How will these resources help you? 

Specification frameworks for the philosophy of religion often present ‘science versus religion’ as if the debate raised by Richard Dawkins in the 1990s permanently defined this relationship: we are led to believe that ‘one cannot serve both God and science’. However, many theologians focus on the mutual reliance between science and religion, and many mainstream scientists continue to have some level of religious faith with compatibilist views about the origins of the universe and life. These texts present some of the arguments but largely focus on the more nuanced compatibilist views about how scientific and religious views of origins can complement each other. My students really enjoy engaging with the different arguments and debates around faith and science. 

Not at war

Atoms and Icons: A Discussion of the Relationships Between Science and Theology

by Michael Fuller, published by Mowbray, (1995), 9780264673837

This accessible book begins with the idea that we need to move beyond the notion of a divide between science and religion. Fuller argues that the perceived dispute shows a misunderstanding of both: that science is no more wholly rational than theology is wholly ethereal and that each can benefit the other and lead us to a more ‘profound’ understanding. This helps to normalise a compatibilist view for my students and encourages them to envisage a more positive relationship between the two fields. 

Compatibilism makes the most sense

Science and the Renewal of Belief

by Russell Stannard, published by Templeton Foundation Press, (2004), 9781932031744

This book focuses on the possibility of being a compatibilist theist. Stannard was a respected physicist: his premise is that science can contribute to and build up faith, teaching people more about God (so-called ‘general revelation’). Stannard emphasises that the story of Adam and Eve was always meant to be interpreted metaphorically and that other readings were simply misinterpretations of the texts. His conclusion strongly argues that science and religion each contribute to and benefit the other. The writing is accessible and quotable for my older students and contends that supposed conflicts have already been resolved. 

An approach to the Big Bang

God, Physics and the Big Bang

by William R. Stoeger, published by Cambridge University Press, (2010), 9780521712514

A Jesuit cosmologist, Stoeger epitomises a religious believer who cares about the scientific origins of the universe. In this essay, he presents God as creating the universe, including its scientific laws and ability to run autonomously. In his view, science, including the Big Bang, helps us to understand the wonder of God’s universe. He notes the limitations of physics and cosmology –  that they do not answer the ultimate grounds of meaning – and that philosophy and theology still have a place when considering the universe’s big questions. My students find some of his language challenging, but we tend to work through extracts of this essay together. 

An approach to evolution

Darwin and Fundamentalism

by Merryl Wyn Davies, published by Icon Books, (2000), 9781840461770

Davies’ short volume on evolution and religion is from the standpoint of encouraging dialogue rather than disagreement. She outlines the original arguments between Darwin and those who found evolution from other animals problematic, and how ultimately Darwin’s arguments won out but always ‘left plenty of room’ for those who continued to have a theistic approach. She argues that for the first time Darwin’s explanations offered a coherent view that did not require a creator, but this did not banish belief in God. My students find this a helpful explanation of a well-known argument. 

Further materials

Science and Religion in Quest of Truth by John Polkinghorne, published by SPCK Publishing, (2011), 9780281064120 Find this book
Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, published by Vintage, (2002), 9780099284529 Find this book
The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine by Alister McGrath, published by SPCK Publishing, (2007), 9780281059270 Find this book
Susan Woodshore is a teacher in Edinburgh. She has a PhD in Ecclesiastical History and enjoys creating new educational resources across religion, ethics and philosophy.

Text © Susan Woodshore, 2023.