beyond the myths at the religious teachings
  • Genesis and science can be seen as complimentary 

Darwinism: Darwin came up with the process of evolution, which shows that alla ndimals and plance have developed from one or a few original cells. 

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Making sense of Genesis

The Fundamentalists: These Christians believe the bible is free from error and is the literal word of God. They think Scientists are completeley wrong.

The Conservative: Believe that the bible is not directly the word of God and the Genesis account of creation is not supposed to educate us on how the world was created but tell us why it was.

The Liberal: Writers were inspired from their own deep insights of God so therefore Genesis is symbolic poetry and should not be taken word for word. 

Vatican has accepted the scientific explanation of creation but say it has come about by God's doing. 

Do not reject Dawinisim. 

Fr John McDade said 'there were amny ways science and religion are compatible.' 

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People and Animals

  • CofE: Animals are created by God and have intrinsic value for that reason.
  • Quaker: Stewardship of the world does not allow humans to exercise an absoloute right over animals.
  • Animals are fellow creatures and we should particularly care for them but they are not equal to us as they do not have human rights.

In the past, Christians believed that we were superiror to animals and ignored their suffering.

Dominion: Governing something for its own good

Domination: To dictate and have power over your own benefit

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Attitudes to Animals and their Treatment

Saint Francis of Assisi:

  • Patron saint of animals and the environment.
  • Deep respect for all creatures, animals and human. 

Lynn White:

  • Believed Christians were responsible as they believe animals have 'no reason for existence except to serve humanity'
  • Wrong: Only partially responsible as the bible says we should be stewards of nature and look after it
  • Right: Original RC thinkers (Aquinus and Origen) believed we were superior to animals and tuaght people we had no moral obligation to them.

= ANTHROPOCENTRIC: Man above all nature and animals

Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey:

  • Universe was created for God, not humanity
  • God loves all creation and we should follow in this environment
  • Violating God's gift
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  • God loans us his creation to care for on his behalf
  • Privelidge and responsiblility for humanity
  • Old Testament speaks of the need to allow land to lie fallow every seventh year - not to exhaust his riches = teaching us respect and gratitude to the land

Roman Catholic Church: teaches that life and earth is a gift from God and our actions have concequences for others and for the earth's resources. We should celebrate the earth's riches but have a responsibility to balance consumption and conservation in order to plan for future.

Methodist Church: Universe is a product of God's creative will and we must be stewards not exploiters therefore Christians must support those working for conservation.

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Environmental Problems

  • Increased technology has damaged the environment.
  • Developing countries let developed countries to exploit the land and make money fast.
  • Problems (e.g. deforestation) are leading to more world hunger, homelessness and disease. 

We need to...

  • Consume less and recycle
  • Walk instead of use the car
  • Support organic farmers
  • Renewable energy resources


Greenpeace: works to keep seas clean and protect the ozone layer

Friends of the Earth: puts presssure on the governemnt to support renewable energy

Worldwide Fund for Nature: draw people's attention to the fact 30 of the world's plants and animals have been lost over three generations so how urgent the appeal is but also encourages companies to adopt 'green policies.' 

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'We have the right to treat the world any way we w

  • We are the most important and significant species
  • Have the right to treat the world any way we wish for our benefit
  • People have to subdue nature for their survival and have the right to do so now if they human race is to survive
  • The world's resources have to be used for the benefit fo all and exploitation for the benefit of soem people leads to the deprivation of others
  • But this contradicts steardship and goes against the Christian teachings of respect for life
  • Humans may have the right to do somethings but does not mean it is the best course of action, as we have free will. 
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Attitudes towards war

Roman Catholic Church: any act of war aimed against large cities along with thier popuation is a crime against God and man.

Salvation Army: respects the right of individuals to decide whether they want to join the army or not and offers a full spiritual minsitry for those decisions.

Jus ad Bellum: Reasons to go to war

Jus in Bello: Reasons for conduct

Principals of Proportionality: Us the right amount of force but not too much to avoid civilian casualties

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Christian attitudes to War

Christians may express concern over weapons:

  • Money better spent on providing food, homes, healthcare etc.
  • Reasons for defence and portection
  • One had a duty to one's country
  • Implementation of evil
  • Cause unecessary death and destruction
  • Long term effects of war on environment and humanity

In the Bible:

  • Apparent contradiction between old testament and new testament
  • New testament we are presented with a God that is loving, father figure and through the example of Jesus' forgiveness and love
  • Old testament trying to scare us? Or just the view of the people at the time?
  • Christians may need to fight for peace if negotation has failed.
  • Agreed that methods can be used if it will cause no harm than is necessary to destroy evil and rescue innocent victims. 

Holy War: War fought in defect of God or with God's authority.

