Science and religious education

Michael Poole

The term ‘science’ will be understood as mainstream science.

Key issues in the relationships between Religion and Science: broadly, these can be grouped as arising out of:

(1) The Nature of Science

(1) The Nature of Science

a_Stars1.jpg Strengths and limitations of science; influence of the worldview of the scientist, with its beliefs and values, on the interpretation of science; scientific laws and the possibility of miracles; the philosophy and history of science; views on the relationships between religion and science and the persistence of the ‘conflict thesis’; unpacking the Galileo affair and the Wilberforce/Huxley encounter; the theological concept of Creation, its difference from young-Earth creationism and from scientific theories of origins; reductionism and emergence; evidence and proof; facts, faith and reason; presuppositions necessary for science; the plurality and potential compatibility of different types of explanations; ‘God of the gaps’; the use of language in religion and in science and how models and metaphors enable discourse about what is (i) new (ii) invisible (iii) conceptually difficult.

(2) The Data of Science

(2) The Data of Science

a_Earth1.jpg Earth, its existence, age, status, position in space and in our solar system; cosmogony, Big Bang, Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Goldilocks Effect), eschatology, multiverse; the portrayal of Charles Darwin in the recent ‘Darwin Year’; evolution, evolutionism and the rôle of chance in design. The distinction between traditional views of design, with supporting arguments, and the claims of the ‘Intelligent Design Movement’ and their arguments; the behavioural sciences; the social sciences.

(3) The Applications of Science

(3) The Applications of Science

a_microscope1.jpg Issues of ethics and integrity; foundations of morality; environment; animal welfare; technology/alternative technology; nuclear power; medicine; military; space exploration; bio-engineering; nano-technology.
The above is a selection from many issues, some of which are developed in Barnes, P. (see below). What follows is also, and necessarily, selective. Religious education affirms the importance of different religious traditions approaching such issues from their own theological perspectives.

Resources

Resources

Classroom Resources

Classroom Resources

for teaching about the Interplay between mainstream science and religion

  • Science and Religion in Schools project This is the largest project of its kind, available in the UK and other countries. It consists of two parts (i) Primary Schools (7-11) 9 Topics; over 30 'lessons' with support materials £12.50 (ii) Secondary Schools (11-19) 11 Topics; over 100 'lessons' with support materials £15.00. Each is published as a printed guide and a CD-ROM. Everything produced has been written and edited by teachers, guided by 25 academic experts in the field of science & religion. Some 50 UK schools were involved in trials and subsequent revisions. Links to QCA materials.
  • Test of Faith: The heart of the Test of FAITH project is a 90 minute, three-part DVD documentary, introducing viewers to various areas of interaction between science and faith. This documentary, in which scientists and theologians debate, won the silver award in the ‘Best Documentary’ category at the IVCA awards, (2009). ISBN: TOFDVD Accompanying the documentary is a Study Guide, a Leader's Guide and a book entitled Spiritual Journeys with Scientists. An educational adaptation of these materials, Resources for schools, has been produced by The Stapleford Centre as a result of having developed and piloted lesson plans in various schools for GCSE and A-level RE. A complete pack, including all the above and 5 Study Guides is available for £30 (saving £15). Available from the Stapleford Centre shop. Test of FAITH
  • LASAR (Learning About Science and Religion) A project based at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, part of which Faradayschools.com sets out to provide resources that explore the ‘Big Questions’ of science and religion for secondary schools (KS3, 4 & 5) tackling such topics as: ‘Creation, evolution or both’, ‘How do we know anything for sure?’, ‘Does science disprove miracles?’, ‘Can we prove God does or doesn’t exist?. The website includes articles by scientists working in mainstream science exploring science and faith, video clips, mystery games, teacher notes with hands-on activities, assessment ideas, opportunities for pupils to write for the site. www.Faradayschools.com
  • Charis Project Teacher resources promoting moral and spiritual development through the School Curriculum. Charis Science, Units A1-A9, Age Range 11-14 (photocopiable) Nottingham: The Stapleford Centre £18.95 www.stapleford-centre.org/ Science & Religion: Exploring the creative interface, Rivett, R. (2003) (ed.) Birmingham: Christian Education Publications ISSN 1476-6442, ISBN 1-904024-42-4 Some issues exemplified through: Christianity; Islam; Hinduism; Humanism
  • The Wonder Project has created Questioning Origins, an interactive DVD that helps students investigate Christian, Hindu, Humanist and Islamic worldviews of origins. Version 2 contains a lesson looking at Charles Darwin's fluctuating religious views. www.thewonderproject.co.uk
  • Tackling Tough Questions (2008) An imaginative, sensitively handled, teaching and learning pack for use with 14-19 year olds, by Russell Stannard with Lat Blaylock and David Poyser. Contains an 85 minute DVD + 40 page Teacher’s Notes opening up the problem of theodicy — reconciling a loving all-powerful God with a world containing suffering and evil. Christian Education Publications & REtoday Services, 1020 Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, West Midlands B29 6LB (0121 472 4242) ISBN 978-1-905893-06-5 £33.98 ‘A splendid example of Professor Stannard’s ability to open up debate on contentious areas with deftness and sensitivity.’ Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • The Question Is…?, a Russell Stannard production which presents four, 15 minute video programmes, accompanied by a booklet about the programmes and containing suggestions for follow-up discussion. The four programmes are: 1. Beginning at the beginning? 2. The Origins of Life? 3. Miracles? 4. Science rules supreme?. The viewpoints of both atheists and religious believers are presented in a balanced way. Although this is not currently available, about 40% of secondary schools in the UK have purchased copies.
Books / Reference Sources

