SRSP 11-16 Topic 2 U1e – How is language used in Science and Religion?


This unit attempts to clarify some of the complexities and confusions that affect stories and narratives in both scientific and religious domains. It contains a variety of narratives that will engage students, and help them to consider the way in which language is used in both science and religion.

When the Royal Society was founded in the late seventeenth century, the members agreed to avoid using figurative language and stick to plain speech. “They (the Royal Society) have extracted from all their members, a close, naked, natural way of speaking, positive expression, clear senses, a native easiness, bringing all things as near mathematical plainness as they can”.

R.F. Jones noted that this decision has had a permanent effect on English prose and (ultimately) on poetic style:

“More than any other linguistic defect, scientists objected to a word possessing many meanings or the same meaning as another, especially to the use of metaphors. The desire to make the word match the thing or action, explains their exaggerated antipathy to metaphors and such figures of speech”

This unit consists of 2 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 11 to 16 years.


Key Questions

  • How does science use language?
  • How does religion use language?
  • Do science and religion speak such different languages that they will never be able to understand each other?
  • Is there a place for the language of science in religion?
  • Is there a place for the language of religion in science?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Tell me a story (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1: The story of Terry Waite (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 2: Black holes (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3: Kisa Gotami discovers how to mourn (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 4: The discovery of penicillin (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 5: The bending of light (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 6: The birth of Ganesh (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 7: The discovery of radioactivity (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 8: David and Goliath (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 9: The resurrection of Jesus (Word)

Student Worksheet 1: The power of story (Word)

Student Worksheet 2: Stories in science and religion (Word)

Student Worksheet 3: Our conclusions (Word)

Student Worksheet 4: Our conclusions continued (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Has conflict arise because of language? (Word)

Student Worksheet 1: Language games (Word)

Student Worksheet 2: Words and their meanings (Word)

Student Worksheet 3: How can we define a story? (Word)

Student Worksheet 4a: Controversy in science and religion I (Word)

Student Worksheet 4b: Controversy in science and religion II (Word)

Student Worksheet 5: Creating stories (Word)

Student Extension Sheet: A search for the unknown (Word)

Creation Poem (PPT)

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