Science and Religion

Problems/Case Studies The Evolution of Creationism: Critically Appraising ‘Intelligent Design’, Robin Pals-Rylaarsdam, Trinity Christian College, State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching - Go to the Evolutionary Biology resource page for resources for this case.
This PBL-formatted case study about the claims and criticisms of "Intelligent Design" (ID) was written for freshman biology majors at a Christian liberal arts college. In light of recent developments in school districts and state education boards across the country, this case would also be useful for education majors. Students read about the actions of proponents of ID as they work for its inclusion in the high school science curriculum. In the process, students learn about the nature of science and the importance of evolution in the field of biology. More advanced students are given the task of critically evaluating one specific (and much cited) claim made by ID supporters—that the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum suggests that it cannot be the product of evolution.
This case is appropriate for undergraduate general science and evolutionary biology courses.

"Prayer Study: Science or Not?" Kathy Gallucci, Elon University. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching
In this case, students read a news article about a study of the effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac patients published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. After reading the case and discussing the questions in small groups, students evaluate the study for its scientific validity and defend their reasoning.
The case was developed to teach non-science majors in an introductory biology course about the scientific method.

"And Now What, Ms. Ranger? The Search for the Intelligent Designer". Clyde Freeman Herreid, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. National Center for Case Study Teaching.
Intelligent Design (ID) continues to be a hot political and educational topic in some parts of the country. This discussion case study uses the dramatic setting of a public school board as it considers whether district science teachers should be made to read a statement to their classes identifying ID as a competing theory to evolution that is worthy of scientific consideration. The relevant statement is in fact the one that was at the center of the 2004 controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania.
This case would be appropriate in general biology or advanced courses where the focus is on evolution.

Video Clips PBS Evolution - short videos to spur classroom discussion about the nature of science and evolution.  Contains the following short vignettes:
Topic: Creation vs. Evolution: Environmental Science 7th Ed. CNN Ed (2:31)
Charles Darwin, known as the father of evolution, is still being questioned by the education system today. The separation between church and state has been a long fought battle for many decades. In some states, evolution is predominantly taught in schools, while in other states, only creationism is used in the curriculum. There is currently a debate among educators and state school board officials about using evolution or creationism as part of the science curriculum in Kansas schools.  Two years ago in Topeka, Kansas, the state school board removed evolution from the state’s science curriculum. Since adopting the evolution-less curriculum, there has been a movement among residents, educators, and state officials to restore evolution to the science curriculum. Some state officials believe that if students are to be competitive in the 21st century students need to have the same type of education that is available to other students around the world. Currently, the state school board is holding a public forum on whether to educate students with evolution or creationism, and many expect evolution to be restored to the state’s science curriculum. The worksheet includes the URL for the Kansas State Department of Education.  (Student worksheet provided on CD)

Topic: "Religion and Health": Biology 8th Ed. CNN Ed 2004 (2:09)
Andrew Newburg, of the University of Pennsylvania, is using brain-imaging techniques to study what happens to the brain during deep meditation or prayer. Comparing subjects’ brains before and during these activities shows both activate the brain’s frontal lobe, while dampening activity in the area that provides a sense of self. Meditation also triggers changes in the hypothalamus, which can affect heart rate, blood pressure, and release of hormones, including cortisol. Newburg says that while his studies suggest that meditation and prayer could be good for health, he would not advise patients to engage in these activities solely for the health benefits. (Student worksheet provided on CD)
Radio Broadcasts

NPR's Fresh Air on science and relgion.  The first broadcast is with Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, an atheist and author of the book, "The God Delusion"; the other is with Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Project, a Christian theist, and author of the book "The Language of God". Each is speaking on science and religion.

Additional Articles

*Please note, additional articles of interest may also be found under the Evolution vs. Creationism Issue Page

Articles in Taking Sides

Is Science a Faith?" Easton, Thomas. Taking Sides: Science, Technology, and Society, sixth edition.

Issue Summary:

"Should Creationism and Evolution Get Equal Time in Schools?" Easton, Thomas. Taking Sides: Science, Technology, and Society, sixth edition.

Issue Summary: