Truth in Science and ‘Truth’ in Religion: An Enquiry into Student Views on Different Types of Truth-Claim
Using focus groups, this small-scale, qualitative study investigated the way that students tend to think about religious truth-claims as compared to other types of truth-claim. All the student participants conceived of religious truth-claims as ‘opinions’, to be contrasted with the certain, indisputable ‘facts’ of science. For many students, it was the lack of empirical verification, as well as the existence of disagreement, which meant religious beliefs were relegated to this position. If these findings are generalisable, then there are implications for the ongoing theoretical dispute over the extent to which truth should be a focus in religious education. The tendency for students to see religious claims as subjective lends support for a critical pedagogy that places evaluation of truth centre-stage. The findings also suggest a need for religious education and science teachers to include more reflection on the nature of the scientific method in their schemes of work in order to dispel the myths of unanimity and certainty in science.
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