Moral Decisions

How do Christians make Moral Decisions?

morality

 

  • A moral decision is a decision in which you need to decide if something is right or wrong e.g. abortion or euthanasia

Your conscience

  • Your conscience is the moral sense or knowledge that lets us feel the difference between right and wrong.
  • Christians believe that God gives each of us morality and as God is good, our conscience guides us to choose the right path, and also that is Christian’s duty to do the will of God.
  • Consequentialists make their decisions based on possible outcomes and use their conscience to help decide which outcome is best.
  • Many Christians listen to their conscience through prayer or visions.

The Bible

  • For some Christians such as Jehovah’s witnesses, the Bible is the most important source of authority there is.
  • Deontologists are those who follow the teachings of the Bible when making moral decisions.
  • Some Liberal Christians interpret the Bible for the modern society removing ideas such as sexism before using the teachings to make a judgement.
  • Christians consider what Jesus said in the New Testament; answer stranger’s cry for help, love your neighbour as you love yourself, forgive your enemies, and don’t test the Lord.
  • Some Christians look to the Bible to see what Jesus would do in a similar situation.
  • All Christians use the 10 commandments to help aid decisions, and some argue this is the ultimate source of morality

 

The Authority of the Church

  • Some Christians believe that God speaks to the world through the Church, i.e. the Church leaders such as Bishops, Priests and the Pope.
  • Christians can often go and talk to the leader of their local church when they seek guidance on moral issues.

Situation Ethics

  • There are 4 main principles;
    1. Pragmatism – the main goal is love and you must try to achieve love no matter what.
    2. Relativism – each time you make a decision it’s not fixed rules, it’s always different and relevant to that one situation
    3. Positivism – you have to try to be achieving the greater good.
    4.  Personalism – it’s personal to you and it’s not up to anyone else, it’s your conscience talking to you.
  • Situation ethics give flexibility as there is not one rule for every occasion, so you’re more likely to come to a good decision.
  • Christians follow situation ethics because it allows them to decide what is right for them.

 

Beatitudes

  • Blessed are the spiritually poor – theirs is heaven
  • Blessed are those that mourn – they will be comforted
  • Blessed are the humble – they will receive God’s promise
  • Blessed are those whose biggest desire is to do God’s will – they will be satisfied
  • Blessed are the merciful – they will receive mercy from God
  • Blessed are the pure in heart –they will see God
  • Blessed are the peacemakers – they will be God’s children
  • Blessed are the persecuted – they will inherit heaven
  • These show how different behaviours will be rewarded, and these influence some Christians when they make decisions.

“Treat others as you wish to be treated”

  • This quote is from Matthew 7 verse 12, and is part of the Sermon on the Mount
  • This is the heart of the Christian law of love. (Judge not unless you are judged, be kind so that others may be kind to you, care so that you may be cared for etc)

Example and Reason

  • Some Christians try to emulate or follow the example set by experienced Christians or more famous Christians in the Bible.
  • Many Christians believe God gave them intelligence so they use reason to try and work out the most logical solution.
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Life After Death Part 3

Christian Beliefs:

heaven2

Christians believe that when you die you will be judged. If you died believing in God and Jesus, you can be forgiven for your sins and go to heaven. The main reason for believing this is because in the bible, it suggests the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus, so if he forgives you, you may get to god in heaven. If you are a different religion or do not have one you will automatically go to hell even if you were the nicest person on the planet.

Some Roman Catholics still believe in purgatory unlike Protestants. This is because a Pope long ago talked about it and as Protestants were against the Pope, they didn’t believe it.  The Pope said if you are not yet good enough to go to heaven or bad enough to go to hell you will be sent to purgatory.  Purgatory is like a waiting room to get to heaven, where you will work off your sins until you are good enough to go to Heaven.  

Christians also believe in resurrection. Jesus was resurrected as he came back to life. Some believe your soul escapes and will be rejoined with your body and resurrected at the end of the world.

