Religion and Science

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1 Religion and Science Glossary Cosmology the study of the origins of the universe How did the world come into existence? Theory one Aristotle Taught that the universe has always existed and would always continue to exist. Theory two Augustine (a Church Father) The universe was created by God about 6,000 years ago. God created Adam and Eve as the first humans. He based his teaching on his study of the book of Genesis. Some modern Christians still believe this account. Theory three the Big Bang theory The universe was the result of a massive explosion between 14 and 19 million years ago. Many people today believe this. Scientific theories about the origins of the universe How do scientists come up with their theories? Ideas or theories are tested through scientific experiments and observations in order to prove or disprove the original theory. The most influential scientific theory about how the world began is the Big Bang theory. Evolution theory is the name of the scientific theory about the origins of humanity. The Big Bang Theory Uses scientific evidence to suggest that the universe formed as a result of a massive explosion known as the Big Bang; from this all galaxies were formed as the universe expanded. Evidence that supports this theory: The universe is still expanding with galaxies moving further and further away from each other. The further away a galaxy is from our galaxy the faster it moves scientists Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson discovered cosmic background radiation which provides evidence of remnants of light from the very hot beginnings of the universe. The observation that the universe is still expanding suggests that it was once must smaller. Scientists today think that everything was once more concentrated in one single point. The heat observed by Penzias and Wilson suggests that the single mass started expanding rapidly because of a hot explosion or Big Bang.

2 Evolution Charles Darwin ( ) explored the world on a ship HMS Beagle; his discoveries on this voyage are central to the theory of evolution. In his book On the origins of the species he argued that life began as very simple cells and evolved into different species which gradually change and adapt to their environment; those best adapted will survive and reproduce, weaker species will die out. Over a long period of time species gradually change as they adapt. Natural selection tells us that strong plants and animals survive and reproduce whilst the weaker one die out. Darwin also stated that humans had also evolved and share some of their ancestry with apes. Human are particularly well adapted to the environment but are not unique or set apart or special as suggested by Christians. Fossils seem to support this theory as they show us that some animals are now extinct. Many religious believers and unhappy with Darwin s theory; Christian Phillip Gosse ( ) argued that fossils had been out in the ground by God to test the faith of Christians. Christian teachings about the origins of the world and humanity Christians believe: The world exists because God created it; In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty The world was designed to perfectly meet the needs of human beings as well as other life forms, e.g. fish and animals When God speaks things come into existence; Let there be light and there was light. Humans were created on the sixth day and were made like God reflecting his nature and spiritual dimension. God created man is his own image God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into him... Humans are set apart from animals and given authority over them. The relationship between scientific and religious understandings of the origins of the world and humanity The Genesis accounts of the origins of the world and humanity rely on a God who created them in six days. God speaks and the universe is formed from nothing and is described as good so nothing happens by chance. Everything created has a purpose for being. There is no mention of the Big Bang theory or Evolution and so this seems to contradict science. Different Christian beliefs Literalist Christians, e.g. Fundamentalists believe the Bible to be literally true, i.e. everything happened exactly as stated in the Bible. They believe that to see these stories as symbolic or myths containing important truths would be to undermine core beliefs. They believe that God has spoken to them directly through the written word of the Bible and that they should through faith accept the truth that it contains. Non-literalist Christians believe that the Bible contains symbolic truths and science has correctly observed how the universe originated, e.g. the days in Genesis purely refer to the passing of periods of time. The Genesis account is not seen to be a historical account but rather symbolic but rather an account that gives meaning and purpose to the

3 world. This is a world in which God is involved and should be praised. These Christians argue that Genesis was not written to tell us how the universe came into being but rather to answer questions of meaning, e.g. Do humans have a purpose? How can some scientists be Christians? John Polkinghorne an internationally recognised scientists, author and vicar thinks that science and religion do not conflict because: He sees order in the world being an expression of the creator s mind because the world is logical The fruitfulness of the world is an expression of the creator s purpose so it is not an accident The place of humanity in relation to animals Humans unlike animals are made in the image of God which means that they have some of the nature of God. Humans unlike animals have souls that are eternal and so continue after physical death. Humans are created to praise and serve God and enjoy God s company forever. Human life is special and unique God loved humans so much he was willing to sacrifice his son so that he could restore his relationship with humanity. Humans have rights and duties that are not shared with any other species as the Bible does not speak of any other creature that has the potential to have a relationship with God. Example duty to obey the Ten Commandments. Example of a right to rule over the earth including having authority over animals. Attitudes to animals and their treatment Humans have dominion over animals (rule over them). Humans have stewardship over animals, i.e. responsibility to care for them and ensure that they are not abused or mistreated; this is because everything in the world belongs to God. Therefore unnecessary testing, e.g. for cosmetics or the fur trade are wrong. Views of the Catholic Church and the Church of England on the treatment of animals If medical and scientific experiments are done to care for or save human lives they are acceptable. Animals should not suffer unnecessarily. Christian ideas about stewardship and their responses to environmental issues Christians believe that the earth and all that is on it belongs to God. He has given people the role of steward (caretakers) of the world and all that is in it. Overusing natural resources and destroying habitats, e.g. by cutting down rain forests, is wrong according to Christians. They should not exploit the world as this is an abuse of God s trust; they should be caring for it for future generations.

