Religious Studies GCSE

Religious Studies GCSE- Ethics, papers 3 & 4

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-Abortion is terminating a pregnancy: when a foetus is prematurely removed from the womb, before it is able to survive. 

-Can legally take place in the UK 24 weeks in to the pregnancy. 2 doctors must agree its neccersary.

- Doctors consider : quality of life of woman, unborn child and the other children that may be in household. 

-Question of when life begins is important. Roman Catholics believe it starts at conception. Others argue at birth or when the foetus can feel and move. Is foetus a real person?

- Pro choice argument: woman has the right to choose what happens to her body. Weakness- is it fair to class the foetus as part of the woman when it is genetically different to mother?

-Many people are against abortion as it is taking a life. They believe only God can choose who lives and dies. (sanctity of life- all created in image of God, we do not have right to interfere)

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-Some people say abortion is okay in certain circumstances, e.g. if woman has been ***** or if the birth may harm the woman (doctrine of double effect- roman catholics)

-Roman Catholics say abortion is murder. Quakers argue life of woman is more important than life of unborn baby.

-Church of England say abortion is permissible in certain circumstances -Bible does not mention abortion, but Didache is against it.

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Fertility Treatments

-Infertility is the inability to conceive a child

Types of fertility treatments:

-AIH: artificial insemenation by husband

-AID: artificial insemenation by donor

-IVF: in vitro fertilisation

-Egg donation: egg from different woman is used

-Most Christian Churches believe fertility treatments are okay as long as no third parties are used.

-Many Roman Catholics don't agree with fertility treatments as they are un-natural and often create spare embryos which are thrown away. Some people would argue embyros have rights.

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-Most Christians oppose cloning as they see it as a humans attempt at "playing God"

-Some people object to cloning as many foetuses will die whilst they try to develop the new technique

-Another objection to cloning is that it would stop every child being unique, which is not what God wanted.

-Christians may believe AIH is permissible as it does not intefer with "sanctity of marriage" 

-Some people would say fertility treatments are not neccersary as couple could just adopt.

-AID and egg donation are the least favoured methods as they include other people.

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Euthanasia and Suicide

-Euthanasia is often called a "mercy killing" It means killing someone painlessly to end suffering.

-Two forms of Euthanasia:

-Voluntary Euthanasia: a severely ill person actively requests assistance to end their life OR refuses treatment.

Non-voluntary Euthanasia: Patient is unable to make request, so somebody else decides for them. E.g. parents, doctors. 

-Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in the UK

-Suicide is when someone ends their own life

-Assisted suicide is when a doctor provides someone with the means to end their own life. e.g. a lethal dose of medicine

-Charity dignity in dying believes most people would be grateful for the "mercy of a painless death"

-Christians suggest easing of pain in Euthanasia is a way of showing Christian compassion.

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-80% of people in 2005 were for letting terminally ill people die with a doctors help.

-Legalising Euthanasia would mean scarce medical resources could be saved for people who could be cured.

-People are concerned if Euthanasia was legalised, old people would feel pressured in to ending their life, even if they didnt want to.

- Doctors have in the past given patients an excess of painkillers to stop pain, which has lead to the patients death. This is not illegal as along as the intent was to stop pain and not cause death. "Double effect"- Roman Catholics.

-"Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" this passage suggest God lives within each of us. Christians believe life is sacred and a gift, so euthanasia and suicide are considered wrong by many of them.

-Some Christians argue earthly life isnt the most important. (Jesus' resurrection)

-Roman Catholics are strongly against euthanasia, believe that anything that intentionally causes death is a "grave violation of a law of God"

-Death could be considered a blessing, persons quality of life is most important.

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Animals in Medical Research

- Christianity says animals come below people.

- Bible says: God created the world, mankind was created to populate it and animals were created for the use of mankind. 

-Most important question: do animals have souls?

-Many people believe animals don't have souls, meaning we as humans are superior to them.

-Some people argue animals are here for our use.

-Christians teach we should treat animals with kindness but we can use them to benefit mankind. BUT we have to consider their suffering.

- Christians also say excessive money should not be spent on animals when humans are suffering.

-Roman Catholic Church tolerates use of animals in research but only if it benefits mankind.

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- Some Christians think it's wrong to cause suffering to animals just to increase humans knowledge, especially as some medicines don't have the same effect on animals as they do humans.

-There is also the idea that humans and animals are interdependent on each other. The way we treats animals will reflect on us.

-Church of England teaches medical and technological treatment of animals should be monitored "in the light of ethical principles"

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-Breakdown of marriage involves breaking promises made in front of God during the marriage ceremony, this is seen as by all Christians as a tragedy. 

-Roman Catholic Church believes its impossible to divorce. They believe marriage is a sacrament: God has made the couple in to 1 flesh and this cannot be reversed.

