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Religion and Science Unit Revision Notes (Topic 3 in the examination)

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Religion and Science Unit Revision Notes (Topic 3 in the examination). Problem areas between Religion and Science The place of Earth in the solar system

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Religion and Science Unit Revision Notes

(Topic 3 in the examination)


Problem areas between Religion and Science

  • The place of Earth in the solar system
  • It was traditionally thought that the Sun and planets orbited Earth and that Man was at the centre of God’s creation. Scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo eventually showed that this was not true. This caused conflict with the Church.

The origins of the universe

  • Did God create the earth, as the Bible says or did creation start with the Big Bang?
  • The origin of life on Earth
  • Did God create life as the Bible describes or did life evolve according to the process of evolution, as Darwin described? Is a human being an advanced ape or made in the image of God?

Christianity and the Creation

  • “I believe in one God…Maker of heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible” from the Nicene Creed
  • The Jewish/Christian creation story is found in the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible
  • There are in fact two creation stories within these three chapters:
  • The seven day creation story, where God creates everything, including humans on the sixth day, and rests on the seventh.
  • Many Christians believe that God created the world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo)
  • According to the Genesis story God thought that the world he had made was “Good” originally.
  • Google the details of the seven day creation story

The Garden of Eden story, where Adam is created, then Eve is fashioned from one of his ribs.

  • In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve are giving freedom, apart from not being allowed to eat a certain fruit from a certain tree.
  • They eat the forbidden fruit, after Eve is tempted by a serpent (often identified with Satan/the devil), and are cast out of Eden/paradise as a result. Sin has entered the world. (Original Sin)

Some Christians regard the Creation stories in the Bible as “myths” i.e. they might not be literally true. If this is the case, then religion may not be in conflict with science after all and the Bible stories are simply a way of teaching people lessons about God and his purpose in creating the world

Other Christians, sometimes called “creationists”, insist on a literal understanding of the Bible stories, which brings them into apparent conflict with the findings of science.


Human Beings and Animals

The Bible makes it clear that animals were created first, then humans. In the second Genesis story Adam actually gives the animals names.

According to the Bible there is something special about human beings: we are made in the image of God, which is usually taken to mean that we have a spirit or soul.

Science tends to see human beings as an advanced animal (for example, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution). Religions are clear that we are more than that and have, amongst other gifts, the ability to consciously worship God.

“and God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them” (Genesis 1.27)


Humans as “Stewards of the Earth”

Christians believe that God gave humans responsibility on the Earth, to look after God’s creation. They do not own the earth and therefore should not abuse their power, although they obviously have done and continue to do so.

Genesis tells us that God created a “good” Earth, with which he was pleased.

Genesis also tells us that humans were made to “rule over” the earth. How does a responsible ruler act? In a selfish way? Or for the benefit of every one and everything?

A “steward” of the earth looks after it on God’s behalf and tries to ensure that it is handed on to future generations in good condition. A Christian should therefore make an effort to combat environmental damage and depletion of resources, so that God’s earth is not destroyed.


Christian responses to environmental issues

  • Many (but not all) Christians would feel that:
  • Christians have a duty to support the work of groups that try to help the environment, by preserving resources and reducing pollution.
  • Christians should apply the standards of Christian stewardship to their own lives, making sure that they are setting a good personal example.

Use pp. 72-74 to answer the following questions

  • What important discovery did Copernicus make?
  • Why did this cause conflict with the Church?
  • What does the Bible say about the creation of the earth?
  • How do scientists believe creation started?
  • Who was James Ussher?
  • How old do scientists believe the Earth is?
  • What was Charles Darwin’s contribution to this area?
  • Why do some Christians have a problem with Charles Darwin’s ideas?
  • Must science and religion be in conflict?