Books / Reference Sources

e.g. web pages, DVDs videos, journals and books

  • Alexander D. Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?, Oxford: Monarch ISBN 978-1-85424-746-9 An accessible but rigorous examination by the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, an academic biologist. He addresses ubiquitous questions about the interplay between ‘creation’ and ‘evolution’.
  • Barnes, P. (ed.), Debates in RE, 'Science and Religion', London: Routledge, (forthcoming).
  • Berry, R.J. (ed.) (2006) Environmental Stewardship: Christian Perspectives - Past and Present, London: Continuum ISBN 9-780567-030180 Has wider applications to religions in general than to Christianity alone.
  • Brooke, J.H. (1991) Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives, CUP ISBN pb 0-521-28374-4 A scholarly study of the interplay between science and religion by a historian of international repute, formerly the first Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford.
  • Jones, L. and Reiss, M. J. (eds) (2007) Teaching About Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism, New York: Peter Lang ISBN13: 9780820470801 A collection of articles written for science teachers, but useful for RE teachers.
  • McGrath, A, & J. (2007) The Dawkins Delusion: Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine, London: SPCK, ISBN 0-281-05927-6.
  • McGrath, A. (2010) Science & Religion: A New Introduction (second edition) Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell pb ISBN 978-1-4051-8791-6.
  • Numbers, R. L. (ed.) (2009) Galileo Goes to Jail: And Other Myths About Science and Religion, London: Harvard UP ISBN 978-0-674-03327-6.
  • Poole, M. W. (2007) User’s Guide to Science and Belief, pp 128, Oxford: Lion Hudson, ISBN 978-0-7459-5274-1 An introduction, substantially rewritten, enlarged and updated from earlier editions, addressing key issues of science and religion, with wider applications than to Christianity alone, used in schools.
  • Poole, M. W. (2009) The ‘New’ Atheism: Ten Arguments that Don’t Hold Water?, Oxford: Lion Hudson, ISBN 978-0-7459-5393-9.
  • Sleigh, C. & Webb, B. (2010) God's Green Book, London: SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-06206-5 — a series of seven Bible studies on the environment.
  • Southgate, C. et al (eds) (2005) God, Humanity and the Cosmos: a Textbook on Science and Religion (2nd ed., revised and expanded, 443 pp), London: T. & T. Clark ISBN 0-567-03016-4. A very large collection of articles addressing many issues of science and religion, ‘eminently suitable both for beginners and for those working at its frontiers’ – the late Revd Dr Arthur Peacocke.
  • Ward, K. (2008) The Big Questions in Science and Religion, Pennsylvania: Templeton Foundation Press ISBN 13: 978-59947-135-8 Ten such questions are addressed.
  • Watts, F. & Dutton, K. (eds) (2006) Why the Science and Religion Dialogue Matters, London: Templeton Foundation Press ISBN 13: 978-159947-103-7 Includes perspectives on the World Faith Traditions of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Asian Christianity.
  • White, R. S. (ed.) (2009) Creation in Crisis. Christian Perspectives on Sustainability, London: SPCK, ISBN 978-0-281-06190-7 16 chapters on different topics with wider applications to religions other than Christianity.

Journals

  • Dialogue: A Journal of Religion and Philosophy ISSN 1367-2592 publishing (twice a year) since 1993 to support the teaching of A-level Religious Studies in British schools. Has a much wider readership including college and university departments world-wide. High quality introductory articles on the Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Biblical Studies.
  • Science and Christian Belief ISSN 0954-4194 publishing (twice a year) since 1989 — articles on a wide range of issues as well as book reviews. Sponsoring organizations:— Christians in Science & The Victoria Institute, available online.
  • Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science ISSN 0591-2385 publishing since 1966 (quarterly) aims to cover the whole range of the sciences. Open to religious and non-religious perspectives. Sponsoring organisations:— Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), founded 1954 & Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS), founded 1972. Selected articles available on the web: From ISSR
  • Statement on the Concept of 'Intelligent Design'
  • Charles Darwin on Religion written by Professor John Brooke in anticipation of the bi-centenary of Darwin’s birth and the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species.
  • ‘Creationism as an educational issue'. Following recent events within the Royal Society centred on the issue of how creationism should be dealt with in the educational system, a Fellow of that Society - ISSR's first President, John Polkinghorne - gave a brief personal view in a short article in the Times (London).’ The article may be read at:- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4790446.ece
  • Another article - by ISSR member Michael Poole and focusing on the educational issue - was recently published in the School Science Review Creationism, intelligent design and science education and may be read at www.issr.org.uk SSR_Sept_2008_Poole.pdf
From Central Government

From Central Government

Scholarly/ Educational Organisations

Scholarly/ Educational Organisations

concerned with the interactions of mainstream science and religion