Christianity and Islam View on Human Nature and the Human Condition, Freewill and Fatalism, Equality and Difference
Different religions will always have different views when it comes to issues, arguments and factors of the world that may arise. Even with these differences there maybe similarities but different interpretations are made by the religions followers. I will be looking at how Christianity and Islam see 4 different topics: Human Nature and the Human Condition, Freewill and fatalism, Equality and difference plus the value of human life. When considering a Christian approach to answer to answer how there see the 4 topics the bible maybe looked at for references
When looking for how Christianity views “Human Nature and the Human Condition we must look to the Bible because it teaches how people should love God, and their neighbours. This links into a fundamental rule of self respect and respect to others because it’s argued it is not just a moral teaching but a central Christian value linked to the nature and value of Humans. Christianity teaches that humans have a unique nature. They have a sort of purity which ties into their dignity.
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A human’s dignity has 2 dimensions – the natural whereby rational thoughts and moral decision making powers are characteristics and the Supernatural dimension which links to their purpose and destiny to be with God. This idea that God has given humans a distinct purpose is picked up on by the Christian thinker Lactanius who says that God made humankind as a sacred animal and thus humankind has dignity. This dignity means humans should not be sacrificed.
This is shown in the story of Abraham being ordered to replace the sacrifice of his son with a ram because sacrificing a child to bring good harvest is forbidden. However humans can reject God’s Love and fail to show love to others, they can choose to wrong instead of good. They are seen as imperfect and flawed with the tendency to sin this is why they supposedly need to saved and redeemed by God. There are some protestant traditions that hold human’s dignity has been lost due to sin – they have their rational thought and will but it has been orrupted and lost. However even with knowing this I can be regained. This is supposedly because Gods intention for every person is salvation and even if the person shows no dignity because of their sinful behaviour they still have the potential to be saved and therefore have value. Catholic Christianity uses the doctrine of original sin to explain human nature. Romans 5:12 talks about the Fall of man (where by when Adam ate the forbidden fruit in Genesis) because due to this human beings have been stained by the original sin.
Also this act is argued to have brought sin into the world and because of these acts Humans must work harder especially the men because women suffer for Eve’s part in the fall of man through child birth. Christianity has found ways in which the original sin can be washed away – through the baptism of a child. Although Sin and the devil will still have some influence over the world because human nature is tainted and because of this humans are inclined to sin but the are still free to choose how they act.
This leads me on to my Second topic Free Will and Fatalism. Christians state that humans have been created with thinking intellect and a will to act morally. Traditional Christian views see human beings a free, autonomous agents, responsible for their own actions. This is shown in Genesis when Adam and Eve exercise there freewill to choose to eat the forbidden fruit. However they must face the consequences. Many Christian denominations support he view that we are free to choose to do good or sin because it is an important feature of human dignity.
Though it is argued those humans who live their lives following Christ, becoming more Christ like strengthen and grow their dignity which leads them closer to their final destination with Christ. Thus humans are made free and able to choose and think for themselves. They are made special by virtue of this gift. However many Christians believe their conscience to the voice of God guiding them and telling them what to do, but because of free will they can choose to listen to the voice of not. Nevertheless because Christians believe it to be the voice of God there is a conflict of interest to do what they want or what God wants of them to do.
Equality and Difference is looked on by Christians in high regard, because equality is said to be a central idea within Christianity as all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and that within in Christianity social differences disappear. There is no longer divisions such as Man or Woman, Slave or Free and Jew or Greek to name a few because everyone is on in Jesus. However, if this is looked at historically women have not been treated with the same equality within Christianity as men. There are Christian denominations where the women’s role is not considered the same as the man’s.
For example in Catholicism the priesthoods are roles in which only men can adopt. Although Christian teachings challenge traditional roles when it comes to race. This is shown in the story of the good Samaritan whereby Jesus uses a member of the community who was widely discriminated against as an example of moral goodness. Nevertheless Christian responses to equality are varied, while there is a strong sense of equality the way in which it is expressed in the attitudes and approaches to the places of men and women etc tends to vary a lot.