- Roman Catholics say a marriage can be annulled, this means it was never a real marriage. This can only happen if:

1) either party did not understand or consent to the marriage

2) couple did not have sex or one partner refused to have children.

- Non conformist churches will generally remarry divorced people however individual ministers can refuse to do so if it goes against their conscience.

-Jesus talked about divorce is gospels. He was anti divorce but pro forgiveness.

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-Church of England says divorce is acceptable but they may not remarry in a Church, unless they can find a minister willing to. 

-Jesus say people divorce because of "hardness of heart" and if divorced people remarry it is the same as adultery.

- Jesus says divorce is permitted to someones whos partner has been unfaithful.

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- Christians say marriage should be forever.

-Christian faith values marriage highly as they believe 'joining of couple' reflects 'union of Jesus with his followers'

-Jesus taught marriage should be a life long union. Marriage is seen as:

-Covenant contract between 2 people, involving commitment and responsibility. They also teach marriage should be because of love, support and pro creation.

-Marriage gives people partners certain rights.

Order of Ceremony:

1. Hymns- symbolize couple starting their life together with help of God.

2. Openings statement and welcome to friends and family- Guests symbolize the community. Opening statement explains purpose of marriage.

3. Prayers & readings-  traditional part of Christian worship.

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4. Declarations and Vows- Couple declares no reason why they can't marry. Take vows in front of God to symbolize the serious and sacredness of marriage. 

5. Exchanging of rings- rings are a physical symbol of the vows and of life long commitment.

6. Signing the register- legal requirement.

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Roles of men and women

-Women can now be ordained as ministers in most protestant denominations and as Anglican priests. BUT not as Roman Catholic or Orthodox priests.

-Used to be seen as womens role to raise a family and stay at home. Whilst men would be the provider.

- After WW2 attitudes seemed to change. Normal for women to go out and work.

-Bible says women should do whatever husband says, "wives, submit to your husband as to the lord: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church"- Ephesians 

-Christians argue that this reflects beliefs at the time and does not correspond with jesus' attitudes towards women.

-Most Christians believe women and men should have equal roles.

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Civil Partnerships

-Civil partnerships became legal in the the UK in December 2005.

-This means same sex couples have the same rights as married couples concerning custody of children etc.

-Bible seems to say homosexuality is wrong. "Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty of perversion"

-However some people argue that the bible was written against a different cultural background from ours. SO standards shouldn't be applied today.

-Some people would argue against civil partnerships as they believe you get married for procreation.

- Christianity no longer condemns homosexuality. However it still isn't seen as ideal.

-COE does not allow same sex partnerships to be blessed in a Church.

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Sexual relationships

-Christians teach that only right context for sexual relationships is within marriage.

-Church says that total giving of self in sex shouldn't be treated casually.

-Self control and sexual restraint are considered important.

-Christians are urged to keep sex within marriage. Marriage is believed to give sex a special status. 

-Promiscuity is seen as wrong and dishonoring yourself.

-Christians are monogamous: adultery is forbidden. (10 commandments)

- Some Christians take vows of celibacy- they renounce sex and marriage. They feel it helps them concentrate on God.

-BUT TIMES CHANGE.. number of marriages has been decreasing for at least 30 years.

- become more acceptable for couples to live together before marriage.

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-Contraception is anything that aims to prevent a woman becoming pregnant.

-Can be temporary: contraceptive pill, condoms.

-Or permanent: sterilization.

-Some liberal Christian feel that availability of contraception makes it less important that sex is kept within marriage.

-People argue when scripture was written, contraception was unreliable. & chances of getting pregnant were great.

-Orthodox Christians say that moral principles stay the same.

-Many Christians believe that contraception is a question of individual conscience.

-Roman Catholic Church believes that preventing contraception is against "natural law" and use of any artificial contraception is a "grave sin"

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-Some people would argue against the Roman Catholic's view with the the concerns about AIDS.

- Anglican methodist & presbyterian church favor contraception as it allowed parents to plain their families responsibly.

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Attitudes to War

-Just War criteria:

1) Proportionality- War must not be as bad as the harm it's trying to prevent

2)Just Cause- reason for War must be seen as "just"

3)Last Resort- all other ways of resolving the conflict must have been tried first

4) Proper Authority- must be declared by a proper authority

5)Achievable aim- war must have reasonable chance of success

-Holy War: The people believe they're fighting for God, believe they will be rewarded in heaven, believe God is on their side and can be the most dangerous type of War.

-Pacifists: Do not believe in any type of violence or War under any circumstances. (Mention Dietrich Bonhoeffer) "Put your sword back in its place...for all who draw the sword will die by the sword"- Matthew 26:52

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-Pacifists believe all disputes should be settled peacefully.