Islamic Beliefs:

islam

 

Muslims believe when people die, they stay on the earth. On the last day of existence, everyone is called to the plain of Arafat. God will then judge you on how you live your life.  Muslims who were good will go to heaven first. Then one by one, the different religions get to go to heaven. Finally, the very bad people and the people who did not have a religion can go to heaven.  So everyone reaches heaven eventually, but you must stay in hell for a while until you work off your sins. Life is a test so if you are good you will pass the test quicker.

 

I like this idea and think it is fair because everyone will go to heaven eventually, even if you were bad or of another religion – you will just have to stay in hell until your work off your sins, so when you are truly sorry and have proved it, you may be with God.

 

This is similar to Christianity and protestant beliefs because if you are good and believe you can go to heaven.  It is similar to Roman Catholic beliefs because most people can go to heaven. It is different because everyone can get to heaven eventually and on the last day of existence god calls you to the plain of Arafat, unlike Christianity where you are judged as soon as you die.

Conclusion:

scales

I would like to believe in life after death because it is hard to think one day you are there, in the world, and the next day you are gone. It is nice to think there is something out there and death is not the end.

I think Islam is better than Christianity because if you are a different religion in Christianity or not sure what to believe, you are automatically put in hell for eternity which isn’t fair for those who contributed a lot to society.  In Christianity and Islam, you only get one chance at life so in one respect, I prefer Hinduism and Buddhism.

I think Hinduism is slightly better than Buddhism because in Hinduism, you learn from your mistakes and your final reward is heaven. Some people would like Buddhism more because once you have escaped the Samsara, there is nothing, you are blown out like a candle.

I like Islam because God thinks everyone deserves to go to heaven eventually even if they are bad or a different religion so this shows understanding.  Hinduism lets you work your way up to heaven giving you a real sense of achievement.

I think believing in life after death whether you have a religion or not is better than not believing in it because you have a target to focus on and gives you hope and support for the future. It makes us all different and yet the same.  Just because some people don’t believe doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it.

In conclusion, there may or may not be life after death as there is not enough proof for either side. I say it is better to believe and be wrong as it gives you hope and comfort, and if we are all right, there will be a reward in the form of heaven waiting.  

Life After Death Part 2

Stone Age Beliefs:

stoneage

The Palaeolithic humans did believe in life after death. We know they suddenly started believing in it because they were leaving or possibly eating their dead relatives. They then dreamt about these dead people and thought that these people are still alive so they must have another life. As they did not know what dreams actually were, they were sure they were right. We are sure they had a basic language and could draw, so they all knew everyone else was seeing those people too.

They then began to bury the dead. First, they would put them in the foetal position because they knew that was the position babies were in the womb. So if you are born like that you must be re-born in the same position.  They sprinkled the body with a red powder made of dried berries to represent blood so they could have the life power to be re-born. Next, they would tie up their arms and legs so they stayed in the foetal position because when you die, rigor mortis sets in your body goes stiff and then you can’t move. So when rigor mortis sets in, they will stiffen up in the foetal position.  They then dig a shallow gave and place the body inside because if they had been buried in a deep grave, they would not be able to escape in their next life, but if it was a shallow grave they could. Before they covered up the grave, they would put some things like jewellery, weapons and food so they would have some possessions in their next life. This was quite a reasonable thing to do because they didn’t know what dreams actually were and would think they were seeing people in their next life.  

This simple belief of re-birth is similar to Hinduism and Buddhism, as they all believe you will be born again. It is different because the Stone Age people believed you always had the same body, even in the next life. Hindus believe you change bodies and could be anything like a fly or rat to a pig or human. Buddhists believe you can be born into different worlds as different things.

