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Teaching science to the religious? Focus on how theories develop
Date:2/18/2012

nd why the scientific community finds it persuasive."

Explaining science, such as evolution, as a process can help religious students accept science in two ways, Miller said. First of all, it's often important to point out that religious people have long been instrumental in driving the scientific process. A scientist's goal is to better understand the natural world, not to destroy religious faith, Miller said. History is replete with examples of religious people who carried out the goal of exploring nature in entirely scientific ways from Copernicus, to Mendel, to Francis Collins.

"The birth of the scientific revolution was in large measure funded by the church because early universities, early scientific investigations, almost universally were done by individuals who thought that exploring nature was a way of praising God," Miller said. "It was and is philosophically consistent to be a person of faith and also a scientist."

Secondly, when science is presented as a rational process, rather than as doctrine to be accepted, students can consider its logic and its evidentiary support, before feeling pressure to reconcile the complete idea's philosophical implications.

Darwin himself laid out the theory of evolution in The Origin of Species this way. Before he presents the bottom line, his first four chapters offer the series of observations about species diversity and the struggle to survive that led him to the theory.

"The best way to approach deeply religious students on a scientific issue is to develop the scientific background, to show that science doesn't grow out of some sort of anti-theological or political perspective, but out of a very human drive to understand ourselves and the world around us," Miller said. "They see that it is not an a priori cultural and social conclusion for which you are trying to find a justification but rather the logical outcome of being curious about nature and trying to find out how it
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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