Religion and science

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 12-06-13 13:47

The origins of the Universe (Science)

  • Cosmology and evolution are the two sciences that have proposed theories of the origins of the world and of humanity - Cosmology is about the origins of the universe which most scientists believe was caused by the Big Bang 
  • Evolution is about the development of life forms which most scientists believe came about through a process of natural selection
  • The Big Bang theory suggests that a massive explosion led to the creation of the whole universe. The gases and matter released by the explosion formed the stars and planets of the universe
  • Ideas about evolution began in 1740 when Charles Bonnet wrote a paper about aphids and "preformationism"
  • The founded of evolutionary theory is generally considered to be Charles Darwin who suggested that life began with a simple single cell and evolved and developed through a process of natural selection
  • Philip Gosse argued that God had placed fossils in rocks as a test of faith
  • Intelligent design is an alternative to these scientific views. It claims that the universe and its life forms are too complex to have evolved without God
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The origins of the Universe (Christianity)

  • Genesis contains two different creation stories - many scholars believe the second is older
  • 1st account: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." - The Roman Catholic Church teaches that these verses mean God created the world out of nothing - ex nihilo
  • Other Christians believe that God created the world out of matter that was there
  • So these verses raise the key issue of the problem of evil:
  • If God created the world out of nothing and because people believe that God is good, then everything he created would also be good
  • If God created the world from matter which was already present and there was evil within this matter, this would suggest that God was not necessarily responsible for the existence of evil
  • Humans were created in God's image, and given dominion and stewardship
  • "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it"
  • In the second account of creation, humans are made before the plants and animals
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Relationship between science and religion

  • Most Christians now appear to accept the Big Bang theory of creation even if they also believe that God was present and may have caused the Big Bang
  • For Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God, it is difficult to reconcile this with scientific discoveries about creation
  • James Ussher, a 17th century bishop, calculated the actual time of creation by working through all the dates and times given in the Bible
  • He eventually worked out that it took place at 9AM on 26th October 4004 BCE, many billions of years after the date later given by science
  • Many Christians have resolved this difficulty for themselves because they consider the creation accounts to be myths containing important truths
  • "Science explains how and religion explains why" - In 4th century, St Augustine said that the biblical accounts did not present a problem to Christianity because God must have invented time anyway
  • Darwin's theory of evolution was not accepted by the Catholic Church until 1996
  • St Augustine had said that in the beginning God only created causes of the forms of life which were afterwards to be developed
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The place of humanity in relation to animals

  • Most Christians believe that animals were part of God's creation of the world, even if they are seen as lesser creation than human beings
  • In Genesis, humans are given power over all the creatures and in Genesis 2 God tells Adam to name the animals - God gave people free choice with animals
  • For many centuries there have been discussions among Christians as to whether animals have souls - it appears that when God breathed into Adam he gave humanity something unique - Jesus' teachings taught about animals
  • "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God" - Luke ... "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it"
  • St Francis of Assisi spoke about animals and their treatment (they have souls etc)
  • Many Churches have spoken out against the way in which animals are treated
  • In 1986 at the World Wide Fund for nature, Father Lanfranco Serrini said: "Every human act of irresponsibility towards creatures is an abomination"
  • "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature" - Genesis
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Animal Testing - Pro

  • We should treat animals with kindness, but they can be used to benefit mankind 
  • Everything is interdependent - our treatment of animals reflects on us
  • "Rule over ... every living creature ..." Genesis 
  • Only humans were made in God’s image, so we are more important than animals - animals do not have souls or a relationship with God
  • Humans were made first, and Adam named the animals
  • Animals are here for our use, as long as we treat them well, they can be used to improve human life.
  • C of E states that the use of animals should be monitored "in light of ethical principles”
  • RC - acceptable as long as “it remains within reasonable limits and contributes towards caring for or saving human lives"”
  • Bible teaches the humans have a role of stewardship over the earth, therefore we have dominion over the other animals 
  • RC + Anglican: OK for medical drugs, but animals must not be hurt unnecessarily i.e. for means of vanity
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Animal Testing - Con

  • Quakers are opposed to research on animals for trivial manners
  • Qs divided on animals research for medicine
  • They say to love God but then impose cruelty on his creations is a contradiction
  • Stewardship does not invoke dominion
  • The Noahide Laws: humans have to be kind to animals (Judaism)
  • God created everything: we are all equal
  • St Francis of Assisi: animals "have the same source" meaning we all come from God and are equal - Agape
  • God created animals - only he can take life away - NML
  • Animals can feel - should we use them for human benefit?
  • Use criminals instead of innocent animals?
  • Humans should volunteer for medical research as medicines which work on animals may not work the same on humans
  • Animals are God’s creation and should be cared for
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Concept of stewardship

  • The Bible teaches that all life was created by God and is therefore sacred
  • God gave humans dominion - authority and control of creation - but not domination - Noah in Genesis is an example of caring for the environment
  • The Nicene Creed emphasises God's role as creator of all life: "We believe in one God...maker of heaven and earth..."
  • In the OT there are teachings about caring for the land: "do not destroy...trees by putting an axe to them, because you can eat their fruit" - Deuteronomy
  • Christianity has always taught that people should only take from the world what they need and that they should not be concerned with material wealth
  • "We have a responsibility to create a balanced policy between consumption and conservation" - Pope John Paul II
  • "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters" - Psalm 24
  • "You made him (humankind) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet" - Psalm 8
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Christian responses to environmental issues

  • The 1988 Papal Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concerns) stated:
  • "The earth and all life is a gift from God given us to share and develop, not to dominate and exploit" - the Pope made it clear that we should care for the Earth
  • One of the ways in which Christians show their care and thankfulness for the environment is in worship. Harvest Thanksgiving is a modern Church festival which began in 1843
  • It is a thanksgiving for the harvest which is held at the same time as traditional harvest home celebrations
  • "The dignity of nature as creation needs to be bound up with our responsibility for the preservation of life" - World Council of Churches
  • In 1998 the European Christian Environmental Network was established to help the Churches of Europe to engage in a broad range of environmental work
  • Some Christians choose to join organisations such as Greenpeace to work towards the protection of the environment and demonstrate Christian stewardship
  • CAFOD and Christian Aid are two Christian charities that undertake conservation work to enable people in the developing world to be self-sufficient
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Miss KHP


Great detailed notes on the origins of the universe.

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