RS common test: Religion + life


Scientific views: Origins of the universe

Scientific Arguments - Two main types

Cosmological theories - How the universe began

The Big Bang Theory - the universe began in an explosion of matter + energy. Matter from this eventually formed stars, planets + everything else. Universe still expanding - important evidence for theory.

Evolutionary theories - How living things changed

Charles Darwin argued - life on Earth began - simple cells. Life evolved over millions of years - best adapted survived. According to this theory - people evolved from apes - NOT Adam + Eve

1 of 25

Christian views: origins of the universe

Religious ideas in general

Some religious people believe only stories - written scripture. Others - science tells how world created - religion explains why. They believe - God caused Big Bang, evolution is way he made humans.

Christian Ideas

1) Genesis - God created everything 6 days - rested on 7th. Chapter 1 + 2 describe how God created people in his image + made woman from man

2) some believe Bible gives literal account of what happened. People who disagree with evolution theory claim - lack of proof - fossils dont show full process of evolution

3) However lots of  Christians view creation story - symbolic + also believe in scientific theories. Big Bang Theory first put forward - Roman Catholic Priest - Religion + science don't have to be completely separate

4) Many believe science + religious ideas can exist in harmony

2 of 25

Buddhist views: Origins of the universe

Buddhist views on the origins of the universe

  • Buddhists do not believe in a creator
  • Buddhism - cyclical vision of the universe - each universe followed by another one - No beginning or end
  • Buddhists can accept Big  Bang theory - does not necessarily state that there was nothing before the Big Bang happened.
  • Buddhists consider it more important to find a way out of suffering than to understand origins of universe
3 of 25

The Value of the world


Christians view the earth as a priceless gift of God - loaned to humans as result of his love. Beauty of the world can give a sense of awe + wonder + devout respect


Buddhists value the world bc - provides + sustains life. It also provides conditions needed to achieve enlightenment. Buddhism teaches - although the world belongs to nobody, it is everyone's responsibility to look after it 

4 of 25

the duty of humans to protect the world

Christian beliefs about how people should interact with environment stem from ideas of stewardship + dominion

Stewardship means Christians have duty to look after environment - behalf of God. Implied in Genesis 2:15, when God puts Adam in Garden of Eden - 'work it and take care of it'

  • Responsibility - passed down to rest of humanity - means it is the role of all humans to look after world for God. if they use world wrongly - destroying what belongs to God 
  • In return for caring for world - humans may use it to sustain life
5 of 25

continued: duty of humans to protect the world

Genesis 1:28 teaches - God gave humans dominion over the world. Minority of Christians interpret this as meaning that humans can do whatever they want with the world. But most Christians want to care for world as God's stewards

Most Buddhists - aware of importance of avoiding damage to the environment + of looking after world - future generations. Reasons for this: 

  • Dependent arising teaches - all life interconnected + all creatures depend on healthy planet to survive
  • If people misuse environment - will cause suffering for selves + others - contradict Buddhist aspiration - reduce suffering
  • First moral precept encourages Buddhists to avoid causing harm to living beings. Means looking after world - home to all living things
  • 'I believe that not only should we keep our relationship with other fellow human beings very gentle... extend that kind of attitude to natural environment' 
6 of 25

The use of natural resources

The use of natural resources

  • Natural resources - materials found in nature (such as oil + trees) - can be used by people to make more complex products
  • some natural resources - non-renewable
  • reducing the use of natural resources - recycling more + using renewable energy sources + helping to protect environment - ways world can be preserved for future generations
7 of 25


Main types of pollution

pollution type                     cause                  possible problems caused

Air       Fumes from factories + transport         asthma, lung cancer,global warming 

Land    Poor disposal of waste            chemicals, inefficient farming, poisoned food

water   dumping waste into river + sea         oil spills + plastic waste kill marine life 

Pollution - to contaminate something - especially environment. Pollution is a very big problem

8 of 25

Religious views on pollution

Christians want to reduce pollution. They might base their views on the following beliefs + teachings:

  • World on loan to humans - who have been given responsibility by God to look after it (Genesis 1:28)
  • Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) warns God - final judge bout how responsible humans been looking after Earth
  • Pollution - not loving towards others - Jesus teaches Christians to 'love your neighbour'

Buddhists also want to reduce pollution. 1 reason - pollution causes suffering to all living creatures

'The earth is the Lord's and everything in it' - Psalms 24:1

9 of 25

examples of action taken to help tackle pollution

Pope Francis - called on people to take action to protect environment - his open letter, 'on the care of our common home' - stressed need for renewable energy + recycling

Some Christian groups work in their local communities to clean up the environment eg. litter picking 

The Holy Isle project - example of a Buddhist project - aims to protect local environment +reduce waste

10 of 25

Religious attitudes towards animals

Christians believe - animals created by God for humans to use + care for. Many believe humans more important than animals - we created in image of God, but animals should still be treated kindly.

