, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 91-101
Date: 21 May 2009

Science and religion: implications for science educators

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Abstract

A religious perspective on life shapes how and what those with such a perspective learn in science; for some students a religious perspective can hinder learning in science. For such reasons Staver’s article is to be welcomed as it proposes a new way of resolving the widely perceived discord between science and religion. Staver notes that Western thinking has traditionally postulated the existence and comprehensibility of a world that is external to and independent of human consciousness. This has led to a conception of truth, truth as correspondence, in which our knowledge corresponds to the facts in this external world. Staver rejects such a conception, preferring the conception of truth as coherence in which the links are between and among independent knowledge claims themselves rather than between a knowledge claim and reality. Staver then proposes constructivism as a vehicle potentially capable of resolving the tension between religion and science. My contention is that the resolution between science and religion that Staver proposes comes at too great a cost—both to science and to religion. Instead I defend a different version of constructivism where humans are seen as capable of generating models of reality that do provide richer and more meaningful understandings of reality, over time and with respect both to science and to religion. I argue that scientific knowledge is a subset of religious knowledge and explore the implications of this for science education in general and when teaching about evolution in particular.