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An appalling RE syllabus for GCSE
  • Michael March 2012

    I have recently looked at the AQA syllabus for RE , on science and religion theey have this nonsensical and polarised course . How on earth did this get through?


    Topic 6 Science and Religion

    This topic compares and contrasts science and religion, trying to see how similar or different the two
    are. It particularly looks at two key issues – the origins  of the universe, and the origins of life

    scientific truth versus religious truth – what each truth is, including examples, and how it is
    derived;

    the issue of an evolving, changing truth versus an
    absolute truth;

    the issue of compatibility, including the question
    of whether these types of truth answer the same
    questions;

    why society seems to favour science over religion
    in the modern world, and the impact of this.
    Scientific versus religious truth through the following
    two foci:

    origins of the universe – Big Bang versus
    Genesis 1 creation story;

    interpretations of religious creation stories, and
    whether this affects their compatibility with
    scientific theory;

    the Cosmological revolution (development of the
    round earth theory, and the universe with the sun
    as its focal point);

    the challenge the Cosmological revolution posed
    for religious belief in the late Middle Ages.

    origins of life – creation versus evolution;
    design versus evolution;
    Darwin’s reliance on God to make evolution work;
    To what extent science and religion can agree;
    how evolutionary theory – when first put
    forward by Darwin – was a challenge to
    religious belief;

    the question of whether humans were created or
    evolved, and its impact on human attitudes and
    behaviour within society and to the rest of the
    world generally.

     

  • AndyR March 2012

    Michael

    Could you explain what you mean by the following

     'on science and religion theey have this nonsensical and polarised course .'

  • Michael March 2012

    Just consider this silly false polarisation ;


    Scientific versus religious truth through the following
    two foci:
    origins of the universe – Big Bang versus
    Genesis 1 creation story;


    The only ones who would agree with that would be an extreme atheist or a creationist.


     


    also what is the Cosmological Revolution?


     

  • AndyR March 2012

    'The only ones who would agree with that would be an extreme atheist or a creationist.'

    Both sides have their proponents, both sides claim evidence. Shouldn't students have both sides presented so they can make informed decisions?

  • Michael March 2012
    What do you mean by "both sides"? What are the two sides?
  • AndyR March 2012
    Those who support creation, those who support big bang
  • Michael March 2012
    Andy why do you give a false polarisation? All Christians BELIEVE in Creation and most accept the Big Bang geological ages and evolution. I think we have explained this before..
  • AndyR March 2012
    Sorry, but I don't think it is a false polarisation. Not all christians accept Big Bang/Long Age theories.
  • LemonSoup March 2012

    I am a GCSE student at the moment, currently taking the exact course you described.

    The course is designed around representation of all the viewpoints out there - the Roman Catholic outlook is emphasised, along with the 'scientific' viewpoint (Big Bang Theory etc.) however, we are encouraged to evaluate a question from as many angles as possible - in fact, extra marks are awarded for looking at a statement from lots of points of view, and them summarising with a personal opinion.

    Hopefully that clear up any issues - the course is not 'polarised' in any way.


  • GavinM March 2012
    I can understand Michael's concerns as the syllabus does make it sound quite polarised (i.e. prebooking the concept as science or religion, big bang or creation).

    In reality the situation is different with Christians holding a wide spectrum of views so if the teaching itself reflects this I've no problem with the syllabus being perhaps a little simplistic. Understandable as it should only be a starting point for for discussion and exploration in class.
  • SimonSimon March 2012
    I think what Michael is perhaps meaning - and what the delightfully named "LemonSoup" might be somewhat confirming - is that the course presents Christian's as having one view and scientists another when such stereotypes/polarisations are incorrect. For instance as I cannot distinguish between the "scientific viewpoint" and the "Christian viewpoint" I do not think they should be presented as different things.

    Mind you saying "some scientists think x" and "some Christian's think y" is entirely reasonable, however I do not know enough about the course to have an opinion as to whether it is adopting this subtlety. I fear it is probably just further supporting the conflict hypothesis.
  • exchemist March 2012
    LemonSoup's experience is reassuring, though I very much agree with Michael that, on the face of it, the syllabus does seem, alarmingly, to assume an opposition between a "scientific" and a "religious" viewpoint. Perhaps the thing to remember is that, as with all teaching, so much depends on the wisdom of the individual teacher in interpreting what the curriculum asks for.

    To me the key is how the 2nd bullet is dealt with (the issue of compatibility, including the question
    of whether these types of truth answer the same questions). One has to hope that most RE teachers know enough about mainstream Christianity to give this some serious consideration, as it seems to me that realising they answer different questions is the key to avoiding the head-on collision that Dawkins and the Creationists seem hell-bent on setting up.