Christians and the Environment
Christians believe that:
- God made the world
- we 'borrow' the world for the time we are alive
- we must look after the world
- people were put on Earth to act as 'stewards'
A steward is someone who looks after others and is responsible for them
- we are higher than other creatures and animals on Earth - we sit on the top of the hierarchy - we were given intelligence and a conscience!
- we are responsible for the world and should care for and protect it for the future - pass it onto next generation better than it was before
- the world belongs to God and not mankind - has been lent to us
- Earth's resources should be shared fairly
- respect and care for the environment
Commonality - All living creatures are part of the same process of development
Dominance - We've been given right to exercise control over other creatures
Christian Responses to Environmental Issues
- Christians have not always been concerned about environmental issues
- Some say Christians are to blame for making people think they have the right to do what they want with the world
- Organisations that have done most to protect the world - not Christian
Christians are more aware that the environment faces problems now:
- Christians take more care to avoid harming the environment - recycle, limit car fumes by using public transport etc.
- Christians may try and use their vote in ways that support care for the environment
Knowledge: all that is known on a subject, an organised body of information
Wise: being wise, to have the ability to make good judgements
- Animals are often used in experiments, important for medicine - without animal testing, we would not have the safe medicines that we need.
- Animal experiments - used to discover vitamins, how babies grow before they are born, help with painkillers, prevention of polio and treatments for asthma etc.
- Researching ways of curing illnesses e.g. cancer
Test are often painful and some people argue that animals have just as much right to a life as humans do.
- animals are essential part of God's creation but not equal to human beings - we have intelligence, a conscience, top of hierarchy
- only human beings are made in God's image
- humans and animals should live together harmoniously - "not even the death of a sparrow goes unnoticed by God" - Jesus
- Christians accept that animal testing only for cures to human diseases
Physicalism - atheist/humanist beliefs about the natural world
- only believe in matter that can be physically identified and termed 'real'
- no belief in ideas related to God/afterlife as these things cannot be seen
- a human being is simply a body and mind - no soul or spirit forming a connection to God
Reincarnation vs Resurrection
Reincarnation - to be reborn in a different form
Resurrection - to come back to life after death (Jesus' resurrection 3 days after his crucifixion, which was his sacrifice so that God will forgive mankind's sins)
- after death, they will be with Christ
- the afterlife will be a better life than that which they have now
- they will experience God's glory
- Hell is separation from God
Resurrection - immortality of soul/spirit. The new physical bodies are connected to decaying remains of old, earthly bodies and will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement and reunited with their souls. After death the individual is reunited with God and given a new, spiritual body.
Immortality - soul lives on after death & soul - spiritual, non-material part of person
DEATH > DAY OF JUDGEMENT > PURGATORY (waiting room) > HEAVEN/HELL
Evidence for Life after Death
Many people claim to have had near-death experiences:
- awareness of leaving one's body and looking down on it
- travelling at high speed through a tunnel
- seeing a bright light and emerging into a pleasant landscape
- meeting dead relatives and friends
- experiencing momentary review of their life before deciding to return to body
- communications from the dead - mediums who connect to the spirit world
- infant prodigies - learning and retaining skills from previous life e.g. Mozart
- ghosts - feeling a presence, dead relatives visiting the ill/dying
- extra-sensory perception - communicating through minds, "there is no reason why aspects of the mind shouldn't survive the death of the brain"
- science - quantum physics shows that matter can be in 2 places at once
Predestination - Christian belief that God has already decided the fate of human beings:
- everything is part of God's plan
- although we still have free will and can make our own choices
- Human destiny (what happens when we die) has already been determined
Devout Christians - God is in total control over all aspects of life
Protestants - believe we have freedom to choose and use our conscience
Universal belief - in the end, God will choose our fate for us, during JUDGEMENT, when he decides human destiny.
Determinism - the view that every event has a cause, which may involve believing that humans cannot have free will as their choices and actions are caused
^ Does this mean that human choices cannot be free? Should we be punished for our actions if they were caused before our birth? Can we be held responsible? Therefore, should suffering exist if evil is not our doing?
Free Will - the human ability to make choices (cannot coincide with determinism)
The Fall - Genesis 3: a spiritual power represented by the serpent persuades man and woman to disobey God, introducing the tendency to evil and ability to commit sin.
