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Yr 11 GCSE Science and Religion (Part 1)

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on 17 July 2016

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Transcript of Yr 11 GCSE Science and Religion (Part 1)

Cosmology and Evolution Theories- a challenge to Christianity? Cosmology (in seeking to answer the question, “Where did the universe start?), focuses on the Big Bang theory. This theory says that 18 billion years ago a huge explosion led to the creation of the universe. Modern high powered telescopes have possibly detected movement from a central point in the universe, suggesting that everything was once in one place before being thrown outwards (where it cooled, became planets etc.). Of course the Big Bang theory does not answer the question “From where did the elements that went “Bang!” originate?). In 1830 a man known as Charles Darwin left England and sailed to South America where he landed on the Galapagos Islands. He stayed in the area for over four years, studying the animal and plant life, before returning to England and writing his book “The Origin of Species” in 1859. In this book, Darwin suggested that life had started as simple single cell life forms before developing and adapting over multiple billions of years into the complex creatures we now know as specific species. In Darwin’s theory of evolution, those life forms that could not change to survive in their environment died, leaving only the ones that could adapt to continue. This process is sometimes called “the survival of the fittest” (or “Natural Selection”). Introduction The Main Issue in the Debate Some different Christian opinions OCR look for in students’ answers Understanding Genesis as ‘myth’ How the universe (every-thing) came into existence is one of the biggest questions humans ask. The main Christian (and Jewish) teaching about the creation of all things is found in the book of Genesis (a word that means ‘origins’). Two theories that science uses to explain how everything came into being are cosmology and evolution Religion and Science (Part 1) Cosmology Evolution When Darwin’s book was published, many Christians were unhappy with its basic theory that evolution had happened over millions of years which seems to challenge the Judeo/Christian creation account which teaches that creation took six days. Darwin also said that humans had evolved from apes which directly challenged the Genesis account of God’s specific and complete creation of the first man and woman (Adam and Eve). (first read Genesis 1 and 2) At the heart of the discussion between religion and science is the importance of humanity. From an evolutionary point of view, humans are highly evolved life forms that exist, like other animals, to create and pass on their genetic information before they die. Evolutionists would argue that our sophisticated morality and even our appreciation of the universe we live in are qualities that have developed in humans to help them to evolve further. How amazing are you! Obviously, Christianity (and Judaism) teaches that humans, (uniquely) are made in the image of God and that they have been placed by God in a beautiful universe that ‘speaks’ to them of the existence, power and beauty of God. Within Christianity, the destiny of a human is not just to pass on genetic information, but to find God and to know him for ever- even after physical death has taken place. Also important in Christianity is the belief that God himself came to earth as fully human (remember the Incarnation?). God shares our humanity A literal understanding of the Genesis account James Ussher took the Bible literally Those Christians who believe in a literal six day creation period are called Creationists. These believers take the Bible literally, so for them six days means six 24 hour periods of time. Creationist Christians do not believe that the earth (or the universe) is necessarily as old as we think. James Ussher was a Creationist Christian who used the Bible to calculate that the earth was created in 4004BC. Other Christians who take the Bible literally accept that the Hebrew word we translate into English as ‘days’ can also be translated ‘periods of time’. These Christians may believe that the earth is billions of years old. Some may also believe that evolution was the method God created to start the human race. Are religion and science incompatible? Still other Christians read the Genesis account as ‘myth’. Myth is a way of understanding the Bible that believes that records do not necessarily need to be true- it’s just the message they contain that needs to be true. So, for a Christian who believes that Genesis is myth, it is not important how long the universe took to make, or how long ago it started, or even whether humans came from apes. The only important thing we need to learn from the ‘myth’ of Genesis is that God is the Creator of everything. But... But where does literal history begin? A problem exists for those reading the Bible as ‘myth’ however, because it is difficult to decide who should say when Genesis should be read as an historical account (after all, the history of the Jews, the land of Israel and the surrounding nations are all contained in Genesis too). Also, when Jesus spoke about events in Genesis, he spoke about them as literal events. Can science and religion coexist? There are people who believe that the theories science offers are completely accurate and true, so religion must be wrong. Obviously an atheist may agree with such a viewpoint. However, there are also those, including theists from the world of science, who believe that theories like evolution/natural selection are not necessarily accurate . Creationist Christians, who read the Bible literally, would disagree with many of the scientific theories, believing instead that the universe was created in six literal days (or possibly six periods of time). There are some people who say that a helpful response to a statement like “science is right so religion must be wrong” is achieved by saying that it is the job of science to help us to understand HOW things came to exist, and it is the job of religion to explain WHY things came to exist. The big question in the debate between religion and science is whether or not the two systems can exist side by side. Can a belief that evolution is just a series of random accidents over billions of years ever agree with a belief that God created the whole universe as a place for humans to live and find faith in him? Key Words cosmology evolution Big Bang theory Charles Darwin natural selection image of God James Ussher Creationist 'myth' Intelligent Design history starts when? 4004BC How special are humans! ...using a little to say much! faith science how why Religion and Science
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