Religion and morality key terms
Morality: A system of ethics about what is right or wrong
Ethics: The theory relating to morality
Absolute Morality: What is morally right and wrong applies to all circumstances, at all times
Relative Morality: What is morally right or wrong in any situation depends upon its particular circumstances
Why is life special?
- Many people think life is so special because life can only be created from the living, not the dead.
- The sanctity of life - life is sacred because it is God-given
- Value of life - the value of a person over and above physical value
- Quality of life - a measure of fulfilment
The sanctity of life
- Apart from Buddhism, all the major religions belive God was responsible for creating the original life forms
- Many believe that these have evolved naturally (or perhaps with God's help) over millions of years, leading to the situation we have today
- Others believe that the creation story their relgion teaches is literally correct, which is another reason why life is special - it was first created by God and he still takes responsibility for it
- This means that no person has the right to damage or destroy life
The value of life
- Some people might interpret the value of life just in financial terms - is the benefit of a life (human or animal) worth the money that is being spent on it or will a life be improved sufficiently to justify the cost?
- If the answer to either of these questions is no, then the life is perhaps of limited value and maybe should not exist, or great efforts should not be made to keep it going
- Other people would say that you should not think in this way because life itself is more valuable than money
- They may question whether one person's life can ever be more valuable than another's
The quality of life
- Many people, whether religious or not, consider whether a particular life will be comfortable and free from pain
- Others develop this further by asking whether the person will be able to live with freedom, dignity and, for religious believers, the possibility of accessing or experiencing God - if so this could be seen as a good quality of life
- If their life is unlikely to be of sufficient quality, then perhaps they should be allowed to die
- An example of this is a life-saving operation. Even if the operation will save the person's life, should it take place if the person is going to suffer extreme pain or disability for the rest of their life?
Religious beliefs and teachings about why life is
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
God sends us and we take birth. Adi Granth 1239
Fertility treatment key terms
Fertility treatment: Medical procedure to assist an infertile couple to have a child
In vitro fertilisation (IVF): A scientific method of making a woman pregnant, which does not involve sex. Conception occurs via sperm and egg being placed into a test tube
Test-tube baby: Term used for a baby created outside of the woman's body
Artificial insemination: Sperm medically inserted into the vagina to assist pregnancy
Surrogacy: Woman's egg fertilised artificially by another woman's partner
The choice to have children
- The choice of whether to have children or not is available to many people nowadays
- Those who do not want to have children for any reason can enjoy a full sex life using contraception to prevent pregnancy. The morning after pill or, later on, abortion can also be considered
- On the other hand, fertility treatment provided by medical science and technology enables many couples with fertility problems to have children if they want them
- In the past it was thought that God decided who should and should not have children but people are now much more able to make their own choices, even if they do need help from science
In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- It has helped many couples who have no hope of having their own children to become parents
- It is now common for more than one egg to be fertilised and more than one embryo to be implanted in the hope of a greater chance of success
- Success rates are still quite low and many couples have to undergo treatment several times before the embryo implants itself into the uterus wall, develops into a foetus and after 38 weeks is born as a baby
- Not everybody was in favour of this procedure
- Fertility treatment can also be used to 'impregnate' a surrogate mother
- It is usual for the surrogate mother's egg and sperm from the intended father to be used via artificial insemination treatment (traditional surrogacy)
- If the intended mother has working ovaries, their 'genetic' child can be conceived by using IVF to fertilise the mother's own eggs and implanting them into the surrogate mother's womb (gestational surrogacy)
- Once the baby is born, it is handed over to the couple for whom she carried it. Under British law, she can be paid expenses but not a fee
- After the child is born, the intended father will put his name on the birth certificate as the father of the child, which automatically gives him equal rights over the child with the surrogate mother. If he does not do this he can enter into a Parent Responsibility Agreement with the surrogate mother, which gives equal rights over the child. This gives them full parental rights over the child and the surrogate mother loses all the rights she has in the first six weeks
Religious beliefs and teachings about fertility tr
Hannah had none [children]... and the Lord had closed her womb. 1 Samuel 1:2,5
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb ... my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. Psalm 139:13,15
Artificial insemination in farming
- Used in farming as a way of ensuring that selective breeding produces animals that are likely to produce the best meat or dairy products
- Without its use, such products might be in short supply and more expensive
- No one seems to mind farmers using this process with their livestock, but some people express concern about its use with humans
Human artificial insemination
- This is where the sperm is produced by masturbation, collected and inserted into the vagina of a woman in the hope that fertilisation will take place and she will become pregnant
- There are two types of artificial insemination, depending on where the sperm comes from:
Artificial insemination by husband (AIH) - when a woman in made pregnant by the sperm of her husband, but not through having sexual relations with him
Artificial insemination by donor (AID or DI) - when a woman is made pregnant by the sperm of a man other than her partner, but not through having sexual relations with him
Should we use artificial insemination?
Both methods involve masturbation to produce the semen which contains the sperm. Some religions or denominations forbid this (e.g Roman Catholicism and Judaism) because masturbation is seen as 'spilling the seed' that could produce life.