Sin - all things which separate man from God and prevent people living the full life God intended. Christians believe all sins may be forgiven if real remorse and true resolve to lead a new life are shown.
Selfishness and Greed
Selfishness - Self-Interest and concern with individual needs/wants which excludes considering those of others
Greed - excessive desire for things e.g. wealth, food, which bears no relation to actual needs
We have free will which allows us to do as we wish. Rational self-interest and the ability to make our own choices makes people see that there are ways for us to get ahead in life. We were made in God's image, we have His goodness in us. But the original sin allows us that selfishness.
If personal goals are set, one way of achieving them is to focus your efforts on yourself with considering other people. Humans are constantly striving to better themselves - not necessarily mankind as a whole, but themselves individually. We become selfish because we want to be the best, and develop and evolve better.
- Conflict between nations
- Civil Wars and Wars of 'Liberation'
- War against Terrorism
Costs of War: suffering, destruction, death, refugees, economic cost
Just War - carried out for a just cause; conducted on certain principles, that safeguard the safety of civilians.
1. should be declared by a proper authority
2. started for a good reason, 'just' (Holy War is started in name of God)
3. establish good and fight evil
4. should be possible for someone to win the war - chance of success
5. last resort
6. sufficient force - only use as much as is needed for success, no more
7. no civilians should be involved, no deliberate, unnecessary cruelty
Christian Attitudes to War
Some interpret the Bible teachings as saying they should fight to show their love for others and defend the weak against evil.
Others say Biblical teachings are against any act of war (Pacifism) as Christians should see each other as part of God's family, who they should forgive for their wrongdoings.
Christians look in the Bible for guidance > shows violence is necessary:
- the actions of God commanding people to war is found.
- Jesus turned over the tables of the money-lenders in the temple.
However, Sermon on the Mount says Jesus was teaching people to avoid conflict: "Blessed are the peacemakers!" < The Children of God
True Peace is a state of being at peace with God and fellow humans.
Jesus taught to turn the other cheek; violence and war has no place amongst his followers.
Using Bible to Oppose War
Sermon on the Mount: Jesus - "Blessed are the peacemakers", those who seek to bring peace in times of trouble are especially blessed by God.
- Jesus' life was one of peacemaking.
- Taught others how to respect the differences in others rather than fighting with them to get one's own way.
When Jesus was caught in the garden of Gethsemane, before his trial, his disciples were ready to fight the guards, but Jesus told them is wasn't necessary.
- Taught people to love those that had wronged them > "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.
Greed, Ignorance, Sin
These are the root causes of human wrongdoing, and stem from the original sin and human tendency to evil.
Can it be overcome? Greed:
- Yes - acceptance of what you have, sharing your possessions with others
- No - mankind expect quality of life to increase, cannot be satisfied, always wanting more, always wanting life to get better
- This has lead to the misuse of free will, not leading God's intended life
- Not knowing/understanding the difference between right and wrong, twisted views on morality
- No - once you've sinned, this is not forgotten
- Yes - can repent, earn forgiveness, promise to sin no more, God has forgiven
Hatred, Injustice, War
Human responsibility for hatred, injustice, violence and war. Are they inevitable features of a world inhabited by human beings?
Free will allows humans to make decisions and choices. We have a moral conscience and a soul which allows us to form personal opinions. Differing opinions lead to conflict, because many humans highlight differences between people, rather than look at similarities. This can lead to hatred and violence. 'Personality clashes' like these are often said to be inevitable.
Authority > Justice, Injustice, Hatred
With the tendency to be evil in all humans, hatred is inevitable. But justice can prevail everywhere if authority is allowed to rule. Authorities which follow the majority views on what is right and wrong keep the 'chaos' in order.
However, some authorities become corrupt due to greed and selfishness e.g. donated money feeding directly into the pockets of corrupt governments rather than helping a nation suffering from a crisis.
Linear - Time has a beginning and an end, and human beings live only once on Earth.
^ Christian belief - God created the universe at a point, and time began then. Also, humans are resurrected once, and meet God in heaven to experience his glory for eternity. They are not reborn on Earth for a new life.
Cyclical - Time has no beginning or end and the soul of human beings is reborn again and again.
Law of Cause and Effect - Every human action has an automatic consequence.