Engaging Young People in Positive, Interdisciplinary Exploration of Science and Religious Faith
As current research indicates, many young children are exposed to influences which inspire misleading impressions of science, religion, and their interactions, to the extent that by the time they reach their teenage years, the great majority already see science and religion as belonging to two quite distinct, even opposing, domains of thought. This chapter introduces three intervention-based projects: the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion’s schools outreach programme; the Wonders of the Living World project; and God and the Big Bang, which aim to challenge these misconceptions by engaging young people in positive exploration of science and religious faith. Initial quantitative impact assessment data and qualitative findings indicate that these interventions have been, or are likely to be, very effective in encouraging young people to develop an enriching, intellectually satisfying and interdisciplinary approach to considering the respective roles and interactions of science and religious faith. Common characteristics of these three effective intervention strategies revolve around enabling young people to connect with seemingly complex ideas at an accessible level; creating opportunities for interactivity (through activities, quizzes, question and answer sessions, etc.); and engaging with the young people on a personal level. The combination of these strategies not only allows the illustration of abstract concepts but also creates a welcoming and safe environment for young people to explore and share their own thoughts and questions. Areas for development include provision of more opportunities for interdisciplinary learning in primary and secondary schools by better equipping teachers to explore related topics with their students. Such measures will help to ensure that the opinion formers of tomorrow will be open-minded, confident thinkers well-placed for considering the important questions of ultimate reality and their place and purpose in the universe.