Explain religious teachings about the value of human and non-human life
Christians believe in the sancity of life, that there is something special and holy about
life, they believe human life is different because they share similar attributed to God
(Imago Deo). In humans, it is apparent God can be seen within them, Christians
believe that humans have a soul which lives on after the body has died, this soul will
then be judged and then can join God in heaven, because humans have souls they
must be treated as special; they are different from other species. Genesis describes
how God made adam and 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, this did not
happen with animals or plants.
God makes and loves each person, so everyone has new value. Because God has given life, this
means Christians must have a responsibility to take care of themselves, they should do something
useful with their lives, therefore not smoke, drink, overeat because it shows ungratefulness for God's
gift of life. This concept asserts Christians should be stewards, that they should take care of the
environment so it can be passed down to future generations. In particularly God gave humans
dominion over the non-human life, e.g. in Genesis 'let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds
of the air' suggesting human life has a higher value than non-human life, this shows God has given
humans a big responsibility to life which exemplifies the value.
There is the issue with animal testing regarding non-human life, there has been
much controversy as to whether it is acceptable. God made man 'in his image',
many Christians believe that God gave them the brains and abilities to find cures
for humans by experimenting on animals and to not use these abilities would be
denying God's plan for them. Jesus also said 'look at the birds of the air, are you
not much more valuable than they are?' Some Christians say that this gives them
the right to use animals in experiments because humans are of more value. As
well in Genesis God said to Adam 'rule over' all living creatures suggesting
animal testing is acceptable.
Some Christians may be very much against this, as when God created the
world, he saw that all that was in 'was good'. Some say this means we should not
experiment on animals because they are a wonderful part of God's creation. 'The
earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it'
Because God created all humanity to be stewards and guardians over suggests
that it is a human responsibility to respect and care for animals.
Peter Singer believed an animal should be regarded as a person if they have
self-consciousness, a degree of rationallity and an ability to plan their future. He
assumes that most humans are speciest, in that they think their superior, e.g.
Judeo-Christians think they have a better connection and moral responsibility with God
than what animals do. He identifies that if humans assume that animals are not persons,
then nor are babies, as they are not self-conscious and do not have the ability to think
There are mixed views in Christianity on the value of human and non-human life. Most Christians believe that humans are
distinct from the animal word, and that the most important difference between animals and humans is that humans have a
soul- a divine spark that sets them apart from other living things, this asserts that Christians do not treat animals as their
equals, as only humans were made in the image of God.
Buddists see human and non-human life as closely related. They assume both have a buddha-nature, both have the
responsibility of becoming perfectly enlightened, and that a soul may be reborn into a human or non-human body. They
believe it is wrong to kill animals because all beings are afraid of injury or death. However, buddist behaviour towards
thinking about animals is not always positive, because non-humans can engage in conscious acts and improve their
karmatic status, their souls must continue to be reborn until they are exhausted of bad karma. The animals ability to
much to improve it led to belief than non-human life was inferior.