-Some Christians believe violence goes against jesus' teachings of "love thy neighbour" and "turn thy other cheek"

Discrimination: War should discriminate between combatants and civilians. (not seen as just to deliberately target civilians)

Proportionality: The military advantage gained by an attack must outweigh any harm caused to civilians.

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-Punishment can come in different forms:

1) community sevice


3)prison sentence

4) corporal punishment

5) capital punishment

-Different punishments have different aims. Fines are designed as detterents. Whereas a prison sentence is primarily to protect society.

Detterence: Idea that if a punishment is bad in someway it will put people of committing the crime. 

-Protection: If somebody is considered dangerous, it is seen that they should be imprisoned to protect society.

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-Retribution: Some people think of punishment as a sort of revenge on the criminal and a way of making them pay. Weakness of this is revenge does not put the wrong, right.

- Majority of religious people now believe criminals should be treated mercifully and punishments should encourage reform and rehabilitation.  

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Capital Punishment

-Capital Punishment is killing someone for committing a crime.


-risk of death will act as a better deterant than a prison sentence

-impossible for murderer to kill again

- society feels safer


- a lot of murders commit crimes in the heat of the moment so won't be thinking about consequences.

-doesn't give criminals chance to reform

-people may be wrongly accused

-God teaches people to forgive

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-Jesus says we should replace "eye for an eye" in the name of love and forgiveness.

-Some people say Capital Punishment is a good thing and protects the innocent

- Many Christians are opposed to Capital Punishment as it doesn't allow reform or show mercy.

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Law & Justice

-Law & Justice are essential to most societies

- Justice is the idea of each person getting what they deserve and of maintaining what's right.

-Meaning making sure guilty people get punished and innocent people are protected.

- Courts decide whether or not someone is guilty and what punishment they should get.

-Punishments may vary depending on where you live

-Christians believe justice is very important since we are all equal in the eyes of God.

- Christians have a duty to look after other people and try to guide them to do whats right and repent their sins.

-Jesus taught people should not seek revenge, they should "turn thy other cheek"

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-Generally the punishments are either: scripture (fines), capital punishment or corporal punishment.

- Even though we are taught to turn thy other cheek, that does not mean becoming submissive victims. Just that responses should be based on principles of love and forgiveness. 

- Constructive punishment should be given to help them repent their sins.

- Jesus taught that judgement belongs to God "do not judge, or you too will be judged" 

- Old Testament puts emphasis on retribution.

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Social Injustice

-Social Injustice is unfairness in society, rather than specific cases that can be tackled by Law.

-Social Injustice is groups of people being unfairly disadvantaged. Don't get the same opportunities in society as others.

-un even distributions of the benefits of society.

1st type of social injustice is based on: race, gender, social class, religion, poverty, age or disability.

2nd type: when some members of society are very wealthy whereas others can hardly afford basic needs.

-Social injustice is based on the idea of human dignity. Christians believe all humans deserve to be treated fairly and with respect as we are all human.

-based on belief of human dignity, human life is valuable, regardless of sex, age, race, etc.

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- Christians believe idea of human dignity is to do with everyone being made in the image of god. "God created man in his own image"

-Dignity and equality don't mean we're all the same. 

-Most Christians believe we are all equal in the eyes of God

-BUT they don't believe we're all created the same.Christians believe God blesses each individual with their own talents, abilities and personality.

-Social injustice isn't about making sure everyone has the same stuff. It's about making sure everyone has the opportunity to use their "God given talents"

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Prejudice and Equality

Equality- being equal and treated equally

Community- People living in a certain place/ group of people with same religious or cultural characteristics

Prejudice- judging someone or something with no good reason

Discrimination- unjust treatment

-Prejudice has many causes, one being upbringing. Tends to widely held, yet innaccurate.

-Discrimination comes in many forms. e.g. individuals may be violent/abusive. Whole societies may pass laws to discriminate. 

-Racism is a big form of discrimination in the UK. Racism is based on stereotypes and generalizing groups of people. These can promote negative thoughts and opinions.

-Media plays key part in educating people but also can fuel stereotypes.

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Attitudes to Equality

-Bible has lots of anti-prejudice stories

-"Golden rule" of christian teaching "do to others what you would want to have done to you"

- Christians believe everyone was created equal by God

-They try to avoid discrimination and promote equality, look at Jesus as an example, he mixed with a variety of different people.

-Parable of Good Samaritan- one man comes to the help of the other simply because he was suffering.

"Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy" "Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice"- Old Testament.

-Christians would argue we should avoid prejudice based on basis of race, gender etc.

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Famous people who fought prejudice:

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer: German Christian who fought against Nazis treatment on Jews

-Archbishop Desmond Tutu: active in fighting against Apartheid

-Most Christian Churches work to promote racial harmony. 

"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat them... love him as yourself" about foreigners living in Israels but Christians argue it can be applied today.

-Good Samaritan teaches how people of different cultures should be treated.

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