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Big Bang project grants schools £700,000 to explore links between faith and science

21 May 2021

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A SCHEME that explores links between faith and science has been granted £707,000 to continue its work with schools.

The God and the Big Bang project, which has received the funding from the John Templeton Foundation, is also relocating from the diocese of Manchester, where it was founded in 2013, to St John’s College, Durham, part of Durham University.

The project’s principal investigator and a Visiting Fellow of St John’s, Michael Harvey, said that the grant would allow them to offer “an exciting programme of interactive science-faith sessions to pupils aged nine to 18”.

The grant, which will run for three years, will fund more than 200 events involving 20,000 students and teachers. Working with science, theology, and education specialists, it will also enable research on how secondary-school pupils make decisions on science and faith.

The project was launched in 2013, after the General Synod carried a Manchester diocesan motion affirming that science and faith were compatible (Synod, 19 February 2010).

St John’s has a track record of running science-and-faith projects, and is a centre for science-engaged theology. Its Principal, the Revd Professor David Wilkinson, said: “We are committed to the shared task of allowing students of all ages to encounter the big questions of life in a way that values the exciting insights of contemporary science and the rich resources of faith communities. By working with the scientists and theologians of the future, this project will help explode the myth that science and faith are incompatible.”

The Templeton Foundation has also awarded £150,000 to the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, to produce materials to help subject leads and advisers build a syllabus and curriculum to give pupils an understanding of the contribution of religious and non-religious world-views to human life.

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The grant covers a three-year period until 2024. The RE Council will work with RE Today Services, which focuses on the teaching of the main world faiths and non-religious world-views.

RE Today’s project leader, Stephen Pett, said: “This is an exciting project, offering the opportunity to make a significant impact on the direction and quality of RE for the coming years. We will draw on the rich possibilities opened up through a study of religious and non-religious world-views, and offer different models for applying these ideas to curriculum development.”

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