Religion and Life – THE VALUE OF THE WORLD

The Value of the World

 

Both Christianity and Islam would say that the world is very special. It has been created by God and human beings have been given a very important role within that creation.

 

Christianity
  • God’s creation is described as ‘good’ many times in the Genesis story, ‘God saw what He had made and it was good’. His ‘good’ creation should therefore be taken care of.
  • Humans were given ‘dominion’ over all the creatures. They have been given great power. However, with this power comes great responsibility to take care of the earth.
  • The concept of Stewardship is very important. Humans must take care of what they have been given. They are stewards of the earth.
  • All life is God given and sacred.
  • Muslims also believe in the concept of UMMAH or ‘Brotherhood’. Each and every Muslim has a responsibility to care for the world for those around them and for those in future generations who will inherit the earth.

 

Islam
  • Humans are also viewed as stewards of the earth – Khalifa
  • Everything that human beings have they have due to Allah’s love and kindness. As such, resources and wealth should not be abused and used to take care of others.
  • Muslims have a responsibility to care for the world and those around them, ‘Wish for your brother what you wish for yourself’. (Muhammad – Hadith)
  • Looking after the world shows respect to Allah and Allah will judge those who abuse the power they have been given.

 

 

Exam Tip – Make sure you can explain fully why both Christians and Muslims would say they have a responsibility to take care of the world. You must know key terms and quotes to include in your answer.

 

 

Abuse of the Environment

 

Both Christians and Muslims would say they have a responsibility to tackle the main environmental problems facing us today.

 

Environmental Concerns

  • Pollution – too much of something which is toxic to the environment. It may be in the form of air pollution or water pollution. Pollution also causes acid rain
  • Global Warming & Climate Change – the Earth’s temperature is increasing which causes extreme weather such as flooding and storms. Increased temperatures mean that the polar ice caps are melting. Global warming is largely caused by a build up of greenhouse gasses such as CO2 released when fossil fuels are burnt.
  • Destruction of Natural Habitats – one of the main examples of this is deforestation. Cutting down huge rainforests so farming or building can take place destroys important habitats and hinders the planet’s ability to deal with gasses such as CO2 in the atmosphere. Loss of habitat also leads to extinction.
  • Use and Abuse of Natural Resources – humans are using natural resources such as oil, coal and gases quicker than ever before. Many valuable resources are close to running out. Burning fossil fuels causes significant pollution and contributes to a build up of greenhouse gases which cause global warming.

What can be done to help tackle these problems?

  • Reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned to prevent further pollution and build up of greenhouse gases.
  • Develop sustainable sources of energy such as wind, hydro and solar power
  • Establish conservation areas to protect natural habitats or help to reestablish lost forests through planting trees
  • Recycling
  • Pressure governments to tackle businesses or factories which cause terrible pollution
  • Work with charities such as Christian Aid or Islamic Relief to help tackle environmental issues
  • Car share or move towards using public transport or electric cars

 

 

Animals and Animal Rights

Animals are considered part of God’s creation. Both Christians and Muslims would say that humans have been placed in a position of authority over animals so can use them for food, clothing and work etc. However, most would also say that they should be treated with fairness and kindness. This is often a difficult balance to get right as many techniques such as farming for food or fur have involved poor conditions eg battery cages. Most people would say that the treatment of animals is improving but there are still cases, which many would say demonstrate a lack of care or stewardship.

 

Exam Tip – For the exam you need to be able to write in detail about two issues; use of animals for food and animal experimentation.

 

Animal Experimentation

 

Two Main Areas of Research:

The use of animals to test cosmetics, detergents and other non medical goods. Over 200,000 animals are used worldwide for this purpose. One of the most common tests included the Draize eye test. Substances are dropped into the eye of the rabbit for seven days and their effects observed. Rabbits cannot blink so the substances eat away at the eye. They are given no pain medication. In 1998 the British government banned the use of animals for cosmetic testing, though it continues elsewhere.