Most Buddhists believe - animals treated with kindness + compassion. Principle of kamma - teaches causing harm to animals- unskilful - suffering. Goes against 1st moral precept too. Eightfold path teaches Buddhists should not make living from activities causing harm to others, including animals.

11 of 25

Animal experimentation

Scientists use animals to test new products such as cosmetics, medicines + food - make sure safe for humans

Christian views

  • Most Christians believe - if testing is proved to be  necessary + welfare of animals is considered, it's justified to ensure human safety
  • Many believe - animals can be used to help save human lives

Buddhist views

  • some Buddhists against animal experimentation - believe animals shouldnt be harmed
  • others believe - acceptable if its the only way to save many human lives
12 of 25

The use of animals for food

Christian views - animal experimentation

  • Christianity - no rules about eating meat 
  • Romans 1:43 - Christians should be sensitive to beliefs of others about what they wish to eat
  • Most Christians eat meat - believe God gave humans animals for food
  • 'everything that lives and moves about will be food for you' - Genesis 9:3
  • some vegetarians/vegans - if crops were grown on land currently used to raise animals - more food + would please God

Buddhist views

  • Many Buddhists - veggie/vegan - reduces harm caused to animals
  • some scriptures state Buddha insisted followers should not eat meat/fish
  • bc doesnt show compassion + creates an atmosphere of fear among all beings
  • 'all tremble at violence, all fear death . comparing others with oneself, one should not kill/cause to kill'
  • other scriptures include references to Buddha + his monks eating meat
13 of 25

Buddhist views: Origins of life

Buddhist views on the origins of life

  • The Buddha said anything (including life) - can come into existence when necessary conditions are there. Process doesn't rely on creator - just happens
  • Buddhism teaches - NOT possible to identify beginning or end to Earth. Earth - continuous process of change
  • When conditions were right on earth, plants + animals came into being. As conditions changed - life evolved
  • This means that Buddhist ideas don't conflict with the theory of evolution
14 of 25

Christian beliefs: origins of life

Christian beliefs: origins of life

  • Genesis 1 - God created all life - human life created last
  • Genesis 2 - how God created first man - Adam - from soil + breathed life into him
  • while Adam asleep - God took rib - used it to create woman - Eve. Eve created to help Adam + to live in close relationship with him + God

Many Christians - don't believe literally true (some do) - instead interpret story as showing - humans special to God - created in his image

Fundamentalist Christians - don't believe in theory of evolution - believe God created all living tings - some believe exactly dsmr - Genesis 1 + 2

Majority of Christians accept theory of evolution - but believe God is creator - started proces - evolution - life developed afterwards

15 of 25

Sanctity of life + quality

The phrase Sanctity of life refers to the idea that human life is sacred, holy, and precious

Quality of life refers to how content you are with life

Buddhist views:

Buddhists believe - all human life sacred bc even foetus - potential to be reborn/achieve enlightenment. Human life - valuable - self aware + have consciousness. we cannot know when life begins - everything sacred.

Buddhist views on what makes good quality of life - based on ourselves + people around us. good 'quality of life' comes from accepting life - Dukkha + should try and live by Buddha's teachings.

16 of 25

Abortion in the UK

Abortion is legal in the UK provided doctors agree it meets certain criteria

Christians Buddhists generally oppose abortion - some agree with it in certain situations - example - if child would have V poor quality of life

  • Abortion - deliberate removal of foetus from womb in order to end pregnancy
  • In UK - abortion can take place in licensed clinic - two doctors agree risk to physical/mental health of mother, baby, existing kids in fam
  • Abortion - only happen during first 24 weeks pregnancy - unless mother's life in danger/foetus severely deformed. In these cases - no time limit 
17 of 25

Christian views: abortion

  • Christians believe in sanctity of life - human life sacred - image God.
  • Many Christians who believe life begins at moment conception - think abortion wrong - taking away life given by God 
  • However some Christians - abortion sometimes acceptable - e.g. if pregnancy result of rap3/child would have poor quality of life  
18 of 25

