SRSP 11-16 Topic 2 U1a – What is an explanation?
To explain means to make plain; to produce understanding.
Different types of explanations are needed to answer different types of questions.
Explanations are ways in which we help ourselves and others to understand the world. They are an integral part of both science and religion. In this topic, students learn that there are different types of explanations, corresponding to different kinds of questions. They will develop an awareness of how scientists choose and accept a ‘best explanation’. students will reflect on how the explanations we accept influence our attitudes and world views and are influenced by them in turn. They may conclude that scientific and religious explanations may sometimes be compatible.
For both scientists and religious people, explanations are an essential tool to describe the world in which we live, and our world-view (not the same thing). Students need to consider the complexity and subtlety of the explanations that science and religion use and consider how they are the same and how they are different. They deepen their awareness of how scientists choose and accept a ‘best or most suitable explanation’ and they further reflect on how the explanations we accept influence our attitudes and world views and are influenced by them in turn. They consider the conclusion that the uses made of explanation made by science and by religion may be mutually supportive (rather than in conflict).
In schools we are familiar with the idea of ‘subjects’ which look at human experience, the world or reality from different points of view. For example sound might be studied in Physics, Music and RE or light in Physics, Art and RE but each of these subjects will explain sound or light in very different ways.
This unit consists of 3 lessons afor students aged from 11 to 14 years and 2 lessons for students aged from 14 to 16 years.
Key Questions (11-14)
- How do different types of explanation depend on the type of question being asked?
- Do science and religion require different types of explanation?
- How do we choose the most suitable explanation?
- What level of evidence do we need in order to accept an explanation?
Key Questions (14-16)
- Are there different types of evidence needed for scientific and religious explanations?
- How do different subjects deal with ideas such as ‘music’ or ‘light’? Does the way in which they deal with these concepts change their essential nature?
- Can something be true in scientific terms and false in religious terms and vice-versa?
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