 

The use of animals in medical research continues in the UK. Many medical advances have been achieved through such experiments such as the development of safer anesthetics, vaccines for whooping cough, medication MS and life support for premature babies. Many argue that the benefits for humankind outweigh the suffering of animals.

 

 Arguments For Animal Experimentation

  1. Important medical treatments have been developed through the use of animal testing eg chemotherapy.
  2. The animal experimentation industry provides jobs for thousands of people.
  3. Animals do not feel pain
  4. Humans are top of God’s creation and are more important than animals so we can use the how we want. Humans have been given dominion over the animals. Humans are more valuable than animals.
  • The Archbishop of Undine said it ‘Is not a sin to beat a dog to death’ suggesting that we can treat animals how we want. This includes animal experimentation
  • St Thomas Aquinas stated that animals do not have a soul. We can therefore treat them how we want.
  • Roman Catholics would urge people to not be overly sentimental about animals. Animal research may be needed in certain situations but the suffering of animals should be kept to a minimum.
  • Muslims would say that animal experimentation may be carried out if it will lead to protection or the improvement of human life and there is no other way to develop the medicine or technique. Suffering should be kept to a minimum.

 

Arguments Against Animal Experimentation

  • Christians believe that humans are stewards of the earth. They have been placed in a position of authority so have a duty to take care of animals. If you are placed in a position of authority you have a duty to take care of it. Having dominion does not mean you can abuse your power. With great power comes great responsibility.
  • Results from animal testing do not always give accurate results eg Thalidomide showed no side effects when tested on animals but caused terrible disabilities in unborn children
  • The Archbishop of Undine said it ‘Is not a sin to beat a dog to death’ suggesting that we can treat animals how we want. This includes animal experimentation.
  • Pope John Paul II urged Christians to ‘Abandon the laboratories and factories of death’ when discussing animal testing.
  • Many Christians are vegetarians and support charities such as the RSPCA suggesting that animals should be treated with respect and not tested on.
  • ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God’ (Jesus) This quote shows the value of even the smallest creature and goes against the notion that it is acceptable to test on animals such as rats and mice as they are less important.
  • Peter Singer accuses human beings of ‘Speciesism’ as we consider ourselves more important than other forms of life. Why?
  • ‘Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without just cause, God will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.’ Muhammad – Hadith)
  • Muhammad is seen as a role model for how to treat animals. There are accounts of how he cut off part of his cloak to avoid disturbing a sleeping cat and instructed a man to return a bird’s eggs when he saw how upset the mother bird was.

 

Use of Animals For Food

Christianity

Most Christians eat meat and the Bible does not teach it is wrong to eat meat. The Bible states how humans have been given ‘dominion’ over all creatures. This includes using animals for food. However, most Christians would say that the farming techniques used do matter. Most Christians would be against intensive farming techniques such as battery cages as they are considered cruel. As stewards they have a duty to take care of what they have been given.

Many Christians eat no red meat on Fridays and no meat at all during the period of Lent – In both cases this is out of respect for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

A number of Christians are vegetarians for a range of reasons eg respect for animals, not liking the taste of meat or believing in the health benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

 

Islam

Muslims are only allowed to eat meat, which has been killed according to Shari’ah Law. For food to be Halal (Allowed) it must have been farmed and killed according to Muslim teachings.

This involves killing the animal ‘in the name of God’. A sharp knife is used to cut the throat and the blood is drained. This must not take place in front of other animals.

The Qur’an forbids eating pork and it is not permitted to eat anything which has not been ritually slaughtered or that has died in the wild. Such things are Haram. (Not allowed)

To provide animals for food is viewed as a ‘just cause’ in Islam. This is contrasted with eg hunting which is for entertainment and pleasure.

Animal sacrifice is still carried out in Islam for example during Hajj. Each pilgrim will provide a sheep or a goat and the meat will be given to the poor.

Most Muslims do eat meat but some choose to be vegetarians. Like in Christianity, Muslims are stewards (Khalifas) so are often against intensive farming techniques.

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