4 Evidence of stewardship in everyday lives: Recycling waste Thinking about how they consume products, e.g. buying Fairtrade goods and only what they need so they are not for example throwing too much food out. Using efficient eco-friend energy in their homes, e.g. solar power. Getting involved in environmental campaigning, e.g. by joining Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth both of these organisations, although not set up by Christians, follow the Christian ideas of caring for the environment and being good stewards A Rocha This is a Christian nature conservation project. Aims to show God s love for creation through practical projects and environmental education. Began in Portugal in 1983 and is now in 15 countries in the world Living Waterways project in London. A Rocha worked with the local council to turn 90 acres of wasteland into a country park with recreational space and nature conservation. Church action Christians take action individually to care for the environment and also work as good stewards through their churches. The Church Times newspaper runs the national Green Church award. Purpose of which is to: Acknowledge, encourage and support the practical environmental work done by churches and their congregations. Spread the word about environmental action and encourage other congregations to get involved. Celebrates good practice by featuring the shortlisted projects in the Church Times and at an awards ceremony. Some useful quotes: The earth is the Lord s, and everything in it. God said Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.

5 Test your knowledge: Read the section entitled How did the world come into existence? 1. What did Aristotle think about the universe? 2. What did Augustine think about the universe? 3. Outline the Big Bang theory Read the section entitled Scientific theories about the origins of the universe. 4. How was the universe formed according to the Big Bang theory? 5. What evidence is there that supports this theory? 6. What evidence did Penzias and Wilson discover in 1965 that supports this theory? 7. Who developed the Theory of Evolution? 8. Describe the Theory of Evolution. 9. According to this theory humans evolved from and shared ancestry with what? 10. What seems to be evidence that would support this theory? 11. How did the Christian, Phillip Gosse, who rejected the theory of evolution, explain the existence of fossils? Read the section entitled Christian teachings about the origins of the world and humanity. 12. Write down a quote from the Bible that Christians use as evidence that God created the world. 13. Why was the world designed according to Christians? 14. According to Christians how did things come into existence? 15. When were humans created? 16. How are humans different from animals? Read the section entitled The relationship between scientific and religious understandings of the origins of the world and humanity. 17. What do literalists believe about the origins of the world and humanity? 18. What do non-literalists believe about the origins of the world and humanity? 19. Explain how an scientist like John Polkinghorne can also be a Christian particularly when thinking about the creation of the world. Read the section entitled The place of humanity in relation to animals. 20. Give six reasons why humans are different to animals according to Christians. Read the section entitled Attitudes to animals and their treatment. 21. Explain Christian attitudes to the treatment of animals. 22. What are the views of the Catholic Church and the Church of England about the treatment of animals? Read the section entitled Christian ideas about stewardship and their responses to environmental issues. 23. According to Christians who does the world belong to? 24. What role has God given to humans according to Christians? 25. What is the Christian attitude to overusing natural resources and destroying habitats? 26. Why do they hold this attitude? 27. Give three examples of how we can practice stewardship in our everyday lives. 28. What is A Rocha? 29. Describe A Rocha s work. 30. What is the national Green Church award? 31. What is the purpose of the national Green Church award?

6 Past Exam Questions B602 June 2010 Section C: Religion and Science (a) What is meant by the origins of humanity? [1] (b) State two ways of using animals that some Christians might find unacceptable. [2] (c) Give three reasons why some Christians believe we should care for our environment. [3] (d) Explain what Christians believe about how the world began. [6] (e) Scientific theories and religious teachings have nothing in common. Discuss this statement. You should include different, supported points of view and your own point of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. [12] B602 June 2011 Section C: Religion and Science (a) What is meant by environmental problems? [1] (b) Give two reasons that Christians could use to support medical testing on animals.[2] (c) Why might Christians rejects the theory that human beings evolved from apes? [3] (d) Explain what Christians believe about the role of humanity in the world. [6] (e) If humanity is here by chance then life has no purpose. Discuss this statement. You should include different, supported points of view and your own point of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. [12] B602 June 2012 Section C: Religion and Science (a) What is meant by the term stewardship? [1] (b) State two ways in which human beings are damaging the environment. [2] (c) Give three reasons that Christians might use to support being eco-friendly. [3] (d) Explain Christian attitudes towards the treatment of animals [6] (e) The human race is more important than the environment. Discuss this statement. You should include different, supported points of view and your own point of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. [12]

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