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Nature and Value of Human Life

What makes human life valuable

Nicola Purches-Knab

on 2 May 2012

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Transcript of Nature and Value of Human Life

What makes humans special?
Are any humans not persons?
are any persons not human?
What is the point of life?
Nature/Value of Life for Christianity?
In God's Image
Purpose of life to be redeemed by Christ- faith not acts
An immortal soul
Nature of life for Buddhism?
Great capacity
Opportunity for enlightenment
A privilege and a responsibility
A gift from God
Stewards of the earth
All life is important not just human life
A secular view
Humans are mortal
We are rational
We are animals
We are of equal value
Nature and Value of life
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
“You created every part of me you knit me together in my mother‛s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother‛s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there – you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began." Psalm 139:13-16
"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sin of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
"Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5)
Romans Chapter 5v12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Luke 18:16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
"there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."(Romans 3:22-23)
When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.
--Galatians 4:4, 5
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
--Ephesians 1:7
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (NIV)John 14:1-3
Psalm 8:6-8 (NIV)

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don’t even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.
Imagine a blind turtle roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years, the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring.
And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer—as rare, in fact, “as stars in broad daylight.”

The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Why? Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation.
Pain, grief, loss, and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a very real and dramatic purpose: to wake us up, to enable, almost to force us to break out of the cycle of samsara and so release our imprisoned splendor.
Sogyal Rinpoche
Jan 2009
Explain religious teachings about the value of human life. Refer to one or more religions.
People should always be treated the same regardless of race or disability.
How far may religious believers accept this view?

Examine religious ideas about the human condition
Human life must always take priority over non human life?
How far would religious believers accept this view?

Jan 2010
Explain religious teaching about equality with particular reference to gender and race. You may refer to more than one religion in your answer.
'People with disabilities are less valuable than able bodied people' To what extent must religion reject this view?

June 2010
Explain religious teaching about free will.
You may refer to more than one religion in your answer.
How far must a religious view of life be fatalistic?

Jan 2011
Examine religious teaching about what it means to be human. You may refer to more than one religion in your answer.
Religious attitudes to gender inequality are straightforward: in religion women are always inferior to men. Assess this view.

May 2011
Examine religious teaching about the value of human life with particular reference to quality of life and self sacrifice.
Non-human life should be valued just as highly as non human life. To what extent could religion accept this view?

Jan 2012
Explain religious teaching about the value of human and non human life
A human being is no more than a thinking animal. How far could religious believers accept this view?

Question 3 (Topic 3 Religious teaching on the nature and value of human life)
Part (a)
This question tested candidates’ understanding of the value of human life, but many candidates
wrote, at some length, about the nature of human life, either instead of, or as well as, its value.
Some answers were rather vague, and showed only a general grasp of relevant religious views.
Some higher scoring answers which drew on the Christian tradition made good use of terms
such as ‘imago dei’ and sanctity of life. A number of candidates usefully considered several
aspects of ‘value’, for example they considered who human life had value for (e.g. self / others /
God) and what it had value for (e.g. opportunity for development / contribution to life / intrinsic
worth). Some candidates pointed to self-sacrifice or martyrdom as evidence that human life is
not so valuable that it should be preserved at all cost.
Part (b)
This focused on the question raised in the issues section of the Specification, ‘How far can
religion support the idea of equality?’ There were some very interesting answers many of which
drew on ideas of original sin, or the inherited consequences of sin in a previous life, and some
which were well informed about minority views concerning race in some traditions. The issue
also allowed candidates to focus on whether treating people the same was treating them
equally and it was very pleasing to see that some of them realised this and were able to discuss
the morality of positive discrimination. Weaker answers focused generally on the issue of
equality and some included irrelevant reference to gender discrimination
Question 3 (Topic 3 Religious teaching on the nature and value of human life)
Question 05
Some very good answers were seen, many drawing on two contrasting religious traditions, such
as Buddhism and Christianity. Many answers were illustrated with reference to scriptures and
showed a pleasing use of technical terms. Weaker answers tended to offer a list of ideas with
only limited explanation or development.
Question 06
Many candidates offered a thoughtful discussion of this issue and chose various examples of
‘non-human life’ to make their points. Those who chose to classify the embryo as ‘non-human’
sometimes found it difficult to maintain a coherent answer because candidates referred to the
embryo as a ‘baby’ and so destroyed the argument they were offering. Conservation issues,
especially de-forestation and the preservation of endangered species, were discussed to good
effect. In some cases, however, candidates simply had an opinion to offer without evidence or
argument to support it.

