Examine religious views of the nature of human life
Examine religious views of the nature of human life
Christians tend to begin looking at the Bible to get such views of the nature of human life. It would seemingly begin in Genesis and notable Theologians nearly always begin with the Bible’s primary book when examining the nature of human life, the notable book ‘What is Man?’ written by Gresham Machen summarizes examples from biblical material, thus highlighting the trend.
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The first fundamental religious view of human life is the one that man was made in the image of God. This view is deriven from Genesis 1:26-27 ‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’. From this you can see that this phrase Imageo Dei is unique to human beings and is not used for any other creation of God, thus showing that man is a unique creation and incredibly significant. Furthermore, due to what this phrase is, shows that man has a special connection to God unlike any other of his creations, and might be seen as humans being a counterpart that God primarily created for fellowship. This phrase also can show that such a description of human life shows we are sacred as it is clearly a sin for one to persecute God and is blasphemy, human’s being in the image of God suggests that all human life must be seen as sacred and each person to be treated fairly due to such a title being drawn onto us. This view of human’s being made in the image of God is not unique to Christianity, on which Judaism and Islam both agree.
‘Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’ This is taken from Genesis 2:7 and is where Christians take their belief that man is not simply material but that God breathed the spirit of life into him. The spirit of life is a dualism combining matter and spirit together. Thus Christians see human life as special and significant as they are the only living being to have been made with the spirit of life, personally delivered by God. This can be seen as a shared view within Islam, where Muslims are taught that God created human’s from clay and breathed the spirit of life into them, similar too with the dualist side of the Christian belief.
Notably, the early Christian theologian agreed with this view of the nature of human life saying living beings can’t be created from chemicals alone.
Christians might believe that man has dominion over animals, and that animals and plants are there for man. This can be taken from Human’s being special and top in the hierarchy thus giving us a duty to have dominion over the animals and plants. It can be seen in genesis too; ‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” With this being God’s word, it only makes sense that Christian views of the nature of man would be that we have dominion over animals. On the other hand, a different religious view on the nature of human life’s would be that of a Buddhist’s, where they believe the lives of humans and animals should be treated equally, even believing that they are both equally enabled to be enlightened. Clearly this is a minority on the views of the nature of human life when compared to animals, as most major religions believe that man is special and different from all other living beings, as the most significant creation of God’s.
Some Christians teach the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ within their views of the nature of human life. This idea stems from the fall of man in the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis: ‘Wherefore, as by one-man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’ Romans 5:12. This biblical quote backs up such Christian belief of original sin. Original sin essentially means every human born into the world since the fall of man is stained with sin. Though baptism is meant to be an act of washing away such original sin, sin is still remaining in humans and redemption and faith are the two key factors in refraining from sin and being able to enter Heaven through God’s forgiveness. Original sin is a key aspect of christian’s view on the nature of human life as it is there to remind them human’s are naturally sinful in order for Christian’s to remember they are not perfect and must strive to be good Christians each and every day. On the other hand; Jews, Muslims and some Christian denominations reject original sin as an aspect of the nature of human life. For exampleJewish people believe that human’s enter the world with a soul that is innocent and free of sin, and that sin is gained and collected through man’s time on this earth.