Science and Religion in Schools: An Introduction to the Guides

Has science destroyed belief in God? What value is placed on science in the major faith traditions? Is it possible to be both a scientist and a religious believer?  The aim of the Science and Religion in Schools Project is to encourage the teaching in schools of issues concerning the debate between the claims of science and those of the major world religions. We want to stimulate open-minded discussion and to ensure that students are well informed and have a balanced picture of the different views involved.

To make this possible we are providing a very wide range of materials for teachers and students. This includes background information since there are few teachers, either of Religious Education or of Science, who can claim to be equally well informed about both subjects and who would therefore be able to cover central topics with complete confidence.

A broad range of materials is required, not only because the subject itself is broad, but because the examination system in the UK still provides a very diverse set of syllabuses for Religious Education and Religious Studies. By providing such a range we can cover most areas that are examined and also encourage syllabus writers to increase the representation of this important debate in future curricula. No teacher could possibly cover all this material but we hope that all teachers will be able to use some.

The materials have been written and edited by practising teachers or by those with recent experience of classroom teaching. They have all been trialled in schools and rewritten in the light of comments and criticism. University experts have reviewed them for academic accuracy.

Inevitably there is a range of difficulty in the topics covered. We have aimed at the average student but, taking into account the fact that this is an important subject for all abilities, additional material has been included to allow some students to go more deeply into the subject. Despite this flexibility, some subjects are intrinsically more challenging than others. Teachers will make the decision as to which they feel are most appropriate for their own students.

For the sake of busy teachers we have provided background reading and lesson plans designed for ease of use.  We hope that more experienced teachers will change and develop what they find here to suit their own students and their own particular teaching styles. It is intended that the materials will act as a stimulus and not be treated as a course that must be rigidly adhered to.

This Guide is designed to give an idea of the scope and quality of the materials, which are available in full in the attached CD ROM.  It includes summaries of each topic, and units within the topics, to give teachers a flavour of how that particular topic or unit is treated and to make it easier to decide which they wish to study in greater depth.

We are well aware of the wide variety of views reflected both by different religions and by different groups within particular faith traditions.  Although we have covered insights from a number of major faiths we cannot claim to have covered all views or even all major faiths. We hope that this will be understood by all those who use the materials.

What we present here is the result of four years work by many people, but it should be seen as a first rather than a final edition. Thanks to the modern technology of ‘Print on Demand’ and the CD ROM, we are able to produce a great deal of material at a modest cost. Moreover, it will be possible to produce ‘new editions’ of this work relatively cheaply and at relatively frequent intervals. This will enable us to cover some areas which we have not yet been able to cover and also to improve the quality of what is already there. This project should be seen as something ongoing rather than complete. We shall rely on those who use the materials to keep us informed about their reaction to them and to suggest improvements. We hope that teachers and their students will enjoy what they find here and may be willing to contribute in the future.

We are greatly encouraged by the interest already shown in this project both in the UK and abroad and hope that you will find the materials exciting, stimulating and enjoyable.

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