Most people are in favour of AIH being used if it is the only way for a woman to have a child but many are against AID. This may be because:
- The donor is a stranger
- Inserting the sperm from a man other than the woman's husband could be seen as adultery
- It allows an unmarried woman to have a child and bring it up on her own
- It allows a gay couple to have a child and bring it up in a 'single-sex home'
- The child might become very upset when they find out their genetic father (donor) is different from the father who brought them up
- The donor might be unhappy that his identity could be revealed to his genetic children
Are people in favour of fertility treatment?
- The main reason opposed to it is that it is not seen as natural, and is therefore against God, or that the 'wrong people' could become parents
- On the other hand, on the grounds of compassion, the beliefs that everybody has a right to be a parent and that there is a very good chance that the child will be loved and brought up well lead many people to accept or welcome this technology
- A religious believer may say that God has given people the intelligence to develop the technology to perform IVF, so it should be used
- However, success rates are not high, although improving, and the process, especially IVF, is expensive, with no guarantee that the pregnancy will result
Fertility treatment - issues for the child
- There may be implications for the child with fertility treatment
- The parents must think carefully about whether and the best time to tell their child that their conception was a result of IVF
- Some children may react badly, feel they are in some way different, or be bullied at school if people find out
- If their conception was by AID, the child may want to discover who their biological father is, which could cause upset and division in the family
- However, given the difficulties their parents went through to ensure their conception, it is probable that they will feel wanted, loved and cared for, and able to overcome the potential problems
The replacement of a faulty organ with a healthy organ (e.g heart or lung) taken from a donor, usually shortly after the donor's brain death. However, kidney and bone marrow donations, for example, are given by live donors. Organs are kept functioning by keeping the dead body on a ventilator until the patient is ready to receive them. Live donors primarily donate a single kidney or part of their liver, small bowel or pancreas.
How successful is transplant surgery?
The development of new and better drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ has ensured that transplant surgery nowadays has a high success rate. However, the success rate is not 100% and some of the anti-rejection drugs can have serious side effects on some people.
Donors who's organs are used after their death
People may wish to be a donor to 'help someone live after their death' out of compassion, because they can help provide a good quality of life for someone else or because they believe in the sanctity or value of life.
Transplant organs from animals
It is now possible for organs from some animals (especially pigs) to be used for transplant. Some people happily accept this, although others think it is a step too far. Some Muslims would be prepared to accept a pig's organ as a last resort despite not being allowed to eat its meat.
Why do some people and religious believers refuse
Some people refuse to carry a donor card because they do not want to be buried or cremated 'incomplete'. This is sometimes linked to ideas about the afterlife. Muslims and Jews are reluctant to be donors because Islam and Judaism forbid 'desecrating or mutilating the body'. However, organ donation is often seen as the 'lesser of two evils' and so is permitted, because it enables lives to be saved, which is an admirable thing to do.
Many operations require to have their blood replaced, or more likely 'topped up', with blood from the same group. This is called a blood transfusion.
Are people in favour of blood transfusions?
Most people are in favour of blood transfusions although Jehovah's Witnesses refuse transfusions because they feel their life is carried in their blood so they cannot have anyone else's blood. This is an interpretation of Leviticus 17:11 - 'For the life of a creature is in the blood' - that other Christians do not share. It has resulted in several Jehovah's Witnesses dying in situations that have required a life-saving transfusion. Many transplants can be successfully carried out without a blood transfusions and such 'bloodless transplants' are acceptable to Jehovah's Witnesses.
Religious belief and teaching about transplant sur
If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
What is human genetic engineering?
The modification of gene make-up to change the features of a human.
What is embryology?
The study of human embryos.
What is an embryo?
Fertilised ovum at about 12-14 days when implanted into the wall of the womb.
What are designer babies?
Babies with gender and characteristics chosen by their parents, which is currently illegal.
Why are many people in favour of human genetic eng
If human genetic engineering and embryology prevent disease and contribute to the birth of a healthy baby who will have a good quality of life, it must be good.
Why are people and religious believers opposed to
- Some religious people think that it is encouraging scientists to take on the role of God the creator
- Many religious people are concerned about what happens to the unused embryos
- IVF creates more embryos than are needed, but by law they must all be destroyed no later than 14 days after conception. For many people this is not a problem, however for those who believe life begins at conception, it is a problem as it can be regarded as murder, which is illegal and against the teachings of all religions
I will not harm any living thing. First precept
What are saviour siblings?
A sibling (brother or sister), genetically compatible with a sick child is implanted and born to use stem cells to treat the sick child.
What are the main issues with saviour siblings?
