GCSE Religious Studies Religious Attitudes to Matters of Life
Key Questions • When does human life begin? • Who is responsible for life? • What rights do we have to interfere with nature?
The Beginning of Life • Conception – zygote • Blastocyst • Embryo • Spiritual being? – at quickening • Viability • Birth
The ‘Sanctity of Life’ • Holy and Sacred • Created by God • Life is a gift • Life must be preserved • Every life has a purpose • God alone decides the beginning and end of life
Infertility Treatment • IVF • AID • AIH • Egg/Sperm storing • Fertility drugs • Surrogacy
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 • Sperm and egg donors must always remain anonymous • Donors have no legal rights over any children born as a result of their donation • Frozen embryos may be stored for a maximum of 10 years • Scientific experiments may only be carried out on embryos up until 14 days after conception. After this time they must not be kept alive.
Genetic Engineering • Cures for medical conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis • ‘Playing God’ – the production of designer babies
Genetic Manipulation • Genetic Engineering • Gene Therapy • Xenotransplantation
Cloning • Producing genetically equivalent offspring • 1997-2003 ‘Dolly’ • Humans? • Therapeutic Cloning – use of stem cells from embryos
Arguments For Therapeutic Cloning • Could eliminate heart disease and heart attacks • Could deal with serious burns and brain deterioration • Could reduce infertility • Reversing the ageing process?
Arguments Against Therapeutic Cloning • Suggests some human characteristics more important than others • Would allow designer babies • Slippery Slope • Destroys individuality • Against the will of God? • Unnatural? • Population crisis
Transplants and Transfusions • Many more donors are needed to meet demand • Jehovah’s Witnesses (Christian) oppose blood transfusions • Biblical commands not to consume blood • Court becomes involved if parents refuse transfusion to save life of child • Normally court over-rules parents’ religious beliefs
Organ Transplants • Living donor – bone marrow/kidney • Recently deceased donor – donor cards
Arguments For Transplants • No risk to dead person • One person’s death=life for another • Last chance of life for many • Donor’s final contribution to society
Arguments Against Transplants • Difficult to define death – need to remove organs quickly • Risk to living donors • Upsetting for living relatives • Transplant operations are very expensive and take resources away from other equally needy patients
Religious Views • Jehovah’s Witnesses • Most religious groups have no moral problem with the use of transplant surgery • Use of animals? • Some Muslims may have an issue with donation of organs as the body belongs to Allah
Key Christian Beliefs • Life is a gift from God • Sanctity of life • God is the giver and destroyer of life • Trust in God • Individuality and purpose of each human life • Jesus was a healer
Christian Attitude to Infertility • No direct biblical teaching concerning fertility treatment • Biblical view of childlessness was that it was God’s intention • Most denominations accept IVF and AIH • Many oppose AID – adultery • Roman Catholics oppose fertility treatment – ‘unnatural’ sexual acts e.g. masturbation
Christian Attitude to Genetic Engineering and Cloning • God-given responsibility to care for creation • Worry that genetic engineering abuses human authority • Many accept on the grounds that it is hugely beneficial to human health • Most very wary of cloning • Human life conceived through man, woman and God • Some support strictly controlled therapeutic cloning
Christian Attitude to Embryology and Transplants • Catholics oppose all embryo research • Other denominations accept controlled embryo research • C of E supports embryo research up to 14 days • Most accept organ donation • Blood transfusions accepted by all except Jehovah’s Witnesses