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Pupils bringing religion up when teaching evolution

Discussion in 'Science' started by myorangecrush, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. How do you respond to pupils bringing up the Adam and Eve stories when teaching evolution? I have a variety of techniques which tend to work such as:
    'I respect your right to worship, but please leave religion at the door in the science classroom'
    'This is a science classroom and therefore we must think like scientists in here.'
    'No, we aren't decended from monkeys, we share a common ancestor with them'.

    I find the brighter kids, no matter how religious they are, can compartmentalise belief with science teaching. it's the lower ability ones, who find the Adam and Eve fables so easy to understand who cause the biggest issue. I've had Iraqi-immigrant Muslim children actually walk out because I was being anti-Allah. Christian children flatley refusing to accept anything I say.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be great, because I need to teach it in the new year and it's becoming something I dread.
     
  2. How do you respond to pupils bringing up the Adam and Eve stories when teaching evolution? I have a variety of techniques which tend to work such as:
    'I respect your right to worship, but please leave religion at the door in the science classroom'
    'This is a science classroom and therefore we must think like scientists in here.'
    'No, we aren't decended from monkeys, we share a common ancestor with them'.

    I find the brighter kids, no matter how religious they are, can compartmentalise belief with science teaching. it's the lower ability ones, who find the Adam and Eve fables so easy to understand who cause the biggest issue. I've had Iraqi-immigrant Muslim children actually walk out because I was being anti-Allah. Christian children flatley refusing to accept anything I say.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be great, because I need to teach it in the new year and it's becoming something I dread.
     
  3. This is a theory that I have to teach to you and you have to remember. The exam boards are usually write "scientists believe..."
     
  4. SIdeshow- that is exactly the line I have used for the last 25 years in a predominantly muslim school- I have never had a single problem. I write my learning objectives and outcomes using the phrase - "some scientists believe" as I dont want to put off any of my students from thinking of themselves as scientists. I ask them to recall a fairy tale from primary school, ask them if, for example, bears eat porridge and live in a house with beds and chairs and get visited by Goldilocks then suggest that they can think of evolution as a story the examiner wants to read-as I said- never had a problem.
     
  5. T34

    T34 Established commenter

    So you are telling your pupils that evolution is a fairytale.
    Try doing the same for Islam and see what happens.
     
  6. The fairytale idea is interesting. I like it but I wonder if it's taking the matter too far in the opposite direction? I always tell them that they don't have to believe it but they do have to learn it - seems to do the trick so far.
     
  7. Don't use the wrong defintion of theory though:
    Theory:
    relativity.
     
  8. The fairytale idea shocks me, to be honest. Richard Dawkins would be spitting bricks! :)
     
  9. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I usually take the 'this is what scientists beleive' route but on occassion, with higher ability groups I allow a sidetrack to discuss the difference between faith and evidence. ie science tried to explain what we can observe in the evidence. faith is beleived without the need of evidence. I then use examples such as the fltt earth, earth centres universe as examples of how ideas change because of new evidence.
     
  10. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I also have saved in my favourites links to websites that have all sorts of versions of the creation story from native American religeons, through t all sorts of other beleife systems. We take a breif look at a few and then I say 'how do you know your version is the correct one, many of these ideas are much older than the Christian/Muslim version'? If they are JW I just tell them that they can beleive what they like as long as they can answer about evolution on the exam and get the GCSE grade they need!
     
  11. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Occasional commenter

    The old Exploring Science scheme had a sheet looking at the difference between faith based beliefs and scientific theories backed by evidence. It was in the Gravity & Space Y9 topic. I've used it a few times and quite like it.
     
  12. housesparrow

    housesparrow New commenter

    I just say that evolution is on the syllabus and that if they want their marks and the best grade possible then they have to learn this, this and this. I also point out that there is no point in trying to evangelise the examiner as they will not get any marks for doing so. Just once I did mark someone's work who had succinctly put down all the relevant points and managed to tie this in with a Christian viewpoint - he got all his marks, I wish I'd kept the example.
     