- You might feel differently if you were born just for the reason to help a brother or sister who is very ill
- Unused embryos created for the purpose must be disposed of
Buddhist view on genetic engineering
- They believe that intention behind a deed (Right Intention) is important
- If embryology is developed to save or improve life, it is acceptable
- Some Buddhists believe that the cost in terms of the destruction of embryos is too great because it goes against the First Moral Precept not to kill a living thing
- Others believe an embryo is not a fully embodied person because it does not possess the five Skandhas (form, feelings, perceptions, thoughts and consciousness)
Christian view on genetic engineering
- Many oppose it because it takes or devalues life
- Many arguments are based on the 'sanctity of life'
- It is against the teachings of God for scientists to take on the role of creator or experiment on and dispose of living embryos
- Many call this murder and is therefore against the sixth of the Ten Commandments: 'You shall not murder' (Exodus 20:13, from the bible)
- Other Christians are in favour of genetic engineering because the positive aspects of helping each other and eradicating disease are truly loving and create a better quality of life
- They believe God-given intelligence and creativity should be developed and used positively
Hindu views on genetic engineering
- They believe in ahimsa - not harming any living thing
- However, if genetic engineering is for the reason of helping others, it may be allowed - otherwise it is likely to promote bad karma , which makes it more difficult to escape samsara - the cycle of life, death and rebirth
Muslim view on genetic engineering
- Ideas about sanctity of life, disposal of unwanted embryos and the creater God are relevant to Muslims
- However, there is some debate about when life begins - the unborn child does not receive a soul until 120 days (some Muslims believe 40 days) after conception but this doesn't mean misuse of embryos is allowed
- Allah has given us skills to help others and the development of genetic and embryo technology is an extension of this
Jewish views on genetic engineering
- Saving a human life is important to Jews and, if genetic engineering achieves this, it is perhaps acceptable
- However, embryos must be treated with respect
- The ideas about the sanctity of life, disposal of unwanted embryos, and the creator God also apply is Judaism
Sikh view on genetic engineering
- God is a creator and an embryo is a person from conception
- Spare embryos from IVF can be used, but only from genetic engineering to eliminate illness
- However, some Sikhs believe that the cycle of birth, death and rebirth rules out human interference and so are against genetic and embryo technology
What is cloning?
The scientific method by which animals or plants can be created which have exactly the same genetic make-up as the original, because the DNA of the original is used.
This is the creation of an identical copy of an organism which could be an animal, plant or even a human (although creating a human clone in this way is illegal).
It has been common in selective animal breeding for many years.
Most cloning involves separating the cells in the very early stages of embryo development and then developing them into genetically identical organisms.
The idea that reproductive cloning could provide an army of clones to take over the world is not realistic, as there are legal controls in place to prevent this from happening.
This is sometimes known as stem-cell cloning. The aim is to clone biological material to produce embryos from which stem cells can be taken and used in research to find treatments for a range of diseases.
According to the law, once the embryo reaches 14 days from conception, it has to be destroyed.
Scientists will need to do a great deal more work on developing the technique and thoroughly testing the results, which is likely to take many years.
Why might some religious people believe that cloni
- it helps with embryonic research, which oculd help sick or infertile people
- it is compassionate and improves people's quality of life
- people have the right to choose, and free will is God-given
- God inspires people to develop new technology to develop mankind
Why might religious people disagree with cloning?
- it is against nature and against the way we were created by God
- it results in the disposal of many leftover embryos, which may be seen as individual humans or might otherwise grow into humans
- it may encourage scientists to make further advances that are even more unacceptable
- reproductive cloning affects a person's identity and position in the family
- a cloned person may not have a soul
What is a human-animal hybrid embryo?
An embryo made from human DNA and animal eggs for purposes of experimentation.
Main reasons for and against human-animal hybrid e
- Scientists hope that, in the future, they can produce similar embryos that last for six or seven days in order to extract stem cells which will then be used in experiments to help find the cure for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease
- It is against nature and the will of God
what is human experimentation?
Testing products, usually medicines, on paid human volunteers.
What is the big issue with human experimentation?
Whilst this form of testing is usually safe for the volunteers, there have been occasions when things have gone horribly wrong. In March 2006, six men suffered multiple organ failure within hours of taking the drug TGN1412 in a clinical test in London. The most seriously injured victim was in hospital for several months and had to have his toes amputated. Another was told by doctors that he had the early indications of an aggressive form of cancer.
When does life begin? - Before conception
Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs believe that a pre-existing life force enters the body at conception.
When does life begin? - Conception
Some people believe a new life starts at conception because the sperm and egg are from a living source. This is mainly Roman Catholic belief, although some other Christians and other people who don't believe in any religion agree with it.
When does life begin? - 14 days after conception
Some people believe that life begins 14 days after conception because it becomes attached to the womb.
When does life begin? - Three weeks after concepti
Some people believe life begins three weeks after conception as this is when the heart begins to beat.
When does life begin? - Quickening
Quickening is the first detectable moves of the foetus, which is when some people think life begins.
Muslims believe the foetus gains a soul 120 days after conception. Others may link this with the development of the nervous system, brain activity or organ development at various other times.
When does life begin? - Viability
This is when the foetus could survive (with a great deal of medical help) if born prematurely. This occurs at about 24 weeks and this is when sme people believe life begins.
When does life begin? - Birth
Jews (and others) believe human life starts at birth (about 38 weeks after conception). Until then, the baby is a foetus, totally dependant upon its mother.