Hindu Beliefs:

hinduism

Hindus believe in reincarnation, so when you die you will be born again, as either a human or animal. This is why they are vegetarian because they believe they would be eating their ancestors. Their Atman is their soul. This is what is re-born into a higher, lower or the same caste depending on their Karma. Someone who ends their life with a low Karma is bad and will be re-born into a lower caste. Someone who ends their life with a high Karma is good and will move up a caste. This is called the caste system, and you have a very high Karma in the highest caste you will reach Moksha. Moksha is heaven for Hindus and reaching it is a Hindus’ goal in life. Samsara is what a Hindu believes about life after death (the cycle of birth, death, re-birth).

But if every Hindu reaches Moksha eventually and does not return to Earth, why are there more Hindus on earth now than there was before? You cannot make new souls, and the human race has been around long enough for every Hindu Atman to reach Moksha, so their belief system in this respect is a paradox.

There are no main divisions of groups in Hinduism, but each individual must find their own path to reach Moksha and God. There are four main paths or yoga’s to choose and different people will believe in a different one or a combination of them to get to God. Bhakti yoga is the path of love and whoever follows it feel naturally drawn to God, and will worship and develop a special relationship with their choice of deity ( the form of god e.g. baby Krishna). Raja Yoga is the path to God by meditation. Once you have forced your mind to become completely still, you can reflect on God and he can be experienced.  Karma Yoga is the path of action. This teaches you to keep working, but any work must be self-less. When you do good things to others, you become closer to God. Jnana Yoga is a way of reaching God through reason and intellect.  This path makes you really see what is out there and what life is all about. You must begin to hate the world so you are not distracted and then focus the mind on what is real or unreal.

Buddhist Beliefs:

buddhism

Nirvana describes the Buddhist belief of life after death. Nirvana means to blow out.  Buddhists believe in the Samsara- the cycle of birth, death and re-birth.  Samsara is the Buddhist’s idea of Hell, and there are many worlds in the Samsara and you can be born into any of them. All of these worlds are seen as bad but some can be better than others.  They also believe in Karma and that to every action there is a consequence. They all want to escape the Samsara, but they do not believe in the caste system. When you do escape the Samsara you do not go anywhere, but as nirvana says, you are blown out like a candle.

This is similar to Hinduism because they both believe in the Samsara and that it is like hell. They both believe in Karma but Buddhists are different because they do not believe in the caste system. They are different, as Hindus believe once you escape the Samsara, you go to heaven with God, but Buddhists believe you go nowhere.       

Is there life after death? (part 1)

heaven

One of the most hottly debated topic within not only religious groups but society as whole is whether there is something for us after our lives on this world end. We often see stories in the news of people who claim to have briefly gone to heaven during near-death experiences, but was what they experienced real or just a figment of their imagination as their body began to shut down? In this first part I’ll outline both sides of the non-religious argument:

Non-religious For:

  • The supernatural is one of the reasons people believe in life after death.  Some people are very suppositious and believe in the After-life, and when you die, you can come back to life as a ghost and haunt people or finish certain tasks.  Many people claim to have seen ghosts. Some people believe you can talk to the dead at a séance. A few people believe Ouija boards create a spiritual gateway to another world where the dead can communicate. 

  • A few people have near death experiences where they have died and gone to heaven. Many claim they saw a bright flash and then saw and spoke with God. God then brought them back to life. Some may have out of body experiences where they are flying and sometimes can see their body lying down as they float up.

  • Thinking you can come back again gives many a nice feeling. It provides comfort and hope because you can have a chance at life and meet up with loved ones again.  It provides support for those have a general fear of dying and for those who want to live on.

  • After you die, you can still live on in the minds of others. Whenever someone thinks of you, it’s like you are alive inside them. As long as people keep remembering you, you can still be alive.

  • Science has proven energy can’t be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred. So when you die your energy has to go somewhere. When you are buried, you provide energy in the form of food for animals and nutrients for the soil. So you will become part of the earth again and give life to plants and animals.

  • An interesting reason why people decide to believe it is Pascal’s wager. It says why we might as well believe in God and life after death.  If you believe in God and you are wrong, when you die, it doesn’t make a difference, but if you were right, you will probably be able to go to heaven.  If you decide to not believe in it and are right, it doesn’t make a difference, but if you are wrong, you will spend eternity in hell. 

