SRSP 11-16 Topic 3 Unit 1d – Christianity and the development of modern Science


This unit will examine the contributions of some of the key players in the so-called ‘scientific revolution’ from Galileo to Newton. The emphasis will be on the relationship between religious ideas, mainly Christian ones in this case, and the development of scientific thought. The teacher will not need a great deal of specialist knowledge but will need to beware of over-simplifications. Rather than reach conclusions of absolute certainty, the purpose of the unit is to show pupils that religious and scientific ideas have had a variety of relationships, and that many of the debates alluded to in the unit are still on-going.

Students will access this period of scientific development through some of the main characters of the time. What is less well known is how the religious climate during the 17th century contributed to scientific progress. At times Christian belief seemed almost to inspire scientific thinking; at other times it appeared to impede scientific inquiry. It must have been a very exciting time to be around as people struggled with the implications of science becoming ‘modern.’

This unit consists of 4 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 14 to 16 years


Key Questions

  • How did Newton and Galileo combine a religious faith with their scientific work?
  • What do you think are the relationships between faith, religion and science in this period?
  • Does religion help or hinder scientific progress?
  • Is it possible to be both a scientist and have a personal religious faith?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Galileo (Word)

Student Resource Sheet: Galileo and the church (Word)

Student Worksheet: Questions on the Galileo affair (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Galileo in conflict (Word)

Student Resource Sheet: Galileo in conflict (Word)


Lesson 3

Lesson Plan: The Galileo debate (Word)


Lesson 4

Lesson Plan: Newton (Word)

Powerpoint: Newton (PPT)

Student Resource Sheet: Newton (Word)

Student Worksheet: Isaac Newton (Word)

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