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Just War

(Theory developed by Thomas Aquinas in 1250)

  • War must have a just cause e.g. self defence
  • All other solutions must have been attempted e.g. negotiations
  • A clear aim msut be set out and ended once achieved
  • Weapons of great destruction must not be used and violence must pe proportionate
  • Civilians must not be targeted or under go unduly suffering

Main Challenges to the Just War Theory:

  • You cannot predict the concequences of war
  • Half a million killed in dresden WWII so no way to predict how the war will play ou
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Pacifist: someone who refuses to take part in any form of violence

Conscientious objector: someone hwo refuses to perform military service or take part in war

Pax Christi use examples from the bible, e.g. you shall not kill, and are a catholic group promoting peaceful responses to problems in the world. 

  • Currently, more and more christians are demanding that any money they invest in banks does not go towards arms production, e.g. Co-Operative Bank promise it is not invested
  • Quakers completley reject war or use of force of any kind
  • Many Christians have been conscientious objectors when enlisted which ahs meant being sent to prison, or being branded as cowards in the past
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Human Rights

RC: Promotes the Common Good - 1. Repect for the basic rights and dignity of every person, 2. Development of the spirtual and material well being of society, 3. Peac eand security within society

CofE: Believe in human rights and equality because we are all human beings created in the image of God 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • All humans are born free and equal irrespective of their sex, colour, race, religion or age
  • Entitled to rights without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political etc
  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitarty arrest, detention or exile
  • No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punshiment
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression

However, many people in the word are denied the majority of its tenents. Democratic governements let selfish interests get in the way. 

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Attitudes towards Human Rights

Human Rights Watch:

  • World's leading independant organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.
  • Focuses international attention where human rights are violated - giving a voice to the opressed and making the opressors accountable for their crimes

Oscar Romero:

  • Duty to defend the weak and the poor - stand up for injustice
  • Made it the theme in his sermons which brought him to conflict with the government
  • Despite threats he was not quiet and was then assassinated 
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Are people who refuse to fight cowards?

  • Takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs and convictions 
  • War is sometimes necessary
  • People who are scared of being killed brand themselves pacifists when this isnt the case just scared
  • Belief in turning the other cheek was practiced by Jesus
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Principle of Equality

Roman Catholic Church: Teaches that racism is wrong. Catholics are encouraged to work togehter to end racism --> we are all eachothers sisters and brothers.

Methodist Church: Whatever our skin colour or background we are one in our common humanity and one is Christ.

  • Many attitudes encountered in the bible are still relevant today
  • Ghandi in India, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella = fought to end prejudice
  • Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland --> house given to single protestant woman after being denied to a Catholic family (1969)

Prejudice: Judging before knowing

Discrimination: Putting prejudiced beliefs into practice

Racism: Using the race of a person as a basis upon which to treat / judge them differently

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Organisations to Stop Racism

  • Catholic Association for Racial Justice: Racial Justice Sunday each Spetember
  • Equal Oppertunities Commission
  • Commision for Racial Equality

How can we solve racism?

  • Education to dispel ignorancea nd promote reconciliation
  • Tolerance and understanding
  • Social gatherings to build bridges
  • Discussions to reflect on experiences
  • Applying principles of love and respect

Racial Justice Sunday: Allows us to become more inclusive, outward-looking and welcoming. 

Positive Discrimination =

  • Favouritsm
  • Woman can go first, e.g. Titanic on the boats
  • Allocations for foreign students or race to make it more equal or with state schools
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Christian Attitudes: Men and women are complimentary 

  • Examples of women being specially cared for by Jesus but also examples of them being set apart
  • 1994 CofE began to ordain women but gave parishes the right to refuse a female minister if they objected to this
  • Debate still going on about the ordination of women bishops
  • Methodist church have been ordaining women for 30 years
  • The RC church refuses to ordain women, stating it is not what Jesus intended

Role of Women in Christian Society:

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Other Religions

Exclusivism: Only those who hear and respond to the Christian gospel may be saved

Inclusivism: Christianity represents the normative, salvation is nonetheless possible for those who belong to other religious traditions

Pluralism: All religion traditions of humanity are equally valid paths to the same core religious reality

Parallelism: Each religion is seen to be as valid, in that it achieves its own specific goals


Christianity is an evangelical religion.

Aim to spread the 'Good News' and seek the conversion of non believers.

Some Christians claim eternal life is only for Christians.

Others believe that if your trying to follow a god, your on the right path.

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Missionary Work has gone hand in hand with colonialism in the past

Baptist World Mission:

  • Holistic mission, fulfilles evangelism but helps the physical needs of the poor aswell
  • Expertise in core areas: church planting, development, disaster relief, education and health

Holy Rosary Sisters:

  • Empower others and to share in the 'good news'

Ecumenism is promoting union between religions and seeks to encourage work and cooperation between the many different Christian denominations.

  • Cooperation in charity works
  • Shared communities, e.g. Taize
  • Join Schools e.g. Christ College in Gloucester (Joint Anglican and RC school)

World Council of Churches: forum for debate with all memebers being from Protestant, Anglican or Orthodox traditions.

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