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Matters of Life and Death. Key Words. Heaven -. A place of paradise where God rules. Hell -. A place of horrors where Satan rules. Immortality of the soul -. Idea that the soul lives on after the death of the body. Purgatory -.

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Key Words

Heaven -

A place of paradise where God rules.

Hell -

A place of horrors where Satan rules.

Immortality of the soul -

Idea that the soul lives on after the death of the body.


Purgatory -

A place where Catholics believe souls go after death to be purified.

Resurrection -

After death the body stays in the grave until the end of the world, when it is raised again.


Why Christians believe in life after death

  • Main Christians belief is that Jesus rose from the dead. All 4 Gospels say he was crucified and buried in a stone tomb. On the Sunday it was found empty.

2. The creeds teach that there is life after death. Christians should believe what they say.


3. Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches have differences in what life after death will be like but they all teach that it exists.


4.Belief in life after death gives a meaning and purpose to life. Makes no sense for everything to end when you die.

An afterlife where the evil are punished gives justice.

how believing in an after life affects the lives of christians
How believing in an after life affects the lives of Christians.
  • Believe they will be judged by God after death. Good go to heaven and bad to hell. They try to live a good Christian life following the Bible and Church teachings. I’m a loser
Being a good Christian means following Jesus’ teachings to love God and their neighbour as themselves. So Christian will demonstrate love for God by praying and going to Church.
  • Jesus encouraged Christians to feed and clothe the poor; visit the sick and befriend strangers. This is how they will get into heaven. This is why Christians set up charities like Christian Aid and CAFOD.
Believing life has a meaning and purpose affcts the way Christians act and live. Surveys show that Christians suffer from depression and are less likely to commit suicide than atheists or agnostics.

Non-religious reasons for believing in a life after death

Paranormal -

Unexplained things that are thought to have spiritual causes e.g. ghosts, mediums.

There are three forms of paranormal evidence.


Near Death Experiences (NDE) – when someone about to die has an out-of-body experience.

Happens when people are clinically dead for a time and are brought back to life.

Research by Dr Sam Parnia found that 4 out of 63 people to survive a heart attack had a NDE. Similar results seen all over the world.


Feelings of peace and joy

Floating out of the body

What is an NDE?

Meeting dead relatives

Seeing a bright light

Entering another world



‘(research on NDE’s)…is very good…but it proves absolutely nothing about the soul.’ Dr Sue Blackmore

‘It is possible that these experiences happened during the recovery or just before the cardiac arrest. There is little evidence it happened when the brain was shut down.’ Dr Chris Freeman


2) Evidence for a spirit world

Some see ghosts and ouija boards as evidence of peoples souls surviving death. Clearest evidence may come from mediums.

Also called psychics or spirit guides. The help the dead to contact the living.



Robert Thouless left a coded message when he died. 100 mediums tried to solve it and failed. A computer solved it easily. So there appears to be no after life.


3) Reincarnation

Belief that after death souls are reborn in a new body.



Taranjit Singh (1996) born to a poor family. Said he had been killed in a scooter accident 10/09/1992. Taken to the village where the accident was and it was confirmed. Taken to old parents and recognised them. Could write English and Punjabi alphabets despite being illiterate and his handwriting matched that of the dead person.



In only 11 of 1,111 rebirth cases has there been no contact between the two families in question. Of these 7 were seriously flawed.


Why some don’t believe in life after death

  • They don’t believe in God.
  • Evidence of science says nothing lives on after death.
  • Nowhere for life after death to take place e.g. heaven not in the clouds.
  • Majority of evidence is in holy books which contradict each other.

The sanctity of life – key word

Sanctity of life -

The belief that life is holy and belongs to God


Christian teachings on sanctity of life

‘While we are alive, we are living for the Lord, and when we die, we die to the Lord: and so alive or dead we belong to the Lord.’ (Romans. 14:8)

Meaning – God made us and only he can decide when our life should end.


Genesis.1 – God made life in his image and it was good.