Question 3 (a)
There were some very well-informed and broadly based answers to this question. Most, but not
all, candidates dealt with both gender and race, although race was often treated in less depth.
Many answers dealing with Christianity showed a good understanding both of biblical teaching
and of historical attitudes to gender, and made good use of biblical references. There was a
tendency to use ‘headline ideas’ only when dealing with other religions, and care should be take
to avoid sweeping generalisations. In some answers very effective use was made of debates
about gender roles taking place in the Church today. There was an excellent opportunity to
explore the debates about gender roles in other religions, for example, Islam.
Question 3 (b)
Many answers used the idea of sanctity of life to argue that all persons are of equal value to
God. This provided an effective, one-sided, answer when it was well-developed. Others
considered the context in which the value of each person was being taken into account –
e.g. usefulness to society, distribution of medical resources. They considered hard cases in
which the value of one person above another might be decided on the basis of disability.
Others were aware of traditions linking disability and sin or bad karma. Some sweeping
generalisations were evident in some answers, showing limited understanding of the teaching of
the religion.
Part 05
Most of the candidates who attempted this found it straightforward, but some answers were very
general. A few limited their understanding of ‘free will’ to the idea that if we have ‘free will’ we
have permission to do what we want, and therefore that since religion has many rules it is
against free will. Limited credit could be given for this but it missed the point of the question.
Many explained that humans had free will, and then wrote about what religion expected them to
do with it and why it was important to use it properly. This was creditworthy, but the focus in
such answers tended to drift and candidates spent more time explaining the teaching about how
to behave than the teaching about free will. Christianity, Islam and Buddhism were the three
religions most commonly referred to. The best answers were well informed and referred
specifically to religious teaching, often identifying differing strands of thought within their chosen
Part 06
This issue is explicitly identified in the specification and many candidates had clearly considered
it and were able to offer a reasoned argument. However, others appeared to have no
understanding of the meaning of ‘fatalistic’ and tried to build an answer around the idea that life
was ‘fatal’. Such answers generally achieved very little. Many good answers debated whether
everything that happened, no matter how bad, should be passively accepted as ‘the will of God’,
(or fate or karma) and whether or not this meant that we should not try to prevent or control
such events.
05 There were some very well-informed answers to this question, but many were rather short and
lacking in depth, breadth and/or examples to support the points made. Some candidates referred
to only one religion, often Christianity: others brought in contrasting or complementary ideas from
a second faith, often Buddhism. Both approaches resulted in some good answers. Some weaker
answers included broad, partly accurate, generalisations about religious teaching while better
answers accurately reflected different lines of thinking within a faith, for example about free will.
Many answers included the idea that to be human was to be a moral being. Better answers
illustrated this by showing that humans had a sense of right, wrong and duty, but weaker answers
simply wrote at some length about how a particular religion expected people to behave. Some of
the material presented could have been used to support the idea that to be fully human was to be
like Buddha, or Christ-like, or to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad, but the information
was rarely applied in any way that made it relevant.
06 Candidates generally showed a good understanding of the status of males and females in their
chosen religion(s) and could present arguments both for and against the claim made. There was
often clear awareness of a diversity of approach within religions which allowed the argument that
this claim was true of some traditions but not others. There was also a clear appreciation by
some candidates that differing male and female roles did not necessarily equate to inequalities
between the genders, and that differences were sometimes cultural rather than religious. Weaker
answers often offered a single point of view without considering any counter-arguments, or made
sweeping and only partly accurate generalisations about the status of women in particular
religions, especially Islam and Hinduism.
05 There were some very good responses to this question but a significant minority of candidates
muddled nature and value of life and so wrote a general and only partly relevant answer. In such
answers there was often limited reference to the idea of quality of life and some candidates found it
difficult to relate the idea of self-sacrifice to the idea of the value of life. Others clearly explained
that while some religions teach that all human life is intrinsically valuable regardless of its quality,
many also teach that service to God has a higher value so self-sacrifice may be called for.
06 There were some very successful debates on this issue. Most arguments referred to animals and
considered situations in which the statement would be wholly or partly rejected, Buddhism and/or
Hinduism were often used to argue that it would be accepted in some contexts.

Some candidates identified a human foetus as non-human life. This often resulted in rather
confused and largely unsuccessful arguments, many of which were in the end self-defeating
because they conceded that the foetus was human after all.

Question 3 Religious teachings on the nature and value of human life
05 There were some very good answers to this question but many that wrote generally about the nature and value of life instead of focusing on what was asked. Others offered overviews of the teaching of more than one religion, but some of these answers offered vague generalisations rather than accurate examples. Some of the best answers, from a Christian perspective, focused on the sanctity of human life, its intrinsic value, and teaching on equality. In dealing with non-human life, many good answers considered the value of animals as part of God’s creation, their rights and the limitations on those rights. Many students contrasted the value of human and non-human life,
which was often effective although not required. Some used embryos as examples of non-human life; this was rarely effective because many then stated, or clearly implied, that they were actually human.
06 This question allowed students to focus on the nature of human life and what it means to be human. Many good answers considered the unique nature accorded to humanity in many religions, often with reference to the idea that human beings have a soul and a moral awareness, and some used teaching from Buddhism or Hinduism to argue that believers could accept the view to some extent.
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