  • I think near death experiences are difficult to believe especially if you trust science, unless you have had one. When you die, your brain shuts down and the flash you see could be from all the reactions going on in your brain, and as your brain isn’t working properly, you remember it as God. 

Non-religious Against:

  • Many people choose not to believe in life after death. One reason is that they have no experience. If you haven’t seen or done something, you are probably not going to believe it. You can’t experience everything that exists, and only a few people have near death experiences, which make it hard to believe.

  • Some people just don’t want to believe it. They want death to be the end. You need dead people to be dead so you can move on, not thinking of them as a ghost or another person, especially if a relative has just had a baby. People are afraid of someone coming back to haunt them or be with them.  Some people don’t enjoy life and dread the thought o facing it again. If they are bad, they might not want to go to hell, or feel so guilty that they can’t face life and want it to end.

  • Many of your beliefs come from your parents. Even the most independent people share some beliefs with their parents.  It all depends on your upbringing. If your parents don’t believe in something, it’s likely you’ll agree. If you parents are Christian, you are probably Christian too. If you are a child, you may not trust what they say. But you may have found out people like the tooth fairy, Santa and the Easter Bunny don’t exist when your parents said they do. Would you trust what they told you as a child?

  • Some people are not religious and don’t believe in God, or heaven, or hell, or re-birth. They think death is death and that is that.

  • If you are Agnostic, you just don’t know. You are not sure what is right or wrong. You don’t know what you should or shouldn’t believe. You just choose to not totally believe in anything.

  • There isn’t really any definitive proof for and against. Science can’t prove there is definitely life after death, yet it can’t prove there isn’t. It is up to you to choose what you believe in because as far as we are aware, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. Many choose not to believe for this reason.  

Science Vs Religion

These are the thoughts of my 12-year-old self on the debate of science vs religion – I thought it’d be handy for lower school students who may be covering this topic.

Science says it was the big bang that created the Universe.

Christianity says it was god.

However, are Genesis and the big bang theory saying the same thing?

Can science and Christianity sit hand in hand?

Or are they saying completely different things?

Can you be a scientist and still believe in God?

Or is science going to find the answer alone?

This is a conversation between two scientists. The first scientist is an atheist, so he does not believe in God. The second scientist is a theist so she believes in God. You will here their views on whether science and religion can be as one.

As a scientist, I cannot understand why you believe in God. Science has proven it was the big bang and not god. There is no evidence for god to exist, so therefore one must assume there is not a greater power outside our universe.

Although there is no proof for God, God is the answer to the problem of how the big bang started. Science has proven how it happened but not why. How can there be nothing and all of a sudden, everything needed to create our universe existed! It is impossible, unless there was an input of information.

How do you know the Bible is telling the truth though? The person who wrote it had no clue about science and could have written down an imaginative story that people decided to believe because there was no other evidence. Remember, they thought the earth was a dome, with a fire pit underneath and then below that a huge volume of water with pillars to support the Earth.

You do not know if it is the definitely the truth, but science cannot prove why everything happened and this is the only other answer. Although it is a story, it holds the answer. Science did not exist then, so they would not have written down a complicated, scientific theory, a story would have been the only way for them to communicate their knowledge.

The Bible does not mention things we have proof of, like dinosaurs. We have hundreds of fossils and skeletons to prove they exist, yet there is no hint of them in the Bible, so therefore it is just a story.

Actually, if you look, the Bible dose not mention any specific animals whatsoever, except humans. If you look carefully, all it says about animals is sea creatures, birds and mammals were created before humans, so it does not matter that dinosaurs are not mentioned.

The big bang has lots of evidence. Genesis has not been proven. How can you believe in something with no proof, when there is a greater explanation with all the evidence you need.

