Evolution and religion
In some communities there is a strongly felt perception that science and religion are in conflict over certain issues and, in some classrooms, children may ask their class teacher for his or her view about such matters. At this age children’s ideas about religion are still developing, as indeed are their ideas about science. Children (with and without a religious faith) may or may not be ready to look in depth at how science and religion relate. What might be a more important point for teachers to emphasise to this age group is that they do not need to choose between creation by God and evolution.
If children ask questions about how science and religion relate, teachers may find it useful to draw children’s attention to one or more of the points below:
- Evolution and Creation by God are not necessarily incompatible. Religious communities are diverse. Proponents of the view that evolution and religion are compatible can be found in all the major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and, Sikhism).
- The scientific community is diverse. Some scientists have a religious faith and some do not. Scientists with a religious faith and scientists without a religious faith work together. They value science because it can reveal wonders and connections in the natural world that at first we might have missed.
- Evolution is an important idea not only in biology but to society more widely. Knowing about evolution is a key part of children’s education.
- Progress in science stimulates new thinking in science and also in religion.
- Science and religion are mostly concerned with different types of question. Science is concerned with questions about the natural world and seeks to explain what we see happening in nature. Evolution helps us to understand how the huge diversity of living things we see today have arisen over geologic time.
- Many of the questions which religion considers cannot be investigated scientifically. Religion addresses questions like – why does the Universe and everything it contains exist at all? Religious stories of Creation explain that God is the reason that everything exists. These ideas are important to people with a religious faith. They mean that God wants people to know about him and relate to him.