Skip to content

Teenagers want to explore science and faith, says survey

More than half of all teenagers in Church of England secondary schools believe that science makes it hard to believe in God, according to a major survey published next week ...

More than half of all teenagers in Church of England secondary schools believe that science makes it hard to believe in God, according to a major survey published next week.

The survey also reveals how the origin of the universe is something they want to discuss, from all points of view.
 
Conducted among more than 2000 15-18 year olds, the survey discovered that two in every five (41 per cent) believe the accepted scientific view is that God does not exist: less than two in five know of a scientist who thinks that science and faith are compatible while many students suppose that all scientists are atheists.
 
The study has been carried out on behalf of God and the Big Bang, a day conference that encourages GCSE and A-level students to explore the relationship between science and faith. Presented by prominent members of the scientific faith community, God and the Big Bang has taken place in 37 English secondary schools and cathedrals over the past two years, reaching more than 3000 students.
 
The results are being presented for the first time next week at Cosmology: the beginning, the end and the vast, a conference at St John’s College, Durham (4-6 July 2016). The event is equipping church leaders to understand both the opportunities and challenges they face in an age of science. It will be attended and addressed by eminent leaders in the fields of science and religion including several bishops and professors of science and theology.
 
"There are teenagers in school today who have never considered that science and religion could ever be complementary – even though that is the official position of the Pope and the leaders of the Church of England," said Michael Harvey (right), leader of the project.
 
Students attending a God and the Big Bang event fill in a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the day. The results reveal what an impact the day has on their thinking. At the start of the day two in every five students (41 per cent) believe the scientific view is that God does not exist. By the end this has halved – to one in five (20 per cent). One 15-year-old said: "I was surprised when I saw that, overall, scientists actually believe in God as well."
 
Even more impressive is the impact the day has on students’ enthusiasm for asking questions. At the beginning of the day, one in two (49 per cent) are interested in the relationship between science and religion. By the end of the day this has risen to almost two in three (64 per cent).
 
"Once the students start to ask questions, they don’t want to stop," said Michael Harvey. "In just one day the impact on teenagers has surprised us all."
 
Motivation for the project was research by the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) project which is also evaluating the impact of the God and the Big Bang project in schools.
 
Dr Berry Billingsley, who leads LASAR said: "Our research shows that students have questions about how science and religion relate to each other but don’t ask them in lessons because of the pressures of getting through the curriculum."
 
Professor Tom Mcleish who chairs the Royal Society of Science Education Committee and is professor of physics at Durham University, said: "This important project is helping students understand that science and wider world views, including religious ones, inform each other, but have not and do not negate each other. It’s an important contribution to the broad education they need in today’s world."
 
For more information about the God and the Big Bang Project, visit http://gatbb.co.uk/

Get more inspiring reading

You can order our printed INSPIRE magazine in bundles of 10 for your church. Get encouraged by stories of God at work in the UK and around the world – and it's great for giving away to those on the edge of church, too! Order FREE* for your church (*we welcome an annual donation towards our costs).

Subscribe

Join the discussion