A new resource that encourages school students to explore the relationship between science and faith was launched last week (26 Jan).
God and the Big Bang provides engaging lesson plans and activities for use by secondary school RE teachers. It also includes a high-quality DVD featuring scientists offering thoughts on a range of topics concerning science and faith.
The resource comes at the end of a three-year project in which prominent members of the scientific faith community equip young people with the tools to form their own opinions about the place for science in God’s world – and God in the world of science. By the end of March they will have visited more than 60 schools across the UK.
“The disciplines of science and religion have often been kept separate from each other on the curriculum,” said the God and the Big Bang project co-ordinator Steph Bryant.
“Science teachers have not necessarily felt sufficiently informed to discuss complicated issues concerning different faiths. RE teachers have felt the same about science. This resource brings them together in a creative, dynamic way.”
“God and the Big Bang is first and foremost an excellent RE resource,” said Kate Christopher, national RE adviser at RE Today. “Considering aspects of scientific thinking as well as philosophy and ethics enlarges the scope of conversations possible in RE.
"Even if this resource is not utilised in a specific lesson on religion and science, it allows the teacher to explore questions surrounding truth, belief, knowledge and reality with constant reference to both Christian theology and the 21st Century.”
God and the Big Bang, published by RE Today and launched at last week’s NATRE (National Association of Teachers of Religious Education) Conference, helps teachers focus in particular on questions most asked by school students in the course of the three-year project. The key topics covered are:
Unit 1 - Genesis: the beginning
Unit 2 - The Rise of Humanity
Unit 3 - Earthquakes and Evil
Unit 4 - Religion and Science: what are their purposes?
Unit 5 - Religion and Science: a problem of language?
The significance of science for Christian ideas of origins is covered as well as the question of suffering: if God really exists and is all-powerful, why does he allow suffering to happen? The purpose, similarities and differences of religion and science is another topic, allowing deeper exploration of questions such as ‘Is there scientific evidence for God?’
“While these questions have been discussed for millennia, until now the resources available to teachers to make the topics engaging and informative have been thin on the ground,” said Michael Harvey, the project’s founder. “God and the Big Bang, developed at grassroots level among today’s teenagers, answers a vital educational need.”
Tom McLeish, professor of physics at Durham University and also chair of the Royal Society’s education committee, said: “This rich, well-designed and fascinating resource will help teachers of religious studies and science help pupils work through the vital questions of science and faith that arise for nearly everyone.”
Jane Halsall, teacher of RE at Southend High School for Boys, Essex, agrees: “God and the Big Bang hits every level. It supports me in leading the class into thinking at a deeper level, and also offers a lot to stretch and challenge the most able. The scientists are earthed and coherent, not nerds! The students relate to them easily and they bring the resource to life. It is worth every penny.”
PHOTO: Tom McLeish, professor of physics at Durham University (left) with God and the Big Bang project co-ordinator Steph Bryant (centre) and pupils from Abbey Grange C of E Academy, Leeds.
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