Meaning – who are we to interfere with what God has designed and made.

Exodus.20:13 – The 10 Commandments ‘Do not kill.’

Meaning – these are God’s direct laws that should be followed by Christians.


Key word

Abortion -

The removal of a foetus from the womb before it can survive.


Law on Abortion

1967 Abortion Act – 2 Doctors must agree that:

  • mother’s life is at risk
  • risk to mother’s mental or physical health
  • risk to mental or physical health of existing children
  • risk that the baby will be born seriously handicapped

1990 Act – can’t happen after 24 weeks, unless mother’s life is at risk

arguments about abortion
‘When does life begin?’

Begins at conception

When capable of surviving outside the womb.

‘A woman can do what she wants with her own body.’

Freedom of choice

Unborn child’s rights supersede that of the mother’s.

Arguments about abortion

Christian attitudes to abortion

2 different views:

  • Evangelical Protestant and Catholic = abortion is always wrong because…
  • Only God can end life.
  • Life begins at conception.
  • 10 Commandments – ‘Do not kill.’
  • Catholic catechism says it is always wrong.

Key concepts for abortion

Doctrine of double effect -

Take one action to achieve an effect knowing it will lead to another means I can’t be blamed for the second effect. E.g. mother has cancer. Chemotherapy would kill the baby. Primary aim is to stop the cancer; the death of the baby is secondary (the double effect). This means that an abortion has not occurred.


‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…The law must (punish)… every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.’ (Catholic Catechism)


2) Other Christians = abortion is wrong but should be allowed under certain circumstances e.g. mother’s life at risk, handicapped or social reasons.


They believe this because…

  • Jesus said ‘love they neighbour’, at times abortion might be the most loving thing to do.
  • Believe life does not begin at conception.
  • Should accept advances in technology e.g. amniocentesis tests help prevent disease and suffering.

‘Methodists would strongly prefer that…all abortions should become unnecessary. But termination as early as possible in the course of pregnancy may be the lesser of two evils.’

Statement of the Methodist Church in England and Wales


Key Words

Assisted suicide -

Providing a seriously ill person with the means to commit suicide.

The painless killing of someone dying from a painful disease.

Euthanasia -

Idea that life must have some benefits to be worth living

Quality of life -


Non-voluntary euthanasia -

Ending someone’s life painlessly when they are unable to ask, but there is good reason to think they want death e.g. switching off life support machine.

Voluntary euthanasia -

Ending life painlessly when someone in great pain asks for death.


There are different ways of providing euthanasia e.g. voluntary, non-voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide. British law sees all of these as a crime.But removing food and water is not.

Some countries e.g. the Netherlands has made it legal if it is agreed to by the patient, patient’s family and at least two doctors.


Two Types of Euthanasia

Passive Euthanasia –

Withdrawal or withholding of treatment.

Positive Euthanasia -

This is actually bringing someone’s life to an end.

why so controversial
Why so Controversial?
  • Want to keep it illegal because…
  • There will be doubt as to whether it is what the person really wants.
  • Is the disease terminal? Could a cure be found?
  • Doctors should save lives and not end them.

Why so Controversial?

Want it made legal because…

  • Some kept alive with poor quality of life. Only medical advances keep them alive.
  • Life support machines have brought in a form of euthanasia by turning them off. NHS cant afford to keep people on them for long.
  • Basic human right to control ending of own life.

Key concepts for euthanasia

Doctrine of double effect -

Take one action to achieve an effect knowing it will lead to another means I can’t be blamed for the second effect. E.g. give large amount of pain killer to ease suffering, knowing it will shorten the dying person’s life means I can’t be blamed for their death as all I meant to do was relieve their pain.


Christians attitudes to euthanasia

It is wrong but there are different attitudes.

  • Most believe it is wrong, but don’t see switching off life support machines as wrong (as long as the person is brain dead). Not wrong to give dying people pain killers that will shorten their life.