Finally Christianity sees making human beings in the image and likeness of God the dignity of humanity is evident. Humans have the image of God within them. Rules are provided to help them. The 10 commandments set out in the bible state how humans should treat each other and a requirement to love each other as they would love God. These provide humans with the thought of how important human life is and killing of life destroys the being made in Gods image – which then interrupts Gods plan for that individual, allows sin to enter them and the devil to dominate.
However sometimes death might be necessary for instance the preservation of life so self defence can be justified. This is not agreed by all denominations with in Christianity some believe killing is wrong no matter what and have adopted pacifist positions. This forms the basis of self respect and leading to respect for others. Self sacrifice is the greatest thing that someone can do – Christ sacrificed himself for all humankind on the cross, but trying to be like Jesus they must accept that the path way maybe difficult. The possibility of such actions such as self sacrifice sets humans apart from other creatures.
This is not to say other animals have no value but humans have a responsibility to serve God and others but non-human life still has its part to play in that purpose. On the other hand I will also look at Muslims view of theses 4 topics starting with Human Nature and the Human Condition. Islam believes all human beings have dignity irrespective of whom and what they are and also what they have done. Unlike Christianity Islam believes that dignity can not be earned of improved by moral behaviour, by doing good things or behaving righteously.
Due to the fact it is there from birth because they are children of Adam. Some Islamic scholars describe dignity as a right for every human. Also Islam believes dignity to be granted irrespectively of what religion they are. When it comes to equality and difference with Islam people are referred to God’s servants and Gods beloved children (in the Hadith). God’s creation of humans is unique and he love for them is shown through the command that the angels and devil bow down before Adam.
Through the higher powers such as speech that God gave humans therefore supposedly proves that humans were mad in the image of God. This is a similar thought that Christians have. However unlike Christianity both men and women have an equal responsibility to follow Islam, also Muslim women had many more rights than women of the western world. Due to the fact that the western world women only received the similar rights as Muslim women in the 2oth century examples include property ownership and keeping her name after marriage to name a few.
Nevertheless the status of women within women in Islam is a controversial subject. Although it is said the Muslim women are entitled to education at all levels, entitled to engage in any business and may have control over their own earnings this does not seem the case in many Muslim areas. However this could just tie into what Tariq Ramadan argues about faithfulness to Islam being misunderstood as meaning faithfulness to what was traditionally done in a culture or society. In other words women might not able to do hese things not because Islam says they shouldn’t because of the area and that societies beliefs have become merged with Islamic rulings and thus have been become the precedent to follow. Islam argues that freewill is a defining factor of their dignity and religious guidance or rules can not overrule this freedom. However certain warnings are attached. Just like Christianity freedom is not with out its consequences when used to harm others. Freedom empowers human’s moral independence. It give people the authority to make a moral judgement on what they see and thus gives them the power to intervene where wrong is perceived to be done.
However human beings do have freedom, God is higher up the hierarchy because he is seen as all powerful, all knowing and intends for his will to be done. Hewer argues a sense of fatalism is present within Islam. The scholar al-Ash’ari developed a doctrine of attribution that said all power lies with God and God wills everything to happen. It is said before a person acts Gods has responsibility over how that act is performed. Muslims are taught to begin every act with the words “In the name if God, the merciful, the compassionate” and after that believe that God will not allow them to be tempted beyond there means.
Within Islam the value of life if infinite and thus should not be harmed. (If a single life is saved the whole of humanity is saved). Due to life being sacred in Islam just as it is in Christianity, there are times when particular care should be taken with civilian life especially with the vulnerable like the elderly, young and females. One big argument is that life is God given and because of that only God should have the right to take away a life with out probably because. This is agreed on in Christianity through the commandment Thou shall not care.
However just as in Christianity there are reason with taking a life is not completely prohibited. For instance in self defence due the idea of lesser jihad. Where by there is a moral responsibility to defend ones self, ones family and ones community. In conclusion there are differences between these 2 different religions; however there are numerous similarities as well. This could provide means to believe that for certain ideas a universal argument could be put forward.
• AS religion and Ethics Textbook
• Religions and Beliefs By Ina Talyor