Abbey Grange gets to grips with 'God and the Big Bang'

Year 11 students at Abbey Grange Academy have been discovering and debating the interaction of science and faith during a conference called God and the Big Bang.

The all-day event included hands-on sessions with academics from universities all over the UK, focussing on a range of topics from chaos theory to dietetics and nutrition, allowing 90 students to explore the compatibility of science and faith.

The students said, "It made me think about how science and faith fit together in many ways" and "It was interesting to hear how different scientists believe in the Christian faith and how they connect it with science".

With the help of fast-moving, multi-media presentations, students looked at topics such as, ‘Big Bang, Big God: exploring the mysteries of the Universe’; ‘Earthquakes and Engineering: why do we care?’; and ‘Has science removed the need for God?’. Guest speakers included the Revd Dr Alison Morgan a writer for ‘ReSource’; Oxford and Edinburgh trained astrophysicist Dr Rachel Gilmour; earthquake geologist Tom Ingleby, a PhD student at Leeds; Naomi Brehm, a physics students from Durham; and Stephanie Bryant, Cambridge Natural Sciences graduate.

Students particularly enjoyed the chance to ask their own questions of the scientists. One said: ‘It gave us a chance to ask big questions that I’ve never had answered before’, another said, ‘The questions made me think about my own answers and made me contemplate everything I’ve learnt at church’.

School Chaplain Kay Brown said, ‘The day stimulated discussion and allowed for personal reflection. The Q+A session showed the depth of thinking by our students and proved a fantastic opportunity for them to hear from people who have spent serious amounts of time thinking about science and faith. Several myths were well and truly busted! I’d really recommend this for other high schools to build bridges across the curriculum’.

God and the Big Bang is an initiative of the Church of England (in collaboration with the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Christians in Science, and Reading University’s Institute of Education) to enable school students to critically explore contemporary thinking about science and faith. www.gatbb.co.uk

Contact: Kay Brown, kbrown@abbeygrangeacademy.co.uk.

NOTES
Findings of the LASAR (Learning About Science And Religion) project indicate that opportunities for young people with interests in science or religious studies to explore and learn about matters of science and faith are rare because students recognise that their science teachers often feel uncomfortable about addressing questions that relate to religion, and RE teachers often feel they are not sufficiently knowledgeable to respond to questions about science.

God and the Big Bang aims to address this issue by providing GCSE, AS and A level students, with an opportunity to discover, discuss and debate the compatibility of science and faith with globally renowned scientists and academics. The project seeks to equip young people with the tools they need in order to form their own opinions and engage in rational, well-reasoned and thought-provoking discussion about the interaction of science and religion.