They believe this because…

  • Believe in the sanctity of life. Only God decides when we die. Bible condemns putting ourselves on par with God.
  • See AS, VE, nVE as murder, which is forbidden in the 10 Commandments.
  • If someone is brain dead then they have already died.
  • Believe in the law of double effect.

‘The use of painkillers to alleviate the suffering of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, ca be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed…’ Catholic Catechism


If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. Romans.14:8


2) Evangelical Protestants believe any form of euthanasia is wrong because…

  • Take Bible literally when it bans suicide.
  • Switching off a life support machine or giving large doses of pain killers is seen as murder.

3) Some liberal Protestants allow a limited use because…

  • Jesus’ teachings of love your neighbour and helping people in trouble could justify using assisted suicide.
  • Modern medical science means that we can no longer be sure what God’s wishes about someone’s death actually are.

Wanting to stay alive causes problems. Drastic chemotherapy is painful and may give only a few weeks of life. However, stopping all drugs could be seen as direct euthanasia.

the media and matters of life and death
The media and matters of life and death

What do we need to know…

  • Arguments which say that the media should no be free to criticise what religion says about these issues.
  • Arguments which say that the media must be allowed to criticise what religion says about these issues.

Arguments which say that the media should no be free to criticise what religion says about these issues.

  • Criticising what religions say could stir up religious hatred which is banned by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act (2006).
  • Criticising a religious leader and what they say could be seen as blasphemy.
  • They could cause offence to believers. A Danish paper published a picture of Muhammed. It caused riots!

Arguments which say that the media must be allowed to criticise what religion says about these issues.

  • Freedom of expression is covered by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Religion can’t be allowed to say things that can’t be criticised. A free media gives people a chance to hear alternative ideas.
issue dealt with in the media
Issue dealt with in the media?
  • A Short Stay in Switzerland
  • My Sister’s Keeper
the causes of world poverty
The Causes of World Poverty

Key Terms

MEDCs – more economically developed countries or First World e.g. USA

EDCs – economically developing countries or Second World e.g. Mexico

LEDCs – less economically developed countries or Third World e.g. Bangladesh

natural disasters
Natural Disasters
  • Many LEDCs are in areas where natural disasters are more frequent. Earthquakes destroy homes and farmland. A lack of rain means that crops will not groww.
  • LEDCs have to borrow money from banks in developed countries. These banks charge interest. African countries have paid back $550bn in interest on $540bn in loans between 1970 and 2002 but still owe $295bn.
  • Many LEDCs have been badly affected by wars. During wars crops, homes, schools and hospitals are destroyed which in turn leads to more poverty.
hiv aids
  • LEDCs suffer very badly with this disease. People are dying young before they can gain an education or earn money. All of this leads to these countries becoming poorer.
how and why christian aid is trying to remove world poverty
How and why Christian Aid is trying to remove world poverty
  • Speaking out on behalf of poor communities to bring social justice.
  • Development Programmes
  • Disasters and emergencies
speaking out on behalf of poor communities to bring social justice
Speaking out on behalf of poor communities to bring social justice
  • Involved in Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History in 2005. This was the biggest attempt to end poverty.
  • Speak out against misuse of power and the neglect of human rights that lead to poverty.
  • They campaign to cancel the debt owed by the poorest countries.
development programmes
Development Programmes
  • Spend half of their budget on development projects. E.g. in Gaza they support agricultural production and long term food security for unemployed daily wage earners who can’t get their goods to markets because Gaza’s borders are closed for long periods of time.
disasters and emergencies
Disasters and Emergencies
  • Have a disaster fund to deal with natural disasters and refugees. Emergency aid includes sending water and food, antibiotics and shelters to victims of disasters such as the tsunami.
why christian aid is trying to end world poverty
Why Christian Aid is trying to end world poverty
  • The New Testament says that riches must be made for the help of others e.g. poor.
  • Parable of the Sheep and the Goats says that in order to get to heaven you should help those less fortunate.
  • In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught that Christians should share their time and possessions to help those in need.