Genetics and faith communities

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These pages are more about the resources than about the topic information contained here.  The subject of genetics and different faiths is incredibly diverse and many different faiths have very different stances on issues such as stem cell use, cloning and even having certain medical treatments.


The table below provides a very brief summary of the main religious beliefs and lifestyles practices by some of the major world religions.

Buddhists  believe in an ultimate reality – not a ‘God’, and Buddha is not a prophet, rather a ‘teacher of gods’.  For Buddhists, being born human offers an opportunity for emancipation from the endless succession of life, death and rebirth.  Buddhists believe in Karma – actions bring their consequences.    
A peaceful life is the goal of Buddhists.  The Five Precepts (Panchasila) are the moral guidelines that Buddhists try to live by and adapt to their personal circumstances.  Some examples are:  avoid taking life and harming living things, avoid contact with drugs and alcohol, live simply and show compassion at all times.
Brahman is the source from which everything proceeds and the goal to which everything returns.  The goal of Hindu’s is for their soul to gain reunion with Brahman through a cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth.  Hindus also believe in the law of Karma (i.e. cause and effect).    
Hindus have a great deal of flexibility in determining their own personal values and how best to put them into practice.  Most Hindus are vegetarian and also avoid alcohol and drugs.  Hindus tend to support charity and have a great sense of community.
Jains Jains  do not believe in an all-powerful God, instead they have Mahavira, who is the ‘Great Hero’, who is  not a creator, as according to Jains, the universe has always existed.  Jains believe that endless cycles of time stretch into the infinite past and into an infinite future – and so if they live in a time of upheaval, then a stricter form of discipline is required in order to escape from it.    
The Jain way of life, rooted in both ancient and traditional teachings is still seen as being very relevant to the needs of the modern world – one example being that Jains are not encouraged to travel unnecessarily in order to conserve resources.  Jains are vegetarians and tend to be very charitable towards others, avoid violence and lying.
There is a great diversity between the beliefs and practices of Jews in different part of the world.  However all of them believe in a God who created the universe and who continues to govern it.    
Jewish people follow specific dietary regulations.  Judaism focuses on how God’s plan for all creation is expressed in relationships, be that between humans or between man and God.
Muslims believe in one God – an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent entity which has always existed.  This God rules over the universe with justice, mercy and compassion.    
There is a great variation in the way that Muslims practice and interpret their faith.   Shari’ah law is widely observed by Muslims and this covers issues such as marriage, family rights and inheritance.  Muslims should live according to God’s command but they should also live by the law of the land where they reside.
Sikhs believe a God and in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, dictated by the law of Karma – meaning that they will receive the just rewards for any of their deeds (good or bad).  Being human gives Sikhs the chance to escape for the endless cycle by prayer and repentance which will earn God’s grace and hence neutralise the effects of Karma.  Sikhs also recognise that other religions also contain relevant truths.     
Sikhism is a practical and down to earth religion.  Sikhs are encouraged to help others in order to help themselves.  They are encouraged always to keep God in mind and in doing so and helping others, they have personal freedom to decide how they should act in the world.  Sikhs are often vegetarians, and alcohol and drugs and tobacco are prohibited.
Bahá’is believe that knowledge of God has been revealed to humanity in stages by a succession of prophets, messengers and teachers.  They believe in life after death and in the eternal progress of the soul towards God .  They also believe in the unity of humankind and in harmony between the world’s faiths.    
Anything that would compromise their rational faculties or personal dignity is against their beliefs.  To this end, they should avoid alcohol and drugs.  Bahá’is are not vegetarians and young Bahá’is  are encouraged to be free and independent thinkers and world citizens.  They even have the right to chose their own religion from the age of 15 onwards.
Christians believe in the holy Trinity:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  All Christians respect Mary, the mother of Jesus, but some aspects of Christianity (such as Catholics) do so to a greater degree.  They believe in life after death, but the condition attained by the soul id dependent on the grace of God – and salvation cannot be earned during a human lifetime.    
Christians follow the example set by Christ – i.e. doing what they think Jesus would have done in any particular situation – especially when faced with moral dilemmas.  Some churches ban alcohol, drugs, gambling meat eating and others do not.  Christians try to live their lives with faith, hope and love

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