The diagnosis received by George in the case study is devastating and creates the possibility of a person facing mortality. Each individual interprets and deals with such situations according to personal values. This perspective is often based on a system of beliefs such as a religion. Religion serves as a moral relief as well as an ethical guide on the patient’s decisions. This paper will investigate the perspectives of Christianity and Hinduism on George’s diagnosis and situation.
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The Christian worldview is portrayed as rational and reasonable. The prime reality of Christianity is that there is a divine one God, who is both infinite and personal. Most Christian denominations hold that God exists in a universal trinity. The nature of the world is described as reality within physical boundaries and natural law. However, there is a reality beyond nature that can disturb the sensuous content of the physical world. Since God has created the world, He can intervene, creating the possibility of miracles. However, God is indirectly involved in everything that occurs (“The rationality of the Christian worldview,” n.d.).
Christianity would interpret George’s malady as a natural part of life and that suffering, and hardship can have a transformative effect, serving as redemption. The disease should be accepted as a natural part of God’s will (Berkley Center, n.d.). However, unlike ancient times, modern Christianity does not adhere disease to any negativity or sin, and followers are encouraged to accept the medical explanations for any conditions.
Christianity views human beings as an image of God. Therefore, human beings have intrinsic value due to life which was created by God. Birth and death are processes that are overseen by God, and humans are strongly discouraged to take matters into their own hands, even if it is their own life (BBC, 2009). From a Christian perspective, George should be grateful for his life and respect the will of God. Fatal diseases and end-of-life care should be taken as an opportunity for spiritual preparation and should not be interrupted by human intervention. George should seek treatment and attempt to live his last years independently as honorably and humbly as possible.
Christianity holds the belief that after death, a person’s soul leaves the physical body. The soul finds eternal life and death is considered only a beginning. Many Christians seek to find their soul in Heaven, a utopian divine location where they are blessed by the love of God and no longer experience sorrow. Christians gain this knowledge from the Bible, a holy text written by individuals that have been directly influenced by God to write these truths (Morse, 2018).
The Bible is sometimes direct, and other instances are vague. Christians rely on the Bible to find their knowledge of morality in it and its interpretations from religious leaders and prophets over the centuries. The Bible has accurately described numerous events from human history, and many Christians view its meaning as part of God’s divine plan for mankind to achieve salvation.
Christianity strictly prohibits euthanasia as it is considered morally wrong. Euthanasia is similar to assisted suicide, a significant sin in religion as it interrupts the natural process of life, a valuable concept as described earlier. The belief that a human has the “right to die” like George does, violates the fundamental truth of the relationship with God. However, the church does not condemn the refusal of aggressive treatment, and it is not considered euthanasia (BBC, 2009). As long as an individual provides a reasonable effort to preserve life and health, it is appropriate to eventually accept death as long as one does not artificially interrupt life.
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The prime reality of Hinduism is a supreme being known as Brahman. It is a universal spirit, reality, and existence that holds many forms and transcends the universe. The nature of the world is known as samsara. It is a physical world, but also cyclic, as reincarnation occurs until one can escape samsara. However, all reality is an inherent part of and the manifestation of Brahman (WorldviewU, n.d.).
Illnesses in Hinduism are viewed as having spiritual and biological components. The metaphysical assumption suggests that a balance of these elements ensures well-being. However, illness is seen as part of karma, a complex philosophy of cause and effect. Therefore, illness and suffering are a result of past negative behavior. Nevertheless, it is not a punishment, but an opportunity for spiritual progress, as Hindus are encouraged to accept it as a natural consequence of divine events (Queensland Health, 2013).
In Hinduism, a human being is a soul that is in a physical body to gain experience and achieve concepts of divine understanding in accordance to concepts of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. All Hinduism concepts believe in the sanctity and preservation of life in its true identity. At death, the soul is either reincarnated or absorbed into the ultimate reality of Brahma. However, there can be bad death or good death which would influence the outcome.
Accepting the pain and dying is honorable. Meanwhile, suicide is considered selfish and morally wrong, leading to hell (Sharma, Jagdish, Anusha, & Bharti, 2013). Hinduism would view George’s diagnosis as an opportunity for spiritual growth and cleansing of karma, which would lead to a better life in reincarnation or absorbed into Brahma.
Hindus rely on ancient scriptures and religious leaders to learn about the nature of the world and morality. Right and wrong are balanced through karma, but knowledge is inherently an illusion. Therefore, human history exists as a surreal illusion and experience that occurs in cycles. Hinduism is divided over the concept of euthanasia. One argument is that helping to end a painful life is a good deed. Meanwhile, the counterargument states that ending a life, even if suffering, is disruptive to the cycle of death and rebirth. Depending on the circumstance, prayopavesa, or starving to death is an acceptable way of suicide.
However, it is only acceptable if all preparations are made and the individual has no more responsibilities in the world, with death being an imminent reality (BBC, 2009b). George would only be morally justified to accept euthanasia towards the end of his life and would be expected to take a spiritual approach to his diagnosis. Commonly, end-of-life care for Hindus consists of mild pain management and improving quality of life until death occurs. While euthanasia remains a controversial topic, artificially maintaining life through the use of a ventilator is looked down upon.
My point of view is aligned with Christianity, with the perspective that life is a valuable gift from God. Therefore, it is not within a human’s authority to interrupt it prematurely. Furthermore, medical capabilities and a healthy lifestyle can postpone symptoms for a significant amount of time. As medicine experiences progress, it is possible that more possibilities will be available to withhold symptoms of ALS.
However, it is also important that a person’s decisions should be respected. George should seek to live his life as independently as possible. However, he has the right to create an advanced directive that once the symptoms reach the point of full muscle degeneration, he would be allowed to die naturally. Therefore, he would not have to continue suffering under artificial ventilator support. I believe this would be the most rational and humane compromise considering George’s prognosis.
BBC. (2009a). General Christian view. Web.
BBC. (2009b). Euthanasia assisted dying, and suicide. Web.
Berkley Center. (n.d.). Christianity on health and illness. Web.
Morse, E. (2018). What happens to a Christian after death? Web.
Queensland Health. (2013). Hindu beliefs affecting health care. Web.
Sharma, H., Jagdish, V., Anusha, P., & Bharti, S. (2013). End-of-life care: Indian perspective. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(Suppl 2), S293–S298. Web.
The rationality of the Christian worldview. (n.d.). Web.
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WorldviewU. (n.d.). Hinduism. Web.