Can we argue for the existence of God from science? What do Christians believe about creation? How should we understand Genesis today? The UK Religious Studies (RS) specifications touch upon some exciting aspects of the conversation about science and faith. This presents a great opportunity for students to explore new cross-disciplinary concepts – but what about their teachers?
Many of these topics have nuances which include different interpretations by individual Christians, a progression of thought over historical time, and publicly held assumptions that need addressing – and, in some cases, breaking down. These dimensions can be hard to capture in a lesson which satisfies the exam-based specifications and is engaging for the students,especially within the time-pressured environments in which teachers work.
There are plenty of theologians and scientists whose work and personal Christian faith drive them to think about these very topics. The Wonders of the Living World project worked with eight such people – including Alister McGrath, who gets a personal mention in the RS specifications. These researchers passionately and humbly answered questions such as ‘What – if anything – can we learn about God from nature?’, ‘How do you approach discussion about creation and evolution?’, or ‘Is there any intrinsic value to the natural world?’
The materials we produced include a colour illustrated book, videos and articles online, sessions for adults in a church setting and, most importantly for RS teachers, resources for use in schools. Lessons plans use short videos, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, games and other activities to open up discussion and help the class make a more personal connection with the featured scientist or theologian. Technical content is explained, and Christian theology comes packaged as an individual person’s opinion – to ground some of these quite abstract concepts.
It is well worth exploring the nuances of these topics at GCSE and A-level, because many pupils passively accept messages of ‘science vs faith’ from the culture around them. Thinking critically about these topics and being exposed to other perspectives can help them to engage in a richer dialogue that they might otherwise never encounter in life outside of school.
Explore the material on the project website, or watch the trailer below.
An online book launch will be held on the evening of Mon 14th June, with a number of the book contributors participating. 50% discount on copies of the book for all participants. Details and registration