Buddhist views: abortion

  • In general - abortion - form of killing - against 1st moral precept - unskilful
  • However - Buddhists may sometimes favour abortion - when baby likely to be born with disability/poor quality of life
  • some Buddhists believe - having abortion - personal choice
  • Buddhist views on abortion differ from country to country - social norms/traditions
  • some Buddhists - abortion generates bad karma for both mother + foetus. Foetus suffers bad karma - soul deprived of opportunities would have had as human to earn good kamma 
19 of 25

Further arguments for and against abortion


  • pro-choice groups believe the mother's life is more important
  • mother has to carry baby - has right to choose whether to continue pregnancy
  • life doesn't start until birth (or when foetus can survive outside the womb), so abortion does not involve killing
  • It is cruel to allow a severely disabled child to be born


  • pro-life groups argue - life begins at conception, abortion is a form of murder
  • it is possible for disabled children to enjoy a good quality of life - should be allowed to live
  • unwanted children - adopted - have families that will care for them
  • those who choose abortion can suffer from depression + guilt afterwards 
20 of 25


Euthanasia - painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable/painful illness, or who is in irreversible coma

Christians + Buddhists generally oppose euthanasia - some may agree with it when it seems to be most loving + compassionate action to take 

What is Euthanasia

  • Voluntary: ill person asks for life to be ended - they don't want to live anymore
  • involuntary: the person is capable of expressing a choice but not given the opportunity to do so
  • non-voluntary: person is too ill to ask to die - possibly in a coma but doctor ends their life - thought to be in best interests
  • doctors may withdraw medical treatment keeping someone alive if they believe person  cannot recover or if person asks them to. Called a non-treatment decision - legal in UK 
21 of 25

Christian views: euthanasia

Christian views

  • Many Christians believe euthanasia - form of murder + interferes with God's plan for person's life
  • believe euthanasia - against sanctity of life + only God has right to take away life
  • might argue that if euthanasia were legal - very old could feel pressure to end their lives in order to not burden their families 
  • might argue - suffering brings people closer to God + helps them understand Jesus' suffering 
  • Salvation Army - said that euthanasia  + assisted suicide 'undermine human dignity + are morally wrong 
  • some Christians support euthanasia when it seems - most loving thing to do
  • they may argue that as God gave people free will - should be able to choose when to end their lives 
22 of 25

Buddhist views: euthanasia

  • Many Buddhists oppose euthanasia - goes against first moral precept
  • at same time - many Buddhists would respect right of individual to do what they wish with own life
  • some Buddhists - compassionate to help someone end their life if suffering a lot 
  • state of mind of person at death - important, influences their rebirth. If a person is helped to die quickly + peacefully - could benefit future consciousness
  • other times - natural death might be better for a person's kamma 
  • Dalai Lama - commented euthanasia should be avoided except in exceptional circumstances 
23 of 25

christian beliefs: death + afterlife

  • Christians + Buddhists both believe - death not the end 
  • Many Christians believe - after death they are judged by God + spend eternity in heaven/hell

Christian beliefs 

Christians believe - Jesus' resurrection - evidence for afterlife. Many Christians believe - after death - judged by God + will go heaven/hell. Desire to be close to God motivates them to have faith in Jesus + teachings.

  • Catholics believe in middle stage - purgatory - where souls are purified to allow them into heaven
  • some christians - judgement happens as soon as person dies 
  • others believe - Jesus return on future day of judgement - all souls judged
  • some believe - people will be in heaven - physical bodies - others - soul
  • some believe God would not condemn people to hell + all go to heaven 
  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16
24 of 25

Buddhist teachings - death + afterlife

  • Many Buddhists believe - death - process rather than a single moment. consciousness passes on from physical body over a period of hours or days 
  • Most Buddhist traditions teach that people - reborn after they die. Means at some point after death - person's consciousness enters another life at the point of its conception
  • Quality of rebirth - dependent upon ethical quality of person's actions in their previous lives (kamma) skilful behaviour - favourable rebirth
  • Many Buddhists believe - what happens after death depends on state of mind when they die 
  • someone who becomes enlightened is freed of future rebirths 

"Having reached perfection, fearless without craving, without blemish, he has cut off the darts of existence. This body is his last." - The Buddha

25 of 25


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Religion and life resources »