Religious Studies- Environmental and Medical Issues

A summary of the 2nd section of the Edexcel Religious Studies Christianity and Islam textbook

  • Created by: R_Hall
  • Created on: 27-04-12 16:33

Section 2- Environmental and Medical Issues

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Global warming

  • Global warming is the increase in temperature of the Earth's atmosphere (thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect)
  • Scientists have different opinions about the cause, but most think that greenhouse gases (caused by burning fossil fuels) are creating a blanket in the atmosphere to stop heat escaping
  • Some scientists do not believe that global warming is happening, there is not enough evidence
  • To stop global warming we can-
  • Reduce energy usage or increase use of renewable energy
  • Support environmental charities
  • Recycle waste


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  • Pollution is the contamination of the environment, so it is no longer clean or healthy. Most pollution is cause by waste that it thrown away by humans
  • Most waste cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable- it takes up space, spreads disease and releases chemicals
  • Land pollution (litter, radioactive waste, deforestation, mining) can lead to erosion, poor growth and loss of habitats
  • Air pollution is when chemicals are upset the balance of the air; leads to smog and breathing problems
  • Water pollution is contamination of rivers, lakes, oceans and reservoirs
  • Solutions include creating less waste, anti-pollution laws, energy efficiency, use of cleaner fuels and better manufacturing of products
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Natural resources

  • Natural resources are provided by nature and used by humans
  • Renewable resources (wind, solar, wave, water, wood) replace themselves or can be replaced by humans
  • They are clean and will never run out. But many of them are only effective in certain places and are more expensive than non-renewables
  • Non-renewable resources (coal, gas, oil, minerals, rocks) cannot be replaced once they have been removed from the Earth
  • Non- renewables are used for transport, electricity, buildings and products
  • When non-renewables run out, our lifestyles will have to change to accommodate this
  • Conservation is protecting and preserving the environment and natural resources
  • Examples of conservation include not wasting electricity, using cars less and buying products made from renewable resources
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Christian teaching on stewardship and attitudes to

  • There are 3 concepts within Christian teachings on the environment-
  • Stewardship- looking after the environment so it can be passed on to the next generation
  • Responsibility- recognising that it is up to people to care for the natural world
  • Authority/ Dominion- having a position of power over the natural world
  • Creation is the act of creating the universe. In the biblical account, "God blessed them and said "Be fruitful and multiply. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every other living thing"(Genesis 2:15). This means that Christians believe that God has given them the right to rule of the rest of the Earth
  • Most Christians believe that people should look after the Earth because of judgement day (judged by God on actions on Earth), the Bible shows God's anger towards people who ruin the environment and Jesus taught people to love each other and share
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Muslim teaching on stewardship and attitudes to th

  • Muslims believe that the Earth is Allahs' gift to mankind and everything on it was created by Allah, so should respect and look after it
  • Islam teaches that Adam (the first human) was made as a khalifah or vice regent over the Earth, "It is he who has made you custodian, inheritors of the Earth" (Surah 6:165). As khalifahs, humans have been placed in a position of responsibility to care for the world
  • All Muslims are part of the brotherhood or ummah, so should all share the world's resources
  • On the Day of Judgement, Allah will judge people on whether they have behaved as "stewards of the Earth"
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Medical treatment for infertility

  • Infertility is not being able to conceive a child naturally. 10% of couples are infertile, and this may bring emotional pain
  • There are a range of medical treatments for infertility (IVF, Egg donation, Embryo donation, Surrogacy and Artificial Insemination). They all either use the sperm and egg of parents, or the sperm and/or egg that have been donated
  • All are controversial, especially this involving donation or surrogacy
  • Problems with treatments are that they are expensive, they may not work, fertility drugs can cause side effects and it can place a strain on the parent's relationship
  • However, all of the treatments can bring great benefits to many couples
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Christian attitudes to medical treatment for infer

  • Childlessness is a problem for Christian couples as they may believe that they cannot fulfil God's command to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). They may accept that it is God's will for them to be childless, or may choose to adopt or use fertility treatment
  • Christians are divided on infertility. Some Christian (Roman Catholic) believe that it is wrong as God intended for children to be conceived naturally and no one has the "right" to have a child
  • However, some agree as God has given humans the capacity to create children in this way and it allows couples to experience to joy of having children
  • Most Christians are opposed to certain treatments that involve masturbation (it is a sin), the creation of unnecessary embryos (murder) and sperm/egg donation (adultery)
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Muslim attitudes to medical treatment for infertil

  • Muslims allow some fertility treatments as Allah expects all Muslims to have children, infertility is a disease and childbearing is important for couples and the self-esteem and status of a Muslim woman
  • IVF and Artificial Insemination by husband are allowed as they use the egg/sperm of the couple and it the embryos that are destroyed are 14 days old (Islam teaches that the soul doesn't enter the body until 120 days)
  • Fertility is the will of Allah "He leaves barren who He wills" (Surah 42:49-50)
  • Most Muslims disagree with the use of donor sperm/eggs or surrogacy as it is seen as adultery or the breaking of the marriage bonds, and the woman who births the baby is the real mother
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Transplant surgery

  • Transplant surgery involves using healthy body parts from a dead or alive person in order to replace defective ones
  • Advantages - it makes use of organs that would be wasted, it gives people the opportunity to help others and it saves lives
  • Disadvantages- it is expensive, organs are scarce and it raises questions about when a person is actually dead
  • Most organs come from dead donors, they either carried a donor card before their death or their family make that decision after they die
  • In the UK, organ decision is voluntary, and is a gift of life to someone who is going to die
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Christian attitudes to transplant surgery

  • For most Christians, there are no moral problems when donation organs as it is loving and charitable act, raises no problems for life after death as a body isn't needed in heaven and it shows gratitude for God's gift of life
  • Most Protestant Churches teach that it is a matter of personal conscience and is a personal decision
  • Some Christians are opposed as if violates the sanctity of life, it is wrong to replace body parts which God has bestowed and surgery interferes with God's plans for each person
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Muslim attitudes to transplant surgery

  • Islam believes that organ donation is an individual choice
  • However, many Muslims believe that it is wrong because the Qur'an teaches that the body should not be interfered with after death, it violates the sanctity of life and on the Last Day the body will be resurrected (so all the organs will be needed)
  • Some Muslims feel that it is right, as all arguments against can be overruled by the saving of a life
  • The Muslim Law (Shari'ah) Council has ruled that it is permissible to carry organ donor cards and to receive organ donation, on the grounds that the saving of a life must come first
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