Although no one has tried to prove Genesis, in many ways it is saying the same thing as science. Science says first there was a big bang, then planets, then water, then simple life forms in the water, then reptiles and amphibians, then mammals, and finally humans. The Bible says first, there was light, which would have been caused by the explosion, then heaven and earth, then land and sea, then the sun and moon, then sea creatures and birds, then mammals and finally humans. Although there are a few differences, there are also many similarities.     

There is lots of evidence to back up Darwin’s theory of evolution. God could not have made humans separately. Humans evolved from apes. Science has proven it.

Science has not proven it. There is still the missing link in the chain. Science thinks it has found the answer, but there is still a skeleton missing, and without it, the stage of evolution the missing link came from and the stage it went into, are too far apart to use as evidence. Until you find that skeleton, you cannot prove it.

Well, science has proven the Earth was created in around 6 billion years. Genesis claims it was six days, or only 144 hours to create something like the Earth. It is impossible, so Genesis is not true.

Look at it this way, Genesis is a simple version of creation. I do not take it literally. Six days could stand for six periods of time; it does not necessarily mean six lots of 24 hours. If you think back to the similarities between Genesis and Science, the order of creation is the same; just Genesis is not a highly complicated theory with tons of evidence to support it.

Genesis says creatures that did not exist existed. It says there was once a walking talking snake. That is impossible, snakes cannot and could not walk or talk, they only hiss, so Genesis cannot be a true story.

The story is not literal, it may say one thing but it really stands for another. If you look back through evolution, ancestors of the snake did have legs to walk around with, which they have now lost. Many scientists also believe they had some sort of voice box, so although it would not have talked like a human, it would use some noises, like talking.

Genesis also says there was light before the sun. That could not happen so once again, Genesis is not telling the truth.

If you think about it, the big bang theory also says there was light before the sun. The explosion from the big bang would have created lots of light and hest before the sun formed.

I still do not think there was an input of information. You do not need to believe in God when you have science. Science may still be working on a few of the harder problems, but one day, whether it is soon or in hundreds or thousands of years, the explanation will be found, we just have not found all the pieces of the puzzle yet. 

You do need God. There must have been some input of information to kick-start everything. Look at DNA for example.

To unravel and stable DNA to find the code you need three proteins. Now, inside the code it tells you how to make the proteins to unravel and stable it. You cannot have the DNA without the proteins yet you cannot have the proteins without the DNA.

All you are doing is giving another example of what came first, the chicken or the egg. DNA could have developed through evolution and some of the chemicals on the earth could have come together and made the proteins.  

I see your point but you can logically explain the answer to whether the chicken or the egg came first, but unless you went back in time, you would not be able to prove it. How can you explain logically how to find the answer to the problem of DNA? You cannot solve it. Without God that is.

Although I now see the Bible and science have some similarities, I still strongly believe that one-day science will come up with the answer, and religion will fall.

Well, I am not going to stop believing in God until you find the answer, and I seriously doubt you will find it out. God is the answer sitting right next to you but you are choosing to ignore it. Religion holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of creation.    

Who created God then?

God has no creator. God does not need a creator. God’s existence is eternal, never ending. 

Everything has a beginning and end. Nothing is eternal.

Prove it then.

 

In my opinion, you can be a Christian, or a member of any other religion, as well as a scientist because science and religion say very similar things. The orders of creation have few differences and both agree about the order of evolution.

Although science automatically decides everything is a consequence of something else, and everything has an answer, religion has a stronger argument.  God makes more sense than nothing existing then suddenly everything exists.

Science has not found out why, but only how and its evidence is not sufficient. There are huge gaps in its evidence and might never solve the problem.

Religion has stronger evidence because not only can it say how, it also says why.

There are three ways of reading the bible. The first way is taking it literally. The second way is thinking that it is not literal but stands for something similar. The third way is to not believe a word of it.

The people who only agree with one side of the argument do not have enough evidence to be certain. Yet the group in the middle take both sides and come up with a more logical explanation that makes more sense.

So if you think parts of the Bible can be taken metaphorically you can be a scientist and believe in God.