Discover the process for acquiring theological and scientific knowledge and explore how they complement one other.
Ways of Knowing
Nature of science
Train your students to recognize and evaluate truth claims.
In secular culture, scientific expertise and knowledge is privileged as more reliable than knowledge gained in other ways. On the other hand, many Christians distrust science. How can you equip students to value both scientific and theological knowledge, and be discerning about which voices they listen to?
- How do we gain trustworthy knowledge in science and theology?
- How can we continue entrusting our lives to God even in the face of doubts and questions?
- Is some knowledge more valuable than other knowledge?
- How does Christianity change over time?
- How do we acquire knowledge in science?
- What do gaining knowledge in science and in theology have in common?
- How do cognitive biases influence the way we respond to new ideas?
- When should we trust experts and leaders?
- How do science and Scripture provide complementary answers?
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What will students know or be able to do after this unit?
- Identify activities that strengthen faith.
- Distinguish between ways of knowing in science versus theology.
- Identify questions that science is not equipped to answer.
- Distinguish between Christian doctrines, beliefs, and practices.
- Explain how revised interpretations and new applications lead to changes in doctrines, beliefs, and practices.
- Practice observation and inference to create and refine a hypothesis and critically evaluate competing hypotheses.
- Compare and contrast how scientific and theological knowledge is acquired and evaluated.
- Describe several forms of cognitive bias and evaluate the extent to which they affect how we respond to new ideas in science and theology.
- Critically evaluate the trustworthiness of scientists and scientific claims.
- Critically evaluate a scientific claim for scientific merit and a theological claim for orthodoxy.
Modules Included in this Unit
2.1 Meet: Philosopher Jim Stump
Dr. Stump explains what philosophers do and describes the relationship between knowledge and faith in science and theology.
2.2 Grow: Faith
In this brief devotional, students reflect on what it means to keep growing in our faith even when we don’t have all the answers to our questions and our knowledge is incomplete.
2.3 Engage: Different Kinds of Knowledge
Students consider how different disciplines help us see the world in complementary, not contradictory, ways. They explore the value of both scientific and nonscientific ways of seeing the world and identify different contexts that frame their thinking.
2.4 Engage: Theological Knowledge: Doctrines, Beliefs, Practices
Students examine how Christians throughout history have proposed different interpretations and applications of Bible passages and what changes came about. They see that Christianity changes over time at several levels: doctrines, beliefs, and practices.
2.5 Experience: Scientific Knowledge
Students discover that knowledge of the unknown in science can be acquired using observation, inference, and hypotheses, and that additional knowledge and research refines probable explanations.
2.6 Engage: Parallels in Science and Theology
Students compare and contrast the process for acquiring scientific knowledge and reaching consensus with parallel activities in theology. They also compare and contrast the tools of science and theology and how to make sure they are used well.
2.7 Engage: Cognitive Bias
Students research different cognitive biases and learn how they influence the way we respond to new ideas. Then they discuss how the methods used to develop scientific and theological consensus help us as individuals be less prone to bias.
2.8 Engage: Trust and Skepticism
Students consider reasons Christian communities can trust fallible scientific authorities. Students are then presented with an example of pseudoscience and an example of unorthodox teaching. They then practice evaluating the claims of each.
2.9 Integrate: Two Perspectives
Students discover that the process of knowing in science and in theology is complementary. Further, neither way of knowing answers all possible questions.
When teaching biology in a Christian context, it can be difficult to find resources that provide scientific rigor and a Christian worldview. Integrate helps students to engage in science, theology, and philosophy with grace.
- Unit lesson plans (PDF download, 45 pages)
- User Introduction and Overview (Google Doc)
- 12 student handouts (Google Docs)
- 2 answer keys (Google Docs)
- 10 images for printing or projecting (JPEG)
- Integrate Glossary (Google Docs, 64 pages)
- NGSS Alignment (Google Doc)