Topic 3 – Religion and Early Life
Key words and terms
- The miracle of life: the idea that life is wonderful, amazing and/or special.
- Children as a blessing: the idea that God has favoured a couple with a child. The same idea is sometimes referred to ‘children are a gift’ from God.
- Sanctity of life: life is sacred because it is God-given.
- Conception: when sperm meets the egg.
- Viable: the point at which a foetus could survive if it were born.
- Quality of life: a measure of fulfilment, which includes both physical and mental well-being.
- Abortion: the deliberate termination (ending) of a pregnancy, usually before the foetus is 24 weeks and viable. The full phrase is procured abortion.
- Miscarriage: when the women’s body aborts the foetus naturally.
- Adoption: the legal process where a person (child) is taken (adopted) into a family as a son or daughter.
- Fostering: the taking of a child from a different family in a family home and brining them up with the rest of the new family.
The Miracle of Life
- Christians see all life as sacred (Sanctity of Life) so all new born babies are considered a blessing and a gift.
- God chooses to create and destroy life and a baby is part of God’s creation and plan. Life is God-given and holy.
- Buddhists see all sentient beings as important. This includes new life.
- There is a teaching in Tibetan Buddhism that illustrates the importance of human life. A human life is the best type of life, but it only happens after millions of rebirths. It is like a blind turtle in an ocean that only comes to the surface every 100 years putting his head through a ring floating on the surface. The chances are so small.
When does life begin?
- Christians believe life begins at conception. This is when the sperm fertilises the egg.
- At conception the fertilised egg gains a soul. This is called ‘ensoulment’ and is a key Christian belief.
- A child’s DNA is fixed a conception.
- During the third week of pregnancy the nervous system and spinal column starts developing.
- The heart starts beating in the fourth week of pregnancy.
- At roughly 22 – 24 weeks the foetus becomes viable, which means it may survive outside the womb. It is very rare for a child to survive at less than 22 weeks after conception or under 500g.
- To destroy the embryo or foetus at any stage goes against the Christian teaching of “Thou shall not kill” (Bible).
- It is also against the First Buddhist Precept of abstain (avoid) causing harm to living things.
- Some Buddhists may say, however, that the five skandas (or aggregates) are not complete before 22 weeks and the baby has no consciousness or mind.
- Non-religious people may argue that the ‘child’ is not an individual until separate from the mother. Until then the embryo or foetus is part of the mother.
Quality of Life
- The quality of life refers…