Gce religious Studies

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Suggested teaching time

8 hours


Religion and Science

Topic outline

Suggested teaching and homework activities

Suggested resources

Points to note


  • Stimulus article: Richard Dawkins criticises Emmanuel School, Gateshead where the head of science is a creationist.

  • Students consider whether the teacher’s views are a problem. Is he entitled to his beliefs? Is he still a scientist?

  • Brief History of some conflicts between science and religion: Galileo, the Scopes monkey trial etc. Students produce a timeline showing clashes between religion and science.

  • Article available using the search engine on the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk

  • Philosophy of Religion for A Level (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • Questions about God (Patrick Clarke).

Scientific and Philosophical views on the creation of the universe
The views of Charles Darwin

  • Review work done on Teleological argument. Recap Darwin’s views.

  • Review creation story covered in Judeo-Christian influences on Philosophy. Discuss the different ways that believers may interpret the story.

  • Are Science and Faith incompatible?

  • Questions about God (Patrick Clarke).

Darwinism and various developments of evolutionary theory
Creationism and the Big Bang

  • Dawkins and the selfish gene, why does Dawkins reject the idea of God?

  • What do creationists believe? Ideas of young earth and apparent age considered.

  • Extracts of ‘The Selfish Gene’ (Dawkins) are available on the Internet.

  • The God Delusion provides a good summary of his views on religion. It is likely to be accessible to most students.

Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity

The views of John Polkinghorne and Michael Behe

  • Briefly introduce the concept of Intelligent Design, the Dover School controversy and the idea of irreducible complexity (Behe).

  • Introduce key points of Polkinghorne’s view.

  • BBC Horizon programme (2006) covered this controversy. Details on BBC website.

  • Questions about God (Patrick Clarke), contains material on Polkinghorne.

  • Debating Design (edited by) contains a number of essays by leading thinkers including Behe and Polkinghorne. It may be of help to the teacher for background reading.

Critical Discussion of these views, their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Students undertake a research project leading up to the writing of a structured report for governors of a faith school where the teaching of creation-evolution is an issue. The scientific, philosophical and theological issues to be explored.

  • Philosophy of Religion for A Level (Jordan, Lockyer & Tate).

  • www.creationism.org, www.origins.org, & www.infidels.org give different perspectives on these issues.

  • www.wasdarwinright.com and www.faithnet.org have useful material also.

  • There is scope for more able students to consider religious thinkers who use evolution in their ideas such as process theologians and Teilhard de Chardin.

  • The project will take at least 2lessons and may be extended if there is time or interest.

  • Feedback on project and class discussion. Students debate whether in their opinion religion and science are compatible.

Religious Studies H172: Philosophy of Religion G571

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