  13. mrswallow

    mrswallow New commenter


    Pretty much how I have dealt with it in the past except I do usually add that they might need to know the story of Genesis for a Religion exam. I resist the temtation to describe the Bible as a 'bunch of campfire tales for desert nomads' though. It isn't just the evolution side of things though. Many fundementalist Christians are of the opinion that the Earth is only 4,000 and a bit years old, so doing Geology gets interesting. Or as interesting as Geology ever gets...
    It is important to acknowledge ideas of faith and useful to distinguish between faith and knowledge and it can provide a good discussion point in lessons.
    I do like the idea of taking different creation myths and comparing them with the Abrahamic faiths version. Hmm.
     
  14. Just Google "Church if the Flying Spaghetti Monster" [​IMG]
     
  15. <strike>if </strike>= of

    my morning coffee hasn't reached my fingers yet.
     
  16. Most of us are as qualified to analyse religious myths (technical usage of the term) as our RE colleagues are to teach science
     
  17. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    A a chat with our former head of RE over things like this and although she was a religeous person she really didin't take the Bible at face value. In fact she said that it was actually an editted set of stories and if all the stories about Jesus had actually been included the new estament would have been 3 times a thick and would have talked about all of Jesus' brothers and sisters and loads of other stuff. She said that the New testament was just a selection of stories that those running the church at the time deemed siutable for use and they discarded the rest.
     
  18. Why are you all so afraid to offend anyone? If in science teaching you ever have to bring up a controversial topic,( ie you are teaching anything) then put it in perspective: Scientists currently believe, research suggests, there is evidence for, nothing is proven, science suffered in history by being afraid of opinions. Surely in the modern UK curriculum t isn't still so!
     
  19. There is no need to offend anyone when teaching about evolution.
    Personally I would not say that scientists 'believe' in evolution. Science is not a belief system in the same way as a religious faith. By saying that you 'believe' in evolution you are, in the mind of the religious, equating science and religion and that means it could be a matter of one being right and the other being wrong.
    I always advise science teachers to talk about the acceptance of evidence as the standpoint of science, so scientists accept evolution because of the weight of evidence in favour of it, just like we accept gravity - we don't 'believe' in gravity we accept it. Think about the science we ach - where else would you talk about belief in something that is widely accepted - such as atoms or photosynthesis or Hookes Law? At the curring edge of science, yes there may be elements of belief - e.g. a scientist may believe that this causes that, but in this case it is usually stated as a belief because there is little evidence e.g. we 'believe' that the Higgs boson exists and it may be responsible for mass - but as yet there is no empirical evidence for that beliefe - once we have the evidence then the scientists will drop the 'belief' and it will become accepted. So belief in science is, again of a different sort than belief in religion, which due to its nature (supernatural) will not have any empirical evidence.
    With the acceptance of evidence comes the ability for new evidence to modify our understanding. Beliefs are rarely modified. Those who believe in the Bible as it is written (a minority of religious factions) will not change their belief - what they do is look to make the evidence fit their belief. Science changes its explanations (theories) to fit the evidence. A scientific definition of a theory is also different (as noted earlier) from vernacular defintions of a theory as a speculative idea. The probolem is that scientists use of the term 'thepory' also changes depeneding on their discipline and depending on their background/training. Some even use theory and hypothesis interchangably which further confuses things.
    So I advocate always prefixing theory with scientific to make the distinction from other definitions and that theories explanations of evidence of natural phenomena. That science also only deals in natural phenomena not supernatural phenomena also serves to differentiate evolution from supernatural creation.
    Pupils, parents scientists and teachers have the right to hold beliefs - be they religious or otherwise, but in science teaching we deal with accepted scientific explanations of natural phenomena.
    James
     
  20. geoff1954

    geoff1954 New commenter

    I couldn't agree more. Science is nothing to do with belief. It is about evidence. Faith is considered to be a 'good thing' in religion. Faith has no place in science.
    I make no attempt to modify my explanation of evolution. If anyone brings up religious 'explanations' I'm afraid they get very short shrift from me. We don't attempt to incorporate tooth fairies, Father Christmas or elves into our rational explanation of the universe, so why should we allow any gods?
    Science does not deal with supernatural phenomena, true. But neither does it recognise the existence of such. Why even pay lip service to what does not exist?
     

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