Religious attitudes to matters of life

An overview of Unit 1 of Religion and Morality

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  • Created on: 09-05-12 11:05

Religion and Morality

Morality: a system of ethics about what is right or wrong

Absolute morality: what is morally right and right applies to all circumstances at all times

Relative morality: what is morally right or wrong in any situation depends on it's circumstances

Religion influences our morality and decisions

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Why is life special?

Many people think that life is special as it can only be created by the living, not by dead

Sancity of life: life is sacred as it is god-given

Value of life: the value of a person over and above physical values e.g. the value of life cannot be measured by money

Quality of life: a measure of fulfilment. People may argue that if a person doesn't have a good quality of life then they should be allowed to die. This may affect a person't value of life

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Introduction to fertility treatment

IVF - Involves conception happening "in glass" (in vitro). It involves many eggs being fertilised and has quite low success rates

Artificial insemination - sperm collected by masturbation medically inserted into the vagina to assist pregnancy

Surrogacy - A woman's egg is fertilised artificially by another woman's partner, done by artificial insemnation. The woman can be paid expenses but not a fee. The couple apply for parental rights 6 weeks after birth

Louise Brown - The first test tube baby, born in 1978

Some people argue against fertility treatments as it is not natural so could be going against god, so the "wrong people" could become parents. The child could be bullied or upset by the news when told and it could cause division in the family

However, many people see that everyone has the right to become a parent. Also, God gave people the intelligence to develop the technology so it should be used

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Artificial Insemination

AIH - when a woman is made pregnant by the sperm of her husband but not by sexual relations

AID or DI - when a woman is made pregnant by the sperm of a man other than her partner but not through sexual relations. The man is paid a small fee. When the child reaches 18 they gain the right to know the identity of their father

Roman catholicism and judaism forbid both as it involves masturbation which is banned as it is "spilling the seed". Many are against just AID as:

  • the donor is a stranger
  • it could be seen as adultery
  • it allows unmarried women to have children on their own
  • it allows gay couples to have a child
  • the child may be upset that they are not their father's genetic child
  • the donor may be unhappy that his genetic children know his identity
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Transplant surgery and blood transfusion

Organs for transplant are kept healthy by keeping the dead body on a ventilator. The development of new drugs has lead to higher success rates as the new organs are less likely to be rejected. Organs for transplant cannot be sold.

Donors have to give permission for their organs to be used and their next of kin

It is now possible to use animal parts for transplants too. Some muslims would be prepared to use a pig's organ as a last resort, even though they can't eat it's meat

Some people don't become donors as they don't want to be buried "incomplete", sometimes linked to ideas about the afterlife

Islam and Judaism forbid "descrating or mutilating" the body, but organ donation is still permitted as it saves somebody's life, but still fewer donate

Jehovah's winesses are against transplants as they feel that their life is carried in their blood and so they cannot have anyone elses blood, although they allow transplants without transfusion

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Human genetic engineering and embryology (1)

Human genetic engineering: the modification of gene make-up to change the features of a human, usually involving embryos

Embryology: the study of human embryos (fertilised ovum (about 12-14 days) when implanted into the wall of the womb)

Designer babies: babies with gender and characteristics chosen by their parents, which is currently illegal, although being developed with permission of the American government. Most scientists are against this and say that their work in human genetic engineering is trying to be able to prevent babies from having gentic diseases

Stem cell: a cell, most likely taken from a 4-5 day old embryo, bone marrow, umbilical cord or other tissue

Saviour siblings: A sibling, genetically compatible with sick child is implanted and born to use stem cells to treat sick child. This is legal, although using the child for transplant is not

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Human genetic engineering and embryology (2)

Christianity: it is wrong to take on a God role, so is against scientists experimenting on and disposing of embryos. Most arguments based on the sancity of life

Hinduism: don't allow the harming of living things, but allow genetic engineering for the reason of helping others, otherwise it is bad karma

Islam: have the same problems as Christianity, even though they don't believe that embryos have a soul yet. Allah has given skills to help others and this technology is an extension of it

Judaism: Accepts it as it saves lives, but same problems as christianity, so embryos must be respected

  • preventing genetic diseases and so improves quality of life good
  • However, some religious people see this as trying to take the role of God
  • those who say life begins at conception believe that the extra embros destruction is murder
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Reproductive cloning: the creation of an identical copy of an organism, illegal in humans. This involoves the seperation of cells in early stages of embryo development and then developing them into genetically identical organisms

Therapeutic cloning: this involves using biological material to create embryos from which stem cells can be taken and experimented on. this is legal, and labatories involved in this cloning are closely monitored to prevent them implanting the embryos, which must be disposed of at 14 days. It still needs development

  • Some agree - It helps with embryonic research so can improve quality of life
  • people have a right to choose - free will
  • God inspires people to create new technology to benefit mankind
  • However some say it is against nature and the way we were created by God
  • it results in the destruction of many embryos, which could become people
  • it may encourage further less acceptable advances
  • reproductive cloning affects the person's role in the family
  • a cloned person may not have a soul
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Should we experiment on humans or hybrids?

Human-animal hybrid embryo: an embryo made from human DNA and animal eggs for the purpose of experimentation by extracting the stem cells. This is legal, although criticised as being against the will of God

Human experimentation: testing products on paid volunteers. This is the final round of testing of all medicine, but can sometimes go very wrong

  • 1- labatory testing (tissue, then animals)
  • 2- human testing (healthy, ill)
  • 3- Drug licensing
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What does religion say about matters of life?

  • Before conception - Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs believe that a pre-existing life force enters the body at conception
  • Conception - some people believe that life starts at conception at both the sperm and egg are living. Mostly Roman Catholic
  • Three weeks the heart begins to beat
  • Quickening (about 9 weeks), the first movements can be felt
  • Ensoulment - Muslims believe that the foetus gains a soul 120 days after conception
  • Viability is when the foetus could survive independantly from the mother
  • Birth is when Jews believe life starts as before then the foetus is dependant on the mother

If life starts at or before conception, all of the issues in this unit involve taking life, however as this can lead to helping the race as a whole some religions overlook that

even those who say that life starts after 14 days say that embryos should be treated with respect as they hold potential for human life

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